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SHINOBI: The RPG - Act 2 (Naruto/Fallout SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Fulcon, May 7, 2019.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 1: Apotheosis
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    Bum-bum-bum-Bum!

    Level 50.

    Finally.

    Wow.

    With the creation of this last jutsu, I’ve hit max level.

    Now, let’s take Will of Fire and…oh, that option’s greyed out. Not aligned with Konoha. Is there one I can get by being aligned with the Samurai? No?

    That’s just unfortunate.

    Alright, let’s take Unstoppable. A Five percent chance to not take any damage from an attack might not seem like much, but if the attack I dodge is normally enough to take my HP from 790 to 0 then it’ll be worth it. Besides, I don’t think anything else here is worth taking. Solar Powered gives me health regen, but I already have enough of that with my Nutriwater Seal…which I’ve since upgraded so that it gives 200hp a pop instead of just 50hp.

    I maxed out my thirteen skills six levels ago, so nothing to do here. There were no more, no less.

    It’s been a few weeks since I told Naruto everything. About his Father, about the Kyuubi. I hadn’t meant for my treasonous actions to attract so much attention, but what’s done is done. The fact that Sarutobi Hiruzen was unable to stop Orochimaru from escaping because he was emotionally compromised came out and I imagine that calls for his resignation will come soon.

    Assuming that the meeting and its details aren’t classified triple-s-black ANBU-tell-anyone and you’re dead which it probably was.

    I hadn’t meant to saddle all of that with my old team and the Rookie 9. But it happened, because I got emotional, because I underestimated the connection that Naruto and the Hokage shared, and because I underestimated the bond Naruto now shared with the rest of the Rookie Nine. Well, that and I underestimated Ino’s crush on me.

    Hisako’s too.

    As far as they’re concerned, I have done everything I can to get them move on and date other people. If they want to keep waiting for me, I guess I can’t stop them. But I won’t promise that it’ll turn into anything either.

    I let out a breath and allowed my test chamber’s door to slide open. Inside the circular, metal plated room were black scorch marks and my silhouette burned into the floor.

    The jutsu that got me to level 50, the last in a long line of suicide jutsu, was detonated by a clone. ‘Big Man’, as I call it, was a Fission Release technique turning me into a nuclear bomb. It did damage in the trillions. If I let this thing loose, there was no saving anyone in the blast radius.

    Its name was a portmanteau of ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Big Boy’, the two nuclear bombs used to end World War 2, dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I’m a walking nuclear bomb now, with this jutsu. Part of me wondered which bomb I was; there were two of them, after all. Could there even ever be a second?

    Anyway.

    I also felt sad.

    Konoha was a dark place. The best of a bad bunch, sure, but it was dark. But I had memories there. Lots of memories. Good ones, bad ones, painful ones. Ones that I can only look back on and laugh even though it was not funny at all when it happened.

    The Monster House, where I had been Genjutsu’d into thinking the village had been attacked by the Brotherhood of Steel. The Organ Trail, where I managed to save a member of the Hyuuga clan from having his eyes scooped out of his head…I wonder what happened to him, I never met him.

    Of course, things started to get serious when the Behemoth attacked, sending clones to kidnap the rookie 9. I saved their lives but got in trouble for recklessly taking a fight I couldn’t win. I probably could’ve won that fight if I were smarter, used tree-walking to stick to him whenever he popped out of the water and just hammer on him. But my Aquaphobia was in full swing there and wouldn’t let me go beneath surface of the sewer water.

    And, well, I had ten INT so definitely not smarter. Try ‘proactive’. Yeah, if I were more inherently proactive, things would’ve been so much better. I could’ve solved the charisma issue way before the Chunin exams if I had looked for something to boost it while I was still in the academy. Sure, I didn’t have any Ryo to my name to do that, but theft. Theft is the time-honored solution to lack of funds in all RPG’s.

    I blame depression and a hyper-focus on why I built my character-sheet the way I did. Also, morals that say stealing is wrong. Made my decision to dump CHA feel justified with every enemy I plastered all over the walls. So, a perverse form of pride.

    Honestly, the entire CHA debacle just makes my head hurt the more I think about it. I was more than a little dumb. But if it wasn’t for that, I would never have met the Penguins. Love those guys to death and I think they might be the only true friends I’ve got left in the world anymore.

    Good memories.

    It wouldn’t be a surprise if more than a few of my old friends hate me now. Probably not Naruto, but definitely Sasuke, Sakura…Nichiren’s probably having panic attacks, he was always scared of me. If Hisako didn’t hate me with all the heartbreak’s I subjected her too, I would start questioning her mental health. Anko…maybe she doesn’t hate me. I mean, after telling her what Sarutobi did, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was as mad at him as she was at me when I failed to report Orochimaru’s presence in Suna.

    Which means she might’ve considered joining me in breaking from the village. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, she’s highly capable, loyal to the people who earn it unless they severely transgress on it and really attractive.

    I never really felt anything beyond that physical attraction but maybe that’s because she’s made it fairly clear that she’s not interested due to how young I am. No point in wasting your time after that, right? Then again, maybe she’d change her tune now that I had the Lady Killer perk?

    Nah, let’s not tempt her into Hebephilia, especially after I made such a big deal about not doing that myself with Ino and Hisako. That’d be disgustingly hypocritical of me.

    Still, maybe presenting her the option might be a good thing to do. Stop her from getting executed by the village if she tries anything without a support system in place. I might swing by and check up on her, just to make sure she’s doing okay.

    I knelt down on the floor, sending chakra through it to see if the testing chamber would hold. The steel had only held because I gave the room a serious ablative coating that got burnt off by the blast but by my readings, the room seemed solid.

    Good.

    Very good.

    So, what’s on the agenda for today?

    Well, nothing.

    I got a meeting with Mifune tomorrow to show him the instructional book on Jutsu I was going to share with the samurai. Just a small thing, talking about chakra control and the academy three, framed as being solely for the education of the adults in the Land of Iron. Don’t let the kids touch it.

    Normally, I wouldn’t have much problem with kids being exposed to Jutsu, but according to Mifune, they’re already being training in Ninshū, which comes with Chakra’s strength and speed enhancements which is perfectly fine for my purposes. Besides, Ninshū is just as good in the long run.

    The book itself was almost done and then afterwards, I was going to need to put something together to start spreading Ninshū to the rest of the populace. You know, once I actually understood it.

    Like, I get the theory, sharing chakra to understand the other as intimately as yourself. But the mechanics seemed to elude me, which meant that actually learning Ninshū was tied to a quest, if I could learn it at all.

    Unless it was like the guitar, where I’d have to learn it the hard way.

    Which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, it’d just be inconvenient.

    I can do patient.

    …I hate being patient.

    With that, I walked out of the chamber and shut the door behind me with chakra-strings. Then I teleported to the office I made.

    It was a traditional Overseer’s office, from Fallout, which the RPG system that I was under comes from. No amount of training can raise my skills, no amount of work can make me better at something. I couldn’t throw for anything in the academy despite the fact that I was trained on how to throw a Kunai for years because my Ranged skill was in the toilet.

    Then, there was that charisma thing again. I could’ve raised the stat with perks, but I only got one of those every other level and since 50 was max level, I would only be getting 25 of those. If I had spent every perk I got increasing charisma to dig myself out of the hole, I wouldn’t have gotten any other perk until level 18, with only 16 unique perks to choose from. Better to raise it with just one perk, that being Almost Perfect.

    And it was better.

    Even if it was the single most harrowing thing I’ve ever done.

    The rush of memories cast in new light as I understood each social situation better, seeing every mistake, every screw up laid bare in the harsh sunlight of twenty-twenty vision nearly made me want to take my own life.

    I hadn’t felt that bad since the Kyuubi attacked the village.

    Anyway, the office had a circular window overlooking the rest of my vault, my home. There was a desk sitting in front of it, and past the window, I could see the cafeteria area, the hallway to the testing chambers, another hallway that I’m thinking will be a museum of some kind, a tribute to the video game to which I owe all the power I have and the pain I’ve experienced.

    It was very important to acknowledge your roots, you know.

    The chair creaked loudly as I sat down. It was noisy by design, I like audio feedback to my actions. Even if it’s just sitting my twelve-year-old self in a chair.

    In front of me was the draft of the book I was writing, written and edited perfectly by my jutsu. I just needed to write the last chapter, bring everything I teach in the book to a solid cap and I was at a loss. I knew what I wanted to say.

    “Anyone can do Jutsu.”

    And they can, even if their attempts are laughably inept because they’ve never even touched their chakra coils before and they were heavily atrophied. That’s mostly going to be a problem with civilian adults in the Elemental countries…

    Anyway, the problem is that I’m writing for the audience of Samurai, a group of people who very much are opposed to Jutsu of all kinds. Therefore, I had to tell everyone to be careful of what they’re seeing, that the book is really only for educational purposes.

    But that is absolutely not the book I want to write.

    Anyone can. Everyone should. People should build their homes with Earth release, use Lightning release to power their own homes and Wind release to get to wherever they’re going. Fire release to warm themselves and Water release to bathe. Jutsu should. Be. Everywhere.

    But there has to be a compromise. For now, at least.

    I mean, Mifune and his advisors are already somewhat suspicious of my intentions, even if he’s tentatively letting me lay out a plan to use Jutsu to improve the Land of Iron’s infrastructure. I have to show him that Ninjutsu can be beneficial and that the Samurai can practice both Chakra arts in harmony.

    But that means making concessions to their suspicion to assuage their fears and help reinforce the notion that I am here to help. Which means sacrificing the positive note that I wanted to end my book on.

    Man…

    Alright, let’s do it. Be as neutral as the rest of the book. Matter of fact. Common sense safety precaution. No jokes, I don’t know what the Samurai’s sense of humor is like or how tolerant they would be of a Ninja. They might take it as an insult somehow.

    Best to just avoid the idea of humor for now.

    With the final words of the book flowing onto the pages, chakra turning into ink, the book was finished. I took a breath and creaked open the cover, a high-quality thing I made with Solid-Release. The book opened like an instructional manual or a field guide, carefully introducing how Ninja use chakra, the various benefits they get from it, diagrams, etc. Hand signs are shown in detail, as is how to funnel chakra through them. Then the academy three, the jutsu that absolutely every ninja everywhere will know and how to counter them.

    True genius is taking something that is deep and complex in of itself, and unfolding it so that a child may understand it.

    I don’t remember where that quote came from, but it had a point.

    Can a child understand this book?

    I think so.

    ---

    “And that’ll be it for today,” Kakashi said, digging into his vest pocket to fish out his book. “Rest up, we’ll be meeting here again tomorrow at the same time. More training.”

    “Yes, Sensei,” Sakura nodded, gasping for breath as she had doubled over and fell to her knees.

    Beneath his mask, Kakashi frowned and held in a sigh. They aren’t at Cell 13’s level yet. I need to pace them better.

    Sasuke simply grunted and walked off, his gait slow and even to avoid betraying just how burnt out he truly was. Sakura slowly sat up.

    “Sensei?” Kakashi looked down from his book and saw Naruto down there, looking barely the worse for wear, thick layer of sweat on his skin. “I had a question.”

    Is this going to be about Daisuke? This is going to be about Daisuke, Kakashi thought wryly. “What is it, Naruto?”

    “If I brought Daisuke back, what would happen to him?” Naruto asked.

    Kakashi actually did sigh this time. “Naruto, I wouldn’t worry about that. Leave that to the Hokage.”

    Which was shorthand for leave him to ANBU, but if any of his old comrades actually succeeded in bringing his wayward pupil back to Konoha in any form at all, he’d be shocked. Daisuke had crushed Orochimaru beneath his bootheel and then the Hokage alongside an entire contingent of ANBU almost a few months later.

    “It’s not good, is it?” Naruto pressed.

    “Naruto,” Kakashi started warningly, then he abated. He had seen one village super weapon go rogue because of the way he was treated, he didn’t want to cause the same thing to happen again. “No, it isn’t.”

    Naruto groaned in worry and disappointment. “Well, how do we make it so that it doesn’t happen?”

    Kakashi’s one eye blinked. Well, both of them blinked, but only one was visible. “Naruto, he exposed two S-class secrets to more than half the clan heirs in Konoha and his teammates. The only way that’d happen is if he got a pardon straight from the Hokage.”

    Naruto let out a depressed sigh. “Sensei, I wish everyone could just, I don’t know…”

    Kakashi tilted his head as he looked at his student.

    “Get along,” Naruto finally finished. “Realize that, yeah, people make mistakes but we don’t have to, you know, blow up at everyone over it. Like yeah, Daisuke let out two S-class secrets and Gramps didn’t kill Orochimaru, but Orochimaru is dead and, well…I was going to be told anyway.”

    Sakura walked up to hear the conversation with a frown.

    “I don’t think there’s any point in being mad about it,” Naruto shrugged. “So, the Hokage should Pardon Daisuke and then they should talk it out. Then Daisuke could come back and Konoha could be…whole again.”

    “That’s a nice thought,” Kakashi said, playing a hand on Naruto’s shoulder. “But Daisuke had an insubordinate streak a mile wide and the Hokage pressed the one button guaranteed to get Daisuke’s enmity for life.”

    What else would you call going off to the summons realm for more power when placed on a mission ban designed to curb a lust for power? Sure, Daisuke tried. He really, really tried to accommodate the demands placed on him by the Hokage, but the few areas he fell short in…were massive. The summons, running off to kill Orochimaru and then leaving Sunagakure in the middle of the Chunin exams to finally fix his issues when the Hokage had made it abundantly clear that he wanted as close to a natural progression as possible.

    “So, then I guess I’ll just have to become Hokage,” Naruto shrugged with a determined steel in his eyes. “Then I can give Daisuke his pardon and then have him and the Old Man talk it out.”

    Kakashi chuckled lightly. “I guess you will. Sakura, did you need anything?”

    “No, I’m just waiting on Naruto,” Sakura replied. “But, Naruto? If you want to become Hokage, you’re going to need to improve your chakra control. It’s no where near where it needs to be.”

    “Aw, come on, Sakura-chan,” Naruto pouted. “I’ve gotten way better since we graduated.”

    “I’ll see you two later,” Kakashi said with an eye-smile and a wave as he took out his erotica novel.

    “See yah, Sensei,” Naruto waved goodbye.

    “Bye Sensei,” Sakura bade.

    Kakashi disappeared in a black blur of motion and Naruto sighed in depression, turning around and walking towards the road. Sakura followed after him.

    “You really miss him, huh?” Sakura asked with a frown.

    “Yeah,” Naruto said. “We were always there for each other, you know?”

    “I know you guys were really good friends,” Sakura replied.

    “More like brothers,” Naruto said. “The village shunned me. I didn’t really have many friends growing up, their parents always telling their kids to stay away from me. Daisuke’s only sort of friend was Hisako and that’s just when they’d spar in Tai Jutsu classes. I mean, you remember what he was like. He freaked them all out. The kids didn’t hang around me because of their parents, but they wouldn’t go near Daisuke unless they absolutely had too.”

    “So that just pushed you together, huh?” Sakura asked.

    “I wouldn’t say we did everything together,” Naruto said with a shrug. “He was always reading books and I was always pulling pranks. But we could talk about anything to each other…we trusted each other. Now he’s gone.”

    “I’m sorry, Naruto,” Sakura said regretfully. “I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if Ino left like that.”

    “Even though you were rivals for the past few years?” Naruto asked with a smirk.

    “Especially when we were rivals,” Sakura pointed out. “Ino was there for me too, like you were there for Daisuke. I didn’t have a lot of friends, people made fun of my forehead. Then Ino started talking to me one day and…I owe her. Huge.”

    “Well, glad you aren’t rivals anymore,” Naruto shook his head. “Fighting over the same guy like that was ridiculous.”

    “It’s a girl thing,” Sakura replied defensively, trying to look anywhere with her eyes except at Naruto. “You wouldn’t understand.”

    “Sure, it is,” Naruto teased. “As much as beating each other up and being friends after is a guy thing, right?”

    “Exactly,” Sakura said, nodding sagely.

    “Wait, I was joking,” Naruto replied, blinking.

    “Come on, that is totally a guy thing,” Sakura pointed out with a smug expression. “You didn’t start getting along with Sasuke until after you were punching each other in the face.”

    “Okay, good point,” Naruto muttered. Then he perked up. “Wait, that’s a great point. Daisuke loves fighting. Maybe if I can beat him or at least fight him hard enough, he’ll actually sit and listen to me when I tell him he needs to come back!”

    “That sounds like a terrible idea,” Sakura squawked. “You’re going to fight Daisuke. I mean, he’ll probably just laugh at you if you tried. Look what he did the Hokage!”

    “So that’s why I’ve got to train like crazy to get to the point when Daisuke at least has to take me seriously,” Naruto affirmed, nodding to himself. “It’s a guy thing, Sakura, you wouldn’t understand.”

    They had come up to the gate leading into Konoha, meaning that their current conversation was now outlawed; they were becoming surrounded by people who didn’t know the contents of the Double-S classified meeting.

    As it was, Sakura just groaned in irritation. “Fine.”

    “Anyway, I was going to the Akimichi Diner this Friday,” Naruto began, stopping to look at Sakura. “I got invited to head over there at anytime and I’ve been meaning to see what their Ramen is like. Want to come?”

    “Ah, I can’t, Naruto,” Sakura said with a frown. “I had some training exercises with my parents that I’ve been needing to go through.”

    Naruto blinked and shrugged. “Alright. Well, if your schedule clears up, you know where I’ll be. See you later, Sakura.”

    Sakura blinked owlishly at Naruto’s retreating form, tilting her head slightly. Actually, the Akimichi Diner is sounding pretty good…

    ---


    When I first unlocked Creation Release, I had come upon the concept of a Jutsu to remake myself. To ascend to immortality as a purified version of those zombie ninja-things that I remembered being in Shippuden.

    The image of a resurrected Madara Uchiha laying waste to an army with infinite chakra and the inability to die set to a number of AMV’s was really powerful. As in I want it.

    But even at max level, using a Jutsu to give myself theoretical godhood was just thoroughly unappealing. Because as much as I love getting more power, I love challenges more. Physical, violent challenges where I might actually die in undertaking them. Nothing more exhilarating, nothing more fun, than diving into a situation where I might die and the coming out on top. Tobi was out there, he could go through walls and teleport and I didn’t want to spoil the challenge by simply powering up until it was irrelevant.

    Right, so case closed. No god-mode, no infinite chakra, the preservation of at least some small, tiny possibility of challenge left in this world for a man who is almost too powerful for anyone to hope to fight.

    Right?

    No.

    It’s not closed because of my ultimate goal.

    I want to go home. I want to see my family again, I want to see my country again, I want to see my civilization again.

    I want my old name again.

    …a name that I don’t even remember anymore.

    The crashing sound of wood nearly startled me. Looking down, I saw that I had put a hole in my desk in anger.

    I didn’t even realize that I was forgetting things. I thought my memory was perfect…it is perfect. Isn’t it?

    Guess not. Need to start writing things down. Pronto.

    With a grunt of annoyance, I repaired the desk. I need to stop getting angry at the pull of a trigger. I might’ve been able to salvage the situation at Konoha if I didn’t get mad at Sarutobi deliberately rubbing everything I had lost when I came to his miserable village in my face because I pointed out that he was a weak old man who had no business leading anyone anymore.

    Focus. You’re getting mad again.

    Whatever. The point is, I’m trying to breach dimensional boundaries and get back home again. Something that this game…

    Intelligence Check Failure: Success Not Possible.

    Ninjutsu Check Failure: Success Not Possible.

    Fuinjutsu Check Failure: Success Not Possible.

    Perception Check Failure: Success Not Possible.

    …is telling me is impossible.

    Part of me is wondering if it’s declaring it impossible because I don’t have enough chakra. I mean, I capped out at 185 chakra points. Really not a lot. I mean, I started out at 76 at level 1, but still. 76, 185 and whatever are barely anything when comparing them to infinity.

    Even if it doesn’t actually change any of the checks to Successes, I’ll only help myself accomplish my goal by going through with this Ascension thing. But it’ll also remove any hope of finding my primary source of joy, at all. Which, I mean, I’ve been needing to find some other way of living. I was going to get to this point regardless so it was going to happen.

    I just need to get in front of it. I mean, I’m sure I’ll get some level of fulfillment from spreading Ninshū all over the elemental nations and then slowly ushering the world into a golden age of technology and understanding. The key is to do it from behind everyone else to make sure that what I end up building can stand without me being there to babysit.

    But man, I was so looking forward to that fight with Tobi and the rest of the Akatsuki. Actually, why don’t I just go take care of them right now as some sort of last hurrah?

    Because I need them to be a bogey-man that the rest of the elemental nations can focus on while I’m spreading Ninshū to the civilian populace under their noses. They can’t do that if they’re dead.

    Technically, I wouldn’t need to do any of that if I just assumed Emperorship of the Elemental nations and lead them directly. But I refuse to do that because (a): I’m not their god and (b): I’m not their father.

    I want the people in charge, and then the people themselves, to choose for themselves to follow the direction I’m setting up. I don’t want to force anyone to follow my vision. Besides, if I took over directly, that would be shooting the whole ‘build it so it can survive without me’ goal in the foot, I feel like.

    Well, I mean, I don’t know. There’s no skill for Statecraft. Barter is technically Economics when you got to higher levels, but that’d only help with making laws intent on preserving the natural flow of an economy, like breaking up monopolies and stuff like that.

    Essentially, I’d need to learn governance the hard way.

    I mean, I’m sure I’ll learn plenty as I’m working alongside Mifune. Actually, that’s a requirement, now. I’m going to pick his brain on how he rules the Land of Iron. Then, when I’m introducing myself to the Daimyo’s, I might learn a lot from them too.

    Actually, I could send a few clones out to everyone right now and just start shadowing-no.

    No clones.

    Clones are the worst.

    New rule for me. Unless it’s a humanitarian crisis like a natural disaster that needs me to be in multiple spots at once, no clones. Clones are the Harbingers of Boredom and I hate boredom. Loathe it completely.

    What was I talking about?

    Right, the whole Ascension thing to make it actually possible to jump dimensions.

    What am I even going to do when I get home?

    That is a question to consider after I’ve gotten home.



    Man, I don’t want to do this.

    But it’s got to be done.

    …I can only imagine the amount of eye rolls I’d get if someone were to actually ‘see’ the internal debate I’m having. ‘Just take the powerup you idiot’. Too much of a good thing, niggling voice of criticism in the back of my head. Too much.

    My hands slowly and methodically went through the hand seals needed to do this. I felt my chakra shape itself into each element individually and then combining into one. Fire. Wind. Lightning. Earth. Water. Creation release.

    Here we go.

    Ascension.

    I thought that I underwent a drastic transformation when I picked up Almost Perfect. The way I could feel my body changing in waves across my skin, growing muscle and warping bones. This? I could feel this changing my very chakra coils, which in turn was spreading throughout my body.

    It felt like my very soul was changing, but the process wasn’t…painful, per se. But it felt vast and very permanent. Like a fire was being set inside me, never to be extinguished. Like I was being cleansed by the very essence of purity.

    By the time it was done, I still felt warm and I felt a vast sea of eternity coursing around inside me. Like I could do anything.

    Then the game froze.

    At first, I panicked, expecting the game to glitch out or something. But instead, I got a new message.

    Perk Unlocked: Apotheosis.

    By all your powers combined, you’ve ascended to godhood! Eternal Life, Eternal Youth, Eternal power, they’re all yours. You will never die or suffer penalties because of old age. You also have Infinite Chakra and Hit Points.

    My health and chakra bars appeared for a brief second in my vision, and then disappeared.

    Yay.

    In contrast to the infinite oceans of chakra swirling inside me, I was dead inside.

    My old purpose in life had truly lost all meaning, now.

    The kicker is that I know it’s for the best.

    Take a deep breath, Daisuke.

    You’re going to be too busy trying to uplift the elemental nations and finding a way home to get distracted by physical altercations.

    Let all your frustrations out.

    Even if the perk says I’m a god, I’m not going to be their god. They’ll learn how to govern themselves. They’ll stumble and fall along the way, but they’ll come to my way of thinking. Or they might find something better. In which case, more power to them. I’ll learn from them.

    But I’ve got a lot of work to do.

    ---

    Author’s Note: First chapter on Questionable Questing! Hope you guys enjoyed it. :)

    Shout out goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, makopaulo, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari and PbookR. Your continued support has made this possible.

    EDIT: Also, the names of the two nukes used in WWII were Fat Man and Little Boy, not Big Boy. This was caught by a reviewer on FFnet, one 'Kenshin135'. I'm leaving it the way it is because I like the Jutsu that Daisuke made, Big Man, as is and it works because he mistook the names. Thanks, man! :)


    Until the next chapter!

    ~Fulcon
     
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 2: Debriefing
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    Well, before my meeting with Mifune in about an hour, it’s time to revisit a plethora of jutsu that I’ve had to sideline because they had health costs. I am, of course, talking about Time Release. When I created it, I had just fused the elements together long enough to get the element unlocked. When I tried to freeze time, it acted like a damage over time effect and nearly killed me before I ended the jutsu.

    But now I’ve got infinite health and chakra so who cares?

    Pause.

    Alrighty, nothing’s changed.

    Except for the fact that I had stopped breathing.

    I was in my office where everything was sitting still anyway, standing in front of my desk. On my desk was a mug with the words ‘omnipotence is overrated’ written across it. I tried to bring my hand down to smack it, but found that I couldn’t move.

    Not because the jutsu itself would freeze me. At least, it’s not supposed too, but because the air around me was frozen in time and wouldn’t move by my infinite power.

    …okay then.

    At least it’s also stopped my metabolism? I didn’t need to breathe.

    Which is good, because the air is frozen in my lungs.

    So, freezing time. Good if I need to take a moment to think, process, think of a strategy, etc. Terrible if I actually want to get anything done.

    Next?

    I flew through a series of hand seals.

    Rewind.

    I watched in fascination as my hands flew through each of those hand seals in reverse, then it stopped. Time had resumed its natural flow.

    Alrighty, final test.

    Time travel to the past.

    Where was I an hour ago?

    That’s right, eating breakfast. Made myself some actual pancakes. Hadn’t had those in over a decade. Maple Syrup tasted a bit different then I remembered, but I can’t decide if that’s because I made it wrong, or if my memory is wigging out on me again.

    Whatever. It was a taste of heaven either way.

    And it was ideal for a test.

    88 Miles Per Hour – In Reverse.

    The jutsu activated. I could tell there were some level of paradox protections put in place just by the nature of the Time Release. It’ll be interesting how things wind up going, though. I didn’t remember me bounding down the stairs from my office into the diner while I was eating.

    So, I did just that, and came upon me. My skin looked healthy, my brown hair looked rich and well groomed. My armor had been changed out for a white lab coat over a blue jumpsuit. I was clearly… enjoying my meal. Sure, there wasn’t anyone around but table manners didn’t have to be sacrificed for the first pancakes I’ve had in about thirteen years.

    …well, maybe they could be. Just this once though.

    Curious my past self hasn’t noticed me at all, though.

    I brought up my finger and poked him in the forehead.

    No response. The skin on his forehead didn’t even bend beneath my finger. I tried hitting his pancakes, past me, and the syrup might as well have been solid.

    Well.

    That sucks.

    I can travel back in time, but I can’t do anything besides observe what’s going on.

    That would be the paradox protections in place by the nature of Time Release as an element. The only way to really go backwards through time is to rewind and do it all over again.

    …huh, I had the ability to start my whole life over again.

    But I am not doing all of that over again. I have no idea what consequences would result from me not having 9 and then 10 luck right from the get go, even if it means having a base and acceptable charisma. Even if I could go back to being an infant and just grind jutsu until level 30 before I hit the academy (and I could, I’ve done the math many times since Naruto and I had our talk), I have no desire to do all of that over again.

    My life is the way it is, and the cost of going rewinding and going backwards is way too much for me to even think about.

    No.

    My life is as it is.

    When I returned home, my plan was to travel forwards or backwards through time as needed until I got right to the moment where I crashed my car, fix it, dispose of my body and go on my life. Kind of. I’d need to completely rewrite the mechanics of time release if I wanted to go back home at the exact moment when I had originally died so I can pretend that nothing happened…while still having the power of a god.

    I’m not returning from this insanity empty handed.

    But how to do that…

    Intelligence Check Failure: Success Not Possible.

    Ninjutsu Check Failure: Success Not Possible.

    Fuinjutsu Check Failure: Success Not Possible.

    Perception Check Failure: Success Not Possible.

    Oh, so it’s just like how it, supposedly, is impossible for me to return home. Whatever, game. I’ll find a way.

    Alright, now let’s issue a Wait command and see what happens when I catch up to the present.

    And just like that, I found myself yanked to the position I was in when I had first traveled backwards in time, standing in front of my desk in my office. Alright, interesting, landing in the present pulls me to the present. No doppelgangers.

    Time release is a very…safe element, for all the possible quantum snarls that it could cause. It’s a…good thing, I guess, but it’s maddening. Well, in that case, I think I’ll save further testing for later. I need to prepare to present my book to Mifune and try to address all his comments and concerns.

    The main hurdle he has is, throughout his whole life, he was taught that Jutsu was evil. You can’t just buck that. Even if he’s cautiously hearing out my proposal to fix up Iron’s infrastructure, it’s only because I saved his life. Therefore, I need to carefully expose him to the neutral, unbiased information of what Jutsu was without triggering his ‘Jutsu bad’ reaction.

    It might be fun, though.

    ---

    “Hisako-senpai!” Naruto called down the training yard. “I was wondering if I’d find you here!”

    He ran down to the Chunin, waving in enthusiastic greeting.

    Hisako, her black hair tied in it’s usual pony-tail, two locks of hair falling around either side of her face to frame it, were slicked with sweat. Her forehead was dripping with sweat and her red coat was thrown in a heap to the side, her white t-shirt coated in sweat. She was standing next to a stone wall that had been built as a target ranged, nursing knuckles that had been scraped nearly raw, and were bleeding.

    She looked at Naruto with tired and weary eyes. “Hey, Naruto-kouhai.”

    “I haven’t seen you in weeks,” Naruto said with a grin. He hadn’t seen her since she woke up after Daisuke’s thrashing, actually. Then he noticed her bloody knuckles and his smile morphed into a frown. “Wait, are you okay? That looks really bad.”

    “I’m fine,” Hisako replied monotonously. “I’m just training.”

    “Training what?” Naruto asked with a raised eyebrow.

    Hisako didn’t answer immediately, bringing her fist up again and running chakra through it.

    “Senpai?”

    Hisako hushed him. “In a second.”

    She threw a punch at the wall and winced horribly, bringing her fist up to her lips to suck on.

    “What exactly are you training?” Naruto asked, his voice full of concern.

    Hisako took a deep breath. “Daisuke taught me how to blow people up with Taijutsu and I’m trying to get the technique down.”

    “So, what’s the problem?” Naruto asked with a frown.

    “My chakra control isn’t good enough,” Hisako answered darkly. “Just like everything else.”

    Naruto’s head tilted in confused. “What makes you say that? You’re an awesome kunoichi.”

    “Because,” Hisako said, throwing another punch at the wall. Her whole frame shuddered at the impact and she withdrew the fist with a whimper. A tear rolled down from the side of her face.

    “Okay, that’s enough,” Naruto said with an overly friendly, wide smile, putting his arm around Hisako’s waist, given that she was taller than he was, and guided her away from the wall. “Why don’t you take a break while you talk to me and stop breaking your hands.”

    “Fine,” Hisako shrugged dismissively. “I was going to take a break anyway.”

    “Good,” Naruto said, patting her arm in encouragement. “Good, this is a something you can take a break from. A long break. A break that lasts until you’ve got enough chakra control to actually Taijutsu explosions.”

    Hisako just sighed. “So, never again?”

    “I didn’t say that,” Naruto said. “So, what were you saying?”

    “Forget it.” Hisako looked to the side with a frown.

    “Aw, Hisako-senpai, don’t be like that,” Naruto replied with a frown. “Seriously, what’s wrong?”

    “Naruto, I said to let it go,” Hisako growled.

    “But if I do that, you’ll go back to breaking your hands on a brick wall,” Naruto rebutted with a whine. “So, you can forget me leaving and we’re going to talk.”

    “Why do you care anyway?” Hisako barked. “It’s not like anyone else does.”

    “Because you’re my friend and I care about my friends,” Naruto replied brightly. “So, seriously, what’s wrong?”

    The two sat down on the stumps placed near the entrance of the training ground.

    Hisako took a deep breath. “I’m the reason Daisuke left.”

    Naruto looked perplexed. “No, he left because the old man made some mistakes in the past and they’ve had a lot of friction recently.”

    “Naruto, I’m what made the pot boil over,” Hisako insisted.

    “How?” Naruto asked.

    “When we were in the Chunin exams, we encountered an S-class missing nin,” Hisako started quietly. “Orochimaru. You remember Daisuke talking about him?”

    “Yeah,” Naruto nodded. “What about it?”

    “Well, I didn’t know who it was,” Hisako said. “But Daisuke did know. I would’ve asked him, but he looked tired and anxious. Like he needed to get away from everything, so I left him alone and reported what I saw to Kakashi-sensei and ask him if he knew who it was.”

    Hisako shook her head. “Apparently, it got to the Hokage and the Hokage wasn’t happy. Looking back, I can see why, but-but…”

    She moaned in self-loathing. “He got mad at Daisuke. You know how Daisuke responded?”

    “He went after Orochimaru?” Naruto asked with a slight, wistful chuckle.

    “The very next day,” Hisako shook her head. “He found and killed a member of the Sannin and his five personal body guards single-handedly, proving that he didn’t need any of us. He said it too. He told the Hokage, to his face, that he didn’t need the village and that being a missing nin had to have been better than dealing with the Hokage breathing down his neck.”

    Naruto leaned back, absorbing this new information. “Okay. Wow, alright, I didn’t know that.”

    “The Hokage made him a deal, and we headed back to Suna and I…I was mad,” Hisako continued, letting out a depressed sigh. “I was angry. At him. How dare he threaten to leave the village? So, what if he didn’t need us? After all the time we spent together that it didn’t mean anything to him?”

    Naruto simply crossed his legs beneath him and leaned forward, listening.

    “That I didn’t mean anything to him?” Hisako whispered, tears dripping down her face.

    This…attachment is really, really unhealthy, Naruto nodded to himself.

    “I mean, it’s not like it’s hard to not be a good ninja,” Hisako growled in anger. “Just work with your team, coordinate with them, train with them, all things he couldn’t do, so I guess but I was just...I was mad. That he couldn’t do these simple, basic things and mad that he kept getting in trouble over it. But for the first time, really? He got mad back. Shouted at me. I kind of deserved it, I guess. But all the Jounin in the room surrounded him because he scared them and…that was the final straw. He left to take care of his charisma problem.”

    “Wow,” Naruto said. “I didn’t realize that it turned into this…thing. But he came back.”

    “Yeah,” Hisako replied wistfully. “He did. On the day of the third phase. Didn’t really say anything. He just fought his matches…until the end.”

    “What happened at the end?” Naruto asked.

    “It was a special match. It was supposed to end in a three-way between three of the villages,” Hisako informed him. “Daisuke and I were two of the opponents against a Suna Genin. So, Daisuke got a fight set up with the villages Jinchūriki.”

    “Wait, they have a demon container over there too?” Naruto asked in surprised.

    “I was surprised to learn that we had one,” Hisako pointed out wryly.

    “Hey, so was I,” Naruto shrugged with a grin.

    “I’ll bet you were,” Hisako chuckled softly.

    “But what happened?”

    “So, this Jinchūriki could control sand,” Hisako continued. “And we were in the desert. So, he caused a sand-storm to try to take out Daisuke. But the thing is? It didn’t even touch him.”

    “He dodged a sand-storm?” Naruto asked, blinking owlishly.

    “No. He put a jutsu in place that left the sandstorm unable to touch him,” Hisako replied. “The sand seemed to twist and warp unnaturally just to avoid him and, well, it hurt my eyes to watch.”

    “…I wonder if Sakura-chan would know what he was doing there,” Naruto mused.

    “Well, whatever it was, it allowed him to slowly walk up to him like it was nothing,” Hisako replied, sounding wistful again. “There wasn’t anything he could do about it. And when Daisuke got to him?”

    “Boom?” Naruto asked.

    “No,” Hisako shook his head. “He fixed the seal.”

    “What do you mean?” Naruto asked.

    “I talked to him about it after,” Hisako replied. “Apparently, the seal used to put the demon inside him was really poor quality, so he just fixed it up. Made it so he could actually sleep without getting nightmares and some other stuff.”

    “So. he just walked up to a guy who he didn’t know, saw a problem and just fixed it on the spot?” Naruto asked in awe. Then he cheered. “I knew it! I knew he was still good!”

    “Afterwards, we talked. He offered to resign because he was unfit for duty,” Hisako chuckled and shook her head. “Which was better than out and out leaving. Much better. He seemed…ashamed of himself. Not just his actions, but with himself as a person.”

    “Which would mean he would overcorrect in trying to be a better person now,” Naruto replied. He was nodding in satisfaction, like things were starting to click with him in his brain. “That makes total sense.”

    “And it wouldn’t have happened if I had just kept my mouth shut,” Hisako shook her head. “He wouldn’t have felt the need to tell two S-class secrets, get himself declared a missing nin and smash the Hokage and an entire contingent of ANBU.”

    “Hey, don’t blame yourself for it,” Naruto pointed at her sternly. “Senpai, Daisuke’s actions are entirely his own decision. He didn’t have to tell me via secret message telling me to come to a garden shed, but he did. He didn’t have to destroy the Hokage for calling him a child, but he did. He didn’t have to leave. But he did.”

    “But aren’t I to blame?” Hisako asked softly. “If I had just kept my mouth shut in either of those cases, if I had just not said anything at all, Daisuke wouldn’t have left us.”

    “You couldn’t have known that this would’ve happened,” Naruto chided. “Yes, you made mistakes, but life is moving on. So. you need to move on. Forgive yourself, learn from them and then become a better person. Alright?”

    Hisako sighed, and looked off into the forest. “Alright.”

    “Great!” Naruto grinned.

    Hisako was quiet for a minute. “I still love him, you know? I was going to tell him when we got back from Suna. But…I couldn’t bring myself to say it. Not after I blew up at him.”

    “Well,” Naruto said. “Maybe he’ll give you a chance once we bring him back.”

    Hisako scoffed. “As if. I’m not good enough for him, and I’ve accepted that I never will be.”

    “Come on,” Naruto replied. “Sakura gave me a chance and I was super persistent just like you. Maybe you both just needed to grow up a bit before he was ready for a relationship. But, uh…have you thought about dating other guys while he’s not here?”

    “No one else even comes close to what he was,” Hisako sighed in depression. “So, no.”

    “Well, I don’t know, give one of them a chance,” Naruto urged. “They might surprise you.”

    Hisako hummed. “Maybe, but you really think we can bring Daisuke back to the village?”

    “Totally,” Naruto nodded enthusiastically. “It can happen, believe it.”

    “What’s your plan?” Hisako asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Train really hard until he has to take me seriously,” Naruto said happily. “Then fight him until I can beat some sense into him and he comes back to Konoha voluntarily.”

    Hisako’s eyebrow raised higher. “Okay. What are you going to do about the Hokage when he wants his chakra cut off and his limbs severed?”

    “That’s easy,” Naruto waved off. “By the time I’m strong enough for Daisuke to take me seriously, I’ll already be Hokage. So, I’ll just pardon him.”

    Hisako started laughing. She doubled over, clutching her stomach.

    “You know it would totally work,” Naruto frowned, folding his arms.

    “I,” Hisako began, starting to recover. But she was still chuckling. “You know what I think? I think you’re right.”

    “I know it’ll work,” Naruto said with a toothy grin. “Because if there’s one thing Daisuke can’t turn down, it’s the promise of a good fight and while we’re fighting, we can talk.”

    “You know, you’re right,” Hisako nodded. “Count me in.”

    “Huh?”

    “I want to help,” Hisako stated resolutely. “If it brings the boy I love back to Konoha, then I’ll do anything.”

    “Well, alright,” Naruto nodded. “But, if you want my advice? You should try dating other guys.”

    Hisako glared angrily at the blonde. “No.”

    “It’ll give you experience and help you not be so needy,” Naruto pointed out. “Seriously, the needy and desperate thing was a turn-off for him.”

    Hisako groaned in irritation. “Look, I’ll think about it. Can we just start training now?”

    “How about tomorrow?” Naruto suggested. “After you get those knuckles of yours looked at.”

    Hisako looked at her bleeding knuckles and sighed. “Fine.”

    ---

    Ino was hunched over her desk, looking at the drawing that she had made in deep concentration.

    It was from the point of view of a person, sitting in front of some kind of wheel at a desk, with a road stretching out in front of them. On the road, some kind of…wagon, as best as she could describe it, had pulled in front of the desk. There was a cabin in the front, as if it were a carriage, with an open wagon behind it.

    She had no idea what to make of it. It was such a bizarre sight that she had trouble processing it when she first saw it.

    Which is why she had called for help.

    “Ino!” Her mother called from downstairs. “Shikamaru and Chouji are here!”

    “Can they come upstairs?” Ino called down.

    “Ino, you’re a girl and they’re boys,” was the incredulous reply. “That would be inappropriate!”

    Ino huffed. “Alright, I’ll be down in a second.”

    She rolled up and folded the picture she had drawn and stood up. The trip down the stairs was careful and even, to avoid giving too much desperation away. If she made it clear that she really wanted to see them, her mother would get curious and it would make its way to her father.

    This wasn’t something for either of their ears. At least not yet. That’s why the folded picture was in her pocket.

    “Shikamaru, Chouji,” Ino greeted them with a wave. “Thanks for coming!”

    “Hey Ino,” Chouji said, plopping a chip into his mouth. Then, while he was still chewing, he continued speaking. “What’s up?”

    “Oh, I was going to get some ramen and wanted to bring you both with me,” Ino replied brightly. When life gives you shrimp, make shrimp ramen. Ayame might be able to help with this too…

    “Uh,” Shikamaru blinked once. “Alright. If you’re buying.”

    “I am,” Ino said with a smile.

    “Cool!” Chouji said with a grin.

    “Well,” Ino looked up at her mother. She could tell something was off about Ino’s sudden outburst of generosity, but there was no reason for her to say no. “Have fun. But be back before sundown, alright?”

    “Okay mom,” Ino waved as she stepped out the door.

    The door shut behind her and Ino kept a careful eye on the window to her home. When they passed out of eyesight, she breathed a sigh of relief. “Alright, I think the coast is clear.”

    “So, what’s this actually about?” Shikamaru asked.

    “I pulled a memory from Daisuke,” Ino explained. “You know, when I had taken him over? But I can’t make sense of it. So, I wanted you both to help me out.”

    “We’re not actually getting any ramen, are we?” Chouji asked in disappointment.

    “Yes, you are,” Ino sighed. “I needed to do with away from Mom and Dad and there’s someone at the Ramen stand that we can talk too about this as well.”

    “You wanted to talk about it in your room, but your Mom made that impossible, so now you’re changing plans,” Shikamaru sighed. “Troublesome.”

    “Had to be done,” Ino stated. “Now, do you mind keeping an eye out for potential spies?”

    Shikamaru thought that was a waste of time. But he just shrugged and said, “Alright.”

    Ichiraku Ramen stand was a sight familiar to all of them. When Daisuke was actually around, each of their parents had them try to socialize with their Statuesque Savior and this was one of his most frequent spots to hang out, because this is where Naruto would spend a lot of his time.

    Of course, Ino herself came here on a semi-regular basis without Naruto or Daisuke there, because one of her favorite people worked there.

    “Ayame-sensei,” Ino called as they crawled in under the flaps. “Are you there?”

    “Ino-chan,” Ichiraku Ayame looked up from the pot of ramen she was simmering. “Nara-san, Akimichi-san. Welcome. What can I get you?”

    Shikamaru just shrugged and took a seat. “Just a bowl of the special.”

    “Same,” Chouji replied. “It’s Duck, right?”

    “Yes, it is,” Ayame said cheerfully. “Ino-chan, what would you like?”

    “Miso-pork,” Ino replied, placing her scroll on the counter as she sat down. “And some help.”

    Ayame looked at the folded scroll that Ino unfolding and then looked both ways. “Alright. Let me serve you up and I’ll see what I can do.”

    She quickly and precisely served up each bowl and laid them before the trio. “Alright, let me know how it tastes.”

    Chouji took one sip and gave a thumbs up. “Perfect as always.”

    “Thank you, Akimichi-san,” Ayame said brightly.

    “It’s good,” Shikamaru complimented lazy.

    “I love pork,” Ino said, taking a sip.

    “Now what is that you got there?” Ayame asked, leaning back and turning one of the burners under the counter up.

    “Well,” Ino slowly began. “As you might know, Daisuke…left the village. Permanently.”

    Ayame’s expression shifted slightly, looking sad. “Oh. That’s what happened. Classified?”

    “Yeah,” Shikamaru answered.

    Ayame hummed. “Alright.”

    “But I wound up…inside him, with my clan’s jutsu,” Ino explained, slowly unrolling her drawing on the counter. “And I got a few memories while I was in there. Some made sense immediately, some I had to think about but this? It defies explanation.”

    Ino finished unrolling it.

    Shikamaru’s eyes went wide as he analyzed the drawing. “What am I looking at?”

    “Yeah, what even is this?” Chouji asked with a frown. “Is this from Daisuke’s point of view?”

    “Well, yeah,” Ino replied. “It’s his memory. It’s old too.”

    “How old?” Ayame asked with a frown.

    “Uh…” Ino stopped to think about it. “It’s really, really old. I don’t really know how many years, exactly.”

    “So how is this not some kind of weird dream?” Shikamaru asked. “I mean, you have a wheel, a desk…and a wagon in front of us?”

    “Because of the emotions that came with it,” Ino replied quietly.

    “What are those?” Chouji asked.

    Ino didn’t answer immediately, just sitting there frowning. “Anger, no, Rage. Sadness. Loss. And pain. Lots and lots of pain.”

    Ayame hummed. “Alright, explain the memory to us.”

    “Alright,” Ino replied, nodding, before bringing a finger to the drawing to point things out. “So, we’re here, behind this wheel. I think we’re in a wagon ourselves? I think. It’s nighttime. And we’re going really, really fast down this road, here. Then this other wagon pulls out in front of us and the memory ends, just a black pit of nothingness.”

    “And this isn’t just some dream?” Ayame asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “No way,” Ino shook her head. “But whatever this is, it’s causing Daisuke a lot of pain. I also think that this memory has something to do with how Daisuke never came to see Konoha as his home.”

    Ayame hummed and nodded. “I hadn’t made that connection, but I think it makes sense.”

    “Have you talked to Naruto about this?” Chouji asked with a frown.

    “No,” Ino shook her head.

    “You need too,” Shikamaru pointed out. “He knows Daisuke better than anyone, he might be able to help you.”

    “But he doesn’t trust me,” Ino pointed out in turn.

    “He’ll work with you,” Shikamaru replied. “Trust me, he will. He really will.”

    “I vouch for that,” Ayame replied. “Naruto considers Daisuke a brother in all but blood. If you have something that might help Naruto bring him back, he’ll drop you in his good graces immediately.”

    Ino got a steely look in her eyes. “Alright. Between Naruto and I, Daisuke won’t know what hit him.”

    ---

    “So, here’s the book,” I said, placing it on Mifune’s desk carefully. “Everything in here is factual, neutral data. As we discussed, allowing your adult subjects to see the information objectively and decide what to do with it themselves is key here.”

    “Before I allow anyone here to see this book,” Mifune took it carefully, leafing through the first few pages while stroking his Fu Manchu. “I will need to look at it myself.”

    That’s fine. The fact that I haven’t triggered his ‘Jutsu Bad’ reaction with this book is very promising. It will take a lot of time for this information to soak in, bypass his dislike of jutsu and then become something he has no issue or problem sharing.

    We’re talking at least six months, factoring in that he’s doing this because I saved his life.

    “I would expect nothing less,” I answered. “You are the first and last line of defense against evil ideas, right?”

    That line made me feel like I needed to wash my mouth out. The best way to defend against bad ideas is to let it be examined by the public at large, both conceptually and in execution and let them decide to drop those bad ideas like hot potatoes. The good ones get accepted at a frightening rate with these same standards.

    “Indeed,” Mifune replied carefully. He closed the book and set it on his desk. “Daisuke, if I may ask, how did your meeting with your friend go?”

    “Well, I told him,” I said with a nod. “But Konoha has now declared me a missing nin.”

    “And you’re confident that they don’t know you’re working with me now?” Mifune asked, his eyes narrowing.

    “I didn’t mention it, and I’ve been at my personal hideout the past few weeks,” I answered reassuringly. “They have no clue I’ve even been up this far north.”

    “You sound convincing, actually,” Mifune said, sighing. “Well, in that case, have you considered finding another home?”

    “No,” I shook my head. “My hideout services my needs just fine.”

    “I was going to say that if you were, perhaps, to join us,” Mifune slowly began. “It might go a long way to easing some tensions among the Samurai about what you are trying to show us.”

    If I say yes, he’ll be cautiously happy. Happy because he’s grown somewhat fond of me over the few visits that I’ve made. Cautious, because I’m still a ninja and he would be right to be cautious. However, I plan on going home and joining myself to another faction would go against that. No, better to be aloof.

    “If I were to join you, those same doubters might suspect that you were placed under a Genjutsu,” I answered. “And I just cut ties with Konoha. I think it would be better if I remained autonomous for right now.”

    “A shame,” Mifune replied. “My daughter was interested in meeting you.”

    Well if he’s got a daughter – no. Shut up, hormones.

    “I suppose she’ll have to wait,” I said. “Now, are you going to read that by yourself first, or did you want a few copies to present to your advisors?”

    “I’ll read it by myself,” Mifune answered. “They can have some extra copies when I’ve finished.”

    Alright. He wants to make sure none of his not-particularly trustworthy court get something they can blindside him with and take his spot. Makes sense.

    Then the ground shook.

    Mifune’s desk was violently thrown forward at me and Mifune was nearly sent to the ground. Behind me, the guards did tumble to the ground. The sunlight pouring in through the window went dark as something large moved in front of it and in the distance, a roar came echoing into the office, causing the air to rush in the windows like the wind had picked up speed.

    Whatever made that noise?

    It was big.

    Quest Added - The Kaiju.

    -Kill the Kaiju.

    Wait, no dungeon?

    No army of lesser monsters before I get to the big guy? The boss just appearing is a worth a quest just by itself?

    Normally, I’d be ecstatic but given how yesterday I achieved godhood, it’s probably not going to be anything other than a waste of my time.

    So…yay. Big boss-fight incoming that I need to one-shot to prevent unnecessary civilian casualties. Blegh.

    I moved to Mifune and offered my hand. “You okay?”

    “Yes, I’m fine,” He replied, standing up without taking my hand. “What was that?”

    The door flew open, and three samurai in full armor rushed through and bowed. “Shogun! There is some giant beast that appeared off in the distance! It is coming toward village!”

    “Man the walls and prepare the village’s defense,” Mifune ordered. “Evacuate all non-combatants to the escape tunnels.”

    I raised my finger. “I’m helping.”

    Mifune looked at me for a good minute. “Very well. Accompany me to the walls.”

    I could’ve sworn that the Samurai in armor wanted to contest the Shogun on this, but didn’t argue. Orders were orders.

    With that, I followed the Shogun’s downright manic pace to the walls. He was running as fast as he could, and we got to the walls.

    …and oh boy.

    I saw the thing off in the distance, standing in a valley away from the mountain range. Like…far off. The snow contrasted perfectly with the black silhouette it cast upon the village, the afternoon sun falling behind its massive head.

    Wait.

    Hold on.

    Judging from the distance of the valley in the distance, something so far away it actually partially disappeared behind the curvature of the earth and the height of the sun, I almost want to say…

    Yeah.

    This thing is literally a mile tall.

    1.73 kilometers tall.

    It leaned its massive head back and roared out a massive plume of purple fire that engulfed the sky.

    ---

    Authors Note: Here you go, chapter 2. Hope you enjoyed it. :)

    Shout out goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, makopaulo, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari and PbookR. Thank you for your continued support, you guys are great!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  3. Threadmarks: Chapter 3: The Big One
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

    Joined:
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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    Okay, first order of business is killing it directly. Why?

    Quest Update: The Kaiju

    -The Kaiju cannot be sealed while conscious.

    So, the first thing I tried to do was seal the thing into a scroll from a distance. A long, long distance. It was a lightshow, big, bright shiny lasers that did nothing. Hence, why I’m going to just kill it directly.

    Spear of Creation.

    This jutsu is the product of some serendipity on my part shortly after I ascended. I remember images and statues of Zeus, King of the Gods and his lightning bolt. Granted, most of those memories were from Disney’s Hercules, but that’s getting off topic.

    I created the spear, a long, blue shaft of light and held it back.

    The Spear of Creation holds the honor of being the only jutsu in my arsenal capable of doing infinite damage. Well, sort of. See, it’s technically a debuff. I’m totally capable of multiplying someone else’s health by two, three, a thousand…but this jutsu? It multiplies the targets health by zero. Only for a second, but when a person’s health is zero, they’re dead, so a second is all you need.

    With my eyes on the mountainous target, I threw the spear.

    It flew with all it’s omnipotent glory, slamming into the target with a blast of light that engulfed the entire mountain range. I actually had to squint as the light was nearly blinding. It faded quickly, though, and then I saw the Kaiju.

    Oh, it was falling.

    If it hit the ground, I could see thousands of homes and villages getting shattered from the shockwave alone, not the mention how the mountains themselves would come apart.

    I lifted off, heedless to Mifune calling after me, I can talk to him later, and went to catch this giant, falling corpse.

    Getting close to the thing, I could see it was actually humanoid, both in bone structure and in skin. I mean, sure, the feet were propped up like the hind legs of some animal, but the torso, arms? Human, baby. It had skin, too, not scales, which kind of weirded me out but whatever. The only other divergence from human was the mouth, which had a pair of tusks jutting out and up from the jawbone.

    And the glowing purple eyes, but you know, that’s whatever.

    Little disappointed that this thing isn’t Godzilla.

    Kaiju, here, was starting to fall and pick up speed. The winds around him were becoming hurricane level force as it rushed to get out of the way of his falling corpse. I got underneath his back and held my outstretched arms. A simple application of chakra allowed me to ignore that pesky thing called ‘pressure’ and I was able to actually catch the thing and hold it up.

    Alright, time to seal the corpse.

    …wait, shouldn’t my quest be telling me that it’s been completed?

    Quest Updated: The Kaiju

    -The Kaiju is now immune to hit-point debuffs.

    Wat.

    Then the corpse started to move again.

    Hang on.

    I’m really confused.

    How is it still alive?

    I used my chakra to stick to the thing’s skin and tried to keep it in place.

    Shocking Grasp.

    You ever see a lightning jutsu with infinite chakra behind it? It actually was blinding. And the smell of burnt air and gas permeated the air. I could feel it coming into my lungs and burning them, but I had infinite health, so what did I care. As it stood, I created a seal over my lungs to filter harmful chemicals out as a convenience.

    Alright, I’m pretty sure it’s out like a light now.

    Quest Updated: The Kaiju

    -The Kaiju is now extremely resistant to lightning release.

    -The Kaiju now only takes fifty points of damage maximum from any attack, calculated after damage resistance.

    -The Kaiju’s health has been doubled (1).

    Now this is just getting annoying.

    How did that knock it out?

    Suddenly, I felt myself engulfed by a wave of purple chakra that looked more like a nuclear explosion than a jutsu and I felt…weaker.

    Ninjutsu Partially Absorbed.

    Your health and chakra have been temporarily reduced to 300.

    WAIT-

    Then it spun around and without the infinite chakra necessary to keep this mountainous behemoth from moving, he stood up. Then, it tried to reach around with his massive arms to try to swat me off it’s back.

    Well, this went from a boring disappointment to actually pretty exciting!

    Okay!

    300 chakra is still more than I had originally, so let’s work with that. He’s resistant to electrical damage, so let’s hit him with a Yamato cannon!

    I held the contained nuclear blast in my hands and threw it up, hitting the thing across the back of the head. Then another! And another!

    He only takes fifty points of damage a blast, so more!

    And I’m out of chakra. Rats.

    That hasn’t been a problem in forever-wait, why is it dark now?

    I looked behind me and I saw a mountain rushing up to meet me and crush me. Oh, the Kaiju is now trying to smash against the mountain in an attempt to finally kill me.

    Alright, then.

    Flying Thunder God.

    The seal I teleported too was actually just outside the bridge to Iron’s capital. But I could still see my mountainous friend slamming itself against a mountain and breaking it to pieces in the process.

    I flew straight up and zipped over to him.

    Isaac’s Greater Missile Storm.

    Words cannot describe how impossibly happy I am that I was able to recreate my favorite spell from my favorite RPG as a weapon to use. It only does around three hundred damage a missile but this thing only takes fifty damage a shot anyway (after damage resistance) so spam attacks are the order of the day.

    It caught sight of me right before the first purple-ish blue missile impacted its face. Then the rest of the missiles hit it like a swarm of wasps flying at Mach 10, each impact sounding shockwaves that echoed through the mountain range.

    With the final missile, the Kaiju was sent on its back, looking dazed as it leaned against the mountain behind it.

    Your health and chakra are no-longer reduced to 300.

    Aw, man…

    The Kaiju looked thoroughly dazed, but it wasn’t dead. Its eyes were completely unfocussed.

    …you know, I’ve seen this behavior before. Take enough damage to wind you, you get knocked down, unable to do anything before you stand up a few seconds later, ready to go again.

    But I don’t remember what it means.

    Ugh.

    I can’t wait to get home so I can Google all the crap that I’ve forgotten. Seriously, this is driving me insane.

    Quest Updated: The Kaiju

    -The Kaiju’s health has been doubled (2).

    -The Kaiju is now extremely resistant to Shine release.

    It stood back up and roared, grabbing a large piece of mountain that it broke loose when it fell against it and throwing at me. Using my chakra, I caught it, whirled it around and threw it right back at him. It hit him in the head, shattering into a thousand comparatively tiny boulders that rained down onto the ground below.

    There’re villages down there, crap.

    Isaac’s Greater Missile Storm.

    That takes care of the debris and as fun as this has been, I need to end it. Now.

    …alright, damage clearly can’t knock this thing unconscious. You know what I should’ve done the first time? Oxygen deprivation. That’ll knock it right out.

    Global Repositioning System.

    Using Space release to teleport around is fun. Now that I was behind it and glued to its back, I prepared a scroll in one hand and the medical jutsu in the other.

    Oxygen Deprivation.

    I wish I had a clever reference to basically sealing all oxygen out of somethings brain. But I didn’t, so that’s what I had. Made me upset, but what am I going to do?

    The effect was immediate, it started to fall over and I took that time to press the scroll to it’s back. Sealing Jutsu.

    It vanished in a massive cloud of smoke that dissipated after a few long, agonizing minutes. When the smoke cleared, the Kaiju wasn’t there.

    Alright, game. The Kaiju is dead. It’s been reduced to a fine paste within a storage scroll. Time to update the quest and tell me that it’s completed so I can start working on fixing the damage.

    …game?

    Game, you there?

    Quest Updated: The Kaiju.

    -The Kaiju is now immune to Fuinjutsu.

    Are you kidding me, game?

    That’s awesome!

    And terrifying!

    But seriously, I need to get this scroll to my Vault now and put it somewhere secure so that, if it somehow breaks out of the storage scroll, which shouldn’t be possible but rule-breaking is just something that happens around me now so I need to take precautions.

    Also, I’m going to need to talk to Mifune after all this is done because this battle just wrecked a large portion of the Land of Iron and he is not going to be happy.

    ---

    “Hey, I’m back,” I said good-naturedly as the guards let me into Mifune’s office. “Just to clarify, I’ve got no idea where that thing came from, and I’d like to help you fix the damages that our battle caused.”

    Mifune blinked once, carefully weighing his next response. His fingers were folded together in front of him, white from how hard he was holding them. Finally, he replied. “If it wasn’t for the fact that the damages caused by that battle are real, I would have believed it to be a Genjutsu.”

    “You know, I wouldn’t blame you for that one bit,” I responded, with a nod of my head. “Mile-tall monsters don’t usually happen.”

    “As it stands,” Mifune continued, grunting as he straightened in his seat. “The fight did happen, and it was impossibly costly to the Land of Iron. Eight villages leveled by the beast before your battle, two during. We may never recover.”

    “The lives you lost are a tragedy,” I replied with a frown. “You have my condolences.”

    “Indeed,” Mifune said, lost in thought as he squinted at me.

    Oh, he suspects that I had something to do with the beast. Denial would only increase those suspicions at this moment. But I do have a way of disarming him. Plus, you know, it’s what I want to do anyway. “How do you want me to help?”

    Again, the Shogun didn’t respond immediately. “You’re asking me.”

    “I am,” I replied. “I wasn’t lying when I said I thought the constant wars of the world disgusted me. The loss of life from a battle that I was involved in is inexcusable. I want to help make it right. Just tell me how.”

    “First, answer me this,” Mifune started, taking a breath and composing himself. “Was that a weapon of Konoha?”

    “It is not. The Ninja villages aren’t capable of creating something like that,” I shook my head. “The closest thing to it that they’ve got are the Bijuu and those are captured, not made.”

    He believed me. Thank you, Charisma.

    “Then where did it come from?” Mifune asked with a sigh.

    “Presumably, the same place the Cat people that mauled your general, the fish people that kidnapped Konoha’s clan heirs, or the bird-people of Kumo all came from,” I answered, shrugging because I really didn’t have an answer. “From nowhere, until we learn otherwise.”

    “That’s not an answer,” Mifune pointed out with a sharp frown. “Someone or something is out there, creating animalistic monstrosities to prey on the innocent. For what cause, we do not know. For what end, we do not know. We have to find out why, and soon.”

    “But it’s what I got,” I replied. “But I think the quest for answers can wait. You’ve got a lot of clean up ahead of you. How can I help?”

    Mifune sighed.

    ---

    This is one of the few times where clones were more than acceptable. I had disguised them in armor, covering their face so that people didn’t get freaked out that there was a literal army of cop and paste Daisuke assisting in the damage control.

    My ability to see chakra helped me see survivors that were buried beneath the mountains that had fallen upon them. Even as they worked to ensure that people were found, injuries were healed, I took a moment to marvel that the Three Wolves were still standing. I could see the wall of the Land of Iron built in the center, villages built on top and below the snouts.

    Around the three wolves was a large mountain range, forming almost a ring around them – a ring that the Kaiju and I put a sizable hole in.

    Memories came in. Part of why I hated clones was that the memories were never as good as living through it in person. Sure, you remember the rush of endorphins the clone simulated, but you didn’t get them yourself. It was like watching life through a screen.

    The irony sickens me.

    Anyway, the clones helped regrow a little girl’s severed legs. An old man whose entire left side of his cranium was smashed in was fixed up without issue. A Samurai who was stationed in one of the villages had his flattened arm and shoulder reassembled.

    Lots of dead. Shame I don’t know how to resurrect people – that would involve pulling people’s souls from the afterlife and I’m not entirely sure that’s something that’s even ethical given how sweet the ‘Pure World’ is supposed to be. Might be a question for Shinigami if I ever meet the thing and it’s in the mood for a discussion.

    But it is what it is.

    Why did the Kaiju just appear and attack the Land of Iron now? Where did it come from, really?

    I don’t want to just leave it at ‘the game makes these things’ and just leave it at that because that’s too…clean. It’s too simple of an explanation. An RPG is just a system. It’s numbers, it’s equations. It’s not really something that acts on its own free will. At least, it doesn’t seem like it should be able too.

    But that’s the only explanation that I’ve got with the information I have right now. If it’s not the game doing it by itself, someone or something had to make all of these. Someone or something is pulling the strings. The question then is ‘who’ or ‘what’?

    And why?

    Whatever, I need to talk to Mifune. Repairs are underway and I want to ask him what he wants done with all that loose stone that was in the mountains. From what my clones have seen, there’s ore in there. Lots of ore.

    Mifune was standing with his Generals, speaking and giving orders to coordinate rebuilding efforts. When I touched down, at least two of those generals placed a cautious hand on their blades.

    “Mifune,” I said with a smile. “I had a question about the mountains knocked loose. Did you want them fixed? Because in the debris, there’s a lot of ore that got knocked loose that you might be able to use.”

    “You will address our leader with respect,” One of the generals, a small, frail man whose grey hair was done up in a topknot.

    I mean, I got to give the guy credit. He’s the bravest one here, calling me out for not using Sama or San and not bowing.

    “Kazuya, it is fine,” Mifune pointed out. “He did just save our Land.”

    Kazuya growled softly, but offered no further objection.

    “We were just discussing the merit of your offer,” Mifune began, clearing his throat. “You wish to show us how to improve our infrastructure and the productivity of the civilian populous. As much as we are loath to admit it, that may just be necessary if we are to survive as a nation.”

    “Just so we’re clear, I have no desire to see any of you give up Ninshū,” I began, trying allay the concerns that Mifune’s generals clearly had about the whole enterprise. “Once I understand it myself, I will try to spread Ninshū to the elemental nations. What I want to do here is give you more tools to become a prosperous and healthy nation.”

    “Perhaps you should give us an example of what you would give us,” Mifune suggested. “The book on Jutsu is a good first step, but it would go a long way if we could see where the road that you’re paving leads.”

    “Fair enough,” I said, taking a piece of paper out from within my coat and drawing a blueprint on it. “This is something that’s possible with Fuinjutsu, I call it a Gateway. If you build this at two separate villages, you can use this gateway to teleport people, objects between the two gates. If you had one of these built in every village, you could mobilize your entire army anywhere with one of these instantaneously. The roads would no longer be necessary, bereaving what few bandit clans that operate up here any source of income.”

    “And this would benefit our civilians by decreasing their travel time to zero as well,” Mifune nodded. “This would ease the burden our new lack of numbers is sure to cause.”

    “Exactly,” I said, handing Mifune the paper. “You can keep that. I’ve got something else for you, actually. Something for your Samurai.”

    Another blueprint, this one a two-handed variation of my pistol. “This, I call an Arquebus. It uses chakra to strike at a distance instantaneously. Over the top and bottom, you’ll find chakra conduits that will allow you to create blades for close-quarters combat if it comes to that.”

    “You would seek to replace our swords,” Kazuya balked.

    “The Ninja fear the Samurai because you can cut off their hands before they can finish making jutsu,” I pointed out. “This weapon? Right here? Removes their only advantage in that department: distance. So yes, I am trying to replace your swords.”

    “That is madness,” Kazuya barked with a deep frown.

    “You would need to provide a weapon for us to examine and then train with to see if it’s worth it,” Mifune replied. “If these weapons are as mighty as you say, you’ll allow us to see for ourselves.”

    “I can do that for you,” I replied with a grin. “My hope is that you’ll get so good at Fuinjutsu that plain old Ninjutsu just becomes something you use for convenience.”

    ---

    Mifune let out the tense breath that he didn’t realize that he had been holding. He watched as the godlike preteen that had just defeated the single largest thing that he had ever seen with his own two eyes single-handedly and then repaired nearly all the damage that had been done to his, admittedly small, nation.

    Just what do you want, Daisuke? Mifune thought with a shake of his head. And what even are you?

    Experience and the teachings of his predecessors had taught Mifune that one never simply trusted a Shinobi. They were always trying to find some way to put a kunai to your back.

    But Shimoda clearly didn’t need to bother with pretense. All of that battle had actually happened. No Genjutsu, no illusions, no trickery. He suspected that it might have been to get them to buy what Shimoda was selling, to accelerate the proliferation of Ninjutsu in their lands.

    Which would have been unthinkable several months ago.

    At the very least, now Mifune had proof that Shimoda Daisuke had, in fact, the power and expertise needed to bring the Land of Iron into a new golden age. But Mifune couldn’t just trust that everything he was saying could be taken at face value. He was a Shinobi!

    Even if his gut was telling him that the boy was being honest.

    Kazuya also had a point.

    Even with this Gateway and these Arquebus weapons, after having them been demonstrated, made him salivate at something that gave them a clear advantage over the rank and file shinobi, the accepting of any Ninja Art into their society went against everything that they stood for.

    “I want these weapons placed under lock and key,” Mifune ordered, hefting the short yet elegant weapon. “They are not to be used outside tests ordered by me, personally.”

    “It will be done, Shogun,” Kazuya bowed. “Now, if I may ask you a question.”

    “Speak.”

    “What are you planning to do with these,” The old man paused, looking for the right words. “Curiosities that he has given us?”

    “Nothing,” Mifune replied. “At least not yet. On our next meeting, I will see if we can get him to agree to Ninshū lessons. Then from there, we can learn his true intentions and move forward.”

    “That is a good plan,” Kazuya replied with a nod. “If I may be honest with you, Shogun?”

    “Go ahead,” Mifune permitted with a nod.

    “The boy scares me,” Kazuya admitted with a frown. “With his power and his stated mission, if he’s telling the truth, I think it bodes an ill omen upon us, if not the entire world.”

    “We must proceed carefully,” Mifune stated. “If he is sincere in his goal to learn Ninshū, we can then teach him. If he is sincere, then we can decide what we are to do from there. Besides, I think we can all agree that if we can get on Ninja to actually adopt Ninshū, that would be a triumph, yes?”

    “Of course, Shogun,” Kazuya bowed again. “I will take my leave.”

    “You are dismissed.”

    Kazuya left and, seeing nothing else that required his immediate attention, decided to take his leave as well, and made his way home.

    The home of the Shogun was less of a palace and more of a fortress. It was a relatively small, two-story home with a tall wall extending over it. Walls that could conduct chakra to seal off all entrances and exits, should he require it. But he had never required it once in his life, and he wanted to keep it that way.

    “I’m home!” Mifune called as he entered his home and put off his slippers.

    Directly ahead of Mifune was the staircase going to the second floor. Past the stair case to the left was the door to the living room and study. To the right, the door to the kitchen and dining room.

    “Father!” Out of the dining room rushed Mifune’s daughter, a girl with long black hair that reached just past her shoulders, twin braids falling down the sides of her face. Her cerulean eyes were looking at her father in relief as she rushed to hug him. “I’m so happy you’re safe!”

    “Katsuki-chan, of course I’m safe,” Mifune replied, returning the hug in earnest. “Where’s your mother?”

    “She’s here,” Katsuki said, separating. “I think she’s-”

    “I’m here!” Came a voice calling from upstairs. The sound of a flushing toilet followed and out of the door to their bedroom came Mifune’s wife, a woman whose white hair was done up in a traditional bun. “I ordered the servants home when the attack started.”

    “Well, the attack is over,” Mifune assured them both as Katsue also came in for a hug. “As quickly as it began.”

    “Was it the Shinobi?” Katsuki asked quickly, her eyes narrowing with thought.

    Mifune held in an exasperated groan. “Yes, it was. He did not agree to join us, however.”

    Katsuki pouted, folding her arms in disappointment. “Well, that’s rude. Did he say why not?”

    “Because he suspected that my advisors would accuse him of placing a Genjutsu on me,” Mifune explained. “I believe that is sound justification.”

    “I agree,” Katsue nodded.

    Katsuki groaned. “I want to be the one to teach him Ninshū.”

    “I know you do,” Mifune replied. “But if he doesn’t formally join us, that won’t happen.”

    “I know,” Katsuki said. “But still.”

    “Katsuki-chan, why don’t you go get started on dinner,” Katsue suggested. “I’ll join you once your father and I are done talking.”

    “Yes, Mother,” Katsuki replied, shooting just the hint of an unhappy expression at being excluded from her parent’s business as she retreated into the kitchen.

    “Does he still want to learn Ninshū?” Katsue asked curiously.

    “He is insistent that he does,” Mifune answered with a nod. “I’ll speak with my advisors and propose that he only receive Ninshū instruction once he joins us as a Samurai.”

    “A ninja becoming a samurai,” Katsue mused with a grin. “That’s a pleasant turnaround, don’t you think?”

    “I do,” Mifune replied. Though, darkly, he though; I don’t really think he’s a shinobi. To be perfectly honest, he seems more like some kind of strange god…

    ---


    “Thank you for backing me up,” Kakashi said with an eye-smile.

    “No problem, Sensei,” Nichiren replied with a smile of his own. He took his glasses off to clean them, his black hair still well groomed and parted perfectly. He pointed to the Akimichi restaurant ahead of them, the yellow, healthy glow standing drastically against the night. “So, she’s in there?”

    “Drunk,” Kakashi nodded. “Again.”

    “She didn’t take his departure well at all, did she?” Nichiren asked with a frown.

    “Not in the least,” Kakashi replied. “Let’s go get her.”

    The two went into the Akimichi restaurant. It was fairly busy, with customers eating. Directly ahead of them, the greeter, an Akimichi with their famed body-type hurriedly urged them forward. “Are you the Shinobi sent to retrieve Mitarashi-san?”

    “Yes, that’s us,” Kakashi nodded with an eye-smile. “Where is she at?”

    “She’s just down here,” She replied, pointing down the hall. “Let me show you.”

    “What kind of problems is she causing?” Nichiren asked with a frown.

    “She just had a bit of an argument with her waiter when we decided she couldn’t have any more drinks,” The greeter answered. “We asked her to leave, but she hasn’t even responded. She’s not acted violent or anything, she’s just had too much to drink and needs to leave.”

    “It’ll take a few minutes, we just need to talk to her,” Kakashi assured with an eye-smile.

    Mitarashi Anko was looked collapsed across the table, her trench-coat acting like a pseudo blanket. In her hand was a bottle of sake.

    Kakashi made a few hand-signs. “Static Jutsu.”

