[requital / ri ‘ kwī ‘ təl /, something given in return, compensation, or retaliation. From 16th Century English, from re- “back” + obsolete quite “quit”.]
“Ow,” is the first thing Yagura says, immediately followed by, “That bastard with the eye! I'm going to wring his neck!”
“Okay,” Kurama concludes wryly, settling back on his heels. “He’s fine. Everybody back, quit hovering.”
Yagura pushes himself away from the rocks with a grimace, sitting up a little unsteadily and pressing a hand to the back of his skull. “Thank you,” he tells Kurama briskly. “I appreciate it more than you can know, getting me out from under that man’s thumb.”
Memories of Madara and bloody-red eyes make Kurama's smile slip sideways, turn it crooked and a little pained. Obito did it, too, the night of Naruto's birth. “Believe me, I understand. The Sharingan sucks ass. Glad you're back with us, though.”
That earns Kurama a quick look from several of the surrounding shinobi, Rōshi and Utakata foremost. “Kurama?” Rōshi asks sharply, expression pulling into a deep frown as he crosses his arms over his chest.
Kurama waves it away. It’s the past twice over now, and he’s not about to bring it up. The ease from seeing Naruto, from managing something like a goodbye untainted by death and falling bodies, is like a pool of calm at Kurama's center, curled up in the midst of the full force of his chakra. He hadn’t even realized it was absent until Naruto returned it, but it’s like reuniting his Yin and Yang halves all over again.
He’s whole, more than just physically now.
The sharp snap of heeled sandals on stone announces Mei's rapid approach, with the faint clank of Han following behind her. “Yagura,” she says sharply, and there's temper like a brewing storm in her voice. “You little worm, I should punch you for everything you’ve put us through these last few years!”
Zabuza takes one look at her face and slides around to stand on the far side of Kurama, well out of range.
Yagura simply glares back at her as he drags himself to his feet. He plants himself in front of Mei, who has over a foot on him in height and probably weighs as much as two of him. “Terumī. Don’t think I didn’t know about you coveting my seat, witch. You can't have it. I'm the Yondaime Mizukage!”
“Then you should actually do your job!” Mei props her hands on her hips and meets him stare for angry stare. “It’s all gone to hell while you were busy being brainwashed, so fix it.”
Kurama isn’t quite sure what happens next, but there's a brief scuffle that somehow ends with Mei hugging Yagura as if her life depends on it, stooped low to get her arms around him, and Yagura enduring it with a roll of his eyes and a fairly awkward pat on the back. There's a faint glassiness to his eyes that gives him away, though, and his voice is slightly rough when he says, “Stop leaking on me, Terumī. I'm the Mizukage, it’s demeaning.”
“Shut up,” Mei tells him promptly. “This is probably the closest you're ever going to get to a woman, so pipe down and enjoy it, shrimp.”
Yagura makes a face and wiggles out of her hold with as much dignity as he can muster. Kurama assumes they're not supposed to see the way he brushes impatiently at his eyes. “If you even count, harpy,” he retorts. “Still trying to trap a husband, I see.”
Mei smacks him in the back of the head without hesitation. “I'm at a perfectly eligible marrying age!”
That’s certainly not a relationship Kurama saw coming. With a low, entirely amused snort, he rises to his feet as well, leaving them to their bickering as he steps back to Rōshi’s side. The jinchuuriki arches a brow at him, then says mildly, “That was an impressive lightshow. You know, I bet that Copy-Nin would be a lot more careful about chasing after you if you showed him something like that.”
Kurama blinks, making the connection, and can't fight a chuckle. “You ran into Hatake, I take it?”
From Kurama's other side, Han huffs softly. “Ran into? You mean picked a fight with.”
Rōshi looks unrepentant. “Figured the least we could do for you and those two brats was slow him down. Not sure if it worked, but since we didn’t pass any jounin-shaped craters on our way here, I’ll assume it did.”
The look on Kakashi's face when he realized he was facing off against not one but two jinchuuriki must have been fantastic, Kurama thinks a bit wistfully. Too bad he hadn’t known when he met the Freak Squad in Whirlpool Country; he’d have gleefully rubbed Kakashi's face in it if he had. “We’ve run into them twice, but we managed to get away both times. We’re all fine.”
“Of course you are.” Roushi sounds insulted by the mere implication that they might be otherwise. “It takes a hell of a lot more than a scrawny scarecrow of a jounin to take a jinchuuriki down.”
