Heir of the Sage @themetalsage

Naruto and Marvel belong to Masashi Kishimoto and Disney respectively.

AN: Hey people. Back with another chapter.

Song for the chapter is "Fight" by Motörhead.

Chapter IV: Fight

If there was one thing that Naruto would wholeheartedly agree with Shikamaru, it was that almost all situations became inexorably more troublesome where women were involved. Whether it was buying clothes, food, planning an event, or in the present case, buying flowers.

"Yellow is the best for friendship," explained Jean as she picked a few tulips. "A bright and positive looking color."

Ororo, however, was looking at the green chrysanthemums with interest. "Green is the color of nature – of life and rebirth…" she said as her fingertips traced the flower delicately. "It might do Susan some good to have that connection."

"The doctors say that she isn't in a critical state anymore. It's only recovery from now on," countered Jean.

"Can't we get both?" asked Naruto, his hands filled with bags, each one with a different logo from the various assortment of shops he'd accompanied Jean and Ororo to.

He was beginning to understand why Scott didn't want to come along. Not that'd he'd pass a chance to spend time with the two female mutants.

"I believe that can work," said Ororo, kneeling down to pick the yellow and green flowers and organizing them into a bouquet.

Naruto knew that the white-haired mutant was well versed when it came to nature. She was a force of it, after all. Already, she had told him about a plan to create a garden in the mansion, as well as one smaller one next to her room. Being a fellow green-thumb, the jinchūriki was more than happy to help with Ororo's little project.

"Well then," interrupted Jean. "We have the get-well hamper, the balloon, the flowers, the chocolates… anything missing?"

"Us," said Ororo. "The hospital is very strict about their hours. We better get there soon."

"Right," Jean said sheepishly as they paid for the flowers and started to walk over to the hospital, taking the subway which was thankfully less crowded than usual.

"I still can't believe that Susan would do something as outlandish as going to space… what do you think happened up there?" asked Jean.

Naruto shrugged. "I guess we'll see when we get there."

"Thank the goddess that nothing serious happened to her. Things could have been much worse than they were," Ororo consoled.

"We still don't know exactly her status… only that she's apparently stable and available for visitations." Jean furrowed her brow. "Even then, we had to get special permission."

Naruto grinned. "She'll be alright!" he assured. Jean responded with a small smile.

"You're right," Jean sighed. "I guess I'm worrying a little too much – hey!" she suddenly exclaimed as she stood up. "Since when are you taller than me?!"

Naruto looked confused as she stood side to side with him. "I've always been taller than you, Jean."

"No way!" Jean said. "You were always the shorter one!"

Naruto smirked. After being one of the shorter students in the academy, it was nice that he was finally getting his long-delayed growth spurt. As of now, he stood a little taller than Jean and just a smidge shorter than Ororo. With any luck, he would continue to keep growing more and more.

"I'm a growing boy," Naruto offered, a little smug.

The hospital was only a couple of blocks away from the station. It was a tall building, just like everything in the giant city. In the front, there seemed to be an elderly yet jovial man trying to open the door while holding a box in his hands. Jean and Ororo promptly went to help him.

"Thank you," the old man wheezed, who despite his age still kept an air of youth and timeless mirth.

"You're welcome… where are you taking these?" asked Jean.

"Just to the car… gotta get it back home."

Jean smiled tenderly. "Don't worry, Naruto will help… right?" The tone of voice meant that it was not a suggestion.

"Err – sure!" Naruto just held his already overburdened hands. "Just put it on the top, old man."

"Naruto!" Ororo chided. "Manners!"

The elderly man just chuckled. "Oh, it's nothing. I have not forgotten my age. C'mon, kiddo."

The stranger started to walk over to his parked car, the ever-present smile never fading. Even with sunglasses hiding his eyes, they seemed to spark with endless amusement and imagination.

"Thank you, kiddo!" he said as he got into the car. "The world needs more heroes like you, y'know?"

"I'm not really sure that this was all that heroic, old man."

The man laughed. "Every little thing counts! Your adventure is just beginning!" His smirk then turned a little more devious. "A little advice, kiddo. You better hold on to those beautiful ladies… you won't regret it."

Before Naruto could even respond, the man thrust his hand in the air and exclaimed, "Excelsior!" before driving away and disappearing into the traffic.