    Then he poked her in the shoulder, causing her to jump.

    “Wha-hey-who?” Anko’s head whirled around in every direction, looking for the source of her disturbance. Then she broke into a wide, inebriated grin. “Oh. Heeeeeeeey, Kakashi. You brought me a little dangoooo-“

    “You’ve met Nichiren, right?” Kakashi introduced his student. “He was kind enough to come with me when I was asked to come eject you from the restaurant.”

    “Oh, right,” Anko sighed in irritation and dejection. “They said that-that I had too much to drink. That’s impossible, I tells ‘em, but they don’t agree with me. So now they don’t want my ryo or somfink…”

    “The scene is kind of dead here, anyway,” Nichiren suggested. “Why don’t we take you home so you can get some rest, Mitarashi-sensei.”

    “But rest means hangover,” Anko whined. “I don’t wanna deal with no hangover.”

    Nichiren turned his mouth in both directions once.

    “Anko, I know you’re upset, but you do got to go,” Kakashi said sympathetically. “Come on, we’ll escort you home.”

    “I don’t wanna.”

    “…if you come with us, you can talk to us about Daisuke,” Nichiren offered tentatively.

    “Daisuke, Daisuke, Daisuke,” Anko chanted, sounding more disgusted with every syllable. “That’s all anyone thinks about anymore is Daisuke.”

    “Ah, ah, ah,” Nichiren gestured to the door. “You got to come with us first.”

    “Now you listen here, you-you-you-you,” Anko pointed at Nichiren angrily, only for the pointer finger to fall to the table and she sighed in irritation. “Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.”

    She made to stand up, only to trip over her coat. Kakashi caught her, and stood her up. “Easy, easy. Let’s get you home.”

    “Yeah, yeah. Onward, men!” Anko suddenly perked up, only to lose it just as quickly. “Onward to my behhhhh-”

    Nichiren threw a questioning gaze at Kakashi, who simply shrugged.

    “Wait, wait, wait,” Anko stopped, trying to stand up straight as they got to the front counter. “I gotta pay, you know?”

    “We’ll put it on your tab, Mitarashi-san,” The greeter hurriedly said. “Don’t worry about it, just get home safely.”

    “Okay, put it on muh tab,” Anko waved goodbye with her fingers as Kakashi led her out of the restaurant.

    Once they were out, Anko sighed. “Daisuke, Daisuke, Daisuke…I was such a…”

    Anko tripped over her words for a moment. “I was bad to him. Yeah, that’s what I wanted to say. I was bad to him. Really, really, bad. The worst ever.”

    “How so?” Nichiren asked.

    “You know what that beeeeeutiful boy did for me the first day I met him?” Anko asked with a huge grin. “He pulled out a seal-thingy. The thing on my shoulder. He got rid of it. Just…”

    She made a swiping gesture with her free hand, the other around Kakashi’s shoulder.

    “Gone. Then, I was all laid up in the hospital and bored,” Anko said, sounding giddy. “You know what he does? Ask meeeeeee…”

    “What does he do?” Nichiren asked.

    “He visited me,” Anko answered with a smile on her face. “He visited me all the time. Brought me a whole library of books and played board games with me. Then I got out, and he trained with me to help me get back into shape.”

    “Wow,” Nichiren blinked. “That’s…dedication.”

    “I know, right!” Anko asked loudly. “It was awesome. Then I get to go with you guys. Remember that? I went along with you guys to SUNA. Suna. The sandy place.”

    “You did, I remember,” Nichiren nodded. “Kakashi-sensei, you know where she lives?”

    “I do, Nichiren,” Kakashi nodded. “It’s not far.”

    “You know what happens? He meets the snake,” Anko spat the last word out like she was spitting venom. “Fights him off, doesn’t tell anyone. Not a soul! Not a soul.”

    Kakashi stopped his wince. But just barely. “I remember.”

    “He was just to busy being Daisuke,” Anko said with a laugh that sounded hollow. “You know what I did? Ask me what I did.”

    Kakashi and Nichiren didn’t answer.

    “Come ooooooooooooon,” Anko moaned. “Ask me what I diiiiid…”

    “What did you do?” Nichiren finally asked.

    “I turned on him,” Anko sounded angry and more importantly, sober. “I turned on him in a snap. This one wonderful, beautiful boy puts my entire life back on track and I turned on him the second something went wrong.”

    She started drooping again. “Then he goes and kills him, Kills the snake. Like a hero. I couldn’t say a thing to him. Nope, not one thing. I was ashamed. I was a traitor, not fit to even lick his boots…”

    Nichiren sighed.

    “Then when we get back, he apologizes,” Anko said incredulously in her drunken stupor. “He apologizes to the traitor. To meeeeeeeee.”

    “Wow,” Nichiren said with a frown.

    “Then we’re partners! But he doesn’t kill anyone,” Anko pointed out, her eyes wide while poking Nichiren in the chest. “Not a single person. Not even the Hokage.”

    Anko’s voice got low and angry, like a feral growl. “I would’ve.”

    Oh boy, Nichiren thought.

    “He attacked Daisuke just like I did,” Anko snarled. “But he had done exactly what Daisuke had done! Let the snake go without telling anyone. Then he goes and does the one thing he knows that Daisuke hates beyond anything else.”

    Calling him a child, Nichiren thought with a small nod. Which is kind of a weird thing to set someone off. He wasn’t really called that very much. Usually it was stone-faced freak or gargoyle or something. But child? No.

    “Don’t know why, don’t know how,” Anko said in a sing-song voice. “But boy, oh boy, does Daisuke hate being called a child.”

    “We’re almost there,” Kakashi said, as they started walking up some stairs.

    “You know,” Anko said cheerfully, with a laugh. “It’s kind of funny. You know his girlfriends?”

    “Hisako and Ino?” Nichiren asked with a frown. “Yeah, what about them?”

    “They didn’t get it,” Anko giggled. “They were trying so desperately to convince Daisuke to date them that they missed all the signs.”

    “What didn’t they get?” Kakashi asked curiously.

    “Daisuke, Daisuke said that he’s not reeeeeeeady for a relationship,” Anko said, the alcohol thick on her breath nearly causing Nichiren to gag. “They bought it. Hook, line and sinker. But that’s not the reason. Noooooooo…”

    A smug smile quickly grew on Anko’s face. “I saw the way he looked at that ramen chick. I saw how he looked at me…they’re too young for him.”

    Anko started laughing.

    Daisuke likes older women, Nichiren shook his head. You know, suddenly, that entire situation makes sense. He probably didn’t even realize it, either. Geeze, he’s dumb.

    “Watching them run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to woo him was funny,” Anko said with a grin. “Hey, we’re here! Yay! I got my keys in my jacket…lower left pocket?”

    “Nichiren, if you would?” Kakashi asked.

    “Got it,” Nichiren said, reaching into the pocket on her waist. He unlocked the door and pushed it open.

    “My bedroom is just down the hall,” Anko said with a grin. “You two wanna…wanna…wanna spend-”

    Like that, Anko fell asleep on Kakashi’s shoulder.

    “About time,” Kakashi muttered. “This woman’s got energy for someone too drunk to walk.”

    “No kidding,” Nichiren said, shaking his head. “I can see why you wanted backup. Have you done this before?”

    “No,” Kakashi shook his head, walking down the hall and nudging open the bedroom door. “You mind getting the sheets? No point in just leaving her across the top.”

    “Sure,” Nichiren said, grabbing the sheet corner.

    Kakashi laid her down on the bed and pulled the sheets over Anko. Satisfied that his job had been done, he turned on his heel to walk out. “Thanks for talking with her. Answered a few questions I’ve had for a while.”

    “No kidding,” Nichiren said, leaving her keys on her nightstand.

    The two exited the apartment, locking the door behind them.

    “Have a good night, Nichiren.” Kakashi waved.

    “See you, sensei,” Nichiren bade farewell.

    The two disappeared in twin, black blurs of motion.

    Inside the apartment, now beneath her blankets, Anko whimpered in her sleep. “…should’ve gone with you…”

    ---

    Author’s Note: Being honest with you, I’m happy with this chapter. Near the end, maybe it got a bit sappy or out of character, but I think it’s fine. The Anko of canon wasn’t really explored all that much, so I felt like I could take some liberties while still keeping in with that ‘Adult, Female Naruto’ that she has been described as.

    If you hadn’t figured it out, this is not the last we have seen of the Kaiju. It started out with a mountainous one thousand hitpoints and it’s been doubled a few times now. It’s kind of scary, actually. Of course, the real question is ‘how is it going to get out of a sealing scroll’. Actually, how did it survive being sealed in the first place?

    Questions for later.

    I hope you all enjoyed this chapter!

    Shout out goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari and PbookR. Thank you all for your support! You make this fic possible!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  4. Threadmarks: Chapter 4: Visitors
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    Alrighty.

    First order of business is to put this scroll into orbit. The Kaiju might break out, but I don’t want this thing going where I can’t fight it. So, the best place to put it is up in space circling the planet where it is highly unlikely to be cognizant enough to actually try smashing its way out of orbit and down onto the ground.

    At least not until I can get up there and welcome it back to real space with a punch to its face.

    I’m getting giddy just thinking about this!

    Anyway, up we go!

    Flying Thunder God.

    I ported directly to the top of the valley of the end, where my vault was situated. The twin statues of Hashirama and Madara standing at either side, glaring at each other as their great, ancient clash that changed the face of the elemental nations forever.

    You know, since Naruto was a manga and anime back home, I wonder if the fight these two underwent became directly important to the plot beyond ‘world building’. I never read Shippuden and I never even got to the end of the filler eps of the anime.

    Eh, doubt it. It happened so long ago that anything impacting things beyond the scope of ‘significant historical event’ it unlikely.

    Focus.

    Lift Off.

    I didn’t need a specialized Explosion Release jutsu to lift off into the air and leave Earth's gravity well. But as the ground disappeared beneath my feet and the sky swiftly went from blue to black as night, it became clear that I really, really wanted one.

    Then I looked down and noted that, yeah, I had cleared the atmosphere. Most surprising thing about it? No stars. Though that’s just because of light pollution from the sun, completely drowns out anything and everything else.

    A shame, I was hoping for one of those picturesque scenes where you’ve got the sky from beyond earth, the sun is shining around the bend and the stars providing a diamond studded blanket for both celestial bodies to lay in.

    Life sure has a way of disappointing everyone, doesn’t it?

    Whatever. Let’s just come up with a solid release here and…

    Space Station.

    From my hands grew black matter, that twisted and knit together. It swiftly grew from ten feet to twenty to hundreds, until it was a cube, over a mile in volume. Well, it was large enough for it to stand up straight, walk around a little. Of course, once my space station was complete, the seals went in place.

    Keep it in orbit around the planet. Make it bigger on the inside than it was on the outside with space release shenanigans. Does it eat anything? From the way its teeth looked, it seemed that it was strictly a carnivore but for some reason that wasn’t enough to confirm it for me. If I knew for sure, I could set up an ecosystem in the station to keep it happy.

    I teleported inside.

    It was just a box. Some seals written with Shine release provided light for the massive room. In the center of the box was a rack for the scroll, which I carefully placed the scroll upon.

    The next thing I needed to do was to ascertain where the Kaiju even came from. Did it just appear in the world out of nowhere? Did it fall from the sky? Did it climb out of the Earth?

    Only one way to answer that question.

    Eighty-Eight miles an hour – In Reverse.

    Several hours ago, no space station. With that, I teleported back to the Land of Iron and looked around. I could see the walls of the main village, the name of which I’m going to learn before I meet with Mifune next time I see him. Below us, I saw random villages, the citizens going about their everyday lives.

    Let’s see…the Kaiju first appeared over there. So, let’s keep our eyes on that spot and…

    At first, there was nothing. Then there was Kaiju.

    It was sudden. It had appeared out of thin air. The fact that it didn’t cause windstorms simply by displacing all the air in his area when he appeared was cause for marvel all on his own. Then it roared, setting a jet of purple flames out from his mouth down to the villages below.

    I checked the beasts face, looking for any hint of an expression. Beyond rage, there was none. Nothing to humanize this humanoid abomination. There was no hint of remorse, not even glee at the destruction he was causing. Just a resting rage face that didn’t change when I finally appeared on the scene.

    This thing strikes me as less a creature, and more a robot. Hm.

    Return to the Present.

    Alright, I’m back in Space. Let’s head back down to the Vault, there’s an experiment that I had forgotten to do before I went to go meet Mifune today.

    Flying Thunder God.

    So, I’ve experimented with rewinding time, traveling back in time, pausing…now let’s go to the future.

    88 Miles an Hour – Forwards

    At first, all was well as I sent myself sprawling forwards through time. Then as I continued forward, it slowly started to turn to madness. There were people in my vault, then it was empty. There were infinite copies of Naruto eating at my table, each one slightly different, each one wearing a different expression. Some were delighted at the meal he was given, others disgusted. Ino and thousands of doppelgangers were running down my hall. Some alongside Sakura, others alongside Anko, some still alongside Hisako.

    The walls had been destroyed, they had been reinforced, they had never existed in the first place. The vault was rusted through, the vault was rotted through, the vault was in pristine condition. Looking in the mirror, I was a teenager, I was an adult, I was a child.

    …alright, that’s enough.

    Return to the Present.

    Alrighty. Good news was that I still couldn’t interact with anything. The bad news is that travelling forward through time actually has trouble locking down a timeline to actually plant me. I imagine that the only real way to travel forward would be to Fast Forward instead of trying to directly travel there.

    Well, that was enlightening and I am not doing that again.

    My thoughtful reverie was interrupted by the sound of bell chimes echoing through the vault, shaking the walls.

    Oh. I guess I need to turn the bass down on my doorbell.

    Also, whose ringing my doorbell?

    I zipped over to the entrance. In the little mirror I had mounted on the side of the wall, I checked to make sure I looked presentable. What if it was Naruto or Ino or someone and they tracked me to the Valley of the End? I mean, I doubt it, but what if it was?

    Wait, what am I doing?

    Just use the chakra-sense perk that I grabbed to peek at who it might be?

    Duh.

    Okay, uh…huh.

    On the other side of my vault door were the two biggest chakra reserves that I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Just looking at them make me wonder if they were as infinite as my own reserves and a quick look at my hand confirmed that, yeah, they were infinite.

    My curiosity piqued, I opened the door.

    Opening a vault door is not a quick thing. It took twenty to thirty seconds each time, which is part of why I preferred teleporting in and out of the vault. And, it was loud. Sometimes, the crashing and smashing of a massive, metal gear sliding out of place and rolling to the side to let me through was satisfying, but not every single time I had to make a trip out.

    When the vault door finally finished rolling open, I floated forward across the metal bridge that extended through the door.

    My two visitors weren’t anyone I had ever seen before.

    The first guest was a…demon. Yeah, lets call him a demon. He looked like a demon, floating off of the ground easily, his long white kimono falling past where his feet were. His skin was purple, his hair white with red horns coming out of his skull. Though his face was that of a human, purple skin notwithstanding, his mouth was filled with razor sharp teeth that were shown off with the, uh, friendly smile. He looked kind of familiar.

    The second guest was decidedly more human looking, his skin a healthy pink color. He wore his long black hair long and clearly it was well groomed and maintained. He was wearing a dark green kimono with prints on the shoulders and front. A slightly closer inspection revealed that the prints weren’t floral; they were scythes and blades. His black and red eyes reminded me of the Sharingan, but there was no spinning tomoe and the sclera were black as well. Around his neck was an amulet of an upside-down triangle with a circle around it.

    “Hello there,” I greeted with a wave as I touched down on the ground. “I’m Shimoda Daisuke. Who might you two be?”

    The second guest simply smirked and bowed. “Shimoda-dono. My name is Jashin, I don’t believe you’ve heard of me and this? This is the Shinigami.”

    “A pleasure to meet you once again,” The, uh…Shinigami bowed in the air. “May we come in? We have some things we’d like to discuss.”

    Oh.

    Oh.

    I’ve been visited by other gods.

    Well, that explains the chakra levels.

    “I suppose I can invite you in,” I replied, finally bowing back to them. I lifted off the ground and floated into the vault. “Come in. You can leave your geta on your feet if you’d prefer, I don’t care either way.”

    “Thank you, Shimoda-dono,” The Shinigami called after me as the two followed me inside.

    You know, I didn’t think I’d ever have to play host to anyone more official than Naruto or my old Genin team. The whole point of the vault was to get away from politics and crap, but then again, if I hadn’t wanted gods to come calling, I shouldn’t have ascended to godhood.

    I lead them to my office and gestured for them to have a seat. While they did so, I sat behind my desk.

    “I was told that your soul wasn’t originally from here,” Jashin said idly. “Most mortals prefer sitting on mats than chairs.”

    Ah, yeah. That’s right. “Thank you for the reminder, Jashin-dono. Now, did either of you want anything? I have water, tea and elixir.”

    Jashin and Shinigami shared just the briefest of glances. “Thin tea would be fine.”

    “Elixer, if you’d please,” The Shinigami said.

    “What flavor?” I asked.

    “Apple,” The Shinigami answered with a grin.

    Mixing and creating tea was actually something we had to learn how to do in the Academy as part of our infiltration courses so we could masquerade as assistants to tea masters should the time call for it. I still felt weird offering tea, though. Old world religion still has that streak in me.

    Still wasn’t going to be stocking sake, though, which would’ve been the most appropriate drink to offer.

    “Coming up,” I said, using solid release to create both drinks out of chakra in front of them. With chakra threads, I handed both drinks to their owners.

    “An amusing parlor trick,” Jashin complimented with a smirk. He took a sip of his tea. “Good tea, too.”

    The Shinigami took a gulp of his elixir and sighed in contentment. “I haven’t had apple in a long time.”

    “Now, what is it that you wanted to speak to me about?” I asked with a raised eyebrow, summoning a cup of ice-cold water.

    “First,” Jashin began. “We wanted to first to congratulate you on your ascension and formally recognize you as one of our own.”

    “Oh, well. Thank you,” I replied with a smile. “How many gods are there?”

    “Just the three of us,” Shinigami replied. “Myself, the god of death and Jashin, the god of evil.”

    God of what?

    “Now before you attempt to turn your righteous fury on me,” Jashin said, putting the cup down and looking me directly in the eye. “Know that I came here with nothing but the friendliest of intentions and am looking forward to the competition that you will bring to the table.”

    “The competition,” I repeated levelly. “Alright. I’ll hear you out, at least.”

    “Certainly,” Jashin nodded. “In case you haven’t noticed, this world has only two driving forces; death and foul intentions. It’s part of why the world is in it’s current predicament; there’s been no other forces to balance them out, until now.”

    “The world’s in the state that it’s in because someone’s deliberately engineering the wars and conflicts that the Elemental Countries have been in,” I pointed out with a frown.

    “That is because the main, driving force of evil has never even been contested,” Jashin pointed out with a frown. “That’s not how things are supposed to be. Evil has to rise up, act as a thorn in the side of civilization and cause those who are good to toughen up and sever its head. Then the good people have peace for a few generations, turn soft and allow evil to start working again and the cycle begins anew.”

    “So, you actually want your followers to fail,” I replied, blinking owlishly.

    “In this case, yes,” Jashin nodded vigorously. “The one behind the shinobi wars has been working…slowly. Slothfully, truth be told. Watching him inch ever closer to his main goal when he could’ve had it several decades ago has been boring.”

    “Really? And who exactly is this person that’s behind everything?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Now, now, that would be telling,” Jashin shook his finger at me like I was a naughty child. He took another sip of his tea. “But I will tell you that I fully expect his attempts to reach his ultimate goal to get significantly harder just because you exist.”

    “Why, because I’m a god of good?” I asked with a smirk.

    “More like a god of knowledge,” Jashin replied, placing his tea-cup down. “And his plan relies on ignorance.”

    “So, what exactly do the two of you want, exactly?” I asked with a frown. “What are your goals? What are you trying to accomplish?”

    “My goal was to automate death so that I didn’t have to be present every single time someone’s body failed as a soul jar,” Shinigami replied, taking a gulp of his apple elixir. “I accomplished that centuries ago, so now I just watch mortals for entertainment.”

    “So, you’ve basically retired,” I pointed out.

    “Pretty much, yes,” Shinigami nodded. “It’s a good life.”

    “What about you, Jashin?” I asked. “You actually want your followers to fail?”

    “He’s not really a follower,” Jashin said, making a wishy-washy gesture with his hand. “Just the main agent with how many people he affects with his actions. But I do want him to fail, if only because it would actually signal a return to the way things are supposed to be.”

    “Which is that cycle of bad people making good men strong, whose descendants become weak, allowing evil to flourish until they make good men strong?” I asked.

    “I think you can sum it up better, but yes,” Jashin nodded. “If evil wins, everyone dies in misery. That’s just the nature of evil – it is incapable of building anything that can truly last. But when the forces needed to counterbalance it are absent? Then the race of mortals dies a slow and ignominious death and the purpose of evil, to cull the weak and make good men strong, goes undone.”

    “The slothful life is the good life,” Shinigami replied with a smile, taking another gulp of elixir. “Shimoda-dono, may I have a refill?”

    I refilled his bottle with a wave of a finger.

    “Thank you.”

    “So, you’re in the ‘suffering begets strength’ camp,” I replied with a blink. “That’s…interesting. I kind of thought a God of Evil would just want evil and power for its own sake.”

    “Hardly, Shimoda-dono,” Jashin waved it off. “We weren’t always gods and we don’t need our ‘domain’ to be large to survive or be powerful. We just have plans for the world that we’d like to see done.”

    “Well, Jashin-dono,” I began with a dangerous smirk. “That is a very interesting factoid you just gave me. How did you fall into being a god of evil?”

    “It came over centuries of watching good men do nothing,” Jashin said with a hint of disgust in his tone. “I couldn’t stand it, so I started influencing those who are toxic and cancer to society to impact those good men directly. The result was so spectacular that I’ve been stirring those who are evil to dark deeds ever since.”

    “So, you just picked something that you liked doing,” I began with a blink. “And made that your ‘divine domain’?”

    “Precisely,” Jashin nodded. “Shinigami enjoys being there when someone passes and shepherding them to the Pure World.”

    “I automated it so I could pick and choose to shepherd the interesting ones personally,” Shinigami pointed out. “So, your own domain would be picking something you want to do and filling it out. You seem to have a vested interest in building up the Elemental Countries with knowledge, so Knowledge will likely be your domain.”

    “Could I have more than one domain?” I asked curiously.

    “Of course.” Jashin nodded. “But if you’ve found your purpose in life, it might be hard to pick up a second one.”

    “Good to know,” I replied. “So, Shinigami…we met before?”

    “When you died the first time and were sent here,” Shinigami answered. “It was weird, so I brought you to your new body personally.”

    “Wait,” I started with a glare. “I was sent here?”

    “Yes,” Shinigami replied. “I don’t know who monitors death in your world, or if that’s even how it works over there but you got thrown into this world with an entirely different way of interacting with reality; ear-marked for ‘reincarnation’. So, I brought you to a child who was destined to be stillborn and that was that. I understand the mother died in child birth and the father had died several months before.”

    “Destined to be stillborn meaning-?” I asked.

    “A soul never took up residence in the body,” Shinigami explained with a shrug. “I couldn’t hand you a body that belonged to someone else, as fun as that would’ve been.”

    “Good to know I didn’t overwrite someone, at least,” I said with a hum.

    So, according to the god of death, I didn’t just fall into the world of Naruto. I was deliberately sent here.

    That raised a bunch of questions.

    Was my soul stolen after I died?

    Did I volunteer for this for some reason?

    Was I murdered?

    Was my entire old life building up to being brought to Naruto or was it spontaneous?

    “Thank you for telling me,” I finally told him, refilling his drink. “Now, I’m sure you guys have an inkling of what my primary goal is?”

    “Yes, you’re on a foolhardy mission to return to your old world with the might you’ve earned since coming here,” Jashin replied with a frown. “Shimoda-dono, if you want my advice, I’d say give up this foolhardy quest and immerse yourself fully in the world you are actually in.”

    “Not going to happen,” I answered with a harsh glare.

    “Oh, very well,” Jashin sighed in disappointment. “Just be aware that when you leave this world, your divine influence goes with you. All the good that you would seek to do could easily be undone without you here simply because the very essences of pain and death still exist in the vacuum that you would leave.”

    “So, if I killed you…” I began.

    “Immortal,” Jashin pointed out, sounding annoyed. “Even if you destroyed my body, it would only be a matter of time before I reconstituted myself and then I wouldn’t just be a god of evil, I’d be a god of evil who was annoyed at you.”

    I groaned in irritation. “Fine.”

    “How long has it been since we’ve spoken someone who thought so directly?” Shinigami asked with a laugh. “Your era will be a good one, Shimoda. But, unlike my colleague here, I want to help you.”

    A white hole in reality opened and a swirl of colors was pulled out. Shinigami put this swirl of colors into a jar that he took out of his kimono and sealed it with a cork. Cursory chakra examination revealed that this jar was the single most tightly sealed thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I couldn’t make something this tightly sealed. At least not without seeing the example of it in front of me.

    “This,” Shinigami began. “Is the soul of one who treats dimensional barriers merely as suggestions. She will help you go back to your home realm. Consider it an…ascension-day gift.”

    I took the jar gingerly with wide eyes, carefully examining it and trying to see just whose soul it was inside the jar. But I couldn’t see.

    Jashin hummed. “You’ll need to teach him how to reunite a soul with its body.”

    “That I will,” Shinigami replied, nodding slowly and carefully.

    “You’re okay with me just straight resurrecting people?” I asked, wanting to get this straight. It wouldn’t do to offend the god of death.

    “So long as whoever you’re trying to bring back gives you their consent, I don’t care,” Shinigami replied. “All mortals die eventually. Just don’t resurrect someone that doesn’t want to come back and don’t give everyone immortality. Or I’ll give you a serious talking too.”

    “Well, obviously,” I answered. Making everyone immortal would be catastrophic for the entire universe, eventually, and bringing someone back who doesn’t want to come back is just poor manners. “So, there’s a sealing jutsu that summons you, Shinigami?”

    “One of my inventions,” Shinigami said with a smug grin on his face. “Passed on to the Uzumaki clan through my influence. Souls feel good squirming around in my gullet.”

    “The Fourth Hokage was an expert at seals and sealed the Nine-Tailed fox inside my best friend,” I explained, keeping the expression of revulsion off of my face. I wondered if perhaps the Shinigami was used somehow.

    “Ah yes. Him. I’ve got him and the other half of the fox inside me,” Shinigami replied, nodding in knowledge. “You want him back, yes?”

    “I want my best friend to have his parents back,” I replied pointedly, filing away that Naruto only had half of the fox sealed away inside him instead of the whole thing. “It’s not fair what happened to him.”

    Jashin was grinning. “My, my, my. The benefits of befriending a deity while he’s mortal never truly cease, do they?”

    “Well. I already gave you the soul for a dimensional traveler,” The Shinigami replied. “If you want the soul of your friend’s father, you’re going to need pay for it.”

    “What’s your initial price?” I asked, my eyes narrowing.

    Shinigami hummed. “I’ll get back to you.”

    “Fine,” I replied. “Thank you for the soul. Now how to do the resurrection thing?”

    “In a few moments,” Shinigami replied with a grin. “I’m finishing my elixir.”

    I didn’t groan in irritation. But I wanted too.

    “Now, for my little present on your ‘ascension-day’,” Jashin began. “Just some advice. You’ve already made it a plan to study and spread Ninshū, yes?”

    “Yeah.” I nodded.

    “My advice is simple,” Jashin started. “Use what you learn. You have infinite chakra, and thus infinite ability to connect to people. Use it. Because as you grow older, your ability to actually connect and befriend mortals the normal way will disappear and Ninshū will be all you have left.”

    The god of evil is telling me that he has trouble connecting with mortals. Hilarious. “What makes you say that?”

    “Because when you speak to them, they become increasingly infantile,” Jashin said, his nose scrunching up like he was smelling something foul. “You just look at them and want to tell them that their pain is temporary and that they should stop whining. The trouble is that they can’t see it and become blinded by their own misery.”

    “They are like kids,” Shinigami responded, nodding his head in agreement. “Like you. Except you’ll grow out of it, unlike them.”

    “I am not a child,” I snarled in anger.

    “Oh, right,” Jashin replied. He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Shimoda-dono, when you combine both of your physical ages, you are around thirty-five, yes?”

    “Thirty-seven or around there,” I replied stiffly.

    “The two of us are millennia old,” Jashin said, gesturing to him and his partner with a waving thumb. “Comparatively speaking, what are you, even with both ages added together?”

    I growled. I was not going to answer that.

    Jashin hummed in anticipation.

    I muttered my answer.

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”

    “A. Child.” I bit out through my grit teeth.

    “Precisely,” Jashin nodded. “Now, the good thing about this is that every other mortal you’ve ever met is also a child, or is fairly child-like. From the elderly Hokage to the smallest infant. You will grow out of it. They will not. Because you will gain millennia of perspective and they will only have their, short pitiful lives in comparison. This comes with its own challenges, of course, but perpetual childishness will not be one of them. But with Ninshū, as I was saying you should use, you could alleviate that weakness of theirs. Somewhat.”

    “Ninshū is the best way for a god to exert influence on mortals,” Shinigami intoned. “Because as the years go on, simply speaking to them will fade as an option, both in it’s practicality and in its appeal.”

    “And it’s through that connection that their civilization has turned to crap,” I said with a frown.

    “That’s right,” Shinigami nodded. “Too much of a bad thing lead to worse things.”

    “So, then I should then remove your influence from the world,” I continued on that thought with a glare.

    “I mean, if you think it’s a good idea for everything that dies to remain in this world, by all means,” Shinigami said with the smuggest of smirks. “Go right ahead and try. I’d be very interested in seeing what would happen in such a world.”

    “I already said that I’d welcome the competition,” Jashin’s grin turned downright predatory. “By all means, set my expectations high. Prove to me that you can guide people into controlling their selfish desires perfectly. I want to see you do it.”

    “I will,” I told him with a glare.

    “Good!” Jashin crowed. “Good! I’ve seen too many good men sitting on their hands from their own cowardice in these times. Bring my followers some actual competition! Show them that they can no longer be idle!”

    “…you know, it disturbs me that you’re trying so hard to get your followers killed,” I told him matter-of-factly.

    “Eh, most of them aren’t actually followers of mine,” Jashin replied. “And if they get wiped out, they didn’t deserve to live.”

    “That sounds more like what a god of evil would say,” I nodded. “Now, is there a way to contact you guys again if I want something or have nasty words for you?”

    “Nasty words.” Jashin shook his head, scoffing in amusement.

    “Ninshū,” Shinigami replied. “Ninshū has everything you could ever need in the communications department. With that in mind, I think it’s time to teach you the fine art of reuniting someone’s soul with their body.”

    “With this one?” I asked, pointing to the jar.

    “No,” Shinigami shook his head. “I’ve got a few ‘dummy’ souls you can practice on. You got a place where we can actually have some room in this vault of yours?”

    “Yeah, let me show you both to the training area,” I said, standing up and gesturing to the door.

    “The first thing you need to understand with resurrection,” Shinigami began, floating at my side. “Is that you need a person’s soul to replicate their chakra and body. If you have samples of both of those things, it gets much easier to do and guarantees that they don’t accidentally gain a few traits of yours.”

    “So are there samples of that soul you gave me around?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Oh yeah,” Shinigami nodded. “I can think of two such samples right off the top of my head.”

    “Where are they?” I asked.

    “In the possession of the Akatsuki,” Shinigami replied easily.

    Alright. I’m not going to pretend that this soul I got was a gift with no strings attached. The fact that both the samples are in the possession of the Akatsuki is just raising the volume on those alarm bells going off in my head.

    The gods of death and evil are handing me presents. There is guaranteed to be a catch. The fact that they just out and out told me that the samples of this person’s chakra are in the possession of the Akatsuki means that whatever the catch is, it’s a big one.

    I think I might wait to actually head to the Akatsuki to secure the samples…whatever they are. Actually, come to think of it, maybe it’s got something to do with that white stuff that came off of that one Akatsuki member that I plastered all over the wall of the Mizukage’s palace?

    Don’t think that’s the case, because that would just be a long shot. But still. Who would I have to take out if I’m wanting to raid the Akatsuki’s hideout? Uchiha Itachi, Hoshigake Kisame and…I don’t know who else. Crap. Need to do some research.

    Just because I’m a god doesn’t mean I can afford to be careless.

    Not that it’ll necessarily stop me at some point down the line…

    ---

    Author’s Note: It struck me that Daisuke wouldn’t be the only god in the Naruto world. In fact, he isn’t. So, the other gods already in the setting would probably want to say hello. So, they did. I wasn’t able to find any information on religion or gods on the Narutopedia, except for the Shinigami and Jashin so…they’re the only ones.

    Let me know what you guys thought in the comments and reviews – I read them all and I really like reading you guys thoughts. Hopefully, this chapter didn’t just horrifically jump the shark or portray anyone as…not out of character, but not with an unbelievable character.

    Shout out to Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari and PbookR. Thank you all for your continued support!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  5. Threadmarks: Chapter 5: Duty and Love
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    Perk Added: Resurrection Specialization!

    You’ve been taught by the god of death to bring people back to life! You can now bring souls back from the pure world to mortality.

    As the vault door closed behind my two-house guests, I let out a sigh.

    Never have I ever thought that I’d have to entertain house-guests. But it happened, so now what?

    First thing’s first.

    Resurrect Uzumaki Kushina…and Sensei’s old teammates. Because I can’t think of a reason not too before I run off to Amegakure and take on the Akatsuki to grab whatever samples they possess of this dimensional traveler. I mean, I could just do that for this soul that I’ve got right now, but they seemed very insistent that I grab those samples from the Akatsuki to make it easier.

    Which I guess makes sense. The soul that Shinigami gave me? Felt somewhat incomplete compared to the dummy souls that Shinigami used to teach me resurrection. It wouldn’t be good to bring whoever this is back in fragmented state.

    First off, launch my probe into the pure world.

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    I placed my hand through a glowing, white circular portal and waited.

    It was a very simple thing, just an invitation to return to mortality. One they can either reply yes or no to. I got no other feeling beyond a yes or no confirmation. No glimpse into the pure world, no ability to actually meet and speak to these people. Just a simply yes or no question that they answer and I act on their answer.

    Ping.

    That’s a yes.

    Alrighty, Kushina.

    I pulled her soul out of the portal and this is the part where I really got to work. With creation release, I needed to reconstitute her body and bind it to her soul with neutral chakra. Thankfully, the Shinigami taught me how to include clothes in this procedure or this would be really awkward. Well, more so than it already would be, since she wouldn’t have any memory of the pure world itself, a quirk of the resurrective jutsu to prevent the recently returned from committing suicide to return there.

    And so, the one known as Uzumaki Kushina materialized before me.

    Long, red hair. Blue eyes, fair skin. A beautiful woman, truly. She appeared with a Kimono and under-wrappings, of course, both colored white. Her eyes blinked rapidly as they got used to the lighting in my vault, and then she gasped.

    “What happened?” Kushina looked around my vault, looking increasingly nervous. “Where am I? Where’s my son? Where’s Minato?”

    “In order, you’ve been dead for twelve years,” I ticked off my fingers as I listed them off. “You’re in my home, Naruto is in Konoha having been raised as an orphan and Minato is currently swimming around the stomach of Shinigami.”

    “Wait, what?” Kushina asked, looking even more frantic. Then she gave me an angry glare. “You better explain exactly what happened right now! Who are you?”

    “I’m Shimoda Daisuke and I just brought you back from the Pure World since you’ve been dead for twelve years,” I replied, then my brow furrowed in irritation. “…that feels like there should be more to it than that, but that’s really just it, put succinctly.”

    “Uh, no!” Kushina shouted, throwing a fist at me.

    You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a female rage-punch thrown at me.

    I watched as the punch was being thrown at my face, her expression one of rage and frustration.

    Given how many people I’ve ticked off, you’d think I’d have gotten more than I did.

    I caught the fist, sticking to it with tree-walking and brought a knife-hand down, stopping just above the bridge of her nose. “Unless you want an actual fight, don’t do that again.”

    That’s probably why it didn’t happen very often; getting punched was an invitation to fight and no one wanted to get punched by me.

    Kushina’s rage immediately faded, her face draining of color. She gulped. “I-I’m sorry. I really am. Please let me go, I’m sorry. I’m just really confused.”

    “I understand,” I replied, letting her fist go and resting my hands behind my back.

    “You said I was dead.” Kushina placed her hands in front of her like she was placing a box down.

    “For twelve years.”

    She looked like I had actually struck her. “For twelve years. I remember…I remember…wait.”

    Kushina got a shocked expression on her face. “The Kyuubi! This man in black robes came and kidnapped me and extracted the Kyuubi!”

    “Black robes with a red cloud imprint on them?” I asked quickly.

    "I...I don't remember." Kushina frowned, looking off to the side to think. Then she returned to looking at me.. "You know him?"

    "I think so, he's part of an organization," I replied with a frown. If that was an Akatsuki member, that raises questions. Why would a member of the Akatsuki release a tailed beast instead of capture it? "He didn't by chance have a swirly, orange mask, did he? With one eye?"

    Kushina slowly shook her head. "No, but his mask had swirl patterns on it. But I remember that it did have one eye and that he had a Sharingan!"

    “That one I’ve met personally,” I explained, nodding with a fond smile. “He calls himself Tobi and he acts like an idiot but clearly that’s a façade. So, what else do you remember?”

    “Namikaze-sama came to rescue me,” Kushina said, regaining some semblance of your control. “And together we sealed the Kyuubi again, at the cost of our own lives.”

    “Your husband saved you and you sealed half of the Kyuubi in your son Naruto and the other half with Minato,” I clarified with a raised eyebrow. “I wouldn’t worry about it, it’s kind of an open secret at this point.”

    “Why is it an open secret?” She asked, her eyes narrowing.

    “Because I told Naruto with dozens of eavesdroppers.” I shrugged. “Seriously, the guy grew up without knowing his parentage or his duty and that had to be rectified.”

    “He grew up without knowing – and you told him –” She was sputtering. “Who are you?”

    “Shimoda Daisuke,” I replied, trying to remember who Kakashi-sensei’s team was. “No one of consequence.”

    “You have to tell me,” Kushina barked, her expression shifting to anger again.

    “No, I don’t.” I shook my head with an amused smirk and she steamed impotently. “By the way, who was Kakashi-sensei’s Genin team, again?”

    “Why should I tell you?” Kushina snapped. Then her expression shifted to one of confusion. “Wait, Kakashi-sensei?”

    “Yeah, Hatake Kakashi,” I replied in confirmation. “He was my jounin sensei. I’m trying to bring back his old Genin team.”

    “You’re a Konoha-nin,” Kushina said, not really listening to my explanation.

    “Was a Konoha-nin,” I corrected with a frown.

    “You’re a missing nin,” Kushina pointed out, starting to get angry. “Then why did you bring me back?”

    I looked her dead in the eyes. “Because Naruto was my only friend for years and I owe him a debt. Now tell me who Kakashi’s team was so I can pay off my other debt.”

    “Wait, if you still think Naruto’s your friend, why did you leave?” Kushina asked with a glare.

    “No more questions until you answer mine,” I replied irritably. I had all the time in the world, but I needed this taken care of as quickly as possible. For my sanity, mostly.

    Kushina continued to glare at me, suspicious of my motives as she looked at me through the corner of her eye. “Their names were Nohara Rin and Uchiha Obito.”

    Obito rang alarm bells. Why did it ring alarm bells? That makes no sense.

    Well, actually it’s one letter off from Tobi.

    …nah. There’s no way. Even if it was, there is no way he’d be dumb enough to just keep using his name, just one letter off.

    “Alright, first Nohara-chan and then Uchiha-kun.” I rolled my shoulders in preparation to cast the jutsu. “You might want to stand back for this one.”

    Kushina looked surprised, then backed away from me as I got started casting the jutsu.

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    So, Rin? Wanna come back to the land of the living?

    Ping.

    That’s a yes.

    I never saw Rin before, not even a photograph. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a fairly average, though very attractive, kunoichi. Brown hair cut into a bob, purple tattoos on her cheeks that reminded me of the fang tattoos that the Inuzuka received at a young age. Again, white kimono and under wraps.

    Like Kushina, she immediately started hyperventilating, looking around, staring at me in between looking around.

    “Kai!” Kushina called, trying to dispel the Genjutsu. That didn’t work, and at first, she looked confused, then shocked. “…you actually did it…”

    “Uzumaki-san!” She chirped, immediately running to her. “What’s going on?”

    “Well, Rin,” Kushina tried to assure her with a kind smile that came out as stressed and forced. “We apparently have been dead.”

    “Dead?” Rin asked, thoroughly aghast.

    “For many, many years,” Kushina replied. “And this…missing nin brought us both back.”

    “Hi there.” I waved at her.

    “Who are you?” Rin asked.

    “Shimoda Daisuke,” I replied with a smile. “No one of consequence, otherwise.”

    “I was dead…” Rin’s eyes got a faraway quality to them, as she slowly remembered what happened when she died. “I remember. I was kidnapped by Ninja from Kirigakure and they sealed the Sanbi into me…then sealed my ability to talk about it. I had to throw myself on Kakashi’s Chidori to stop it from reaching the village, and now I’m here.”

    “That would explain sensei’s anti-social tendencies.” Well, crap. Yeah, it really does.

    “Sensei?” Rin asked.

    “Yeah, I was on Kakashi-sensei’s Genin team.” I nodded.

    “Kakashi has a Genin team?” Rin looked shocked. Happy, but shocked. Then she got an angry and shocked look on her face. “And you went missing nin?

    “Actually, I think Kakashi-sensei is on his second team,” I replied with a nod. “The rest of us made Chunin these past exams.”

    “His second team,” Kushina shook her head with a smile. “Minato would be so proud.”

    “Wait,” Rin turned to stare at Kushina. “You died…and the Hokage died too?”

    Kushina took in a deep breath. “Yes. We died after having to reseal the Kyuubi after a man in black robes abducted me and unleashed it.”

    “Abducted you?” Rin asked, nonplussed. “What do you have to do with the Kyuubi?”

    “I was the Jinchūriki for the Kyuubi,” Kushina replied. “Whoever it was that abducted me knew who I was, and knew to kidnap me after I had finished giving birth.”

    “Wait!” Rin shouted. “You were pregnant?”

    “Yes,” Kushina said, her smile becoming more serene. “Minato was the father.”

    “That’s amazing!” Rin gushed with a wide smile on her face. “I’m so happy for you! Congratulations!”

    “Thank you,” Kushina replied. Her smile, and good mood then died immediately. “Of course, since I’ve been dead for twelve years, that means he’s been an orphan. He won’t even recognize me.”

    “You’ll figure it out.” Rin nodded quickly, taking Kushina’s hands in her own. “Don’t worry, things will work out great.”

    Rin then looked at me. “Okay, you need to resurrect the Hokage. Now.”

    “Can’t.”

    “Why not?” Kushina suddenly looked really mad. This time, however, she kept her fists to herself. Wise of her. Not even disappointed since this wouldn’t even be a real fight.

    “Because the soul of the Fourth is currently swimming around in Shinigami’s gullet,” I answered with a frown. “And Shinigami won’t cough him up.”

    Kushina then looked pale. “…he never went to the Pure World?”

    “Apparently not.” Huh. In order to seal the Kyuubi again, Minato doomed himself to an eternity in the closest thing this world has to Hell. That’s dedication right there. “I haven’t given up on getting the man’s soul, it’s just going to take some time.”

    “Oh, Minato,” Kushina…she was crying. Wow, she loved him a lot.

    “Then can you try resurrecting Obito?” Rin asked softly.

    “I was going too after we had finished talking,” I answered with a smile, holding in a sigh.

    Man, thinking about getting into a fight with Kushina made me think about getting into fights in general. Which brought the Kaiju back to my mind. It hasn’t even been a whole day I already miss the mile-high lug.

    “Oh! Okay,” Rin backed up. “Whenever you’re ready, Shimoda-sama.”

    Sama?

    Well. Okay then, I mean, I did bring her back to life and this is my house.

    “Anyway, one Uchiha resurrection coming up,” I said, rolling my shoulders. Then I paused. “I wonder what Sasuke’s going to think once he’s got another Uchiha to pal around with.”

    “What do you mean?” Kushina asked, her eyes narrowing.

    “Oh. The Uchiha’s nearly got wiped out to a man about five years ago or so,” I replied to their horrified expressions.

    “What?” Rin shouted; her eyes wide in shock.

    “Yeah. The only survivors were the killer, Itachi Uchiha and his brother, Sasuke,” I continued with a nod. “Anyway: Obito.”

    “I don’t believe it,” Rin said quietly, looking up at Kushina.

    “Things have changed since we’ve been gone,” Kushina replied unhappily.

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    Alrighty, Uchiha Obito. Come on, buddy. A yes or a no is all I need.

    …Obito?

    Obito.

    Come on.

    “Something’s wrong,” I said, my eyes narrowing as I examined the jutsu and then the portal to the pure world.

    “What’s wrong?” Rin asked in distress.

    Is there an Uchiha Obito in the pure world that was Hatake Kakashi and Nohara Rin’s teammate?

    No?

    “There isn’t an Obito in the pure world,” I said, sounding confused. I looked dead at Rin. “How did Obito die?”

    “We were on a mission to destroy a bridge,” Rin recounted. “We were fighting some Iwa Nin in a cave and there was a rockslide…he died there after asking me to give Kakashi one of his Sharingan to replace Kakashi’s damaged eye.”

    “Well, this can only mean one thing,” I said, canceling the jutsu. “Uchiha Obito never died.”

    Actually, hold on a second.

    Tobi has a Sharingan. But he only has one. He abducted Kushina following her giving birth to Naruto and then, according to what I learned from why the Uchiha were segregated into a compound, was able to use his Sharingan to control the Kyuubi to go nutso on Konoha. But in order for him to have pulled this off, he’d have needed a way through the Defense Seal, an understanding of how Konoha is laid out and he would’ve had to know where the Fourth and Kushina lived.

    “What do you mean he never died?” Rin was outraged and more than a little afraid. Tears were falling from her eyes. “I watched the rocks fall! I saw his blood! He was dying! He did die! And he was a hero!”

    ...Obito would’ve had all of that. He ‘died’ so they never took him off the Defense Seal, meaning it didn’t know he was an intruder. Obito was Minato’s student, so he’d know where he lived if they were close and he’d know that Kushina was pregnant if he was even the least bit observant.

    “Minato thought he failed Obito,” Kushina said, her eyes also wide. “Because he didn’t get there in time with reinforcements. Are you really saying that Obito isn’t dead?”

    And I just remembered that I knew that Obito was Tobi from skimming a wiki article from years ago and thinking it was stupid.

    I’m not going to tell either of them this right now. Their world’s already been rocked enough.

    “I’m saying that he’s not in the Pure World.” I folded my hands behind my back, and walked forward. “Since he didn’t perform the Reaper Death Seal and get swallowed by Shinigami, I can only assume that someone saved his life and that he never died.”

    Rin looked at the floor, still crying. “I failed him. He could’ve been saved and I left him for dead.”

    “Well, for all we know the person who saved his life had access to super special healing jutsu that you didn’t know,” I pointed out. “So it’s not that you failed him, it’s that someone with greater medical jutsu came along and did what you could not.”

    “And what if it was Iwa?” Rin barked at me. “What if he spent all these years in Iwa’s T&I because I wasn’t enough to save him?”

    “It wasn’t Iwa, though,” I replied. “I went through their records myself and they never took any prisoners named Obito or at least anyone with one Sharingan eye.”

    “How did you go through the records of an enemy village?” Kushina asked, looking confused.

    “The same way I brought you back.” I let out a sigh. “By being me.”

    “And who are you?” Rin asked.

    “No one of consequence,” I replied. “Now, I’ve got one last guy to bring back, then we can decide what to do with the two of you.”

    I think that came out a little more ominously than I would’ve liked, because Rin gulped and Kushina adopted an expression of determined resilience.

    Alright.

    Satoru?

    When we were in the academy, I accidentally pushed you to suicide through one too many thoughtless barbs. Now I need to make this right. For you and for me. Then I’m going to bring your parents back and I’m going to give them the talking-too of their lives. Killing Intent at one-hundred percent.

    But I have to bring you back.

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    Please say yes.

    Please say yes, please say yes.

    Ping.

    …no?

    No.

    You don’t want to come back.

    Are you kidding me right now?

    I’m trying to apologize! Let me make this right!

    Come on!

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    Ping.

    Another no.

    Please!

    I’m begging you here!

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    Ping.

    Another no.

    And this time it actually felt hostile.

    …but…

    I don’t…

    I want to apologize. I didn’t mean to make you commit suicide!

    I need to explain that!

    Just…fine.

    Fine.

    I stopped trying with a heavy breath.

    “What’s wrong?” Rin asked.

    “He said no,” I replied with a frown. “I just want to apologize to the guy and he said no.”

    “Oh,” Rin said. “Well…maybe he forgives you but just doesn’t want to come back to the Impure World?”

    “I guess,” I sighed. “Alright, so. My job today is to get the two of you back into Konoha without being killed or being recipient of T&I’s tender hospitalities. Any suggestions?”

    “We aren’t getting out of a visit to T&I,” Kushina said with a shake of her head. “But we could make it relatively painless if we cooperate and show how we have nothing to hide.”

    “Okay, but either way, I’m tagging along to make sure you aren’t executed for whatever reason,” I argued back with narrowed eyes. “Your husband had enemies in the village, I’m sure and I’d hate for them to learn about you before anyone else. Same as you, Rin.”

    “How are you expecting to get into Konoha?” Kushina asked incredulously.

    “Same way I snuck into Iwa and looked through all of their records,” I replied with a smirk. “By being me. Oh, and if you can get away with it, I would try to avoid mentioning me.”

    “Why?” Rin asked, her own eyes narrowing in suspicion.

    “Let’s just say that the Third and I have some very bad blood between us and leave it at that.”

    ---

    “So, you think this memory is the key to solving Daisuke’s self-hatred?” Naruto asked, holding the piece of paper in one hand, a pair of chopsticks in the other.

    “It’s the source of all of it,” Ino nodded profoundly. “So, since you’re trying to bring him back, and I want him to come back, it would be good to pool our resources.”

    They were sitting at Ichiraku ramen, at the counter with steaming bowls of ramen in front of both of them. Ino had drawn up another paper with the memory that she had pulled from Daisuke, made after she had destroyed the first one.

    Naruto stared at the picture intently, scooping a clump of noodles into his mouth. He rubbed his temples in thought, trying to decipher what it was. “And these wagons are self-driving? They don’t need oxen?”

    “From what I saw.” Ino brushed a blonde hair out of her eyes. “I’ve never seen anything like them.”

    Naruto hummed, and laid the picture down. “Alright. Did you get anything else from him?”

    Ino took a deep breath and looked around. “I saw him level up to thirty.”

    “You saw him fix his social issues?” Naruto asked for clarification.

    “Yes, I did.” Ino nodded, and turned to look into her ramen bowl. “When I look at the memory, I can feel his worldview changing. His desperation for fights, battle and experience points turning to shame that he had been so desperate to cause murder and mayhem. His frustration at how people treat him terribly turning to horror at how he had treated other people. His desire to make the Hokage happy turning to rage at how the Hokage tried to manipulate him.”

    “They both made mistakes,” Naruto replied with a frown. “They can both forgive each other.”

    “Naruto, Daisuke hates the Hokage.” Ino looked at him with an incredulous expression. “Hates him. Both for what the Hokage did and for what he allowed others to get away with. But I can’t talk about a lot of the stuff I saw in there. S-class doesn’t begin to describe some of the things Daisuke uncovered.”

    “Like what?” Naruto asked.

    “Naruto,” Ino snarled.

    “Sorry,” Naruto replied sheepishly.

    “The thing that truly makes Daisuke angry is that he hates the entire village system,” Ino said, sucking in a clump of noodles into her mouth as she thought. “The whole thing.”

    “But if it wasn’t for the villages, the whole world would be at war all the time,” Naruto pointed out with a serious frown.

    “I know, Naruto,” Ino replied. “But Konoha enabled the behaviors he now finds shameful. He hates himself for deliberately designing himself to be a murder machine. He hate’s Konoha for letting him be a murder machine. But you know what else? He is against how Jutsu is restricted to the villages.”

    “Wait, really?” Naruto shook his head in disbelief. Then, as he thought about it, he started nodding. “Oh, yeah. That makes sense. He really didn’t care about keeping what he knew about Jutsu a secret.”

    “He thinks everyone in the Elemental Countries should be able to cast jutsu,” Ino said. “But do you know how dangerous that is? Any time a Shinobi goes out to do a mission, the chances of meeting someone Kage level that we don’t know about just being a random civilian would skyrocket?”

    “Missions would be super dangerous then.” Naruto’s eyes went wide as he connected the dots. “Anyone could stand in our way if they thought we were doing something wrong.”

    “Exactly,” Ino said. “But Daisuke thinks they’d just join hands, keep to themselves and build their own lives out without much interference. At least, he hopes that’s the case.”

    “He’s a smart guy, he’d figure out how bad it could be if he just shared things freely like that,” Naruto pointed out, folding his arms. Then his expression fell. “Or he could twist himself into knots to make himself believe he’s got the moral high-ground.”

    Ino sighed. “I love him, but I know for a fact that he does that a lot.”

    Naruto stopped short. Then he sighed. “You love him. Really.”

    Ino nodded. “I do. I don’t care if you don’t believe me. Daisuke saved my life, kept trying to make things work for everyone even when it was impossible for him and is still trying to make things right with the wrong’s he thinks he’s responsible for. So yeah, I love him.”

    He looked into her eyes for a long while. Then he frowned. “Alright, well, I guess you can’t really be taking advantage of his social blind-spot anymore so whatever. You can date him.”

    Ino smirked. “Well, I’m glad I have your permission. But we’ll have to bring him back, first.”

    “Good luck trying to get him to like you back, though,” Naruto said nonchalantly, eating a clump of noodles.

    She just started stirring her ramen, leaning her hand against her free hand. “That’s the thing. He did like me back.”

    “He did not,” Naruto shook his head. “Hisako-senpai has been trying for ages to get him to return her feelings and he shut you both down.”

    “Hisako wants Daisuke because she feels like he’s the only one who can fill the void left when her parents abandoned her,” Ino said with a glare. “It’s about her, not about what they share, and Daisuke liked me back, not her.”

    Naruto put his sticks down and gave Ino a frustrated expression. “Why do I believe you?”

    “Because I’m telling the truth,” Ino replied with an annoyed expression. “Why do you think that believing me is a bad thing?”

    “I don’t know,” Naruto grumbled to himself, rubbing his forehead. “I’m sorry, I’m trying to get over your rivalry with Sakura.”

    “You really like her, huh?” Ino asked with a small smile. “She’s lucky you were so persistent.”

    “Thanks,” Naruto said quietly. “Let’s see if I can keep her.”

    “You will,” Ino nodded. “Just keep getting better as a person and as a Shinobi and she wouldn’t dream of leaving you.”

    “Makes sense.” Naruto grabbed his chopsticks and pulled another clump of noodles out of the bowl. “It must’ve been heartbreaking, learning that he liked you back as he was turning himself into a missing Nin.”

    “No, it wasn’t,” Ino answered, sounding thoroughly depressed.

    Naruto hummed inquisitively.

    “The heartbreaking thing was how his crush on me made him hate himself more,” Ino continued quietly. “How he shouldn’t have felt that way about me, how it was wrong of him to like me back. I don’t think he believes he should be loved.”

    “Well,” Naruto started. “Looks like I need to become Hokage and pardon him, and you need to talk to him to tell him that its not wrong if he’s loved. Alright?”

    “Alright,” Ino sighed. “Thanks, Naruto.”

    ---

    Author’s Note: Well, the wheel turns. I actually had a thousand words of Daisuke walking through Amegakure to pick up SPOILER and SPOILER for X’s resurrection, but it felt out of place first. It took me a bit to figure out, but then I remembered that Daisuke wants to leave this world better than when he found it. So, it wouldn’t be in character for him to immediately go charging after Kaguya, someone who treats dimensional barriers as suggestions, when he’s still got so much left to fix.

    So, it’ll be a bit before X joins the story, with all the consequences, good and bad, that it’ll bring.

    Shout out goes out to Super Patrons Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari and PbookR. You guys are the best, thank you for helping me make stories like this.

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter 6: They're Back
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    Hiruzen took a long, long puff from his pipe.

    “…and when he succeeds or fails at a check, a window appears here.” Shikamaru said, pointing to the diagram that he had brought with him, showing the windows and bars that Daisuke saw in his every day life. “And Charisma failures, I presume, were the most consistent notification he’d get. Incredibly troublesome, if you ask me.”

    “Thank you, Shikamaru,” Hiruzen said, letting out a puff of smoke. “How would you use this in the event that Shimoda attempts to attack the village directly?”

    “I’d say we don’t need to worry about where we hit him,” Shikamaru answered, steepeling his fingers in thought. “If we do enough damage to him, we’d stop him, even if we only hit his pinky. His body treats all damage as equal, with only passing consideration for ‘crippled’ limbs.”

    “Shikaku, do you have anything to add?” Hiruzen asked before sticking his pipe in his mouth.

    “Daisuke is always perfectly aware of how close he is to dying,” Shikaku said, pointing to the bar in the lower left-hand side of the screen. “So, we should keep an eye out for behavioral changes as this bar slowly depletes. If he changes tactics suddenly, either for more or less aggression, it could be a clue that we’re close to finishing him.”

    “He’s more likely to go for more aggression, either in a desperate bid to finish off his enemy or to go out fighting.” Hiruzen picked up the diagram and looked at it more closely. “Daisuke rarely backs down from a fight.”

    “I think the severity of an injury is tied to how much it takes out of his health bar,” Shikamaru suggested. “I heard than an explosion nearly blew him to pieces but a trident through the heart was just a few holes in his chest. So maybe it didn’t take out that much and Daisuke continued on because he had blood pills to fall back on?”

    “It’s likely,” Shikaku agreed. “There’s also the possibility that food and drink refill both the health and chakra bars. He was in the sewers. It’s disgusting, but if he really needed too, all he had to do was open his mouth and swallow.”

    Shikamaru’s face shifted from boredom to disgust.

    Hiruzen also felt disgusted, but didn’t show it. “Shikaku, in your opinion, what is the likelihood of Daisuke attacking the village?”

    “Not.” Shikaku shook his head. “He purposefully didn’t kill anyone in the ANBU contingent; even though he may have been tempted to eliminate you. But I do think simply waiting for him to cool off and come back to try talking at least to be a little optimistic.”

    Hiruzen grunted. “Thank you, Shikaku. Shikamaru. Do either of you have anything else to say?”

    “Just one,” Shikamaru said, letting out a breath. “If Daisuke comes back or someone manages to catch him, please try to remember that he saved everyone’s lives and we still owe him.”

    “I haven’t forgotten that,” Hiruzen replied neutrally. “Both of you are dismissed.”

    The father and son stood up and left, closing the door behind him.

    Hiruzen also stood up, and moved to the window.

    The attempt to at least get inside Daisuke’s head was futile. He knew that, but he also had to know where he had gone wrong. There was obviously the fiasco with Orochimaru. But if Daisuke was telling the truth and he had gone to each village in turn to learn what had happened, then Daisuke undoubtedly worked out how much pain Danzo had caused.

    The herbs in his pipe were strong. Which was good, he needed that.

    Calling Daisuke a child was necessary, though it had irreparably destroyed any possibility of reconciliation between the two of them. But Hiruzen had to get him to stop talking. If what Daisuke claimed was true, he knew about the Uchiha massacre. With Uchiha Sasuke right there, and all the other clan heirs, having him decide to speak of the Massacre and Itachi’s role within the Akatsuki would have shaken Konoha to the core.

    It might not have survived to make it through the decade. The inner conflict that ensued would have painted a bright red target on Konoha for the other villages to attack.

    Of course, with the Orochimaru revelation out in the open, trust in him had been broken considerably. He needed someone to act as replacement, and soon. Jiraiya should be getting the missive he sent out to return to the village. Ideally, he’d take up the mantle, though Hiruzen doubted he would.

    Tsunade wouldn’t be a bad choice either, if she could give up drinking, gambling and find her nerve while she was at it.

    While he was fantasizing, the Fourth and Kushina would return from the graves to give Naruto an actual family while allowing him to retire.

    He let out a puff of smoke and looked down out the window. He could see Konohamaru, his grandson, playing Ninja with his two friends, throwing cardboard shuriken at each other with smiles and laughter.

    There was also the feeling of failure that hung over his head like the blade of a kunai, poised to fall on him and pierce through his skull. For he felt like he had failed Daisuke. His own intentions were good, Hiruzen thought; try to slow down his growth to a natural level, discipline him to control his insatiable lust for power – no, not power. Progress. Control his endless appetite for progress to prepare him for a more laid-back lifestyle as he adjusted to his new understanding.

    Therein lied the rub. He had wanted to limit Daisuke to a natural growth.

    Daisuke was not natural.

    If he had instructed Daisuke to make as many new jutsu as he could, to ascend in power as fast and as completely as possible, in the presence of his sensei, his team and himself, then they could’ve guided him through whatever horrific revelations he had in his time wherever he was as he built himself to social competence, things would have gone differently.

    Hiruzen saw now that he should’ve embraced how absurd Daisuke was just as a concept instead of trying to force a natural growth when he clearly wasn’t built for it. Without the tantalizing reward of social understanding and prowess, it would’ve been easier to teach him discipline and restraint. Without the despair inducing blindness he was suffering acting to counter and resist every move to correct his insane behavior, they could’ve made actual progress.

    He inhaled the smoke through his pipe, feeling the wave of calm course through his body as the strong herbs took effect.

    At the very least, it could’ve meant that if there was a confrontation about his old mistakes, it could’ve been in private, though it only came about because Daisuke felt the need to tell Naruto about his parentage as well as the Kyuubi.

    Perhaps if Daisuke had trusted him, they could’ve talked about telling Naruto. He hadn’t wanted to tell Naruto until he was sixteen, but Daisuke, obviously felt differently. Perhaps if Hiruzen hadn’t been so desperately holding on to the idea that natural was good for Daisuke, Daisuke might’ve trusted him and then they could’ve actually talked.

    At the very least, the heinous crimes that Danzo had committed didn’t come out because he was responsible for them as well, for not executing him when he had the Uchiha slaughtered. Hiruzen had some small hope that Daisuke didn’t know about them; but that was foolish. If Daisuke wanted to know something, there wasn’t anything in the world that could stop him.

    The absolute worst part about all of this was that he had lost yet another candidate for a replacement Hokage, even if he’d have had to wait for a few years.

    ---

    So instead of going directly to Konoha, Kushina asked if we could make a couple stops first. At first, I thought she was talking about getting some new clothes but that turned out to not be the case. Here, at the outskirts of the Konoha, was a mask hall, with twenty-seven Oni-Masks mounted against the back.

    Was I kind of nervous about taking my two resurrect Kunoichi friends to the outskirts of the village that likely wanted me dead? Yes. Yes, I was. But with the appropriate safety measures, like the Sanctuary jutsu I currently had running, we couldn’t be detected so long as we remained in the bubble.

    The bubble did not stop Konoha’s security seal from going off at my presence. No, I had to make a special jutsu for that one. I didn’t use it before because it had a constant drain on my chakra and I couldn’t afford to go dry lest I be without my defenses.

    But I had infinite chakra now, so who cares?

    She grabbed one that looked exactly like the Shinigami and nodded to me. “Now, if we could return to your vault?”

    That was fast.

    “Alright,” I said, grabbing their arms.

    Global Repositioning System.

    “So, are you going to tell me why you wanted to make a pit stop there instead of rushing directly to the front gates?” I asked with a raised eyebrow. “Or are you giving us a surprise?”

    “We’re getting my husband back,” Kushina finally explained with a resolute expression. “And I don’t care if I have to go back to the pure world to do it.”

    “Kushina, I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure you survive this,” Rin replied with a concerned frown. “Just please tell me you aren’t going to switch places with him in the Shinigami’s stomach.”

    I like Rin. She’s smart.

    “No, no,” Kushina said, giving Rin a small hug around her shoulders. “I’m not switching places with him.”

    “Okay, good,” Rin said with a smile.

    “But there is a really good chance that I’ll bleed out and die on the floor,” Kushina admitted, not even faltering in her step. “But Shimoda-sama could just bring me back.”

    And now she’s calling me Sama. That’s…a new one.

    “I have some concerns,” I began, looking up the ruins that reminded me so strongly of the office buildings from my old world, sans any glass windows. “Number one, Shinigami outright told me that I was going to have to pay to Minato’s soul. I don’t think he’d appreciate me just taking advantage of a loophole.”

    “You held a direct conversation with the Shinigami?” Rin asked, her eyes wide in surprise.

    “Yes, but that’s not the important part,” I replied, bringing the discussion back on topic. “The important part is that Shinigami said there’d be a price to Minato’s soul. If you want to use whatever loophole he provided you, that’s fine, but I can’t be a part of it or he might start reaping all of Konoha or something to repay the insult.”

    “That’s fine,” Kushina replied. “Again, you can just bring me back if I die.”

    “I won’t let you die,” Rin snapped, narrowing her eyes.

    “Thank you, Rin.” Kushina smiled down at the Chunin. “I have faith in you.”

    “Okay, so,” I clapped and rubbed my hands together. “If you’re going to be doing some kind of human self-sacrifice, I am going to need the details and we’re going to need to head down to the Jutsu test chamber. So, lets head down the stairs and you can start filling me in.”

    “The mask allows me to possess the Shinigami,” Kushina started to speak as we moved from the dining area of the vault to the door that lead to my Jutsu testing chamber. “While I am wearing the mask, I can use the Shinigami’s blade to slice open his stomach and undo the Reaper Death seal. However, when I slice his stomach open, I also slice my own.”

    “Aw, now I wish I could do it for you,” I said with a frown. “Slicing open my stomach is nothing to me.”

    “I don’t doubt that,” Rin replied hesitantly. “Are you going to tell us why you went missing nin?”

    “Nah.” I shook my head. “I honestly think it’s better for the two of you not to know. I mean, you’ll probably find out anyway once you get inside because you’re ninja and good at that, but I’d like to leave you guys out of my baggage if possible.”

    Rin furrowed her brow and grunted in frustration, yet said nothing else.

    The jutsu testing area was a target range, a bomb disposal site and medical lab all in one. To the left was the range, with targets painted onto the most durable wall in the entire vault. Directly ahead was a large, orb-capsule with a steel-looking door to the inside. That’s where I tested my suicide and bomb techniques with clones. To the right was the medical lab, which was just a gurney, some counters and a microscope and x-ray machine and a cat scanner all in one mounted to the ceiling.

    No claustrophobic triggers for patients just because they need a CAT Scan.

    I used chakra-strings to open the Bomb chamber. “Inside there.”

    We filed into the capsule and I slapped a seal right on the inside just beside the door. “Alright, I’ll be able to keep an eye on what’s happening from outside with this seal. Kushina? Part your kimono.”

    “What? Why?” Kushina asked, eyes bugging out of her sockets.

    “I need to show you where to cut to minimize bleeding,” I replied with an extended index finger. “I’ll be drawing a line.”

    “Oh,” Kushina blinked owlishly. “I appreciate the thought, but the cut has to be according to the jutsu.”

    Then I started blinking owlishly. “Well, that sucks.”

    Kushina just nodded in agreement.

    “Alright,” I said, stepping outside the pod. “The only thing I can say here is try to stay calm and that, as a trained medical practitioner, I recommend we find another way to free your husband’s soul that doesn’t involve making you a human sacrifice.”

    “No.” Kushina’s expression got dark. “My husband is not spending another second inside the death god’s stomach.”

    “Alright.” I shrugged, then looked at the Chunin. “Rin? Do your best. Don’t try to remove the mask unless Shinigami has left the building. Do you understand?”

    Rin nodded. “I do.”

    With that, I closed the door, then locked into my seal on the wall and felt my vision get transposed. I was looking through the seal like I was looking through another set of eyes.

    Kushina put on the mask. I wonder if she feels guilty about Minato spending so much time in Shinigami’s gullet? That, or she just wants this done as quickly as possible. We could’ve found some bandit to…well, nah. That would take time and Kushina doesn’t want to wait.

    Then, the spectral form of the Shinigami appeared, erupting like a chakra construct around Kushina’s body. After a moment of getting used too it, Kushina made Shinigami grab the shoto from his mouth. Then Shinigami chuckled. “I see Shimoda found the way around my reticence.”

    His voice was a mix of his own and Kushina’s, mixed together in a disturbing stereo effect that made Rin’s hairs stand up on end, mine too.

    Then the Shinigami sliced his stomach open and out came a soul and a half from the stomach. Kushina’s stomach erupted in a fountain of blood.

    “I’m surprised that he started using mortals to fulfill his purposes so quickly,” Shinigami mused. “Oh, is that all? I suppose that’s all. Good day, Uzumaki-san. This won’t be the last time we see each other.”

    Then Shinigami faded and Kushina fell to the floor, the mask coming off of her face.

    Global Repositioning System.

    I was inside in an instant. Kushina was bleeding out on the floor. With medical jutsu making my hands glow, I got to work.

    Blood Transfusion.

    Medical Sealant.

    Blood Scrub.

    The ability to fill a patient back up with their own blood was a life-safer. Literally. After that, it was just sealing the wounds and then cleaning out the blood from her stomach, intestines and throat.

    Kushina’s breathing stabilized and the color returned to her skin. She slowly sat up and looked beyond me. “We did it.”

    I looked at the soul of Namikaze Minato and stood up. “Eh, I’d say you did it. Now, I’m going to move you so that you aren’t caught up in the jutsu as I give Minato a body.”

    Chakra strings picked up Kushina and Rin followed along underneath her to steady and reassure her. I stretched forth my hand. I already had the soul, in its full state, so all I had to do was give it a shell.

    Male body, taller than me, blonde hair, white under wrappings and Kimono. He gasped and started breathing again, his chest rising and falling with each deep breath, his eyes wide and looking around the bomb chamber, trying to figure out where he was.

    Namikaze Minato has rejoined the living. About time, too.

    “Minato!” Kushina stood up and ran to him, an overjoyed look on her face, tears falling from her eyes and onto the floor, left behind from her speedy flight to her husband. “You’re alive! You’re alive!”

    The other soul in the room, a deep orange color, I immediately collected in a tube I created. On a white tag, I wrote ‘For Naruto’ and stuck it along the side, then used GRS too deposit it in my office, beside my desk. Naruto needed the whole Kyuubi eventually, not just half.

    “Yes, I’m alive,” Minato said, sounding calm and returning her embrace.

    That calm wasn’t fake, but he was trying really hard to maintain the calm while he analyzed every portion of the Chamber, taking special note of the door out.

    “Minato-sensei!” Rin also sounded happy, running forward and past me.

    Minato did a double take as he saw Rin approaching. He brought his fingers together. “Kai!”

    Rin stopped, and took a breath. “It really is me, Hokage-sama. I got brought back too.”

    “You did,” Minato breathed out, sinking to one knee as Kushina stood back, placing his hand on her shoulder. Then they hugged. “It really is you. You’re alive. How?”

    “Shimoda-sama.” Rin let go of her sensei, turning around and pointing to me. “He brought all three of us back from the dead.”

    “Hey,” I said with a wave. “You’ve been dead for twelve years. So, you’re welcome.”

    “Twelve years.” That nearly broke through his sense of calm. Nearly. He’s good at staying calm. “Who are you?”

    “Shimoda Daisuke,” I replied with a small smile. “Other than that, no one of consequence.”

    “I must know,” Minato pressed, letting out a breath.

    “Get used to disappointment.” Why did that exchange make me as happy as it did? Because that exchange made me really happy. I mean, really happy.

    Minato simply frowned. “Very well. What were you planning to do with us?”

    “Well, I was going to deposit you at Konoha.” I began. Then I pointed at Kushina. “But your wife decided we needed to make a few stops, first. That wound up with you being able to leave the Shinigami’s stomach and be brought back as well, so now Naruto has both of his parents.”

    “You know Naruto?” Minato asked, suddenly very eager.

    “He was my only friend for years,” I answered honestly. “I owed him a debt. With the resurrection of his parents, I’d say that debt is paid.”

    “Why did you resurrect Rin?” Minato asked. “I mean, I’m happy to have her back, but assuredly you had a reason.”

    “Kakashi was his jounin sensei,” Kushina supplied immediately. “He brought her back for him.”

    “Kakashi was a jounin sensei?” Minato’s mind was boggled. “What about Obito?”

    “Obito never died.” I clasped my hands behind my back to avoid fidgeting in front of them.

    “What do you mean, he never died?” Minato asked sharply.

    “Exactly that. I don’t know where, exactly, he is, but he never died during that rockslide, or I would’ve brought him back too.”

    “Then where is he?” Minato asked.

    “Your guess is as good as mine,” I replied with a shrug. I wasn’t going to tell them that Obito was likely a member of a group of S-class missing nin dedicated to rounding up the Tailed beasts for some reason. “Now, are you guys hungry? I can whip something up really quick if you want to eat something before you head back to Konoha.”

    “No, we need to head back to Konoha,” Minato said authoritatively. “Right away.”

    “Kushina? Rin? You sure you don’t want anything?” I asked the two.

    “No, he’s right,” Kushina replied. “We need to move.”

    “I’m fine, but thank you for offering,” Rin rejected diplomatically.

    “Alright, hold on to your heads,” I said, appearing between the three of them and snagging them with chakra-strings. “We’re heading back to Konoha. Just one tip, before we go.”

    “What’s that?” Minato asked.

