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The Path of Adversity and Shadows

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Naruto opened his eyes slowly, he was in a room, not an infirmary tent if the ceiling was any indication given that it was wood and not cloth. 'Most buildings no longer exist, so I imagine that jutsu was used and they're dead. Then I may have succeeded,' he thought closing his eyes to think further on his situation. 'So this is a different dimension then I will need to observe everything and if everything follows the same route, I have the ability to finish it before it even starts by hunting down the sons of bitches trying anything. I can also alter things to my advantage,' he continued mentally before he heard footsteps and opened his eyes to see a fair-skinned girl of average height. She had green eyes and waist-length black hair in a hime-style cut tied in a high ponytail with short bangs and chin-length strands framing her face. She wore a black forehead protector and a form-fitting kunoichi uniform; it was grey with a right shoulder-guard, grey gloves, and opening in her shirt which revealed some of her ample cleavage.

"Hi," he said calmly staring at her eyes and if he went by her body language, she took notice of where he kept his eyes and it hopefully would make discussion easier.

"Didn't think you would wake up," she replied before taking a seat in a chair next to where he was laying, "You've been out for almost a week. How are you feeling?"

"Bored," muttered Naruto calmly, compared to the last year of his life when he was on battlefields all the time. He wondered what he'd do in the spare time he'd have now apart from preventing the fourth shinobi war again.

The girl giggled and said, "That's a first. I never thought someone in your position would say they were bored. You're clothes and... armor were pretty much destroyed. I was able to get some new clothes for you. I hope you don't mind that I stripped you down to your underwear."

"Not really," he deadpanned not finding any particularly problem with it. If he was younger he knew he'd be freaking out about it, but he understood his position. He could have died or gotten very sick if his gear wasn't removed. "Though I have to ask, why am I not in a hospital?"

"You weren't injured, just unconscious. In my experience, that doesn't require a hospital. They'd only make your life miserable when you woke up anyway," she answered seriously then added, "Besides, men aren't exactly... welcome in Nadeshiko very much. We're a Kunoichi village. I'm Shizuka, the leader. What's your name?" she asked curiously wanting to know for various reasons.

"Uzumaki Naruto," he answered as he sat up and yawned.

"That... looks like a painful scar," said Shizuka staring at the scar on his chest and wincing slightly at the sight of it.

Naruto looked down at his chest and frowned, "I suppose. I didn't really feel the pain when it happened or afterward, being unconscious and all. It just brings up bad memories now. Can I get dressed, Shizuka-san?" he asked politely, years of battle sort of forced him to learn manners and quite a bit of patience.

"Sure," she answer as she stood up and headed for the door, "I'll be making lunch downstairs, so if you want any, you have to come down."

Naruto half-smiled at her words and nodded as she left, "She's friendlier in this dimension," he muttered under his breath. 'Though there can be a reason for that beyond simply being in a different dimension... oi, I'm going to being that word a lot, aren't I?' he thought slightly irritated at himself. He made a mental note to not start thinking like that. Nothing good was going to happen if he constantly compared his dimension to this one.

Naruto got out of the bed and started to get dressed in the clothes she set to the side for him. He had to admit she had very good taste in clothing... far better than he ever had. 'At least I ended up here instead of say... Iwagakure or Otogakure. I'd have probably been killed before I woke up.' he thought grimacing at the thought of possibly popping up in those places. Needless to say, they weren't good thoughts. 'And this is a village of kunoichi which by a unknown set rule, are cute if not beautiful.' he added mentally as he stepped out of the room, 'Though to be fair, I have seen a few women that don't come close to cute or beautiful,' thought Naruto absentmindedly, 'But that's outward appearance and that only gets someone so far.' he added as he walked down the stairs into the living room. He never saw Shizuka's house in his dimension before and if these two were alike, it was... normal surprisingly enough. He was a bit cautious that she wasn't treating him like a spy or an enemy of sorts, then again most spies don't end up unconscious wearing damaged clothing from a battle... if they did Naruto could easily assume they would probably end up dead pretty quickly.