The blue-eyed shinobi could not say why, but the words filled him with encouragement. One that kept on even when he returned to Jean and Ororo, who were busy with the receptionist.

"So, you're Miss Grey, Miss Munroe, and Mister…"


"The location of these patients is being kept secret from the public. That includes the press. I don't think I need to tell you that the hospital and the government wants to keep it that way," warned the receptionist.

"We won't betray Sue's trust, ma'am," said Jean before walking over to the elevator.

Even when they got to the floor, the reception seemed to be guarded. Men that looked to be straight out of the Secret Service where on the floor lobby. Two more were stationed at either side of the door where Susan was supposedly resting. The guards asked for their identification again before they grudgingly opened the door.

Naruto did not know what he expected to see when he entered the hospital room. Given the severity of the news and Jean's anxiousness, he half expected to see a severely burned Susan, or at least with half her limbs missing. The last thing he thought he'd see was exactly what lay in front of him.

Susan was as normal and beautiful as the day he'd seen her.

"Sue! Are you alright?!" Jean exclaimed, almost rushing to the bed where the blonde had been busy reading a book.

"As good as I can be," answered Susan, a warm smile inviting them to come closer. "Thanks for visiting. It's kind of hard with how we've been… quarantined."

"That's not a problem!" said Naruto, almost buried in the gifts.

The older blonde almost laughed at the sight of him. "You didn't need to bring anything."

"Of course we did," said Jean while setting down the flowers by the window. "I remember being on the hospital bed and wanting something from the outside."

"A whisk of nature does wonders for your health," agreed Ororo.

"I'm grateful," said Susan.

"We're always here for a friend, Sue," said Naruto as he set down all the gifts. He wanted nothing more than to go ahead and give a flurry of questions to the blonde, but Ororo's little lessons on tact were telling him not to.

"How are you feeling?" he asked instead.

Susan tried her best to smile assuredly, but something seemed to be digging into her. "I'm doing well."

"You… you don't look that different at all," said Jean as carefully as she could. "I mean… when we heard you were in that spacecraft, we expected you to – "

"Be burned and mutilated beyond recognition," Susan finished, not even looking angry. "I guess I was lucky. I feel bad about what happened with Reed and… Ben."

"I don't want to sound rude, Susan. But what possessed you to go into space just like that?" Jean asked as politely as she possibly could.

Susan sighed, looking outside the window, deep in thought. "I guess you could call it being… misguided. Now that I think about it… it was foolish."

Jean bit back a smile. "I can understand that… when it comes down to it… sometimes you don't even know why you bother."

"You try as hard as you can but he's so…"

"Thickheaded? Oblivious?"

"Sometimes you think that you're only talking to yourself," continued Susan, the smile finally reaching her eyes.

"He never really seems to notice or listen," agreed Jean.

At this point, Naruto did not know what they were talking about, but still responded. "I always listen to you, Jean. Ororo too." He smiled sheepishly. "I can listen to Susan as well."

Jean giggled a little. "Of course, you do."

Susan sighed tiredly. "I guess you want to know about what we did… up there."

Nobody said anything, but it was clear that the three visitors were anticipating an explanation.

"The short story is – we went to space with a starship that Reed built. He mostly funded it with his own money… but the rest was government money. After initial interest, they wanted to pull out of the project and Reed decided to use it himself before it was shut down. He got his military friend, Ben Grimm to pilot it… but he needed two more people."

"You and Johnny," Ororo finished.

Susan nodded. "I had already read ahead – despite only recently starting college – but Reed was desperate… we agreed to go." She took a deep breath. "It started out fine at first… it was a really good ship, but… something happened that Reed did not foresee."

"The debris hit you?" asked Jean. "That's what the news said it was."

"A coverup," revealed Susan. "We were hit by heavy levels of radiation. We did not know where it came from, but it was massive."

"H-How are you still alive?" asked Jean.

Susan looked at her hand like it was a foreign object. "You can say we survived… but not unscathed."

"Cancer? Cell damage?" asked Ororo.

"No… something different."

"What happened?" asked Naruto.

"It's… not my place to say, but… let's just say that we all changed," sighed Susan. "Even if you can't see it with the naked eye." She looked really uncomfortable at that moment, so much so that Naruto inadvertently put his hand on her shoulder.

"Don't worry. We understand." He could feel the warmth of her shoulder. Closing her eyes, Susan tried to shake her head.