    “Don’t mention me if you can help it. The Third and I have some bad blood between us.”

    “Why is tha-”

    Global Repositioning System.

    ---


    “Hokage-sama,” Bear, an ANBU operative, burst into the Hokage’s office. “You need to come quickly!”

    “What is it?” Hiruzen asked, standing up from his desk.

    “A trio of Konoha Shinobi were apprehended at the front gates per their own request,” Bear replied. “And I was told it was a double S-class secret.”

    Not to be discussed outside of T&I, Hiruzen thought with a frown. “Alright, lead the way, Bear. Quickly.”

    With that, the two Nin took off, running across the rooftops as quickly as their chakra could propel them. T&I actually had several entrances, none of them around the Academy that the Hokage had his office built atop, for obvious reasons. The public entrance was an office building built next to the customs office. The entrance they were going for was a sewer grate situated in the center of four alleys that had been strategically blocked off to keep the civilians from entering that area.

    Bear lifted the manhole cover and Hiruzen slipped down the tunnel quickly. After the manhole was closed behind them, Bear caught back up, and led the way. After several turns and a brief worry that a Fish-man would burst out of the water a grab him, they came to the door. Bear quickly went through the secret knock and the sliding eye-hole opened. “When’s blood our only recourse?”

    “When the enemy is conspiring to attack our gates,” Bear said breathlessly. “I brought the Hokage.”

    The door flung open and Ocelot bowed to greet them. “Hokage-sama. It’s good that you arrived so quickly.”

    “What is going on?” Hiruzen asked gruffly as he walked inside.

    Before either of them could answer, Ibiki strode out of a door at the opposite end of the hall, chasing an ANBU while shouting directions. “And tell Analysis that if they don’t have my blood work done before the Hokage arrives, I’ll flay them alive! Oh, Hokage-sama!”

    Ibiki bowed in greeting. “We have a situation.”

    “How desperate is it?” Hiruzen asked, a little annoyed that he hadn’t been filled in properly now that he arrived.

    “I don’t know what to make of it,” Ibiki answered in disbelief. He stood up straight and schooled his emotions. “It’s the Fourth, Hokage-sama. The Fourth, Uzumaki Kushina and Nohara Rin. They’ve come back from the dead.”

    Hiruzen’s heart stopped for just a moment and his eyes went wide. “Come again?”

    “Minato, Kushina and Rin,” Ibiki repeated. “Three Shinobi that were dead arrived at our gates nearly an hour ago.”

    “Have you confirmed their identity?” Hiruzen asked.

    “We brought Inoichi in to look through their minds,” Ibiki said. “He confirmed their identity, and we’re still waiting on the blood work.”

    “Did they say how they’ve come back?” Hiruzen asked with a deep, deep frown.

    Ibiki just looked directly into the Hokage’s eyes.

    Hiruzen suppressed his groan as a migraine started to develop. “Daisuke?”

    Ibiki nodded.

    “Well, now he can reverse death itself,” Hiruzen said flatly, walking through the doorway. Ibiki followed after. “Just throw that onto the pile. Where are they being kept?”

    “Cells one, two, and three,” Ibiki answered. “One holds Namikaze-sama, if you were hoping to speak to him first.”

    They turned a corner and came across Inoichi, who was looking through the two-way mirrors where each Shinobi sat at a table and desk.

    Hiruzen felt his eyes start to pop out of his skull. There they were, Minato, Kushina, Rin. Three dead Shinobi now returned to life, sitting at tables they were handcuffed too. Wasn’t I, earlier today, just thinking about how nice it would be if they came back? Now here they are.

    “Hokage-sama,” Inoichi finally realized that Hiruzen had arrived and bowed deeply. “I looked in each of their minds and they are who they say they are. There’s no seals on their minds or anything making them think they’re Namikaze, Uzumaki or Nohara.”

    “Until we get their bloodwork back, we can only take that as seventy-five percent assurance,” Ibiki pointed out with a frown. “If it comes back positive, what do we do, Hokage-sama?”

    “We would give them a few days to readjust to live in the villages,” Hiruzen said, staring at all three cells in sequence. “Keep them hidden away, though. Only Naruto and Kakashi can know of their resurrection. We’ll discuss their future plans and then once those are finalized, we’ll announce their safe return.”

    “Will we also announce that Daisuke was the one who did the returning?” Inoichi asked.

    Hiruzen’s lips pressed into a fine line. “I’m not sure.”

    There was very little to stop Minato from giving Daisuke the credit if he were to assume the mantle of Hokage again. But to give Daisuke credit would be to declare him a friend to the village, but missing Nin were not friends to the village. But actions spoke much louder than words and in spite of his childish temper tantrum, he proved himself a friend of Konoha.

    …no.

    Daisuke proved himself a friend of Naruto and his Sensei. Hiruzen thought, taking his pipe out and stuffing a packet of herbs into it. That Konoha benefits from the Fourth’s return is just a happy accident. Unless he’s using them as a peace offering?

    Hiruzen lit the pipe and inhaled. If it’s a peace offering, and I hope it is, then it is a magnificent one.

    “Inoichi-san, what else did you find out?” Hiruzen asked.

    “Shimoda-Daisuke has a base somewhere,” Inoichi reported. “It’s underground and fairly expansive. He also wanted to accompany the three into the village, but the Fourth convinced him otherwise.”

    “Convinced him otherwise.” The Hokage shook his head in sarcastic disbelief. “We all know that he made some brand-new stealth jutsu that perfectly fools every anti-stealth counter measure we have after a few seconds of thought and is watching us right now.”

    Ibiki suddenly looked distinctly uncomfortable and Inoichi took in breath to calm himself.

    ---

    I mean, he’s not wrong…

    ---

    “They finished,” Raven, the ANBU agent that Ibiki was yelling after earlier, returned with the analysis sheet.

    Ibiki looked it over, and took a deep, meditative breath. “It’s positive. It’s them. We can be ninety-nine percent sure of it.”

    Got to watch out for the one percent, Hiruzen took a puff of his pipe. But this is…excellent news. No, this isn’t just excellent, this is extraordinary. This is the best news I’ve seen in over a decade.

    “I will speak to Minato, then,” Hiruzen said, striding toward the door to cell one. Just a small breath, and he opened the door.

    Minato looked up at him and burst into a wide smile.

    “Minato-dono?” Hiruzen said, sounding more like a question than an answer.

    “Hiruzen-dono.” Minato stood up from his chair and bowed. “It is so good to see you.”

    “Likewise,” Hiruzen replied, returning the bow. “When I heard that you had returned to us, I didn’t believe it.”

    “But has my identity been confirmed?” Minato asked, sitting down as Hiruzen did the same across from him.

    “Yes, it is,” Hiruzen replied. “We know that you are Namikaze Minato beyond any reasonable doubt.”

    “Good,” Minato sighed. “That’s good. I’ll be able to see my son soon, then.”

    “Absolutely,” Hiruzen nodded. “Naruto will be overjoyed to meet you and Kushina. He’s always been curious about his parents, you know.”

    “I can’t believe he grew up an orphan,” Minato said, shaking his head. “Where was Jiraiya-sensei?”

    “Jiraiya abdicated his responsibility,” Hiruzen replied with a frown.

    Minato brought a fist down on the table, his calm expression broke in a father’s rage. “Abdicated? Are you serious?”

    “Yes, I am.” Hiruzen took another puff from his pipe. Minato had every reason to be angry. “He will be returning to Konoha soon, and you may speak to him then.”

    “Good,” Minato’s eyes narrowed, and he calmed back down, leaning into his chair. “Good. In that case, Hiruzen-dono, I have a question.”

    “Ask away.”

    “Who is Shimoda Daisuke?” Minato asked evenly, folding his fingers in front of him on the table.

    Hiruzen took a long, long drag from his pipe. “That is a very, very long story.”

    “I have nothing but time,” Minato replied still calm and fairly cheerful, all things considered.

    “I know,” Hiruzen said, gesturing at the mirror. Ibiki entered the room. “Ibiki, get all of their handcuffs off after I’m done debriefing each of them personally, prepare to have them moved to one of our safe houses. I want them all to have the best service we can provide them.”

    “Hai, Hokage-sama.” Ibiki approached Minato with key in hand, undoing Minato’s manacles.

    “As for Shimoda,” Hiruzen began. “I first met him in an orphanage, when I was dropping Naruto off there…”

    ---

    Author’s Note: Here we are, the next chapter of Act 2. I hope you guys liked it. I initially wasn’t aware of the Shinigami mask that Orochimaru used to free the souls of the Kage from Shinigami’s stomach, but thanks to the effort and diligence of Spacebattles, Naruto now has both parents. We’ll be getting his and Kakashi’s heart attacks next chapter.

    Other than that, I don’t have much to say. Shout out goes out too RichardWhereat, our newest Super Patron! Thank you for your support, you’re helping me continue to write these stories.

    Shout out also goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari and PbookR. You guys are the best, thank you for your continued support. Cookies for all of you.

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  7. Threadmarks: Chapter 7: Catching Up
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

    Joined:
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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    “He looked like a living statue and it was uncanny,” Hiruzen continued. “I knew he had some kind of bloodline because, according to the caretakers there, he didn’t always look like that. The very first day after the academy, he proved himself a Taijutsu prodigy but my first look at this bloodline came after that night, when he went looking for a fight with rats that had been dosed with soldier pills.”

    Oh yeah, I remember that.

    Minato looked confused. “Why would anyone dose rats with soldier pills?”

    “Two of the orphans there thought that the rats might be good practice.” Hiruzen took a deep breath. “But they fled once the rats had finished growing. Then Daisuke, sensing a challenge, went down there and dealt with them himself. Got sliced up from top to bottom.”

    I still remember the rat that attached itself to my head, back when giant rats were actually a fight. I even thought it was difficult.

    Good times.

    “After a good night’s rest, he had recovered totally,” Hiruzen continued. “So, it was with any injury he received. He lost an eye once; it was back the next day. He took several explosion tags in close range, not a hair out of place once he woke up. Once, he got stabbed through the back with a trident, and it barely slowed him down.”

    I remember delivering one heck of a one liner to ole’ Mori Kazu during our fight. He asked what I was, and I said ‘durable’.

    The real question is if the fact that I was being serious and not understanding the rhetorical nature of his question made it better. I almost think it does.

    “But you said he looked like a moving statue?” Minato cupped his chin in thought. “He didn’t look like that when I met him.”

    “Yes, well.” Hiruzen sighed. “That’s because of his bloodline, a thing so insidiously complicated our R&D still hasn’t pieced it all together.”

    I wonder how much the information ‘life is a game for me and those are just the rules’ would help them out. Not a lot, would be my guess.

    “I don’t suppose there’s a complete document for everything that they’ve found out, is there?” Minato asked with an inquisitive frown.

    “Yes, but I can only let you see it if you’re willing to take the reins of Hokage again,” Hiruzen said, sounding hopeful and a little desperate.

    “Of course,” Minato said with a nod. “I need to let you get back to your retirement. You’ve more than earned it.”

    “Thank goodness,” Hiruzen let out a sigh. “Alright, let me show you the basic facts for now, because it is important.”

    Oh, that looks like the sheet I drew for Shikamaru to clarify my bloodline. He went and showed it to the old man.

    …I shouldn’t be mad about it, but I am.

    Why am I mad about it?

    That doesn’t make any sense.

    “Shimoda does not operate on the same rules that we operate on,” Hiruzen stated. He started pointing to each graphic on the sheet and giving a brief summary. “As long as an attack does not empty the hitpoints he had here, he cannot die.”

    “Okay,” Minato looked at it in confusion.

    “This bar is his chakra. From what I understand, his reserves are comparatively small, but they fill up again almost immediately. This is his Experience Bar, which gradually gets filled by doing missions and killing targets.”

    Hiruzen stopped to let the other Hokage get his bearings. Minato turned his head and picked up the drawing for himself, staring at it. “What does the Experience Bar do?”

    “When it fills, he levels up, getting more hitpoints, larger chakra reserves, as well as skill points to increase his skills.” Hiruzen took some herbs from the inside of his robes and started stuffing his pipe. “That is the only way he gets better at anything. No amount of training, practice or tutelage will increase his skill in a certain area.”

    “That’s impossible,” Minato protested with a deep frown. That’s what he said, but he was processing what he was told.

    You know, I don’t think I ever saw a clearer example of how alien my bloodline made me to the Ninja than I did right here.

    “That’s Daisuke,” Hiruzen intoned. “Near the beginning of his life, he had allocated his stats as a Ninja to be a certain way. You see the listings of Strength, Perception, Endurance? That’s what I’m talking about.”

    “So, did he make his Charisma here low?” Minato’s eyes narrowed.

    “He set it at one, the lowest it could go,” Hiruzen answered, rubbing the bowl of his pipe in thought. “So, he could have more points to put into the Luck stat.”

    Minato blinked heavily. “He had the ability to make himself lucky?”

    “He did precisely that,” Hiruzen confirmed. “Then took a perk, which he gets every even level, to further increase that luck to 10.”

    “Did he get any free points to spend at the start?” Minato asked, his eyes still scanning the paper.

    “Our best guess is that he had five points and that, by his own admission, he increased his intelligence to ten at the start,” Hiruzen answered.

    Good guess.

    “So, I’m assuming the bad blood he told me the two of you had,” Minato began, putting the paper down. “Has something to do with how he stopped looking like a moving statue?”

    “Yes,” Hiruzen nodded. “That’s a good way of putting it. You see, he had a maximum level he could get too, level fifty. So if he were to spend perk points to get his charisma to 10, he would be wasting eighteen levels worth of perks to fix this one issue, but there was a solution. A perk he called ‘Almost Perfect’. It would raise all of his stats to nine.”

    And force me to stare into the darkness, that it may stare back into me.

    …not that I knew that at the time.

    “The problem is that the perk required that he be level Thirty before he could take the perk,” Hiruzen explained, taking another puff. “He was under the impression that he would be able to make significant progress toward that goal in the Academy, but he only got to level five or six and spent his entire academy years as a social outcast as a result. Your son, Naruto, was his only friend.”

    “Yes, he said as much in his vault.” Minato looked at the paper and at Hiruzen with cold and calculating eyes. “While it lead to some good things, I’m not pleased that he was ostracized as well. What happened?”

    “Some Shinobi let it slip to the public that Naruto was the Jinchūriki,” Hiruzen replied, taking another puff from his pipe. “They were executed and we did not see any other leaks until recently, but the damage was done and the village shunned him.”

    Hypocritical of me to talk about their execution like this but, well, good.

    “Was it arrogance that lead them to sedition?” Minato asked flatly.

    “No. I later learned that they were agents of Shimura Danzo,” Hiruzen pointed out. “He has since been executed for his many, many crimes against the villages and I will have a briefing prepared for you on them after you’ve had some time with your son.”

    Wait, Danzo’s been dealt with?

    …he’s telling the truth.

    Huh.

    That’s cool. Good on you, Hiruzen.

    I guess.

    “I would appreciate that,” Minato folded his arms. “Now, Daisuke?”

    “Daisuke, because of his nigh unkillable nature, lack of consequences for his bad decisions and desperation to no longer be the villages social pariah, had become inexcusably reckless,” Hiruzen continued, taking his pipe out and admired it before stuffing some more herbs in it. “He would take any fight, with any opponent, no matter how dangerous it would be.”

    Oh boy. Here we go.

    “Give me an example,” Minato said, laying his hands on the table, fingers interlocked.

    “In our sewers, our village came under attack by mutant fish men,” Sarutobi began. “Experiments left over from Orochimaru that had been living down there for years without anyone knowing. It turns out they were clones of a much larger fish man.”

    “How large are we talking, exactly?” Minato asked.

    “The size of Gamabunta,” Hiruzen answered. “Alone. While seriously injured.”

    “That is reckless,” Minato nodded. “You took him off missions, of course?”

    You’re kidding me. I thought you were cool, Minato!

    “Of course,” Hiruzen replied. “You know what he did in response? He reverse-summoned himself to get a contract.”

    Minato blinked. “…I think I see where you’re going with this.”

    “I don’t know what he had to do to get the contract.” Hiruzen shook his head in disbelief. “But it only proved my point that he was reckless and foolhardy.”

    Come on, it was only fighting in a losing war for them.

    Nothing too serious.

    Intelligence Check Success: 10/4.

    …shut up, game. He’s wrong.

    “It sounds like he was on the road to ruin and you had to intervene,” Minato replied, sounding thoughtful. “But his unkillable nature wasn’t the only reason he was valuable, was it?”

    “No, what really made him valuable was his ability to invent jutsu at will.” Hiruzen lit the herbs in his pipe and started puffing. “Ninjutsu, Genjutsu, Fuinjutsu? It didn’t matter. If it could be done, he could do it.”

    “You’re kidding.” Minato’s eyes actually grew wide.

    “He brought you back to life,” Hiruzen pointed out.

    “That was different,” Minato replied, standing up straight in his chair. “He had to be taught how to do that.”

    Yeah, Kushina told him after I ‘left’. Makes sense why she’d do it but now Hiruzen’s being told that and I’m a little annoyed. It was a little dumb to hope, but I wanted to keep the Hokage at least somewhat in the dark as to my new capabilities.

    “Daisuke needed to be taught how to do something?” Hiruzen shook his head and chuckled. “I didn’t think it was possible. Who could teach him how to bring back the dead?”

    “The Shinigami himself.”

    Hiruzen immediately started coughing and hacking. After he ran out of air, he took a deep breath. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised nowadays. After all he’s done?”

    “Well, you’ve surprised me quite a lot in the last few minutes,” Minato replied wryly. “But you were telling me how he turned into a missing nin.”

    Hiruzen let out a sigh. “It was my fault.”

    You’re right, it is.

    “Several years ago, I confronted Orochimaru in the sewers,” Hiruzen started to explain. “You had been dead for nearly two years now. He had been experimenting on Konoha Ninja to expand his understanding of Jutsu. I had the ability to remove him and…I couldn’t do it. He was my student, Minato.”

    “I understand,” Minato’s eyes narrowed. “But I assume you won’t be making that mistake again?”

    Wow, that’s some Naruto level forgiveness right there.

    …I guess I see where he gets it from. Cool, I guess.

    “Never,” Hiruzen’s eyes narrowed in turn. “I won’t have to worry about it, though. Daisuke encountered him during his Chunin exams.”

    “He charged in for a fight with a Sannin?” Minato asked.

    “He forced Orochimaru to retreat,” Hiruzen pointed out.

    Minato leaned forward, steepeling his fingers in front of his face in thought. A good cover for the fact that he was speechless.

    “Then, when we next saw him, he was conversing with Sunagakure’s Jinchūriki. We intervened before it turned bloody, and Daisuke looked anxious like he normally does. I dismissed him to his chambers to give him some time to decompress,” Hiruzen took a deep puff of his pipe. “I didn’t give him any time to report what happened. His teammate stayed behind to make sure her Sensei knew and then he told me. When I saw Shimoda next…”

    Hiruzen let out a sigh. “I chastised him for not reporting Orochimaru’s presence, decided not to promote him right there, but I’m the one who didn’t give him time to report his findings because I dismissed him before he could report it.”

    Oh yeah, that’s right. That is how it happened, wasn’t it? Huh.

    …points for recognizing it?

    “He was angry, but didn’t know how to express it without destroying something. So, Daisuke did as Daisuke does and went after him.” Hiruzen shook his head. “Killed all four of his body guards and just finished killing Orochimaru by the time I tracked him down. He was…furious. Called Orochimaru a ‘non-problem’, like any idiot could’ve handled him if they had been given a kunai.”

    Minato just hummed.

    I mean, they could’ve.

    Intelligence Check Success: 10/2.

    Shut up, game.

    “Then he talked about leaving the village. Openly flaunted the idea, saying that being a missing nin had to have been better than having leadership that didn’t trust him.” Hiruzen took a puff of his pipe, letting the smoke come out the side of his mouth. “I hadn’t realized that his frustrations had gotten that bad. I agreed to promote him to special jounin so long as he worked with a partner.”

    “A suitable compromise for a Genin that could kill a Sannin,” Minato nodded. “How did it work out?”

    “Just one final thing before we get to that,” Hiruzen held up a hand. “His teammate, Yamada Hisako. Her parents are both ANBU, and she had stated goals to do the same as her parents. But she also had very intense feelings for Daisuke. So, hearing him say that he’d rather be a missing Nin than continue to deal with me? It broke her heart and she lashed out.”

    She should hate me by now after all the rejections I subjected her too. Absolutely should.

    Charisma Check Success: 10/8.

    She doesn’t hate me.

    I feel so sorry for her.

    Hiruzen took yet another puff from his pipe. “Then Daisuke lashed back at her and scared the Jounin into thinking that he was going to kill her. So, Daisuke then leaves.”

    “How did he leave?” Minato asked, raising an eyebrow in fascination. “He was surrounded by Jounin? Did he kill them?”

    “He had cracked the Flying Thunder God seal several weeks prior to this,” Hiruzen waved it off like it was nothing. “Your version. On his own.”

    “What?” Minato looked thoroughly alarmed. “How did he do that? You didn’t give him access to my notes, did you?”

    Hiruzen just shook his head with an amused smile on his face.

    “Are you – but – how – I don’t –” Minato just kept going. But he managed to regain his calm just a second later, rapidly shaking his head and returning to his serene expression. “I see now how he was able to defeat Orochimaru.

    Heh, that was funny.

    Didn’t laugh, though. Didn’t want Inoichi and Ibiki to realize that I was here.

    “Yes, well. He left,” Hiruzen continued the story. “Swore we wouldn’t see him again until his issues were fixed.”

    “This was in the middle of the Chunin exams?” Minato asked, adopting a slightly disconcerted expression.

    “Yes, and after disciplining Yamada, I put in place a plan to get him to come back,” Hiruzen replied. “Shimoda was blood thirsty. He hungered for battle. He heard the drums of war whenever he awoke in the morning. So, I ordered that the exam proceed as normal.”

    Well, it worked. I only participated because I was still slated to make an appearance. Then, of course, there was the fact that I was able to help Gaara out with his little seal problem.

    “He showed up, fought as normal, but things were off,” Hiruzen pointed out. “He was wearing a mask and didn’t say a word in any of his matches. The end of the exam was meant to be a three-way battle, but with two of the finalists from Konoha, the Kazekage offered to let Shimoda fight their Jinchūriki. Knowing that Daisuke could not walk away from a fight like that, or even be mad after that, I agreed and told him. The only thing he had to say was to ask me if I cared how he handled it. I just told him to make it flashy.”

    “Naturally, you were hoping that Shimoda would kill their Jinchūriki and remove a problem from the village,” Minato pointed out. “It makes sense, given how blood thirsty he was. I haven’t heard of someone getting that bad since the war.”

    “And I forced the usual treatment for blood thirst on him,” Hiruzen pointed out. “Separation from missions, extra time with his teammates and sensei and tactics lessons to help him think through his encounters so he wouldn’t lose himself seeking blood.”

    Um…what?

    No, no, no.

    He wasn’t trying to help; he was just being an idiot. This is him just trying to justify his actions to the previous Hokage.

    Charisma Check Success: 10/3.

    GAME, I SWEAR – DO NOT TELL ME HE IS BEING SINCERE RIGHT NOW.

    IT’S NOT TRUE, AND YOU KNOW IT.

    “So, what happened in the match with the Jinchūriki?” Minato asked. “It was suitably flashy, yes?

    “Oh yes,” Hiruzen nodded, actually smiling slightly. “As you know, Shukaku lets the Jinchūriki wield sand as a weapon, in the middle of a desert. Shimoda performed a jutsu that stopped all of the sand in the desert from even touching him.”

    “So, we have one less Jinchuriki to worry about?” Minato started smiling as well.

    “…no.”

    “No?”

    “No,” Hiruzen shook his head. “Daisuke walked right up to Gaara and placed his hand on his stomach. The seal on Sabaku No Gaara was of terrible quality, allowing him to hear the voice of the One-Tailed beast in his head. Daisuke’s response was to fix it and improve the lad’s mental health.”

    Minato blinked owlishly, his head tilting. “You’re joking.”

    “No, I am not,” Hiruzen pointed out. “When we met with him later, and he took off his mask, he looked like a whole new person. Healthy skin instead of ivory pallor, vivid and animated facial expressions, sparkling eyes where glass counterfeits might have been. He then attempted to resign from the Shinobi force because he was unfit for duty.”

    “The transformation was total, then,” Minato said. “Impressive, very impressive. How did the partner program work?”

    “It worked fantastically.” Hiruzen nodded. “But he didn’t kill a single person, ever. Now matter who it was, he always brought them in alive and let the local justice system of who hired them handle the riff-raff. Then, he went on a three-month vacation and this is when things started to fall apart.”

    “Were taking vacations part of the partnership deal?” Minato asked.

    “Yes,” Hiruzen leaned backward in his chair. “Long story short, he infiltrated each of the Hidden Villages to understand the history of the Shinobi wars, according to him and what he learned…do you remember the Broken Steel defensive action?”

    “I was the leader of that action,” Minato’s eyes narrowed. “You know that.”

    “That’s right, I do,” Hiruzen nodded again. “According to Daisuke, Iwa has no idea it ever happened.”

    Minato looked taken aback, his mouth adopting a small frown. “You’re joking.”

    I wasn’t joking. I don’t know how whoever is setting these wars up pulled it off, but they did.

    “That’s what Daisuke told me,” Hiruzen answered with a frown. “He told me this after spilling two S-class secrets to your son and all the clan heirs.”

    “What secrets are we talking about, here?” Minato asked, his eyes narrowed.

    “His status as a Jinchūriki and his parentage.”

    Minato glared. “I didn’t want him finding out about those until he was a Jounin.”

    Wait, really?

    Guess he wasn’t as smart as people give him credit for.

    “Neither did I,” Hiruzen agreed with a sigh. “But thanks to Daisuke, Naruto and all his friends know that he has the Fox and that he’s the Fourth Hokage’s son and about my trouble with Orochimaru. The contents of that meeting have been classified as Double-S rank secret.”

    “Did you keep records of allowing Orochimaru to leave?” Minato asked.

    “No.”

    “Then how did he find out?”

    My brief memories of the anime filled me in, so you could actually say that I cheated.

    I mean, more than I usually do.

    “I don’t know,” Hiruzen shook his head. “My best guess is one of his premonitions told him.”

    I mean, close enough?

    “He can see the future?” Minato asked.

    “He gets small premonitions in the form of texts and titles,” Hiruzen explained. “One of them must’ve tipped him off. That’s the only explanation I can think of.”

    “Hm. At this point, what would you have done differently?” Minato asked.

    “After the foolhardy attempt to fight the fish-men boss,” Hiruzen started. “I would’ve pulled him from missions, just like I did.”

    You would, old codger.

    “But then I wouldn’t let him back on missions until he was level 30,” Hiruzen continued.

    What.

    “This EXP bar fills when he invents a new jutsu,” Hiruzen said. “So, I’d tell him, no more missions until he had made enough to get to level thirty. Or maybe I would give him hand-crafted missions, such as ‘turn over ten created jutsu to R&D’. Mainly, I just would’ve had him get to level 30 as quickly as possible so that we could have his friends around to help him deal with whatever horrific revelations he received when he finally became socially aware.”

    Nope, he’s lying.

    He’s just saying that because he knows I could be spying on him.

    Charisma Check Success: 10/1.

    Shut up, game.

    No one asked you.

    “You tried to get him to mimic a natural growth curve, huh?” Minato asked. “It’s what I would’ve done.”

    “You see what happened as a result of that?” Hiruzen laughed hollowly. “One of your son’s dearest friends a missing Nin and the clan heirs' faith in their village nearly shattered. No, I should’ve tried to work with his bloodline instead of against it and it was my own blindness that stopped me from seeing it.”

    …okay, you know what?

    I don’t care anymore. I’m out.

    Goodbye, Konoha!

    ---

    “Then he says, that’s not a kunai, that’s my dog!” Naruto finished the joke with a wide smile.

    Sakura started laughing, hard, slamming a fist on the table. “That’s hilarious! Where’d you hear that one?”

    “I was eavesdropping on some Inuzuka in the academy,” Naruto answered, still grinning. “They had a ton of good ones, I swear.”

    “Sounds like it,” Sakura said with a grin.

    They were sitting in the Akimichi restaurant, one of the few establishments that Naruto could now go too without being refused service, since the whole incident with the Fish Men some months ago. Naruto was actually enjoying the broader variety of food he could now gain access too, though Ramen would always be his favorite.

    Sakura, of course, had bean-paste dumplings. Her favorite.

    “Man, jokes like that make me forget that I’m talking to a clone,” Sakura said with a mischievous grin.

    Naruto blinked, then smirked deviously. “Yeah, I’ve got hundreds of clones running around Konoha right now.”

    “Oh, and what does the original do with all his free time if he can’t even come to see me?” Sakura asked with mock hurt, trying to pout cutely.

    “He’s probably on his way right now,” Naruto replied, his grin getting wider. “Or maybe he already left. Or maybe I am the original and just forgot? I get tons of memories every day, it’s easy to get jumbled.”

    “If only there was a way to test if you were the real one,” Sakura said, chewing on one finger like she had seen a model on the cover of some book do.

    “I can think of one way you can test,” Naruto began, his grin getting slyer. “You’ll have to kiss me.”

    Then Sakura went pink and Naruto felt just a pang of doubt that maybe he had gone too far. But he held it just in case she was actually wanted to kiss him.

    “I think that might just be a little to forward in our relationship, Naruto-kun,” Sakura finally said, with a small smirk.

    Naruto just leaned back, placing his hands behind his head like he was relaxing. “Then I guess you’ll never know.”

    Sakura just hummed, her expression saying that the mystery was starting to gnaw at her. “But seriously, how many clones do you make a day?”

    “Hundreds. Seriously,” Naruto nodded. “They handle all the training so I can do the fun stuff.”

    “Like what kind of fun stuff?” Sakura asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “You know,” Naruto got a sly grin on his face again. “Stuff that is fun.”

    Sakura giggled. “You’re terrible.”

    “Only the worst,” Naruto agreed, still grinning like a fox.

    They finished their meal and left the restaurant.

    The sun was starting to set and the sky was painted purple with golden beams shining through the clouds.

    “Hey, want to watch the sunset?” Naruto asked.

    Sakura checked her watched and looked up at the sky. “Sure! It looks like it’s going to be pretty.”

    “They always are in the village,” Naruto replied with a smile, before jumping up the building and taking a seat on the roof. Sakura followed after him and sat down beside him.

    The sun’s golden beams shined across the mountains in the distance, brilliant golden beams shining through the minor cloud cover over the golden orb on the horizon. The sky beyond that turning a vibrant purple as day turned to night.

    Sakura rested her head on Naruto’s shoulder and wrapped her arms around him. “It’s beautiful.”

    Naruto just smiled and enjoyed her embrace alongside the magnificent view. As the sun disappeared over the mountains, Sakura lifted her head to look at Naruto.

    “Naruto?” Sakura started.

    Naruto hummed and looked back at her. “Yeah?”

    “I think,” Sakura began, slowly closing her eyes and moving her lips toward Naruto. “I need to test…if it’s the real you…”

    Naruto met her lips with his and they held the kiss.

    When they parted, Sakura’s face was crimson and the sun had disappeared behind the mountains.

    “Let’s get you home now, eh?” Naruto asked with a grin, acting confident and as though that wasn’t the greatest thing that he’d ever experienced in his life.

    “Y-yeah, let’s,” Sakura nodded and they stood up.

    As their boots hit the ground, they looped arms and started walking back to Sakura’s home. Sakura, for her part, went back to resting her head on Naruto’s shoulder, which wasn’t hard since they were roughly the same height now.

    The wonders of good nutrition, Naruto thought in response to his increased height. This date? Best night of my life. Bar none. I wonder what Daisuke would say if he heard about…

    Naruto shook those thoughts out of his head. I can go back to planning to bring him back later. Just finish the date strong.

    They came to Sakura’s house, Naruto guiding Sakura since she had her eyes closed by now. “You’re home.”

    “Hm?” Sakura actually sounded disappointed as she unhooked her arm. “Good night, Naruto. I had a wonderful time.”

    “So, did I,” Naruto replied with a smile. Then he leaned forward, and kissed her on the lips a second time. “Good night, Sakura.”

    She was beet-red once again as she started to walk up the stairs and open the door. When she closed it, Naruto heard a squeal of joy and he started walking off toward his own house.

    He let out a sigh of contentment. “That was great. Got to thank Sensei for those dating tips, he really knows his way around girls!”

    “Speaking of thanking me,” Kakashi-sensei appeared out of nowhere, leaning against a wooden pole with his book in his hand like he had been standing there since the beginning of time. “Your date went well?”

    Yes,” Naruto started nodding enthusiastically with a huge grin. “Thank you, Sensei.”

    “Don’t mention it,” Kakashi replied with an eye-smile. “Now, you and I need to go see the Hokage. We’ve been summoned.”

    “Wait, really?” Naruto asked, scratching the back of his head. “Do I need to tell Sakura?”

    “It’s just the two of us,” Kakashi replied with a hand on his shoulder. “And I got told not to disrupt you if you were in the middle of something, which is why I waited.”

    Naruto blinked rapidly. “Huh. I wonder what the Old Man wants?”

    “Well, I think we should go see,” Kakashi replied with an eye-smile.

    “Yeah, let’s go,” Naruto nodded.

    ---

    “Ah, Kakashi-san. Naruto-kun,” The Hokage looked impossibly happy to see the two of them. Like he had the largest of smiles just at seeing the two of them. “I am so happy that you came so quickly. I’ve got the best of news for you.”

    “Daisuke came back?” Naruto immediately asked. “And you’re pardoning him so he doesn’t get his limbs severed and his chakra sealed?”

    “Not quite that good, but it does have to deal with Daisuke.” The Hokage nodded, his pipe very much not in his mouth.

    “Daisuke sent you a message asking if he could talk with his team?” Kakashi asked with a raised eyebrow. “So that we can actually talk and try to come to some sort of peaceful agreement?”

    “More like he sent a peace offering, if that’s what he intended,” The Hokage replied. “Rather, he managed to figure out how to do something new with his jutsu. He learned how to…raise the dead.”

    “What?” Naruto asked, his eyes getting wide.

    “He brought three shinobi back to life and they just recently had their identities confirmed,” Hiruzen continued with a smile. “They’re on leave for the next few days while they get up to speed on what’s happened these past few years and I knew that the two of you would want to see them immediately.”

    Kakashi turned his head, looking at the Hokage through the corner of his eye. “Who did he bring back?”

    “Come to my office and see,” The Hokage happily ordered.

    “Okay.” Naruto shrugged and followed the old man alongside his sensei.

    Up the stairs they walked and the Hokage opened the door to his office and zipped forward to his desk.

    Naruto blinked away the cloud of dust and saw ahead. He saw a man that was as tall as his sensei, with a brilliant shock of blonde hair. He had his arm around the waist of a woman with long red hair and cerulean eyes. Both of them locked their gazes onto Naruto. The woman’s eyes went wide and her hand slowly extended out as if to caress Naruto’s cheek.

    Beside them was a girl, about his age, with short brown hair and purple tattoos on her cheeks.

    “Naruto, meet Namikaze Minato and Uzumaki Kushina, your parents,” The Hokage announced with the happiest of smiles.

    “What?” Naruto’s own eyes went wide as he stared at the two adults across the room, just as they were staring at him.

    “And Kakashi, you recognize your teammate Rin?” The Hokage continued, taking in a pleased breath.

    Naruto looked up at his Sensei.

    Kakashi’s head-band was lifted up, showing the Sharingan that he had kept hidden, but it looked completely different, with long lines instead of three tomoe. He was staring at the Genin across the room. From the sounds he was making, Naruto knew that Kakashi was trying desperately to breath but couldn’t force the air into his lungs.

    “Sensei,” Naruto said in concern. “Sensei, breathe.”

    “Kakashi-san,” Rin said, slowly stepping forward. “It’s okay. It’s me. I promise, it’s okay.”

    Immediately upon hearing her voice, Kakashi disappeared in a Shunshin.

    The Hokage let out a sigh of disappointment. “I am sorry, Rin. He’ll come around.”

    “I should’ve known better,” Rin said bitterly, looking at the floor. Tears were spilling to the floor.

    Naruto looked back at Minato and Kushina. “Are…you really my parents?”

    “Yes,” Kushina answered quickly, moving toward Naruto at a brisk walk and doing everything in her power to make sure she didn’t run. She fell to her knees to come to his height and she was crying as well. “Yes, I am. I’m your mother. Kushina. I-I know it’s been a long time.”

    “You died putting the Kyuubi into me,” Naruto asked with a frown. “And then Daisuke brought you back.”

    “Yes, to both of those,” Minato said, stepping forward. “I’m sorry that you’ve had a difficult time because of that. It wasn’t my intention, or your mothers. But Daisuke said that he owed you a debt, so he brought us back.”

    Naruto looked horrified. “Debt? We’re friends! There’s no debt.”

    “He seems to hold you in a great deal of esteem, regardless,” Minato replied with a small smile. “And I’m grateful you were able to make friends since we could not be there for you.”

    “I’m sorry, Naruto,” Kushina said, half sobbing. “For leaving you alone, to fend for yourself for all those years. We never wanted to, believe me.”

    “I-I believe you,” Naruto tried to comfort his weeping mother, trying to fend off that strange and awkward feeling growing in his stomach. “I really do. But this is just so weird! I always wondered if maybe my parents, you guys would come back but…I never thought you would.”

    “Well, thanks to Daisuke, we’re here,” Minato said. “You’ll be happy to note that I’m pardoning him in a few days.”

    “You, you are?” Naruto asked quickly. “Are you serious? You’re becoming Hokage again and you’re going to pardon him just like that?”

    “Just like that.” Minato nodded. “And don’t think that just because I’m Hokage doesn’t mean I’m not going to have a lot of time for you. I’m still your dad, and I intend to make up for lost time.”

    “We both do,” Kushina nodded rapidly. “I promise, we’ll do everything we can to make things right.”

    “Look, it’s okay,” Naruto said. “It wasn’t your fault, was it?”

    “No, but we still regret that it happened,” Minato replied, putting his hand on Naruto’s shoulder. “You seem uncomfortable, is everything alright?”

    “Oh, I’m sorry,” Kushina said, leaning back. “I-I wasn’t thinking how awkward this would be for you, just…”

    Naruto took a breath. “It’s okay. Mom. Dad. I…wow, I never thought I’d be able to say that. It’s just…a lot of take in. But I’d love to get to know you guys.”

    Kushina then just launched into an embrace of her son, wrapping her arms around his entire body. “Oh, my little boy has all grown up.”

    Naruto froze up for just a second, then hugged the woman – his mother, back.

    Minato got on his knees and joined in on the group hug. “We’re back, son. And we’re here to stay.”

    I have a family, Naruto thought, both with joy and an intense feeling of nervousness. I actually have a family. Daisuke, wherever you are? Thank you. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least I’ll have gotten to know what it was like.

    Apart from the group hug, Rin was standing there, her hands folded in front of her, feeling awkward. Hiruzen placed a hand on her shoulder. “He’ll get better, I promise. I didn’t think his reaction would be this…intense.”

    “He did stab me with a Chidori,” Rin pointed out, still frowning deeply. “I should’ve known.”

    “Kushina, Naruto?” Minato said, causing the group up to break up just so slightly. “I think we can include one more, don’t you think?”

    Kushina perked up. “Come here, Rin.”

    Rin’s frown turned upside down and ran to get included in the family hug.

    Hiruzen looked at them with a smile, taking out his pipe. It wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but this was a great day. For Naruto, for Kakashi, for the entire village.

    ---

    Author’s Note: Well, I mean, more than half the chapter was Hiruzen filling in Minato and I’m concerned that the recount of Act 1 according to Hiruzen would be boring. But it’s what the muse demanded, so I hope you guys found it enjoyable.

    Shout out goes out to Anonymous, welcome to the Circle of Patrons! I promise it’s not a cult. I swear. We’re more like a really friendly knitting circle. But without the knitting.

    Shout out also goes out too Seij and ChristobalAlvarez, our newest Super Patrons! You guys are awesome and your support helps make this fic and all the others I write happen.

    Finally, a big thank you too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari, PbookR and RichardWhereat. Your continued support means the world to me.

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter 8: Old World Blues
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

    Joined:
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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    “So, they agreed that taking you off missions was a good thing,” Captain Shizo, the penguin leader of squad 3 began, making a shrugging motion with his flippers. “Who cares?”

    It was day-time here in the south pole, the sun hanging high in the sky across the polar ocean that stretched out before me. I was sitting on an ice-shelf, hunched over and holding my head in my hands as I looked out across the horizon with a depressed sigh. “Because I made a judgement call, not a mistake.”

    The other three members of squad three were performing training maneuvers in the water. Not because they had too, they were technically on leave from the Penguin Empire Army, but because they just enjoyed training together. Masato, the tallest penguin of the group who reminded me of a bowling pin, came up for air. “Was it a bad judgement call?”

    “No, it was neither good or bad,” I replied as he was dragged back under the water with a gasp of surprise. “It was just a tactical choice that didn’t pan out.”

    “So, it was a bad one.” Shizo slowly nodded with a smirk.

    “It was not a bad call!”

    “It sounds like a bad call.”

    “Well, it wasn’t.”

    “It looks like a bad call,” Shizo continued, heedless of my protests, tapping the tips of his flippers together like he was counting to 1 over and over. “It sounds like a bad call, it had bad results, it was a bad call.”

    I brought my fist down on the ice and the shelf broke into a thousand pieces, sending me into the water below. As I started sinking below the frozen water, I facepalmed at my gaff.

    Here I thought by coming to the poles, I’d actually get some sympathy. Not so lucky, I’m only getting flack for trying to come talk about it. The three other penguins, Misato, Riku and Rookie, all swam at me through the frozen waters and grabbed me with their flippers, stopping me from sinking.

    In an instant, I was back on the ice shelf as they catapulted me out of the water. I dried my self off with a jutsu.

    “Speaking of bad calls,” Shizo smugly poked fun at me. Then he slapped both of his flippers to his side. “But seriously, Shimoda. Could you get to the point? You didn’t come all the way to the arctic to whine about Hokage’s agreeing that you made a mistake.”

    I took a frustrated breath. “Well, Hokage number Four asked Hokage number Three if Hokage number Three would’ve done anything differently. Turns out, he still would’ve taken me off missions.”

    Shizo looked thoroughly unimpressed. “Oh, yeah, that’s the worst thing ever.”

    From the water, Masato made a snapping noise with his flippers. “The fiend. He still would’ve led you to come help us win a war and keep our species alive.”

    “Getting sympathy from you guys is like getting blood from ice,” I complained.

    Riku vomited out some…toy. Made of small fish bones like a puzzle box or something. He spun around in the water and it was broken into a thousand pieces. After some hand-signs with his feet beneath the water, the toy was whole again.

    “Riku’s right,” Rookie nodded with a smile. “We’re trying to fix the problem so it stops bothering you!”

    He had a point and I knew it. I sighed in resignation. “Fine. He also said he’d try to give me missions until I stopped being socially retarded. Basically, until I turned into this.”

    “So, he said that he learned from his mistakes and would’ve done things differently in hindsight,” Captain Shizo said, the muscles around his beak turning into a frown. “How is that a problem?”

    “Because,” I struggled to come up with the words. My explanation was lame. “It just is.”

    “Captain, I think the issue is that Daisuke doesn’t want to forgive him,” Masato pointed at me with his flipper.

    “Ah! Okay, that makes a lot more sense,” Shizo nodded happily. “Good work, Masato.”

    “I’m just doing my job.” Masato struck a heroic pose before the other two jumped him and tugged him below the water.

    “And Shimoda!” Shizo turned to me. “I’m afraid there really isn’t an answer to that. I mean, I’d try to work on forgiving the old man for your own sanity more than anything.”

    “But if I forgive the old man, my reasons for not being in Konoha shrivel into non-existence,” I pointed out petulantly, and folded my arms. “I can’t go back there.”

    “Why don’t you want to go back there?” Shizo asked.

    “Because I’m trying to make the Hidden Village system obsolete,” I answered. “A big social engineering project that all my friends are against because it attacks their entire belief system.”

    “Oh,” Shizo sat down beside me, his feet sticking out from under him like drumsticks. “Sounds to me like you need new friends.”

    “I think they’d all come around eventually,” I hesitantly replied.

    “If they do, great,” Shizo said, clapping his flippers together. “But until they do, they’re going to be pulling against the direction that you’re trying to take your life in.”

    Rookie surfaced. “That sounds toxic.”

    “That’s because it is, Rookie,” Shizo replied, folding his flippers behind his back. “Good answer!”

    “Thank you, Captain!” Rookie said with a smile before he disappeared beneath the waves, swimming away from the two black blurs of his teammates.

    “So, Daisuke. Buddy. Friend,” Shizo said, placing a flipper on my back. “You know the Empire’s got you’re back the entire way, us especially, but you need more human friends. So, among your old circles, is there anyone that would support you on this mission that you’ve found yourself on?”

    Anko, probably. Sasuke, after I told him the truth about the Massacre. But besides that? “A couple.”

    “And how’s things going with the Samurai?” Shizo asked with a grin.

    “They’ve made a few overtures for me to join them.” I shrugged. “But given how dedicated to their isolation, they won’t be able to make any solid change on the Elemental nations for another half a century and I can’t convince them in good faith to abandon it after their nation was decimated by the Kaiju.”

    “Do you still have it’s scroll orbiting the world?” Masato had come up for air, again, with a curious expression on his face.

    “Masato, come join us on the surface for a minute,” Shizo offered, gesturing for him to hop on land.

    “Yes, Captain,” Masato nodded and hopped on board the ice.

    “Oi! We done with maneuvers?” Rookie had also surfaced with an inquisitive expression.

    “We’re taking five so we can talk to Daisuke properly,” Shizo explained, gesturing for him and Riku, who surfaced as well, to come up to the surface. They did so.

    “To answer your question, yes,” I whipped up a hologram with shine-release to give a visual representation of where the giant box I had placed was in orbit. “As you can see, it’s hovering over the eastern continent.”

    You could actually see it from the ground as a tiny, tiny black dot in the sky.

    “Remarkable.” Masato was staring at the hologram with wonder.

    “Anyway, you can’t convince them to abandon isolationism because…?” Shizo asked, the muscles around his eye-socket raising to give his question extra inquisitiveness.

    “Because the whole idea is for them to be able to stand on their own two feet without me being there to baby-sit constantly,” I leaned back and popped my arms as I stretched them out over my head. “Look, I know the idea of world peace is a pipe dream. There’s always going to be skirmishes, conflict, whatever. But if I can stop the cycle of world wars? The ones with hundreds of thousands if not millions in casualties that happen every generation? I’ll be happy.”

    “How long do you think that’s going to take?” Shizo asked.

    I thought it over and my shoulders sunk. “It will take another generation for this idea of Peace through Strength to be get around and then another few generations for it to be accepted.”

    Masato started nodding. “And what will happen in the mean time as the status quo is disrupted?”

    Well, in my old world, the giant wars kind of stopped when my old country assumed a ‘Global Police Men’ role. Before then, they had to earn their independence, dissolve slavery, then save the world from tyranny. Twice. At least, I think that’s how it went down.

    Rookie made to say something, but Masato slapped the underside of his beak shut so I could keep thinking.

    Oh, wait. The names of the Nukes were Fat Man and Little Boy. The name Big Boy was in error. Aw, man. Do I have to change the name of my Jutsu? I mean…nah. It doesn’t really matter, it’s not like I’m ever going to use it.

    But in order to earn their independence, abolish slavery… to do those things they…ah, no.

    “War,” I replied, my shoulders slumping. “Lots, and lots of war. There’s going to be uprisings. If Ninshū spreads, alongside Jutsu, then the civilians are going to look at the injustices that they feel like they’ve been suffering. Places like the Suna and Kiri are ripe for a civilian uprising to depose of the Kage and Daimyo while they set up new forms of government that may or may not fail.”

    Masato was nodding. Rookie was bracing his beak on his flipper. Riku was playing with that bone puzzle box.

    “Then there’s the fact that the Hidden Villages will subsidize rebellions in rival countries to destabilize the regions and then the whole world really will be at war, not just the main Hidden Villages,” I was rubbing my forehead in irritation. I groaned at my own stupidity. “I’m an idiot.”

    “No, you’re inexperienced,” Shizo replied.

    “What’s the difference?” I asked.

    “Inexperience is fixable, idiocy is not,” Masato answered quickly.

    “Thanks, Masato.” I was being partly sarcastic.

    “Look, revolution doesn’t come cheap, and it’s complicated,” Shizo said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. It kind of was, once you started to think about it. “You can’t just set the iceberg in motion and forget about it – the sun will melt it and then you’re shark bait.”

    But I want to go home now. The whole point of this revolution business, bringing people back from the dead and spreading knowledge as freely as I can is so that I can tell myself that I left the place better than I found it.

    Intelligence Check Fai-

    Shut.

    Up.

    Game.

    “Look, I think if I just knew how to govern, I might actually have a better idea of how to pull this off bloodlessly,” I replied with a frown. “Or, at least with less blood. You know.”

    “Well, why don’t you ask the Emperor?” Rookie asked, still grinning. “The entire Empire owes you, I’m sure he’d be more than happy to teach you about how to run a governance.”

    “There’s also the Shogun,” Masato suggested. “He might give advice much more applicable to humans than penguins in some situations.”

    “I’ve floated that idea before,” I replied. “It’s a good one. But I didn’t think of the Emperor, which is a brilliant idea! Thanks, Shoraku.”

    Yeah, I remembered Rookie’s real name. I felt like using it since he gave me a fantastic idea, even if the others just call him rookie.

    “You’re welcome, Daisuke,” Rookie replied happily as I stood up.

    Riku then started grunting with an urgent look on his face, spitting up a calendar. Made of seal-leather parchment back from before the war, unless my suspicions that random skirmishes still happened were correct. He started randomly filling in the days.

    “Oh, good point, Riku,” Shizo said with a nod. “Daisuke, you need something to fill your time with.”

    “Like what?” I asked, blinking.

    “He’s saying you should get a hobby,” Masato clarified.

    “I have a hobby,” I replied with a frown.

    “And what’s that?” Shizo asked.

    “I play the guitar,” I replied.

    “Did you bring it?” Rookie asked eagerly.

    “No,” I said.

    “How much free time do you have?” Masato asked disbelievingly.

    I didn’t answer immediately. “A lot.”

    “And you play the guitar all that time?” Shizo asked.

    “…no?”

    “Daisuke,” Shizo said, placing both flippers on my shoulders.

    “Yeah?”

    “You need another hobby.”

    “I guess I do,” I said with a frown. “Like learning how to run a country? Or several?”

    “I mean, if that’s what you’d do for fun, sure,” Masato said with a chuckle. “But I doubt it.”

    He’s right.

    “Okay, I’ll think of something,” I nodded. “Thanks, guys. I guess I’ll go talk to the Emperor now?”

    “See ya, Daisuke!” Rookie bade farewell with a wave of his flipper.

    “Hey, Daisuke,” Shizo began. “Before you go, are you sure you don’t want to join us for underwater maneuvers? No sharks in the water, I swear.”

    I looked at the ocean.

    It was all water. Lots and lots of water, where anything could be swimming right now. From sharks, to giant squids to horrific eldritch abominations that sleep beneath the surface, waiting to consume all life once they awaken.

    “No thank you, Captain,” I said diplomatically. “Perhaps another time?”

    “Alright, see you later,” Captain Shizo replied, and his team jumped into the water as a unit.

    I am not proud of my aquaphobia. I’ll go into it if I had too, but if I have the choice?

    Yeah.

    ---

    The Emperor’s Palace had been done up considerably since I had been here last. What was once just an iceberg was now expanded upon with a complex web of slides and tunnels to assist those going in and out with getting to the palace and whatever floor they wanted to go too.

    …I wonder which one of those leads to Danjuro?

    Sure, I was told that speaking to him would be a one-time affair but I want a talk to him again. It was one of the few times in my life where things just became clear and it came without a good, long look into the abyss.

    Shaking those thoughts from my head, I entered the palace through the main entrance. The path to the Emperor was clear, oddly enough, which meant that either this was a slow day or that he ran a very tight ship. Probably both.

    Walking down the aisle toward the giant pool that was the Emperor penguins’ throne. Suddenly, the entire palace erupted with cheers from the general populace. I waved, bashfully, at all the admirers.

    He obviously took notice my approach. The giant Penguin boss that was the God Emperor of Penguin-kind reached up to fifty feet in height looked down upon me with a benevolent smile. “Ah, Shimoda-kun! It is good to see you once again. How have you been?”

    Technically, it’s just Emperor, but I can’t get Warhammer 40k out of my head whenever I talk to him.

    …it is 40, right?

    Crap.

    “I’ve been well, thank you for asking, Emperor-sama,” I replied with a bow. “How’s the Empire?”

    “Much better since we were able to negotiate the return of our stolen lands,” The Emperor replied. “The Sharks and Sea Lion’s endured such heavy losses, the welcomed the chance to retreat and consolidate their forces behind the guise of good will.”

    “I’m very glad to hear that,” I replied. “The first time I came here, you guys all looked…well, it’s good that you guys actually have territories you can spread out too.”

    I knew that mentioning what they looked like before I came to help them might’ve been a bad idea, but I still went ahead before I caught my out of control tongue.

    “Yes, we were at the end of our ropes,” The Emperor agreed. “Now, what may I assist you with, Shimoda-kun?”

    “Well,” I started, taking a breath. “I need a favor.”

    “You may not summon me more than once a year,” The Emperor replied automatically.

    “That’s not it.”

    “You may not speak to the Elder again.”

    “That’s not it, either,” I replied as flatly as he was with both of those rebuffs. “Incidentally, why can’t I speak to the Elder again?”

    “Because most of their time is spend in deep meditation and precognitive trances,” The Emperor answered. “It’s not that we don’t like you, it’s that the only reason you were able to speak to one in the first place is because he woke himself up and asked to speak with you.”

    I do not know what to think about that.

    “And he woke himself because I was going to be your clan’s summoner?” I asked.

    “Precisely,” The Emperor nodded. “Now, if he were to wake himself again, or another did, and asked to speak with you, we would be sure to let you know. But unless that happens, I’m afraid my flippers are frozen. But what did you need?”

    “Emperor-sama, I have found myself in need of learning how to run a government,” I answered. “I was hoping for some guidance.”

    The Emperor perked up immediately. “Do you speak truly?”

    “I do.” I nodded.

    “How much time do you have?” The Emperor asked.

    “I’m not with Konoha anymore,” I answered. “The Hokage and I had some differences, let’s leave it at that.”

    I’m still mad at him, even if I guess I really shouldn’t be.

    “Is it because of us?” The Emperor asked with narrowed eyes.

    “No, it’s got nothing to do with the Penguin Empire.” I shook my head. “The Hokage and I had some differences, that’s all.”

    “Very well!” The Emperor decided not to press the issue. Thank you. “I shall take you under my tutelage. Follow me, I have an office where we can discuss things in greater detail.”

    ---

    I’m starting to think that maybe the Penguins had a point.

    My office felt warm in comparison to the arctic ice and water that I’d been in for the past few hours. I was sitting at my desk, looking out through the window over the empty vault. Beyond idle temptations to make a computer of some kind so I could sit down and actually type my notes out like I used too, I took this moment to contemplate.

    The revolution that I want to have happen will be bloody, unless someone, very publicly, stops all the aggression and wars in a show of power that has the entire elemental nations reeling. That would act as an accelerant and allow me to put whatever reforms I wanted in, making the adjustment period take one or two generations at least.

    But I have neither the desire to assume direct control nor the inclination to wait an entire generation or two for the changes I want to make to take place. I want to go home now.

    Which means that, for my intents and purposes, improving the Elemental Nations and Going Home…are mutually exclusive. I want to go home now, before I spent too much time here in the Elemental Nations, alone and growing crazier by the second.

    But I can’t go home now. Because the game is being stupid.

    The Emperor’s teaching session, which I’ll be going back too, was insanely informative, even if it did take some thought on how to adapt the lessons from penguins to humans. I was definitely better informed if I chose to…stay in the Elemental Nations to continue my world-fixing agenda.

    But let’s be honest, Naruto (the manga) probably had a good ending so it stands to reason that it could still have a good ending because of how much better prepared Naruto is, since he got Shadow Clones so early. I’m just going to do a few things, then, to finish planting the seeds of things changing and then I’ll assault the Akatsuki’s headquarters.

    Like what?

    I mean, if I hand the Land of Iron more stuff, such as Seals, they’ll become a monster nation in a few generations. Then Ninshū, which is basically their religion will get circulated just through cultural osmosis and then it’ll be world peace forever…if only because people would be insanely good at recognizing threats and then dealing with them in a very timely and preventative manner.

    Which will either mean talk-no-jutsu or execution, depending on how bad it is.

    But then there’s the big question that’s starting to bug me. Really, really bug me. Like, a lot.

    I don’t like the question, though.

    The question leads me down into the abyss.

    Not the question, but why am I such a scared little baby all the time?

    Seriously. I swear. My biggest problem is that I hate confronting my problems and issues. I’m a denial freak. Something comes along that proves I made a mistake? I twist myself into a million knots to justify it being that way. Something happens that makes me uncomfortable, bust out the mental gymnastics. Someone smears the fact that I lost everything in my old life in my face? I project my own anger onto him so I don’t have to try to forgive him.

    Because if I do that, then what am I left with?

    That he was right?

    That I’ve regressed back to childhood and I’ll never get what I had back again?

    That I’m a pathetic little man-child who insists that he’s an adult without being able to control his own temper?

    Starting to lose it again. Take a deep breath, let it out. Deep breath, in and out.

    I’m so tired.

    Not physically. Mentally, emotionally…spiritually. I can’t keep this up. I just want to go home, to my real home and relax. Assuming that the soul the Shinigami gave isn’t able to breech the dimensional walls in spite of their best efforts, the only way I could do that with the resources available to me right now is if I rewound the past thirteen years completely and then dodged that truck while I was driving.

    But then what?

    I wouldn’t forget what happened. I’d remember. If anything, I’ve forgotten things from my old world, like how to drive a car, what my address was, my Dad’s name. Whether I had two or three sisters or brothers.

    My fist came down on my desk and it splintered down the center.

    Again, with the temper. I’ve broken so many desks since I left Konoha. Even before then I was putting holes in the walls at my apartment when I got mad about something. I really am a Psychopathic Man-Child. Incapable of the most basic step of self-control, controlling one’s temper.

    But if I were to go back to Konoha, would I even be able to relate to them? Would I be able to relate to Naruto, whose dream and goal in life is to become Hokage? Could I actually relate to anyone from Konoha?

    I could ask that question about my family once I returned home.

    My hands just fell into my lap, having gone numb alongside my legs.

    The air within my office was circulating gently through the room, from one ventilation duct to the other.

    My desk, in two large pieces laid at my feet. The papers that I had been writing, the pencils and pens had scattered all over the floor.

    The vault, with its metal walls having provided me with refuge from a world I hated now only seemed lifeless and bare.



    1000 rads will still kill me, right?

    Having infinite hitpoints isn’t immunity to death, so probably.

    Quest Accepted: Reasons to Live.

    Get a New Hobby (0/1).

    Get a Girlfriend (0/1).

    Learn Ninshū.

    Accept your First Death.

    Do not commit suicide.

    Really, game?

    Really.

    Now, after all this time of being an impartial judge of my status as a failure at life you’re now concerned about my well-being. For some impossible to fathom reason, you’ve finally developed empathy. Except, no you didn’t. You’re an impartial system of ones and zeroes put in place to ruin my life by eviscerating my ability to think, my ability to practice and learn, and my free will.

    Since this whole game is technically a beta, I know for a fact that there’s someone pulling the strings and you know what else? I know they’re planning on doing it again! They’re going to repeat what happened to me to however countless many other people when this game moves out of beta and into the main version.

    …and I don’t know how to stop it.

    If I even can.

    So, you know what, game?

    I’ve got an idea.

    I’m going to go back in time. See if I can hop dimensions when I’ve travelled back far enough and then, you know what, game? I’m going to look the other driver in the face and tell him exactly what I think of him and his driving skills, what he put me through and then see if I can break through the Paradox Protection measures to kill him.

    Or her. It could be a woman and I’m an equal opportunity vengeance machine here.

    First thing to do is leave the vault, and sit on top of the waterfall.

    Well, I didn’t sit on top of the waterfall, the sound of it falling to the river below being surprisingly soothing after the silence of the vault. I sat on top of Madara’s head, falling into a meditative pose.

    Okay.

    88 Miles per Hour – In Reverse.

    I think this is the first time a jutsu has even made me so much as tingle since I ascended. But when I was done, the valley was as quiet as ever. Then, it was time to cast my dimensional travel spell, one that would hopefully work now.

    Into the Breach.

    The world seemed to warp at the sides, crystallizing into a thousand different perspectives like I was looking at the world through crystal shards. The jutsu pulled me through a black hole in the air itself that looked wrong to be there.

    But then, I wasn’t standing on Madara’s head anymore.

    No.

    I was standing in the desert plains. All around me, weeds and bushes sprang up out the ground. Ahead of me was the freeway, it’s old and grey tarmac only visible beneath the sharp glare of headlights coming from a car.

    Down to the left, I looked and saw what I was looking for.

    Sharp red lights cut through the dark night in front of a fiery wreck. Flames coated the two vehicles within it, a brown 2000 Cadillac Deville and a red pickup truck that I didn’t know the make or model of.

    I couldn’t breathe.

    Everything was frozen and begging me to run. Get away from this awful sight, get away from this memory. Back away from the abyss lest you fall into it.

    But I do not run.

    I will not run.

    Not from this.

    Never again.

    It took all of the strength that I possessed to finally take a step. Then another. Slowly and with determination, I walked toward the scene of my death.

    The front of my Cadillac was smashed in completely and it had shot burning oil all across the road. I found myself stopped when I approached the driver-side window. My legs stopped functioning again.

    I don’t want to see this.

    Really, I don’t.

    I should turn back.

    Why am I such a coward?

    What, within the poisoned recesses of my mind, is so adamant that I turn and run? What is the thing that would stop me from confronting this? What is this?

    Take a step forward.

    Take another.

    Now. Turn.

    My heart stopped.

    There, in the driver’s seat, was me. Dressed in my old work uniform, a green button-up shirt and baseball cap, jeans and boots. My skull had been pierced through by a shard of the windshield that was crimson red with blood and I could see that the airbag had been punctured as well, stopping…me from hitting the wheel and breaking my ribcage. It was likely that my lungs had been punctured through by broken ribs, if not my heart.







    I can’t breathe.



    I can’t breathe.

    I can’t breathe!

    I can’t breathe!

    I need to get out of here! NOW!

    NO!

    …no.

    No, no, no.

    I took a breath and started breathing normally.

    There will be no more running. I will look at this. I will see this for what it is.

    I died.

    That’s all there is too it.

    I died and here is my corpse.

    The only thing I had wanted to earn a living as an author. I wanted to tell stories and entertain people. I loved entertaining people. I was working this stupid job because I needed money to save up and then finally move out of my parent’s basement since I hated it so much down there.

    But all that went up in smoke. I was reincarnated into a death world…or at least, into the very worst aspects of the new world I was in. My world could’ve been just as cruel in places, perhaps even crueler than the Elemental Nations. But it was my home.

    Was it, though?

    It was my home. It was…his home. In the infinite timelines that happened throughout reality, it’s still his home in the grand majority of them. But mine? Was it still mine?

    The me in the front seat of this car, well, he was overweight. He had come off of a mission to spread the Word of God as he knew it just a few years prior. He had seen people change for the better and people react with nothing but hostility to him. He had never killed anyone. He was a little over-weight.

    Then there’s me, someone who spent the majority of his life being a murder machine begging to be unleashed. Who deliberately sacrificed his social understanding for my own personal good fortune. Someone who has killed, even if it was either in self defense or of people who arguably deserved it. I was now going insane trying to reconcile two different people, the person I wanted to be and the person I was.

    …because…I’m not you anymore.

    I miss being you. I miss your innocence, the way you tried to be happy, how your only concern was trying to entertain people, any people with stories that you wrote. I miss how earnest you were in trying to make people happy. I miss the ability to look at life through rose-tinted glasses.

    As I found myself trapped with my thoughts, I slid against the car onto the pavement, my white lab-coat trailing around my legs. Again, tears were welling up in my eyes and I partially felt like a complete baby because I cry way, way too much.

    More evidence to me being a child, I suppose.

    As if there wasn’t enough.

    My eyes went to the right, and I found myself gazing at the red truck. A large vehicle with large, but well-worn tires. It was filthy, looked like it traveled almost exclusively on dirt roads. My eyes felt like they should’ve been tinged with red as I remembered the other reason I was here.

    I stood up, walking around the truck, taking only the briefest of glances at the long, black tire tracks left behind the road. I passed the trailer and came to the driver side window.

    The driver was an old man, that reminded me of my grandfather. His eyes were shut and he was hunched over the wheel as much as his obese weight would allow him to be. The window was cracked, indicating that the impact of my car had forced him to hit his head.

    But the man was dead and by my eyes, had actually been dead for several minutes longer than I had been. His fingers looked like they had been clutching at his chest in a death-gripped panic, so likely heart failure.

    The only reason this happened was because the other driver had suffered a heart attack.

    I hit my head on the truck frame. Then again, and again, and again.

    All the fire and brimstone that had filled my soul had evaporated, being replaced only with an emptiness that it was said vengeance only left after it had taken its due.

    You know, I can’t honestly count the number of times I’ve seen quests for justice go wrong because the guilty party already had justice exacted on them.

    Yujiro said that, when I told him about how I wanted to get justice for Satoru by exacting it on his parents. I didn’t know how right he was. I couldn’t have known how right he was.

    My life’s a joke.

    I’m a joke.

    I’ve got the power of a god and all I do is throw temper tantrums and run from my problems.

    Can I change?

    Well, I hope.

    That’s all I can do.

    But…buddy? I’m sorry you died and I’m sorry that I was so angry at you for so long, over something you couldn’t control. I’m sorry for letting it sit and fester in the back of my head for all this time. I hope that we might be able to talk someday in Paradise. Assuming, you know, that I’ll go to Paradise when I die instead of the Pure World.

    Maybe I could switch between the two?

    Whatever.

    The only thing that matters is that I’m not the guy who died here at this car wreck anymore and because of that, I don’t have a place here anymore. Even just heading to my old house and seeing my family would be weird, because, again, I don’t have a place here and I’m not the son or brother that they’d like to bring back anyway.

    My place, for good or ill, is the Elemental Nations and it’s there that I think I’m meant to stay. Sure, the political landscape is pure toxic waste in a way that would make people think its fiction…and here, it is, but it’s also got some amazing potential that I could help them realize.

    ...

    Why do I suddenly feel lighter?

    Quest Updated: Reasons to Live.

    Completed: Accept your First Death.

    Oh.

    Huh.

    I guess I have, haven’t I?

    This is me, then. I’m Shimoda Daisuke, thirteen-year-old reincarnate with a lot of memories of his past life. I’m a video game character with an RPG system that’s been adapted to a Manga and Anime setting and that desperately needs balance changes. I like fighting, playing guitar, inventing jutsu, and exploring the world. I’m also an immortal god and because of my old memories, I would prefer to date women who are adults. Prefer. But again, I’m only thirteen and there are plenty of girls my age that I wouldn’t mind asking out.

    That is who I am.

    So, time to head back to the Valley of the End.

    Into the Breach.

    Again, that portal just looks wrong.

    Return to the Present.

    Back at the Valley of the End and for some reason, the air smells fresher. The sunlight seemed brighter, and cheerier. Blue skies and scant clouds that brought a smile to my face.

    I can see clearly now, the rain has gone…

    There was a song in my head, from the old world and this time it didn’t depress me.

    So, there’s some things I want to do.

    You know whose company I’ve been craving and wanting to spend time around?

    Anko.

    I wanna go see how she’s doing. I’ve missed her jokes and upbeat personality, as well as the strict professionalism and judgment that she has when she’s on a mission. Being her partner in crime was refreshing, though it was a shame I was so bogged down in the guilt and homesickness that I couldn’t see it.

    Something tells me that her opinion on me might’ve changed a little bit. Maybe she’ll be interested in a date? Well, like I said before, I don’t want to tempt her into hebephilia but if she’s already feeling it, who better to reciprocate that than me, someone who knows what its like to be an adult, even if I’m not really one anymore.

    And if she’s not interested, that’s okay. There are other girls.

    Other than that, what do I want to do?

    You know the soul Shinigami gave me?

    I get the feeling that Shinigami wants me to bring this particular soul back from the dead and given its incomplete nature, I imagine that it’s been bugging him that its not a whole soul. Also, it’s a woman.

    So maybe she might be interested in a date? I mean, even if Anko’s okay with dating me, I don’t want to be exclusive with anyone just yet, I’ve got an eternity ahead of me to find the right girl. Or at least one that I connect with super well.

    …just to be sure, am I suddenly okay with dates because a quest said I needed to get a girlfriend?

    Probably.

    I let out a breath in dismay.



    It’s okay.

    Breaking the game-system’s hold on is going to take time. Besides, interaction with the opposite sex is healthy for heterosexual people like myself.

    What next?

    Well, there’s something I always wanted to do. I wanted to go to the Land of Water, build that bridge for Tazuna…is that his name? I think it is, so Naruto isn’t stuck going there and facing Zabuza and Haku for his first C-rank mission.

    Let’s do that first, just because I don’t know how much time I have before Tazuna leaves for Konoha. Then, who knows? Go see Anko, see how she’s doing, then prepare to assault the Akatsuki’s base to get the parts of this soul it needs?



    Anything else?

    Just another memory from the old world, one that actually comes from Fallout. From an expansion to New Vegas, to be specific. I hated that one in particular and now…I think I see why.

    There is an expression in the Wasteland: “Old World Blues”. It refers to those so obsessed with the past they can’t see the present, much less the future, for what it is. They stare into what was, eyes like pilot lights, guttering and spent, as the realities of their world continue on around them.

    For me, however, Old World blues has taken on a new meaning. Where once it was a form of sadness, nostalgia, it became an expression describing the potential for the future.

    ---


    Author’s Notes: This chapter made me cry.

    The bit at the end, where he actually travels back in time and circumvents the locks and protections that were put in place following his death and rebirth, was also meant to be saved until the end of the fic. But…I have learned from my mistakes. Dragging out a character flaw and milking it long past it’s due until it’s a dead and withered husk of its former self is something I never want to do again and I write by the seat of my pants so…here it is.

    I hope that, for whatever it is worth, you guys were at least entertained. Personally, I was a blubbery mess at the end of this chapter because…I’ve been wanting to write that scene and overcome that issue for so long and…I honestly didn’t think it would ever happen. But here it is.

    Shout out goes out too Perseus Red, Trashmage and Ryan, thank you guys so much for your support and welcome to the circle of patrons! Also a big thank you too Aenor Knight, congratulations on becoming a Super Patron!

    Finally, shout out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij and ChristobalAlvarez. Thank you all so much for your support, I appreciate it and you more than you will ever know.

    Until the next time.

    ~Fulcon
     
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter 9: Reflections
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    “He’s usually around training Ground 3,” Naruto explained, leading the way with his hands behind his back. “At the memorial stone.”

    It was the next morning, and the sun had risen above the horizon and painted the sky a beautiful bright blue.

    “I see,” Rin replied, looking ahead with a frown, keeping an eye on the road for anyone that seemed overly familiar. “Because of…what happened?”

    “Yeah, probably,” Naruto replied.

    It had been requested that Naruto’s parents, a term he never thought he’d be able to use for people that were actually alive, stay hidden and be relocated to a safe-house where Naruto would be able to visit or live with them until they were ready to be formally reintroduced to Konoha.

    Naruto was thinking visit. He was still pretty ambivalent about the whole thing.

    Rin, however, was just a Chunin who died in the previous war and thus was significantly less recognizable. Which meant that she was free to look for her wayward sensei, so long as she kept her mouth shut about what happened and avoided anyone that might’ve recognized her, which she summarized as Maito Gai.

    “Naruto!”

    The orange genin looked up and saw Sakura and Sasuke running up to him.

    “Hey, Sakura! Sasuke,” Naruto greeted with a wave and Sakura hugged him tightly. “Do you guys know where sensei is?”

    “No,” Sasuke shook his head. “We were just looking for you to start our training. Who’s this?”

    “Wait, yeah,” Sakura loosened her hug just slightly to give a suspicious glance at Rin.

    “I’m Nohara Rin,” Rin answered with a bright smile. “I’m looking for Kakashi-san and Naruto agreed to help me.”

    “Did you try training ground three?” Sasuke asked.

    “We were just on our way there,” Naruto replied. “Guys want to come?”

    “Sure,” Sakura replied, letting go. “Why does she need to find Kakashi?”

    “Look, I can’t tell you much right now,” Naruto said, getting really quiet and cautious as he could as he looked in every direction. “But Daisuke’s involved.”

    Sakura froze, rapidly switching her gaze from Naruto to Rin, then back again. Sasuke was staring directly into Naruto’s eyes, his skin having gone pale and his hands were shaking.

    Rin just looked at the two with surprise. “Um…can I ask what happened?”

    Sasuke looked at Rin and frowned, digging into his pockets and retrieving a bingo-book. “Here, his entry is on page one-oh-one, you can read it on the way.”

    “Great, and guys? Can you keep an eye out for Bushy-brow’s sensei?” Naruto asked quickly. “The Hokage’s got some big announcement and Rin’s a part of it…and he’d recognize her.”

    “Stealth escort,” Sasuke nodded, taking a position directly to Rin’s left. “Got it.”