"If you don't mind me asking... you're being really kind to me even though I'm not from your village," said Naruto as he walked into the dining room seeing Shizuka setting the table.

Shizuka finished setting the table then looked up at him, "If you were a spy, you'd have made a much more quieter way into the village and you'd be a woman. Laying on the beach, half dead and wearing rags and destroyed armor is a pretty stupid way to infiltrate a village."

"And you don't believe a spy would do something extreme to worm his or her way into a foreign village?" questioned Naruto curiously, it was a brilliant idea to him, if a little dumb.

Shizuka chuckled and said, "Like I said, the only way you could infiltrate Nadeshiko is if you were a woman and even then it would be hard for you to do it. Our village is getting smaller every year. We go out and find strong men that are capable of beating us to be our husbands... frankly, men are getting weaker so that means less husbands and less children."

"I see," said Naruto shrugging as he sat down in one of the chairs, he could say something about her village's tradition, but he didn't want to up end in an argument or anything with her... at least, not yet at any rate. He wasn't as naïve or... stupid as he was years ago in his dimension. "Would you like help?" he asked, his cooking wasn't horrible and having her do all the work didn't seem fair.

"No, it's fine," said Shizuka quickly, "You just woke up from a minor coma and I'm the host. So you just rest and don't worry. Though if I do need help, I'll let you know." She winked at him before walking into the kitchen.

'This is going to lead to a fight...' thought Naruto thinking of Nadeshiko's laws. It wasn't a bad thing considering who it was but going straight from stranger to husband was quick, even for him. Naruto shrugged, he could simply lose the fight on purpose as well since it required him to win.

Naruto closed his eyes in thought as he decided to plan things out in his head of what to do for the future. He could probably use Nadeshiko are his base area, granted he had to get permission from Shizuka to do it. He also needed to hunt down, find and kill Akatsuki members, deal with Sasuke depending on how the little bastard was acting in this dimension and if push came to shove he'd have to kill himself in this dimension since the seal with the Kyubi would kill it and ruin Madara's plan and many more things he didn't feel like adding to his list at the moment.

"Here you are," said Shizuka bringing him out of his thoughts, he opened his eyes and found she brought food out already and wondered just how long he spent thinking on things. He didn't think it was that long. "Is something wrong?" she asked wondering if she did something wrong with the food, she made it like normal so she didn't think there was anything wrong with it.

"Oh no," answered Naruto truthfully returning his attention to the outside world, "I was just thinking of things. The food looks wonderful Shizuka-san."

"Ah that's good," said Shizuka happily before they started eating.

XxxxxX

They finished eating after awhile and Naruto stood up and started cleaning the table, "I can do that," said Shizuka not expecting him to clean the table after they ate.

"No," he said as he collecting the plates and bowls, "You cooked so the I clean. It's the least I can do for you, Shizuka-san. You just sit there and rest." He smirked as he just used her own words against her, "If I need help I'll let you know." He finished collecting the plates and bowls and walked into the kitchen with a smirk on his face feeling a pair of eyes burn into the back of his head.

Naruto placed the stuff in the sink and stuck his head out of the doorway, "I need help with the dishes, could you help?" he asked politely, the easiest way to clean them in his mind was that one person cleaned them and the other person dried them.

"Sure," answered Shizuka standing up and walking into the kitchen only to get a towel thrown in her face, "Hey," she growled before removing the towel and glaring at him.

"Be nice," said Naruto sticking his tongue out at her, "You dry and I clean, it's faster." he added happily, "Besides if I let you clean, your cute hands will wrinkle." he watched in satisfaction as she turned bright red and then he started washing the dishes then handing them to her so she could dry them.

The two of them spent cleaning for ten minutes until the sink and that half of the kitchen disappeared via a huge mechanical hand destroying them. "I've heard of taking everything including the kitchen sink, but this is a bit much," said Naruto before grabbing Shizuka and using shunshin to get on top of her roof before their attackers could do anything more. Unknowingly to Shizuka, he also took two kunai and three shuriken out of her weapons pouch. "You know him?" asked Naruto seeing the large machine thing that some guy was in, he remembered the same situation before but couldn't remember the man's name.