"I… I don't think you can. It's… unnatural."

"We won't judge a friend, Sue," Jean assured, also putting her hand on the blonde's shoulder.

"It's… very hard to explain." Tears could be seen spilling from her closed eyes. "I guess… I just need to show you."

It was like Susan started to disappear, turning more and more transparent until only her silhouette could be seen with the naked eye. Eventually, even that went away. The only thing that could even show that she was in the room was the fact that the hospital gown still clung to the body like it was floating on air.

The rest of the room was speechless as they saw this, even when Susan became visible again, they did not say a word.

"There… that's what happened to me… I don't know why or what else, it just happened." Susan looked down at her lap, refusing to meet their gaze.

Jean let the blonde have a few moments before she hugged Susan closely. "It's nothing to be ashamed of," she said, fingers drawing circles on Susan's back.

"I… I just… I don't know how to deal with this. And Ben! Oh god… poor Ben!"

"Sue," Jean said, "you're not alone." Once she had Susan's attention, she concentrated on one of the flowers and levitated it, drawing it to her before giving it to the older woman. "We know exactly what you're going through."

"Wh-What?" Susan gasped, blue eyes wide as they scanned over to Ororo and Naruto.

Naruto held his hand and let a bit of visible blue chakra envelop it. His blue eyes turned red with one tomoe on each orb. Ororo on the other hand created a small tornado on her palm, vanishing it after a few seconds.

"We're quite similar to you, only we our powers didn't necessitate radiation," explained Ororo.

"So, you're – "

"Mutants. Our genes have mutated from normal humans to give us special abilities," explained Jean. "You're not much different when you think about it. Your genes have probably mutated. You just needed a little… push."

"Are there more of you?" asked Susan.

"There are. More and more show up each day," revealed Jean. "I was the first of Professor Xavier's students. Then Scott came along, and then Ororo," said dark-skinned mutant nodded, "and finally Naruto."

"I see. I must seem foolish to you then, complaining about such a thing," said Susan sheepishly.

Jean shook her head. "Not at all. It was difficult for all of us to accept it at first."

'Not for me,' thought Naruto but did not air it. 'But that's because I grew up with the fact that I had such abilities. For people on this planet, it's far different to know you've been gifted – or cursed – with such powers.'

"Does it get better? I've sometimes been doing stuff without being able to control it."

Ororo nodded with a smile. "It takes practice. We learn about our powers day by day, it gets easier and easier."

Susan looked out the window again. This time, a fierce determination was brewing behind those blue eyes. When she looked back at them, a strong voice said, "You're right… I will do it. I will do my best."

The door opened in that moment and a tall, young man with eyes and hair similar to Susan stormed in. "Hey Sue! You're not gonna believe this! I went to Ben's room and – hey!"

"Johnny," Susan sighed. "What did you do now?"

"Forget that! I didn't know we had visitors… and it's Ororo, too!"

The weather manipulator looked at Johnny with some condescension. As much as someone as kind-hearted as Ororo could muster. "Good afternoon, Johnny."

"I missed you when I was in space, babe. Now I got myself all wounded and hurt up," Johnny despaired mockingly. "Can't you help me with a get-well kiss?"

"Johnny!" Susan yelled. "Don't flirt with my friends!"

"What?" Johnny asked innocently. "I'm asking nice, Sue!" He then looked over to Naruto. "Hey, I don't think I've ever seen you before. I should know a fellow blonde when I see one."

Naruto couldn't help but compare Johnny to a combination of Kiba and Ero-sennin. Quickly he put out shook the other blonde's hand. "Naruto Uzumaki. I'm gonna be starting at Bayville soon."

"We'll see each other then. I gotta go before – "

"Johnny!" growled a low, almost inhuman voice from outside the room.

"See ya!" yelled Johnny before running out.

The door did not close, however, and a nurse soon came in the room to run some diagnostics on Susan. "I must inform you that visiting hours are over now. You can come back tomorrow."

They all said their goodbyes to Susan, assuring that they'd visit as much as they could.

"I'm going to see what they have planned out… Reed says that we may become a team of sorts after its all done. I'll keep in contact with you. Hope to see you again."

When Naruto exited the room, he saw a tall, older looking man sitting in one of the chairs. The man's world seemed to be consumed only by the mountain of texts in front of him. The shinobi had to call him out a few times before he managed to shake off his concentration.