    “We can do that,” Sakura replied, taking the position to Rin’s right.

    “Awesome, let’s go,” Naruto said, pointing forward.

    Rin opened the bingo-book and started to read aloud, though quickly. “Shimoda Daisuke. Triple S-class threat. Wanted for unlawful dissemination of S-class secrets and antagonism to Konohagakure. No ryo bounty. If encountered: Flee on sight. Do not fight or attempt to apprehend. Do not refer to his age or call him a ‘child’. If retreat is impossible, kowtow and beg for mercy; you will probably get it. Report sightings directly to the Hokage upon return to the village.”

    She closed the book, eyes wide as dinner plates. “I didn’t think a Triple S-class designation was possible.”

    “That’s just Daisuke for you.” Sakura’s eyes narrowed as she surveyed the streets. She was startled for just a second. “Green beast at three o’clock.”

    “Walk faster, don’t make eye-contact,” Sasuke took command. “Naruto, if green beast moves to engage, use clones to get Rin out of the engagement zone.”

    “Got it. I’ll also use mass shadow clones to cause a distraction,” Naruto muttered in reply.

    Maito Gai was standing with his Genin team, having treated them all to dango sticks from a vendor stand set up down the street directly to their right. He was talking loudly, boisterously as he usually did.

    Naruto kept his hands in the seal for his clone jutsu inside his sleeves. Sasuke was fingering a smoke-bomb to use in case of emergency. Sakura was going over possible scenarios and lines she’d have to use to pull Maito Gai’s attention either away from the team, or onto her so the others could make a smooth getaway.

    Rin was just looking at Gai, lost in her thoughts as the energetic and boisterous boy had grown into an energetic and boisterous man.

    He had grown just as Kakashi had.

    She brought her gaze down to the road.

    The world had gone over twelve years into the future and here she was, having been brought back as she was after she had impaled herself on Kakashi’s Chidori. It had to be done. She knew it had to be done. For the safety of the village, for Kakashi’s safety. But now, for her second chance at life? Her choice complicated things.

    So, while they passed the road down which Maito Gai was standing, training his own Genin team. It was had not to wonder how things would’ve happened if she was never kidnapped by those Kiri-Nin. If she had never become the host of the Three-Tailed beast.

    Would she have been able to train her own team of Genin? Have her own little team of students running around, carrying forth the torch. Ideally, she and Kakashi would’ve been together and have had their own little set of munchkins running around, bringing smiles to their parents.

    Rin let out a breath as they left the village proper and started on the path to the training grounds.

    They came to training ground three and the group moved off the path. Cutting through the trees, they saw Kakashi standing at the memorial stone, flanked on either side by Chunin.

    Naruto held a hand up for the group to stop. “Last time Sensei saw her, he ran. We don’t want to freak him out again.”

    “Take it slow and easy,” Sasuke whispered back.

    “Why would Sensei run?” Sakura asked with a frown.

    “He has good reason.” Rin sighed. “It was my fault, that’s all you need to know.”

    Sakura blinked. “Okay.”

    “S ranked secret, Sakura,” Naruto told her with an apologetic look over his shoulder. “It’ll come out in a few days, anyway.”

    “Well, that’s a relief,” Sakura sighed, folding her arms. “With all the secrets I’ve gotten involved in, I was almost wondering if I was breaking the law by breathing.”

    Sasuke shushed everyone. “They’re talking.”

    “I should’ve guessed he’d wind up doing something like this,” Kakashi said hollowly. “He just thinks of something that seems like a good idea and just…does it.”

    “Sensei, isn’t it a good idea, though?” Nichiren asked with a frown. “He brought her back.”

    “I mean, yes,” Kakashi said. “It is. I just wasn’t prepared for it. Not even a little.”

    “It’s a huge shock,” Hisako said kindly. “It really is. But now you can talk about it and you can make things right.”

    “I killed her, Hisako-chan.” Kakashi sounded broken. “You can’t just talk to someone about that.”

    Naruto stiffened and looked to Sakura, who was mouthing the word ‘what’ at him. Sasuke’s own eyes were wide.

    Rin adopted a resolute expression and stepped out from the group. “Excuse me.”

    “Wait-wait-wait,” Sakura attempted to reach forward to stop her from leaving. “You don’t know if he’s going too-”

    “Sakura-chan,” Naruto whispered. “I think she’s right, here.”

    Sakura looked at him, then nodded. “Okay, we’ll watch from here.”

    Rin slowly started walking forward, hands held behind her back. She stopped when she came within five paces of Kakashi, and both Hisako and Nichiren were looking at her.

    “She’s right behind me, isn’t she?” Kakashi asked with a haunted voice.

    “Brown hair, purple cheek tattoos?” Hisako asked in return, frowning deeply as she examined the returned Kunoichi with worry.

    Kakashi’s breath caught in his chest and he, glanced ever so slightly over his shoulder before snapping his attention forward.

    Nichiren also examined the new arrival and frowned. But then he walked around his sensei and bowed in greeting. “Hi. I’m Nakamura Nichiren, it’s nice to meet you.”

    “Nohara Rin.” She returned the bow. “I’m not sure…how much you know, but I can’t say much. It’s an S-class secret for now.”

    “Sensei told us Daisuke brought you back from the dead,” Nichiren answered flatly. “Because he can do that now. Apparently.”

    “Keep your voice down,” Rin rebuked with a frown, gesturing to team 7 hiding behind the bushes. “We do have onlookers.”

    Nichiren saw Team 7 and went completely pale.

    “Nichiren, you idiot,” Hisako barked and glared. She turned to the girl, appraising her as if she was a potential enemy. “So, why are you here? To haunt our sensei for the accident?”

    If Rin was angry, she did a good job not showing it. “I’m here to apologize, and explain.”

    “Apologize,” Hisako repeated disbelievingly. “For what?”

    Rin took a deep breath. “When we were a team, I was abducted by Kiri nin. They sealed the Sanbi into me with the intention of the seal breaking when I was returned to Konoha, and sealed away my ability to explain what happened.”

    “Oh,” Hisako replied quietly, her stand-offish attitude melting instantly. “You were being pursued.”

    “Yes. He created a Chidori and I got in front to it to save the village,” Rin took a deep breath and shook the memories from her mind. “But I never got the chance to explain and say I’m sorry. Now I’ve been brought back and Kakashi was the first person I wanted to see. I never wanted to put him through that. Ever.”

    Hisako took a few steps back, letting Rin have an unobstructed path back to her sensei. “Well, welcome back. Is Daisuke doing well?”

    “Shimoda-sama looked well when I spoke to him,” Rin replied. “He mentioned that he and the Third had some misgivings, but I don’t want to pry.”

    “Double S-class secret,” Nichiren answered with a nod.

    Rin hummed, then she looked up at the Jounin whose back was still turned to her. “Kakashi-san?”

    Kakashi felt like his legs were made of ice and he was breaking out into a cold-sweat under his mask. His lungs had almost stopped functioning again and his eye was leaking.

    “Kakashi-san, please talk to me,” Rin asked, her expression full of concern as she extended a hand to try to take his. “Please. Say something. Anything. Please.”

    Kakashi finally gasped and took in air and was able to turn, ever so slowly, to face his old teammate. “What can I say, Rin-chan?”

    Doing everything he could to keep the shaking in his limbs from stopping him, he knelt down to Rin’s eyelevel. Only his single eye was showing, little streams pouring from it and soaking into his mask. “What can I possibly say? I’m sorry I killed you? I’m sorry I broke my promise to Obito in the worst way possible?”

    “Kakashi,” Rin sighed, reaching out a hand.

    “There is nothing I can possibly say that could make this okay,” Kakashi continued, his voice shaking. “Nothing that could ever make up for how I failed you and Obito.”

    Rin frowned, then turned it into a small smile. “Well, I’m glad to be back.”

    Kakashi was speechless again.

    “And I’m glad I got to see you again,” Rin continued. “I’m sorry for how much I put you through and I hope that we can be friends again.”

    “We never stopped being friends,” Kakashi hollowly objected. “Never. I came to visit you at the memorial stone every day to make sure you knew how things were going.”

    “Kakashi-san, thank you,” Rin said, her smile growing sad. “But I need you to do me a favor.”

    “Anything,” Kakashi breathed.

    “I need you to forgive yourself,” Rin replied. “Okay? Please try that. For me.”

    Kakashi’s head fell and he stared at his hands, opening and closing them reflexively. He suddenly felt the urge to wash them again, as he had in the days immediately following Rin’s…untimely death. But he looked up and saw Rin. Not bleeding, not angrily berating him for murdering her, not dead, but alive and smiling at him.

    “Okay,” Kakashi finally breathed. “Okay, I’ll try. For you.”

    Rin rushed in and hugged him, wrapping her arms around his neck with a joyous shout.

    Back in the forest where Naruto was watching, the two remaining members of Cell Thirteen approached them. Hisako placed a hand on her hip. “So, did Daisuke bring anyone else back?”

    “Yeah, but I can’t tell you who,” Naruto replied, rubbing the back of his head with a sheepish smile. “I just found out last night…wait, you don’t think sensei’s going to get in trouble for this, is he?”

    “No, I think we can issue a pardon right here,” An old voice replied behind them.

    Team 7 all jumped five feet in the air from startlement and whirled around, only to see that the Hokage had caught up with them.

    “Hokage-sama,” Hisako bowed. “Thank you for pardoning our sensei. And us. We didn’t know it was a secret.”

    “It’s no trouble,” Hiruzen waved it off, puffing on his pipe with a smug, satisfied smile. “Besides, it’s being announced in a few days. I can only imagine the look on Onoki and A’s faces when they find out.”

    Hiruzen took cover behind the bushes with Naruto. “I am very, very glad to see that happen finally. When he first saw her last night, he ran as far away as he possibly could.”

    “Old man, can I…tell them?” Naruto asked.

    The Hokage puffed on his pipe. “Yes. But before you do, I want to impress on everyone here that I will be watching all of you very carefully over the next couple of days and that your pardons don’t excuse future abuses of the law. Remember that.”

    Nichiren just blinked. “I’m out. I’ll just find out with everyone else.”

    “Aw, Nichiren-senpai-” Naruto started to whine but he was gone in the blink of an eye. “Hmph. Well, whatever. I can’t wait to introduce you to my Mom, Sakura.”

    Sakura made to protest with the obvious, ‘Naruto, your parents are dead’, but then her brain caught up to her mouth as it was trained to do and shut it before she could stick her tabi in it. Her eyes went wide. “He brought your parents back?”

    Naruto simply nodded with a happy smile.

    With a joyous laugh, Sakura hugged Naruto again, holding as tightly as she could. “That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you!”

    Of course, they were quickly separated. By Sasuke, who was staring into Naruto’s eyes with his two-tomoe Sharingan. “Explain. Now.”

    “Woah, woah, woah,” Hisako placed a hand on Sasuke’s shoulder. “Take it easy.”

    “There’s not really much to tell,” Naruto replied quickly. “I got summoned to the Hokage’s office and there they were.”

    Sasuke immediately let Naruto go and went into a kowtow before the Hokage. “Hokage-sama, please. I beg of you, if you have any idea where Daisuke-sama is, please tell me. I have to ask him to revive my clan. Please.

    “If I knew where he was, I would let you go to him,” Hiruzen replied. “Especially now. But I have no idea where he is. Our only lead is that he has a base underground somewhere and that it’s quite large.”

    “We’ll find him, Sasuke,” Naruto said resolutely. “He’ll bring them back, I know it. We should go talk to Ino.”

    “Why her?” Sasuke asked, slowly rising.

    “Because she pulled some memories from Daisuke when she was inside his head,” Naruto replied quickly. “If anyone would have at least some idea of where his base is, it would be her.”

    ---

    “Mitarashi-Sensei,” Ino approached the special Jounin with a small bow. “I was hoping to ask you a few questions.”

    Anko, who was feeling the headache from yet another bender she had gone on last night, looked at Ino with a very disinterested eye. She was sitting at Ichiraku ramen with a chicken-flavored bowl of ramen in front of her, designed specifically to help one handle and fight off hang-overs. She almost told the brat to scram right there.

    But this is one of Daisuke’s friends, Anko reminded herself. One of ones who actually cared about him, at any rate.

    So, she just sighed. “Alright. What is it?”

    “How did Daisuke come to hate the Hidden Villages in general?” Ino asked, taking a seat beside her.

    “Ino-chan, what can I get you?” Ayame asked with a bright smile.

    “The usual,” Ino replied, immediately turning her attention back to Anko.

    Anko simply finished chewing on the noodles that she had stuffed into her mouth. “I don’t know.”

    “But you were his partner,” Ino replied, disconcerted. “You’d know more about him than anyone else, wouldn’t you?”

    “I know that he’s one of the kindest, most generous boys the world will ever know.” Anko stirred her ramen with a depressed, apathetic expression. “And that he’s only been met with betrayal and backstabbing in return, except from a few people.”

    I wish I was one of the exceptions, Anko thought to herself.

    “So, you think that the people in the village turned him against the village?” Ino asked with an inquisitive expression.

    “It would make sense,” Anko replied.

    “Here you go, Ino,” Ayame delivered the bowl with a smile.

    Ino paid quickly.

    “What’re we talking about?” Ayame asked curiously.

    “Mitarashi-sensei was Daisuke’s partner, so I’m asking her to help me figure out his mindset,” Ino replied with a determined expression. “But she seems out of it.”

    “I’ve got a hangover,” Anko groaned, rubbing her eyes with one of her hands. “So yeah, I’m not up to one-hundred percent.”

    “Oh,” Ino said. “I didn’t realize.”

    “Is fine,” Anko waved off.

    “So, what did you ask her?” Ayame asked.

    “Why Daisuke hates the villages,” Anko replied. “She’s trying to figure out how he got there.”

    “I know he thinks Jutsu should be public,” Ayame ticked off on her finger. “And that the village enabled behaviors he finds shameful. You told me that. The main question feels like it should be ‘why does he find being willing to serve the village shameful’.”

    “Anko said he’s dealt with a lot of betrayal,” Ino replied.

    “That is definitely true,” Ayame nodded. “For most of his life, no one really spoke to him unless they wanted something.”

    “That sounds like a pretty good reason to hate the villages,” Anko replied breathily. “You know, in combination with all the backstabbing and stuff.”

    “It doesn’t feel like that’s right, though,” Ino said. “It feels like he just hates the world. As in, he has this vision, this idea of what the world should be like and since the world isn’t it, he hates it.”

    “Do you think it has something to do with that memory you showed me?” Ayame asked interestedly. “You know, the one with the wagons?”

    “What’s this now?” Anko asked, letting the clump of noodles fall from her chopsticks.

    “I pulled a memory,” Ino said, pulling a storage scroll from her pocket, unfurling it on the counter and pulling from it a single, folded piece of paper. She unfolded it and Anko couldn’t understand what she was seeing. “He sitting here…”

    She explained what each square was, and picture slowly started to make sense. Daisuke was sitting in some kind of wagon and hit another wagon and then darkness.

    “Do you have any idea what this is, Anko?” Ino asked with a frown.

    Anko just shook her head. “Nope. He never told me about it.”

    “I just wish I could ask him.” Ino shook her head. “…I wish he would’ve come see me before telling Naruto about his…you know.”

    “Why?” Ayame asked.

    “I could’ve helped him talk through it, help him figure out a way to tell Naruto that didn’t wind up with him a Missing Nin,” Ino suggested with a deep frown. “I could’ve offered to go with him, to try to make sure he didn’t get himself killed…or try to get him to spend the night at least…”

    Ino stopped herself dead in her tracks, her cheeks pink. She realized that, yes, she did say that out loud and yes, it was very embarrassing.

    Anko just chuckled, sipping up the last of the broth. “Yeah, good luck with that last one. Anyway, I got to head up to the mission desk, I’m helping dole out D-ranks today.”

    “See you later, Mitarashi-sama,” Ayame waved while Ino buried her head in her hands.

    Get him to spend the night, Anko shook her head. How is one girl so smart yet so dumb?

    Anko put her hands in her pockets and continued to walk toward the mission office. She looked up at Hokage Rock and found her expression shift into a frown as she saw Hiruzen’s stony face sticking out amongst the heroes of the village.

    She looked down and kicked a can of elixir down the path.

    What would I even do if I saw Daisuke-kun again? Anko thought to herself in a depressed slump. Apologize? No. He’s heard too many of those. Especially from me. Apologies are worthless.

    Anko looked both ways as the empty can fell into the storm drain.

    Definitely offer to go with him. Anko nodded. Definitely offer to help him with anything he’s doing. Not that he needs help. Support, then. Give him moral support. Offer to go with him, serve him and support him in anything he needs. I need to make restitution for how I failed him.

    She came to the gate and slowly pulled it open. He pulls the seal off my shoulder, visits me in the hospital and helps me train back to fighting shape and how do I thank him? Shout at him over a mistake, hold a kunai to his throat when he gets justifiably angry at his teammate and then don’t support him, again, when he brings Sarutobi’s crimes to light.

    I could host a tea ceremony for him, Anko thought, perking up, only to lose it a second later. No, Daisuke doesn’t like tea. Which is weird, but okay.

    There was a thought, niggling in the back of her head. A reminder, something she wasn’t wanting to think about. Daisuke wanted me.

    She knew that Daisuke lusted after her. It was flattering, in a way, getting the attention of such a powerful shinobi, even if he was only twelve. Well, thirteen, now. She also knew that, from her time spent with him and her time as his partner, that the lust wasn’t the reason he stayed with her and helped her. It was because of his devotion to doing the right thing, even if he couldn’t always see clearly what it was.

    And he lusted for her even when seeing the real her; the damaged science experiment that was dumped like refuse once she stopped being useful. The insecure girl who just wanted to be accepted by the village in spite of the things her traitor sensei made her do.

    Lust wasn’t new, though. Lots of people lusted after her. Young men, old men, hot men, ugly men. It was something she learned to brush off as she adopted the behavior of a blood-thirsty nymphomaniac as a public façade to stop people from looking so closely.

    But she didn’t adopt the façade with Daisuke, and he was still attracted to her. But he didn’t try to put on airs to attract her or try to tell her pretty little lies. He was always perfectly, brutally, matter-of-factly honest with her. He didn’t care if it might’ve hurt his non-existent chances with her and he certainly didn’t care that she was a damaged science-experiment. If he didn’t want to tell her something, he didn’t tell her. If he did, he did. It was that simple.

    It was that simplicity that she liked about Daisuke.

    It was that simplicity of his that made her lust back.

    Anko sighed as that thought crossed her mind, and she hit her head on the gate bars once, twice.

    And that’s why it was so easy to turn on him. Anko was frowning deeply out of shame. I shouldn’t have felt that way. It was wrong. Is wrong. Still wrong. He’s only thirteen and I’m almost to the age where no one would actually want me for anything serious. Needed to put some distance between him and me. Suggest we maybe were just like a brother and sister, get mad at him over stupid things so he would stop looking at me like that…but I wanted him to look at me like that. So, I just let him keep coming back…

    She was keenly aware that her twenty-fifth birthday was this year. The saying that no one wanted a fruit cake after the twenty-fifth, even if she wasn’t sure where it was from, felt very true. She felt like there no real chance of her ever being able to settle down and have kids, even though that was exactly what she had wanted to do. Her reputation as the village bicycle, even if earned only by her persona, didn’t allow for much in the way of anything long term.

    But if I saw him again, should I make the offer? Anko asked, moving to the academy building. I mean, I believe the kid deserves a harem of willing slaves. There’s no question in my mind about that. But the idea of sharing a bed with him? It makes me feel queasy.

    Anko pushed open the door. The worst part is that I’d probably enjoy it. All that strength of his? And his speed? Hm…

    “Hey, Anko!” Iruka called with a wave of his hand. “Good to see you! I was afraid you wouldn’t be in today.”

    “Yeah, had a bad hangover,” Anko replied, rubbing the back of her head sheepishly with a smile. “The boss hasn’t come in yet, has he?”

    “He did, actually,” Iruka said.

    Anko’s face fell. The Hokage knows I’m late. Crap!

    “He came with a crate of D-rank scrolls,” Iruka explained, gesturing. “We’re to hand them out to every Genin team today – the Hokage’s got this big announcement planned for tomorrow. Also, he said that he didn’t care that you were late, just that you might need to stay a bit later.”

    Well, that’s okay, Anko let out a sigh of relief. “Did you say anything to him?”

    “No, but I did notice you’ve been on more than a couple benders lately,” Iruka replied with a concerned frown. “Anything I can help with?”

    “You can wet my kunai for me,” Anko said with a dangerous grin, balancing a kunai on her finger by the tip. “I’m thirsty.”

    “On second thought, never mind.” Iruka’s expression shifted to one that was mortified, then he started being very, very busy with paperwork.

    Being back on the subject of Daisuke.

    I should probably make the offer when I see him next, Anko thought morosely. She felt a little sick with shame at herself. He wants me, I want him, I owe him and I might enjoy it enough to get over the fact that he’s thirteen.

    She took a deep breath. So, there’s my plan, I guess, if I see him again. Apologize, beg to come with him, offer to share myself with him and finally, finally, make some restitution to the boy I betrayed.

    Who knows, maybe he’ll want to wait, too, Anko thought with some level of hope. I mean, he is giant prude, so it’s not that unlikely…

    Of course, I don’t think I’ll ever see him again. Anko started moping over the morning’s paperwork everyone at the mission desk had to start when they got in. I think I truly scared him off. Probably better for him, he can find a girl that didn’t stab him in the back a million times after saving her from her sensei.

    ---


    “Alright, so, the bridge is finished,” I said, looking over my shoulder at the fine handiwork that I had wrought. “So, if you guys don’t mind, I’d like to get your money situation squared away so I can pay everyone for the work they just lost.”

    Let’s be honest, the bridge wasn’t just good because it invalidated Gato’s Shipping empire. It was good because it ensured a lot of good, hardworking men good, honest work for a long time. Which I just ended by just finishing the darn thing.

    Tazuna, the bridge-builder was speechless.

    “Seriously, I got a pallet of ryo right here,” I said, bringing said pallet of insane amounts of ryo out from my storage scrolls and setting it on the ground ahead of me with Chakra-strings. “And I know everyone needs to get paid. So…”

    “Now hold on just a second!” Tazuna shouted, pointing at me. “Just who are you?”

    “No one of consequence.”

    “No one of consequence my eye!” Tazuna now looked outraged at my casual disregard for his demand. “I demand to know who you are? No one can just build a whole bridge from nothing and then pull money out of nowhere to pay the men they just put out of work.”

    “Fair enough.” I shrugged with an amused smile. “My name is Shimoda Daisuke. I’m an ex-ninja and I wanted to help. Unless you don’t want the money…”

    “No, no, no,” Tazuna immediately put his hands up to stop me from going. “We want the money. We just, uh, needed to know who to name the bridge after.”

    “I wouldn’t go that far.” I smiled genuinely. “But I’m flattered. Thank you. Now, you have a ledger or something that tracks who gets paid what?”

    “Yes, come inside,” Tazuna said, gesturing me to follow him into the shed behind him. I did, and it was just a small office with a desk and a ledger. Two chairs on wheels, which he sat at and offered to me. “Now, we had…”

    As he explained to me about how much everyone was getting paid, I was running calculations on how much money that would wind up being all at once and I wound up realizing something. A thirty-person construction crew, making that pitiful amount… “Wait, hang on.”

    “What’s wrong?” Tazuna asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Well, by my calculations, I actually have enough ryo to pay them all an equal amount of money that’s greater than what they were making,” I pointed out with a nod. “Well, everyone except for you. You would make a quarter less. But it would be even.”

    I was testing him. Because I’m a god, I guess, and that’s what we do. Or something. Anyway, managers typically made more than the average peon because leadership is hard. Nothing really wrong with that, in my opinion. I wanted to see what he thought of his men.

    Tazuna just snorted. “Like I care. you just finished the bridge and solved all our problems. I can take a small pay-cut for that.”

    “Cool,” I said. “Let’s get everyone paid and then you can take your new fortune home with you.”

    “Hey,” Tazuna stopped me from leaving. “Thanks, kid. I mean it.”

    …wait.

    I’m not mad.

    I’m not mad!

    I’m actually not mad!

    “You’re welcome,” I finally replied with a smile on my face as I opened the door. “You mind getting everyone in line so I can pay them?”

    “You got it.”

    So, the old man called the group of worried, angry, disgruntled construction workers together. “Everyone! You’re getting paid for all the time you lost on the bridge. The ex-ninja here has enough money to actually give you all a bonus!”

    Shame it actually cuts my savings in half, but meh. It’s money, who cares?

    Actually, I could probably…hm…

    That’s an idea to use later.

    For now, time to pay everyone.

    The pallet of Ryo was quickly disseminated between all the workers, gathered in large rucksacks that I provided. With jutsu. Because I can do that. The men were happy, I was happy, everything was good. I turned to Tazuna. “Okay, I’m going to put some protections on this bridge so it can’t be easily destroyed and maybe try putting some guards because I know Gato is going to hire some ninja to destroy the thing. Probably Kirigakure, because he has a standing arrangement with them.”

    “Are they going to come after us?” Tazuna asked with a frown.

    Ooh, valid point. Especially since I know Tazuna because he had to hire bodyguards. But the bridge is finished, and it’s finished because of me. So, in theory, he should be moving his targets. Tazuna’s just a bridge builder. Buuuut… “I don’t think so. I’d head home, my friend.”

    Tazuna looked into my eyes.

    Charisma Check Success: 10/6.

    “Alright,” Tazuna said, grabbing his rucksack and shouldering it. “You have anywhere to stay?”

    “Yeah, I’ve got a place,” I replied with a smile.

    “Goodbye, Shimoda-sama,” Tazuna bade farewell with a wave, walking off the bridge and making his way home.

    First thing is first.

    Reinforcement Field.

    With just a stomp of my foot, the bridge became nigh-indestructible. It would only last a few days, until the chakra stores that I gave it wore out, but that’s all I needed. Second, was to potentially summon some body guards.

    Summoning Jutsu.

    “Hey, we actually got summoned for once!” Captain Shizo was grinning like how penguins grinned – the muscles around their stiff beaks curling up. “Alright, what can we do you for, Daisuke?”

    “How do you guys feel about long-term guard duty?” I asked them.

    “How long we talking, here?” Shizo asked.

    “Thinking a few weeks at least,” I replied.

    “Captain, this would be a great time to practice non-arctic combat tactics and maneuvers,” Masato pointed out, raising his flipper in the direction of the ocean. “And the weather’s actually pretty nice here.”

    It was misty and foggy and fairly chilly so…yeah. I guess they would think the weather is nice. “Just stick around and protect this bridge that I just built. If anyone tries to blow it up, slap them around but try not to kill them unless you have too.”

    “We looking at common riff-raff or Shinobi for combatants?” Shizo asked, his eyes narrowing.

    “Both,” I said. Then I had an epiphany. “Wait, wait, wait. Wait right there, let me grab something really quick.”

    FTG seal at my feet, just in case, and teleported to the Vault.

    What are the odds of Konoha getting involved in this bridge incident in spite of the fact that I just did Naruto’s job for him? And what are the odds of Naruto actually being involved? Honestly, I don’t know. Probably pretty slim.

    I was in my office, and my eyes locked on a wooden container with half a tailed-beast lodged in it. I grabbed it and went back to the bridge. “Okay!”

    Intelligence Check Success: 10/10.

    Fuinjutsu Check Success: 100/100

    I engraved a seal at the top of the canister. “If you see a hyperactive, blonde ninja in an orange jumpsuit, he’s a friend of mine. Don’t hurt him. Instead, poke him in the stomach with this, this end first. Then de-summon yourselves.”

    It does two things.

    Number one, it lets me know when Naruto got poked with a stick. Second, it injects his seal with the Fox’s other half, meaning he has the full Kyuubi. I’ll probably need to be there to smooth over the injection, hence the seal letting me know when it’s been popped.

    I wonder what the Kyuubi is going to feel like when I’m in person with it?

    Guess I’ll find out.

    “You got it Shimoda,” Shizo nodded, handing the canister to Riku. Then he turned to face the squad. “Men! We need to immediately scout the area. Engage in stealth maneuvers. Masato, get started on a map of area surrounding the bridge. Riku, secure provisions from the wildlife around the area. Get us fish, man! Rookie, you’re with me, we’re going to find a secure point to establish a basecamp, somewhere that’s got good sightlines on the bridge. Move out!”

    They got on their stomachs and left, zipping across the bridge and into the water below.

    Next stop, Anko!

    Well, no. No, no, no.

    I need to be patient with this.

    Let’s take a couple days. Figure out how to make this right.

    First thing is first, learn how to make Dango. Because I need a new hobby, and I remember how much I love all things confectionary, I think that hobby might be baking. Like cookies, cake, pies…and Anko likes dango. So, I’m going learn how to make Dango, make a bouquet and present her with it when I show up at her doorstep.

    Then I’ll need to get into the right mindset, which I’ll go into more detail later.

    …before I go. Should I just go ahead and kill Gato?

    That’s trickier than it sounds.

    Scumbag or not, the man is the leader of a large company that is currently providing more than a few honest men honest jobs. If I kill him, that company goes bust and all those honest men go without pay, which is bad.

    But he also causes a lot of pain as a criminal and while it might be painful in the short-run, having him and his organization gone will be better long term, which is my general thing.

    …alright, fine.

    Let’s go kill Gato first and then I’ll go start working on baking as a hobby and then I’ll go see Anko.

    ---

    Author’s Notes: This is a first for me. I’ve decided to try…loosening up a bit with regards to more adult topics and themes, something that I’m going to explore a bit more in the oncoming chapters. No interest in doing anything graphic, ever, but I’m trying to explore some of the grayer area I think exists.

    Some of the seeds that were planted today won’t really be seen for a few more chapters. If anyone thinks I’m going too far, either in this chapter or over the course of the fic, please let me know. Also, if Daisuke and Anko get together, which is looking pretty likely right now, they aren’t going to be doing anything nasty until he’s at least fifteen and it will never be explicit. If you still have questions or concerns, leave a comment, review or send me a PM. I’d love to hear from everyone.

    Shout out goes out too Apperatus, our newest super patron! Thank you for your support, my friend!

    A big thank you also too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez and Aenor Knight. Your contributions and help to the fic!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  10. Threadmarks: Chapter 10: Pieces in Place
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    In the category of News that No-one is Surprised By, Gato is a scumbag.

    I’m currently standing in his office, going through all of the notes that he kept locked in his desk. Gato himself was sitting at his desk in a catatonic state, the knock-out seal written across his forehead. I haven’t used that seal since The Organ Trail.

    Fun little bits of nostalgia aside, Gato was involved in the black market. Now, obviously I know that when a certain good is banned, there are people who will do anything to get that good. Alcohol, drugs, sex, all that stuff. Basically, trying to put bans on a good or service just makes those who thrive off of illegal commodities start stocking up on their supply.

    Ban Alcohol, you get mobsters providing the supply. Ban drugs, cartels fulfill the same thing. Ban…wait, how do you ban sex?

    Barter Check Success: 100/70.

    You know what? I'm not even going to go there.

    Anyway, lets get back on topic. Gato was involved in all of these things, especially human trafficking. He even had photos. On the back was marked the name of the girl or boy, their age and limited physical descriptors such as height, weight, hair and eye color.

    The back says she’s twelve and…wait.

    That’s weird, she looks like she’s nine.

    Which makes it even worse. I mean, it’s not a mis-numbering, there’s a girl in this drawer whose stated age is six. Makes me sick, but it does raise some questions that I’ll have to answer later.

    But the main thing I’m looking for is names at this point. Places where they keep victims. Who’s involved? Once I get all of that, I’m going into the Land of Water like a scalpel. Cut out the rot, get the victims back to their families where possible, all that jazz.

    Only thing I’m curious about now is how to replace Gato, because Gato has a lot of actual, honest employees and would be quite successful with just the honest part of his business. So, it just goes to show that he was in the illegal goods business because it was fun and he profited off of this stuff in ways that weren’t money.

    I grumbled in irritation. “Gato, you’re a sick dog.”

    He had no way to hearing or responding to me but I meant it; you put down sick dogs so they aren’t miserable piles of flesh and bones for their last days and Gato’s been spreading his misery.

    My best lead was that Gato had a son. His name was Gombei and from what Gato here’s written in his notes, he’s done everything in his power to keep his son from getting involved in his criminal activities. So far, it seems like he’s done a good job; Gombei’s a senior executive in the one arm of the company without a lick of corruption in it. It’s almost like two different companies. Gombei’s well liked by his peers too, it seems and would be fast tracked to take his Father’s place.

    Hm.

    Let me double check something really quick.

    Uh…yeah. Definitely successor material. No feasible competitors. At least, there won’t be after I’m done cutting out the cancer. We’ve got thirteen people directly involved with this filth in the office building right now, not counting Gato.

    What opposition am I going to be dealing with?

    Zabuza and Haku appear to have defaulted on their contract. Speculation that the Mizukage committing seppuku – wait.

    The guy I freed from Tobi’s Genjutsu committed seppuku?

    But it wasn’t his fault that Tobi put a Genjutsu on him! I…focus on the now, I can worry about that later. Zabuza and Haku defaulted on their contract to focus on taking advantage of the opening created by Karatachi Yagura’s passing. Which means that the Gato Company has no shinobi backup in the immediate area. I’ve got free reign.

    …I mean, I had free reign anyway but that’s not the point.

    The point is that it’s time to go to work.

    I drew my pistol and planted a shot right between Gato’s closed eyes.

    Global Repositioning System.

    Another office, appearing behind the man in question; responsible for the acquisition of two siblings, aged twelve and fourteen and selling them to some guy in the Land of Earth. His head splattered all over the desk. Next office, next target.

    I didn’t want to be an angel of justice here. I believe that no man should be destroyed except by the lawful judgement of his peers. But that is impossible in this situation. To many people bought, not enough people who can execute lawful judgement. So, because it is impossible, the responsibility falls to me.

    At the very least, my preference for ‘Innocent until Proven Guilty’ has been sated since I knew these men and women were monsters without a doubt.

    Thirteen targets down.

    Those guys couldn’t have fought me. They were civilians with social clout and money. Their guilt had been proven, and that was that. This was not a battle for either pleasure or glory. This was a summary execution. They had been judged and found wanting.

    …spoken like a true god.

    “My, my.”

    The hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end as I whirled to the left and came face to face with Jashin. The God of Evil was shaking his head with an amused smirk. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. You’re certainly taking a direct hand in things, aren’t you?”

    “Jashin-dono,” I’m going to be polite, at the very least. “What are you doing here?”

    “Why, I’m watching a force for good destroy one of the cancerous little growths I’ve been feeding,” Jashin explained with a gesture to the corpse that I left on the desk. “I mean, I suppose you could’ve used Ninshū to inspire and empower mortals to take some responsibility for their situation, but…baby steps.”

    “The systems in place weren’t good enough to handle it properly,” I pointed out with a glare.

    “Quite right, child,” Jashin said smugly. “But then, isn’t it your job to guide them to becoming sufficient?”

    You know, it’s kind of easy to laugh at the word child now. Not that it’s a funny word, but the way I used to lose my cool at it is actually pretty funny. Like, in a condescending ‘you idiot’ sort of way.

    “Baby steps,” I parroted back to him with a smirk.

    Jashin’s head turned and his smile turned to a frown. “Well, that is surprising. You did it, didn’t you?”

    “Did what?” I asked.

    “Oh, don’t be coy.” Jashin looked decidedly unimpressed. “You’ve finally let go of the past. Finally accepted where you are? Who you are? I’m most impressed, Shimoda-dono. Well done.”

    I blinked and it took me a moment to realize that the god of evil was Affably Evil. That’s kind of cool in its own way. I thought he was faking it all in the Vault…though he might still be. “Thank you, Jashin-dono.”

    “No, no. Thank you.” Jashin waved it off. “Believe me, I was a little worried that I was going to be back to not having any enemies and I can’t have that. Enemies are my lifeblood.”

    “Okay.” Why am I confused right now? Is he Ninshū-ing me right now?

    “Still, though, you should probably get going,” Jashin began.

    “Why do you say that?”

    We both turned as the door to the office opened and there was a pretty young secretary standing there, her skin having turned pale. With an extended index finger, Jashin mimed shooting her and her brains exploded out the back of her head. Her corpse fell to the ground.

    “Before someone finds her and blames you.” Jashin waved goodbye with a smile as he disappeared. “Ta.”

    Crap!

    I zipped over to her and started the resurrection process.

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    Come on, I didn’t mean to get you killed.

    I got a ping back.

    The answer was no.

    Oh, come on! I raged internally, only barely stopping myself from putting a hole through the door. Still, I heard a pair of footsteps coming down the hall and they’d see this. Jashin did that on purpose.

    Global Repositioning System.

    I was at the next office building in the Land of Water. A deep breath helped me relax just a bit.

    …you know, I’m starting to think that maybe taking care of business personally might just be an invitation for other gods to come and screw things up, which would explain any of the others, if there are others besides Shinigami and Jashin, not poking around mortal affairs.

    Go stealth mode, get to work. If nothing else, I need to test the theory.

    ---

    Tobi was not having a good day.

    Many years ago, he remembered, he had come to a simple realization; that he was in hell.

    That day still haunted his nightmares. Blood dripping from the branches around him like rain, forming into a pool at his feet. Floating there in the center of the pool was his love. The girl who made his life worth living, the beam of sunlight through the clouds of his wretched existence, the immaculate Rin.

    Dead by the hand of the one who swore to protect her.

    Dead by the hand of Hatake Kakashi.

    It still woke him sometimes, even though he knew he was in some kind of dream world. That he could go from one dream to another without ever truly waking up was one of life’s crueler realities, one he wished he could escape with a burning vengeance that got brighter with every failure.

    Until today.

    The image came as a shock to him, seeing it out of his left eye, somehow.

    Rin.

    Rin was alive.

    Happy, healthy, standing in front of the Hokage’s desk with a smile and a wave.

    He stopped being able to breathe and the image left him.

    Tobi, or rather, Uchiha Obito, was nearly struck senseless.

    But he knew it. He knew it with every fiber of his being, even though he saw the body with his own eyes, even though he killed the monsters who took her from him, even though he failed to save her…she was alive.

    She was alive, she was breathing…she was Rin.

    But how?

    It! Makes! No! Sense!

    He had given up everything to see her again! He had gone along with Madara’s insane plan to see her again! He had killed his Sensei and his wife to see her again! The moon-eye plan was to restore Tobi to the real world! The world where Rin was alive!

    That world was this world.

    Except no it wasn’t.

    It had to be a trick!

    “She’s dead,” Obito growled to himself. She has to be dead. Kakashi…Kakashi must’ve figured something out. A Genjutsu fooled my other eye. No, it was a henge. That had to be it. But…what if it wasn’t?

    Obito’s blood ran cold. The Zetsu that made up his left side started to shudder uncomfortably. I have to investigate. Head to Konoha immediately. Find Kakashi, find out what happened. Then kill him for doing that to me.

    “Are you having some trouble?”

    Obito turned and came face to face with Zetsu, black half and white half fused together. The one who asked the question was Black Zetsu, obviously.

    “Yeah, you look like one of those flip-book drawings,” White Zetsu chuckled heartily.

    Rin’s alive. Kakashi got hit by a trick. Obito wanted to say both of these things, but he didn’t know which one. “I’m fine.”

    “You’ve been warping all over the base in a panic for an hour,” Black Zetsu pointed out blandly.

    “I said I’m fine,” Obito glared at him. “I just need to go to Konoha to check on something.”

    “Ooh, going back home?” White Zetsu asked happily. “Can I come?”

    “What are you checking on?” Black Zetsu asked, his eye narrowing.

    Obito took a deep breath. “It’s nothing.”

    “Why are you checking on nothing?” White Zetsu asked, sounding confused.

    Obito started gritting his teeth in anger. “Because! I saw something from my other eye.”

    “Ooh! Was he playing eye-spy?” White Zetsu got a much larger smile on his face than normal. “I bet he was playing eye-spy.”

    “This isn’t funny,” Black Zetsu chided his other half. “What did you see?”

    “I thought it was a good one,” White Zetsu argued back.

    Obito responded quietly. “I saw Rin.”

    “Hallucination!” White Zetsu fake coughed.

    Black Zetsu quiet.

    “In the Hokage’s office?” Obito snapped angrily.

    “Seems like a great spot for mind altering drugs,” White Zetsu teased.

    “Shut up, this is serious!” Obito shouted. “I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but Kakashi saw Rin and I’m going to find out how.”

    “It wouldn’t do to charge in recklessly,” Black Zetsu cautioned.

    “I was going to scout the village and try to find Kakashi,” Obito replied with a scoff. “Interrogate him and then finally eliminate him.”

    “Ooh! Then we can finally get your old eye back,” White Zetsu suggested like it was the smartest idea he’d ever had.

    “The idea has merit, but we need to be cautious. Make plans,” Black Zetsu again encouraged caution. “Hatake Kakashi is not someone you can simply walk into the Hidden Leaf Village, interrogate and then assassinate. Even you would have a great deal of trouble dealing with him.”

    “The only thing that would make it impossible is if his wayward brat were to get in the way,” Obito snarled.

    Both Zetsu’s were silent.

    “He left the village, so it would be possible,” Obito pointed out. “They’re all still reeling from it too, trying to prepare for the worst if he might attack. That’s what Itachi told me when he heard from his spies.”

    “Are you referring to the Triple S-ranked Missing Nin that was placed in the newest edition in the bingo-book?” Black Zetsu asked. “Shimoda Daisuke?”

    Yes,” Obito hissed with venom.

    “Isn’t he the guy that threw you around like a rag-doll and actually killed you?” White Zetsu asked, starting to chuckle. “Man, good thing for Tobi or you’d be –”

    “I know!” Obito barked. “I know. But that’s why it’s even possible. The brat’s gone.”

    “Oh, that’s true,” White Zetsu said with a grin.

    “That doesn’t remove the necessity of a plan,” Black Zetsu stated. “Now, let’s go speak to Nagato and inform him of our decision.”

    “And we’ll justify it by saying we should just lock down the fox now?” Obito asked with an analytical look.

    “Precisely. We know where he is,” Black Zetsu affirmed. “Why not just get the brat now instead of later when he could be moved between beasts one through nine?”

    ---

    “Are you ready, sweetie?” Kushina asked, kneeling down and dusting off Naruto’s tracksuit.

    “Yeah, I guess,” Naruto said, taking a breath and peering around the curtains where the Hokage had everyone gathered. There he could see the entire village like an ocean of people, talking with each other, trying to find out what that was all about. “I’m just nervous about…you know, after.”

    “You don’t have to come live with us if you don’t want too,” Kushina said kindly. “It’s okay, you’re your own person. We understand.”

    Naruto let a small smile grow on his face. “Thanks Mom.”

    They embraced and Minato came around the corner, placing a hand on Naruto’s shoulder. “This is going to be quite the event. You excited?”

    “Actually, yes. Yes, I am,” Naruto said with a grin. “I can’t wait to see you chew the whole village out!”

    “Oh,” Minato said. “Naruto, I’m afraid that wouldn’t solve anything.”

    “You’re not going to do it?” Naruto looked absolutely crestfallen.

    “No, I think they’re going to do it to themselves,” Minato said with a smile. “All I have to tell them is that you’re our son and then they’ll bend over backwards to make amends. Though I will say that there is one person who, if he had done his job properly, would have been able to stop all of the neglect you endured.”

    “And we are really upset with him,” Kushina’s smile was tight as she forcefully finished brushing Naruto’s sleeves off.

    “Wait, who is he?” Naruto asked curious look.

    Behind them, on the other side of the stage stood Rin and Kakashi. Rin looked as nervous as Naruto felt and Kakashi was keeping a very, very stern eye on his erotica, which Naruto recognized as a way of coping with nerves. He made eye contact with Rin, and she gave him a thumbs up with a kind smile. Naruto returned the gesture and hoped that it looked sincere.

    “People of Konohagakure!” The Third Hokage called with a jutsu to magnify his voice. “I, the Third Hokage have an important announcement to make!”

    Naruto felt himself standing just a bit straighter.

    “We have all heard of the village miracle worker. The Second Professor, the Genin who wanted more missions on record than any other,” Hiruzen started with a smile. “Shimoda Daisuke! Well, he has, yet again, accomplished another miracle. Done something no one thought was possible…again. This time, he has learned to raise the dead!”

    The crowd erupted into scattered pockets of cheers and whispers.

    “He recently brought back three Shinobi that you may hold dear. Their identities have been confirmed by Morino Ibiki and Yamanaka Inoichi. They are who they say they are. Allow me to present…” Hiruzen held the moment a bit in anticipation.

    “Here I go,” Minato said.

    “Knock them dead,” Kushina encouraged, standing up to give him a peck on the lips before he walked out onto the stage.

    “Minato Namikaze, the Fourth!” Hiruzen announced happily.

    The entire village erupted into celebration at once. Naruto almost thought that he was going to go deaf from the sheer volume of the cheers of happiness and joy that accompanied his father’s return to Konoha.

    “I give the stage to Minato-dono for the remaining announcements,” Hiruzen said with a giant grin.

    “Thank you, Hiruzen-dono,” Minato’s booming voice took to the stage. “It’s good to see the village standing and that you all look well.”

    Cheers again.

    “And, it is good to be back,” Minato said once the cheers died down. “It truly is, and as Hiruzen-dono pointed out, we have Shimoda Daisuke to thank for it. So as for the remaining announcements, first I have a confession to make.”

    Minato took a deep breath for exaggerated effect. “Ladies, I’m married.”

    Cheers…and moans of sadness. Naruto’s head tilted in confusion. His Dad was a lady’s man.

    “And Shimoda Daisuke did me the favor of bringing back my wife, who died alongside me that night when the Kyuubi attacked,” Minato said with a sad smile. “Allow me to announce the return of Uzumaki Kushina.”

    Kushina immediately stepped out into the light, going to stand beside her husband.

    There were cheers, but there were also mutterings of confusion and from some of the faces that Naruto could make out, horror.

    “And of course, there’s the matter of the last person who was brought back. One of my Genin Students,” Minato said, almost sounding smug. “Everyone, please welcome Nohara Rin back to Konoha.”

    The cheers were actually louder for Rin than they were for Kushina, which boggled Naruto’s mind. Not as loud as for his father, but they were loud.

    “Thanks to the village Miracle Worker, we’ve all returned and we plan on making up for lost time,” Minato announced with a grin. “Now, last person I need to introduce. On the night of the attack, my wife gave birth to my son who is with us today. You all know him, I’m sure you all love him, please give an applause for Uzumaki Naruto.”

    Naruto stepped out into the light, walking toward the beckoning and encouraging arms of his parents.

    There were cheers. Not as deafening as Minato’s entry or even Rin’s, but…cheers. Actual, honest to goodness cheers. Real cheers. The crowd was cheering for him. Looking out, he could see familiar faces. Sakura, Sasuke, Ino, Chouji. The Ichiraku’s. All cheering. He could see the Hyuuga, sitting together as a single unit offering polite applause.

    Naruto was grateful for that. Hinata was a great friend.

    “Thanks for the Village Miracle worker, we’re a family again,” Minato called out. “And, effective immediately…”

    Hiruzen took off the triangle hat and tossed it to Minato, who caught it effortlessly and donned it. “I am resuming my duties as Fourth Hokage.”

    The cheers got deafening again.

    “And for my first act as Hokage, I hereby issue a pardon to Shimoda Daisuke for all crimes committed against the village,” Minato continued with a smile. “If you see him or have some way of contacting him, let him know that he is welcome here, even if he has no desire to take on missions.”

    A weight on Naruto’s chest lifted and with it, came a lightness that seemed to let him breathe easier.

    “And I will declare today a holiday for those of you that wish to celebrate,” Minato declared. “Resurrection Day. Preparations for the festival have already been made, it begins tonight at Nine. Thank you, everyone and I look forward to helping Konoha gain a brighter future.”

    The cheers were loud again and everyone walked off the stage.

    “That went better than expected,” Minato said when they were behind the stage again.

    “I’m happy that they clapped for Naruto,” Hiruzen said with a smile. “I was fearing that they would boo him.”

    “That would have made me chastise the village,” Minato’s glare was unamused. “Viciously.”

    “Chastise is putting it lightly,” Kushina was gritting her teeth and Naruto was starting to see that, yes, they did actually care about what happened to him though he was struggling to believe that.

    “Naruto,” Minato turned to his son. “Now that we’re out of the safe house, would you like to show us your apartment?”

    “Yeah,” Naruto replied brightly. “Come on…wait, where’s Rin going to stay?”

    “Good question,” Minato said, turning to Kakashi and Rin, who were talking quietly. “Rin? Do you know where you’re staying tonight?”

    “I think I’m going to be staying with Kakashi-san until we get an apartment lined up,” Rin replied with a small smile.

    “Separate bedrooms?” Minato asked with the quirk of his mouth.

    Kakashi suddenly looked like he swallowed a bug, and started coughing.

    “Sensei!” Rin shouted, looking thoroughly scandalized. “He’s just helping me!”

    Kushina looked very concerned. “Rin, what about your parents?”

    Rin got a morose expression. “Kyuubi attack.”

    “I’m sorry,” Naruto quickly spoke.

    “What? No, no, no,” Rin also put her hands up to wave off the faux pas. “I know it’s not your fault, promise. It just happened, that’s all.”

    “Thanks,” Naruto sighed.

    “So, will we see you at the festival tonight?” Kushina asked with a smile.

    “You know it!” Rin said with a cute smile.

    “I’ll be there too,” Kakashi added with a nod.

    “I look forward to seeing you both there,” Minato nodded.

    ---

    Gombei, the son of Gato, was a lot of things.

    He was patient, hard working and had no tolerance for corruption anywhere. But he was also aware of the proclivities of his father, a man whom Gombei had no respect for, or any semblance of fondness.

    It was odd, then, to have heard of his passing and have feelings of loss.

    He was leaning back in his chair, his perfectly groomed black hair shining as sharply as his shoes. The sharply tapered black suit the product of thousands of ryo’s worth of tailoring. His square glasses shined in the light of his office, hiding his glare as he stared a hole into the wall.

    The moment his father passed; he had gotten a call. Phones were a symbol of wealth and power, so of course he had one. His father had been found in his office dead in his chair, his cranial matter having been violently strewn about on his expensive wood desk. The company was hard at work trying to find out who it could have been that assassinated his father and the thirteen executives who worked in his office building.

    The door opened ahead of him.

    “Gombei-sama, I received some news,” Masae was Gombei’s secretary, and she walked in wearing a business suit. In her hand, she was holding a file. “Today, a Shinobi finished constructing a bridge that your father was concerned about. The one to the mainland.”

    “Alright, who was it?” Gombei asked, looked at her dispassionately.

    Was she attractive? Yes. Did he ever let it interfere with his job? No.

    “A shinobi named Shimoda Daisuke,” Masae replied, placing the file in front of him. “According to the construction workers, he appeared right as they were about to go to work and finished the bridge. They believe it was on a whim.”

    “Shimoda Daisuke,” Gombei echoed, leaning forward. “Is this his file?”

    “His entry in the Bingo Book, known jutsu and abilities,” Masae replied. “All for your perusal.”

    Gombei picked up the file and started reading it. “Triple-S class? Makes jutsu up on the fly? Went rogue for reasons unknown. Hm. Very well. Kirigakure isn’t taking contracts at the moment, right?”

    “No, Gombei-sama,” Masae answered.

    This Ninja is the one who killed my father, Gombei said, the thought still bothering him but not knowing why. Built the bridge then removed threats to it. Common sense. Someone like this wouldn’t be bothered by things like ‘security measures'. My only question now is if, or when, he’s going to come for me.

    He continued reading the file. This Ninja must be quite a headache for the Hidden Leaf and I know my Father was struggling to get trade routes through the mainland to work. Perhaps they might appreciate some clues to apprehend Shimoda.

    “Very well,” He stood and buttoned his suit. “Make preparations for my travel to Konohagakure. I will hire them to handle this personally.”

    ---

    “So, here’s my apartment,” Naruto said, pushing open the door as he unlocked it with his keys.

    His apartment was a mess, naturally. Orange jackets and black shirts were strewn about on the furniture, empty ramen cups that hadn’t been properly thrown away were standing on the table. “It’s uh, well…it’s a bit of a mess.”

    “Yes, I can see that,” Kushina said with a nod, frowning as she peered around the apartment. “You eat a lot of ramen?”

    “Uh huh,” Naruto nodded happily. “It’s the best food, delicious and easy to make.”

    “Do you eat anything else?” Kushina asked.

    “Yeah.” Naruto shrugged and gestured into the kitchen, which was also a mess of cooking utensils of all kinds. “I’ve been trying to learn how to cook since I started dating Sakura. Our picnic date was pretty good!”

    “I admire the effort,” Minato said with a smile. “I can’t cook to save my life.”

    “You’d die without my cooking,” Kushina teased, her nose scrunching up like a fox’s as the two shared a kiss and a laugh.

    “Thanks, guys,” Naruto said, awkwardly rubbing the back of his head.

    “So, Naruto, can you show me where the bathroom is?” Minato asked with a smile.

    “Sure, it’s right over here,” Naruto said, pointing his father down the small hall to his bedroom, the bathroom being built right off of it.

    Kushina’s eyes narrowed at all the mess and swiftly got to work. A role of trash bags was sitting on the coffee table in front of the couch and she grabbed one, swiftly opening and inflating it to start chugging garbage into. The empty ramen cups, crushed up napkins, elixir bottles and cans, all went into the bag before Naruto even had a chance to blink.

    Naruto returned to the living room and was surprised. “Wow…it’s clean. Thanks, Mom!”

    “You’re welcome, sweetie,” Kushina replied sweetly, moving around the apartment with a practiced grace as she tidied up the place. “Now, uh…oh.”

    She stopped when she came face to face with Naruto’s pin-up poster, a woman with long black hair, wearing a black bra and panties and striking a cute pose, a star tattooed onto her cheek.

    “Oh, right,” Naruto quickly got flustered. “Sorry, Mom, I probably should’ve taken that down.”

    “No, no,” Kushina closed her eyes and bowed her head, shaking the surprise from her mind. “You’re legally an adult, this is something that adults can have. I was just surprised is all.”

    “Oh,” Naruto said.

    “Naruto, since it’s no longer a secret, can I ask you a question?” Kushina began, turning to face her son. “What happened between Hiruzen-sama and Shimoda-sama?”

    “Well,” Naruto began, shaking off the awkwardness of her mother calling his brother in all but blood ‘sama’ when he should be adopted by them. “Daisuke decided he wanted to tell me about my parentage and about my…tenant.”

    Kushina simply held her tongue and listened.

    “He’d been gone for three months by then.” Naruto looked off to the side, then up, trying to find the words. “He had a lot of things to work through and it was a long story. But on the day of my graduation, he sent me a message. Telling me that he had some things to tell me and wanted me to come alone.”

    Kushina tilted her head and raised a single eyebrow. “That’s odd. That’s such an obvious red-flag for someone trying to set a trap.”

    “I know.” Naruto nodded. “So, I went to the old man about it and he agreed. So, we set up an ambush if it was an enemy but would, hopefully be harmless if it was Daisuke. Then Daisuke’s team, my team and Team 10 showed up and it was kind of weird. But then the time for the meeting came and… It was Daisuke.”

    “Alright,” Kushina said, drawing the word out. “Why didn’t this ambush stop Shimoda from telling you either of those things?”

    “Because Daisuke knew they were there,” Naruto replied. “He used a jutsu to paralyze everyone in place so that we could talk in peace.”

    “What jutsu did he use?” Kushina asked, her eyes going wide.

    “I don’t know.” Naruto looked as lost as his mother. “He just makes jutsu. Out of nowhere. It’s his thing.”

    “Okay then, so he told you,” Kushina said, having regained her calm. “Did he prove it to you?”

    “Yeah.”

    “How?”

    “He showed me the seal on my stomach,” Naruto replied, lifting his shirt and channeling some chakra to make it visible. “I’d never channeled chakra shirtless before, so I didn’t see it before. Then he unfroze the Old man and the massive Contingent of ANBU and they had an argument.”

    “What kind of argument?” Kushina asked.

    “Daisuke was mad at the Old Man because he was playing favorites or something, talked about someone who had gotten away years ago because he was the Old Man’s student,” Naruto sighed. “The Old Man tried to stop him, but Daisuke kicked him around like a ball.”

    “Kicked the Hokage around like a ball,” Kushina repeated, blinking owlishly. “Then what happened?”

    “This is where the Old Man screwed up.” Naruto sighed, shaking his head. “He said that this entire meeting was a temper tantrum thrown by a child who got too much power too quickly.”

    Naruto looked his mother dead in the eyes with the most serious expression he could muster. “If you ever meet Daisuke again, never call him a child. Ever. If there is anything, and I mean anything, that could make him want you dead, it’s calling him a child. Don’t. Ever. Do it.”

    “O-okay, Naruto,” Kushina nodded, trying to be reassuring. “I won’t.”

    “Thank you.” Naruto breathed a sigh of relief. “I just got you guys back again I’d hate to have lost you.”

    “We’ll never leave you,” Kushina replied kindly, stroking Naruto’s cheek. “I promise. It’ll never happen again.”

    “Thanks, Mom,” Naruto said. “I just still can’t believe the Old Man did that you know? He knew.”

    “Might’ve done it on purpose to get him to stop talking,” Kushina answered with a shrug. “It’s what I would’ve done if someone was blabbing S-class secrets…hypothetically.”

    “I don’t think it was worth it.” Naruto shook his head. “Daisuke crushed them. He made it all dark. I mean, it was blinding. Wasn’t a Genjutsu since a Kai didn’t dispel it. Then he got to work, started knocking people out left and right. The only people left standing were the other academy graduates.”

    Kushina looked at her son’s downcast expression with a troubled frown of her own.

    “Ino snagged him in her mind-swap jutsu and we were going to wake everyone up, but Daisuke overpowered her.” Naruto threw his hands up in the air like he was sick of the whole thing. “Had defenses prepared or something. Told Sasuke he was a traitor with a clean conscience and left. I haven’t seen him since.”

    Kushina looked into Naruto’s eyes with a reassuring gaze. “We’ll find him. Let him know that he’s been pardoned so he can come back, even if he doesn’t want to do missions…Hiruzen-sama said that Daisuke had wanted to retire before his three-month vacation.”

    “Thanks Mom,” Naruto wiped his eyes and tried to look strong. “We’ll get him back. No matter what.”

    ---

    Author’s Note: Well, there it is. Stuff that’s happening throughout the world. Daisuke decided to get serious about Gato’s criminal empire, Tobi is going a little nuts and Konoha’s got the Fourth Hokage back. Awesome!

    Shout out goes out too newest patrons Axodique and Tob_gib, you support is greatly appreciated!

    A big thank you also for Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight and Apperatus, thank you all for your continued support!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  11. Threadmarks: Chapter 11: Revolving Door
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    “Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Hokage-dono,” Gombei said, returning the bow he was offered. “This mission that I wish to hire you for is of upmost importance.”

    “Important clients such as yourself are no inconvenience,” Minato replied, sitting down at his chair. “We are eager to assist you in whatever matter you bring to us.”

    “To business, then,” Gombei began, unlatching his suitcase and bringing out a photo. “This is a picture of a bridge, which connects the Land of Water to the Land of Fire. It was finished just last week. Were you aware of it?”

    “I was aware of the bridge,” Minato replied, taking the photo to examine it closely. “But I was under the impression that it was weeks if not months away from completion.”

    “Well, that’s because it was,” Gombei confirmed. “From what I was able to gather, a Shinobi by the name of Shimoda Daisuke was responsible for its completion. Do you know him?”

    “Yes, I’ve heard of him,” Minato nodded.

    “He’s become something of a…” Gombei stopped to find the right words. “Nuisance to Gato Company. However, from what information I’ve been able to glean, removing him would be an impossible task.”

    “That is putting it lightly,” Minato agreed. “What is it you want to hire us for?”

    “I am willing to pay six million ryo for the destruction of the bridge,” Gombei offered, his glasses adopting a sheen in the sunlight. “If you can also find a way to deal with Shimoda, either by elimination, capture or some other means, I will triple the payment. But the bridge is the main priority.”

    “We will take this mission for you,” Minato replied with a carefully schooled expression. “But I feel obligated to remind you that if Shimoda discovers that the bridge is destroyed, he will simply rebuild it.”

    Gombei grunted as he flipped open his briefcase, withdrawing a checkbook from inside and signing his name. “I am aware. The bridge’s destruction is simply to buy time until our latest round of shipping is taken care of. After that, I intend on using the bridge to benefit the company.”

    The check was signed and handed to the Hokage.

    “I have a pair of teams that I think would be perfect for this mission,” Minato said, taking the check gently. “Now, if I may ask, what sort of nuisance has Shimoda become to Gato Company?”

    Gombei simply leaned back, his face impassive. “Following his completion of the bridge, he took a scalpel to the company and began eliminating executives involved in less reputable trades. Entire arms of Gato Company have been severed and left to rot. As of two days ago, it has become my job to pick up the pieces.”

    “I had heard your father passed before your arrival,” Minato said. “You have our condolences.”

    “Thank you, Hokage-dono,” Gombei said with a nod. “Now, if I may ask, who do you intend to send to take care of this matter?”

    “One of my personal students, Hatake Kakashi,” Minato said with just the barest hint of a smile. “He’s grown quite infamous as Copy Ninja Kakashi. This mission will be in good hands.”

    ---

    “Alright, here’s our stop,” I said, letting the girl I had been carrying down from my shoulders.

    She was the last victim of Gato’s human trafficking that I was able to find, abducted from this village in the Land of Water by his thugs nearly six months ago.

    “I-I’m home!” She shouted, bringing a smile to my face. “I’m really home! Thank you, Shinobi-sama, thankyouthankyouthankyou-”

    “Don’t mention it,” I said kindly. “Before you head off to see if your parents are still here, you mind answering me a question?”

    “Okay, sure,” She said, snapping to attention. “What did you want to know?”

    “How old are you?” I asked.

    “Oh!” She looked surprised. “I’m twelve. I think. I might’ve turned thirteen, but I don’t know if I’ve had my birthday yet.”

    Hm. “Okay, thank you, Sata-chan. Head on home.”

    She nodded rapidly and sprinted for the house ahead of us. “Mom! Dad!”

    The door opened and her…yeah, those are her parents. It was a teary reunion, they were happy, it’s all good.

    With that, I just offered a wave and teleported back to the vault.

    Getting people back home, or at least reuniting them with loved ones who would take care of them was the only truly fulfilling part of this entire exercise. I mean, sure the smugglers and traffickers had to die but, that was it. It had to be done, there wasn’t any rush of excitement as I put them to impromptu firing squad.

    Danjuro had a point.

    I shouldn’t try to become an executioner.

    Jashin had a point, too.

    I should learn Ninshū to inspire people to take responsibility for their situation.

    That’s a tick in the box for later.

    …going back to fighting and being an executioner, the only person that could possibly make me take fighting seriously is the Kaiju. I miss the Kaiju. I want him to teleport down here to the valley of the end, rip the roof right off the vault and attack me.

    But seriously, even he’s a paper tiger. I can make a jutsu that’ll make the atmosphere eject him from the planet at super sonic speeds, then he’d just be impotently bouncing off the top of the sky trying to get back down here.

    Quest Updated: The Kaiju

    The Kaiju’s Health has been doubled (3).

    The Kaiju is now immune to Ninjutsu.

    The Kaiju is now immune to Genjutsu.

    Oh, breaking out of the scroll must’ve knocked him down to almost dead again…wait.

    That explains why he can’t die.

    In the RPG’s that my game is inspired off of, you can’t kill NPC’s needed for quests. You just knock them down to one HP, they fall down, then get back up a few seconds later. The Kaiju’s got that too, but he also gets more powerful every time he gets knocked down.

    This whole quest is incompletable because the Kaiju is an Essential NPC.

    …well, that’s actually awesome. And he’s not a paper tiger anymore! He can make me mortal, I can’t jutsu him and his HP just gets higher and higher every time I take him down. He’s perfect!

    But really, I’m not letting him out of his space cage and going up there to fight him would be like poking a caged animal with a stick. Just…seems wrong.

    So, then what do I do?

    This whole ‘change the world thing’…needs a plan. Sure, learn Ninshū, spread it everywhere. That’s a plan, but it’s the single most inefficient thing I could do. There’s other, more efficient ways to do it, but I don’t know what they are.

    I need a new strategy.

    There might be a way to use the Ninja Villages. Yeah, huge shocker coming from me. I admit, my refusal to work with them stemmed entirely from how angry I was about the whole system. Because I blamed them for my mistakes; mistakes that they wouldn’t have been able to ‘enable’ if I wasn’t making them in the first place.

    Obviously, they won’t go for my vision whole-sale, but the whole point of being a Ninja was looking underneath the underneath, as my old Sensei would say. There are ways to get them to agree to each individual step, pulling them further and further along until we’ve arrived where I want them – as centers for learning Jutsu instead of mercenary encampments. You know, slippery slope, shift the Overton Window, that sort of thing.

    Besides, this whole revolution thing is going to take a while anyway, might as well use what resources I already have to make it faster and closer to painless.

    The window of my office had a slight glare from the lights on the ceiling of my office. The atrium down below was bare, the only movement being the dust being kicked up from the ventilation blowing in fresh air from the outside.

    I need to get out of this vault.

    This place was good for a while, helping me out while I needed isolation, while I was trying to figure out who or what I was. But that’s done now and…I want my friends. I want to see Naruto and Anko again. I want to see Kakashi, Ino, Hisako, Nichiren, all those guys.

    Now that I’ve accepted what happened and who I’ve become, I want them back. Hopefully they’ll take me back.

    I mean, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Minato pardoned me because I resurrected him and his wife. There’s a pretty good chance of that, actually. I can just pop over and ask and if it hasn’t happened, then I can just leave. Not like they can do anything about it.

    …man, what did I use to do?

    When I hit max level and there wasn’t any challenge left, what did I use to do? Besides start a new game and throw out all that hard work?

    Well, I don’t know. I guess that I just stopped trying with that character.

    I still remember in Fallout 4, I had a level 106 character with maxxed out Endurance. He was a power armor, laser-rifle guy who, at the end of his career just started walking around in a red denim shirt and jeans because I just didn’t care anymore.

    The characters that got so high level that nothing challenged them anymore shifted focus from being about adrenaline-pumping gameplay to easy relaxation; building settlements and walking through raider camps as they impotently tried to kill me with their pathetic pipe-weapons.

    My problem is that I keep try-harding on everything even when I don’t need too.

    I just gotta stop giving a crap.

    That’ll fix all of my problems!

    Just live easy, do what I want. The worlds at my feet and I can change it how I like. I can do whatever I want, just taking everything so seriously not going to end well. So…relax.

    At the opposite wall from my desk were armor stands. The first wore my ninja gear, my goggles, armored jacket, boots and gauntlets. The second wore the Edgelord Bleeding Razor 9000 armor, which was easily my best set of gear. The next wore nothing and its glass case showed only my reflection.

    My blue jumpsuit and white lab coat. An outfit straight from Fallout. One I wore because it fit me; my defiance at what happened to me, my old-world blues coloring everything I saw and touched.

    I needed something that would actually fit me. What’s an outfit or style that I’ve always been fond of? I mean, I think I can get away with basically anything in the Elemental Nations, even Konoha.

    …cowboy, space cowboy, pirate, MIB…nah. How about something more generically formal? I do like formal, after all.

    White button-up shirt and tie, grey slacks stitched so I could still kick in them. The jacket matched the slacks, having more than enough give to still let me throw a punch. Get a belt, let the boots look like they match the outfit without compromising their integrity as combat-ready.

    Okay, I’m dressed up again.

    My blue jumpsuit and white coat took it’s spot next to the Edgelord Bleedingrazor 9000.

    Anything else?

    Uh…well, my hair’s a mess.

    I really need to take better care of it, I’ve always loved my hair. Keep it short, trimmed and styled, there we go!

    Last thing is my sidearm. My handgun.

    This thing is an overdesigned mess.

    Why does it have a healing beam? Why is it trying so hard to be the F2000 rifle in pistol form? Why is it still a revolver while trying to be an assault rifle in pistol form?

    I never use the healing beam and the overcomplicated design actually hampers my draw-time. So, I’m going to mount this next to the Mark 1 design and just leave it here.

    The first gun, which was a kunai that I had repurposed to turn into a hit-scan weapon, was mounted on a weapon rack next to the armors. I created a second one to fit beneath it and lifted my Mk2 weapon on it.

    Third weapon iteration. What can I toss out from the first design?

    The healing beam, the revolver design philosophy…and maybe the hilt? Nah, not the hilt. I really only need stun and kill as options, having any form of spinning cylinder is pointless when you can have a single, automatically reloading shot and a hilt, well, it could be streamlined.

    It should be really comfortable to hold, fit to my grip perfectly. Then create the barrel, just a normal barrel stretching out front. On the back, where the hammer is supposed to be, I can have the switch for stun and kill. Firing mechanism, good. Just a really simple, streamlined weapon. Hilt, barrel, seals. That’s it.

    How to draw this?

    Have a below-the-shoulder holster. I don’t want this thing to be too easily drawn. It’s just there if I absolutely want it.

    Create the thing, write the seals, test it.

    Point at the wall, start shooting. The wall itself erupted in what looked to be sparks with every shot until I was satisfied.

    Alrighty!

    Fifteen shots a second isn’t bad. How’s the draw time?

    Holstered the pistol beneath the shoulder, then pulled it out. I repeated the process and started nodding to myself. This feels good. I like this.

    Is that all?

    That is all.

    I need to get out of this vault. Let it be just that – a vault. A time capsule, a memorial to my…emo phase. Yeah.

    Because that’s what it is.

    Never thought a Vault would ever be described with the words ‘Emo Phase’ before. Horrific and Inhumane? Absolutely. Emo Phase? Nah, man.

    Now, it’s time to teleport to Konoha-no.

    No, no, no.

    We’re taking it easy, remember? Going to enjoy life and all the sights and sounds that comes with this world.

    So, I am going to walk there. It’s going take roughly eight hours but that’s okay. I don’t get tired; I don’t even need to eat or drink. I’m going to make myself enjoy the journey. It’ll be like deciding to go without fast travel for a play session.

    I walked out of my office, down the stairs into the atrium. Out the Atrium I went until I got to the elevator and it took me up. The doors opened and I found myself at the big one. The Vault door, the massive gear that would seal away this vault for time and eternity.

    The button to open the big one was red, and all I had to do was press.

    Am I sure I want to do this?



    Yeah, I’m sure.

    I pressed the button with my closed fist, and the hydraulics started to work. Steam hissed and the massive gear was pulled out of its spot and onto the track to the sound of screeching metal. It was spun out of the way and I walked out of the vault.

    Pass through the solid stone wall and walk out from under the waterfall, perfectly dry thanks to the ghost jutsu.

    Alrighty. Let’s head back.

    ---

    “This is going to be so cool!” Naruto gushed excitedly, smiling like the world just paved a road to his house in gold. “We’re getting assigned a mission by Dad personally.”

    “Aren’t you even a little nervous?” Sakura asked with a frown.

    “Nope!” Naruto shook his head, his smile only getting bigger. “We can handle whatever this mission throws at us! Believe it!”

    “Naruto, if you ever say that again, I’m ramming a fireball so far up your rectum that you’ll be blowing smoke rings,” Sasuke threatened with an irritated glare.

    “Duck butt,” Naruto sniffed.

    “Idiot,” Sasuke muttered.

    “Look, we can’t get cocky,” Hisako cautioned. “If it’s our two teams getting assigned a mission, it’s because Daisuke’s involved and if Daisuke’s involved, we need to be ready for anything.”

    “Wait, you think so?” Naruto asked with wide eyes.

    “I do,” Hisako nodded.

    “It’s kind of obvious,” Nichiren shrugged. “Why would the Hokage pick our two teams specifically for this mission if he wasn’t involved? Cell 13’s kind of above and beyond anything you guys have done yet.”

    “He’s got a point,” Sakura said.

    “Yeah, well you’re going to be dumb-struck when you see how much Cell 7 can do!” Naruto said, pointing his finger in Nichiren’s face. “It’ll wipe the glasses right off your face, Senpai!”

    “I look forward to seeing it,” Nichiren said diplomatically, gently pushing Naruto’s finger down.

    “Now kids,” Kakashi said with an eye-smile. “Let’s try to be on our best behavior for your grand-sensei, alright? I don’t want him thinking I let my cute little Genin get unruly.”

    “Right, right,” Naruto straightened up, let out a breath and calmed down.

    Sakura looked at him like he had just came from a different planet. Well, when you want to look good for your Dad…

    Kakashi put his erotica away in his flak jacket and knocked on the door.

    “Come in!”

    The door was pushed open and sitting at his desk was Namikaze Minato, looking up from his paperwork with a smile. “Kakashi-san, I’m glad to see you doing well. How’s Rin?”

    “She’s settling in, still,” Kakashi replied, walking in and giving his Sensei a deep bow. “She’s eager to get started on missions again so she can get her own place.”

    “Tomorrow, she’ll be placed on light duty and training details,” Minato assured. “She’ll get the money she needs to move out, don’t worry. How are the rest of you?”

    Bows of respect and greetings were had. They were fine, and ready to get started.

    “Good, good. So, as you have probably guessed,” Minato started, gesturing for everyone to come to his desk, where a map had been spread out. “This mission has to do with Daisuke.”

    “Called it,” Hisako muttered with a smirk.

    “A week ago, Daisuke went to the Land of Water and finished constructing a large bridge connecting it to the Land of Fire,” Minato explained, pointing to the bridge’s location. “Our client is the current CEO of Gato Company, whose business has been nearly crippled by Daisuke’s actions. This bridge stands as the final knife in their back and must be destroyed for them to survive.”