"He keeps trying to beat me and make me marry him," said Shizuka highly irritated at seeing this bastard again. She kicked his ass dozens of times before but the asshole kept coming back.

"Then kill him," stated Naruto causing her to look at him surprised, "What? This isn't a fairy tale where everyone gets to live. He fucks with you, you kill him and it ends the entire thing... unless you like that he wants to marry you." He was slapped a moment later, not hard but not softly either, "I take that back," he added knowing what he was slapped for, "I'll deal with him for you, Shizuka-san."

"Would you drop the honorific," said Shizuka starting to find it annoying, "You can either just not use it or you can add the -chan honorific."

"Aw, you like me," replied Naruto only to receive another slap, "The more you hit me the more you like me," he added cheekily and using shunshin to both avoid being slapped again and to deal with their unwanted guest.

XxxxxX

Naruto stood on the back of the machine looking at its... pilot, he guessed would be the correct term for the moment. It was a bit surprising that he wasn't noticed, but then again this guy was solely intent on Shizuka and unlike years before he wasn't stupid enough to declare where exactly he was at. 'This is kind of pathetic considering what I've been fighting until I arrived here... I feel sad,' he thought sighing and kicked the man in the back of the head causing him to go head first into the buttons and levers in front of him, knocking him unconscious, '...Yes, I feel really sad now,' he said mentally knowing his skills were going to waste right now, he didn't even know the equipment he borrowed from Shizuka. "I guess it was too much to ask for when I thought of a fight," he said unhappily before picking up the man from the back of his shirt, he looked around and spotted Shizuka... and several Nadeshiko kunoichi. 'Yay... trouble,' he thought grimacing before he shunshined and appeared next to them with his... unconscious guest. "He didn't put up much of a fight, so killing him wasn't really required. How about we see if he can swim?" he questioned wondering if his form of punishment would go over with Shizuka or not.

"Who are you?!" demanded one of the kunoichi as they prepared to attack him.

"The person who did your job, dealing with your intruder instead of babying your leader as if she couldn't take care of herself. Honestly, this idiot isn't even much of a threat, he's like a wet paper bag," said Naruto before letting go of the man, letting him fall on the roof in a crumpled pile. He looked at Shizuka and stated, "At least we don't have to clean anymore."

"Cute," said Shizuka smiling at his last remark, "Leave him alone, he's my guest. Get rid of the idiot that's been destroying our village and being a nuisance."

"But Shizuka-sama, he's a-"

Before the kunoichi could continue Shizuka cut her off with a glare and killing intent focused solely on the woman, "He is my guest," stated Shizuka seriously as she stared into the kunoichi's eyes, "He dealt with... my problem and you want me to arrest or throw him out of our village. Do what I just ordered you to do and keep your mouth shut with your opinions. Got it?"

"Y-yes ma'am," stammered the woman seemingly scared shitless of Shizuka and Naruto found it quite interesting to see. So she did have fire in her, this brought a lot of interesting ideas to mind and ways to tease her.

Shizuka sighed as the others did what she ordered and muttered, "This is going to be a pain. At least Tokiwa is out of the village for the moment or..." she trailed off not wanting to say it out loud, she looked at Naruto, "Thank you, Naruto even though you didn't need to," she said kindly, "And sorry about them. Like I said before, men aren't welcome in Nadeshiko unless they're someone's husband."

Naruto shrugged and he pulled out the kunai and shuriken he took from her, "These are yours, I figured I might need to use them, but I didn't so you can have them back. Sorry about taking them too and don't worry, I've been treated far worse than how they were to me."

Shizuka gave him a dirty look before taking her kunai and shuriken back, it was one that meant to not do it again without asking, "Well I guess since you've been seen. How about I show you around Nadeshiko? We both also need to find a place to stay for a couple nights since that stupid idiot destroyed a good portion of my house."

"Sounds awfully close to a date," said Naruto smirking as he looked at her, she blushed a little, "But I wouldn't mind seeing the village. Its more pleasing to look at than my home village just from here."