"Hello," he said to Naruto. "I'm Dr. Richards. I assume you're one of Susan's friends."

He looked much older than the rest of them, almost twenty years. He even had gray hairs on his sideburns and seemed to carry himself with an air of knowledge.

"Yes, I am," responded the jinchūriki. "But I'm also Naruto Uzumaki. Professor Xavier told you about me?"

"Ah, Naruto. I am sorry that I could not get to your case sooner. The Professor told me about you, but I was too busy with my own disastrous project. Now I am occupied with fixing that unfortunate outcome," said Reed. "Do you mind if you visit me around next month? I might have something for you."

"Sure. I'll be waiting." It was hard to say those words. Naruto wanted to know how to get home as soon as possible, but looking back at Ororo and Jean – not to mention his talk with Susan – he guessed it wouldn't be too bad to stay some more time before he found a way back home.

Before they went back to the mansion, they decided to take advantage of the fact that they'd come all the way to the city and went to eat at a Japanese themed restaurant.

The idea of freshly made ramen was too good to pass for Naruto.

"I think it's admirable," said Jean. "Trying to use your powers for the good of others. Scientists and doctors have gifts that they use to better mankind."

"Some of them use it only to benefit themselves," Ororo reminded.

"That's why the good ones exist. To protect the innocent from the bad ones," countered Jean. "Like Logan and the Professor."

"Back home," Naruto interrupted, "we had the leader of our village who was called the Hokage."

Jean and Ororo looked at him but did not interrupt.

"The Hokage means the Fire Shadow. Each of our villages had their own Kage – their own Shadow – to protect them. Before he died, the Third told me that the Hokage cares for everyone in the village as if they were his own family. The Hokage lives for the village, and the village lives for the Hokage. Someone they can trust to do what is right."

"What do you mean?" asked Jean.

"It means that your city seems to have no Kage. No shadow. No protector."

"We have the police, and the mayor," said Jean.

"But they do not stand as a symbol for the village. An agent of justice and righteousness. They are hamstringed by other and can't do their jobs," insisted Naruto.

"You want to use your powers to protect the city?" asked Ororo. "What if the city turns against you?"

Naruto looked down for a moment. He remembered his in Konoha. The insults and the put-downs. The belief that'd he'd never amount to anything.

But he also remembered his friends, and his enemies, and Ero-sennin, Tsunade baa-chan, Sakura-chan, Kakashi, Gaara, Haku, Zabuza, Konohamaru, the old man…


"You just have to believe… and try your best until you convince them otherwise." His tone was final.

Despite their earlier interrogation, both Ororo and Jean smiled at him. For some reason or another, Naruto felt a lot older than he was, and those warm smiles made him tingle inside in a way that not even Sakura had been able to before.

"So," said Jean. "What would be your name?"

"My name?"

"Well… Ororo calls herself Storm. Logan calls himself Wolverine. Even Scott has decided to give himself the name Cyclops. You need a name to protect your real identity. What would be your name?"

Naruto thought about it. Nobody kept their identity secret back home. They did gain some nicknames from their feats on the battlefield, everyone knew their real names.

"I dunno," said Naruto. "What about you, Jean?"

The redhead smirked before answering. "Marvel Girl."

Naruto did not say anything in fear that Jean would take it wrongly and stop talking to him. That would be a bad thing. He'd been getting closer and closer to Jean. Scott's indifference seemed to be driving her to get closer to the jinchūriki instead for friendship. He didn't want to lose her just as he didn't want to lose his relationship with Ororo.

His white-haired friend did not say anything either, but he did notice a slight twitch on her lip before she answered with a "It sounds good."

Their talk was cut short by the news on the TV that billionaire Tony Stark was being reported missing on the Middle-East after a demonstration of a weapon.

"Killed by your own tools of destruction," Ororo said with a trace of disgust. "I believe that there is some justice to that."

"They don't know if he's dead. Just missing," reminded Jean.

Before Naruto could say his own thing, he saw something from the corner of his now red eye.

His first instinct was to grab both Ororo and Jean, pulling them down on the table before a couple of stray bullets entered the restaurant. One person behind them was hit, but a quick look told Naruto that it had been a shoulder wound, not lethal.

The gunshots began to get louder, coming from the bank that was on the other side of the street. A quick peek from the stone wall told the Sharingan user that the culprits were three men, armed with assault rifles. A couple of cops lay in the streets, one wounded, the other dead.