    “Why would Daisuke gut a company like that?” Sakura asked, looking at the map with interest.

    “Probably doing bad things,” Naruto replied with a nod.

    “That’s right,” Minato nodded. “The CEO explained that these parts of the company were involved in less reputable trades. We don’t judge, we just handle the work. Do you all understand?”

    Everyone nodded.

    “Now, your mission is to destroy the bridge, and it’s an S-rank mission,” Minato explained. “But if you can get Daisuke to return, the CEO has offered to triple our payment for the mission.”

    “He said to get Daisuke to return, Hokage-sama?” Hisako asked for clarification.

    “Well, he doesn’t actually care how we get rid of him, just so long as we do,” Minato answered. “But if Daisuke doesn’t show, or if he does and you can’t convince him, remember that your job is the bridge’s destruction only. The CEO understands that Daisuke will probably rebuild it, he just wants to buy time until they can get back on their feet following most of their management being sent to the Pure World.”

    “Got it,” Naruto nodded.

    “Any questions?” Minato asked.

    “Why exactly does Gato Company need this bridge destroyed?” Nichiren asked.

    “They have a stranglehold on naval imports,” Minato replied. “This bridge renders their company irrelevant.”

    “I wonder how many people would be put out of work by this bridge,” Nichiren mused with a raised eyebrow.

    “None, if we have anything to say about it,” Naruto said with self-assuredness.

    “We’ll take the mission,” Kakashi nodded, accepting the mission brief he was offered. “Thank you, Sensei. We won’t fail you.”

    “I know you won’t,” Minato said with a grin. “I trained you too well.”

    ---

    It was late afternoon by the time I actually reached the village gates. It wasn’t sunset, but it was getting close to the golden hour. Ahead, I could see people milling around, getting ready to close for the day or head home.

    Deep breath.

    I walked forward and came to the checkpoint. “Hi.”

    “Hey,” The guards were a pair of Chunin I hadn’t met before. The first had thick, round glasses and a goatee, the second had his brown hair tied into a ponytail. “Identification.”

    I handed them my ID and Passport with a smile.

    They looked at it, and I could see the moment when it clicked who I was when they both froze solid, like they had actually been subtly vibrating in their seats and now that they were still, it was a sharp contrast.

    The first looked up at me and I gave him a smile. “Just checking back in. I’m still wanted, right?”

    “N-no,” The first said. “You were pardoned a couple days ago.”

    The second gulped.

    “Neat,” I replied. “By the way, did I get in the Bingo Book?”

    “Y-yeah,” The first answered.

    “Do you still have an edition of the book?” I asked. “I’ve been curious.”

    “Here,” The second handed me a book. “Page one-oh-one.”

    “Alright,” I said, reading over my bingo book entry. No nickname, which is odd. I figured the moniker ‘Second Professor’ would get in there, but whatever. When I got to the part about not referring to my age, I started cracking up. “Do not call a child. Wow, that actually made it in the book! That’s hilarious.”

    Guard one and Guard two looked at each other out the corner of their eyes then back at me.

    “Have the new editions of the Bingo Book been issued yet?” I asked, pointing to the book. “Because I want to keep this one.”

    “No, they haven’t yet,” Guard two said. “But you can keep that one if you like.”

    “Nah,” I said, placing the book on the counter in front of them. “I’ll ask the Hokage when I see him. If you don’t mind me asking, are Cells 7, 10 or 13 still in the village?”

    “Seven and Thirteen both left on a mission earlier today,” Guard One replied. “I don’t know, did Ten come back from their mission yet?”

    “Nope,” Guard Two answered.

    “Ah, well. I’ll see them later, I guess,” I replied with a disappointed shrug. “What about my old partner, Mitarashi Anko?”

    “She hasn’t left, I don’t think,” Guard Two answered, looking at Guard One, who nodded.

    Anko’s here, good. I’m going to go see her once I’ve got my living situation figured out. “By the way, could you guys do me a favor?”

    “Sure?” Guard One seemed uneasy.

    “Could you keep me being back on the down-low?” I asked. “I’d like to reintroduce myself slowly. Please.”

    “Uh, sure,” Guard Two replied. “Just, you know, make sure the Hokage knows you’re here.”

    “That’s where I’m headed,” I said with a wave. “Thanks guys, have a good shift.”

    I turned invisible as I walked off, leaving them staring at where I was in nervous fright.

    Konoha looked different in a weird way. Was that sign always there? Those cables seem more, I don’t know, present than before. I didn’t realize how well the paint of the buildings all match together until now. Hey, there’s squirrels running around on top of the buildings!

    Turned to the side as a courier ran past me, move in a half-circle around an elderly couple holding hands and smiling at each other. Hurriedly skip past the kids playing Ninja with cardboard shuriken. Walk up to the Academy gates.

    You know, the Academy itself is actually a really pretty building to look at. I like the way the trees seem to compliment the curves and corners of the building to almost make it look like it’s a part of the forest.

    …having a new perspective really changes everything. I’m surprised.

    I hopped over the gates and headed for the door, slipping in as a Chunin Instructor and a student, who looked like a normal twelve-year old instead of those bizarrely under-developed - actually, wait a second.

    Does chakra accelerate the growth of a person?

    Starting to think it might.

    I mean, Kakashi was fighting at age six, the civilian kids looked three to four years younger than they actually were, the marrying age in a hidden village is fourteen, twelve if you have a bloodline, as opposed to the rest of the Land of Fire’s sixteen.

    …wait…

    Hold on, at my current rate of growth, my current height of five foot two and my maximum height of five foot eleven, the muscle mass I’ve gained and…wait. That can’t be right. Can it?

    By my calculations, I’m going to have an adult body and mind when I’m fifteen. Not a fully mature one, like just past cusp of adulthood.

    But if that’s true, why did people keep calling me a child beside my apparent immaturity – I just answered my own question.



    I am so dumb.

    Well, okay then!

    I’m almost an adult, so all that hand-wringing and stuff about age was significantly less important than I thought it was. Good to know! Just one more growth spurt that’ll hit when I’m fourteen and I’ll hit adulthood.

    …that feels weird.

    I mean, technically, Genin are adults already by law, so…it makes sense. Plus, it kind of explains a lot of the eccentricity as development wonks from the accelerated aging.

    Oh, I’m almost to the Hokage’s office. Time to decloak.

    The Hokage’s secretary was the same woman from all those months ago, likely trained ANBU, capable of killing almost anyone in the elemental nations. I walked up to her. “Hi, I’d like to see the Hokage.”

    “The Hokage is in a meeting right now with the Third, I’m afraid-” She froze, slowly looking up from her paperwork. Her skin started turning paler than a snowflake and her hands started trembling. “Sh-Shimoda-sama.”

    Again, with the Sama. That’s never going to stop being weird.

    Wait, she shouldn’t be that scared, unless…oh, wait. I recognize her chakra signature. She’s one of the Anbu I kicked around during my temper tantrum. That’s a shame.

    “Hi. I’m just here to see the Hokage and Third.” I tried to calm her down with a smile. “Not going to do anything violent this time, promise.”

    “But the Hokage is in an important meeting,” She said, trying to school her panic and failing, but just barely. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to wait.”

    “He’ll make time for the guy who brought him back,” I answered, firmly but still smiling. “Besides, I need to speak to the Old Man anyway. So I’ll head on up, you can tell them you tried to stop me.”

    “I can’t let you through,” The Secretary found her nerve and grabbed my arm to stop me.

    My smile turned to a small frown and I slowly turned to look at her. “As much as I like fighting, I would rather we not do anything violent on my first day back. It would set a poor first impression. So, if you could let me go? Unless you are dead set on trying to stop me.”

    I looked into her eyes that entire sentence, and it worked. She let go and I was free to walk up the stairs.

    The door to the Hokage’s office was just sitting here at the top, and I knocked softly on the door.

    “Come in!” Minato’s voice was friendly.

    I turned the knob.

    There Minato was, sitting down at his desk. Directly across from him was Hiruzen, who looked odd in his black Ninja armor. Frailer, almost. His helmet was on the desk. Minato didn’t recognize me in my new clothes, but he came around in a few moments. Hiruzen, however, recognized me immediately and his whole body got tense.

    I walked forward. “Minato, good to see that you’re settling in okay.”

    “Good to see you again, Shimoda-sama,” Minato said.

    The only reason them calling me Sama makes sense is because I brought them back.

    I looked right into Hiruzen’s eyes, and he was starting to panic. So, let’s set him at ease. “I made some bad calls.”

    That stopped him short. “What?”

    “I made some bad calls,” I repeated, taking a breath. “I should have given you a chance to come clean in front of the village about Orochimaru and the Uchiha massacre. I should have tried to talk with you to find a compromise about when to tell Naruto about his parentage and his tenant. I should not have lost my temper when you pointed out how immature I was being about the whole thing. I made some bad calls. And I apologize.”

    Hiruzen was dumbstruck, which made me have to fight a smile from growing across my face.

    Eventually, he found his voice. “I’ve made more than my share of mistakes as well, particularly with you. And I am sorry. But if we can, I’d like to put the past behind us.”

    “I can do that,” I replied.

    Normally, I’d be screaming at Minato for miscarriage of justice. But right now, I recognize that change has to happen slowly and that Hiruzen was at least partially senile. Besides, I am an advocate for due process, and due process let Hiruzen off with a warning. Besides, he did seek out and kill Danzo on his own, which earns more than a few redemption points in my book.

    Now, I just got to work on fixing the damage of his mistakes.

    “So, does this mean that you’re coming back to Konoha?” Minato asked cautiously.

    “Yeah, just as long as I don’t have to do missions,” I replied with a shrug. “However, I feel about them aside, they’d just be a boring chore now. I’ll find other ways to pay my taxes.”

    “Well, the mission desk will always be here if you need a distraction from whatever you’re doing with your daily life,” Minato pointed out.

    “Eh, we’ll see,” I said with a wishy-washy motion. “Right now, I just need to figure out my living situation, then I want to see Anko.”

    “Why Anko?” Hiruzen asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “I miss my partner,” I admitted with a look out the window. “Working with her was some of the best fun I’ve had in years, just didn’t realize it until now.”

    “Well, we can give her some paid vacation days,” Minato offered. “Give the two of you some time to catch up.”

    “You’d do that?” I asked with surprise.

    “Absolutely,” Minato nodded. “Naruto’s on a mission or I’d have you got talk to him first.”

    He got sent to the Land of Water. I know it. I am not bringing up the bridge because if it’s the bridge, that could make things complicated. Best to just leave it as ambiguous and they can tell me afterwards so I can go rebuild it quick.

    …actually, if Gombei’s CEO, and if he’s not too cross with me killing his Dad, I might be able to work with the guy. I wonder what he’d think of being able to ship things by air?

    “Just leave it as a surprise, if you don’t mind,” I told Minato. “Now I just need to fix my living situation.”

    “Well-” Minato began, but was cut off when the door flew open.

    “Shimoda-sama!” I turned and there was Kushina looking desperate as she ran forward. Then she bowed straight into a kowtow at my feet. “Shimoda-sama, please. I need your help! I need you to bring back…”

    “Well, first I need you to stand,” I interrupted with a smirk. “I’m flattered, but I really prefer talking with people when they’re standing.”

    “Oh,” Kushina slowly stood up. “Listen, I need you to bring back my best friend. Please. Her name was Uchiha Mikoto and she had a husband; Fugaku.”

    “Wait, I can bring back the Uchiha, can’t I?” I said with a glance upward and a smile. “I should’ve thought of that sooner. I don’t think we should do it in the Hokage’s office, though.”

    “Let’s go to the Uchiha compound,” Minato suggested, standing up with a folder in his hand. “I have a directory of the victims right here.”

    “I would like to see this as well,” Hiruzen said, getting to his feet. “Please. The Massacre…one of my greatest regrets.”

    “I’ve got a Flying Thunder God seal over there,” I said, connecting everyone via chakra-string. “So, we’re teleporting. I’d like to keep my return on the down low for right now, if that’s alright with everyone?”

    Nods from everyone.

    The next moment, we were standing in the Uchiha compound. Well, in the closest thing to a town square that it had. The fountain had water running through it, but the windows and homes were empty.

    Kushina and Minato looked uncomfortable. Not too long ago, to them, was this compound filled with people. Filled with friends. Now there is no one left.

    The place almost looked like a ghost town. Well maintained, I guess, just cobwebs and bare of all life.

    “Alright, what was her name?” I asked.

    “Uchiha Mikoto,” Kushina repeated. “Please…if you can, and if she says yes.”

    “You got it,” I said.

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    Ping.

    That’s a yes.

    “Here she comes,” I said, the flash of white light signaling her soul returning to the land of the living and joining with a new body.

    Uchiha Mikoto was a beautiful woman. Black hair, dark eyes, perfect skin, good body. Not going to lie, was impressed. She came back to us in the usual white kimono that I gave everyone and gasped her first breath of air.

    “Wait, what happened? Where’s Fugaku? Itachi? I…” Her eyes locked right onto Kushina and her eyes almost looked like they were going to pop out of their sockets. “Kushina?”

    “Mikoto, it’s me,” Kushina said, a hand on her chest. She pulled Minato along with her. “And my husband. We’re back…and so are you.”

    “Kai!” Mikoto called, the rush of chakra needed to dispel the Genjutsu coming out as her Sharingan activated. But she froze as it was revealed to her that no, this was not a Genjutsu and yes, Kushina was still alive. “…Kushina. Hokage-sama…how?”

    “Shimoda-sama brought us back,” Kushina said, gesturing to me.

    “Shimoda Daisuke, nice to meet you,” I greeted with a smile and a friendly wave.

    “But, but,” Mikoto shook her head in bewilderment. “Itachi was ordered to…”

    “What Itachi was ordered to do was not sanctioned by me,” Hiruzen said harshly. “The traitor who gave Itachi his illegal order has been dealt with.”

    “Oh,” Mikoto seemed taken aback. “But there was a coup…”

    “And those who were trying to put down Konoha’s leadership have been dealt with,” Hiruzen pointed out bluntly. “We have the opportunity to restore the innocent to life and we are using it.”

    “Consider the Uchiha pardoned overall,” Minato said brightly. “After today, I’ll be removing most of the sanctions that were placed on your clan following the Kyuubi attack.”

    “Th-thank you, Hokage-sama,” Mikoto gave him a very respectful kowtow. “You have my gratitude.”

    …lots of kowtows going around, lately.

    “Your husband’s name was Fugaku?” I asked.

    “Yes!” Mikoto sat up to nod vigorously. “Please, if you can.”

    “I only have one rule when it comes to this,” I said, starting the technique. “If they say no, they aren’t coming back.”

    Resurrection Technique: A Simple Choice.

    Ping.

    No.

    “He said no,” I said, releasing the technique. “Sorry.”

    “He said no,” Mikoto repeated. Tears started to fall down her cheeks. “He said no. Try again.”

    I shrugged. “Okay.”



    “Still no.”

    “Fugaku!” Mikoto shouted in anger. “For the sake of our children, please come back!”



    My third attempt had something unusual happen.

    A purple hand reached through the portal and grabbed me and out came the head of the Shinigami. “Shimoda. What are you doing?”

    “Pestering a soul to make absolutely sure he doesn’t want to come back,” I replied flatly.

    “Why?” Shinigami asked with a glare, turning to look at the assorted congregation. Minato had turned white as a ghost. Kushina couldn’t stop shaking. Hiruzen had stopped breathing and Mikoto had frozen to the spot. “Oh, I see. I’m sorry, Uchiha-chan, but your husband’s word is final.”

    With that, he disappeared back into the portal.

    “New rule, they only get one chance,” I said with a finger up in the air. “I’m sorry, Uchiha-san.”

    With the Shinigami’s departure, everyone else went back to normal. Mikoto was sobbing uncontrollably into Kushina’s embrace. “P-please tell me that Itachi at least took care of Sasuke. Please tell me they’re okay.”

    “They’re alive,” I said trying to be matter-of-fact, but sympathetic. “But…it’s a story for later. Alright?”

    “Do I even want to know?” Mikoto asked hollowly.

    “No,” I shook my head. “Now, let’s go through the rest of the clan, shall we?”

    Minato handed me the list of names and I got started.

    “Uchiha…”

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    Uchiha Izumi said yes.

    Izumi gasped for breath, shaking the brown hair off from around her shoulders. She was breathing heavily, looking around. “Wait, where’s…where’s Itachi?”

    “He’s not here,” Mikoto, who had calmed down but whose eyes were still red and puffy. “He…we have been dead, Izumi.”

    “We were,” Izumi shook her head, grabbing it to hold onto herself. “I remember. Itachi…we had a life together…we…then it was a Genjutsu.”

    Yikes. Talk about sweeping the rug out from under someone.

    “How did I come back?” Izumi asked.

    “Shimoda-sama has been trying to bring back the clan,” Mikoto sniffed, pointing to me. “So far, you are the first to say yes. Aside from me.”

    “Nice to meet you,” I said with a smile.

    “Thank you,” Izumi went into a kowtow. “Thank you so much for bringing me back. Now Itachi and I…we can have our life together for real.”

    Would not bet on that, but I’ve seen weirder happen.

    “Mind heading over there, now?” I asked, gesturing to the crowd. “I got a lot of names to go through still.”

    “Of course, Shimoda-sama,” She said, standing and moving quickly.

    “Alright. Uchiha…”

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    “Uchiha Shisui?”

    Ping.

    Yes.

    Bam, here he was. Lord of Body-Flicker, the legend himself, stood in front of me in a white Kimono. He gasped for air and looked around.

    “Wait, I can see?” He asked in confusion, his Sharingan activating…then it turning into the Mangekyo, something I had actually almost forgot existed. Huh. “Who, how…wait. Hokage-sama?”

    He was looking directly at Minato.

    “Hello, Uchiha-san,” Minato said with a wave. “There is very little time to explain, but suffice it to say for now that we’ve gained the opportunity to reverse death, and so we’re using it to correct some wrongs.”

    “But,” Shisui shook his head. “Hokage-sama, there was a coup.”

    “But not everyone in the clan was involved in it,” Minato replied kindly. “Besides, it appears that many of your clansmen do not wish to return. You may consider the Uchiha clan pardoned.”

    “Yes, Hokage-sama,” Shisui said with a deep bow. “Now if I may ask, how are you bringing us back?”

    “Shimoda-sama has graciously allowed to let us use his talents for this purpose,” Minato replied, pointing to me.

    “Shimoda Daisuke, nice to meet you,” I said with a smile. “Now if you’d mind? I’ve still got a lot of people to go through.”

    “I understand,” Shisui said, moving to get with the rest of the group.

    “Alright,” I rolled my shoulders out of habit to relief stiffness that wasn’t there. “Uchiha…”

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    Man, this sucks.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.

    No.



    By the time we had gone through all of the names of the Uchiha, the families that Itachi sent to the grave, the children whose lives he had unmercifully cut short, the men, women and children that were butchered, we only had ten takers.

    Ten.

    I mean, the world had some Uchiha running around that weren’t psychotic idiots. Like Tobi. Or Itachi.

    “Well, everyone, allow me to formally welcome you back to the world of the living,” Minato spread his arms wide. “Thank you, all of you, for leaving the paradise of the Pure World to return to us. Tomorrow, I will be lifting the sanctions placed on your clan. Tonight, I want you all to rest, try to relax and know that the village stands with you.”

    “Alright, if that’s it,” I said, looking up at the sky. The sunlight was dimming across the mountains in the distance. “I need to figure out my living situation.”

    “Shimoda-sama,” Mikoto said, bowing low. “If you need a place to stay, allow me to speak for all Uchiha when we say that you are welcome to stay with us. We would be honored to have you.”

    “I appreciate the offer,” I replied with a grateful smile. I was touched, really. “But I’m not sure that’ll be necessary.”

    “Shimoda,” Hiruzen began. “I recall provisioning some land to construct a clan-compound for you once you decided to settle down for a family. I believe it’s still in your name, we just haven’t built anything on it yet. If that’s not a concern for you…”

    “I can have something built in minutes,” I said with a grin. “Just show me where the land is.”

    “Are you sure you aren’t tired?” Mikoto asked. “You can start building tomorrow.”

    “Pfft.” I scoffed, my grin just getting wider. “Sleep is for the weak.”

    “He doesn’t need to sleep,” Hiruzen told them matter-of-factly. “He just wants somewhere to live just because.”

    “I could go full-on transient and I’d be nothing short of completely fine,” I added.

    “A-are you sure?” Mikoto looked taken aback yet again.

    “Completely,” I said, turning to give her a reassuring look. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. But thank you for the offer.”

    “The grounds provisioned for you are fairly close by,” Minato said, drawing out a map of Konoha. “Some old buildings recently knocked down and cleared because they weren’t being used.”

    “Huh, I’m next door neighbors with the Uchiha,” I said, looking at it with a curious expression. “I didn’t take any space from them, did I?”

    “We don’t mind!” One of the Uchiha called.

    “But I mind!” I argued back, more than a little concerned. Me bringing them back was a gift, I didn’t need repayment.

    “No, no,” Minato reassured. “We didn’t knock anything out of the Uchiha compound out of respect. You think you can find your way?”

    I took the map. “Easy. See you all tomorrow!”

    Then I turned invisible and flew upward. I saw the spot of Konoha that was cleared out, it being right where the map said it was, and it was pretty big. So, I flew over and with Solid Release, constructed my…hovel. Really, that’s what it was. Just a small, single bedroom house to get built up and expanded on at a later date.

    For now, I just needed a few things. A window, a fireplace, a chimney, a desk and a bed.

    I jumped on the bed with a smile.

    You know, I think it’s good to be back. Be a lot easier to figure out how to get the Land of Fire to the future working with Konoha, not against her.

    Tomorrow, though? I’m going to see Anko.

    Quest Completed: The Voyage Home.

    Completed: (Optional: Stay in the Elemental Nations.)

    You know, you didn’t really give me much choice, game.

    ---

    Author’s Note: I told a lot of people that Daisuke wasn’t going back to Konoha. Because I didn’t think that he would go back. Because I didn’t want him to go back. But, thanks to his newfound acceptance of his situation…he went back and brought the Uchiha with him.

    Next chapter is the start this fic’s rendition of the Wave arc. I hope you like it. For those of you concerned that Daisuke isn’t being challenged, remember: Jashin is a thing.

    Shout out goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight and Apperatus. Thank you for all for your continued support.

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  12. Threadmarks: Chapter 12: Consequences
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

    Joined:
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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---


    Jashin looked down on his new pet with bemusement.

    The Kaiju, as it was called, was prostrated before the dark god’s feet. A truly humorous display, if Jashin were honest with himself. This great beast, which dwarfed mountains and had to be locked in a cage that flew through the stars, now knelt before something that was barely even a spec of dust in its eyes.

    If nothing else, Jashin admired its enthusiasm. “You do well to kneel, beast.”

    Jashin could sense it. Intense gratitude for being freed from the storage scroll. A hole in its life where it’s creator once stood, now Jashin would fill. But on top of it all, standing like a beacon against darkness and decay was a single, overriding purpose; the death of one, single person.

    “Oh, you are just a lonely little dog, aren’t you?” Jashin asked with condescending sympathy, as if speaking to a dog. “Your creator went on vacation and left you to fend all for yourself, didn’t he?”

    The Kaiju missed its creator horribly, wanting nothing more than to return to his side like a good little pet.

    “Oh,” Jashin shook his head pitifully, stretching forth his hand to scratch the Kaiju’s head and give it comfort. “Don’t worry, beast. Jashin is here now, and I will not abandon you.”

    Gratitude. Loyalty to the dark god for saving it. Connection through chakra growing stronger than steel. The Kaiju would be his forever.

    “Now tell me, great Kaiju, what is it that you want?” Jashin asked rhetorically. “What is the thing you desire most in the world?”

    Hostility. Homicidal bloodlust that Jashin had only ever felt within himself before came to the Kaiju’s mind. A desire to destroy the world and bring its walls crashing down on top of the one who put it in captivity. It wanted to crush Shimoda Daisuke beneath its hooves, to squish his pitiful body in his fist and throw it into the sea. It would tear the godling apart a thousand times for daring to lock it in the abyss.

    It wasn’t often that you met a being with the sole purpose of destroying one’s own enemy. Jashin was grinning from ear to ear. “You wish for the death of the godling, yes?”

    It nodded, sending great gusts of wind with every motion of his head.

    “Fear not, beast,” Jashin began, clacking the end of his scythe against the floor. The curved, red blade gleamed in the light of the Kaiju’s eyes. “A god can be killed. You even have the tools required. But you cannot simply crush him beneath your hooves, no. He is too powerful for that to work.”

    The Kaiju looked up at Jashin, its expression turned to one of sadness and grief. It wanted nothing more than that exact goal, the thing for which it was created.

    “Fighting a god is not like any other battle,” Jashin explained, his red eyes glowing as it took in the mighty form of the beast before him. “It is a game of wits. It is a puzzle.”

    Confusion. It did not understand wits, or what a puzzle was. It was a warrior. A gladiator. A force of nature. Nations were to tremble at its arrival and Daisuke was to charge at it with unconquerable zeal before he became overwhelmed, too late realizing his folly.

    “You do not understand.” Jashin shook his head in bemusement. “Do not worry. I will show you how. I will tell you when.”

    Though his connection, he begun to share knowledge and ideas to educate his newest disciple.

    “I will teach you.”

    ---

    “Alright, we’re here!” Naruto as he landed at the end of the bridge. “Wow, this thing’s huge!”

    “It’s amazing!” Sakura added with a bright smile, looking over the bridge with her hand over her eyes. “I can’t even see the end of it!”

    Given that they didn’t need to escort anything like supplies or civilians, they were allowed to go at a full shinobi’s pace and made it to the bridge at late afternoon. Careful examination of their route meant that they had been well prepared for any ambush’s laid out on their way; though there weren’t any.

    “It does connect two continents together,” Nichiren stated, squinting to look at the bridge with a small frown. “We need to be careful when we try to destroy it. As careless as he is, Daisuke doesn’t skimp on things like defenses.”

    “Remember that time he made a seal that neutralized poison on contact?” Hisako asked with a wry smile. “Just because someone suggested that poison might be a problem.”

    “Yeah, and he offered to give it to the rest of us,” Nichiren replied. “I think the Hokage was right about it, though; it would’ve sapped our chakra reserves too quickly.”

    “Before we move ahead with our mission, we need to come up with a plan,” Kakashi stated. He gestured for the Genin and Chunin to follow him as he dashed into the foliage of the nearby forest.

    Everyone else followed him and when Kakashi sat, so did they. With everyone in a circle, Kakashi unfolded a blueprint of the bridge he was given. “Our mission is simple; the complete destruction of this bridge. Can anyone tell me what else we’re supposed to do?”

    They all looked at each other.

    “I don’t know.” Naruto shook his head.

    “Are we supposed to find out why Daisuke built the bridge?” Nichiren asked, adjusting his glasses.

    “That’s correct, Nichiren-kun,” Kakashi replied with a happy eye-smile. “We need to find out why Daisuke decided to finish a bridge between Fire and Water. Is he planning something? What does he stand to gain by the bridge’s completion and by extension, the destruction of Gato Company?”

    “The company was involved in shady activities,” Naruto replied with a shrug. “It’s kind of obvious why Daisuke went after them, if you ask me.”

    “To the extent that he did?” Sakura asked, scrunching her nose like she caught wind of something smelly. “This doesn’t seem like something he’d normally do. Didn’t he stop killing people after his issues were fixed?”

    “It’d have to have been something big to get him to start killing again.” Hisako was looking pensively through the trees around them, lost in thought.

    “Shouldn’t we also be trying to scout for defenses before we try destroying the bridge?” Sasuke interjected, looking at the bridge with his Sharingan active.

    “That’s right, Sasuke-kun,” Kakashi replied, nodding with approval. “Are you picking up anything?”

    “Beyond the residue of his chakra, nothing.” Sasuke shook his head. “But could either be just residue, or that there’s not an inch of that bridge that’s not protected somehow.”

    “Daisuke could have anything set up over there,” Nichiren pointed out. “So, what do we do first, fill the mission then ask questions? Or do we head into the Land of Water and find out what we need before we destroy the bridge?”

    “Well, what’s one of the most important aspects of being a Shinobi?” Kakashi asked.

    “To look underneath the underneath,” Nichiren answered. “We’re heading into the Land of Water.”

    “Exactly,” Kakashi nodded. “We need to know if Daisuke circumvented some threat to Konoha with this bridge’s construction, or find some hint to where he might be hiding. And, if there’s not a problem, it’ll be a good learning experience for you.”

    “Can’t we just blow it up and then ask him when he gets here?” Hisako asked airily as she stood up.

    “Hisako-senpai!” Naruto looked shocked. “I want him back right now as much as you do, but we don’t want him mad at us right from the get-go!”

    “Right, right,” Hisako nodded. “That’s a good point, sorry.”

    “We’ll use the bridge to cross,” Kakashi said, gesturing for everyone to stand up. “It’ll give us a good opportunity to scout for defenses. When we get to the other side, there’s a Gato Company office we can use as a base of operations. We’ll tell them that the bridge has advanced protections that we can circumvent with time, even if there are no such defenses. Do you understand?”

    Each Shinobi nodded in assent and comprehension.

    “Alright, let’s move.”

    They all broke out into a sprint across the bridge. Each of them could feel the remnant of Daisuke’s powerful chakra lingering over the bridge like a strong mist. Nichiren’s hair started to stand up on end. Kakashi unveiled his Sharingan and started scanning carefully for any seals of jutsu in place. Hisako’s rapidly switched from looking from one side to another.

    Naruto got an idea. “Mass Shadow-Clone Jutsu!”

    Suddenly, the group was surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke, then an army of Naruto’s.

    “Naruto, what are you doing?” Kakashi asked, sounding a little alarmed.

    “I figured the clones could check the bridge for seals, since that’s how Daisuke makes protections,” Naruto answered.

    “Okay. Do it,” Kakashi nodded. “Ask me next time, though. You might’ve triggered one of his defensive measures by using Jutsu.”

    “Sorry, Sensei!” Naruto apologized sheepishly. Then he turned to his clones. “You heard him! Move it! Check this bridge top to bottom!”

    ---

    Down below the bridge, looking up at it was Rookie. He was maintaining watch over the bridge to let the rest of his team know if they’d need to start initiating defensive maneuvers. When an army of orange track-suited Ninja hopped over either side of the bridge and started scouting out every inch, he gasped, and dove under the water.

    The penguin’s base-camp was situated in a small cave they dug out of the shore-line with an entrance only big enough for one penguin to slide in at a time. Rookie slipped inside without a problem and stood with a salute. “Captain, sir!”

    The other three penguins were doing things like counting supply stores, tuning equipment or going over possible patrol routes. At Rookie’s arrival, they all snapped to look at him.

    “Yes, what is it Rookie?” Shizo asked quickly.

    “The target’s entered the area of operations!” Rookie announced. “Blonde, orange jumpsuit and a Ninja! He arrived with two teams of Ninja and they’re crossing the bridge!”

    “Good work, Rookie!” Shizo congratulated. “Men! Begin tracking and reconnaissance efforts. Wait for my signal to engage, we don’t want to damage the bridge. Remember, our mission is to stab that Orange Ninja with Shimoda’s chakra-container.”

    “What about the other Ninja?” Masato asked. “They are going to be a problem.”

    “Shimoda didn’t say anything about other Ninja,” Shizo replied. “Lethal force is authorized.”

    “Understood, Captain!” Masato saluted.

    “Move out!”

    ---

    One by one, Naruto’s clones popped themselves and Naruto got their memories. No seals as far as they could see. It looked as if Daisuke had just finished the bridge and left it standing, which wasn’t really like him. If Daisuke committed to a big project, he didn’t let things like the possibility of its destruction remain standing.

    So, either Daisuke was okay with its destruction or Daisuke didn’t consider this a big project.

    If something like this isn’t a big project in Daisuke’s mind, Naruto thought uneasily, looking over the side across the ocean horizon. Then I’ve got a lot longer to go before I can even touch Daisuke, let alone fight him. I can’t give up, though! I won’t. I’ve got to bring him back!

    Before too long, they reached the end of the bridge, coming onto solid land again.

    “Naruto, did you find any seals?” Kakashi asked.

    “No, Sensei.” Naruto shook his head. “It’s like he didn’t actually care all that much about if the bridge gets destroyed or not, but that’s not like him. He makes sure long-term projects get the protection they need.”

    “Naruto, it only took him, what, a day to finish the bridge?” Nichiren asked sardonically. “This wasn’t a long-term project.”

    “That’s scary,” Sakura replied with a frown.

    “Well, then Daisuke probably won’t be too mad when we blow it up,” Kakashi replied with a reassuring eye-smile. “Back to the mission, we’ll cut around the shore until we reach this village. We’ll be hitting two birds with one stone because not only is there the Gato Company office, the man who was supposed to build the bridge, Tazuna, lives there as well.”

    “Will our hitai-ate’s be a problem?” Hisako asked, her eyes narrowing. “This is a foreign nation.”

    “Normally, yes they would be,” Kakashi replied. “But Kirigakure has been thrown into complete disarray thanks to a civil war. We were also hired by Gato Company and have the appropriate passports. So as long as we don’t draw too much attention to ourselves, we’ll be fine.”

    “Okay good.” Hisako let out a sigh of relief.

    ---

    “They’ve left the bridge and are running around the shore,” Captain Shizo said, collapsing his spy-glass and tossing it back to Riku. “They’re probably heading to the fishing village close by.”

    “Shall we start shelling them?” Masato asked.

    “Yes, but use freezer rounds only,” Captain Shizo replied. “We don’t want to kill the target with shrapnel.”

    “Yes, Captain.” Masato saluted.

    “Fire at will, men!”

    ---

    Sasuke felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. His gut, his instincts were screaming at him that danger was coming. He started looking around rapidly.

    “Are you okay, Duck Butt?” Naruto asked with a raised eyebrow.

    Heedless of Naruto’s well-meaning jab, Sasuke continued looking around and when he looked into the sky, he saw what had set him off. “Incoming!”

    Everyone else looked up and saw what had Sasuke up in a bunch. Dozens of frozen balls of ice were on a collision course with them. The group scattered just in time to get away from the hail of ice, only for the balls to explode when they hit the shore, coating the sand in ice.

    Sasuke felt his foot get encased in ice, the cold forcing the breath out of his lungs. Sakura screamed as her arm had similarly been paralyzed. Naruto brought both of his fists down on his leg, breaking the ice that had wrapped around it.

    “Hisako, Nichiren! Get Sasuke and Sakura to safety! Naruto, use clones and set up decoys,” Kakashi quickly ordered. “I’ll set up some cover.”

    An army of henge’d Naruto clones appeared, each looking like copies of the other Ninja running around and they scattered in groups. Hisako picked up Sasuke and threw him over her shoulder while Nichiren did the same for Sakura, and they dove for the trees.

    Kakashi’s hands flew through the needed signs. “Water Release: Cloud Cover jutsu!”

    Immediately, the shore was obscured by the thickest fog any of them ever saw. They could barely see a few feet in front of their faces but it cleared as they moved away from the shore.

    As they saw, they were able to regroup. Sakura watched with fascination as groups of Naruto clones started popping themselves as their distraction was no-longer needed. Sasuke punched at the ice that wrapped his foot up until it shattered.

    “Confirmed enemy Ninja presence,” Hisako stated briskly, bringing the ring of her kunai down on Sakura’s arm, shattering the ice. “Daisuke’s found allies in Hidden Mist.”

    “Are you sure that’s what it is?” Nichiren asked with a frown. “I feel like we’re forgetting something.”

    “Maybe Daisuke left a few clones behind?” Naruto suggested with a hopeful look. “If we can pop them, they’ll send a message to him to come talk to us!”

    “I don’t think that’s it,” Nichiren shook his head.

    “We’ll have to piece that together later,” Kakashi said, landing next to the group. “Good work, everyone. We need to take cover in the village while we plan our next move.”

    ---

    “We lost sight of them,” Shizo said with dismay, looking at the thick fog-bank that had suddenly erupted over the shore and disrupted their sightlines. “They’re probably half-way to the village by now.”

    “Shall we take position up on the ledges to begin shelling the town?” Masato asked with narrowed eyes.

    “Negative, no reason to endanger non-combatants,” Shizo replied. “You’ve got the maps of the town, Riku?”

    Riku opened his beak and produced the requested map without a sound.

    “Okay. We’ll perform reconnaissance,” Shizo began. “If we can find out where they’re going within the village, we can find out who hired them and start to lay a trap. Stick to the roofs and water ways cutting around the village. Do not let them see you.”

    “Yes Captain,” Rookie acknowledged with a salute.

    “We’re all going together on this,” Captain Shizo continued, rolling the map up and feeding it to Riku. “Diamond formation. Move out.”

    ---

    The village itself looked like it had seen better days. The buildings of the square looked dilapidated and old. The wood looked chipped and some of them looked rotten.

    But the people?

    The people were happy. Their faces were glowing with hope as they talked about getting supplies to fix their homes up, or getting rope for fishing nets. In spite of their surroundings, they were prospering.

    Naruto found their good mood to be infectious, and soon was grinning from ear to ear, holding his head in his hands as he looked around at the town. This good mood, however, was not to last, as they turned a street corner and came to the Gato Company office.

    In front of this office was a large crowd of people, some holding signs up, but most were holding swords and clubs. They were shouting angrily, trying to bust down the front door in a rage. “Justice for Kaiza!” Some where shouting. Still others were yelling, “Gato’s rats aren’t welcome!”

    “So, my cute little Genin,” Kakashi turned to them with an eye smile. “I’m going to demonstrate a Jutsu called ‘Killing Intent’. Watch and learn.”

    Kakashi took a few steps to get somewhat close to the mob and then the air was filled with his chakra.

    The mob in front of him froze. People slowly turned to look at him, their eyes trying to pop out of their sockets. Their skin had gone chalk-white and they broke out into a cold sweat. The chanting had stopped, bringing an eerie silence to the street.

    Kakashi just held them hostage with their own fear for a few minutes, his visible eye fixing them with a cold glare. Finally, he said, “Run. Now.”

    People in the mob started doing exactly what they were told. Some of them were screaming at the top of their lungs, others couldn’t work their vocal cords as they scrambled to get as far away as they possibly could from the masked Shinobi.

    “Wow, Sensei,” Naruto said, looking awestruck. “What was that?”

    “Killing Intent,” Kakashi said, eye-smiling again and placing a hand on Naruto’s shoulder. “Where you fill the air with your chakra with the intent to murder them. It only really works on people a lot weaker than you, but it’s great for stopping civilians from attacking your clients.”

    “Will you teach us that, someday?” Sasuke asked, also in awe.

    “Of course,” Kakashi replied. “You could even ask Hisako and Nichiren for pointers.”

    “Eh, better to ask Hisako.” Nichiren pointed to his teammate. “I’m really not good at it.”

    “So how do you do it, Hisako-senpai?” Sasuke asked, thinking of all the times he could’ve dispersed his annoying fangirls with a quick application of that exact technique.

    “Ah, ah, ah. Later,” Kakashi brought everyone’s focus back on him. “Let’s see if anyone is home in the office.”

    They walked up to the door. Kakashi tried the handle, but it was still locked. “Hisako, if you could get the lock?”

    “Yes, Sensei,” Hisako replied with a bow, withdrawing her lockpicks from inside her jacket.

    After a few moments, she pulled the door open and they Ninja stepped inside. They came to a reception area, with a desk in front of them, a water fountain on the right wall between the male and female restrooms. Behind the desk was a door labeled ‘employees only’.

    “Lock it behind us,” Kakashi ordered. “We don’t want anyone with ideas coming in behind us to cause trouble.”

    “Done,” Nichiren said, locking the door.

    Naruto’s ears perked up. “Sensei, I think there’s someone behind the desk there.”

    Kakashi looked at the desk, then slowly walked toward it, his footsteps echoing through the lobby. When he came to the desk, a woman in a business suit who had been cowering behind the desk shot up on her knees with her hands up. “Don’t hurt me! Please! I just work here!”

    “Relax, relax,” Kakashi said calmingly, gesturing her to settle down with his hand. “We’re shinobi from hidden leaf, hired by Gato Company. We’re here to help.”

    The woman took a look at Kakashi and let out a massive sigh of relief. She picked up a pair of round glasses from the ground and placed them over her eyes. “You chased off the mob?”

    “You bet he did!” Naruto called from behind his sensei with a grin. “It was amazing, he just stepped up to them and they all peed their pants! They couldn’t get away fast enough!”

    “Oh, thank you,” She said, slowly standing up. “Thank you, thank you, Shinobi-sama. I was going to quit today but the mob showed up before I could leave.”

    “Why were you going to quit?” Kakashi asked curiously.

    “Because of that mob,” She replied, pointing toward the door. “Ever since Gato died, the village has been getting ready to eviscerate this office and I’d like to leave now before they come back.”

    “Are you the only person in the building?” Kakashi asked.

    “No, my boss, Hasimoto, is up in his office,” She answered.

    “Alright, get out of here,” Kakashi said, pointing to the door with his thumb. “We’ll talk to him now.”

    “Thank you again.” She bowed very low before hurrying for the door, unlocking it and leaving, almost running.

    “Nichiren could you-?” Kakashi started.

    Nichiren relocked the door. “Done.”

    “Now let’s find this Hasimoto,” Kakashi said with an easy candor, prompting his students to follow him.

    They walked through the door labeled ‘Employees Only’ and came to a staircase with several offices down the hall. They walked up the stairs and came to another floor of offices. At the top, the finally found the office marked ‘Hasimoto Shoyo’ and, unsurprisingly, it was locked.

    “Sasuke, how are you with a lockpick?” Kakashi asked.

    “I’m decent,” Sasuke replied, stepping up to the door and starting to pick the lock with is picks. After a few moments, he pushed the door open.

    “That was fast,” Hisako complimented with an approving smile.

    The office was lavishly decorated, with plants, couches and tables. At the end of the office was a large desk, made with what looked like high quality wood. Sitting at that desk with a cup of sake in his hand was an overweight man with thinning black hair. He had a pencil-thin mustache and was wearing a dark grey business suit. He looked up at his visitors with a bleary cynicism reserved for a man who knew he was due for a visit from Shinigami.

    “So, you’re not the angry mob,” He said, pouring himself some more sake. “But they’ll be back. Who are you?”

    “Gombei, your CEO hired the Hidden Leaf village to come destroy the bridge,” Kakashi answered evenly. “There’s protections on it, so we’ll need to time to circumvent them. Days, if not a week and we need a base of operations.”

    Hasimoto hummed and drunk his sake. “Sure, why not. Make yourselves at home, if it means I can stave off death for a few more days, that means more sake.”

    He started laughing.

    “Good,” Kakashi’s eye narrowed. “Now, what’s with the mob?”

    “Oh, they’re mad about a lot of things,” Hasimoto answered, waving it off. “Things I never got involved with, personally. Drug smuggling. Human trafficking.”

    That got everyone’s attention.

    “That sounds like something that would get Daisuke’s attention,” Naruto muttered to the group.

    The rest just nodded in agreement.

    “But mostly, they’re just mad about Kaiza,” Hasimoto continued.

    “Whose Kaiza?” Naruto asked.

    “The man Gato personally executed for standing up to him,” Hasimoto replied with a hallow laugh. “Thought himself a village hero, wanted to do the right thing, you know the type. Gato had none of it, of course. Of course, now that Gato’s gone, the spineless villagers are wanting justice. Ha! Revenge, more like!”

    “There’s nothing wrong with wanting justice.” Sasuke folded his arms and squinted angrily.

    “Of course not,” Hasimoto shook his head. “But the gods already claiming their justice on this whole company. They just want to sooth their cowardly pride, since they wouldn’t do anything while Gato was alive and his enforcers were still on his payroll.”

    “Don’t you have some kind of security?” Nichiren asked, looking around.

    “Had,” Hasimoto pointed out, pouring out the last of his sake. “Had. While Gato was alive, we had an army of samurai at our beck and call. Well, budget ones. Cheap. Not those war gods in Iron. But after he died, they all went to find greener pastures. Or were killed alongside him.”

    “So why don’t you just, I don’t know,” Sakura began with a frown. “Quit?”

    Hasimoto stopped himself from drinking his sake to shake his head at the girl. “I’ve been working for this company for twenty-six years. I’m not leaving.”

    Then he took a gulp of sake. “Shinobi-sama, do you think you could do me a favor?”

    “That would depend on what it is,” Kakashi replied neutrally. “What did you want?”

    “I know Gombei-sama probably paid you top-ryo to destroy the bridge,” Hasimoto began, swirling what was left in his sake in the bowl. “But I want you to not destroy it. The villagers need that bridge and if it gets destroyed, they won’t bother with trying to break down the door; they’ll torch the office.”

    “Perhaps it would make you feel better if we escorted you home,” Kakashi offered diplomatically. “We can use the office while you’re resting at home.”

    “No, I live in the village,” Hasimoto shot that down with a glare. “At least here I have the durable walls of the office to protect me from the angry mobs. My home is much less safe.”

    “I see,” Kakashi answered.

    “You can find futons in the storage room on the first floor,” Hasimoto replied. “I’ll get you all keys so you can come and go as you please. Just think about my request, will you?”

    “We will consider it,” Kakashi replied. “Thank you for your hospitality.”

    ---

    “What was the name of that building?” Shizo asked with a raised eyebrow.

    They were floating close to the shore, out of sight of the village while they consulted the map they were holding just above the water.

    “Gato Company Corporate Office,” Masato recited. “I think they might be the employers.”

    Riku spit out a human skull made of ice and crushed it, while pointing up at the village.

    “You think they’ll be going after the bridge builder too?” Rookie asked, aghast. “That seems overly harsh, he didn’t even finish the bridge!”

    “Maybe not go after him to assassinate him,” Shizo suggested. “But they are definitely going to want to pump him for info, such as on the bridge’s structural weak points.”

    “The bridge’s defenses ran out of chakra days ago,” Rookie pointed out with a concerned frown. “They could just use explosive tags on the bridge to bring it down.”

    “Indeed, Rookie.” Shizo nodded. “Which is why we’ll need to keep a close eye on the Ninja for when they try to make their move. If they try to use explosive tags, we can disarm them…or we can relocate them.”

    “I suggest relocation be our strategy,” Masato requested with utmost seriousness.

    “And why is that, Masato?” Captain Shizo asked with an intrigued expression.

    “Because it could be hilarious.” Masato didn’t let up with his serious tone.

    A snapping tree-branch alerted them to someone that had been watching. Less than a second later, a small boy fell through the tall grass and onto the sand, his eyes closed in his wince of pain. Then those eyes opened and the boy gasped.

    It was at this moment that Shizo was happy for his signature technique; Calming Intent. Rather than fill the air with hostility and murder, Shizo helped the people around him cool off, relax, and enjoy life. No fear, no want…no worry. “Hi there! What’s your name?”

    “Uh…” The boy readjusted his blue-striped hat. “Inari?”

    “Nice to meet you, Inari,” Shizo said with a smile. “What’cha doing over here?”

    “I heard voices and…I got curious,” Inari replied, blinking repeatedly and often. “What are you guys?”
    “Why, we’re penguins!” Masato said, gesturing to himself.

    “Swimming, water-birds,” Rookie added with rapid nods.

    “Oh. Okay,” Inari shook his head in bewilderment. “That’s…cool?”

    “Thank you. Say, Inari, could you do us a favor,” Shizo said, still smiling. “We’re kind of around here in secret and we’d like to keep it that way. So, could you not mention seeing us?”

    “Uh, sure?” Inari replied.

    “Good. Good,” Shizo said, him and his squad slowly back up in to the deeper water. “Just remember, you heard some people talking and they left before you got here. Nothing weird or worth mentioning.”

    Shizo started waving his flippers around in a hocus-pocus pattern as he slowly sunk beneath the waves. “You didn’t see anything.

    Then he was back on top of the water. “Right?”

    “Y-yes, bird!” Inari said with a quick bow.

    Just like that, Shizo and the penguins were gone.

    Inari felt the odd calm that came over him disappear and he shook his head, rubbing his eyes. The birds were gone and Inari was having trouble believing that they ever existed. He looked to the left, then the right, and then he walked off.

    Off on another shore, the penguins surfaced.

    “That was close,” Shizo shook his head in relief.

    ---

    Author’s Notes: I’m really, really happy that I was able to have a chapter without Daisuke in it. Though that’s what they talked about for most of it, I think, so I almost don’t think it counts. Hopefully you guys enjoyed the chapter.

    Shout out goes out too Vladtheinhaler, welcome to the circle of patrons!

    Shout out also goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight and Apperatus. Thank you for your continued support!

    Have a cookie, all of you!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  13. Threadmarks: Chapter 13: Atom Bomb Baby
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---



    Quest Updated: Reasons to Live.

    Completed: Get a New Hobby (1/1).

    And with the final dango…there.

    I made a bouquet of dango-skewers. Feels kind of silly, but I want to give her something. It’d feel kind of weird just showing up at her place out of the blue and ask her out on a date without something in my hand. At least I think it would be. If I’m making a mistake, I’ll figure it out soon.

    Okay, last step before I head out to Anko’s place. Mindset.

    I am attracted to her, and that’s okay. I think her personality is great, I think her jokes are hilarious (if not a little racy at times), and last but certainly not least, I think she’s gorgeous. Just an amazing face, perfectly toned body…love those abs…

    Relax, horndog. Yes, she’s amazing and you’re okay with that. But you’re still only thirteen and she’s probably going to say no to an actual date unless she’s changed her opinion from ‘shame you’re underage’. Still going to try, though.

    So, let’s try to picture what her actually saying yes would look like.

    Sure! Yeah, lets go out, I know a great spot that serves breakfast not too far from here.

    Oh, you are way sexier than I remember…hm…

    I love you Daisuke.

    That’d be more than cool. But, let’s go ahead and picture her saying no. Just to keep my expectations level.

    Look, you’re really sweet but you’re just too young for me. Go ask Ino out, I’m sure she’d say yes.

    No, Daisuke. Look, you’re more like the hormonal younger brother I never had.

    Get away from me you perverted little creep!

    …still alive?

    Still alive.

    Okay.

    Accepted, rejected, doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I tried and I wanted to try. So, I will. Now, I did take Lady Killer, so…does that make trying to court a woman unethical since that automatically makes me pretty good with them?

    Well, it’s not like I have much of a choice. That perk is as much a part of me as Adamantium Skeleton. I picked it on a whim and I’m stuck with it now. That’s just a part of me and worrying about a part of me being unfair or unethical just wouldn’t be a good thing.

    The dango bouquet was just a bunch of sticks tied together with some white lace. I looked around my kitchen which was built off in its own room and led directly into the large dining room. Yeah, my house was not a hovel anymore, but a mansion. Master bedroom was on the second floor.

    Did I need anything else?

    Probably should lose the work clothes and put on my suit. Just need to clean up properly, in other words.

    The kitchen was loaded with confections…mostly entire plates of cookies all over the counter tops. I remember joking about having access to a dimension of infinite cookies before but now I’m almost wondering if I can’t just make one. There were a couple cakes here and there too. My baking fell squarely within the Survival skill, but honestly, I didn’t mind that. I wanted something easy and relaxing to occupy my time and baking does exactly that.

    I think the Dango surprised me the most with its ingredients. Rice flower and red bean paste, also called Anko Dango. Yeah. I wonder if that’s part of why it’s her favorite food? Heck, her family name is Mitarashi, which is a dango covered in syrup.

    Honestly, though? It’s funny and kind of awesome.

    With my bouquet in hand, I left the kitchen and came into the front room. A large room with large couches, mats, futon, everything you could possibly want to sit down and socialize with, especially if it’s a large group of people. On both sides of the room were stairs leading upwards.

    …might be a while before I invite a lot of people, though.

    On one of the walls, I had hung a full-length mirror partly as a decoration but mostly so I could check to see if I still looked good. Got my suit, the hair is fine, all the flower is gone, alright, I’m ready.

    Just let me take a breath.

    First girl in more than thirteen years I’m actually going to try making overtures to, and I’m expecting rejection. So, what am I worried about? I want to do it, so I’m going to do it. She should be home, getting ready to go out and go get breakfast if she doesn’t eat in. Perhaps a Tea Ceremony since she’s on vacation?

    Actually, I might ask her to host one for me. I don’t like tea, still, but if the relationship takes off, I think she’d really appreciate it, especially since she knows I don’t like tea. Wasn’t there a religious prohibition on it for me? Right, yeah. There was. Well, I mean…I won’t let myself get addicted to it and I can fix anything that might even slightly go wrong so I think it should be fine. Besides, do those rules still apply to me now that I’m not even in that world anymore?

    …you know, I think I’m tying myself in knots here. Just focus on the now and worry about religion some other day.

    Am I stressed?

    Yeah, anxious. No, no. I am excited. The butterflies in my stomach are a good thing. This is going to be great. I’m going to go out and do something I’ve wanted to do for months and I’m not going to care about that little thing called failure.

    With that, I teleported to Anko’s address.

    Alright, I’m in front of her door. Is she home?

    Let’s turn on ‘Chakra Sense’ to check. Uh, yeah, she’s home. Brushing her teeth, looks like, but I can’t tell for sure. Turn that off now.

    I raised my fist and knocked on her door, next to the door hinge so it traveled through her whole apartment even though I didn’t knock too hard.

    Take a breath. Let it go. No big deal if she says no, it happens. The important thing is that I’m trying.

    Charisma Check Success: 10/1.

    The doorknob turned and there was Anko. A few inches taller than me still, but that’s okay. She had her toothbrush still in her mouth, her expression one of mild irritation. An instant later she froze, her eyes widening with recognition as she looked over me, my new clothes and hair-style.

    I raised the bouquet up to her with a happy smile. “Dango?”

    She quietly screamed, her mouth closed because of the toothbrush and she ran forward, wrapping her arms around me in the tightest embrace I think I’ve ever felt. Then, she swept me up, carrying me into her apartment, bridal style. When we were inside the front room, she set me back down and gestured for me to wait just a second before dashing off to her bathroom to spit out the toothpaste in her mouth.

    …wow. She literally swept me off my feet.

    I think she might be feeling what I’m feeling.

    Then she came back, hugging me and pulling me into the air again, spinning me around in a circle with happy cheers, her coat-tails flying behind her with every spin. “You’re here! You’re here, you’re here, you’re here!”

    My own smile just got wider, and wider.

    “I can’t believe it!” Anko finally sat down on the couch, placing me in her lap. “You’re actually here!”

    “Hey, Anko,” I greeted with a grin, feeling very comfortable in my seat between her warm thighs.

    “Daisuke,” Anko replied, looking back at me with the happiest smile on her face. “I thought I’d never see you again.”

    “I really missed you, Anko,” I told her, still smiling. “Want these? I made them myself.”

    “You,” Anko started, taking the bouquet from me with a surprised look on her face. “You made these? For me? Daisuke, you shouldn’t have.”

    “Pft, I wanted too,” I waved it off. “So, who cares?”

    Anko laughed and set the bouquet down on the coffee table in front of us. “That is so sweet of you! Thank you.”

    “My pleasure,” I said, smiling again as she embraced me and nuzzled her cheek against mine…then her face into my neck.

    Yeah, she is definitely feeling it. Like a lot. “So, how’ve you been?”

    “I’ve,” Anko began, trying to maintain her cheer but having some…guilt? Overshadow it. “Been okay.”

    Perception Check Success: 10/5.

    Medicine Check Success: 100/60.

    “You have a hangover?” I asked with a frown.

    “Yeah,” Anko nodded with a frown of her own. “Just a small one, though, so don’t worry about me.”

    “Good party last night?” I asked with a smile.

    “Not exactly,” Anko replied sheepishly, rubbing the back of her neck in embarrassment. “I’ve just missed you, Daisuke. So much.”

    “I missed you too,” I said, trying to bring the cheer back with a smile. “It’s part of why I came back.”

    “Wait, really?” Anko asked with a surprised expression.

    “Really,” I confirmed.

    She looked at me like I had grown a second head.

    “I’m being completely serious,” I affirmed again, still smiling.

    “But I was horrible to you,” Anko argued with a deep frown. “Why would you want to come back for me?”

    Well, she wasn’t that bad.

    Charisma Check Success: 10/3.

    “Because I love your upbeat personality. I love your professionalism on missions. I love your jokes,” I began, counting it off on my fingers…ah, screw it. I leaned in and kissed her on the lips. “And I think you’re the prettiest kunoichi in the elemental nations.”

    Anko was completely still, her face going slightly pink as her fingers went up to her list. Yeah, she definitely has changed her mind from ‘shame your underage’ but what was that unsettled look in her eyes…oh. She’s really conflicted about it. Right, that makes sense. Way to go, Daisuke, you didn’t see this coming.

    Let’s give her an out so she can keep her dignity without insulting me.

    “This is the part where you either kiss me back or slap me,” I said with a small smirk. “I don’t bite either way. Promise.”

    She brought her hand up cupped her fingers around my neck and very slowly and hesitantly pulled me into another kiss. A deep one, a long one. Feeling her breath through my lips sent a shiver of pleasure down my back, giving me goosebumps. I wrapped my arms around her back and her other hand ran through my hair. My hand travelled up her back, the other pulling her closer by the neck.

    Then she broke it off with a gasp. Anko slid out from under me and jumped off the couch. Her face was deep red and she was panting heavily. “Daisuke, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”

    “Sorry for what?” I asked with a frown. “We were just making out.”

    “Daisuke, I’m ten years older than you,” Anko answered with a desperation in her voice that made it sound like she was trying to convince herself more than me. “I’m sorry. I really am. I shouldn’t have done that. You deserve a girl that’s actually going to be good for you instead of someone that’s going to turn into an old maid before you even hit your twenties.”

    I mean, she’s not that old.

    “So…you know what? You should go kiss Ino,” Anko said with a smile and a nod. “Because she’s been desperately wanting to talk to you after you left and she’ll be nothing but good to you. I promise.”

    “Ino’s on a mission,” I replied with a shrug, still smiling slightly. “Besides, I wanted to kiss you.”

    “Daisuke, that can’t work,” Anko shook her head rapidly, her face still red. “It can’t. It’s too big of a difference. I’m an adult and you’re a child-”

    She froze, both of her hands flying to her mouth to cover it. The redness in her face disappeared, alongside all the other color that was in her face. Part of her thought I was going to leave. The other part thought I was going to murder her.

    “I’m sorry-” She breathed out.

    I never want to see that look of terror cross her face ever again.

    “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” She shook her head, slowly getting to her knees for a kowtow. “It just slipped out. I didn’t mean to call you a child. It’s just that…”

    Her voice trailed off at my expression, and her hands were trembling slightly.

    Was I really so easily angered over a single word?

    …I think I should tell her.

    It’s going to come out sometime, especially since I’ve gotten over it and both Naruto and Kakashi are not in the village right now. So, I might as well tell her, if only so she doesn’t want to kill herself for returning my affections.

    “Anko, I’m not mad,” I told her, calmly and matter-of-factly.

    “You’re not?” She asked quietly.

    “No,” I confirmed, whipping out a piece of paper so I could start drawing out my…explanation. I gestured for her to come back. “Now, come back here. I’m going to explain the…issue that I had with being called a child.”

    I’m going to tell her.

    How do I tell her?

    Obviously, I use visual aids but how do you explain…that?

    “…okay.” She slowly came back to the couch and took her seat next to me.

    I wrapped my arm around her and held her close while, with my other hand, I started drawing. “Do you know what reincarnation is?”

    “Uh, that’s people getting reborn as someone else after they die,” Anko replied with a curious frown. “But it’s not a real thing, though. Everyone knows that people go to the Pure World after they die.”

    “Not necessarily,” I replied with a frown of my own.

    “What do you mean?” Anko asked, looking at me with concern. “You’ve been bringing people back. You know that’s where everyone goes.”

    “I also know that there’s exceptions to that rule. The Fourth’s soul, for instance, was bubbling around the Shinigami’s stomach ever since he sealed the Kyuubi away. Then, there’s me.” I began, taking a deep breath as I prepared to lay out the one secret I promised to take to the grave for a woman. My partner, my friend, the object of my affections. “The issue that I had with being called a child, Anko, is that I am a reincarnate. I…I died. And was reborn as Shimoda Daisuke thirteen years ago, but I still remember everything from my life beforehand.”

    Charisma Check Success: 10/2.

    On the piece of paper in front of me, I was drawing an animated picture. In the center was a wheel with babies circling the outside, waiting to be released into one of three other circles that I had drawn. The three other circles represented the three worlds that I had…drawn from. My old world, the world of Fallout and our World.

    “That…that’s crazy,” Anko began, her head tilting as she examined the graphic with fascination. “You didn’t go to the Pure World?”

    “Nope. At least, not that I remember,” I replied with a shrug. “We actually called it Paradise back in my old world.”

    …bit more complicated than that, actually, but it’s close enough.

    “Your old world,” Anko parroted back to me. “You’re saying that you reincarnated into our world from another world, separate from this one, and you remember everything from your previous life.”

    I just nodded and she went back to staring at the graphic, watching the souls from each world die, pop back into the center wheel and then pop into either the same world, a different world or simply stay there for an extended period of time.

    Just wait for her to come to grips with it enough to say anything.

    She grabbed one of the skewers from my bouquet and pulled a dango off with her teeth. I handed her the paper and she stared at it while holding it in one hand, while holding the dango in another. She chewed her dango, swallowed and then slid another one right into her mouth, not saying anything for the longest time.

    When she finished her skewer, she tossed it onto the table in front of her. “This…is crazy.”

    “I understand if you don’t believe me,” I shrugged, standing up. “I know it’s pretty crazy.”

    “No!” Anko raised her hand to stop me, grabbing me by the wrist. “No, no. That’s not it. Don’t go. I believe you. Really.”

    Charisma Check Success: 10/4.

    …she’s telling the truth. She really believes me. Wow.

    I think that proves she’s girlfriend material.

    “I…I just,” Anko shook her head. “I didn’t expect this. That’s all.”

    “Well, how could you expect it?” I asked, sitting back down. “It’s the weirdest thing to happen to anyone, ever.”

    “No kidding.” Anko shook her head again in disbelief. “Just…what did your death look like? From your point of view.”

    “What did it look like?” I blinked. She believes me, but she’s trying to…verify it. Huh. Alright, I can oblige her. “Okay. Here, let me show you.”

    I made a new piece of paper and placed it on the coffee table, this one I drew…my point of view from the car. In as vivid detail as I could get, which may as well have been a video screen. “So, in my old world, we had things called cars. Hi-speed, self-driving wagons, you could think of them as.”

    Anko’s eyes went wide again, her head falling and suddenly stopping as her eyes came level with the picture.

    “This is the speedometer, telling me how fast I was going, this is the steering wheel so I can tell it what direction to go in…” I pointed out each individual part of the car that I could see and explaining what they did. “It was early morning and it was dark. I think I was kind of drowsy too, I was heading to work.”

    “What did you do for work?” Anko asked quietly.

    “I delivered parts for an auto store to local garages,” I replied with a nod. “Basically, it was like a weapon shop, but for parts for cars and the garages repaired the cars with these parts if something went wrong. Anyway, I was speeding along here, then this truck, a big car with a trailer in the back for hauling large stuff like boxes…he wound up pulling in front of me here and I crashed.”

    Just laying it out like this made it seem so…less impactful, even though it was literally the most important event in my life until recently. “The windshield there broke into a million pieces and one of those pieces lodged itself into my skull. I died instantly.”

    Anko took that, well, animated gif on a paper and studied it carefully.

    “Then after nine-ish months of being in the womb,” I started to wind it up. “I was born again. Here. In Konoha. I’m pretty sure I was completely crazy, too. From the isolation? Yeah.”

    Anko didn’t move, watching the crash play out in front of her again and again. I waited for her to say something.

    “Ino has this.”

    “Huh?” I looked at her curiously.

    “Ino. When she went into your mind, she got a few memories,” Anko clarified, looking at me with a mournful expression. “She said it was the source of all your anger and pain.”

    “Well, it was,” I agreed. “I might tell Ino about this, I don’t know. I kind of want the past to stay in the past.”

    “Why are you telling me this?” Anko asked with a frown.

    “Because Naruto and Kakashi are out of the village,” I replied with a smile. “And I don’t want you to kill yourself because we like each other.”

    “You don’t want me to-” She started giggling sardonically to herself. At herself. “I don’t deserve to hear about this.”

    “I think you do,” I gently rebuffed. “And I’m the one who decides. When I was a statue, you were one of the few people who actually cared about me. Sure, we had a few rough patches, but friends fight…and make up. I was being kind of dumb.”

    “You weren’t being dumb.” Anko’s head snapped to look at me. “Not even close. Sarutobi needed to be held accountable for his crimes.”

    “Yeah, but I should’ve given him the chance to come clean before the village.” I shrugged. “And I should’ve told you in private, instead of turning it into just one big temper tantrum. Soured the message a little.”

    “I don’t know about that,” Anko replied, leaning back into me with a cat-like smile. “It was fun watching you kick him around.”

    “Well, I’m glad you were suitably entertained,” I replied with a matching grin. “But, yeah. That’s why I hated being called a child.”

    “How old were you when you died?” Anko asked with a frown.

    “Twenty-four.”

    Anko’s mouth fell open. “You were my age!”

    “I was,” I replied with a smile.

    “So, you’re…you’re…you’re like a man trapped in a child’s body,” Anko said, her eyes growing wide.

    “Well, kind of. I have the memories of an adult and what it was like,” I explained, shrugging and looking down at the picture. “It’s why I never felt comfortable seeking a relationship with Ino or Hisako, even though they desperately wanted one. It’s why I really only felt comfortable with you.”

    “Oh,” Anko cupped her lips with her fingers in thought.

    “But, frankly? The lack of control I have over my emotions? My inability to really plan ahead or deal with the consequences of my actions?” I listed each of things off with my fingers. “I have regressed in my physical, mental and emotional development to a teenager. Being reminded of that fact made me angry, but that’s the reality of the situation.”

    “It sounds like you got over it,” Anko replied, looking directly into my eyes.

    “Well, I kind of did. On accident,” I answered. “I went back in time, to when the crash happened.”

    “Why did you do that?” Anko asked, looking completely bewildered.

    I like how she didn’t even question that I did do it…

    “I wanted to kill the guy who was driving the truck,” I answered, pointing to the red truck in the photo. “I really, really wanted to kill him. For what he did to me. For what he put me through. But, when I got there, I came face to face with my corpse and broke down. After sitting there, crying like a baby for a few minutes, I stood up to try to get some justice on this careless idiot when, surprise! He had died before I did. Heart attack.”

    Anko just blinked. “Seriously?”

    “It was just an accident,” I continued with a shrug. “Unless that old man was deliberately murdered by whatever cosmic force sent me here, this whole thing was just an accident. So, my anger at this guy faded, and with it the anger I had with my entire situation, including being called a child.”

    “Daisuke, I am so sorry,” Anko said, her eyes starting to well up. “That must’ve been hell.”

    “I just didn’t like being reminded of everything I lost,” I answered, taking her hand in mine. “Which was…well, a lot. But I’m over it now. I’ve accepted that I’m not the person I was, even though I really wanted to be. It happened. Might as well move on and accept my situation for what it is.”

    “So, I just have one question,” Anko began, wiping away the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks. “And please, please don’t take this the wrong way.”

    “Go ahead, please,” I said, getting ready.

    Anko got a really hesitant expression on her face, like she was afraid of being struck for asking the question. “Why didn’t you ever age yourself up?”

    I froze.

    Then I laughed. Really, really hard.

    “Well, its better than you getting mad,” Anko muttered to herself.

    “So, the answer,” I started, trying to contain my laughter and not quite succeeding. “The answer is really simple. And stupid. You’re going to laugh and think I’m an idiot.”

    “I won’t laugh,” Anko rebuffed with a frown.

    “The reason is that it just didn’t occur to me,” I replied with a wide.

    “It never occurred to you,” Anko said with a mystified expression.

    “Nope, not once!” I replied with a smile. “Probably a good thing, because I actually am not sure it’s a good idea.”

    “Why do you think that?” Anko asked with a frown.

    “Firstly, everyone in Konoha knows me as a thirteen-year-old Special Jounin,” I started to list off my reasons. “If I were to age myself up, all it would do is reinforce the idea that I’m a child who can’t handle reality and disgust the people around me, my friends, for going so far as to change myself like that.”

    “That’s,” Anko began, tossing the idea around in her head. “A good reason. I guess.”

    “Secondly, and more importantly,” I continued, taking a deep breath. “I accepted what happened. That’s the long and short of it. I accepted that I died. I accepted that. If I were to age myself up, it would fly in the face of my epiphany, the thing that I had been needing for a long time. It just wouldn’t feel right now.”

    “Oh,” Anko said with a deep frown. She looked up at me from her sunken head. “…what if it was only temporary?”

    I stopped to consider that idea. A temporary age up for certain circumstances…might not be bad. It is only temporary, doesn’t take away from my natural growth really and would be really, really handy for planning sessions. At least, I think it would be handy. I also don’t think it would really intrude on that epiphany I was talking about and it would mean that those who knew me as a teenager…would still see me as a teenager.

    But let’s ask the obvious question here. “Would it help?”

    Anko wordlessly nodded.

    I hummed. I mean, I can’t really see anything wrong with it.

    Intelligence Check Success: 10/8.

    Ninjutsu Check Success: 100/75.

    Medicine Check Success: 100/100.

    Growth Spurt.

    It was a really complicated jutsu, actually. Chakra intensive, too. It was a medical jutsu that implemented a growth steroid into my body to age me up. The complicated part was making its effects temporary and without any side-effects, but it’ll hold until I release it.

    I could feel the effect immediately, once the rush of chakra had passed. I was obviously taller, from how my vantage shifted. From the warm spot I was sitting on, I was clearly taking up more room now and my head…oddly clear. Well, clearer.

    With a smile on my lips, I turned to Anko. “Better?”

    I like how my voice is noticeably deeper.

    Anko went pink again, and her eyes grew wide. “You’re perfect.”

    “Well, I don’t mean to brag…”

    She pounced on me, getting on top and wrapping her arms around me. I felt her warm chest pushing into mine, her legs straddling my torso and her eyes…her eyes looked hungry. She pressed her lips into mine, eagerly and enthusiastically.

    Our lips were moving with each other, pushing firmly, then softly. Anko’s tongue licked across my teeth, demanding entry. With my own, I greeted her. We danced, played together as I ran my fingers through her hair and she gently lowered her hand over my chest, seeming to savor every hard curve of the muscles.

    I broke it off and let her come up for air. Her face was crimson, and her lips were puffy, just like I’m sure mine were.

    “You’re amazing,” Anko breathed.

    “Thank you,” I said with a grin. “I took a perk just for this.”

    Anko’s head tilted and she smiled, though somewhat confused. “There’s a perk for good kissing?”

    “Sort of,” I said, taking my perk book out because I did need to disclose this, part of me or not. I opened it to the perk page. “It’s called Lady Killer.”

    Anko took the book and read it. “Do increased damage in combat to women, and improve your social opportunities when dealing with them.”

    She closed the book, blinking in confusion.

    “Are you mad?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

    After a moment, she just laughed and handed the book back to me. “No. That was the best investment you’ve ever made.”

    Yup. Girlfriend material. High quality girlfriend material. Only thoughts about Lady Killer being ‘awesome, he’s better at kissing’.

    “So, you want to go get breakfast?” I asked, sitting up, with her scooting back into my lap. “I’d have to be a teenager again, but I’ll treat you.”

    “I…that sounds wonderful,” Anko answered with a smile. “But, um…Daisuke, there’s something I need to say. It’s really important.”

    “Alright, I’ll hear you out,” I responded with an easy grin.

    “And please, don’t interrupt,” Anko said, pointing a finger into my chest. “I need to say the whole thing. Please.”

    “Okay,” I said with a nod.

    She stood up and walked around the coffee table in front of me, getting down on her knees. “Daisuke, when we first met, I called you kid, and I’m really sorry.”

    I almost broke out with an ‘it’s okay’, but she had asked me not to interrupt. If nothing else, I was going to be a good listener.

    “Then you removed the curse mark from my shoulder,” She said, looking me dead in the eyes while she rubbed the spot where it used to be. “I told to Old Codger that I wanted to pay you, but he told me that you did it for free. Was that true?”

    I nodded.

    Anko sighed, looking even more downcast now. “Afterwards, you visited me in the hospital. You brought me a ton of books to read and you played board games with me. You made me smile, even if you didn’t know how you were doing it. When I got out, you helped me again by training me back to full health. Better, even. My Taijutsu got better because I trained with you.”

    Yeah, pretty much. She did improve while we were training together.

    “Then I went with you to the Chunin exams. To support you,” Anko began. “You know what I did instead? You met Orochimaru and drove him off. You drove my old sensei off. Orochimaru. A Sannin. You remember what I did?”

    Anko gulped and she was crying again. “I turned on you. I yelled at you and then told Sarutobi not to promote you. But then you went out and killed him.”

    She looked up at me, into my eyes. “You tracked down Orochimaru, the specter of my nightmares and killed him. You slew my monster. You gave me solace and closure, Daisuke, because I knew he was dead.”

    I’d do it again, too. Not just to help Anko, but because he was a toxic waste of a brilliant mind.

    “You got justifiably angry about how you’d been treated until then,” Anko started again, sounding more and more upset. “But back in the hotel, when your teammate was yelling at you for getting angry? For protesting unfair treatment? Did I have your back? No. Did I tell your teammate that she was out of line? No. Did I try to go with you so you wouldn’t have to face fixing your social issues alone? No. You remember what I did?”

    I shook my head.