Shizuka giggled and replied, "Well we're all women so a better looking village is going to be apart of it, Naruto. Now let's go show you the village before I end up getting pulled into work and dealing with problems."

'I've become something to get her out of work,' thought Naruto chuckling as he followed behind her, though he could understand it some. Him being in the village and no one's husband would demand answers from her to others in the village.

XxxxxxxxxxxxX

They spent a couple hours walking around the village with her showing him around. Compared to Konoha, this place was better in a lot of ways. Aside from the few kunoichi shadowing them, the entire village was a nice place. Most of the people he met were pretty nice, though whether or not it was because of Shizuka was with him he'd have to find out later. He personally liked the garden and park with the sakura trees and the flowers. In terms of appearance Nadeshiko really beat Konoha, there wasn't even much of a comparison since Konoha was more of a large city with no special sights beyond being on top of the Hokage's monument and after a handful of times, it really wasn't special.

"So what do you intend to do now that you're awake and kicking?" asked Shizuka curiously, turning to face him.

Naruto mulled it over in his head wondering if it right now was the best time to explain his plans, but he shrugged, if she wanted to know now, why wait. "I have a lot of things to do. Most of them out of Nadeshiko, but I'd like to ask if I could use your village as my base of operations. I need somewhere to rest and gather my thoughts."

Shizuka had a serious expression from the moment he mentioned using Nadeshiko as a base, "I could allow it, but you'll have to explain in detail what your plans are and everything. I can't simply let you have free passage in and out of the village without knowing what you're doing. The others wouldn't like it and while I can see you're a nice person, I simply can't let the village's safety be left to chance."

Naruto nodded, he was glad she seemed to have leader mindset which was admirable to him, "Of course. They'll be a far-fetched to you, but I'll explain what my plans are. Provided your kunoichi are finished following us and we can speak privately."

"Oh, you noticed them as well," said Shizuka before looking at the kunoichi and glaring intensely at them. A second later and Naruto no longer felt their chakra, "That gets rid of them. Sorry about them, since Tokiwa is on a mission right now and is usually my bodyguard of sorts, the others are being overprotective."

"Doesn't that bother you?" asked Naruto curiously, if anything he'd hate it if his subordinates fretted over him like he couldn't defend himself.

"What do you mean?" questioned Shizuka a little confused, she didn't see much of a problem with the others being over-protective of her, even Tokiwa was to some extent.

Naruto sighed and replied, "I mean, they're being overprotective because they think you're weak and can't protect yourself. It also shows that they don't follow your orders. You first told them to leave us and deal with the idiot I grabbed out of the big metal piece of crap. I'm pretty sure they dumped that idiot in an alley then started watching us like hawks. If anything that idiot will be coming back to give us another headache soon." He shrugged, "I'm honored they think I'm that much of a threat, but if they don't respect your orders, what's to keep them from obeying if you're leading them in battle."

Shizuka nodded, she could see his point easily enough. When he put it that way the entire village was at stake, especially if they got attacked by an outside force. Whatever order she might give them, they could just decide that her plan wouldn't do anything and do their own thing. "I see... I'll have to fix that," she said quietly, "I don't think I would have noticed it if you didn't tell me."

"Don't worry too much about it," replied Naruto not wanting her over think it, "The Hokage has several bodyguards as do most kage. The only difference from here and there is that when their leader tells them to leave or do something. They do it without question. They don't half-ass the order given to them and spy on their leader. I know it isn't my place to say this, but you'll have to enforce that."

Shizuka elbowed him in the side causing him to cringe, "You're right it isn't your place... but having someone on the outside who sees things differently to point them out and isn't trying to harm Nadeshiko in any way is very helpful. I'll see about fixing the things you pointed out, Naruto." There was a pause before she continued, "Though how do you know how the bodyguards of the five major hidden villages act?"

Naruto chuckled and answered, "Because I've met all of them." Which was the truth in a weird way, he wasn't sure if they were all the same here as they were in his world, but who knows. He'd find out sooner or later.

"So you met the famous Yondaime Hokage and his wife?" questioned Shizuka curiously to the blond, she never thought she'd meet someone who met all the kage's.