Naruto's military instincts took over, and immediately jumped into the fray. "Stay down!" he ordered to both Jean and Ororo, before running towards the robbers.

"Naruto, no!" Jean shouted from behind but he ignored her. The robbers were distracted with the wounded cop, so they did not see as he grabbed the manhole cover and threw it like a disk at the nearest thug.

The blonde barely had the time to see the first gunman fall like a sack of potatoes before the other two turned their attention to him, as well as their weapons. Naruto quickly took cover behind a car.

"You little shit!" one of them said before he started to unload his rifle at the vehicle.

Naruto effortlessly shunsin'd to the furthest thug and kicking him straight in the head so hard that the shinobi could hear the skull crack.

The last one barely had time to react before Naruto was right on his face and grabbing the rifle. He used the barrel to swing it like a club, hitting the thug on the temple with the sharp butt. He was out before he even hit the ground.

"Ca…Captain Stacy," the wounded cop gurgled. "C-Call…" He was pointing at the radio of his fallen partner.

Naruto took the hint and grabbed the radio. "Captain Stacy?" he yelled into it.

"That's not my codename, Rodriguez!" came the answer, "Report!"

"And I'm not a cop!" Naruto snarked. "Your guy is down and he needs an ambulance!"

There was a short silence before the voice answered back. "Stay in the area, civilian! Wait for the ambulance to show up!"

"Naruto!" Jean screamed, running out of the store and embracing him tightly. Ororo was right behind her

"We have to get out of here," said the weather manipulator.

"The cops said – "

"We can't get involved," interrupted Ororo. "We have to get back to the mansion."

Naruto nodded before he dropped the radio and followed them out of the scene. He had no idea how much they ran, but he stopped once he saw that Ororo and Jean were panting. They had good physical condition, but he was particularly energetic, even for a shinobi.

"What were you thinking!" snapped Jean.

"What? I was thinking about saving that cop and stopping the bad guys!" answered Naruto

"You could have died!" Jean yelled. "Did you think for a moment about yourself?! About your own safety?!"

"I was too busy thinking about the cop they were about to execute!" exclaimed Naruto. "I saved him! Isn't that what we've been talking about? Saving lives?"

Jean's anger seemed to dissipate after a few breaths before she embraced him again. "It's just… I don't know what I'd do if you were harmed. How could I live with myself if I let you die?!"

Naruto smiled as he held her. "I'm alright, Jean. I promise you that I won't die on you." He let go of her and looked into those jade eyes. "I don't break my promises… ever."

Jean turned a little red for a moment before she started to breathe deeply. "I'll go get us a cab… and you'll have to explain this to the Professor."

The blonde nodded, looking at the sky with a smile before he felt another smaller, yet equally tender hug from Ororo.

"That was a brave thing you did, Naruto," she said. "Not many people are so instinctively selfless."

"You are selfless yourself," replied Naruto, returning the hug and letting that fresh aroma of nature fill his senses.

It was a strange feeling going back to the mansion, all three of them packed in the rear seat. They did not even speak to each other yet the comfortable silence was enough for Naruto. It was the first time since arriving in this place that he did not think of Konoha or worry about returning back home. In fact, it was the first time since arriving that he felt that being then and there was home.

'The more I'm here, the less I think about Konoha. The more I'm with Scott and Logan, the less I think about my friends… and the more I'm with Jean and Ororo, the less I think about Sakura-chan.'

It was a feeling that Naruto knew would be gone soon. By tomorrow, he'd be looking forward to answers from Reed Richards and a way to return, but for now his subconscious thought of one thing and one thing only.

'What if I don't want to return?'

AN: So, this is a short chapter. The shortest I've ever done. I thought it'd be a good enough way to end it given that the next one is gonna be way bigger. Still, I hope you enjoy it despite its length.

I will be focusing my attention on this fic for the next chapter and then see what I feel like writing next between this and AGP.

Before I post the next one, I'm gonna go ahead and do some changes to the first three chapters. Not that many, just some additions and fixes to the grammar, as well as change a few inconsistencies.

Hope you like it. Leave a review. I'm very active with my audience if you have a question or want to leave a commentary (just no spoiler questions.)

I'm most active on my Discord server. Link in my profile.

Until next time.

The Metal Sage

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