    “I held a kunai to your throat,” She answered, tears starting to fall down her cheeks. “When you got mad at her. Justifiably mad. I joined the scared mob afraid you were going to start popping heads when I should’ve been on your side.”

    Wait, she did?

    Oh yeah, I guess she did! Huh, I forgot all about that.

    “Then when we got to Konoha, you tracked me down to apologize.” She shook her head in disbelief. “Apologize to me. Me. I should’ve been on my knees begging your forgiveness. I wasn’t even fit to lick the dust off your boots. I’m still not. But you came to tell me sorry for not telling me the monster was in the desert. Then, finally? When you told everyone about what happened? What Sarutobi did? What he failed to do?”

    Anko was angry. With Sarutobi, sure, but mostly with herself. “I turned my back on you again. That’s all I’ve ever done. After every kindness you’ve shown me, after everything you’ve done for me and on my behalf, I turned my back on you. I should’ve gone with you. I should’ve tried to help you. And now…here you are. Again. And you kissed me.”

    She couldn’t talk, trying to compose herself. Trying to stop the sniffing and tears while her face was turning pink again.

    So, I was wrong about her being girlfriend material.

    Anko just analyzed her behavior, found it wanting and took responsibility for it. Do you know how hard it is for a person to do that? I can’t do that. If you were to look at me, you’d give me a failing grade for my absolute lack of ability to own up to the fact that I made a mistake. But Anko has not only proven that she can do that, but proven she can do so in a way that makes her want to change that behavior to become a better person and I want this in my life.

    That’s not girlfriend material.

    She’s wife material.

    As in ‘put a ring on it right now you idiot because you may never get another chance’, wife material.

    I love this woman. Little fast? Absolutely. This just hit me like a nuke. But then, I don’t do things gradually. Things happen to me suddenly and with great force. Almost Perfect, accepting my death…and now falling in love. With Mitarashi Anko.

    “Daisuke,” Anko began. “I need to make this right. I want to serve you.”

    Oh boy, here we go. Konoha’s Ninja Honor at work. The same force that compels Maito Gai to run laps around Konoha on his hands when he loses a competition to Kakashi, the same force that lets Naruto forgive anyone that trespasses against him was now making Anko…pledge herself to me.

    “I want to go wherever you go,” Anko began. “I want support you in whatever you’re doing and help you however I can. I want to be with you and share your life with you. And, Daisuke? I know…that you want me. I know it now more than ever. So, take me. Do whatever you want. I’m yours.”

    …okay. Alright.

    So, she’s pledging herself to willing slavery. How about no?

    “I need you to say yes,” Anko said, sounding desperate. “I need to make things right with you. Please take me.”

    Let’s…hm. She really needed me to say yes. Her conscience was destroying her from the inside out and I know what that’s like. How to get through this while we both get what we want? I have an idea. I’m going to…rephrase her offer to something that I’d actually feel comfortable accepting. I think we might both be happy with this, actually…

    “So, let me get this straight,” I said, extending my fingers to count them out. “You are offering to go wherever I go, to support me however you can and be with me forever. And you’re offering me sex. Is that right?”

    Anko rapidly nodded.

    I just shrugged. “That honestly sounds like you just proposed marriage.”

    Her mouth fell open and she started sputtering in a panic, her face turning beat red again. “Th-th-no! That’s not what I meant! I-”

    “Oh, that’s a shame,” I cut her off with a frown. “I was going to say yes.”

    She stopped talking, her eyes going wide as dinner plates, her mouth having just glued shut. After a minute of her just sitting there mute, I walked over to her and kissed her on the lips. “So, for all your talk about how horrible you were, I thought you were pretty good to me.”

    “How?” Anko asked, still mystified at how I didn’t see how she was as guilty as she saw herself.

    “Well for starters,” I began, grunting as I shifted to take a seat next to her. “You actually played board games and talked about books with me. In the way that I wanted too, not as a thinly veiled attempt to woo me. You actually tried to get to know me and wanted to support me in the Chunin exams. When we were partners, you went along with my ‘no killing’ agenda without a single protest. Even though you thought it was weird. Oh, that part where you yelled at me? That was a time that I had actually screwed up and needed to fix things. So, guess what? It was warranted.”

    “B-but I-” Anko tried to cut in, but I didn’t let her.

    “And about that time when Hisako was yelling at me? I think it’s okay to assume I was going to pop her like a balloon, because I was almost mad enough to do it,” I replied with a shrug. “I was stressed and going through a bad time, so the idea that I might just flip out and do something I would regret for the rest of my life wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. Which means that you helped stop me from doing that, and I thank you.”

    Anko stopped trying to cut in, just looking at me with a shocked face.

    “So, in my personal opinion, I think you’re being too hard on yourself,” I told her with a wide, genuine and happy smile. “And I think I love you. So, if you wanted to propose, which it honestly sounded like you did, I was going to say yes.”

    She wasn’t talking. Just staring at me like I had just blew her mind wide open. So, I just closed in for another kiss. She wrapped her arms around my neck as I went around her waist. Then I broke it off. “So, can you talk now?”

    Anko just nodded.

    “Then say what you want to say,” I told her with a smile.

    “I think you’re way too forgiving,” Anko began uncertainly. But a smile grew on her face as her eyes started to sparkle. “And I love you for it. Daisuke, may I marry you?”

    “Yes,” I told her. “Yes, you certainly may.”

    Then we kissed again, holding it there for a long time, our tongues dancing together again. My finger trailed down along her perfect stomach, the other running up her back. One of her hands was running through my hair again, the other following my arm as it wrapped around her.

    When we broke off, we just looked into each other’s eyes, completely content with the choice we just made.

    “So, did you want a ceremony?” I asked curiously. “A marriage ceremony where we invite a ton of people?”

    “Uh,” Anko began. “No. No, I think it would be best if we just went up to the Hokage and eloped.”

    “I agree,” I told her with a nod. “Uh, I think I’m going to let go of the jutsu and revert to being a teenager when we ask him, I don’t want him getting weirded out and saying no.”

    “Good idea,” Anko said as I started shrinking, seeming a little disappointed as I turned shorter than her. “He owes you, so hopefully he’ll actually marry us instead of accusing me of robbing the cradle.”

    “I will get very upset with the man if he accuses you of anything of the sort,” I answered, standing and offering her a hand. “You and I both know that I haven’t been in a cradle in a hundred years, young lady.”

    Anko giggled in spite of herself, taking the hand and letting me help her stand.

    Good thing that my clothes automatically change to fit me this could’ve been embarrassing. Or it could’ve turned into something really hot and spicy.

    …so, I wonder what I’ve got to thank for this turn of good fortune?

    My charisma stat, my luck stat or Lady Killer?


    Probably all three.

    Quest Updated: Reasons to Live.

    Completed: Get a girlfriend (1/1).

    Thanks, game.

    ---



    Author’s Note: I was able to write this pretty quickly, I just needed to, shall we say, let it sit for a bit and go through it a few times to change or fix typos and stuff. Because, frankly, Daisuke and Anko went from friends to fiancés in the course of 6k words. Probably going to get married in another chapter.

    It’s a theme in SHINOBI for life-changing decisions to happen suddenly and with great force. Almost Perfect nearly destroyed Daisuke. Going backwards through time wound up resolving most of Daisuke’s personal issues. Seeing Anko again…wound up with both of them engaged. I know it’s odd, but to me? The writer who has very little experience with anything of the sort? It feels right. Anko wanting to pledge herself, Daisuke turning it into a marriage proposal, yeah. It feels right. There’s probably some (or a lot) of you who don’t agree and that’s fine. You’re probably right, too. But I like it this way and I hope that, even if you don’t agree with the way the story goes, you’ll at least stick with it to see if it turns into something you like. If not, I understand and I wish you well.

    Shout out and a big thank you to EPiCJB19 for his support, becoming a new Super Patron! You’re awesome, my friend, thank you!

    Also, shout out to Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, PostLifeSyndrome, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight and Apperatus. Thank you for your continued support!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  14. Threadmarks: Chapter 14: Uncomfortable Truths
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---

    “Our main priority is to interrogate the bridge builder Tazuna,” Kakashi stated to everyone. “We shouldn’t actually need to get rough or even let him know that it’s actually an interrogation. We need to know if the bridge was built to his specifications or if Daisuke just built his own, we need to know if Daisuke told him anything and the history Gato Company has with this village in particular.”

    The team managed to get the office fortified properly, having staked out it’s entrances, exits and blocking other ports to prevent the civilian mob from sneaking in while they were unawares.

    “How do we plan on avoiding the enemy Ninja that are stalking us?” Hisako asked, her eyes narrowing as she surveyed the map in the center of their circle. “They seemed to have stuck to the ocean but I wouldn’t bet on them staying there while we’re moving inland.”

    “Naruto, I want you to create four squads of clones when we’re ready to move out,” Kakashi replied. “Have them henge into copies of us and send them on separate routes. We’ll go last and from then on, we’ll go out at a random order to where we need to go. Send at least one team that looks like it’s making a move on the bridge.”

    “You got it, Sensei!” Naruto said with a grin. “You can count on me!”

    “Good,” Kakashi eye-smiled at him. “Again, we are not to let him know that this is an interrogation. Just a friendly visit. When we get there, I want Nichiren, with Naruto and Sakura to handle the interrogation. Hisako, Sasuke and myself will stand guard over the house and be ready to either defend it or to provide backup if you need it. Do you understand?”

    “Yes, Sensei,” Nichiren nodded.


    “Alright,” Kakashi said, directing the group to stand up. “Let’s move out.”

    ---

    “Captain, they’re moving,” Masato reported, pointing down over the edge of the roof they were standing on.

    “Riku, my spyglass,” Shizo ordered, taking the spyglass made of snow and ice from the outstretched flipper and putting it to his eye. “Yeah, they’re moving out…for a walk around the town, likely to gather supplies. We need to tail them and make sure it’s not a ploy to…to…wait a minute.”

    “What’s wrong, Captain?” Rookie asked with a frown.

    “They aren’t talking,” Shizo pointed out. “At all. They’re just walking together, not even talking to the villagers.”

    “That’s suspicious,” Masato replied, his eyes narrowing.

    Captain Shizo didn’t respond to this obvious declaration, instead keeping an eye on the group and alternating back to the building entrance. When the building entrance opened again, Shizo simply closed the spyglass. “Men, they’re using clones to throw us off.”

    “Your instincts have proven right once again, captain,” Masato complimented with a bow.

    “They always do.” Shizo smirked. “Masato, take Rookie to the bridge. If that’s their goal, respond appropriately. Lethal force is authorized, but try not to get yourselves killed.”

    “Uh, didn’t Shimoda ask us not to kill them if we could help it?” Rookie asked, raising his flipper.

    “Rookie, they’re Ninja. Not civilians,” Shizo replied with a nonplussed expression. “If we don’t use lethal force and they’re going to kill us and destroy the bridge. Come on, it’s obvious.”

    “Sorry, Captain,” Rookie apologized with a frown. “I just remembered what he asked us to do and wondered if we should change plans.”

    “No,” Shizo shook his head. “They aren’t fragile little egglings, they can take a beating.”

    “Lethal force also has the best chance of simply driving them off,” Masato pointed out with a raised eye-muscle. “Captain, if their move on the bridge is a distraction, where do we rendezvous?”

    “Riku and I are heading to secure the bridge builder’s house,” Captain Shizo explained. “If the bridge is a distraction, rendezvous with us there by sea. If their move on the bridge builder is fake, we’ll come to you. Move out.”

    ---

    Naruto felt oddly nervous as they hopped through the trees, jumping from branch to branch. Like something was watching them that they desperately needed to get away from. But he couldn’t see whatever it was, which only contributed to the odd anxiety he suddenly felt.

    “Does anyone else feel that?” He finally asked.

    Sakura hummed. “Feel what, Naruto-kun?”

    “I feel like we’re being watched,” Naruto replied. “Like something bad really bad is keeping an eye on us.”

    “I think we should trust Naruto’s instincts here,” Nichiren piped up as he hopped from one branch to another. “Whoever it was that attacked us yesterday might be watching from a distance.”

    “Maintain formation,” Kakashi ordered. “Just keep an eye out for anything that looks odd or funny. We don’t want to get caught by a surprise Genjutsu.”

    “Yes, Sensei,” Hisako affirmed. “Sasuke, you got your Sharingan on?”

    “I never turned it off,” Sasuke replied, his red eyes examining the foliage below as he landed on a branch and pushed off.

    Naruto took a deep breath, still looking around. For some reason, the shadows seemed just a little longer than would be considered normal and that there could be something hiding in every single one.

    They arrived at the house without incident, however and the feeling of being watched passed. Naruto breathed a sigh of relief.

    “Nichiren, take the lead,” Kakashi told him. “Naruto and Sakura? Help, but don’t say anything you’re going to regret later. Alright?”

    “Yes, Sensei,” Naruto and Sakura replied, with a bow as Kakashi, Hisako and Sasuke disappeared into the trees.

    “Alright,” Nichiren started. “I’m thinking we tell him that we’re Leaf Ninja hired by one of Gato Company’s competitors hired to protect the bridge. After that, we keep our focus on the bridge until Daisuke comes up, and he will come up, if you’re patient. Once he comes up, we act absolutely astounded by all the crap he pulled while he was here. Alright?”

    “Yes, Senpai,” Naruto nodded.

    “Senpai?” Sakura began. “Won’t we need to be able to prove that’s why we’re here?”

    Nichiren hummed and pulled out a piece of paper. After a few hand sign’s, he placed his hand on it and it filled out to look like an official mission document, proving that they were here to protect the bridge.

    “Where did you learn how to do that?” Sakura asked with astonishment.

    “It’s Daisuke’s paperwork jutsu,” Nichiren replied wryly. “He taught it to Hisako and I after we made Chunin.”

    “Wait, a minute,” Naruto started, also looking surprised. “The Old Man would’ve killed for that Jutsu!”

    “Well, maybe Hisako and I can teach it to him once we get back,” Nichiren replied. “But seriously, we need to get back to the mission.”

    “Sorry, Senpai,” Naruto replied sheepishly, with a nod.

    Sakura also bowed her head slightly as they walked up to the door. Nichiren gave it a firm knock and they waited. On the other side of the door they heard footsteps and the grumbling of an old man. The clicks of the locks coming undone got the three of them to stand up straight.

    The door opened, and in the doorway stood Tazuna. “What do you brats want?”

    “Hello,” Nichiren said brightly. “We’re Shinobi from the Hidden Leaf village, hired by one of Gato Company’s competitors from the Land of Fire to protect the bridge that recently got finished for the next few weeks. You’re Tazuna, the bridge builder, right?”

    “Oh,” Tazuna opened the door completely and dusted himself off. “Yes, that’s me. How can I help you?”

    “We’d just like to talk about the bridge and learn about it,” Nichiren continued. “Structural weak-points that need to be protected, that sort of thing.”

    Tazuna hummed and his eyes narrowed. “Do you have any proof?”

    Nichiren produced the document that he had just finished counterfeiting. Tazuna looked it over really carefully, then handed it back. “Alright, well. Come on in. Truth be told, I don’t think I’ll be much help since I didn’t actually build the bridge.”

    “You didn’t?” Nichiren asked with a frown as the three were let into the house. “Then who did?”

    “A Shinobi by Shimoda Daisuke just showed up out of nowhere and finished the whole thing in ten minutes,” Tazuna replied with a shake of his head. “I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

    “He finished that bridge?” Nichiren asked with a frown. “By himself?”

    Tazuna led them to the front room, where mats were arranged to be sat on. Tazuna took one, the Ninja took the others.

    “Yeah,” Tazuna nodded. “I almost still can’t believe the bridge is done. You know what else? He paid all the workers what they would’ve made if they had been allowed to see it through to completion. Ha!”

    “That sounds incredible,” Sakura supplied. “Did Shimoda-sama follow your blueprints for the bridge?”

    “He did,” Tazuna shook his head and rubbed his eyes.

    Naruto looked at Sakura and mouthed, “Shimoda-sama?”

    Sakura just shrugged.

    “My foreman and I all walked over the bridge, checking it’s stability once he left,” Tazuna replied. “Beyond using better stone and steel than what we were using, he followed what we had planned to the letter. Just super, if you ask me.”

    “Do you know if he left any additional protections on the bridge?” Nichiren asked with a frown. “Jutsu, seals…perhaps guards?”

    “No,” Tazuna shook his head. “Honestly though, I wish he did. The idea of Gato Company destroying it now that it’s finally done is starting to scare me.”

    “Well, that’s why we’re here,” Nichiren lied like a snake. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything that could endanger the bridge, but we’d hate for it to get destroyed.”

    “To be honest, you seem pretty young,” Tazuna pointed out, adjusting his glasses. “But after what Shimoda pulled, I’m not going to take a Shinobi at face value.”

    “A wise policy,” Nichiren said. “Now, assuming that it has the same structural weaknesses, what do we need to watch out for?”

    “If someone wanted to destroy it and knew what they were doing,” Tazuna began. “They’d go after the supports. It’s got a lot of them, so they’d need a lot of explosives. But honestly, if they wanted to put the bridge out of commission, they wouldn’t need to remove all of the supports. They’d just have to make a gap in the bridge by removing one every…four? Four legs. That’s what I’d watch out for.”

    “Hm, that’s a good point,” Nichiren nodded.

    “So why was this bridge so important?” Naruto asked, eyes narrowed. “Duh-uh, Shimoda sounds like he wouldn’t do something like that without a reason, right?”

    “I don’t know,” Tazuna just shrugged. “For all I know, he could’ve done it on a whim. But the bridge was really important for us, for the Land of Waves, just because of Gato Company.”

    “Was Gato Company really that bad?” Sakura asked, frowning.

    “Yes,” Tazuna added. “He ruled the land like a Tyrant. He choked the people out of their money with his outrageous prices and smuggled drugs into the country. If you protested, his army of thugs would break you in two.”

    “That sounds horrible,” Sakura replied with sympathy.

    “It was. The worst part is what he did to my family,” Tazuna replied, getting a dark look on his face. “I don’t suppose you’ve heard about Kaiza?”

    “We heard that name while we were in town,” Nichiren replied. “Who was he?”

    “He was my adopted son-in-law,” Tazuna said, grunting. “Ah, I shouldn’t be bringing you into this, you’ve got a job to do and I don’t want to tell this story sober anyway.”

    “No, no,” Nichiren protested. “This is a part of our job. Gives us more reason to protect the bridge.”

    “Do you have sake here?” Sakura asked. “I could grab you a bottle.”

    Tazuna looked at Nichiren and Sakura thoughtfully. “You know what, that’d be great. I’ve got a couple bottles in the kitchen, around the corner there. Grab me one?”

    “Sure,” Sakura replied, standing up.

    As she walked around the corner to the kitchen, Tazuna rubbed his neck. “Thank you both for coming here. Really. It’s just super that the bridge has some protection now.”

    “We’re happy to be here,” Naruto replied with a smile.

    Sakura came out of the kitchen with a bottle and a sake bowl. “Here you go.”

    “Thank you,” Tazuna replied, taking both. He poured himself some sake and drank up. “Did any of you want any? You can drink in your Ninja villages, right?”

    “We can,” Nichiren replied. “But we’d rather keep clear heads since we are on a mission.”

    “Understood,” Tazuna replied, pouring some more. “Now, where was I?”

    “Kaiza,” Sakura gently reminded him.

    “Right, right,” Tazuna let out a breath. “Kaiza. My adopted son-in-law. A few years ago, someone threw my grandson’s dog into the ocean, then my grandson. Kaiza dove in and saved him.”

    The three simply stayed quiet while the old man told his story.

    “He started spending a lot of time with the family and we grew to love him,” Tazuna said. “He wound up marrying my daughter. Super! And he especially spent a lot of time with Inari.”

    “Inari?” Naruto asked with a confused expression.

    “My grandson,” Tazuna explained, pouring another dish of sake. “He’s out right now, or I’d introduce you. But he got really, really close with Kaiza. He saw the man as the Father he never knew. A lot of what Kaiza said was how important it was to protect those precious to you, with his two arms, he’d always say. Well, when he saw how Gato was trying to take over the Land of Waves…heh.”

    Tazuna shook his head and drank his sake. “Kaiza stood up to Gato and tried to rally the village to stand up too. Tried to stop him. But Gato had his thugs sever his arms. An insult and a mockery of what he used to say. Then he executed him in front of the village, even Inari.”

    Naruto got very wide eyes.

    “It was at that point that we decided to build the bridge,” Tazuna continued. “We needed it to break Gato’s hold on the Land of Waves and we still need it now keep ourselves free. Although…”

    Tazuna began to laugh. “I think the gods might’ve had enough of Gato’s garbage given what happened to their company. Kaiza’s probably laughing too, in the pure world. Serves them right.”

    The three shinobi looked at each other while Tazuna was staring into his sake dish.

    “Serves them all right.”

    ---

    “How’s it looking?” Kakashi asked, landing on the same branch that Hisako was squatting on.

    “It’s quiet,” Hisako replied, taking another scan of the horizon. “I don’t see any sign of hostiles, even though we’re close to the shore. Naruto’s distraction must’ve worked.”

    “It must’ve,” Kakashi nodded with an eye-smile. “I’m heading out to check on Sasuke.”

    “Wait, Sensei?” Hisako held out her hand to stop him from leaving. “I need to ask you something.”

    “Alright, what did you need?” Kakashi asked.

    “Well…the Chunin exams are coming up,” Hisako began. “And two weeks afterwards are the Jounin exams. Right?”

    “Yes, that’s right,” Kakashi nodded.

    “I wanted to ask,” Hisako continued. “If you’d sponsor my entry into the Jounin exams. Please.”

    Kakashi hummed, turning the request around in his head as he thought. “Yes, I’d love to sponsor you. I think you’re ready.”

    “Really?” Hisako asked, beaming. She stood up and embraced her sensei. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

    “You’re welcome, Hisako-chan,” Kakashi replied, returning the hug. “But really, you deserve it. You’ve worked really hard to get where you’re at so I think you’ll pass the exams with flying colors.”

    “Thank you, Sensei,” Hisako broke the hug and went into a bow. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”


    Kakashi just waved it off. “Don’t worry about it. Just keep training and doing what you’re doing and you’ll be fine. Now, I got to go see how Sasuke is doing…”

    ---

    “Did anyone catch her name?” Shizo asked.

    “Hisako,” Rookie replied. “That seems familiar.”

    “It does and it’s bothering me,” Shizo replied with a nod.

    The penguins were all sitting beneath the struts that held Tazuna’s house above the ground, the hole they had dug to let them get underneath from the ocean without being seen partially filled with water next to them.

    Riku just shrugged.

    “Wait, Hisako,” Masato snapped his fins together. “I remember! That’s the name of one of Daisuke’s teammates!”

    “You’re right,” Shizo nodded. Then he got this really, really uncomfortable look on his face. “Oh, that’s not good.”

    “So, are we not supposed to use lethal force anymore?” Rookie asked with a frown.

    “Negative, and that’s why it’s not good,” Shizo responded. “If we use exclusively non-lethal tactics, they’re going to figure it out and then it’s going to become harder for us to not get killed in action.”

    “Daisuke’s not with the Hidden Leaf anymore,” Masato pointed out. “So, we have to assume that they will not hold back because we’re Daisuke’s summon team.”

    “Oh,” Rookie looked disappointed. “But we don’t have to exclusively use lethal tactics, do we?”

    “No, of course not,” Shizo shook his head. “We might wind up favoring those a little bit when we can afford it. But if this turns into an up close and personal fight, we can’t put on kiddie-flippers.”

    “But Captain,” Masato began with a look of concern. “What if we have to kill one of them in self-defense?”


    “Then I guess Daisuke’s just going to have to forgive us,” Shizo pointed out with a deep frown. “For now, keep up surveillance and see if we can isolate the target. That way Daisuke himself can handle his team and we can avoid getting our flippers dirty.”

    ---

    “See you later,” Nichiren bade farewell. “Don’t worry, the bridge is in good hands.”

    The trio dashed off and got met with the other three on the road.

    “We’ll head back to the office,” Kakashi instructed. “From there, I want a full report from the three of you.”

    “Yes, Sensei,” Nichiren replied with a bow.

    With that, they took off, never quite aware of the quartet of birds following them under the water, until they zipped into the forest further inland.

    Naruto was deeply frowning as he hopped from branch to branch. Thankfully, whatever presence that was watching him seemed to have disappeared for good, because he didn’t need that extra stressor right now. His mind was a cloud of conflicting emotions as he stared ahead, hopping mindlessly forward, following the other Ninja.

    “Naruto, are you okay?” Sakura asked with a concerned expression.

    “Yeah.” Naruto sighed. “Just thinking is all.”

    “About what Tazuna told us?” Sakura asked.

    “Uh huh,” Naruto replied. “Look, can we talk about it when we get back? I need to focus on jumping.”

    Sakura just frowned deeper. “Okay, Naruto.”

    They arrived back in town, getting into the office quickly and arriving in the upstairs office they had designated at their briefing room.

    “Alright,” Kakashi began, turning to the three. “What did you find?”

    “Tazuna started work on the bridge to break Gato’s hold on the Land of Waves,” Nichiren reported. “Gato himself had been heavily involved in drugs as we knew. He met resistance from the locals, particularly from Kaiza, Tazuna’s son-in-law. Gato’s response was to execute him in front of everyone and mock him. Now that the bridge is complete, the people of Wave now have some hope.”

    “Alright, so is there any threat to Konoha or the Land of Fire the bridge’s construction prevented?” Kakashi asked flatly.

    “No, Sensei,” Nichiren replied. “Beyond Gato Company itself potentially being a problem, but they’re our clients.”

    “Alright, we’ll move to destroy the bridge tomorrow,” Kakashi replied.

    “What?” Naruto cried out in alarm. “Sensei, we can’t destroy it! They need this!”

    “And our client needs it gone,” Kakashi pointed out. “Which means that Konoha needs it gone. Are you trying to choose a foreign village over your own?”

    “Uh,” Naruto froze. “No, no. Sensei, destroying that bridge would be wrong.”

    “Letting it stand would be betraying Konoha,” Kakashi replied with a sigh. “Which is also wrong.”

    “But,” Naruto began, but for one of the few times in his life was rendered speechless. “But…”

    “Naruto,” Sakura put a hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay, Daisuke can just rebuild it when he learns it was destroyed. He might know immediately.”

    “But he might not,” Naruto argued. He grunted to himself. “Sensei, I’d like to head out to train. I need to clear my head.”

    Kakashi considered that.

    “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Hisako replied with a frown. “We’ve got enemy Ninja in the area and we don’t know where they are or even who.”

    “I say let him,” Sasuke argued. “We can’t afford to have one of us not be committed to the mission. If this helps, it’ll only be better for all of us in the long run.”

    “Everyone, stop talking,” Kakashi ordered.

    The office fell silent.

    “Naruto,” Kakashi began. “Use clones to disguise your exit. Be back before tomorrow morning. If you run into trouble…”

    Kakashi produced a kunai with a tag wrapped around it. “Activate the flare tag and throw it into the air. We’ll come find you. Do you understand?”

    “Yes, Sensei,” Naruto nodded. “Thank you. I’ll be careful.”

    “Can we come?” Sakura asked quickly.

    “Sakura, thanks,” Naruto said with a smile. “But…I need to be on my own for this. Alright?”

    “…okay,” Sakura nodded. “I don’t like it, though.”

    “Be careful, idiot,” Sasuke cautioned.

    “Careful’s my middle name, duck butt,” Naruto retorted hotly. “I’ll be fine.”

    “You better,” Sasuke replied.

    “Sensei, are you sure about this?” Hisako asked with a frown.

    “I am,” Kakashi replied quietly. “I’ll follow him. You two get some rest, we’ve got work to do tomorrow.


    “Yes, Sensei,” Hisako replied with a bow.

    ---

    Much later in the day, when the sun had set and the stars were out, Naruto’s clones were disappearing and Naruto himself was standing in the middle of a clearing in the trees, panting heavily. Still doesn’t feel like I have an answer.

    Naruto sat on the ground. Can’t destroy the bridge, that’d destroy the people here. Can’t not destroy the bridge, that’d be betraying my dad.

    He fell onto his back, his eyes slowly starting to close. Just need a way…to make everyone happy…

    He fell asleep.

    Kakashi descended upon his pupil with a cheerful look in his eye. He bent to pick up Naruto, only for Naruto to stir from his slumber almost immediately, waking with a start.

    “Kakashi-sensei?” Naruto asked with a frown, quickly standing up. “What are you doing here?”

    “Just making sure you were okay,” Kakashi replied with an eye-smile. “Do you feel better?”

    “No,” Naruto shook his head. “Really, Sensei…I need to be alone.”

    “Naruto, it’s time that we head back,” Kakashi replied, reaching forward. “Come on, let’s go. We can talk some more at base.”

    “No, sensei,” Naruto got an angry expression on his face. “I need to be alone! I have to work this out by myself.”

    “I can’t really let you actually be alone, Naruto,” Kakashi’s eye narrowed. “Come on, I know you’re having some trouble, but we can help.”

    Then Naruto took off running. Kakashi reached forward to grab his pupil, but missed. “Wait! Naruto, stop! Come back, we can talk about this!”


    With a grunt, Kakashi charged after his pupil, dodging through foliage in an attempt to catch his Sensei’s son.

    ---

    The four penguins descended on Naruto’s sleeping body.

    “Rookie, check for Genjutsu,” Shizo ordered with a frown.

    Rookie leaned back onto his flippers and brought his claws up for a claw-sign. “Kai!”

    The Naruto that they were all standing around immediately disappeared.

    “We’ve been had,” Shizo kicked the ground in anger. “Alright men, spread out and try to find him. If someone grabbed him, they can’t have gone far.”

    “How long do you think it’ll take for the Sensei to realize he’s being tricked?” Rookie asked with a frown.

    “I reckon we’ve got two minutes, no more,” Masato guessed with a glare down the woods. “We need to not be here when he gets back, lest we get attacked through mistaken identity.”


    “If you find him, signal by Ice Mortar,” Shizo ordered with a glare.

    ---

    “Naruto, hold on!” Kakashi zipped in front of his pupil, grabbing him by both shoulders. “This is rediculo-”

    Then the clone popped.

    Kakashi’s eye was wide as he realized what had just happened. Naruto managed to fool me with a clone.

    If it weren’t for the fact that Naruto was out in the woods, alone and likely training himself to exhaustion with enemy ninja around, Kakashi would’ve been patting himself on the back for his great teaching. But as it stood, Kakashi needed to find Naruto immediately.

    The copy Nin ran back to the clearing he thought Naruto had been training in, and, as expected, there was no Naruto. He looked around, trying to find anything resembling tracks running off into the forest.

    I can’t believe I actually got fooled by a clone, Kakashi thought, shaking his head at his own stupidity. It wouldn’t have happened if I had the Sharingan out, but I didn’t want to waste chakra if we got attacked…

    “Naruto?” Kakashi called out. “Naruto!”

    He walked up one of the trees, checking to see if a branch had snapped or otherwise showed signs of recent use. He saw nothing of the sort. He looked side to side, up, then down. Finally, however, he caught an orange thread, barely visible in the night that had been stuck on a branch.

    This way, Kakashi thought, his eye narrowing.

    He followed the trail, and found himself in yet another clearing, Naruto looking a lot more beat up, having trained himself to exhaustion. Around him, the trees were broken and knocked down, punched to pieces.


    Honestly, I’m really impressed. Kakashi shook his head, kneeling down to pick up Naruto. Using your clones to distract like that…I can’t believe I fell for it. And I told you to do it! Let’s get you back to base.

    Feeling absolutely relieved to have found his charge, Kakashi started the trip home with a happy skip in his step.

    ---

    “Did you find him?” Shizo asked as the four reconvened.

    Riku rapidly shook his head, taking a playing card out of his beak and then making it vanish right from his flipper.

    “That is not good,” Shizo said with a worried look on his face. “Someone else is operating in our AO and we don’t know who they are.”

    “Captain, the odds of this being another Shinobi are high, especially if they are from Kirigakure,” Masato began, rubbing the underside of his beak. “We need to watch for Water Release and sudden bouts of thick fog.”

    “Men, we are moving to High Alert,” Shizo ordered with a sharp glare. “I want this Island blockaded. Nothing with chakra gets in or out without our say-so. Use icebergs, spikes, whatever. The target cannot be allowed to leave for the Land of Water.”

    “Captain?” Rookie raised a flipper. “What if the target managed to get home early and left the Genjutsu as a prank on his sensei?”

    Shizo’s head slowly turned to Rookie with an almost insulted expression that Rookie completely missed. “Alright, Rookie. If you want to sign up for watch duty on the rest of the Shinobi, we’ll let you. If you see the target, signal by Ice Mortar.”

    “You got it!” Rookie smiled.

    “The rest of you, get to patrolling,” Shizo ordered. “I want him found. Now.”

    With that, the four penguins disbanded, sliding forward on their stomachs like land-bound torpedoes with one mission on their mind.


    Find Uzumaki Naruto.

    ---

    Watching the drama unfold from within the shadows, Jashin shook his head with an annoyed sigh.


    That was depressingly simple.

    ---

    Author’s Note: I hope you guys liked this chapter. More page breaks than I usually do, but there’s a lot of scenes and pov’s to juggle and I’m still trying to figure out how to do that smoothly.

    For those wondering what happened there, Kakashi got caught by a Genjutsu without realizing it, then found a henged clone left by Jashin. The Penguins then checked for Genjutsu after Jashin had already made off with Naruto and then couldn’t find him because Jashin synced another Genjutsu with Rookie’s dispelling it.

    So yes.

    Jashin has Naruto.

    Who wants to start taking bets on how long it’ll take for Naruto to bring Jashin to the light?

    Shout out goes out too Seeking Raven, the newest Super Patron! Everyone, give him a big hand! Welcome! Thank you for your support, I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate it.

    A big thank you also for Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight, Apperatus and EPiCJB19. Your contributions help keep these stories flowing!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
  15. Threadmarks: Chapter 15: Matrimony
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---



    “Hey, Minato,” I said with a wave as Anko and I appeared in his office. “How’s today going?”

    “Daisuke-sama,” Minato looked up at me from his desk with a smile. “It’s going well. What can I do for you?”

    “Well, we need you to do us a huge favor,” I said with a smile. I looked up at Anko and she smiled down at me too.

    “Sure, anything,” Minato replied, standing up and circling his desk.

    “We need you to marry us.”

    Minato blinked and his smile was replaced with an impassive expression. “Alright. I’ll do it, but I have questions.”

    I could feel Anko’s frown growing. Me? I just shrugged. “Ask away.”

    “It’s just a group of questions I like to ask anyone who invokes the marriage age exception for bloodlines,” Minato said, trying to put my Fiancé at ease. “You don’t need to worry; I’m not going to throw you in T&I just because I disagree with one of your answers.”

    “I’d get really upset if you did,” I replied matter-of-factly.

    “I figured you would,” Minato replied with a small smirk. “My first question; how long have you known each other?”

    “Not counting my vacation and then AWOL period?” I asked with a thoughtful expression. “Just over six months? Is that right?”

    “Yeah, that sounds about right,” Anko nodded, smiling. “You removed my curse seal, visited me in the hospital, trained me back to shape…”

    “Alright,” Minato nodded. “I’ve had some try to do it after a single day, during the war. Obvious power plays that I couldn’t allow. I’m happy that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

    “No, it’s not.” Anko shook her head rapidly. “I was ready to be his willing slave.”

    “But then he proposed?” Minato asked with a curiously amused expression on his face.

    “No, he pointed out that my offer could have been a marriage proposal,” Anko said, happy but still disbelieving. “From a certain point of view. Then he told me he would’ve said yes if that’s what I was doing. So…I actually proposed.”

    “Good for you,” Minato replied with a smile that was also somewhat concerned. “Now, that willing slave thing…?”

    “I turned my back on him when he needed me the most,” Anko replied, her shoulders slumping. “More than once. He just forgave me like it was nothing.”

    “Anko, it’s in the past,” I told her, taking her hand in mine. “It’s okay. Really.”

    She just looked at me with a sad and grateful smile. “I love you.”

    “I love you too.”

    “Alright,” Minato brought out a piece of paper, one that looked old and that it hadn’t been touched in years. “When did you decide you were attracted to each other? Physically, I mean.”

    “On sight,” I answered bluntly. “I mean, look at her. She’s beautiful.”

    “Thanks,” Anko actually looked a little bashful. “For me, it was when we were training together, but I didn’t see it at the time. You were so strong and fast. Completely unyielding too which was…hm.”

    “Makes sense,” Minato was nodding again, looking at his paper. “Let’s see…are there things you need to talk about or plan to talk about once you are married?”

    “We’ll need to talk about sex,” Anko pointed out frankly. “How often we’ll be making love, what we’d like to try, our kinks, stuff like that.”

    “She’s right.” I was nodding at that. “I have absolutely no experience in this area, so communication would be key. Also, we’d need to talk about finances, how to keep our burgeoning clan in the black and how we’re going to raise our children.”

    Anko got this excited look on her face and her eyes were sparkling when I mentioned having kids, which honestly made me excited too. I always wanted to have a big family, and hopefully she agrees to that.

    “Alright, you two are leagues ahead of most people I interview for this,” Minato replied, looking decidedly impressed. “Yes, that’s all stuff you need to talk about. Most people, when they’re in their emotional high, just jump in with both feet and don’t have talks like you two are saying for weeks or months, assuming they ever have them at all. It makes for a difficult adjustment period.”

    “I’d like to make this as smooth as possible for both of us,” I said, gripping Anko’s hand just a bit tighter.

    “Same,” Anko replied. “I mean, it is absolutely going to be an adjustment but we can make it work.”

    “Last thing,” Minato said, putting the paper back into his desk. “What’s something about you that you think is going to drive your partner insane?”

    That is a fantastic question. Because it’s something she’s going to find out pretty quickly and if she can’t handle what I’m about to say, then the marriage was probably not going to work.

    “Well,” Anko started, looking a little insecure admitting this. “I sometimes have nightmares about Orochimaru and…I wake up. Sobbing. I think it might be really annoying to get woken up suddenly in the middle of the night.”

    “I don’t need sleep,” I pointed out automatically. “So, I’m not going to get mad if you have a nightmare and need a shoulder to cry on for the night.”

    No point in getting mad at her for her PTSD. Though I will get mad about it. Orochimaru did a number on her.

    Anko just hugged me there and I hugged her back.

    “Daisuke, what about you?” Minato asked.

    I took a deep breath. “My…thing is more of a daily annoyance.”

    “What is it?” Anko asked, separating just enough to come face to face with me.

    “I pace,” I answered. “I pace and I talk to myself. I don’t know what it is, but I get so wrapped up in my head that my legs just start moving automatically and what I’m thinking starts to come out of my mouth. It happens all the time and I look crazy but it’s how I handle things. I talk to myself and vent to myself. Is that…bad?”

    “What? No.” Anko shook her head. “No, no. I can live with that. I promise. Might take some getting used too, but that’s not nearly as bad as some of the other things I’ve seen.”

    “Like what?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Like you might’ve been like Maito Gai behind closed doors,” Anko replied with a small, mischievous grin. “That you dress up in spandex and shout about youth while doing handstands or something.”

    “Well, I’m quieter,” I said, smirking as I pictured myself in a green jumpsuit, shouting about youth. It felt disturbingly possible. “And I don’t wear spandex, so…yeah.”

    “I can live with that,” Anko repeated.

    “Alright, I’m convinced,” Minato said, pulling out another piece of paper, this one looking much more like a contract. He stood up and walked around the desk. “If you’re ready, I’ll marry you right now.”

    “I’m ready,” I said with a smile. “Are you?”

    “Yes.” Anko’s own smile was blinding. “Yes, I am.”

    “We’ll just do a very small ceremony and then you’ll sign the contract.” Minato was smiling. “Now, if you’ll take each other by the hands?”

    We did.

    “Shimoda Daisuke, do you swear to love Mitarashi Anko always, to cherish her in sickness and in health, and to always place her needs above your own?” Minato asked.

    “I do.”

    “Mitarashi Anko, do you swear to love Shimoda Daisuke always, to cherish him in sickness and in health, and to always place his needs above your own?”

    “I do.”

    “Then you may kiss the bride.”

    We leaned in and gave each other a brief, but passionate kiss. I felt warm inside and honestly happier than I’ve been in years.

    Who knew accepting where you were in life could lead to so much bliss?

    “Wonderful,” Minato said when we parted. “Now, if you’ll come over here.”

    We did and we both looked down at the document, which was the marriage contract, stating that our union was legal under all Konoha laws and that we were aware that we were binding ourselves together for life.

    “Before you sign though, I need to ask,” Minato said as I grabbed one of the pens. “Is one of you taking the others name?”

    “I’m becoming a Shimoda,” Anko said immediately, smiling wide. “I want to be Daisuke’s dango.”

    What a way to melt my heart. “Aw…”

    “That’s really sweet,” Minato complimented. “Okay. Daisuke, you’ll sign here…and here…and place your last name there.”

    Done.

    “Anko, you’ll sign here…and here and place your first given name there.”

    She signed quickly and let out a breath of relief when it was done.

    “Alright, you are both legally and lawfully married,” Minato said, placing the contract in the tray on his desk marked ‘outgoing’. “And Anko-san, your name has been changed to Shimoda Anko. I wish you both a happy and long marriage. Do you have plans for a Honeymoon?”

    “Can we leave the village for it?” I asked with a growing grin.

    “You both have an authorized leave of the village for two weeks, effective immediately,” Minato replied with a nod.

    “Okay, so we can head out to the ocean, I can make an island,” I offered with a grin. “We can spend the time out on a tropical paradise.”

    Anko hummed in thought. “Actually, I had an idea.”

    “What’s that?” I asked.

    “Where did you spend your time when you were AWOL?” Anko asked.

    I blinked. “You want to spend our honeymoon in the Vault?”

    Anko nodded. “I think it’d help me get to know you better.”

    “It’s a tomb,” I replied with a frown.

    “Please?” Anko pleaded. “I’d like to see where you became the man you are.”

    “Well,” I started, considering the idea. I mean, it’s just a couple weeks and she wants to see it. “I guess, if you really want too…”

    “I do,” Anko insisted, nodding.

    Take a deep breath, Daisuke. Maybe having her there will make it better. It would definitely make it livelier. “Alright, let’s go. Do you need to stop and grab anything?”

    “Can you make things for me to wear over there?” Anko asked inquisitively.

    “Absolutely,” I replied.

    “Then I’ll only need my tea set,” Anko said with a smile. “I would like to host a tea ceremony for you while we’re on our honeymoon.”

    I blinked, then shrugged. “Alright. Just for you.”

    “Thank you.” Anko’s smile just widened. “It means so much to me.”

    “One more thing, before you go,” Minato cut in. “It’s customary for the bride and groom to give each other gifts for their wedding. Do you have gifts for each other?”

    “I have one, but I’ll wait until we get there to give it,” I said with a smile.

    “Another gift.” Anko chuckled in disbelief. “You’ve given me so many.”

    “Well, what’s one more?” I asked with a smile.

    “It’s just, well,” Anko paused. “What could I possibly give you?”

    “You’re enough,” I replied, trying to get her to feel better.

    “I’m already yours, my love,” Anko said, sounding a little happier after she said those two last words. I mean, I was. “So that doesn’t count. So, what do I think you should have that you don’t…already…oh.”

    She cupped her chin in thought, suddenly looking like she was presented a solution to a problem that she didn’t like. “I know what I want to give you, but I’ll need to do some research.”

    “It’s okay,” I said, sensing her discomfort. “I don’t need a present from you. I’m just happy to be married to you.”

    “But I want to give you something,” Anko replied with a frown. “All I’ve ever done is take from you. I want to give at least one thing in our marriage, and I want it to be big. So, promise me that you’ll accept it.”

    I frowned.

    “Promise me,” Anko repeated.

    She looked really, really determined on this.

    “Alright.” I nodded. “I promise I’ll accept your gift.”

    “And that you’ll use it,” Anko pressed. “I want you to use my gift so I know you’re enjoying it. Because it’s going to take some work getting it for you.”

    What is she going to give me? “Alright, I promise I’ll accept and use your gift.”

    “Thank you,” Anko actually looked relieved, but I could feel the undercurrent of discomfort still there.

    Whatever it is, she’s unsure about it and that makes me unsure about it. Hopefully it’s nothing too crazy like a drag outfit. Nah, actually, it’s probably a Tea House for her to host tea ceremonies for me and she think’s she can win me around to liking tea.

    I mean, she might get me to tolerate it.

    Charisma Check Success: 10/8.

    No, that’s not it. Huh. Can you give me a hint, game? No?

    Charisma is not mind reading. A shame.

    “So, I’ll be right back,” Anko said, moving to the door. “I’m going to get my reading materials for it.”

    Okay then.

    She blew me a kiss, which I caught, then opened the door and left.

    “Daisuke, you’re a lucky man,” Minato said with a smile. “She seems to really love you.”

    “No kidding,” I replied, shaking my head. “I almost don’t believe it. I went to her apartment wanting to take her out to breakfast. Then we started talking…and talking.”

    “Sometimes love sneaks up on you like that,” Minato said with a grin. “But I’m happy for you both. I have no doubts that you’ll be great together.”

    “Thank you, Minato-san.”

    “Now, can I ask a question?” Minato asked.

    “Shoot.”

    “How did you turn an offer to be a willing slave into a marriage proposal?”


    “Well…”

    ---


    “I think I can get used to teleporting everywhere,” Anko said, a light tan folder held closely to her chest. “It’s fun.”

    “It is, isn’t it?” I asked with a grin. The box with Anko’s tea-set was held in my arms and I was making sure to handle it with great care. “We’re here.”

    We appeared right before the Vault door, the massive steel gear with Vault-Tec’s corporate logo plastered all over the front.

    “That is a big door,” Anko surmised, slowly nodding in appreciation.

    “It’s bigger on the inside,” I replied, stepping up to the control console.

    “So where exactly are we?” Anko asked, looking around the cavern.

    “We’re behind the waterfall of the Valley of the End,” I answered, slamming down on the red button with my closed fist. “I started building this place shortly before I removed your curse seal, because I needed to get away from it all. Because I didn’t look at Konoha as my home, just the place where all my friends were.”

    “Because you died and were homesick,” Anko surmised. “That makes complete sense.”

    “Yup,” I nodded.

    The Vault door started to slide back, the sound of screeching metal echoing through the cavern. Anko got a pained look on her face and covered her ears as the massive gear was dragged backwards by the robotic pulley system behind it.

    “After you,” I said, gesturing for her to go ahead as the bridge across extended.

    Growth Spurt.

    As we walked across the bridge, I aged myself up again, enjoying the extra height and longer stride.

    When we got to the other side of the bridge, I brought my fist down on the button on the other side. Anko looked behind her at the door closing, which was significantly quieter than opening the thing, and jumped slightly when she saw me. “Oh, you aged yourself up again. Thank you.”

    “We’re alone, again,” I said with a grin. “Besides, you married a man. Might as well look like one.”
    Anko giggled happily. “I love you.”

    “I love you too,” I said, taking her arm in mine. “Now let me escort you to the elevator.”

    She rested her head on my shoulder with a contented sigh. “You are so tall.”

    “Just call me a giant,” I replied with a smile. At my full height, I stood several inches at least over everyone else, being a hairs breadth away from six feet even. “Not even the Hokage can step up to my level. Well, unless he had stilts.”

    Anko just laughed. “They’d have to be some stilts.”

    We got into the elevator and I pressed the down button.

    “So are places like this common in your old world?” Anko asked, looking up at me curiously.

    “No, this is actually based on something that was fictional in my old world,” I replied. “It’s actually where my bloodline comes from, I’ll explain it after I’ve given you my gift.”

    “A fictional thing from your old world is where your bloodline comes from,” Anko summarized, blinking owlishly. “Okay, I’ve got to hear this.”

    “It’s,” I began, pausing to find the right words. “Well, it’s an interesting explanation.”

    The elevator came to the bottom and the doors opened. We stepped out onto the walk-way.

    “So, this is the Atrium,” I said, gesturing to the hall. “To your right there is the hydroponics systems, growing fruits and vegetables. It’s rigged to take care of those things automatically so I don’t have to come in an check them.”

    “Can’t you just make fruit on your own?” Anko asked.

    “I also don’t need to eat,” I replied with a shrug. “So, I found myself enjoying watching things grow naturally.”

    “Makes sense,” Anko nodded.

    “Over on the left, in the far back,” I started again, pointing directly at the door. “Is the museum wing. I never actually finished it, but it was supposed to explain to people that found the vault the various stuff about that fictional world where this came from.”

    “I’d like you to finish it while we’re here,” Anko said with a smile. “I think it’s fascinating.”

    “I just might do that,” I said, leading her down the stairs. “On your left, there is the cafeteria and straight ahead is the door leading to my jutsu creation labs. It’s just a target range and a bomb testing chamber, plus some chemical mixing stations.”

    “Where did you sleep?” Anko asked, looking around. “Assuming you did.”

    “My office is actually up the stairs through that second door,” I answered, pointing up. “Beyond my office is the bedroom and master bathroom.”

    “Good,” Anko said with a catlike grin. “Because you need to bed me and you can’t do that without a bed, can you, Husband?”

    “I suppose I can’t, Wife,” I replied with a smile of my own. Bedding Anko…that’s going to be an adventure I never thought I’d be able to embark… “Now, for your wedding present!”

    Anko watched me curiously as I dug my book out from my suit pocket. I turned to the perk page. “Read that first one for me?”

    “Apotheosis,” Anko read, her eyes immediately growing wide. She took a moment to continue reading. “By all your powers combined, you’ve ascended into godhood. Eternal life, Eternal Youth, Eternal Power, they’re all yours. You will never die or suffer penalties because of old age. You also have infinite chakra and hitpoints.”

    Anko looked up from the book with a face full of shock and wonder. “You’re a god?”

    “And you’ll be my goddess, if you want,” I replied with a smile.

    “Y-you mean it?” Anko asked, still having trouble believing it. “Really? Truly?”

    “Well, yeah,” I replied with a shrug. “You’re my wife. I don’t want to watch you wither away and grow old while I stay full of youth and energy. That’d be torture. Besides, I want you to be safe and this seems like the most effective way to do that. Assuming, you know, you want it.”

    Tears were starting to well up in her eyes again. Geeze, I kind of feel bad for the emotional rollercoaster she’s been on today. “I don’t deserve you.”

    “That’s too bad,” I replied with a smirk. “You’re stuck with me.”

    Anko just cracked up laughing, hard, tightly clutching the folder to her stomach. She leaned in close and hugged me, her chest rising and falling with every chuckle. “I love you, Daisuke.”

    “I love you too,” I replied, holding her tight. “Will you accept my gift?”

    Anko held me out at arm’s length. “I will.”

    “Alright, hold still for a minute,” I said, focusing the jutsu into my lips. This is a good idea, right? It feels like one.

    Anko’s hair started fluttering in a non-existent breeze and her eyes got wide again. I leaned in and kissed her on the lips for perhaps the most romantic ascension ever.

    Ascend Other.

    I could feel the chakra swirling around us as Anko’s body started to change. Her coils started to expand, then collapse, her network surging with a power they had never even dreamed of before. My wife’s very genetics were changing right in front of me, solving the aging problem for her forever, and tapping into the infinite wells of power that now coursed through her veins.

    The transformation finished. My wife was now a goddess.

    Anko looked at her fingers and hands, then down at her body. “This is amazing. I’m a goddess now?”

    “Well,” I began. “You already were, I just made it official.”

    She laughed again and smiled wide. Then she came up and kissed me on the lips. “I love you.”

    “I love you too.” We’ve said that a lot today. To be fair, though, this is the first day of our honeymoon.

    Anko took a deep breath. “Wow. I hope you like my gift because this is amazing.”

    “I’m sure your gift will be wonderful,” I replied with a reassuring smile. “Now, we had some things to talk about.”

    “Right,” Anko nodded. “The fictional thing and your bloodline?”

    I took a seat at one of the cafeteria tables and gestured for her to sit across from me.

    “So, in my old world, we were at peace for so long that we became highly inundated with entertainment,” I began, summoning what I remembered was the cover for the first issue of Naruto. “Including manga. Like this one.”

    I passed her the cover and she was actually speechless. She turned it over in her hands, looking at the design. She held her chin in her hand, propped up against the table as she examined the cover. “You aren’t joking, are you?”

    She almost sounded hopeful.

    “Nope.”

    “You had Manga with Naruto as the main character.”

    “Yup!”

    Naruto.”

    “Indeed.”

    “Our Naruto.”

    “The very same!”

    How,” Anko asked incredulously. “How is this possible? Does your world have seers? Psychics?”

    “That might be the case,” I replied with a shrug. “Personally, I’m of the theory that there’s so many universes out there that we were bound to get one right eventually.”

    “Random chance,” Anko asked, now almost looking angry. “You think random chance explains this?”

    I took a moment to think it over. Then I nodded with a cheerful smile.

    “How long was the manga?” Anko asked quietly.

    “I don’t remember if it finished when I died after, what, ten years of running?” I shrugged. “Maybe more? I just know that it was long and that I never even got close to caught up.”

    “How far along did you get?” Anko asked.

    “Well, shortly after Suna and Sound joined together to invade Konoha, Orochimaru got Sasuke to defect to his side on the promise of more power,” I explained matter-of-factly, desperately trying to keep the smile off my face but failing because my wife’s incredulous expression was hilarious. “Then Naruto went with Jiraiya of the Sannin on a training trip and there was a time-skip that I never got too.”

    She put her elbows on the table, clasped her hands together and leaned forward. “I have questions.”

    “Ask them.”

    “What was my role in all of this, first off?” Anko asked with an analytical expression.

    “Well, you were a side-character,” I replied. “We didn’t see too much of you outside of the Chunin exams, where you proctored phase two.”

    “Okay, that makes sense, given that Naruto is the main character.” Anko nodded, still completely professional. “What about…”

    The questions came on. They were relentless, demanding to know every detail that I could remember. Sadly, I couldn’t answer about half of them. Mostly because the answers she was looking might’ve been revealed in Shippuden or simply didn’t have an answer. Some, however, I forgot. When we got to Orochimaru specifically, and I told her that my memories of the anime were how I knew about Sarutobi’s failure to catch Orochimaru, she was quiet for a long, long moment.

    “That explains your precognitive abilities, right?” Anko asked, her eyes narrowed. “Just your memories coming back to you to warn you of danger.”

    “Nope,” I shook my head. “My memories are my memories. Some of the stuff I got ‘warned’ about? The Monster House? The kidnapped Hyuuga branch-family member? The Fish men that abducted Naruto and his class? That never happened in Canon.”

    “They didn’t happen?” Anko asked in disbelief.

    “Nope,” I confirmed, shaking my head. “Believe me, if they happened in Canon, I would’ve heard all about it before my death. Don’t ask me where the Monster House or the Fishmen came from, because I don’t know.”

    “You don’t know anything about them,” Anko repeated, still shocked.

    “Well, I’ve got a few tidbits about the Fishmen, but to explain that, I’d need to explain about my bloodline,” I continued, making the cover for Fallout 3. “Because that’s a whole another beast entirely.”

    I handed it to her.

    “Fallout,” She read. “What is it? Is it a manga? A movie?”

    “A video game.”

    “You’re going to need to explain that to me.”

    Ninjutsu Check Success: 100/75.

    Genjutsu Check Success: 100/60.

    Fuinjutsu Check Success: 100/95.

    “Sure,” I said, creating a facsimile of a desktop PC. “This is going to cast a mild Genjutsu on you to simulate what it would do in my old world, since I don’t know exactly how these things work. Okay?”

    “Oh, okay,” Anko nodded, looking at the square monitor in recognition. “You had these in your world too?”

    “Yeah, and a lot more powerful and sophisticated than anything Konoha has,” I said, standing up and walking around the table, grabbing one of the other chairs to sit by her. “We even have computers you could hold in your hand that did what Konoha had.”

    “Wow,” Anko looked surprised. “That…how?”

    “Just got better and more compact with every generation,” I replied. “We could even play games on them.”

    The monitor turned ‘on’, bringing us to a desktop wall paper with a few shortcuts tucked in the corner. One of them was for Fallout 3, my first Fallout. I moved the mouse, and she watched my hand like a hawk, noting the correlation between the mouse moving and the cursor. I double-clicked on the short cut.

    “So, the types of games you could play on this could be stupidly complex,” I began, booting up the game. “This is what we would call a ‘Role Playing Game’. You were dropped into a world with a role to play and expected to navigate it.”

    It loaded. The theme started to play. I started to smile in nostalgia as I pressed ‘new game’.

    “I had to select my gender in the womb,” I told her as my in-game character was born to James, the MC’s father. “In this game, you select it after your birth. I wonder what that would look like in real life…I think he would’ve dropped you here.”

    Anko just gave a laugh, but was just staring at the screen with analytical interest.

    The MC’s mom died and we fast forwarded a few years.

    “Now we’re a toddler,” I said. “And we can move. Here, you try.”

    “Oh,” Anko said, taking the mouse and looking at the keyboard. “What buttons do I press?”

    “To move, you use W, A, S, and D,” I explained, pointing to each key in turn.

    “Wait,” Anko froze, rapidly turning to stare at me. “…in your world, you used the rest of that alphabet?”

    Oh, yeah. Our mission ranks were S, A, B, C, D… “Yeah. All twenty-six characters.”

    Anko ran her hand through her hair. “That’s incredible! I knew we didn’t have all the letters, but I didn’t think there were so few of them.”

    “There aren’t that many of them compared to Kanji,” I agreed with a nod. “But it serves our purposes. So, press the W to move forward.”

    “W is the top one here?” Anko asked, pressing the button and making the toddler move forward. She hit the baby-gate and let go of the button. “Okay, what do I do now?”

    “Well move the mouse…”

    Teaching her how to move a video game character was fun, and a little frustrating, just because she hadn’t ever done anything like this before. Before long, she had opened the gate, grabbed the ball and then, finally, come to the children’s book ‘You’re SPECIAL’.

    “I assigned my stats with a book just like that,” I explained as she started flipping through the pages with her mouse. “I took my Charisma down to one and shot Luck up to nine, after leveling my Intelligence to ten.”

    “Why would you do that?” Anko asked with an incredulous frown. “Wouldn’t you have known that it would’ve made your life hell until you fixed it from your experience here.”

    “Well, in the game, Charisma doesn’t actually do anything,” I replied. “It doesn’t affect dialogue with NPC’s at all.”

    “Really,” Anko’s head fell into a tilt.

    “The only thing it does is affect the starting rank of your Speech skill, and you can level that up with Skill Points easily,” I said dismissively. “The general uselessness of Charisma as a stat is why I thought I could get away with having a dumped Charisma. Bad idea, would not recommend, real life ruins everything.”

    “Suddenly that entire part of your life makes sense,” Anko shook her head. “You had faulty data.”

    “This is true in a lot more ways than one,” I replied with a nod. “Also, this sounds worse than it is, but I didn’t think you’d use the words ‘faulty data’.”

    “I guess it was more like outdated information,” Anko conceded with a nod. At my continued amusement, she sighed. “I was Orochimaru’s science experiment. He researched everything and kept a lot of notes.”

    “Right, right,” I replied with a nod of my own. “I completely forgot. You’ve always been just ‘Anko’ to me.”

    “Well, now I’m Shimoda Anko,” She retorted with a giggle. “Your little dango.”

    “You’re melting my heart again,” I said with a smile. “So now that we’ve done that, Dad’s going to quote some religious scripture to us.”

    “Ooh, this should be interesting,” Anko said.

    Then we went through the tutorial. The birthday party, where she first saw conversation options and shot a bb-gun at a radroach (which she thought was cute), then to the GOAT, until, finally, the part where you have to run from the Vault or get murdered by the crazy overseer.

    “So, because dad left the vault,” Anko began, looking amused. “We’re being targeted.”

    “That’s the size of it, yeah,” I replied with a nod.

    “Okay then,” Anko nodded, starting to go through this final stage.

    She killed a guard and took his gun. At which point something clicked and she started pointing at me excitedly. “Wait! Wait! This is where that came from!”

    “Where what came from?” I asked with a curious smile.

    “Your weapon!” Anko said excitedly. “It’s based on these things! Pistols!”

    “That’s right,” I said, reaching into my coat jacket and pulling out my pistol. “I made a new one before I came back to Konoha. Way simpler in design.”

    She took it gingerly, looking at it carefully and comparing it to the one on the screen. “This one’s smaller.”

    “It’s tiny.”

    “It’s a skinny little weapon,” Anko said with a smile, handing it back to me.

    “By the way, I am totally going to give you one of these for your birthday,” I said with a grin.

    “Ooh, I’d love one.” Anko just got this happy, eager smile on her face. “You’ll teach me how to use it?”

    “Oh yeah,” I nodded.

    Then she continued through the vault, shooting every rad-roach and security guard she came across with surprisingly good aim. Then Butch Deloria came around and asked for help saving his mom from the roaches.

    Anko turned to me. “Should I help him, do you think?”

    “I think you should give him BB gun at minimum,” I replied. “Give him the ability to kill the roaches himself and the gun’s useless once you leave the vault anyway.”

    She hummed in thought. “Do I get anything if I help him personally?”

    “His Jacket,” I shrugged. “But I don’t think it’s worth it if you just want to get out of here.”

    “Alright, I’ll just give him the gun,” Anko replied, doing so.

    She continued on. When we arrived at Amata’s interrogation, we watched her gun down the officer interrogating her, Anko getting the biggest smile on her face. From there, we got the password to the Overseer’s exit to the vault. Amata showed up, then we left the Vault.

    The sunlight was blinding and as our character’s eyes got used to it, we saw the annihilated ruins of Washington DC.

    “What happened here?” Anko asked, looking around, down at the corpses of protestors holding picket-signs, demanding to be let in.

    “So, Fallout was based on an era in my countries culture from the 1950’s,” I started to explain, gesturing to the screen. “In the fifties, people were scared of nuclear war happening at any minute, but they thought the future would be filled with robots, lasers, invaders from the stars, all that jazz. So, when they were making Fallout, they bundled all that together to create this…a utopian society brought down to ruin by its zealotry and people are left to pick up the scraps.”

    “Okay,” Anko nodded once. “Explain nuclear war.”

    “Near the end of our second global war, my country developed a weapon called a Nuclear bomb,” I explained flatly. “We dropped two of them on Japan, one of our enemies at the time…the destruction was so utter and complete, people continuing to die from the nuclear fallout – hence the name of the game – for a long time afterwards, that the bombs were never used again. But the people were afraid of humanity wiping itself out with these nukes.”

    “Japan,” Anko repeated the name. “That sounds like it’s actually in our language.”

    “Well, it is the country the Naruto manga came from,” I replied.

    “Ah. Okay then.”

    “They were able to rebuild and they were a thriving nation when I died,” I wrapped it up. “Anyway, that’s my bloodline. It’s a game system designed to approximate reality, of someone getting more skilled and experienced as time goes on…that completely falls apart the second it’s applied to actual reality.”

    “So, let me see if I have this straight,” Anko began, that analytical expression glued to her face. “You died, had a character progression system attached to you from another world, then sent your soul to reincarnate into yet another world, this one ours?”

    I took a moment to think, and let the question sink in. “Yeah, that’s pretty much it.”

    Anko let out a breath and stared at the screen, moving the mouse to look at the ruins below. “That’s…incredible.”

    “That’s one way of putting it,” I replied with a nod. “When I put it like that, it sounds like a confusing, over complicated mess, personally.”

    Anko just laughed and I laughed with her. As she settled down, she smiled at me. “So, what does this have to do with the Fishmen?”

    “In Fallout, there’s something called the Forced Evolutionary Virus, or FEV. It’s a glowing green liquid that causes people to gain muscle mass and ‘evolve’, if you will,” I began to explain. “When I got to Orochimaru’s lab, the one where the Fishmen started to grow, I found his notes. He described a Kiri Nin that could breathe underwater that was captured by ROOT. Then the next note described how his containment pod had become filled with a glowing green liquid that he had no idea how it got there…”

    “You’re kidding,” Anko’s eyes slowly started to widen.

    “Nope.” I shook my head. “Then it escaped into the village and started flooding the sewers with smaller, dumber clones of itself once it grew to giant size. The only thing I know that looks like that, and has effects like that, and makes sense in the convoluted context that is my life? Is the FEV. From Fallout.”

    “We should tell the Hokage,” Anko pointed out. “Your friends got kidnapped over this.”

    “My only question is how,” I said, sighing to let out some stress. “I only recently decided I wanted to tell you and as you can see, it’s a long, long explanation. Beforehand, I wanted to take this secret to my grave. But now…we’ll tell them later. It’s not like it’s urgent or anything.”

    “But whoever or whatever did that to Orochimaru’s secret lab could strike at any moment,” Anko argued with a glare. “It could do that again, or worse.”

    “Tell you what,” I began. “If I get a quest notification, like you saw there while you were fighting through the vault, about some crazy science experiment, I’ll gear up to tell the Hokage. Alright?”

    Anko’s eyes narrowed as she thought about it. “Alright.”

    “Besides, we’re on our honeymoon,” I pointed out with a small smile. “I want to enjoy it.”

    She slowly started to smile. “I do too. But promise me you’ll let me know if you get a quest notification. Alright?”

    “I promise,” I complied.

    “Thank you,” Anko said with a smile. “Now, let’s head up to your room. You’ve got couches and furniture up there, right? Or is it just the bed?”

    “I’ve got couches and stuff in there,” I replied with a grin as I stood up. “Why?”

    “Because we should have a spot to talk before we get into bed together,” Anko replied with a smile, also standing up.

    “What’re we talking about?” I asked with a curious grin.

    Anko looked back at me with a devious expression. “Sex.”

    My grin evolved into a full-on smile. “Alright!”

    We walked up the stairs, past my office and into my room.

    My room was very expansive. The king-sized bed was in the center against the far wall. On either side were chairs and couches all gathered together tastefully around small tables. I sat down on one of the couches and my wife sat in my lap.

    Anko hummed in appreciation, wiggling her cute little butt against my groin, making me feel good. “That is a big bed.”

    “I hate not having room,” I replied with a grin.

    “So, the first thing I have to ask,” Anko started with a devious smirk. “What’s something you want to try?”

    Should I say it now, or save it for later? Yeah, probably a good idea to just get it out there. If she’s into it, she’s into it. If she’s not, no big deal. We’re married, we can talk about this sort of thing. “Anal.”

    Anko hummed. “Alright, we can do that.”

    “Uh, have you ever done that before?” I asked with a small frown. “I understand it can be really painful and can tear things down there if you aren’t relaxed enough.”

    “You need a lot of lube, too,” Anko replied with a nod. “And yes, I can relax down there. It only hurts now if you’re too big...or not using enough lube.”

    “How’d you learn?” I asked curiously.

    “I used a set of plugs and a dildo when I was younger,” Anko shrugged. “I was dating a guy who I heard liked anal. But we broke up before we could do anything. I was so disappointed, I henged a clone.”

    “Was it fun?”

    “It’s…an acquired taste,” Anko answered matter-of-factly. “But yes, it’s a lot of fun now. It can make me orgasm.”

    “That’s interesting,” I replied with some surprise. “The sphincter down there’s not an erogenous zone, so I wouldn’t think it could take you that far without something like rubbing your clitoris to go with it.”

    “As I said, it’s an acquired taste,” Anko echoed with a raised eyebrow. She smiled and brought her face close to mine, breathing on my lips. “I’d love to do that with you; I just need some time to prepare.”

    I hummed. “If you need to clean up, there’s a really simple jutsu I could teach you.”

    Anko did a double take. “Really?”

    “Oh yeah, it’s so easy to do,” I said, starting to slowly go through the hand signs, signaling her with a nod to start following along. “Start pooling your chakra all around your groin.”

    She did so and I went through some more instructions. Really simple, and I watched her chakra pool and swirl according to my instructions. “Then you cast the jutsu.”

    Anko did, then about jumped straight out of my lap, but put her arms around me as she looked down there with wide, shocked eyes. “Wow! Okay…yeah. That was wild.”

    “But it worked though,” I replied with a grin. “You did it perfectly.”

    “I can feel that! It was such a simple jutsu,” Anko shook her head. “Thank you, that saves me some time…you got any more like that?”

    “Well, I got a couple techniques I can think of off the top of my head,” I said. “Not even jutsu, just chakra techniques.”

    I cast a few chakra strings and pulled the coffee table over to us. Then, I used solid release to turn its surface into raw friction that you wouldn’t be able to run your hand across it without it stopping dead. “Okay, so try to run your hand across the table.”

    She placed her hand on the table and tried to do it. She couldn’t move her hand, except to take it off. “Huh. Okay, what’s the technique?”

    “Just make a thin layer of chakra over your skin,” I said, doing exactly that, then running my hand over the table like it was made of slick ice. “Just push enough to get it out of your skin, but don’t do anything else.”

    Anko hummed, looking at her hand and glaring at it as she tried to get the chakra to do what she wanted. When she was satisfied, she laid her hand on the table again, and ran it across like it was surfing on butter. “Wait, that’s so smooth!”

    She placed her other hand down on the table and couldn’t move it, but the hand she was focusing on was gliding across it like it was nothing.

    “That takes care of the lubricant issue,” I said with a nod. “Of course, if you can’t hold it, I can use it myself. Wouldn’t be any trouble.”

    “Hm, you’ll have to help me practice,” Anko replied, bringing her finger under my chin to pull me forward.

    “Well, I was going to do that anyway.”

    She laughed and we kissed.

    “What else do you got?” Anko asked with a fascinated expression after we broke apart.

    “Just one,” I said. “You know chakra’s really good at connecting things, right?”

    “Well, yeah,” Anko replied with a shrug. “What needs connecting?”

    “Well, if you put chakra in your anal sphincter, where all the nerve endings are,” I started, holding up one finger to symbolize the body part. “Then you connect it with your clitoris, stimulating one would be like stimulating the other and since the clitoris is such a high erogenous zone, you could get the sphincter to share that trait.”

    “And stimulating one would be like stimulating both of them,” Anko replied, blinking. Her eyes then went really, really wide. “That would be amazing!”

    My marriage is one where I can discuss all the perverted possibilities of chakra that I’ve been secretly harboring in the back of my skull. I am a blessed man. “If you really wanted to double up, you’d connect both of those things to your vagina. With the g-spot especially? Then no matter what I’m doing down there, you’d be soaring through the clouds. Putting it lightly.”

    “Hm, but I’d need to train it, though,” Anko pointed out with a pout. “So, I can actually hold all of those while we’re actually having sex. Those mind-blowing orgasms are going to take a while.”

    “Ah, working for it just makes you appreciate them more,” I told her with a grin. “Now, I had a question for you.”

    “Lay it on me, sex god,” Anko said, smiling deviously.

    Little early to be calling me that. Of course, since I’m pretty sure I just blew her mind with how to use chakra to take advantage of her biology, it might be warranted. Maybe. “How many kids do you want?”

    Anko’s eyes got wide and sparkling again, like she was staring at a dream of hers that was so close she could taste it. “As many as you can put in me. I want dozens of little Shimoda’s running around our compound.”

    “Awesome,” I replied, grinning like a man who just won the jackpot. “I’ve always wanted a large family.”

    “Yes!” Anko did a mini-celebration in my lap.

    Then I pulled her into another kiss, because frankly, I’m getting a little impatient.

    “So, then I had another question for you.”

    “Hm?”

    “What kind of kinks do you have?” I asked her with a raised eyebrow.

    She got that devious look on her face again, walking her fingers up my chest in a way that lit my whole body on fire. “I like being spanked.”

    “Alright.” That’s pretty common actually.

    “I like being whipped.”

    “Okay.” That not so much.

    “I like being held down and ravished by a strong, dominant man and not being able to do a thing about it,” Anko got this wild look in her eyes. Pretty sure I was beat red at this point, too, which prompted her next line. “You want to be that man, don’t you?”

    “More than you know,” I growled back at her with a little more intensity than I meant.

    She shifted in her seat, straddling my legs, pressing her lips into mine. Our tongues met, our breath mixed and our hand went to hold each other tightly. I squeezed her little butt, making her squeak in pleasure and she started rubbing that butt into my groin.

    Oh…I want you more than I can stand right now…

    Patience, Daisuke. You’ve still got a couple more things to talk about.

    I broke it off and the both of us were panting heavily. I’m pretty sure I started sweating too. “Okay, we can worry about the more…intense stuff once we figure out a safe word and get the right toys, which I don’t want to worry about right now.”

    “Alright, we can do plain regular tonight,” Anko said, sounding just a little disappointed. Then she perked right back up. “It’ll give me an excuse to practice linking everything up anyway.”

    “I mean, we can do doggy style too if you’re into that,” I suggested with a curious frown.

    “Eh,” She made a waffling expression. “Not for the whole time; I want to see your beautiful face.”

    “Makes sense,” I replied with a nod. “So how often are we going to be creating the four-legged beast?”

    “How often do you want to make the four-legged beast?” Anko asked curiously.

    “Give me your minimum,” I began with a devious smirk of my own. “And we can negotiate up from there.”

    Anko laughed, happily and hard. “Alright. I was thinking every night for starters.”

    “Every night, wow,” I replied, my grin exploding into a huge smile. “You sure you got the stamina for that?”

    “I’m a goddess, remember?” Anko replied with a smirk. “I’m pretty sure that came with a stamina boost. If not, well, I want to see how long I can last anyway.”

    “Alright,” I picked Anko up, bridal style and she yelped and laughed happily as I put her on the bed, quickly getting on top of her.

    She was looking at me with hunger in her eyes, looking up and down my body as I made our clothes fall through our bodies, through the bed and onto the floor.