Naruto frowned, the most apparent difference was that his parents were alive here... or he supposed calling them his parents would be a bad idea since here, they weren't. "Sort of. The last Hokage I met was Sarutobi Hiruzen. Haven't been to Konoha since then to meet the new Hokage," he stated truthfully for the most part. "Now before we go further on that discussion. Would you like to me explain my plans to see if you'll allow me to set up a base here, Shizuka-chan?"

"Sure," replied Shizuka smiling a little, "But first, let's go my office. Unlike my house, it's in one piece still and has a bedroom... and you're taking the couch."

"That's fine," said Naruto as he followed behind her as they walked to her office.

XxxxxxxxxxxxX

"So you want to hunt down S-class nukenin that are in a very not-so well known group and you want to use Nadeshiko as a base," said Shizuka repeating the gist of what he told her, "What's to stop them from destroying Nadeshiko once you piss them off?"

Naruto tilted his head and replied, "Well I could always teach your kunoichi... and ninja, if you still allow the men you bring here to be ninja knew jutsu, training methods and such things. It should make them stronger and even if any of them come near Nadeshiko, you'll all be well trained to deal with them." He shrugged a second later and added, "But it won't come to that. I know what their... spy is like and where to find and kill him... it... whatever it is. Once I kill him, they're pretty much blind. They rely heavily on this one person. Once he's dead, Nadeshiko's chances of being in danger drop dramatically, but I'll still show you and the others the jutsu and stuff as a show of good faith."

"And are others going to be joining you? Taking out S-class ninja isn't something a person can do by themselves," stated Shizuka seriously, she wasn't keen on allowing people she didn't know into her village, even if it was to help Naruto with whatever.

Naruto shook his head, "Nope," he said calmly, "I'll be by myself unless any of your kunoichi or ninja want to help me. I know how each of them fights and it shouldn't be too hard to deal with them without help and if worse comes to worse, I have a back-up plan... Oh right, if you don't mind me asking for a favor... is there a way I could get this made somewhere?" he asked handing Shizuka a small piece of paper he had been working on throughout the day.

Shizuka looked at it then at him and raised an eyebrow out of curiosity, "I suppose so... it's a bit more bulky than what's usually made for ninja but it can be made. How do you intend to pay for it?" she asked smirking at him.

"Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it for you," stated Naruto not seeing any other way out of this unscathed.

"Great," said Shizuka happily, "I'll have it made for you and then you'll do a few missions for Nadeshiko to pay for it and ensure I know you can back up your words with skill and if you aren't all talk, I'll let you work out of Nadeshiko." She turned the piece of paper around to him and asked, "But what's this design you want made? It doesn't look like any hidden village's symbol. Honestly, if you take away the spirals, it looks a lot like our symbol."

The design she was talking about was the one he had drawn to placed on the right shoulder and headband of what he wanted made. It was a chamomile flower with his clan's spiral in the middle of the flower and in each petal.

"It isn't. A friend of mine told me that the chamomile stands for 'energy in adversity'. The spirals are my clan's symbol," said Naruto remembering when Ino explained the different flowers to him when he visited her family's shop before the war, while he never showed it he did like learning things.

Shizuka looked back at the design and nodded, "I see, your friend must know a lot about flowers and that's nice that your honoring your clan and adding your friend's knowledge into this." she said before sitting the paper on her desk and stretching.

"It's kind of... in memory for both my clan and my friend," replied Naruto quietly, "She... ended up dying in a battle after she taught me about flowers. It's dumb I know, but she was the only one who taught me anything and didn't half-ass it even if it was about flowers."

Shizuka giggled and said, "No, that's sweet and it shows that you respected her enough as a sensei that you want to remember her." 'I do a bit of the same,' she continued mentally, "Well I suppose that ends everything business wise, Naruto. Since my house is missing the kitchen and such, if you go anywhere, you should just head back here. You can sleep on the couch over there. I have some other stuff to do in the village so I'll see you later," she said before vanishing is a swirl of cherry blossoms.

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