    I leaned in and whispered into her ear. “You’re mine now, Anko.”


    “Take me,” Anko moaned in response. “Take me hard.”

    ---


    By the end, our bed was nearly soaked through. I had finished and curled up under the sheets, wrapping Anko, my beautiful, glorious wife in my arms, holding her tightly with one arm, my other hand running across her side and down her thigh.

    Speaking of completely soaked through, Anko was drenched in sweat, droplets still beading and falling down her skin. Her whole body was trembling in my embrace, her arms slowly and clumsily trying to wrap around me. She looked up at me with nothing short of complete devotion in her eyes, a content smile on her face.

    “I love you Daisuke,” She whispered out, her voice a little hoarse. “I love you so, so much.”

    My entire body was singing praises to the greatest woman I will ever know. It was on fire, burning with passion and memories of the pure bliss that I found between her thighs. The sounds of her screaming my name were echoing in my head louder than any melody to grace my ear, past, present or future.

    “I love you too,” I told her with a smile to match. “Let’s make this last, okay?”

    We belong together.


    “Forever,” Anko agreed, falling asleep in my arms.

    ---


    Author’s Note: Yup, this is the chapter that made this fic’s rating change. I don’t have a problem with Anko and Daisuke’s discussion and how it ended because, well, they’re married. This is the sort of thing that married couples should talk about. But it’s not suitable for a T rating. Also, not interested in writing erotica, but I hope that bit at the end wasn’t too much for some of you. I’d like feedback from everyone.

    Last chapter was 4k words, there around. This one is over 8k, not including this author’s note. So, for some reason it’s easier for me to write Daisuke and Anko being lovey-dovey than it is for me to write my version of the Wave Arc. Need to work on that. Hopefully the next chapter will be easier.

    Shout out goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight, Apperatus, EPiCJB19, Seeking Raven. Thank you for your continued support, you guys are Super! Well, I mean you are Super Patrons, so of course you’re super!

    Thank you all so much!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  16. Threadmarks: Chapter 16: Tea with Strangers
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---



    Naruto stirred in his sleep, slowly sitting up on the bedroll that he was laid down on.

    “Easy, easy,” An unfamiliar voice said, reaching out a hand to steady him. “You trained yourself to exhaustion it seems.”

    He groaned, rubbing his eyes and coming face to face with the voice’s owner. “Who are you?”

    The man, who wore a dark green robe, simply smiled. His long black hair fell around his shoulders. Behind him, a campfire roared, casting him in shadow and making his red irises glow in the dark. “I’m simply a traveler. I saw you passed out on the ground and thought it would be a bad idea to just leave you there, so I brought you to my camp.”

    “Oh.” Naruto blinked. Then he smiled. “Well, thank you, traveler-san, but I really need to be going.”

    He made to stand up, but his legs and arms failed him, pain spiking from his limbs. “Oh! Ow, never mind. Geeze, what is this?”

    “You must be sore,” The Traveler said. “You seemed to have trained especially hard, shinobi-san.”

    “That’s weird,” Naruto replied with a non-plussed expression. “I’ve never gotten sore a day in my life.”

    “Well, have you ever trained so hard you passed out before?” The Traveler asked with a pleasant smile.

    Naruto moved to rub the back of his head, wincing at his sore shoulder while doing so. “No, not really. It was a first.”

    “Hm. Would you like some tea?” The Traveler poured out a cup of hot liquid into a bowl from a kettle that had been resting above the fire. “It might help with the soreness.”

    Naruto’s eyes narrowed at the man, offering a cup with a genial smile, then down at the tea. The Traveler simply continued to hold the cup out, offering a simple, genuine smile. Naruto took the cup and took the smallest of sips.

    No, it wasn’t drugged, poisoned or anything else that his sharp ninja senses could tell, so he took a more generous sip. “Huh. This isn’t bad.”

    “Thank you,” The Traveler replied. “So, may I ask a question?”

    “Sure!” Naruto said with a smile of his own.

    “Why are you out here training yourself to exhaustion?” He asked with a concerned frown. “That’s not something people just do unless they’ve got a very good reason.”

    “Well,” Naruto started, debating internally. On the one hand, what he had been trying to work out was still bothering him. On the other hand, they had enemy Ninja around and this traveler, as well intentioned as he seemed, could be one of them. “I don’t know if I should say…”

    “You don’t need to tell me if you don’t want too,” The Traveler simply shrugged. “I was merely hoping to help.”

    Then again, if he were an enemy ninja, this tea would be poisoned and he’d be tied to a tree. “I’m just having trouble with this mission we’re on.”

    The Traveler hummed. “I was wondering if you were on a mission. You’re from Konoha, if I’m not mistaken.”

    “That’s right,” Naruto nodded. “We were hired to do something that’s going to hurt a lot of people here in Wave and I don’t know how I feel about it.”

    The Traveler hummed. “Well, if you don’t complete the mission, would people get hurt?”

    Naruto stopped to take another sip. “I guess?”

    “Who might that be?” The Traveler asked with a sympathetic frown.

    “My Dad, who gave me this mission personally,” Naruto began to list off. “The village, I guess, who’d have to refund Gombei-san’s money. Then there’s Gato Company’s employees, who need the bridge gone so they can keep their jobs.”

    “That sounds like a lot of people,” The Traveler said, slowly nodding. “It sounds like your dilemma is that, no matter what you do, you’ll hurt people and you don’t want that.”

    “Yeah, that’s right,” Naruto replied, nodding rapidly. “I wanted to become a Shinobi to protect the village and innocent people, not ruin the lives of an entire country.”

    “That sounds very noble of you.” The Traveler smiled.

    “Thank you,” Naruto replied bashfully.

    “May I offer you my perspective, as someone who has been all over the Elemental Nations?” The Traveler offered.

    “Sure,” Naruto replied with a nod, sipping up his tea. “I’m sure you’ve seen lots of things, right.”

    “Indeed, I have,” The Traveler replied. “I once met a woman whose husband was a Shinobi. She had three children, two daughters and one son whom she had to look after alone. Her husband was gone.”

    “What happened to her husband?” Naruto asked with a frown. “He didn’t leave her, did he?”

    “No, actually,” The Traveler shook his head. “She invited me into her home and she told me the story over tea. She explained that her husband was a Shinobi and had passed away in the most recent Shinobi war. Her husband had been holding the position for a retreat and had been impaled through the heart with a kunai.”

    “Oh,” Naruto said with wide eyes. “I feel so sorry for her.”

    “I’m sure she would appreciate your pity,” The Traveler nodded his head. “She told me how she feared her daughters growing up without having an example of a good man in the house, that they wouldn’t know what to look for in a husband. She told me how she worried her son wouldn’t learn how to be a man without his father there to teach him. The death of this man caused the whole family a lot of pain.”

    “That poor woman,” Naruto’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “Why are you telling me this?”

    “Because this woman was a native of the Land of Earth, and her husband was an Iwa Shinobi, killed by Konoha forces,” The Traveler revealed, causing Naruto to spit out his tea. “Now, I ask you, if Konoha hadn’t killed this man, what might have happened to your village?”

    Naruto was speechless. “…well, um. He might’ve killed Ninja from Konoha. He’d have helped more enemy Ninja escape. It might’ve cost more Konoha nin their lives. But…”

    He looked to the side, still confused and still unable to quite vocalize his struggle.

    “Would you like some more tea?” The Traveler asked, grabbing the kettle.


    Naruto looked at his cup, then at the Traveler, then nodded.

    ---


    Kakashi could see the village gates in front of him, hopping from branch to branch.

    Now we’ll get you in bed and then we can start working on the bridge tomorrow, Kakashi thought in relief. And then it’ll all be goo-

    The clone popped.


    He froze in midair, stumbling on his landing on the rooftop below him. He whirled around in a panic, un-covering his Sharingan and diving back into the forest.

    ---


    “Hm,” The Traveler said, as if something had just occurred to him. “From my example, I can tell you that I’ve seen many situations where there are, well, to put it bluntly, a winner and a loser.”

    “Why does it have to be that way?” Naruto asked with a frown.

    The Traveler shrugged. “When two people have conflicting interests and are unwilling to cooperate, only one of them can have their way.”

    “But then what am I supposed to do?” Naruto barked in frustration. “I can’t tear down this Country’s hopes and dreams, but I can’t betray the village, either!”

    “Let me ask you this,” The Traveler said, adjusting himself in his seat, not even remotely affected by the Konoha Nin’s outburst. “If Konoha turned down a mission every time it hurt someone, could they help anyone?”

    “Probably not,” Naruto admitted with a sigh, taking a sip of his tea.

    “I think it’s very noble to want to help everyone,” The Traveler started, taking a sip of his own tea. “But I’m afraid without the proper tools and resources, that is simply impossible. So, the best thing that you can do is help yourself so you can help other people later.”

    “You really think we can help the Land of Waves later?” Naruto asked with a deep frown. “We won’t be allowed back here once our mission is done.”

    “Well, are you sure you can’t think of some way to fix things?” The Traveler asked with a thoughtful frown. “Someone you can contact or some deal you can reach before you go home?”

    Naruto simply grunted and pulled his knees up to rest his arms on. “If I could talk to Daisuke, maybe.”

    The Traveler tilted his head with an inquisitive expression on his face. “Who is Daisuke?”

    “My brother,” Naruto replied with a depressed expression on his face. “Not by blood, but we’ve known each other as long as we could remember. If I could talk to him, he could fix things up without a problem.”

    The Traveler hummed. “You know, you mentioned Gato Company before, yes?”

    Naruto stopped for a moment. “…yes, I did. Why?”

    “Well, that makes me think that you’re here to destroy the bridge that just got finished,” The Traveler started, putting the pieces together. “Because their company is threatened by it’s existence. Is that right?”

    “Yeah.” Naruto slowly and hesitantly nodded.

    “I heard, and I don’t know if this is true, that it was built by a Shinobi,” The Traveler continued, looking fairly excited. “Do you know if that’s true? I’ve been on my way to see it, myself.”

    “Yeah, Daisuke built it,” Naruto explained morosely.

    “That is marvelous,” The Traveler said with wide eyes and a smile. Then he frowned. “A shame that you were hired to destroy your brothers work.”

    “Well, that’s the thing,” Naruto began, grabbing his cup of tea from his side and sipping it. “He left the village not to long ago for reasons. I want to get him to come back, but I can’t do that if I can’t talk to him. So, if we destroy the bridge…”

    “You think you might get Daisuke-san’s attention,” The Traveler finished with a thoughtful nod. “It might work. In truth, I hope it does. You seem to be a good person; it’d be a shame for you to be separated from your family.”

    “Thank you,” Naruto said with a nod. He smiled. “This tea is really good.”

    “Thank you,” The Traveler said with a grateful smile. “I learned the Tea Ceremony from a master in the Land of Lightning. I’m glad I retained some of his masterful craft, it’s been many years since I’ve seen him.”

    “You really have been all over, haven’t you?” Naruto asked with a surprised expression. “Are you a Ninja?”

    “No,” The Traveler said with an amused chuckle. “No, I am simply someone who walks quickly and seldom rests.”

    “What was your name again?” Naruto asked.

    “I’m no one important,” The Traveler replied. “Just a traveler. I find it easier to travel if my name isn’t known across the continent. I hope you understand.”

    “Well, alright,” Naruto just shrugged, folding his legs beneath him. “But that doesn’t fix my problem.”

    The Traveler just hummed. “What would it take to get those who need the bridge and Gato Company to cooperate with each other?”

    “I don’t know,” Naruto shrugged. “I’m not a business guy. I’m a Shinobi. Besides, if they could both get what they want, then Konoha wouldn’t have been hired and I wouldn’t be stuck in this mess.”

    “And Konoha wouldn’t stand to gain quite a bit of money, am I right?” The Traveler asked pointedly.

    Naruto just sighed. “Yeah. I just wish I didn’t have to pick a side. Or, you know, I could pick a side with an obvious good guy and bad guy.”

    The Traveler hummed. “Who is the ‘most’ good guy in this situation?”

    “Well, Konoha,” Naruto said, shrugging. “Obviously.”

    The Traveler just nodded. “Does that then mean that those who oppose it are ‘bad guys’?”

    “I don’t know,” Naruto shook his head, taking another sip of his tea and looking into the green liquid. “Maybe? I know Gato Company was involved in Human Trafficking and Drugs.”

    “Both despicable trades,” The Traveler agreed. “But are they still involved in those things?”

    Naruto grunted in thought, looking up at the stars. “I don’t think so. Daisuke kind of…cleaned house with them.”

    “Is that so?” The Traveler asked. “So then if those responsible for wrong doing within their company have been brought to justice, are they still the bad guys?”

    Naruto thought for a minute. Remembering the terrified receptionist, hiding behind her desk from the angry mob. Hasimoto drowning himself in sake because he believed his days were very numbered. “Maybe not.”

    “So, in this particular case,” The Traveler began. “If Konoha is the good guys, and Gato Company aren’t the bad guys, who is left?”

    “The villagers,” Naruto replied, blinking rapidly. “But they don’t deserve to have the bridge destroyed. That would crush them.”

    “Perhaps not,” The Traveler replied. “But if your plan to attract, what was his name, Daisuke?”

    Naruto nodded.

    “If it works, then he’ll simply rebuild it,” The Traveler pointed out. “You may even convince him to wait a period of time if you need him too.”

    “But if it doesn’t, the people will be out a bridge,” Naruto pointed out.


    “Well, remember what I said about needing to help yourself first,” The Traveler pointed out. “It’s terrible to say, I know, but unless you gain or have a third solution to make everyone happy, that is the reality of the situation.”

    ---


    “Captain, I’ve had no luck,” Masato reported with a salute of his flipper.

    “Keep up the patrol,” Captain Shizo ordered. “With the target’s team searching inland and us monitoring the ocean exports, we’ll find him in no time.”

    “Are you sure about that, sir?” Masato asked, the muscles around his beak turning to a frown. “Someone or something snatched the target out from beneath our beaks.”

    “We have to keep trying,” Shizo responded. “You want to be the one to tell Shimoda that we lost his friend because he got kidnapped?”

    “No sir,” Masato shook his head.


    “Resume patrol pattern.”

    ---


    Naruto let out a frustrated grunt. “But I can’t accept that.”

    “Do you have another way?” The Traveler asked. “I would really love to hear if you have solution.”

    “I don’t!” Naruto barked angrily. “I don’t know what to do and all this talking about it is making me frustrated!”

    “I am simply trying to help,” The Traveler replied.

    “I don’t even know who you are!” Naruto continued, pointing at him. “And you’re trying to give me advice about my problems!”

    The Traveler simply frowned. “Perhaps we should shelve the topic then. I apologize, I didn’t mean to aggravate you.”

    Naruto let out a disappointed sigh. “No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have shouted.”

    “Apology accepted,” The Traveler replied with a smile. “Now, may I ask about Daisuke?”

    “Sure,” Naruto waved. “Not sure what there is to say, though?”

    “Well, I’d like to know why he left,” The Traveler said, getting a curious look on his face. “I can’t imagine he’d leave for anything more than something very important.”

    “He got some bad blood with the…with someone in the village,” Naruto pointed out with a frown. “He couldn’t forgive him and the old man couldn’t let what Daisuke did stand. So, he left.”

    “I won’t ask what he did,” The Traveler said. “But I will ask if that’s the only reason?”

    “What do you mean?” Naruto asked with a frown.

    “Well, Ninja from Konoha are loyal,” The Traveler began, noting the proud look on Naruto’s face with a small smile. “They are big on never abandoning one’s comrades. In my experience, it would take a very severe break in beliefs or comradery for them to even consider leaving the village.”

    Naruto got an uncomfortable look on his face, looking down at the fire.

    “Do you need a refill?” The Traveler asked.

    “No,” Naruto shook his head. “It’s just, well…Daisuke doesn’t like the world. He doesn’t like the villages. He wants everyone in the Elemental Nations to learn Jutsu. Everyone! Can you believe that?”

    “I’ve met a few people like that, actually,” The Traveler replied with a frown. “They were always dangers to themselves and others, never able to see the full consequences of their actions.”

    “Exactly!” Naruto replied, taking a sip of the tea. “Daisuke is exactly like that. He doesn’t think through the consequences of his actions; he just does things because they seem like a good idea. He’s letting his anger at the village cloud his thinking.”

    The Traveler hummed.

    “I mean, sometimes he does good things,” Naruto amended, looking into his cup, then sipping his tea. “Sometimes he does amazing things. But he’s wrong on this. He thinks that the Hidden Villages are the reason everything is messed up, but that’s just his anger at the village talking. And I’m afraid he’s going to really hurt himself just because he can’t be bothered to really think about the consequences of his actions before he tries to change the world.”

    “The world is a difficult place,” The Traveler replied. “Many who are scarred try to change the world but are unable to see their contribution to the rot until it’s too late.”

    “Yes, exactly,” Naruto nodded. “That’s why I have to bring Daisuke back to the village. That’s why I have to get him to see what he’s doing, before it’s too late.”

    “Too late for what?”

    “Before he succeeds,” Naruto replied with a frown. “Before he teaches everyone on the planet jutsu. Before he causes the whole world to go up in flames because he took Jutsu out of the villages before the world was ready for it.”

    “What makes you think he’s going to succeed?” The Traveler asked, blinking owlishly. “That sounds like lunacy.”

    “Because he’s Daisuke,” Naruto affirmed with a nod. “Daisuke does the impossible on a daily basis.”

    “Well, you know him better than I,” The Traveler conceded. “But I must ask, do you really think that you can convince him of the error of his ways?”

    Naruto looked into the fire, then at his tea. Then he sighed. “No. The only person who can convince Daisuke of anything is Daisuke.”

    “Really?”

    “Uh huh.”

    “And why do you say that?” The Traveler asked.

    “Because Daisuke is the most stubborn, willfully ignorant, determined idiot that I’ve ever met,” Naruto pointed out bluntly. “And the only person who can lead him to the truth is him.”

    The Traveler’s eyebrows furrowed together in concern as he sipped his tea. “You have some things to work through with him.”

    “Well, yeah,” Naruto nodded.

    “More than just him leaving,” The Traveler pointed out.

    Naruto tilted his head from side to side. “Maybe.”

    The Traveler hummed and said nothing, simply sipping his tea.


    Naruto finished his cup, and accepted the refill The Traveler offered.

    ---


    Come on, where are you? Kakashi’s heart was pounding, desperate to find anything, any trace of where his charge had gone. Naruto, I’ll find you! I promise!

    He remembered the last time someone he cared about got abducted by Kiri nin, because that is the only explanation and he didn’t see it happen.

    That will never happen again! Kakashi thought, his thoughts filled with shame about how he got fooled by a simple Genjutsu. Never!


    I swear it!

    ---



    “He’s been irritating you for a long time then, I suppose?” The Traveler asked.

    “Not,” Naruto paused to find the right word. “Necessarily. Just…”

    The Traveler hummed inquisitively.

    “He’s known as the village miracle worker,” Naruto began with a sad expression. “He did the impossible. He did so much for everyone. Especially me. But I wanted to be known by the village too, as more than the son of the Hokage.”

    The Traveler’s eyebrows shot up like a rocket. “I’m not sure there’s much better that you can do, Shinobi-san.”

    “But the only reason I’m known as that is because of Daisuke,” Naruto frowned, angrily glaring into his cup. “Everyone is like ‘oh, Naruto! You’re so good at Taijutsu’. Because Daisuke trained me. ‘Naruto, you can do clones now, that’s amazing!’. Because Daisuke told my sensei I needed one-on-one training time. ‘You can do a forbidden jutsu like it’s nothing!’ Yeah, because Daisuke taught me that. ‘You’re the son of the Hokage!’ Because Daisuke brought him back from the dead.”

    “Back from the dead,” The Traveler muttered to himself in surprise. “That’s quite a list.”

    “Everything I am now, from my abilities as a Ninja, to my social status,” Naruto started. He threw his empty hand in the air for emphasis. “Everything! Everything I am! Everything I can do! Is because of Daisuke. Everything!”

    “It sounds like you have a lot to be grateful for,” The Traveler replied kindly. “He’s done so much for you.”

    “I’m grateful,” Naruto hurriedly backtracked. “I just…I just want something that’s mine. Something that I did, by myself, so I can stand apart from Daisuke. So, I can be known for my own achievement.”

    “So, you can step out from his shadow,” The Traveler finished for him.

    “Exactly,” Naruto gestured to him like he had just said the most obvious thing in the world. “Thank you.”

    “I’ve seen many sibling rivalries play out similarly,” The Traveler replied. “You should honestly just give your brother time. He’ll come back to the village once he’s resolved his anger.”

    “You think so?” Naruto asked with a frown.

    “I know so,” The Traveler replied with a smile.

    “Great,” Naruto sighed, looking unsurely into his cup. “That would be great.”

    “You don’t sound sure,” The Traveler pointed out.

    “Well, it’s not enough to just bring him back,” Naruto replied. “I have to change his mind, too. If he doesn’t change his mind, but he comes back to Konoha well, that would just mean that he’s still going to try to spread jutsu everywhere.”

    “So, you’re afraid that he’ll simply have changed tactics if he comes back on his own,” The Traveler had this odd smirk on his face as he said that, one that quickly changed to an inquisitive frown.

    “That’s right!” Naruto replied, not having noticed the smirk. “If he even can change tactics, that is. Thinking things through is not his forte.”

    “Is he really that bad?” The Traveler asked with an amused expression.

    “Please. If he met a girl he actually liked back, he’d marry her instantly,” Naruto pointed out with an unamused expression. “He does not think about the consequences of his actions. At all. He’s allergic to the idea.”

    “My, my,” The Traveler shook his head in amusement. “That is a stirring indictment if I ever saw one. Well, I hope things work out for you.”

    “Thank you,” Naruto nodded. “I appreciate all the tea. It was good.”

    “I’m glad you liked it,” The Traveler replied. “Now, if you don’t mind me revisiting the bridge.”

    Naruto just sighed in defeat. “I…guess we need to destroy it, huh?”

    “I suppose so,” The Traveler gave him a sympathetic frown. “I apologize that you have to do such a hard thing. I know it’s not easy.”

    “Well, it’s like you said,” Naruto shrugged his shoulders, drinking the last of the tea. “No point in trying to help others if you can’t help yourself. Besides, the village isn’t really good in this conflict anyway.”

    Naruto rolled his shoulders. “It’s like my dad said, actually. We don’t judge, we just do the work.”

    “I’m glad you’ve come to a decision,” The Traveler replied with a smile.

    “I just hope it’s the right one,” Naruto replied, making to stand up and doing so easily. “Hey, I’m not sore anymore! That tea really did help. Thank you, Traveller-san!”

    The Traveler smiled wider. “I’m glad I was able to help. Now, can you help me pick up my camp? I’ll be on my way north, there’s something I forgot I grab in the town while I was there.”

    “Sure,” Naruto said, looking a little confused. “Are you sure you can’t grab it in the town south? You can see the bridge before we blow it up.”

    “I’m afraid not,” The Traveler said, rolling up one of the bedrolls. “It’s a special book order that I completely forgot. I was actually on my way to pick up my camp when I saw you.”

    The two working together made picking up the camp very simple. The fire was doused and everything was strapped to a pack on the Traveler’s back.

    “Well, thanks again,” Naruto said with a bow.

    “I hope we meet again someday,” The Traveler replied. “Until then, be well.”

    The two turned and walked off. Naruto quickly found the trail he had made to head back to the village and he started to run back.

    Then Kakashi descended from the branches with a frantic look in his eyes.

    “Hey, Sensei!” Naruto greeted with a smile. Then he saw the look. “Uh…are you okay? I didn’t scare you to bad, did I?”

    “Is it really you?” Kakashi asked, poking Naruto sharply in the chest.

    “Ow! Yes, it’s me!” Naruto said, rubbing the spot where he was poked. “That hurt!”

    “Good,” He let out a long sigh of relief. “I’ve had to deal with two of your clones and I was scared someone managed to run off with you.”

    “You did?” Naruto asked, sounding perplexed. “I didn’t get any memories from them. Huh.”

    “Were you asleep?” Kakashi asked with narrowed eyes.

    “Yeah, I trained myself to exhaustion,” Naruto nodded quickly. “But this traveler came along and pulled me to his camp and gave me tea. He was really nice.”

    Kakashi gave Naruto a hard look. “Can you show me where his camp was?”

    “Sure!” Naruto said, pointing behind him. “It’s just over there. I helped pack it up though, he said he had to pick something up from the town to the north.”

    “Naruto, the town to the north is miles away,” Kakashi replied, shaking his head. “Did he have a wagon?”

    “No, he just said he walked quickly and didn’t rest a lot,” Naruto just shrugged. “It’s over here.”

    Naruto brought Kakashi to where the camp was, and Kakashi’s eyes nearly came out of their sockets. “I went by the clearing four times and didn’t see you.”

    “Wait, really?” Naruto asked with a frown. “That’s weird, I didn’t see you either.”

    “What did you and the stranger talk about?” Kakashi asked with a frown.

    “About my issues with completing the mission,” Naruto replied with a frown. “But he gave me some really good advice.”

    “What’s the advice?” Kakashi asked, his eyes narrowing.

    “That in order to help people, you need to help yourself,” Naruto replied, getting a resolute expression. “I still don’t like it, but I’m ready to destroy the bridge.”

    Kakashi looked deep into Naruto’s eyes, the tomoe on his Sharingan spinning. After a minute of this, Naruto not daring or even being able to move, he sighed and covered his eye. “Alright, I believe you. You didn’t tell him too much about the mission, did you?”

    “Nope,” Naruto replied. “He just encouraged me to complete the mission so that we can help people later. By the way, do you think we can get a mission to help Wave out later?”

    “Maybe,” Kakashi said, looking at the campsite once again with suspicion. “You might be able to ask your father for one.”

    “Wait, you’re right!” Naruto hit himself on the head. “Duh, of course I can! Thanks, Sensei!”


    “You’re welcome,” Kakashi said, scooping Naruto up for a piggy-back ride. “Now let’s get you back to base before I have another heart attack.”

    I don't like it, Kakashi thought with a narrowed eye. I need to find out what happened. Who was that traveler?

    ---


    Jashin just looked at the young Genin depart on his Sensei’s back impassively. Then he hung his head and sighed, shaking his head in disappointment. “Again. That was far too simple.”

    The pack on his back was gone, having faded back into chakra. Instead, he held his scythe in his hand. “Should only be a few months before I can start the next layer and then Shimoda is going to realize that his re-writing the rules might have more consequences than he’d like.”

    “Who are you speaking too?” Shinigami appeared behind Jashin with an amused grin on his face.

    “You, apparently,” Jashin said with a small smile. “Are you hear to inform me of the good news?”

    “Daisuke-dono has married and deified his wife,” Shinigami confirmed with a nod. “We will have to go congratulate her in a few days. Do you have a gift in mind?”

    “Oh, the same one I always give,” Jashin replied, spinning his scythe on its end, causing the blade to rapidly rotate like hands on a clock. “My advice to learn Ninshū.”

    “I’d accuse you of not even trying if it wasn’t such good advice.” Shinigami gave a throaty laugh, the moonlight shining in his white hair. “I’m going to tell her Orochimaru’s returned.”

    “Dear me, that seems like a great way to throw a wrench into the relationship,” Jashin pointed out in mock horror. Then he grinned deviously. “I can’t wait to see her face.”

    “If this causes them to separate, there is no way it was going to last anyway,” Shinigami responded with a bored expression. “The fact that they never actually courted notwithstanding, they can make it work…with a lot of work.”

    “But still!” Jashin replied. “Should we wait until after their honeymoon or were you thinking of crashing their party at the vault?”

    “Let’s be nice and wait for after their Honeymoon,” Shinigami answered. “You didn’t appreciate having your own honeymoon crashed when you were mortal, if you recall.”


    “Oh, very well.” Jashin just waved it off like it was nothing. “We’ll give them this one courtesy. I suppose it’s only fair since I set the wheels in motion to turn his brother against him.”

    ---


    Author’s Notes: I’m really, really confused. I actually didn’t expect to get the next chapter done so quickly, but here we are. I was entirely joking about Naruto redeeming Jashin when it came out that he kidnapped him, but I think some of you took me seriously. Some of you. If Naruto were to ‘redeem’ Jashin, it would take a long, long, long time to actually get that to happen because Jashin’s seen his fair share of charismatic heroes.

    I don’t have much else to say about this chapter. I hope you all liked it. I know that last one was…odd for some of you. It was my first foray into romance, and I know I’ve got a long way to go before it’s even comparable to ‘good’. So, I thank you all for your patience and being willing to bear with me. But I will say that Daisuke’s known Anko for six months prior to their wedding, so it’s not like it was instant…but it was really, really fast.

    Shout out goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight, Apperatus, EPiCJB19 and Seeking Raven. I hope you all enjoyed the chapter; you guys are making it possible for me to write it and I am eternally grateful for it.

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon

     
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  17. Threadmarks: Chapter 17: Considerations
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---



    Anko was brushing her teeth, getting ready for the day. The Hokage gave her a few days of paid vacation for some reason but she wasn’t going to complain. More time to go party, get drunk, dance, push the pain away.

    The minor hangover was worth it. She was pretty sure she was on her way to a medical discharge soon, though, and that would not be worth it. Had to put food on the table and that was hard to do without ryo coming in.

    It didn’t matter, though. She pushed one of the kindest, sweetest people out of her life with repeated acts of betrayal. The sake helped her forget. She wanted to say it helped her heal.

    Anko knew that was a lie, though.

    The doorbell rang.

    Who would be bothering her at this time in the morning?

    She slowly walked to the front door, undid the locks and pulled open the door.

    Anko’s entire body was paralyzed and her breath caught as her eyes struggled to comprehend the sheer horror of what they were seeing.

    “Hello, Anko-chan.” Orochimaru stood at her front door, serpentine face smirking amusedly. “It’s been a while. How are you?”

    She dropped the toothbrush, seizing a kunai out of its holster at her waste and chucking it at him. He just dodged effortlessly, moving in and grabbing her by her wrists, the rest of her body seeming to freeze just at his touch.

    “How?” Anko breathed in terror. “How are you alive? Daisuke killed you. I held your head!”

    “Oh, Anko,” Orochimaru shook his head in disappointment. “You couldn’t have thought me gone forever, could you? In fact, Daisuke and I met again just yesterday!”

    Anko felt a cold shiver running down her spine.

    Orochimaru reached up to his face and dug his nails into his skin, pulling it off and revealing his bodies face. An extremely familiar face.

    …no…

    Daisuke’s face, with Orochimaru’s eyes stared into her own.

    “Yes,” Orochimaru grinned happily. “You should feel it, Anko. The power of the gods, coursing through my veins.”

    “How?”

    “His overconfidence was his downfall, Anko-chan,” Orochimaru pointed out with a feral grin that only marred Daisuke’s wonderful face. “I was ready for him this time.”

    “I’ll kill you,” Anko growled in anger as she felt her eyes started to well up. “I’ll kill you a million times for this! This is unforgivable!”

    Orochimaru just hummed. “Oh, I don’t believe so. I’m so far above you now that you’ll never be anything other than my little experiment forever.”

    “No!” Anko struggled against his grip, kneeing him in the groin, letting snakes pour from her sleeves. But the attack to his groin didn’t phase him and the snakes withered as they approached.

    “But I learned something after he generously gave me his body,” Orochimaru started to purr. “He wanted to get to know you better. He wanted to know you. Your mind…and your body. And you know what I think?”

    Anko froze again.

    “I think I can oblige him,” Orochimaru replied with a feral smile.


    No. Anko’s body filled with revulsion and horror. She pulled, resisted, did everything she could to resist her old mentor as he pulled her face to Daisuke’s, the long snake-like tongue first sliding across her lips, then forcing its way into her mouth…

    ---


    Anko shot right awake, gasping loudly as the dream finally dispelled itself. She was breathing, panting hard as she gulped down precious mouthfuls of air. It was just a dream. Just a dream. Orochimaru didn’t defile Daisuke like that. Daisuke is still out there, safe and healthy. It was just a dream…wait.

    Her sobs were interrupted as she found that she didn’t recognize where she was, the same feeling as waking up in a stranger’s apartment following a one-night stand. But the walls were made of steel, there were couches and furniture in the spacious room.

    Where am I? Anko thought quickly. Wait…

    Beside her, Daisuke, now a fully-grown adult again, slowly sat up and looked at her with concern. “Are you alright, Anko?”

    Anko, her eyes wide as she took in the sight, merely nodded. “Yes! Yes, I am. Just a nightmare.”

    “I’m sorry,” Daisuke said, opening his arms wide. “Come here.”

    She leaned forward into her husband’s embrace, shuddering pleasantly at the feeling of his powerful arms around her. Her head buried itself into his chest and her breathing started to slow and relax.

    It wasn’t a dream, Anko thought in disbelief. It actually happened! I got married to Daisuke. He comes from another world. He deified me. All within a day of him coming to see me and wanting to ask me out to breakfast.

    The married couple just sat there, embracing each other. Anko felt the terror of the nightmare evaporate from her body, and sighed contentedly. Then there was a slight feeling of discomfort as she realized that she had to go. “…I’ll be right back; I need to use the bathroom.”

    “Alright,” Daisuke released her and she slid off the bed. He pointed to the door built into the corner of the room. “It’s just through that door there.”

    “Thank you, Daisuke,” Anko turned back to him and favored him with a smile, which made his face light up in the dark, which in turn lit her up. As she stood up, she froze as she felt something slide out of, well, her front and onto the floor with a wet slop.

    Anko stared at the clump of her husband’s bunk, feeling just a little embarrassed at the mess she just made.

    “Don’t worry, I got it,” Daisuke reassured her, hopping out of the bed and giving her a fantastic view of his grown, muscular body in its entirety.

    That just brought to mind a whole other set of memories as he cleaned it up with just a jutsu. The titanic, earth-shattering feeling of him inside her, being held ever closer whenever she begged him to go harder, deeper. “Thank you, Daisuke.”

    “My pleasure,” Daisuke replied with a smile that sent her over the moon.

    Those memories sent her to the bathroom with a huge smile on her face. He obviously wasn’t experienced, given that they didn’t switch positions or that he didn’t do anything like tie her to the headboard, but he was a force of nature in bed, to the point where things like alternate positions and bondage play became afterthoughts.

    All after just a single day, Anko thought with a shake of her head, pressing the button to the door. The bathroom, just like the bedroom, was expansive. The shower was big enough for three people at least, the tub too. Next to both of those was the toilet, which she sat on.

    If someone had told her prior to yesterday that she would be married to the boy she had committed the nearly unpardonable sin of betrayal against, multiple times, and that he was also a man, all in one day? She’d have laughed in their face, then fed them to her snakes. But it had happened and reality was laughing now.

    Surprisingly, I don’t really care, Anko thought to herself, still smiling. It’s just more work that we would’ve taken care of if we dated like normal people. It’ll be fine. A challenge, but fine.

    Anko started chuckling softly to herself.

    It’s not like he ever does anything gradually, does he? She shook her head with an amused expression. Actually, I can use that when I’m giving him his gift…

    After she finished, flushing the toilet and washing her hands, she walked back into the bedroom. She looked at her husband, who was looking at her in concern. Probably a good thing I didn’t try to ‘resist’ so he could make me feel helpless, as much fun as that would’ve been. With his lack of experience, he probably would’ve thought I actually didn’t want him and that would’ve killed the mood…

    She slid under the covers with her husband. “I’m sorry I woke you.”

    “It’s fine,” Daisuke replied. “Do you want to talk about it?”

    Anko thought for a minute. It would be a good time to see if he could handle it, at least and she did need to talk about it. “I dreamed about yesterday, when you came to ask me out for breakfast…instead of you, it was Orochimaru.”

    Daisuke hummed in concern and wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. She appreciated that.

    “But then it turned out that he had stolen your body while you were gone,” Anko continued, stopping herself from devolving into sobs. “And then he tried to…force me, while wearing your face.”

    “That sounds horrifying,” Daisuke replied, sounding devastated.

    “It was,” Anko nodded, her cheek pressed against his chest. “It really was. Have I ever told you how happy I am you got rid of my cursed seal?”

    “Yeah,” Daisuke nodded. “Have I told you how happy I was to do it?”

    “Yup,” Anko smiled.

    Daisuke smiled back, then his face changed. His eyes narrowed and he looked off to the side in thought.

    “What’s wrong?” Anko asked quickly. “Did you get a quest notification?”

    “No, I just remembered something from my old world,” Daisuke answered. “There was a book series, where the bad guy had split his soul into several parts as a way of obtaining immortality. Awesome series, but then I remembered how Orochimaru placed his soul in his seal when he marked you.”

    Anko froze and her heart stopped. “You don’t think…”

    “I think it’s possible,” Daisuke replied with a nod. “You want to take his head this time?”

    She couldn’t stop either the smile or the laugh that came out of her as the tension immediately evaporated. “Yes! I’d love that.”

    “I thought you might,” Daisuke agreed with a huge grin on his face. “Besides, you’re a goddess now. I seriously doubt he can actually pose a threat to you because he is not going to see it coming.”

    “Oh,” Anko’s smiled turned predatory. “I am really, really looking forward to that.”

    “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Daisuke replied. “Now, do you think you’ll be able to go back to sleep now, or are you wide awake?”

    Anko hummed. She didn’t want to go back to sleep when there was something, she incredibly fun she could be doing with her husband instead. She got a coy smile on her face and started walking her fingers up his chest. “You know what, husband? I think I’d like to go for round two.”


    Daisuke got a predatory grin on his face that set Anko’s heart ablaze and he got on top of her. She wrapped her legs around his and they started kissing.

    ---


    Well, that was my first taste of Anko’s PTSD. Not that bad, but I can’t assume that was the worst of it. The day that my wife can stop having nightmares about rape by her old sensei is a day that I can celebrate. As a god, can I declare that day a holiday? What would I even call it? Hm. I’ll think about that more…

    On a positive note, the second time was just as awesome as the first. A little bit more, actually, since I was more comfortable with it after I had some experience pounding my wife’s tuna.

    …that’s a Team Fourstar reference I thought I forgot. I am absolutely introducing her to what I remember of their fine work and I hope she enjoys them. Or at least tolerates them so I can watch them more. Pretty sure she’ll find them funny.

    I was standing at the door to the museum wing which I had started but never finished. All the exhibits were empty, but since Anko’s here, I was going to finish them! Or at least get a good start on them.

    Anko walked up the stairs, hand on the railing, fully dressed in her freshly cleaned fishnets and trench coat that just made me feel good in all the right ways, smiling all the while. “So, this museum, you were going to finish it before you went home originally, yeah?”

    “Yup.” I nodded. “My way of explaining to people what exactly I was when I wasn’t around anymore since, well, I didn’t want to do it in person.”

    “You know, we really should do a tell all,” Anko suggested. “Just let all your friends know, since they’ve been trying really hard to figure it out.”

    “Maybe,” I said with a non-committal shrug. “I was going to tell Naruto and Kakashi, at least.”

    “And they’re going to want to tell their teams and friends,” Anko pointed out with a thoughtful expression. “Which would mean that they’re probably going too, and then they might tell other people…it’d get out kind of fast. Are you okay with that?”

    I hummed, then shook my head. “No. I’d rather it stayed within my circle of friends.”

    “Then you should absolutely host a tell all,” Anko insisted again. “I feel like, at least, Hisako and Ino deserve an explanation as to why you wouldn’t even look at them, but married the easiest woman in the village after a day.”

    I blinked and frowned at how she referred to herself. “Anko, you shouldn’t think that way about yourself. I made you an honest, respectable woman, remember?”

    “It’s just my reputation,” Anko shrugged. “I haven’t had nearly the same number of partners as some other kunoichi I know, but it’s all perception.”

    “Yeah, I know,” I agreed. “It makes sense for them to see you that way, but who cares about them? I just don’t want you to see yourself as that.”

    Anko smiled. “Thanks, Daisuke.”

    “I love you, honey.”

    “I love you too,” Anko said, getting under my arm and pulling me into a brief kiss. “Will you do the tell-all?”

    I hummed in thought. “I’ll think about it. You do make a good point, though, Ino and Hisako need an explanation.”

    “Thank you,” Anko replied with a smile. “Now, can you answer a question for me?”

    “Sure,” I nodded.

    “Did you actually like them back?” Anko asked with an analytical expression. “If I wasn’t interested, would you have gone to them instead?”

    …ah, man…

    I’m not lying to her. I know this is probably a test and going to cause problems later, but she and I need to be nothing short of completely honest with each other if this marriage is going to last longer than the honeymoon. “I did. Ino more than Hisako.”

    “Alright. I guess that makes sense,” Anko nodded with a frown. “Ino actually cares about you. A lot. But, Hisako?”

    “Well, Hisako was more like a friend,” I replied with a wishy-washy gesture. “A friend that I was physically attracted too, though, if that makes sense.”

    “Friends with benefits.”

    “That feels almost,” I began, almost feeling my stomach sink. “Like a classless way of putting it.”

    “But is it true?” Anko asked directly.

    “Yeah, I guess,” I replied with a sigh. “I just don’t feel good about it. You mad?”

    “Why would I be-?” Anko started with a look of confusion. Then her eyes got a bit wide. “Oh! No, no. That wasn’t a test. I was legitimately curious. Thank you for being honest with me.”

    “Okay,” I said, smiling at her. “Thank you for not getting upset.”

    “It’s fine,” Anko shook her head, pulling me in for another kiss, this one lasting longer. “Now, the museum?”

    “Right!” I said, opening the door.

    We came to a large hallway with empty exhibits that took an immediate right turn about ten feet forward. Directly before the turn was one such exhibit, which I extended my hand to start filling.

    “The first nuclear bombs were Fat Man and Little Boy,” I said, constructing a stand for the two bombs, with monitors shining and showing the nuclear bombs going off. “They annihilated the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima horrifically and just the two of them were so powerful, they literally left shadows on the ground of those who died in the blast.”

    “So, like you inside me last night,” Anko piped up with a catlike grin.

    Exactly,” I replied with a matching smile of my own.

    Anko hummed in delight and turned to the exhibit, laying her head on my chest. “But seriously, they left shadows on the ground?”

    “Black imprints on the ground,” I confirmed. “Technically, by bleaching the surface of the ground behind the shadows, making it permanently brighter than the shadow around it.”

    “Wow,” Anko said. “And these bombs dropped on the same country our manga came from?”

    “That’s right,” I replied. “I wonder if, had the bombs not dropped, if the manga would never have come out of japan, or would’ve been much different than it is.”

    Anko hummed. “I’ve been wondering, did the creation of the manga create us? Or did it simply make you aware of our world and let you come here?”

    “I think it’s the second one,” I said. “There is no way your whole world would’ve been made by something as simple as a manga being written.”

    “I guess.” Anko shook her head. “It’s just hard not to think about, you know? If those bombs didn’t get dropped and the manga never got written, would I have ever met you?”

    “Maybe,” was my response. I just shrugged. “I’m just glad we met; you know?”

    “Me too,” Anko replied with a smile.

    We continued the tour. The next exhibit was the great war, and the end of the old world. Then I talked about the mutations, which made Anko’s eyes bug out of her skull when she saw what radiation did to geckos and crabs. “Those don’t look like crabs!”

    “The setting is based on 50’s science fiction,” I told her with a shrug. “They were obsessed with things like Fishmen and other monsters like that, so that’s where they came from. No, they don’t have crab legs, which is the biggest change.”

    “But still,” Anko shook her head. “I was thinking that this setting just had feral summon animals walking all over them because of the radiation.”

    “Oh,” I said. Then I laughed. “Not a bad assumption, I guess.”

    “I mean, giant roaches,” Anko pointed out, looking a little annoyed. “Come on, it’s not that outlandish.”

    “Not at all,” I said, still smiling. “I just didn’t think of it that way. It does makes sense.”

    “Okay.”

    We continued the tour, the next exhibit showing ghouls. “In my world, as close as we call it to ‘real life’, radiation just makes you really sick, rots your body away and kills you. In Fallout, it mutates you.”

    “Fascinating,” Anko said, looking at the zombie-like creatures with viciously burnt off skin, then looking at the one who was actually clothed and using a rifle like a normal person. “I’m guessing there’s mental degradation?”

    “That’s right,” I confirmed. “When a person turns into a ghoul, it’s almost like they turn into a timebomb, as their minds slowly degrade overtime and they become cannibalistic monsters. Though not all ghoul’s minds degrade, or at least they degrade very, very slowly. Maintaining an active social life and engaging their minds seems to slow the degradation.”

    “Makes sense,” Anko nodded. “Is there a cure?”

    “Not that I ever saw in the games.” I shook my head. “I imagine they could find one once people pull their heads out of their butts; they could at least develop a treatment.”

    Anko hummed. “Wouldn’t that be hard with the world in shambles like it is?”

    “Well, that depends on what coast you’re on,” I said as we came to the next exhibit, which I made into East Coast and West Coast. “East Coast is still almost completely screwed thanks to sheer amount of ghouls, super mutants and radiation there, even after two-hundred years. The West coast is rebuilding, most especially the New California Republic.”

    “The New California Repubric,” Anko repeated, looking at the map. Then she froze, and said the name again. And again. And again. She looked at me. “How do you pronounce that word?”

    “Republic,” I replied with a surprised smile. “I’m amazed you can tell there’s the difference.”

    She kept trying and then grunted in frustration. “I’ll figure it out later. What’s that sound?”

    I held an L for her, showing how my tongue was stuck slightly between my teeth as I made it for her. Then I gestured for her to try. She couldn’t do it. “Do it again?”

    “L-” I said, then I noticed her starting to smile. “Something funny?”

    “No, I was just thinking about your tongue,” Anko said playfully.

    “Ah,” I said with a nod and a frown. “I see.”

    “Something wrong?” Anko asked, matching my frown.

    “I’m not sure how I’d like giving you oral,” I replied with a shrug. “I mean, I’ll do it for you, but thinking about it feels off.”

    Anko hummed. “Well, are you worried about if I’m clean down there?”

    “Since I taught you that jutsu, not really,” I replied. “It’s just, I don’t know, it feels weird.”

    “Well,” Anko started slowly. “We can take it slow. I don’t want you to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing.”

    “I mean, I at least should try it once,” I replied. “Maybe I’ll like it and my hand-wringing’s for nothing.”

    “Are you sure?” Anko asked with a frown. “Seriously, no shame in not liking something. I mean, I’d be disappointed, but it’d be fine.”

    I love my wife. “I’ll try it tonight. For you.”

    “Thank you,” Anko replied with a smile. “We can do Anal too, since you wanted to try that.”

    “You think you can hold the chakra technique or will that be my job?” I asked.

    “Uh,” Anko started, adopting a thoughtful expression. “Maybe that would be your job. I don’t think I can hold it yet.”

    “That’s fine,” I said with a smile. “Wait, how did we start talking about sex?”

    “We’re on our honeymoon,” Anko explained with a cheerful smile. “And us having sex has been the highlight of both our lives.”

    “Even though you’ve had it before?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Oh yeah,” Anko nodded with a vicious grin. “You don’t have a lot of experience, sure, but you have a lot of raw talent.”

    I felt really warm all of a sudden. “I love how you get soaked with sweat when we’re in bed together.”

    “I love it too,” Anko replied, still smiling. Then, she stopped, getting a thoughtful expression. “Actually, can we talk about something? Something a bit more serious.”

    “About your gift?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “No, I’m saving that for after our honeymoon,” Anko replied. “Because it’s going to be, well, another massive change for us and we should take some time to adjust before we do that.”

    “What is it?” I asked with a small smirk.

    “I can’t tell you, it’s a surprise,” Anko replied with a grin. “…and I don’t want to talk about it until I understand all the laws around it thoroughly and make sure it’s something I can handle.”

    …yeah, I’m not even going to try to guess what it is. Because if there’s laws around it and she needs to make sure she can ‘handle’ it, which I think means ‘emotionally’, there’s a good chance she might not give it to me, so no point in getting excited about it.

    “Honestly, that’s probably for the best,” I said with a nod. “My life’s just been a series of non-stop, drastic and immediate changes and I need to start slowing down.”

    “I need to start slowing down,” Anko parroted with a good-natured laugh. “He says after I marry him.”

    “Too much of a good thing, my love,” I replied with a smile. “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Now, did you want to talk here, or would my office be better.”

    Anko thought for a moment, placing a finger on her lips. “Your office.”

    “Alright, let’s go,” I said, turning us to head off.


    Well, I got the Nuclear Bomb, Great War, Ghouls and other creatures of the wastelands in their exhibits, so I did get some stuff done.

    ---


    Anko and I sat down on the same couch. I conjured up a cup of steaming green tea for her, and I just had a mug of hot chocolate. She took the cup and sipped, humming appreciatively. “This is good.”

    “Thank you,” I replied appreciatively. “I’m glad you like it.”

    She nodded. “Now, Daisuke, I know we both want a large family.”

    “That’s right,” I said with a nod. “I can’t wait until we start having kids.”

    “Neither can I,” Anko said, the sparkling eyes she got whenever this topic came up overshadowed by sadness. “But, Daisuke? I don’t think either of us are ready for children.”

    “I don’t think you can ever really be ready for kids,” I pointed out with a frown. “But you’re talking more about us, specifically, being unfit to be parents. At least for a while, right?”

    “Yes, that’s exactly it.” Anko nodded. “For me, there’s the fact that Orochimaru, well, he left scars. Bad ones. Ones that are starting to heal, definitely, but scars that are there and I don’t want our kids to deal with their mom when she freaks out. It would be really bad for them.”

    She had a point. I was nodding gingerly, taking her hand in mine. “I understand. That takes a lot of strength to admit, though. So, I’m really proud of you.”

    “But, see the other part of it is that I don’t think you’re ready for kids either,” Anko started with an apologetic expression.

    “Honestly, I think you’re right,” I answered, cupping my lips in thought. “I’m mostly over dying and coming back, but I’d be lying if there still weren’t some issues with that.”

    “No, no.” Anko shook her head. “I think you’re almost entirely over that and I’m in awe of you for getting past that. But I’m mostly talking about your dual ages.”

    “You think my constantly shifting between a teenager and an adult man might be bad for them?” I asked with a deep frown. “I didn’t think about that. It could be really confusing for them, and then they’d have to come to grips with their dad being a teenager, and an adult and…yeah, I can see why that’d be bad.”

    “I’m glad you see it,” Anko sighed in relief. “I was afraid this would turn into a fight because I think you want children as much as I do.”

    “I do want kids.” I nodded in agreement. “But we can hold off for a while. Why did you want to talk about this now?”

    “Because I’m going to be ovulating in a few days,” Anko answered, matter-of-factly. “We needed to get ahead of that so that we could have this talk now instead of after I accidentally get pregnant when we were just trying to have some fun.”

    “Ah, I see,” I replied. “Good to see that you’re on top of that.”

    “It really pays to keep watch on that,” Anko replied with a nod. “Especially since I was planning on spending last night clubbing.”

    “You know, I’ve never been in a nightclub,” I pointed out, thinking about this gap in my life experience. “Is it fun?”

    “Music, dancing, booze, one-night-stands,” Anko listed off on her fingers. “Yeah, it can be a lot of fun. Of course, now that I’m married, that last one’s lost its appeal. Especially after last night. We should go, though, just so you can experience the night life.”

    “That’s a good idea,” I approved with a grin. “Of course, I don’t think I can dance.”

    “Think of it like a Taijutsu kata, except set to a beat,” Anko told me reassuringly. “You’ll be fine, Daisuke.”

    “Good point,” I said, standing up. “Now, I think I should sterilize myself so we can avoid unwanted pregnancies.”

    “Wait,” Anko held up her hands. “What are you going to do?”

    “Vasectomy,” I replied. “Just remove the tubes and seal up the holes until we’re ready for kids.”

    “And you know, for a fact, that you can undo that, right?” Anko pressed with a very serious expression. “I do not want a surrogate father because you made a mistake.”

    “I am perfectly confident in my ability to undo the surgery,” I replied reassuringly. “Remaking the tubes and opening the testes is simpler than removing the tubes. I promise.”

    Anko’s eyes narrowed and she took a deep breath. “Alright. I trust you. I’ll undo it the hard way, anyway, if you can’t do it the easy way.”

    “I will make sure that surgery is unnecessary,” I replied, continuing to be as reassuring as I could. I performed the jutsu.

    Oh…Hm. That was uncomfortable. Not painful, necessarily, but uncomfortable.

    Perk Added: Sterile!

    You decided to be responsible and get a Vasectomy! You will no longer cause pregnancies until the procedure is reversed.

    “There we are,” I replied. “I got a perk from that.”

    “You got a perk,” Anko repeated, taking the book I offered her. “Sterile. Okay…so it can be reversed, confirmed. Good. Good. I was worried for a second.”

    “Push comes to shove, I can just use a jutsu to artificially inseminate you,” I replied, as she kept reading through the book. Being honest, I’m so freaking glad I’ve got someone I can share all that nonsense with.

    Anko got this disgusted look on her face, shutting the book and handing it back to me. “No, no, no. We are doing it naturally. That’s part of the fun. If we have to result to artificial insemination, I will be very upset.”

    “We both know that Vasectomy’s can be undone,” I pointed out neutrally. “We’ll have tons of kids. Our kids. When we’re ready. I promise you.”

    She sighed. “You’re right, I’m just worried over nothing. It’s okay. Besides, it works out better for us anyway.”

    I sat back down. “By the way, I don’t know if this is obvious, but I really, really appreciate how we can just talk about stuff and be frank without any drama.”

    “No kidding,” Anko said, rubbing the back of her head. “If we couldn’t this would be a lot harder than it has to be. Thank you for being calm.”

    “I love you,” I told her with a smile.

    “I love you too,” Anko said with a smile, getting up and sitting in my lap. “Uh, don’t hate me for this, But I think a lot of it is your Charisma stat.”

    “Yup, pretty much,” I agreed, nodding quickly.

    “How many checks have you gotten in the past couple of days?” Anko asked, curiously.

    “I turned them off last night after we had sex together,” I answered with a shrug. “So, I don’t know.”

    “That’s a shame,” Anko said with a frown. “You know, there was something I meant to do for you this morning that I didn’t get the chance to…”

    I just hummed curiously.

    “But first,” Anko started, getting a flirtatious smile on her face. “I need your help getting undressed.”

    We were both naked an instant later. Anko started giggling and I was taking the time to admire her perfectly toned body, and the way it curved and flowed together immaculately.

    Surprisingly, she moved off my lap and…got on her knees in front of me, looking at my member while seductively licking her lips. “Hm…yummy.”


    Oh.

    ---


    Author’s Note: Next chapter will be Naruto and wave again. To contrast with Naruto’s struggles in wave, we have Daisuke and Anko doing things that married couples do: talking, making love, that sort of thing. The thing they didn’t talk about is what to do if their children are gods like them, which will be a topic for later.

    I do apologize if this is getting gratuitous. I feel like things are going to start slowing down soon, but I’m not sure. I’ve never…written a married couple before, including a honeymoon or anything like this, so it’s new to me. Hopefully you guys can help out if you want too.

    Shout out goes out too Super Patrons Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight, Apperatus, EPiCJB19 and Seeking Raven. Thank you all for your support, you make writing this fanfic possible!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  18. Threadmarks: Chapter 18: The Bridge
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---

    “Man, this is taking forever,” Naruto groused, placing yet another completed explosive note on the pile he had been working on. His mat was covered in ink splotches and smears, and he rubbed another smear on his face without realizing it when he rubbed his wrist against his cheek. “You guys done with your stacks yet?”

    “All done,” Nichiren said with a mischievous smile, his pile of explosive notes perfectly and neatly stacked into a single pile, not even a drop of ink out of place.

    Sakura, whose wrist was starting to get sore from all the writing explosives, felt her eye twitch involuntarily. “You’d better teach us that jutsu when we get back home, Senpai.”

    “Wait,” Naruto froze. Then he hit his head in exasperation before making a hand-sign. “Shadow-Clone jutsu!”

    The smoke cleared as quickly as it appeared. Immediately, there were six Naruto’s all grabbing writing utensils and notes to turn into bombs.

    “Just your stack, Naruto,” Kakashi called idly, his nose otherwise in his erotica. “Everyone else has to learn to do it themselves.”

    “Or learn a jutsu that does it for them,” Sasuke replied, his notes completely done with not a splotch of ink anywhere.

    All the Naruto’s squinted, glaring at his teammate’s red Sharingan eyes with disgust. “Those eyes upset me.”

    “You’re just mad you don’t have them,” Sasuke sniffed with a proud expression.

    “When did you copy that jutsu anyway?” Naruto asked with a frown. “Daisuke’s been gone for over a month.”

    “Nichiren-senpai used it yesterday,” Sasuke replied evenly.

    Naruto groaned. “Riiiiight.”

    “Speaking of Daisuke-kun,” Hisako started calmly. “What do we do if he actually shows up?”

    “Fight him,” Naruto said automatically.

    “That’s a terrible idea,” Sakura reprimanded. “Sensei, what do you think we should do?”

    “If Daisuke shows up,” Kakashi began. “We do not fight him. We invite him to chat with us. We explain that he’s been pardoned and tell him that Minato-sensei Hokage again. Then we see how the conversation goes.”

    “But Daisuke would listen better if we were fighting,” Naruto protested.

    “Daisuke’s battle-hunger was mostly because of his desperation for progress,” Kakashi rebutted. “Now that that’s taken care of, I can’t see him being that desperate for a fight, especially not with you.”

    The Naruto’s groaned in stereo at that. The clones popped as the final note was completed, his stack finished.

    “Kakashi-sensei is right, Naruto-kun,” Hisako stated, pausing in the middle of writing one of her notes to look at the Genin. “Daisuke wasn’t inherently violent; he just saw violence as a means to an end.”

    “I think he enjoyed popping his enemies a little too much to not be inherently violent,” Nichiren argued back.

    “Well, yeah, he enjoyed Taijutsu,” Hisako rebutted, her frown growing sharper. “But come on, it took human trafficking to get him to start killing again.”

    “So, he’s not inherently murderous,” Nichiren said, shrugging.

    “Yes.” Hisako nodded in agreement. “Exactly.”

    “That means he still likes fighting,” Nichiren pointed out.

    “This discussion is pointless,” Sasuke said, steepeling his fingers. “There’s no point in fighting Daisuke, whether he’s murderous or not. We can’t win. So, talking is our best option.”

    “You can’t talk Daisuke down,” Naruto rebutted. “He’s too stubborn. He twists himself into knots trying to justify whatever crazy position he’s taken and the only way he’ll change is if he gets it beaten into him that this is the way things are and trying to change it would send us back to the Warring States period!”

    “Beating something into Daisuke is not something we can do, Naruto-kun,” Kakashi said, rubbing his one eye. “Or were you not paying attention that night when he beat that contingent on ANBU without killing them?”

    “It’s the only thing that’ll work, Sensei!” Naruto barked hotly.

    Kakashi’s eye narrowed. “Okay. How do you say we should beat Daisuke?”

    “I,” Naruto started, but paused, trying to find the right words.

    Sakura made a move to say something, but Kakashi held up a hand to dissuade her.

    “We can’t beat him, we just shout at him that he’s wrong and how he’s wrong while we’re fighting,” Naruto finally said.

    “Naruto,” Kakashi began. “That’s dumb.”

    “But Sensei…” Naruto began.

    “Daisuke would just knock you out before you can say anything,” Kakashi cut him off. “And you can’t convince him to come back if you’re unconscious.”

    Naruto folded his arms and started grumbling.

    “We all want him to come back, Naruto,” Sakura said kindly. “We do. We all owe him our lives. But I seriously doubt it’ll happen today. Maybe sometime down the line when we see him again.”

    “Assuming we do see him again,” Nichiren replied. “But we can start the process of getting him to come back.”

    Naruto just took a deep, disappointed breath. “This might be our only chance.”

    “Then we need to make sure we don’t mess it up,” Hisako said flatly. “Which means we shouldn’t be hostile when we really don’t need to be. Alright?”

    “Fine,” Naruto said.

    ---

    “Stay inside the bridge supports,” Kakashi ordered as they approached the bridge. “We’ll use them as cover in case the enemy Ninja show up. Nichiren, Hisako? You’re with me on guard duty. Keep watch for trouble. Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke, you’re in charge of setting the explosive notes. We’ll keep a tight formation, moving between sets of four columns at a time. You all understand?”

    It was more than what was required, but they had enough notes to completely destroy the bridge and Kakashi thought it would be a shame to just let them go to waste.

    “Yes, Sensei,” Was the unified reply.

    Kakashi actually felt proud. “Let’s move.”

    The group dove for the bridge and ran to the underside. Kakashi uncovered his Sharingan and kept a sharp, sharp eye out. If whoever took Naruto shows up again, I need to be ready. I had the Sharingan out and I still didn’t see through the Genjutsu…was it the enemy Ninja? I don’t think so. Why would they kidnap Naruto just to encourage him to fulfill his mission?

    He could feel the drain on his Chakra increase. Since he had spent so much time with his eye uncovered, he was going to need some bedrest when this mission was done, best case. Worst case, he would be completely bedridden, if they completed the mission.

    What was most frustrating, beyond the mystery of Naruto’s kidnapper, was the apparent enemies who were guarding the bridge, likely a cell of Ninja that specialized in combat at extreme distances. Kakashi couldn’t copy or anticipate their moves if he couldn’t see them, but they were free to attack him and his teams with impunity.

    “Tag set,” Sakura reported, jumping from one column to another.

    Sasuke, and then Naruto, repeated the same statement, and the team as a whole was able to move to the next section of columns.

    “Hisako. Nichiren. Report,” Kakashi ordered, keeping an eye out on the ocean, looking for any hint of movement and indicated an incoming bombardment.

    “Nothing,” Hisako replied brusquely.

    “I don’t see anything,” Nichiren also said from his position.

    “Keep your eyes open,” Kakashi replied.

    This pattern of marking a section of four columns with explosives then hopping to the next one continued. With each completed milestone, Kakashi felt increasingly uneasy. Like there was someone around him that he didn’t see and it was making him antsy.

    “Hold it!” Hisako said abruptly. “I think I heard something.”

    Kakashi immediately felt tense and ready to go. If this cell of enemy Ninja wanted to fight in close quarters, he had a Chidori with their name on it. “Nichiren, go with her and do a sweep.”

    “Yes, Sensei,” Nichiren nodded and went with his teammate.

    “Cell 7, gather around behind me,” Kakashi ordered.

    Without a word, the three Genin moved in behind Kakashi, looking at each other and then at their sensei. They were all a little nervous, but this wasn’t the first time they had been in a situation where their lives were in danger. All it took were some deep breaths and remembering that things could be much worse to be able to keep calm.

    Sasuke’s glaring Sharingan were memorizing every detail of the bridge itself, looking for weak-points and angles of attack. Naruto’s fingers were moving nearly involuntarily to summon an army of clones to make anyone regret attacking them. Sakura hurriedly placed an explosive note on the column they were standing on. “Tag set.”

    Hisako and Nichiren came back soon after. Hisako looked frustrated and angry, while Nichiren just looked relieved.

    “Report.”

    “It was just a seagull,” Hisako grumbled. “Making some noise as it flew off the bridge.”

    The tension on Cell 7 evaporated immediately.

    “Just a seagull.” Naruto started laughing uncontrollably. “That’s awesome!”

    “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up.” Hisako looked away, across the ocean, her face slightly pink.

    “Hisako, you didn’t do anything wrong,” Kakashi assured her with a hand on her shoulder. “They’re just relieved we aren’t under attack again. That’s all.”

    “Yeah, don’t worry, Hisako-senpai,” Naruto said with some concern. “I didn’t mean to make fun of you. Really.”

    “Thanks,” Hisako said, rubbing the back of her head. “I needed that.”

    ---

    “Nice work on the Genjutsu, Masato,” Rookie whispered as they stood on top of the bridge, multiple columns behind the group.

    “Thank you, Rookie,” Masato nodded. “Everything is proceeding according to plan.”

    ---

    With the final set of explosives in place, the Shinobi leaped off of the bridge and onto the cliffside it was built into. They ran up the wall and returned to the thicket of trees they had sat in several days ago as they planned how to perform the mission.

    “Nichiren, detonate the charges,” Kakashi ordered.

    “Wait,” Naruto started, holding his hand up.

    “What is it, Naruto?” Kakashi asked.

    “Do we have any way of protecting the Gato people back in the village?” Naruto asked with a frown. “Like move them to a different office or something? I think Gombei-sama would appreciate not losing people over this.”

    Kakashi considered it. “That’s a good idea. We’ll move them over after we’re done demolishing the bridge as a courtesy.”

    “Thank you, Sensei,” Naruto replied with a huge grin. “That means a lot to me.”

    “Okay. Anything else?” Kakashi asked, looking around at his students with an inquisitive eye.

    Everyone shook their heads in the negative.

    “Alright. Nichiren, if you’d do the honors?” Kakashi asked.

    “Yes, Sensei,” Nichiren nodded, and made a hand-sign.

    ---

    At the same time, beneath the seas, an ice-ball filled to the brim with explosive notes prepared ahead of time triggered.

    ---

    “Charges detonating,” Nichiren reported.

    Each and every single of the Shinobi looked on in shock as, instead of the bridge going up into dust in fire and glory, a massive column of water erupted from the ocean like a bomb had gone off.

    The water fell back into the sea and the Shinobi still couldn’t say anything. Until, eventually, the silence was broken.

    “How?!?” Naruto shouted at the top of his lungs, looking more than a little upset and annoyed. “Just…HOW?!?”

    “I don’t know!” Hisako shouted back. “There wasn’t anyone following us! I swear! Nichiren, wouldn’t you be able to tell if the tags got moved?”

    “Yeah,” Nichiren replied quietly, looking more than a little uncertain as he stared at where the ocean exploded out with eyes that were bugging out of their sockets. “The tags didn’t get moved…this doesn’t make any sense.”

    “Because someone followed us and move all our tags out there!” Hisako barked in anger. “Somehow!”

    “Ohoho! Their salty tears sustain me!

    That deep, manly voice pulled everyone out of their arguments and forced them to watch the ocean from the cliff. It sounded like it had come from down below and Hisako surged forward, kunai in hand with an expression of rage as she looked down the cliff.

    There was no one there.

    Hisako froze, then looked up. “Incoming!”

    The ice shells rained down on the cliff, Hisako’s legs getting encased in ice alongside the trees as she failed to move out of the way in time, falling face-first onto the ground with a grunt of pain. She hurriedly brought the pommel of one of her kunai down on the ice, making a large crack down the middle and allowing her to break free on her own.


    “Take cover on the bridge!” Kakashi ordered, pointing down the bridge for emphasis. “Now!”

    ---

    “They’re moving onto the bridge,” Captain Shizo briefed his team, collapsing the spyglass in his fins. “Everyone remember the plan?”

    “Use ice-walls and domes to isolate the target from the other combatants,” Rookie began with a smile. “Then perform the insertion. Once Daisuke has arrived, we can de-summon ourselves and let him handle his friends.”


    “Very good, Rookie,” Captain Shizo said with a grin. “Commence glacier creation and remember: No explosive shells. Even if you see what looks like a great shot, we don’t want to injure his friends if we can help it and if the bridge gets damaged the mission’s a failure. Afterwards, we move in on the bridge.”

    ---

    “I knew they weren’t moved,” Nichiren said with a grin. “They tricked us!”

    Each of the Shinobi were looking at the remains of the explosive notes, which had left a black smear of soot across the stone.

    “So how did they contain the blast?” Sakura asked curiously, bending over from her horizontal position on the bridge to get a closer look, swiping a finger across the soot. “They didn’t stop the blast, just weakened it.”

    “Well, maybe if we capture one, we can ask them,” Nichiren suggested. “Of course, that would mean we’d need to see them first.”

    The sound of an explosion brought everyone back to full alert. Ahead of them, they saw an ice-wall had spontaneously erupted, completely sealing it off. Then more explosions sounded, created large chunks of ice on the bridge. Naruto nearly jumped off the bridge in shock as the opening he had been standing beside closed off.

    “They’re trying to seal us off!” Kakashi barked. “Everyone topside! Now!”

    Everyone jumped and ran up to the top of the bridge, where they could see the ice shells raining down on the bridge, making large ice blocks and glaciers at random points on the bridge, obstructing movement.

    “It’s coming from over there!” Sasuke shouting, pointing to the ocean.

    In the distance, they could see four small, distinct figures in the ocean and they were clearly where the ice-shells were coming from, launching them from over the massive distance between the bridge and them.

    An ice shell landed right in front of Sasuke, knocking him on his behind as an ice-block materialized in front of him.

    “Take cover!” Kakashi ordered, kneeling behind the wall of the bridge and quickly going through hand-signs. “Fire Style: Rocket Ball Technique!”

    He stood up and took a deep breath, then spewed a small, compact missile of orange fire that flew at high-speeds toward the group. The raining of shells stopped as the group of enemies scattered to get away from the rocket. It detonated on the surface of the water in a large area, sending a column of mist into the sky.

    Kakashi launched another, then another, then knelt down behind cover. He was panting heavily.

    “Sensei, should we move off of the bridge?” Nichiren asked. “We’re sitting ducks here!”

    “If we do that, they might start using actual explosives,” Hisako argued. “We might not be lucky enough to be frozen since they’re obviously here to protect the bridge.”

    “So, what do we do then?” Nichiren asked incredulously. “Wait for them to freeze us then kill us?”

    “Everyone!” Kakashi had caught his breath. “We’re retreating off the bridge. Double time it! Now!”

    ---

    Masato looked up at Captain Shizo. The entirety of Team 3 was sticking to the bridge’s walls by their stomach.

    The captain was frantically gesturing at Masato to do a Genjutsu.

    On their target.

    Masato thought for just a second, and then his claws flew into a series of hand-signs.

    ---

    Naruto was just following everyone else, booking it at breakneck speeds as fast as he could behind his team, senpais and sensei. They might start attacking the town if we tried to go back there, so good thing we’re not heading that way!

    His legs were pumping as hard as they could, trying to get off the bridge so they could come up with a new plan. Personally, Naruto wanted to just swarm them with clones, but then they’d swim off into the ocean. This ticks me off! At least fight where we can see you!

    The sound of an explosion behind him told him that the shells had started falling again. He was gritting his teeth in anger at the unfairness of it all. He was a Ninja! Ninja fought!

    But then the sound of something hitting the ground caused Naruto to turn around and look over his shoulder.

    It was Kakashi-sensei, on the ground and bleeding from several holes across his chest and legs.

    “Sensei!” Naruto looked shocked. Then he looked behind him and saw everyone still running. “Wait. Kai!”

    The group of everyone running disappeared. Leaving only Kakashi, who had been hit. Bad.

    “Sensei!” Hisako screeched, running to his side. “Oh no!”

    Kakashi was panting and coughing hard.

    “Okay, relax everyone, I got this,” Nichiren said, sliding to his sensei on his knees and grabbing his first aid kit. His hands were glowing with healing chakra as he pressed it to his sensei’s wounds. “Sensei, just try to relax.”

    “You’ll be able to fix him up completely, right?” Hisako asked quickly.

    “Nope,” Nichiren replied with the shake of his head. “But I can stop him from dying.”

    “Naruto, what were you doing?” Sakura asked, bringing up a fist to punch him…and then putting that fist down and taking a deep breath to let out her anger. “What happened?”

    “I could’ve sworn I was following you guys!” Naruto, pointing at everyone. “You were all ahead of me!”

    “Sounds like a Genjutu,” Sasuke said darkly. “It sounds like they’re close.”

    “Yeah, I noticed the rain of death stopped,” Hisako said, her eyes narrowing. “Where are they?”

    “Look, just keep them off of me while I’m working on Sensei,” Nichiren said.

    “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that,” A voice said from behind the group. “I wasn’t trying to kill the guy. Just put him out of commission. Go ahead and keep working.”

    “Excellent shooting, captain!” Said another voice. “It seems that the bridge is undamaged.”

    They looked up and saw a group of…the strangest birds they ever saw. Black and white, with flippers instead of wings.

    “What?” Sakura started, her eyes wide in confusion and fear. “Are those?”

    Hisako’s eyes narrowed in recognition, her fingers gripping her kunai tightly. “Penguins.”

    “Daisuke’s summon animals,” Nichiren explained. “Water birds.”

    “Oh.” Sakura started. “Joy.”

    “You know what we are?” The leader of the group, a shorter bird whose head seemed flat. “Oh, yeah! I heard the Emperor met his Genin team. Nice!”

    “I’m going to kill you for what you did to sensei,” Hisako snarled, standing up.

    “Eh, he’s going to live,” The leader shrugged. “Don’t see the point of getting mad. Anyway. Men! Divide and conquer!”

    “Mass Shadow Clone jutsu!” Naruto called, filling the bridge with an army of Naruto’s, that surrounded everyone on every side.

    “Emperor’s left flipper,” The tallest one said, looking at the army with wide, almost frightened eyes at all the clones.

    “Get ahold of yourself, man!” The leader said with a glare. “They’re just clones. Riku and Rookie, Ice cage. Masato, you and I are on Spin Maneuvers. Go!”

    “Yes, captain!” The short…and slightly dumb one said with a salute, before he and the largest one sprayed Ice to make a hole in the wall of orange and dove straight off the bridge.

    ---

    It had been a stroke of luck for Shizo to be able to take out their sensei, who was the main threat to the mission. After Masato had successfully separated the target with an expert Genjutsu, their Sensei had realized what happened nearly ten seconds after they all started running. The man had been so distracted that he didn’t see the minor explosive the Shizo had spat at his feet and he paid the price.

    Presumably, he was distracted because he didn’t want to risk the target running off again. Emotional turmoil can ruin any mission, he knew, which he why he saved his turmoil and manly tears for the man cave.

    But now they had to deal with the target’s inexplicable ability to make an army from nothing. First thing to do was to restrict the area of operations to a manageable size to make large armies untenable. That was what Riku and Rookie were doing.

    As for Shizo and Masato? Handling the army was their job.

    The first thing they did was apply chakra to their claws to let themselves move quickly, and then they started spinning like a pair of buzz saws, zipping backwards into the army. The clones seemed to be mostly in favor of melee, not a shuriken or kunai among them. But the girl in the red jacket? Hisako, Shizo thought her name was? She had kunai and she probably knew how to throw them. The clones would make for good cover.

    The sounds of clones popping filled the Captain’s ears. Up above, he could barely make out the sound of ice forming over the din. Soon, though, he had to stop spinning and resort to spitting icicles all around.

    “We’ve been cut off!” That was likely the younger girl, the one with pink hair. Shizo looked up and saw that the dome had been completed, and they were all encased in a relatively small dome, curtailing the targets ability to make an army.

    With ice breath raining down from the top, the rest of the clones were popped. Riku and Rookie dropped from the ceiling, creating a wall of ice to give themselves cover. Shizo heard the tell-tale sign of senbon needles impacting the wall.

    “Rookie, make a hole.” Shizo dropped into a whispering yet authoritative demeanor that made his team stand up straight.

    “Yes, Captain,” Rookie said, following orders by drilling a hole through the ice wall with his beak.

    “Riku, you’re in charge of making sure the insertion is done,” Shizo continued, heedless of the extra noise Rookie was making. “Masato and I will rain ice mortars down from above and catch them if they try to escape. Rookie, you provide distraction.”

    ---

    “What do we do?” Sakura asked.

    Hisako growled, and looked to Nichiren. “How’s Sensei?”

    “Stabilized, but unconscious,” Nichiren reported. “We need to get out of this dome. Sasuke, try a fireball and be quiet.”

    “Yes, Senpai,” Sasuke said with a bow, immediately flying through hand signs. “Fire Release: Dragon Fire Technique.”

    The spout of flames from Sasuke’s mouth did the trick, quickly melting a hole in the dome. Sasuke offered a brief smirk of victory, even as he started panting.

    “Sakura-chan, help me get sensei on this stretcher,” Nichiren said, bringing a stretcher out of the storage scroll he had unfurled. “Then help me strap him down. We’re leaving as fast as we can.”

    “Sasuke, Naruto? You’ll be last in line,” Hisako said. “Between the fireballs and clones, you’ll be able to cover our retreat back to our base in the village. Do you understand?”

    “They won’t know what hit ‘em!” Naruto said with a grin.

    Sasuke simply nodded, and started the hand signs for another jutsu.

    “Good,” Hisako said.

    “Okay, we’re all done,” Nichiren said. He and Sakura both grabbed their ends of the stretcher. “Move.”

    “You know what to do,” Hisako said, looking up.

    “Mass Shadow Clone Jutsu!” Naruto called loudly, and the dome was filled with Naruto’s again.

    Nichiren and Sakura were the first to go through the hole Sasuke made, bearing their wounded and unconscious sensei. Hisako backed out slowly, watching the ceiling and then hurriedly gesturing for Naruto and Sasuke to follow.

    One of Naruto’s clones popped and Naruto’s eyes widened in shock. “Wait, there’s only two of them! Where are-?”

    Both Naruto and Sasuke’s blood ran cold when they saw the entrance spontaneously freeze over.

    “Ice Twister Technique!” Called one of the penguins, spinning out from around the wall they had erected, his mouth open and spewing a cold blizzard to pop all of the clones around him.

    ---

    Hisako had to jump backwards to avoid the frozen shells from raining down on them. Those shells promptly exploded, resealing the hole that Sasuke had melted through and allowing the Penguins a clean path to slide down to the ground.

    “Trying to escape, are we?” Their leader, only called the ‘Captain’ said with a smirk. “Clever, planning that out while we were planning ourselves.”

    “A delicious bit of irony,” The tall one, Masato replied. “But I suppose we can let them get away, Captain. Our target is inside the dome.”

    The Captain hummed. “Good point!”

    “We aren’t abandoning them!” Sakura retorted hotly.

    “So, who’s the target?” Hisako asked with a glare. “It’s Naruto, isn’t it? What does Daisuke want with him?”

    “That’s the kid in orange?” The Captain asked with a shrug. “We’re delivering a present! We’re also protecting the bridge. So, if you’re not going to leave, we’re going to have to toss you overboard!”

    “Try it!” Hisako snarled, spinning the kunai in her hands around her finger.

    “I mean, with an invitation like that,” the Captain started, the muscles around his beak curving into gigantic grin. “How could I refuse?”

    Then the Captain jumped up on the wall of the bridge, balancing along the railing on his stomach. His claws flew into hand signs. Hisako hurriedly threw a handful of senbon at him, but he slid out of the way along the rail, ice shells shooting from his beak that forced Hisako to dodge backwards and run up the dome.

    That’s when she found Masato waiting for her, aiming a slap for the back of her head. Hisako dodged and spun around, going for a mad attack with the kunai in her hands.

    The Captain hopped off the railing, dodging the shuriken that Nichiren and Sakura had sent his way by sliding across the bridge and hopping onto the railing on the other side. The Captain stopped when Sakura and Nichiren ran out of ammo. “Just to be clear, he’s going to be fine?”

    “Why do you care?” Sakura asked, looking positively livid.

    “Because Daisuke wanted us to avoid killing people if we can avoid it.” Was the response.

    “Then why are we fighting?” Nichiren asked, looking confused and non-plussed.

    “You trying to blow up the bridge?” The Captain asked with a raised eye-muscle.

    “Oh. Right,” Nichiren said, feeling dumb about missing something so basic.

    “Well, I don’t believe in messing with medics, and you're friends of our summoner, so we’re going to leave the two of you alone,” The Captain said with a smile. “Unless you try to get involved. Then you’re fair game. Word of advice? Worry more about your sensei and not as much about the other guys.”

    With that, the Captain zipped off on the railing, hopping onto the dome and circling around.

    ---

    “Fire Release: Dragon Fire Techni-” Sasuke began, taking a deep breath, only to stop with a gasp as he found his hands frozen before they could complete the final hand-sign.

    The short and chubby penguin, who they had figured was ‘Rookie’ zipped up to Sasuke, picked him up by his arms, and started slapping the Genin across the face. Rapidly. With great force. “Don’t! You! Go! Thinkin’! About! Escaping!”

    “Hey, leave him alone!” A Naruto shouted, flanked by three others.

    “Yeah, he’s our friend!”

    “Flippers off our pal!”

    Then they were popped by an ice shell from above. Their Captain was spewing fire-support from above, popping large groups of clones one by one.

    Sasuke brought his legs up and kicked the oversized bird in the through with both feet, knocking him away and letting Sasuke fall to the floor. His cheeks were pulsating red and sore from being slapped by penguin flipper. He turned around and slammed both of his hands on the ground, breaking the ice and allowing him to push himself to his feet.

    Naruto, for his part, was now in a melee with the largest penguin in the group, who didn’t talk, but had this strange staff that he was trying to stab Naruto with. It was orange and on the tip was a seal that glowed blue with chakra. What is that? Does it have chakra? It feels like it has chakra in it. Why does it feel so familiar?

    The penguin spun the staff around, and Naruto ducked just in time to avoid getting clobbered over the head with it. But the Penguin spun around and brought the staff around a second time, smacking Naruto with the broad side of it and knocking him to the ground.

    Naruto looked up and saw the penguin ready with the staff, and pulled it back to ram the end with the seal right into his stomach.

    ---

    Author’s Notes: Hey all. Sorry for the unannounced break, I wound up burning myself out through writing four or so chapters over the course of a week. I think I’m back now, though and I think I’m going to be sticking with a one-chapter-one-week schedule to avoid having you guys go without a chapter for a week, especially in a scenario like this with the cliff-hanger.

    I’d like to take this time to…address the critics of the previous few chapters. Here’s the thing, ladies and gentlemen, I’m okay with criticism. Since Anko and Daisuke’s marriage is my first real fore into romance, I know I’m going to make mistakes. A lot of mistakes. Trying to critique me and help me grow is fine. But at the end of the day, the only person who I truly need to satisfy is myself. Trying to chase after the whims of an ever-changing audience, each individual member with different tastes than myself, trying to accommodate one set of critique, only to find myself dealing with another set of criticism is a mistake I already made once. I will not make that mistake again.

    In the spirit of fairness, I went over the Honeymoon chapters multiple times. I wanted to see if I truly screwed up somehow and if the ideas were terrible. To see if I shouldn’t have written that chapter at all. Did I make mistakes? Oh yeah. But was I happy with the chapters? Yes. I was. I still am. If you were or are not, I am sorry. But the only way this fic is continuing is if I focus primarily on pleasing myself.

    If I want to advance the plot, I want to advance the plot. If I want to write dysfunctional, awkward romantic filler, I want to write dysfunctional, awkward romantic filler. If you want to write a review telling me why you’re leaving the story, go ahead. Nothing wrong with that. But I’m not changing anything to keep you around. I hope you can accept that.

    Shout out goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight, Apperatus, EPiCJB19 and Seeking Raven. Your continued support helps me write this fic for you guys! Seriously, you help so much!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  19. Threadmarks: Chapter 19: Emergency
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---

    Kakashi groaned as he blearily came back to his senses. He felt as though kunai had been driven through his legs and chest the way they were stabbing him through, telling him to stay down and not try to get up.

    The sounds of battle, however, were telling him that he needed to get up. Now.

    So, he tried to sit up and take stock of the situation, only to feel a hand try to push him back down. “Easy, Sensei. You took a bad hit.”

    “Nichiren-kun,” Kakashi gasped out weakly. “Report.”

    “The bridge was being guarded by a squad of Daisuke’s summon animals. Penguins,” Nichiren rattled off immediately. “They’ve sealed Naruto and Sasuke off in a dome made of ice. Sakura and Hisako are trying to fight off their leader. Their leader doesn’t like attacking medics, so he’s having their team leave us alone deliberately. Put bluntly, Sensei, we’re getting our butts kicked.”

    “Are they just guarding the bridge?” Kakashi asked, frowning beneath his mask. “Their summons, they have to have some kind of end-game for them to stick around this long.”

    “They’re targeting Naruto,” Nichiren replied. “The leader said they have some kind of package for him, but I don’t know what that means.”

    Kakashi groaned and tried to sit up again. “Need to see.”

    “I’d stay down if I were you.”

    Kakashi inclined his head and saw the penguin with his own eyes. It was the first time he had ever actually seen one of Daisuke’s summons in person; what little he knew about them, he read about in reports. The muscles around his beak were curled downward in an approximation of a human frown and the muscles where an eyebrow would be were arched upwards; like he had been evaluating his condition and found it unacceptable. “If you were to involve yourself in the current combat operation, I’d have to treat you as a hostile and I’d rather not do that since I already filled you with holes.”

    Kakashi found himself wanting to stand up even more, just as much spite as wanting to protect his students. But he couldn’t, because he had been strapped down to the stretcher, and he was too weak to break out. “What’s this about a package?”

    “I have no idea,” Shizo said, his frown shifting immediately into a huge grin. “By the way, you’re the sensei of each of these kids?”

    “Yes,” Kakashi said, gritting his teeth through the pain.

    The sound of Hisako shouting in anger caused each of them to turn to the duel she was having with Masato. She had apparently run out of senbon, the needles having embedded themselves in the stone up to the half-way point, and she was trying to charge the penguin with twin kunai in her hands. Masato, however, was having none of it, sliding backwards on his stomach while shooting ice bolts at her from his mouth.

    Sakura, for her part, had recovered the shuriken she had attempted to hit Shizo with and was trying to provide fire support from a distance and being wholly incapable of hitting the penguin, whose erratic and unpredictable movements made aim nearly impossible unless you were a seasoned marksman.

    She was not a seasoned marksman.

    Hisako leaped into the air, jumping over a trio of ice bolts sent her way, looking to finally close the gap and seemed to be doing just that…only for Masato to immediately charge forward, sliding out from underneath the kunoichi mid-leap to charge Sakura.

    Shizo’s lit up as he saw an opportunity. “Excuse me.”

    He zipped forward on his stomach, out of Kakashi’s sight-line and then caught up with Hisako, jumping up and spinning mid-air and slapping her in the face with enough force to knock her off her feet and off the bridge.

    “One stowaway thrown overboard,” Shizo said, smirking smugly as he clapped his flippers together. “Four more to go.”

    “Captain! Behind you!” Masato called as he dodged a punch from Sakura by falling onto his back and zipping forward.

    Shizo immediately spun away from the wall as Hisako jumped back onto the bridge, swinging and stabbing her kunai forward.

    “Huh. I’m impressed,” Shizo said with a grin, chuckling. “I thought you were sent too far over the ocean to grab the wall.”

    “Ninja-wire,” Hisako replied coolly. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

    “Really?” He continued, still smiling. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in person.”

    Hisako simply glared and charged forward. The Captain twisted to dodge the apparent strike and made to counter attack with a slap to the face, only for Hisako to slide down on her knees underneath the attack, then jumping back with her kunai to stab the bird in the back.

    Shizo simply slid forward, hopping back to sit on his flippers while his claws flew into hand-signs and spinning around to face his opponent. Hisako spun a loop of ninja-wire over her head like a Lasso and threw it out. Shizo dodged, falling forward on his stomach to make it harder to catch him, forcing Hisako to hop and skip to dodge the oncoming ice.

    With every projectile she dodged, Hisako looked angrier, throwing the kunai with the wire attached to them and pulling them back every time she missed. It was hard to tell what Shizo was thinking, his open beak thwarting any expression, but it was hard to imagine that he was anything other than feeling smugly superior, given how increasingly furious his opponent was getting.

    But the Penguin was getting closer and closer to Nichiren, who saw an opportunity. The Chunin span out a loop of ninja-wire and threw it out, bringing it around the Penguin’s throat and pulling, the sudden suffocation disrupting the Captain’s concentration and forcing him to stand up. “Hisako, get another loop!”

    She immediately did so and after a few seconds, he was completely tied up from claw to neck. Then, Hisako leapt forward, kunai in hand, only to get hit in the head when Shizo leaned forward and pecked her, causing her to recoil with a cry of pain.

    “Hisako!” Nichiren shouted in concern.

    Fell backward toward Nichiren on his back, and let loose a blast of ice from his beak, freezing the wire and letting him break out almost immediately. He backflipped off of his flippers and landed next to Nichiren slapping him across the face with a flipper. “What did I tell you? You should’ve just sat back. Now, I’ve got to slap you!”

    Hisako slowly stood back up, holding her shoulder and trying to shake the blood dripping from her forehead, jumping forward. Shizo attempted another slap, which Hisako ducked underneath. She brought her attack forward, only to get jabbed in the shoulder by Shizo’s beak, who then hit her in the leg, forcing her to buckle.

    “Okay,” Shizo flapped out his wings. “We’re done now.”

    “Captain!”

    Shizo looked upward at the dome, to see Rookie standing in a doorway he had made, waving with a flipper. “Package delivered! Target has been neutralized!”

    “Naruto!” Sakura, who was fighting with Masato atop the dome shouted in fright and concern.

    “Men! Desummon! Now!” Shizo ordered, bringing his talons up to make a hand sign, falling back on his flippers.

    The Penguins disappeared in rapid succession, leaving small smoke clouds in their wake.


    Kakashi’s blood had turned to ice, and that was before the swirling orange chakra circling the dome.

    ---

    Chakra Injection Complete.

    Wait, what?

    What was…oh.

    Oh.

    “Daisuke?” Anko asked, taking note of my sudden expression, dropping her chopsticks. She looked worried. “Daisuke, what’s wrong?”

    In front of us were partially empty bowls of rice, sushi and various sauces, with my black notebook open in the center, turned to my quest log and scrolled down partially so she couldn’t see ‘Reasons to Live’ or ‘The Kaiju’. Didn’t need her to worry about those right now, I wanted to finish our honeymoon first.

    We had sat down to eat lunch and had been enjoying a pleasant conversation about some of the missions she’d had to hand out as she manned the desk, comparing them to some of the quests I had done in the past…then this happened.

    “I completely forgot about that,” I said, shaking my head in shame. I stood, letting go of Growth Spurt. “Sorry Honey, it’s an emergency. I’ll be back before tomorrow.”

    “Wait, what?” Anko shook her head, looking nonplussed. “Daisuke wait-!”

    “I’ll explain later. I love you.”

    Immediately after, I was standing at the bridge.

    …wow.

    Okay, it definitely hit the fan.

    “Daisuke?” I looked behind me, and saw Hisako, who looked like she had been stabbed in multiple locations, her eyes wide in shock and surprise. I saw Sensei, laid up on a stretcher with multiple bandages across his legs and torso.

    “Hey,” I said with a wave. “Give me a second, and we can catch up.”

    The dome made of ice reminded me of Haku’s ice prison, which made me wonder just how closely this escapade with my penguins had mirrored canon. I know Haku wasn’t here, so there wasn’t anyone for Naruto to meet in the woods and get advice from. At least, the odds were so insanely small I can’t see it happening.

    I walked forward, coming to the small, penguin sized door and there, in the center, I saw Naruto.

    He was hunched over, bathed in malevolent orange and red chakra. Sasuke, to his credit, had retained enough of his wits to back himself up against the wall and inch toward the door that was made, and he also watched my arrival with shock.

    “Naruto?” I said, leaning in, falling to one knee and placing my hand on his shoulder.

    Immediately, Naruto snapped around, his eyes red and slit, the whisker-marks on his face having swollen in size. He pounced on me like an animal, trying to rip my throat out with his bestial fangs.

    “Hey. Hey,” I said calmly and easily, pushing him off. “Easy. Easy, it’s me. Relax. We’re going to fix this.”

    In retrospect, that was not one of my smartest plans, putting it generously. That, and I forgot about it. So that’s two failures on my part. Good job, Dai.

    He was completely heedless of my calm entreaties, so I needed to take a more direct hand in fixing this. I placed my hand on Naruto’s seal, started pushing my chakra into the seal…actually, come to think about it, this might be a great time for a constructive Genjutsu. Just to get in his head, like I saw done in canon so long ago. Get into Naruto’s headspace and help fix this problem directly.

    Psychonaut.

    That video game always made me happy, so what fitting way to name a jutsu designed to get into a person’s headspace then after a game where that’s all you do?

    Inside was a long corridor. I had been laying in what felt like sewage. It sure smelled that way, the noxious fumes filling my nostrils like a vapor. I sat up quickly, feeling my hair stick to my scalp like an eel.

    The sewers shook with the roar of some giant animal, and I started having flashbacks to that time that I saved the Rookie 9 from the Fishmen. Good times.

    Where’s Naruto?

    I started running, making my way through the sewers.

    You know, I wonder what this says about Naruto, that his mindscape is a series of long tunnels with sewage running through them? That he has a tendency to get stuck and focused on one thing and has an undercurrent of something bad running through him?

    In canon, that made sense, what with the shunning he endured. Here, though? I was able to stick with him through the bad times and he even gained the respect and friendship of the clans. He had his parents back!

    …we’ll have to figure this out after Anko and I get back from our honeymoon.

    Oh, boy. Hisako and Ino’s reactions to that bit of news is going to be legendary. It might not be a bad idea to put ryo down on an assassination attempt, on either Anko or myself.

    Down some steps, the river of sewage got deeper, and the howls got louder. Not one animal, two.

    Apparently, the Kyuubi was resisting being put back together. Interesting! I wonder why.

    Wait, there’s Naruto!

    Naruto was sitting on his knees at the doorway to a larger chamber, which had large gates made of bars that shook. Beyond them, I could see the shadows of the Kyuubi moving, clawing, biting. Both halves.

    “Hey, Buddy,” I greeted as I walked up to him with a smile.

    Naruto looked up at me, then his eyes grew wide with shock. “Daisuke!”

    “Hey, it’s been a while,” I said as he jumped up and hugged me. “How’ve you been?”

    “I’ve been better,” Naruto groused. “What’s going on?”

    “Turns out, you had half of the Kyuubi inside you, not the whole thing,” I reported with a shrug. “Managed to get it when I brought your father back to the land of the living and I wanted to get it to you since I thought it would come in handy in case the Akatsuki came calling.”

    “You couldn’t have just given it to me?” Naruto groused, his eyes narrowing. “You didn’t have to make your penguins do that.”

    “I should’ve given it to you directly, you’re right,” I replied. “Now that they’re here, though, might as well finish putting them together.”

    I extended a hand and out flowed a series of chakra strings, hundreds of them. Interesting, they were two separate and opposing halves, and this fight that they were having wasn’t them resisting coming back together, it was the process of them coming together itself.

    Fascinating!

    Expediting the process would be ideal, so that Naruto wouldn’t be causing a chakra storm or going into a bestial rage, so let’s…there we go.

    The Kyuubi’s started to melt together like smears of paint on an easel, burring into orange static as they slowly rearranged themselves into a singular being. At the end of it all, the Kyuubi sat down on its hindlegs and stared down at me. “You.”

    Its voice was deep and gravelly, and it echoed in the chamber.

    I blinked in surprise. “You can talk?”

    “Obviously,” The Kyuubi replied airily.

    I hummed, and turned to Naruto, who had walked up beside me and was looking up at the beast with wide eyes. “You feeling better, Naruto?”

    “Huh?” He said, seeming lost in thought as he looked back at me. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m feeling okay.

    Domineeringly, he looked up at the Kyuubi, a cover for how intimidated he was by the large fox. “What about you? You settled down, now?”

    “Yes,” The Kyuubi replied. “I did not expect to have my two selves reunited. It was a…difficult experience.”

    “Sorry about that,” I said apologetically, to both Naruto and the Fox. “This was really poorly planned by me.”

    The Fox just glared at me. “You aren’t even supposed to be here.”

    “In Naruto’s mind?” I asked.

    “Your presence in this world is wrong,” The Kyuubi elaborated with a surge of anger. “An affront to the natural order. A violation of the very fabric of our lives.”

    “Hey, don’t talk to Daisuke like that!” Naruto shouted, pointing up at him. “He’s my best friend, show some respect!”

    “I don’t care how highly he ascends the path of power,” The Kyuubi snarled. “He. Is. Wrong.

    Interesting. Gaara said the same thing about me. “Well, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s not my fault I was born.”

    The Kyuubi squinted down at me and huffed, the breeze surging past me and making my jacket flutter in the wind. “That is your only saving grace.”

    Naruto laughed. “That rich, coming from you. You tried to destroy my village! You killed my parents!”

    “That was not my doing,” The Kyuubi replied. “I was removed from your mother’s abominable seal and then my mind was stolen from me. If I had my choice, I would’ve run the second I was freed, to get away from you Ninja and your constant wars.”

    I blinked. “That’s…not what I was expecting to hear.”

    “Humanity is a stupid and self-destructive species,” The Kyuubi sniffed arrogantly. “If it weren’t for my kin assuring mutual destruction, and the occasional good egg, they would’ve culled themselves like a cannibalistic virus in the world.”

    “That’s not true!” Naruto barked.

    “Do you have a name?” I asked with a frown.

    The Kyuubi looked at me for a long, long moment. Naruto took this opportunity to interrupt.

    “Humanity isn’t stupid!” Naruto ranted angrily. “We created the Hidden Villages to pull ourselves out of the Warring States period! To stop the endless wars and have some peace and harmony! Give it enough time, and the wars and stuff will stop altogether! Because we figured out a system that works!”

    Naruto was looking at me. If I had to guess, Ino managed to pull some stuff out of my head, like how much I missed my old world and how that translated into antipathy for this one and now he was trying to convince me…so that I didn’t try to change anything.

    I mean, it might’ve worked better if it wasn’t for their wars being orchestrated by a hidden third party. But arguing the point wasn’t going to change Naruto’s mind…in fact, facts are usually dismissed if they fly in the face of an opinion that’s got some emotional investment.

    I just hummed. “Well, it did pull us out of the warring states period. You’re right about that.”

    Besides, I was going to use the Hidden Villages to accomplish what I wanted for the Elemental Nations anyway.

    “Yeah!” Naruto then looked at me, completely confused. “Wait, what?”

    I shrugged. “What you said is objectively true.”

    “So,” Naruto started, seemingly thrown off his groove somehow. “Wait…”

    My agreement took the wind right out of Naruto’s sails.

    I looked back up at the Fox. “So, you’re name?”

    He groaned. “My name is Kurama.”

    “It’s nice to meet you, Kurama-san,” I said with a smile. “I’m Shimoda Daisuke, but you knew that.”

    “So, I did,” Kurama replied. “What are you going to do now?”

    “Well, assuming you and Naruto can get along,” I began. “I was going to leave and figure out what you guys are all doing on the bridge.”

    “Oh, uh, well,” Naruto started, looking pretty embarrassed. And nervous. “We were hired to destroy your bridge.”

    I blinked. There must be a reason Minato didn’t mention that when I came back.

    If I had to guess, it was either to avoid pissing me off, to let me know after it had been destroyed so I can go rebuild it…effectively fleecing the contract holder or to keep me away from Naruto until he could be sure that I had calmed down and wasn’t going to abduct him after Hiruzen had explained the circumstances surrounding my departure.

    Any one of those could be correct.

    “Well, then I think your dad and I need to have a talk,” I said flatly. “Not going to kill him. Or hurt him. But he and I need to have a talk. Who hired you to destroy the bridge?”

    “Uh…Gombei-sama,” Naruto replied.

    “Gato’s son?” I asked. “Why? I thought he’d be all over the bridge.”

    Naruto grunted, trying to figure out exactly what he needed to say. “He needs the latest round of shipments to go through to keep the company from going down under.”

    …they needed an immediate cash infusion to compensate for the insane losses I inflicted on them.

    I slapped my forehead. How could I not have thought about that? That’s so…basic. There is no excuse for an error that simple. If I had just invested a massive sum into Gato company after I payed everyone for the bridge, this whole mission would’ve been avoided. Hisako and Kakashi wouldn’t have been wounded. I could’ve actually given Naruto the second half of the Kyuubi like a normal person.

    But I had to go about this roundabout way thing because I was still trying to figure out how to do things without having speaking directly.

    “Okay,” I said. “I’ll go have a talk with Gombei-san first, then your Dad.”

    “Are you mad?” Naruto asked.

    “At myself,” I replied. I looked up at Kurama. “You going to be okay?”

    “As okay I can be,” Kurama replied. “I don’t suppose you can let me out, can you?”

    “We’ll talk about it later,” I answered.

    “Wait, you can’t be serious,” Naruto looked alarmed. “This is the Kyuubi we’re talking about! It attacked our village and killed tons of people!”

    And made me attempt suicide. “I know, but if he’s telling the truth and his mind was stolen…we need to talk about it.”

    “But-but-”


    He’s pretty hesitant about it, but to be fair, so am I. The only thing I’ve ever known about the Kyuubi was that it was a malevolent demon bent on destruction wherever it went, so this thing about having a name and being controlled is news to me. “Alright, Naruto? I think we should head back to reality.”

    ---

    “There you go,” Daisuke said, taking his hands off of Kakashi’s chest. “You should be able to get up and walk, now.”

    Kakashi experimentally tried to sit up, and found no problems. “Thank you, Daisuke.”

    “Sorry it happened,” Daisuke replied with a shrug, standing up. “I underestimated my penguin’s ruthlessness. And overestimated their ability to handle things non-lethally. Still, no one’s dead, so that’s good news.”

    “Well, lesson to be learned,” Kakashi grunted, standing up.

    “Alright? Hisako?” Daisuke started, looking at his injured and bleeding teammate. “Let’s get you patched up.”

    Hisako looked at Daisuke and pursed her lips in trepidation. But, as Daisuke walked over, she laid down and let him work. She felt a shiver of excitement as his soothing, chakra-covered hands were placed on her thigh, and again as he healed her shoulder and forehead. “Alright, there you go. You going to be okay?”

    “I’ll…” She took a breath. “I’ll be fine. Thank you. Daisuke? Can we talk?”

    “Later,” Daisuke replied. “Promise. But I got to get back as fast as possible, that means handling the thing with Gombei. Now.”

    “Daisuke please,” Hisako started quickly. “Just wait a minute, I’ll do anything-”

    “Later,” Daisuke replied firmly. “I’ll make sure you guys are paid for the mission, too, so just head home.”

    “Daisuke, wait a second,” Sasuke said desperately, running toward him. “I have to ask-”

    But he vanished right on the spot.

    “NO!” Sasuke shouted in angry frustration, throwing his fists into the sky.

    Hisako cursed and pounded the cement, starting to sob.

    Kakashi took a deep breath. “At least he wasn’t hostile. Naruto, are you okay?”

    “Yeah, I’m fine,” Naruto said with a smile. “You know what Daisuke said? While we were in my head, he admitted that the Villages stopped the warring states period!”

    “That’s…great, Naruto,” Sakura said with a smile. “What does that mean?”

    “It means we can change his mind!” Naruto said with a wide smile. “We can get him to come back!”

    “That was the main goal of the mission,” Kakashi replied with a carefully measured cheerfulness. “So…I think we can report to the Hokage with our heads held high, even though we technically failed.”

    “Yeah,” Naruto said, his face suddenly falling. “Yeah, you’re right. I guess.”

    “Some missions can’t be completed, Naruto,” Kakashi said, laying a consoling hand on his shoulder. “That’s just the way it is sometimes.”

    ---

    The Gombei situation was surprisingly simple to resolve, but it took the rest of my hundreds of millions of ryo in savings. I just invested all the money I had in Gato company.

    Yeah, the Elemental Nations had stock exchanges. I’m surprised too. The big ones were mostly active in Fire, Earth and Lightning, but some, like Gato company, sold shares internationally. So, I walked into a broker and invested my entire savings account – it was a good thing, too, because investors were selling at a breakneck pace. By my calculations, this will stop the hemorrhaging funds and investors and get them through the dry spell.

    I included a message in my investment for the company, since I could do that.

    For losses incurred, signed in my name. Kindly allow Hidden Leaf to retain its payment.

    Hopefully he’ll get the message.

    Now, to head back to the vault.

    I was back in the cafeteria and Anko was nowhere to be found. “Anko? I’m home!”

    In an instant, Anko dashed out from my office down the stairs and wrapped her arms around me…and her boa constrictors. Because she could spontaneously make snakes. I forgot about that.

    “You’re home, you’re home, you’re home,” She was crying. Then she loosened her grip and looked up at me. Her relieved smile swiftly morphed into an angry glare, her lips turning downward in the most hideously evil frowns I’ve ever seen on anyone’s face.

    Uh oh.

    “Where did you go?” She demanded, trying to hold back more tears.

    There’s a way to go about this. “It’s a long story.”

    The snakes slid back into her sleeves and she folded her arms, her displeasure carved into the stone wall that was her face.

    “But before I tell it, I want to say how sorry I am for just up and leaving you like that, in the dark,” I said, taking a breath. I know that Orochimaru just up and left her and she trusted him, so I imagine that my leaving like that brought those old wounds up to the surface. “Are you feeling okay?”

    “No,” Anko said, dropping her arms, her expression shifting from anger to sorrow. “Daisuke you can’t just leave like that, without explanation or telling me where you’re going! You can’t just run off to handle ‘an emergency’ right in the middle of our honeymoon!”

    She has a right to be upset. Beyond me disrupting our Honeymoon with my thoughtless plans, getting upset and venting is how she handles her negative emotions, just like how withdrawing and being alone is how I handle my negative emotions. I need to let her have this, even if it hurts.

    “It’s like you don’t care!” Really, really hurts. “I know we got married within an hour of getting romantic, but I thought it meant more to you than that! I thought you wanted this to last forever! But here you are, running off at the first sign of trouble.”

    Fair? No. But it’s poetic license, something I imagine she uses a lot when she’s upset. She’s exaggerating, and she doesn’t really mean it personally. Which made it easier not to take it personally.

    “I thought you loved me.”

    Ow.

    She was breathing deeply, trying to keep herself from crying as she started to physically recoil. Maybe from the understanding of what she just said or maybe because she thought I was going to start yelling and I…wanted to. But that’s not what we needed right now.

    “I’m sorry I disrupted our Honeymoon,” I began, now that I was sure she was done talking. It was taking everything I had to not bark at her, viciously, about exaggerating. “It was a result of thoughtless and idiotic plans of mine. You deserve better than that, and this Marriage deserves better than that. I didn’t think you’d want to deal with my garbage, but I realize I still should’ve told you where I was going. Did you feel like I abandoned you?”

    Anko took a deep, deep breath. “Yes. I thought you were going to go kill yourself.”

    I tilted my head. “I’m not following.”

    “You have a quest.” She brought out my little black book, opened to my quest page, which was spotted with dots of water which I figure might be tears.

    Reasons to Live.

    Learn Ninshū.

    Do not commit suicide.

    “Oh,” I said, my eyes going wide. “Were you thinking that you might’ve caused it?”

    She nodded.

    Made no sense, but that was emotions for you. I just up and left with no explanation beyond a vague promise to return, a promise which I made good on, and she already had abandonment issues. This just turned into a perfect storm.

    I took deep breath.

    “Anko,” I said, taking her hands in mine and holding them to my chest. “I want you to know that I do love you. You are one of my many, if not my biggest, reasons to live. I’m not going to leave you. I’m not going to end myself because of anything you say or do. You’re too…valuable for that. Again, I’m sorry for just leaving like that and putting you through the ringer.”

    It was unintentional, but accidents still happen.

    “Daisuke, when I…proposed,” Anko began, speaking through tears now, pointing her finger into my chest to emphasis her later words. “I said I wanted to share your life with you, to go wherever you go. We’re married now. Your emergencies are my emergencies. My emergencies are your emergencies. We do things together. Alright? Promise me.”

    I frowned and thought it over. There were going to be times that I’d need to be alone, but we could talk about that once she’s feeling better. “I promise.”

    She let out a huge sigh of relief, embracing me again. “Thank you.”

    “Do you feel better now?” I asked, returning the hug.

    “Yes,” Anko said.

    “Good,” I said, letting out a huge sigh of relief. “Good. Now, Anko? I need to say a few things.”

    “Okay,” Anko said, wiping her eyes.

    “First…when you’re upset, I know you have a tendency to exaggerate,” I began. “That doesn’t invalidate you being upset or anything, I know, but when you said ‘I thought you loved me’…that hurt. It hurt like a knife being driven through my heart. Okay?”

    “I,” Anko started, getting angry again. Then, she let out a breath. “You’re right, that was really unfair. I’m sorry.”

    “Thank you,” I said, letting out a breath. “I know you exaggerate but…can you try to tone it back when you get upset? Please?”

    “Yes,” Anko started nodding. “Yes, I can. Absolutely. I’m really sorry.”

    “Second thing,” I began again. “You know how talking about your feelings and venting made you feel better?”

    Anko nodded. “Yes. Thank you for listening.”

    “You’re welcome,” I said with a nod. “But I need to tell you that that’s not how I handle my negative stressors.”

    Anko looked a little confused, then her eyes narrowed. “Right. You seem like someone who isolates themselves and work through it on their own.”

    “That’s exactly right,” I nodded rapidly. “Talking about it, for me, just makes it worse.”

    Anko slowly started to frown in thought. “That…doesn’t make any sense to me. At all. But I can accept it. I will accept it.”

    “Thank you,” I breathed out in relief. “That’s a load off my mind.”

    “Now, there is something you still need to do,” Anko looked straight into my eyes with a determined glint. “You need to complete this quest. You need to learn…what was it? Ninshū. You need to learn it right now.”

    “Can it wait until after our Honeymoon?” I asked with a frown.

    No,” Anko snarled, looking angry again. “We are completing this quest right now and we are doing it together. Now.”

    I blinked. Geeze, a little pushy, aren’t you? “Alright, alright.”

    Anko frowned again. “I just don’t want you to kill yourself. I don’t mean to sound demanding but…this is going to haunt me until we get it taken care of. Please.

    “Okay,” I said, trying to sound supportive. “You’re right, I get it. I’m just not used to someone…forcing me to go on a quest.”

    “Well, I’m your wife,” Anko replied, starting to smile again. “If you did anything to yourself and I could’ve stopped it by being a little pushy…I would never be able to forgive myself.”

    “We’re going to the Land of Iron, by the way,” I explained. “That’s the only place I – we, can learn Ninshū.”

    Anko got a surprised and unsettled look on her face. “The land of the Samurai. Okay then. Have you met them before?”

    “I may have handed them a book on everything I knew about Jutsu,” I said, noting how her expression got more and more alarmed. “In an effort to build them into a super nation so they could impose their neutrality on the rest of the Elemental nations and spread Ninshū everywhere.”

    “Oh…kay then,” Anko started blinked. “Well, that’s one way of stopping the cycle of hatred I guess, but wouldn’t the Samurai start killing all the Ninja? Including our friends?”

    I groaned. She had a point. “For someone with ten intelligence, I suck at thinking.”

    “You know, it’s okay,” Anko said, letting out a breath. “You’re still learning, it’s okay. Besides, if anyone can fix a mistake like that, it’s you. Who knows, it might turn out to be a good thing.”

    “I mean, they do want peace,” I said with a nod. “Just like Konoha says they do, so who knows? They might make good allies at some point.”

    “If you could get them to break their neutrality to support Konohagakure,” Anko began, starting to smile once again. “You really will be a miracle worker.”

    I’m so glad she’s feeling better. Lets me know that it’s possible that we can weather arguments and fights, which makes me feel better.

    “Are you even slightly upset by how that quest told me to get a girlfriend?” I asked, only realizing after I said it what just carelessly flew out of my mouth and through my teeth.

    Anko just snorted and shook her head. “I got my husband out of it. I’m thankful it led you to me.”

    “I love you.”

    “I love you too.”

    ---

    Author’s Notes: That’s the end of the bridge arc. The Hokage and Gombei’s reaction to how things turned out will be next chapter, as well as Daisuke and Anko going to Iron. I’ll probably sneak in Cell 7 and 13 returning to Konoha and figuring everything out from then on.

    Also, yes: I’m totally aware that Daisuke didn’t Anko anything about Naruto’s emergency. I will get that taken care of next chapter.

    Shout out goes out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight, Apperatus, EPiCJB19 and Seeking Raven. You guys are awesome! Thank you for your continued support!

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  20. Threadmarks: Chapter 20: Ninshu
    Fulcon

    Fulcon Wim Hoff Method Initiate

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    The Following is a fanbased work of fiction: Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden are owned by Shueisha, Viz Entertainment and Masashi Kishimoto. Please support the official release.

    ---

    “That’s when I realized I needed to put cash in that company as fast as possible,” I finally finished explaining as we appeared in the mountains of the Land of Iron. “So, I had to find a broker that served internationally, then shoved a massive cash infusion into them so they didn’t fall over. That’s why I was gone for three and a half hours.”

    “Ah, okay.” Anko nodded, looking down the path and bridge to the Capital. “I should’ve figured that it was something to do with Naruto. Are you sure he’s going to be okay?”

    “He’s going to be fine,” I said with a smile.

    “Good,” Anko said, getting a warm smile on her face. “I’d hate to meet my new brother-in-law while he’s in the hospital. Might not set the best impression, you know?”

    “Oh, he’s going to love you,” I said, returning the smile.

    Anko hummed curiously. “Why?”

    “You both love screwing with people,” I replied.

    “That’s true!” Anko laughed. Then she looked over to the gates of the Capital. “You know, I’ve only been this far north once.”

    “Really?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

    “Yeah, there was this diplomat sent from the Daimyo to talk to the shogun over a possible trade deal,” Anko explained as we started walking forward. She started holding her arms. “Nothing, whew, came of it though.”

    “Here,” I said, snapping my fingers and giving her a set of form-fitting winter clothes to cover the fishnets, emerging beneath the trench coat. “That’ll help keep the cold out.”

    “Thank you,” Anko said with a smile. “That’s much better. What about you? That suit doesn’t look very warm.”

    “My old life, I was raised in the mountains,” I explained with a shrug. “I refuse to let cold bother me on principle.”

    Anko hummed. “Big, tough mountain man?”

    I was not a big, tough anything. But now, though? “Yeah. Anyway, I’m really annoyed with the Fourth right now.”

    “Because he didn’t tell you he sent Naruto to destroy your bridge?” Anko asked curiously.

    “Oh yeah,” I nodded. “That’s one of the first things that should’ve been out of his mouth when I got back. But no.”

    “He probably thought he could do the mission, get paid, then tell you that they ‘just learned that the bridge was destroyed’ once we got back from our honeymoon,” Anko explained with a deep frown. “It probably morphed from ‘we can use this to get him to come back’ to ‘we can use this to earn favor with him’ once you got back.”

    I groaned in disgust, shaking my head. “I had no time for politics before I got my charisma figured out, I don’t have time for it now.”

    “I know what you mean,” Anko said with an exasperated expression of her own. “Why can’t it just be ‘here’s a mission, the last one you did turned into this, we didn’t know about x, we’re sorry’? It drives me crazy.”

    “Because then, you know, they’d have to stop trying to manipulate things in the background and take responsibility for their mistakes,” I replied with a nasty frown. “I mean, I’m one to talk, but…”

    “You’re pretty good at that, actually,” Anko said, smiling down at me. “Well, you are now.”

    “Thanks, Anko,” I said with a grin.

    Looking over the path, I could still see the parts of the mountains that the Kaiju had pulled off when it had attacked me. I could see the beginnings of scaffolding to get up to the veins of ore that we uncovered in our fight.

    “What happened here?” Anko asked with wide eyes.

    “You know the quest, ‘The Kaiju’?” I asked with a small grin.

    “Yeah – wait,” Anko did a double take. “That thing, whatever it is, did that?”

    “It was throwing mountains around and clobbering me with them,” I said, my grin getting positively massive. “Best fight I’ve had in a long, long time.”

    “Where it is now?” Anko asked quickly.

    “In a box up in the sky until I can figure out what to do with it,” I answered, pointing to the small, black dot in the sky.

    She leaned forward, squinting up to see the black dot, only for her eyes to suddenly get wide again. “Wait, how high is that thing.”

    “Pretty high up,” I answered. It wouldn’t do much good to say ‘its in orbit’, since the elemental nations had no real concept of space travel. Sure, they had telescopes and astronomers, but those are civilian posts and most ninja aren’t too concerned with learning how to plot their course by the stars. “It’s another thing I need to take care of.”

    “Why haven’t you killed it yet?” Anko asked, looking at me with a deep frown.

    “Because it can’t die,” I replied with a grin. “It’s awesome!”

    “Honey,” Anko licked her lips and took a breath. “Would you explain that to me?”

    “Certainly!” I said brightly. “In Fallout, occasionally, you run into NPC’s that are essential to a story or quest. Or whatever. You can’t kill them, they’re essential. So, when you attack them and bring their health to nothing, they just fall on their buts for a few moments, then get back up after combat is over. The problem is that the quest needs me to kill the Kaiju, but the Kaiju can’t be killed until after the quest is completed.”

    “Why would the game give you a quest that can’t be completed?” Anko asked, shaking her head with a nonplussed expression.

    “I’m pretty sure it’s intentional,” I replied with a shrug. “If it was a bug, it wouldn’t be getting stronger every time I put it down.”

    “Intentional,” Anko repeated, her eyes getting wide. “You mean…someone did that?”

    “All games have a developer.” I nodded, remembering that first message I received in the womb, welcoming me to SHINOBI: The RPG’s beta. “Including mine. So, my real question is if the developer is still messing with me, and I suspect he, she or they are.”

    “Have you met him?” Anko asked.

    “No,” I shook my head. “I doubt I ever will, he or she or they’ve been completely absent.”

    Anko hummed in thought. “They’ve mostly been content to observe. But why would they give you a quest you can’t complete? That’s…violating their own rules?”

    “No idea,” I shrugged. “But I can’t kill the thing, I kind of want to build it its own little world for it to frolic around in because it’s so awesome.”

    “It’s got to be some monster to give you a fight,” Anko replied. “Did you meet it before or after you cracked godhood?”

    “After,” I answered with an enthusiastic nod.

    She moaned in nervousness. “Would you take care of it today?”

    “Today?” I asked with a frown. “I don’t know, I was still thinking about how to do that.”

    Anko looked down, right into my eyes and held my gaze.

    …oh, man. Come on, I was hoping it’d break out and give me the fight of a lifetime. It can’t break out if it if it’s on its own world, however million lightyears away from Earth…but if I don’t take care of it, it’s going to appear at a very inopportune time. Like when I’m in the village, on lunch with my wife. Which would be bad, as it likely would start ripping up Mt. Kagemore and using the faces as knuckles to punch me with, making a gigantic mess.

    Besides, if it can get down from the cage, it can come back to fight me from whatever crazy world I build for it.

    “Alright,” I relented. “I’ll handle it tonight. Would you like to come with?”

    “You know I would,” Anko said, giving me a reassuring smile. “I wasn’t lying when I said I wanted to share your life with you. I’ll leave you alone when you want, because I know how important that is to you, but…don’t let that be too often, okay?”

    “I’ll do my best,” I said, with a reassuring smile of my own.

    We came to the front gates and the guards both bowed. “Shimoda-sama.”

    Given how I publicly destroyed the biggest monster any of them had ever seen in their lives, this kind of reaction isn’t unexpected. Just odd. “Good to see you guys are still standing. Is Mifune-san in?”

    “Yes, he’s been waiting for you to return,” The Guard replied. “He said to alert him when you returned. Who is your companion?”

    “My wife, Anko,” I answered without hesitation. “I would appreciate whatever courtesies you show me to be shown her.”

    The two guards froze, and bowed again. “We will be sure the Shogun is properly informed.”

    Then guard number one ran off to a booth inside and started knocking. After a moment, the door opened, and the guard started talking to the one who answered the door, and gesturing toward me. The gestures became increasingly frantic as they spoke but eventually, the guy who answered the door ran off.

    “Typically, I’m escorted to the man’s office,” I told Anko with a raised eyebrow. “This isn’t usual.”

    “Is it because I’m here?” Anko asked with a frown.

    “Maybe,” I said. “But he’s going to have to deal with it.”

    Anko’s frown turned into a smile.

    After several minutes of waiting, the Shogun arrived, backed with a team of three Samurai. I could feel Anko getting uneasy, they way she tensed up at their approached. I took her hand in mine, gave it a light squeeze and smiled. She relaxed, returning the smile.

    “Daisuke. Sama,” Mifune bowed in greeting. “It is good to see that you’ve returned. Congratulations on your marriage.”

    “This is Anko,” I said with a grin, introducing her as we both bowed in return. “We’re here because we need to learn Ninshū. As fast as possible. I’ve put this off for far too long.”

    “We would be honored to teach you,” Mifune said, bowing again.

    This…is a far cry from how they usually act around me. Sure, I can say that I beat the Kaiju off of their doorstep, then tried my best to repair as much of the damage to the Land of Iron as I could, and then…huh. Well, okay then.

    “But before I do so, and I mean no disrespect,” Mifune began, carefully masking his nervousness behind an expression of neutrality. “I must use Ninshū on you, to read your chakra and understand you.”

    Oh. He wants me to pass a security test. “Alright. You want to do this here, back in your office, or-?”


    “I believe we should begin in our Temple to the Sage of Six Paths,” Mifune answered with a nod. “If you both will follow me?”

    ---


    The temple reminded me very heavily of a Buddhist temple, a statue of the sage sitting in a meditative pose with dozens of candles arrayed before him. Anko and I were sitting on mats, and across from us was Mifune who, I could see, was doing a lot to remain composed.

    Pretty sure he’s afraid of whatever he’s going to find.

    Hopefully, he doesn’t mind learning that I died and came back and whatever other stuff I’ve dug up. He might have a heart attack once he learns I’m a god, though. I hope I don’t have to resuscitate him, that’d be really bad. Assuming I can even do it through my peals of laughter.

    “Daisuke-sama, if you’d please allow me to take your hand,” Mifune requested.

    I extended that hand with a friendly smile and he took it. From his fingers, I felt his chakra pulse, searching over a looking at mine just as Danjuro did so long ago. I think he wanted to pull back, to look away, judging from the way his skin blanched.

    Finally, he did pull away, falling back slightly onto his hands. “Daisuke-sama, I…”

    “Mifune-san.”

    He stopped talking immediately.

    “I need you to relax,” I said, with a smile. “It’s fine. Seriously.”

    “You’re a god.”

    “I am,” I said with a nod. “My wife is a goddess. It’s a pretty recent thing for both of us. The most important thing I want you to realize is that I don’t look down on you or consider you inferior. Nor am I mad at you, nor have you offended me in any way. I just need you to relax so we can talk about learning Ninshū.”

    “Yes,” Mifune nodded quickly and rapidly, slowly starting to calm down. “Yes, of course. My daughter expressed an interest in teaching you Ninshū, but seeing as how you are married-”

    “It’s fine,” Anko quickly interjected. “Really. If we have a willing tutor already lined up for us, I see no reason for her to not teach us Ninshū.”

    Mifune looked at Anko with carefully masked concern. “If I may, I’d like to read your chakra as well, Anko-sama. If you please.”

    Anko looked slightly confused and looked at me. I just gave her a nod, to which she shrugged and looked still confused. I just smiled and gestured for her to go ahead and she relented, extending her hand.

    Mifune took it and Anko’s expression simply doubled down on the confusion, and then she seemed intrigued.

    Mifune took a breath. “Very well. I will send for Katsuki. She’s been looking forward to meeting you since you first arrived in the Land of Iron.”

    “I look forward to meeting her,” I said with a smile.

    He left us alone.

    “Why did he want to read my chakra too?” Anko asked rhetorically. Then it hit her. “He wanted to make sure I didn’t want to kill his daughter, huh?”

    “Bingo,” I said with a nod.

    “What does that mean?” Anko asked curiously.

    “It’s a reference to a game back in my old world,” I said, starting to go into an explanation and making sure she wasn’t checking out. She wasn’t, so I continued. “We had a five-by-five grid printed on a sheet of paper with numbers on them. A caller would draw out a number randomly, and whenever a number on your ticket is called, you put a marker on the number. Get a straight line all the way across, you shout ‘Bingo’ and win.”

    “Did you play it a lot?” Anko asked.

    “No, but it was so ingrained in our culture that whenever someone gets something correct, we sometimes say ‘bingo’,” I explained with a shrug. “A lot of things we did were like that, actually. To an absurd degree.”

    Anko just hummed. “Interesting. You were a civilian, right?”

    “I was,” I confirmed with a nod.

    “Is that why you’re so set on sharing knowledge with everyone?” Anko asked with a raised eyebrow. “I only ask because your reputation for sharing jutsu in the village is legendary.”

    “No, actually, that’s because I lived in the information age, where it was nearly impossible to keep a secret if someone was determined enough to find you out,” I said with a shrug. “I lived in a country where you were free to criticize your government, where you were free to protest injustice if you felt it was there and where innocence is presumed.”

    Anko started blinking. Rapidly, and with great speed. “How…did that work? How did any of that work?”

    “Pretty well,” I replied with a smile. “We can talk about it once we get back to the vault, if you’re interested.”

    “Oh, we’re going to be talking about it. At length,” Anko said with a skeptical expression.

    Fair enough, she was raised in Konoha, a distinctly military dictatorship. Criticizing the Hokage was typically not something that was tolerated.

    The door to the temple opened and Mifune returned, trailed by a girl who wore a form-hugging kimono, showcasing a slender and curvaceous body. As she came into the light, I could make out her face better; heart-shaped with fine features, her cerulean eyes shining sharply as they came to gaze upon me, then my wife. Her long, black hair fell around her shoulders, twin braids draping themselves in front.

    She bowed straight into a kowtow. “Greetings. I am Katsuki, daughter of the Shogun. It is my honor to be able to teach both of you Ninshū.”

    “It is nice to meet you, Katsuki-san,” I said in an attempt to be friendly, giving a light return bow, and my wife did the same. “Thank you for being willing to teach us.”

    “We do appreciate it,” Anko supplemented neutrally.

    Katsuki stood and sat down. “The first thing I’ll need to do is read your chakra, so that I can understand the best way to teach you. I would like to do this for you, Shimoda Daisuke-sama, first.”

    “Alright,” I said, extending my hand slowly and evenly. I don’t want Anko to think I’m overly eager because she could see that as a threat to her place at my side. I’m pretty sure she’s secure enough to brush it off, but I’d rather not make her have to do that if I don’t need too. And I don’t.

    Katsuki took my hand and the increasingly familiar sensation of chakra washing over me, not even coming close to seeing the entirety of the infinite oceans inside, but getting a pretty good look, I think. After a moment, she started sweating from exertion and she let go, taking long, even breaths.

    “Are you alright?” Anko asked, frowning.

    “Yes. It’s just…well, it’s just a lot of chakra,” Katsuki replied with a nod and a smile. “More than I’ve ever seen before in my life. But I think I’ve got the complete picture. Did you…did you really die?”

    “I did,” I said with a nod.

    Mifune let out a light grunt in confirmation and understanding.

    She frowned. “I am so sorry. Your life has been very hard on you.”

    “Most of it my own doing,” I said with a nod. “Trying to stop making things unnecessarily difficult for me, but, you know, self-destructive habits die hard.”

    “Indeed,” She said, still frowning. Then she turned to Anko and extended her hand. “If I may.”

    “Sure.” She didn’t seem sure, but she was doing this with me.

    Katsuki repeated the process, sweat again beading up on her forehead. When she was done, her hand nearly fell from Anko’s grip instead of being withdrawn.

    “We can take a break if you need,” Anko offered.

    “No, no,” Katsuki shook her head. “It is fine. Thank you, though, for your consideration. From here, you’ll be practicing on each other.”

    “We will?” Anko asked, sounding surprised.

    “Neat,” I said with a grin, taking Anko’s hand in mine.

    “Yes, you will,” Katsuki said with a smile to Anko. “Given the passion and companionship you share, it will make things much easier for the both of you.”

    “Alright,” Anko’s grip on my hand tightened.

    “Start by allowing your chakra to travel out of the tenketsu in your hands,” Katsuki began to instruct. “And into your partners…”

    Then it began. It was a simple thing, just feed your chakra into the other person and then let it merge. Like two rivers flowing against each other and instead of pushing, you gave up resistance entirely and allowed your chakras to merge.

    When I did that? When the two of us allowed our chakra to merge? That is when I saw.

    Perk Added: Ninshū Novice!

    You have begun learning the art of communicating with people with Ninshū! You are a novice at understanding people through their chakra alone.

    This is when I saw Anko, clearly and for the first time. I saw a little girl, terrified at the world because of her Sensei’s, her father’s, abandonment. I saw a grown woman who was absolutely giddy to have found someone she considered being more than worthy of being her other half. I saw a girl who believed herself worthless for anything other than to be physically used and discarded. I saw a woman who wanted more than anything to create life and be worthy of caring for it.

    That was when I felt the love that she had for me.

    Anko felt that I truly had forgiven her for things she still struggled to forgive herself for. She felt that I was worthy. She felt that I respected her, for who she was and how she felt. In me, she had placed her trust. She did not want to be discarded and she believed she should be. She trusted that I would be her other half, no matter how hard that would be. She trusted that I wouldn’t abandon her, even though she felt that I should.

    I also saw what she saw.

    She saw a vicious marauder, who had been angry at the world but whose wounds had mostly healed. She saw a little boy, one who had once been scared by the dark but had turned on the light and made peace with his monsters. She saw a man with grand ambitions for the world, hoping to make everything better since he could no longer build himself up.

    She saw how I loved her. How much I valued that, when I was lost and floundering in the dark, she was the only hand of companionship that I felt was genuine. How I visited her in the hospital because I enjoyed talking with her, how I trained her because I wanted to see her healthy. How happy I was to work with her as a partner because she wasn’t doing it to take advantage of how starved I was for affection.

    It didn’t matter that we were only romantic for an hour before joining ourselves like this. It didn’t matter that I didn’t think she’d be interested for most of the time that I knew her, or that she felt it was wrong to be interested.

    What mattered is that there was a window of opportunity, where our emotions were strong and that we hit the anvil while it was hot. What mattered is that we had forged a bond together. Through our talks, through our kisses, through our throes of lovemaking we had created a bond; one that could only grow stronger with proper nourishment and tender care, from both of us.

    We saw each other.

    And we pulled each other into a kiss, our lips meeting in a moist duet. Her breath was hot in my mouth, our tongues sending sparks of joy through our bodies as they met and tasted each other.

    Eventually, we pulled apart, taking a deep breath and for the millionth time…

    “I love you,” She said.

    “I love you too.” I rejoined.

    It was true. It was true, and we were going to sing about it.

    No one can stop us.

    We both turned to Katsuki with the biggest smiles on our faces.

    “So, what else you got?” I asked happily.

    Katsuki, who’s face had turned pink, coughed into her fist. “I think that’s it for our lesson. Um, Father? May I ask that you leave us alone? I have a favor to ask them.”

    Mifune’s eyes narrowed, looking at her and then at us. “What are you going to ask them?”

    Katsuki took a deep breath. “Father, I am going to ask them to read my chakra. I would like some privacy, please.”

    …oh…kay…

    Interesting.

    He took a breath himself and sighed. “Very well.”

    Mifune bowed to Anko and I. “By your leave.”

    Like that, he left.

    Okay then.

    He probably didn’t want to seem disruptive to the teacher in front of her class and the class are a pair of actual, living, breathing gods. Insanely disrespectful to be disruptive, especially since he, himself, recommended her.

    “So, was that code or is that really all you’re going to do?” Anko asked curiously.

    “No, I’m going to ask you to read my chakra,” Katsuki replied with a nod. “But I’m also going to ask you for a few other things as well, afterwards.”

    “Like what?” Anko asked, eyes narrowing slightly.

    “After you’ve both read me,” Katsuki said firmly, extending her hand to Anko. “You may go first, if it pleases you.”

    Anko took her hand and started, her curling into a frown, then into a more neutral expression as pieces started to come together for her. She hummed as their hands came apart. “I see. I think we can accommodate you. On all counts.”

    “Thank you,” Katsuki said with a nod. “Now, Daisuke-sama? If you’d please.”

    “Certainly,” I said, taking her hand and starting to merge my chakra with hers.

    Hm.

    Katsuki was a girl who hated stagnation. She wanted growth, progress, and increase. This was a problem since the Land of Iron was almost entirely stagnant in its neutrality. She felt like her father didn’t consider her opinions to have any worth, as he had rebuffed all of her demands that the Land of Iron change in any way. But in Anko and I? She saw her hopes and dreams fulfilled.

    She wanted Ninshū everywhere. She wanted to learn Jutsu. Taijutsu, Ninjutsu, Genjutsu. The adaptability and potential for growth was something she envied in the Shinobi, which was why she had desperately asked, demanded and begged for the ability to teach us Ninshū, hoping to strike a bargain, but now forced into giving an offering and hoping for a blessing, given the insane gap in social roles we had – she now had the novel experience of knowing what it was like for a peasant to approach her father.

    There’s also that insane, hormonal, animalistic lust she had for me, but beyond being flattered, I’m going to ignore that. I’m a married man.

    “Okay,” I said. “You want to learn Jutsu and spread Ninshū to the Elemental nations. Anko’s right, we can absolutely accommodate you.”

    “Thank you,” Katsuki said, letting out a breath. “I wish to travel to the Elemental nations to spread Ninshū, to hopefully stop all the fighting and war so we don’t have to be neutral anymore.”

    “It’s a nice thought,” I began with a friendly and understanding smile. “And I agree with you, but expecting Ninshū to stop a war is being more than a little optimistic. It’s going to cause revolution, peaceful or otherwise. After that, we could look forward to an era of peace and, you’re right, the Land of Iron could break its neutrality safely.”

    “I suppose,” Katsuki grumbled in annoyance. “There are times when enemies become greater enemies thanks to their understanding of one another.”

    “That said, I do want Ninshū everywhere,” I said with a nod. “I think it could bring about peaceful revolution if violence becomes too costly for everyone involved and they see that, which Ninshū would be good at explaining. So, my question is, how were you thinking we could take you to the Elemental nations?”

    Katsuki hummed for a moment, then went into a kowtow. “I would like to pledge myself to you, my gods, to serve you in whatsoever way you wish, in exchange for the opportunity to teach Ninshū and to learn the ways of a Shinobi.”

    “We accept,” Anko said immediately.

    I blinked and turned to her. There is no way she missed Katsuki’s attraction to me. “Are you sure? Even with-?”

    “Yes, I am sure,” Anko nodded slowly and methodically. “She can help me with your gift.”

    “Gift?” Katsuki asked with a tilted head, and a confused expression. Then her eyes widened in surprise. “Oh! That’s what that was! I…oh. Oh. Hm.”

    She cupped her chin, staring at the floorboards deep in thought, occasionally looking up to look at me, then Anko.

    I said I’m not even going to try to find out what her gift is. I still don’t want too.

    “I don’t mean to question you, Anko-sama,” Katsuki finally began. “But are you sure this is what you want? To give him…that?”

    Anko simply frowned, took a deep breath and looked back at her resolutely. “Yes. Helping me with that gift is something you’ll be required to do if you pledge yourself to us. So, think long and hard about it before you say you’ll be serving us in ‘any way we require’.”

    Katsuki simply continued to think, tapping her chin.

    I looked at her questioningly.

    “Later,” She mouthed back at me. “Tonight.”

    What exactly is Anko’s gift, that she had me promise to accept and use and now basically strong arming a girl’s promise to serve us in any way to helping with it? I mean, at least she’s letting her know now instead of springing it on her later.

    “Very well,” Katsuki said with a sense of finality. “I pledge myself to serve both of you in any and all ways you should require.”

    “And we’ll teach you everything we know about Jutsu and help you spread Ninshū,” Anko said with a slow nod. “Thank you. Really. I really, really appreciate this.”

    Wait.



    Oh.

    Oh, no.

    I see why she felt the need to make me promise to accept it and use it. It goes against…all of my morals, most of my instincts and a lot of my good sense. Crap.

    “Anko,” I said slowly. “We need to talk.”

    Anko licked her lips in the same way one would before an unpleasant encounter; she was expecting a fight. “Yes. We do.”

    I will not get angry. Arguments will destroy this bond that we’ve made. We will discuss it. I will dissuade her from this, but I will not get angry and we will not argue.

    Katsuki made to say something, but then held her tongue. “With your leave, I will tell my father. Then, once I am packed and ready to go, what would you have me do?”

    I looked at Anko, who gave me a look. “Alright, look. Anko and I are going to be talking about this gift she wants to give me. Once you’ve been immigrated into the Land of Fire, you can…house sit for us while we enjoy the rest of our Honeymoon.”

    Katsuki blinked. “Thank you for giving me this opportunity on your Honeymoon. I didn’t mean to intrude.”


    “You are not intruding,” Anko replied, a sad smile growing on her face. “This is something I need as much help with as I can.”

    ---


    Naruto didn’t like how uncomfortable his Dad looked when Kakashi sensei finished the report. So, he decided to ask. “So, what’s the matter, Dad?”

    Minato took a deep breath and let it out. “Nearly an hour before you returned from the village, we received a letter by messenger hawk from Gombei, who informed us that we are to keep our payment and gave us the bonus he promised for removing Daisuke. Now that you’ve given your report, I see why.”

    “But we didn’t get rid of Daisuke,” Hisako asked, nonplussed. “He just showed up, healed everyone, then left. Why did Gombei give you the bonus?”

    Minato rolled his shoulders. “The day that you left, Daisuke returned to the village.”

    Jaws fell open. Naruto felt like his eyes were going to bug out of his skull. Kakashi’s single eye almost did. Hisako covered her mouth and Nichiren just froze. Sasuke didn’t say anything either, though words were desperately trying to form in his mouth and coming out as garbled whispers. Sakura folded her arms.

    “He apologized to the Third for his rash actions.”

    “What.” Naruto couldn’t believe his ears.

    “And promptly got married to his Jounin partner, Mitarashi Anko.”

    “WHAT?!?” Hisako screamed at the top of her lungs, nearly popping a few ear drums. Lakes of tears started falling down her eyes as further words turned to sobs. Then she turned heel and ran out of the Hokage’s office.

    Minato grunted in sympathy. “Let her go.”

    Nichiren groaned. “I think he finally did it.”

    “Did what, Senpai?” Naruto asked.

    “Destroyed her heart.” Nichiren sighed and took off his glasses. “Not going to lie, she set herself up for it, but…you still hate to see it.”

    “Yeah,” Naruto said with sympathy. “Think I can go talk to her?”

    “Later, Naruto,” Minato said. “Daisuke isn’t going to be happy when he returns from his honeymoon. Assuming he doesn’t come back tomorrow to send me to the Pure World. I foolishly decided to roll the dice on earning favor with him, and lost.”

    “You didn’t tell Daisuke you sent us to destroy the bridge, did you, Hokage-sama?” Sakura asked, her mouth curling into a deeper frown by the second.

    “No,” Minato shook his head. “No, I did not.”

    “Oh,” Naruto began, expression falling as he grew more and more depressed. “Oh. Ohhhhhhhh. Oh no. Yeah, I see what’s wrong now. Look, Daisuke’s not going to kill you, but he is going to be really, really upset. Just, whatever you do, don’t call him a child. Like I told Mom, he does not like being called that.”

    “Understood,” Minato nodded.

    “Hokage-sama,” Sasuke had found his voice. “How long until his Honeymoon ends.”

    Minato looked directly in Sasuke’s eyes. “I know what you’re going to ask and I only have one thing to tell you.”

    “What’s that?” Sasuke asked, his eyes lighting up with something that had not graced them for a very, very long time.

    “Your mother is waiting for you at home,” Minato replied. “Go.”

    Sasuke was gone in a blur, the door flying open so fast that the knob buried itself into the wooden wall beside it.

    Naruto took a breath. “So, Daisuke’s back.”

    “He is, Naruto,” Minato nodded. “He just needed some time to cool down and handle his monsters. He’s very…calm, unlike what I’ve read in most reports.”

    “He just needed some time to calm down,” Naruto repeated in disbelief. “And he got married? After, well, how long?”

    “Well, they had just reunited that day,” Minato said.

    Naruto just smiled. “Called it!”

    “I mean, they knew each other for six months beforehand,” Minato protested. “So, it’s not like they literally got married that day. They just found their feelings and acted on them. Happens all the time.”

    “But still!” Naruto said, still smiling triumphantly.

    “Now, let me get your vouchers and then you can be on your way,” Minato said, digging the appropriate documents out of his desk.

    I can’t believe it! Naruto thought as his dad handed him his voucher, which he accepted with a grin. Daisuke…he’s back! That’s amazing! I didn’t think anything could actually get him to come back but…he came back!

    “Dismissed.”

    “See you, Dad!”

    “Daisuke’s actually back!” Sakura beamed at Naruto. “You must be so happy!”

    Naruto just grinned, took Sakura in his arms, and planted a giant kiss on Sakura’s lips. She moaned in pleasure, wrapping her arms around his head and returning it. Naruto broke it off. “You know I’m happy!”

    Sakura giggled and replied coyly, “I can tell.”

    “Alright, love birds, break it up,” Kakashi said idly with an amused-eye smile. “You’re holding up traffic.”

    They both turned pink.

    “Right, sorry Kaka-sensei!” Naruto laughed nervously. “Come on, Sakura, I’ll treat you to some Ramen!”

    “Alright, Naruto,” Sakura said, her face as pink as her hair. “Since we’re celebrating, I’d love to have ramen with you.”

    “Yes!” Naruto crowed, wrapping his arm around her waist and leading her down the stairs.

    He’s back, Naruto thought with glee. I can’t believe it! I didn’t even have to do anything, he just calmed down. I didn’t think he had it in him! But…wait…

    He remembered the words of a kindly, yet mysterious stranger said to him several days ago.

    So, you’re afraid that he’ll simply have changed tactics if he comes back on his own.

    Naruto fell quiet. Wait…wait, that’s right. Daisuke didn’t change his mind, did he? I mean, he could’ve! He totally could’ve…

    But he probably didn’t.

    “Naruto, what’s wrong?” Sakura asked with a deep frown.

    “I don’t want to talk about it,” Naruto said. “Not right now, at least. Lets just celebrate, all right?”

    Sakura’s frown got even deeper, but she relented. “Alright. But you know I’m here for you when you want to talk.”


    “I know,” Naruto said, smiling tenderly down at his girlfriend. “Thank you.”

    ---


    Sasuke was tearing across the roof tops as fast as his legs could carry him, leaping over entire blocks in his haste to get to his compound.

    It had to be true.

    It couldn’t be true.

    He had to see with his own eyes.

    Mother…

    He came to the gates of the Uchiha compound and kicked open the gates.

    Immediately, he noticed a difference. The streets seemed cleaner, the cobwebs that he never had time to dust off had been removed.

    There was a warmth in the area that had not been there before.

    His home was actually very close to the gates, if only because of how large it was. He didn’t have to run very far before coming to his house.

    Over to the side, his mother’s shoes had been noticeably moved, in a completely separate spot than they had been kept. But just his mothers. His fathers had remained there. Sasuke felt sure now. Almost too sure. He made sure to curb his enthusiasm until he saw her…and made sure it wasn’t a Genjutsu.

    Ahead, he heard the sound of footsteps, and he hit in the nearby coat closet, out of sight and out of mind. Anyone that was inside the compound could be an enemy for all he knew. But as he heard the footsteps continue, he saw her.

    Uchiha Mikoto had turned the corner, causing Sasuke’s breath to completely leave him. He hurriedly brought his hands together. “Kai!”

    She remained; there was no Genjutsu to dispel.

    “Come out,” Mikoto ordered with a dispassionate growl, looking around. “I heard you come in; I know you’re here. Come out before things get worse for you.”

    Sasuke, slowly but surely, came out from the closet and looked at his mother, who locked eyes with him.

    “Sasuke?” Mikoto gasped, also finding herself unable to breathe, the kunai she had been hiding behind her back dropping to the ground with a clang.

    “Mom?”

    Then the two ran toward each other, embracing, hugging and as was usually the case, more than a few tears.

    “Oh, Sasuke,” Mikoto cried into her son’s shoulder. “My little boy is all grown up!”

    “I can’t believe its you,” Sasuke similarly said. “I can’t believe you’re here! You’re really here!”

    They separated, Mikoto placing a hand on her son’s cheek. “I am here, Sasuke. I’m never leaving again. I promise.”

    “But…but Itachi,” Sasuke started, but Mikoto placed a finger on her son’s lips.

    “Forget about Itachi,” Mikoto said. “He was under orders to put down a coup. The-”

    “What?” Sasuke shouted in shock. And anger. “What do you mean, he was under orders?”

    “The elders of the Uchiha were planning a coup against the village,” Mikoto immediately explained, adopting a clinical, if not cold exterior. “So many of the clan were going to join, that Itachi was ordered to wipe us out. All of us.”

    “I don’t believe it,” Sasuke whispered hoarsely, falling to his knees. “That…I don’t…but…”

    “But you alone were allowed to be spared per the order he was given,” Mikoto continued. “But the order did not come from the Hokage and was against his wishes, and the one who gave the order has been brought to justice. Afterwards, Shimoda-sama brought those of us who wished to come back to life.”

    “That doesn’t make any sense,” Sasuke raged. “That’s not what that man told me!”

    “That’s not what Itachi said,” Mikoto asked for clarification, pursing her lips.

    “No! He said he killed you! All of you! Just to test how strong he was!” Sasuke yelled, both in anger…and fear as memories started play in his mind. “He told me that as he stood over your corpse!”

    Mikoto let out a breath and cupped her chin. “It sounds like he was so consumed with guilt that he wanted you to kill him…but he promised he’d look after you.”

    Sasuke didn’t take this news well at all. He was struck speechless.

    “But I’m sorry he left you,” Mikoto continued. “I am so sorry he broke his promise. He and I, when we meet again, will have long, angry words about that.”

    He still couldn’t talk. He couldn’t even breathe.

    “Sasuke,” Mikoto frowned again. “Sasuke, please. I’m sorry. I never meant to leave you alone. I never wanted this. Please talk to me. Please forgive me.”

    Sasuke’s next words came out as a croak. “He made me watch.”

    Mikoto’s eyes started to go wide. “What?”

    “He used the Tsukuyomi,” Sasuke said. “He unlocked the Mangekyo Sharingan. He used the Tsukuyomi Genjutsu to make me watch as he killed everyone. Like pigs to the slaughter. He made me watch again…and again…”

    The color had left Mikoto’s face, leaving her looking as dead as she had been until Daisuke. She slowly, gradually pulled Sasuke in for another hug, letting him bury his head into her chest and sob, watching over him like any mother would.


    “And again…and again…”

    ---


    Author’s Notes: I feel like I have been remiss. Allow me to rectify that.

    I’ve received a lot, if not a ton, of positive feedback to chapter 18. Words of encouragement flowed from you guys like Niagara Falls. I responded to as many of you as I could, letting you know how much I appreciated you and the love you guys showed. But I didn’t write that appreciation at the end of Chapter 19 and I really needed too. So here.

    Thank you all. Thank for your kind and generous support. Thank you for staying with me and encouraging me to remain dedicated to my vision (which has gone through a dozen revisions as I’ve thought about it) and letting me know how much you love this fic. I love you guys. All of you. Thank you.

    Special Shout Out too Melden V, Anders Kronquist, Ray Tony Song, Volkogluk, Aaron Bjornson, iolande, Martin Auguado, Julio, Jiopaba, Hackerham, Tim Collins-Squire, Maben00, Sultan Saltlick, Ventari, PbookR, RichardWhereat, Seij, ChristobalAlvarez, Aenor Knight, Apperatus, EPiCJB19 and Seeking Raven. Your continued support makes this fic and others like it possible. Thank you!

    Cookies for everyone who reads this chapter, thank you for reading.

    Until the next time!

    ~Fulcon
     
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