Han sighs. “Rōshi, I really don’t think you're in any position to be calling people scrawny.”
With a harrumph, Rōshi folds his arms across his chest. “I'm the furthest thing from scrawny, you walking haystack—”
“It’s Kurama,” Kurama says with some annoyance. “Even you can manage three syllables, shark-face.”
Zabuza just grins at him, Kubikiribōchō slung casually over his shoulder. “Let’s leave the lovebirds to it,” he says, jerking a thumb at Yagura and Mei, who are halfway down the path back to the village and still arguing. “They’ll clean up the mess that’s going on. I'm gonna find the kid.”
Since there's only one kid Zabuza could be referring to, and Kurama's kids are currently with him, Kurama nods in agreement, falling into step with the swordsman. Utakata slips up to walk on his other side, but doesn’t say anything even when Kurama glances at him, and he accepts that with a shrug. It’ll be good for Utakata to meet the rest of the brats, anyway, and he might feel a little safer around so many others like him.
“Not going to try and stab Yagura in the back and take the hat?” he asks Zabuza, faintly curious. The point of the revolution was to try and usurp the Mizukage’s position, after all.”
Zabuza simply snorts. “I think Mei would boil me alive,” he says without even a flicker of hostility, and a good amount of amusement. “She and Yagura have been friends since they were kids. ‘Sides, if our Mizukage’s not batshit insane anymore, I got what I wanted. That’s good enough.”
Kurama's psychopath theory is looking less and less likely with every passing minute. He bids it a rather wistful farewell, wondering if there are any villains out there without tragic backstories and understandable motivations. Seeing as Naruto couldn’t turn around without tripping over a sympathetic enemy, he supposes not.
“Whatever,” he dismisses. “Going to drop the damn blackmail now?”
That gets him a grin, full of sharp teeth and—
Kurama recognizes that look, actually. He has very awkward memories of seeing it on Sasuke's face just before Naruto ended up flat on his back or pressed up against the nearest hard surface.
“I don’t know,” Zabuza says casually, though his grin isn’t going away. “You gonna let me buy you a drink without resorting to it?”
It takes effort to keep his steps steady. Obviously, Kurama's never had to deal with anything even close to this before. He used to be a construct of chakra, with all the lack of everything that implies. He’s seen it, of course, even halfway experienced it through the eyes of his hosts—and, Sage, Hashirama courting—no, attempting to court Mito was probably enough to scar him for life all by itself—but it’s never been even close to the realm of his wants.
I have no fucking clue, Kurama wants to say, but can't quite bring himself to. It’s—vulnerability, maybe, and even with the memory of his Naruto's unshadowed smile so close, Kurama's still not big on leaving holes like that in his defenses. He casts a sideways look at Zabuza, assessing just for the hell of it, and lets his eyes linger.
Attraction, at least, is something he’s definitely felt secondhand, since Uzumaki are absolutely not shy about their sexualities or sexual urges. He thinks he can feel a shadow of it in himself, looking at Zabuza’s angular face, the dark eyes watching him. More appreciation than anything, maybe, but it’s…interesting.
Kurama’s been human for almost three weeks now, after over a hundred years watching how humans work from the outside—or, more precisely, the inside—and he hasn’t had the chance to think about it before, but all the curious things that Naruto and Kushina and Mito did, he can understand them firsthand now. All he has to do is…poke around a little.
Foxes are curious by nature, and Kurama's no exception there.
“If you're trying to get me drunk,” he says gruffly, trying to hide the twin sparks of wariness and interest, “I’ll warn you now, you're going to need nine or ten bars’ worth of booze.”
Zabuza chuckles, low and pleased. “Your virtue’s safe with me, princess. I'm fine with it if you don’t want to put out on the first date.”
“Fuck you, shark-face,” Kurama shoots back, though the bickering does make him feel slightly steadier. “I just don’t know if you're worth it yet.”
“Please stop flirting, it’s kind of terrifying,” Rōshi puts in from where he’s trailing after them with Han, and Kurama casts a dirty look over his shoulder. The shorter redhead raises his hands defensively, but subsides with a smirk.
“Better than watching you drool over that lady’s lava release,” Han points out mildly, tipping his hat down to hide his smile. It would work better if he didn’t have at least a foot and a half on even Zabuza.
Rōshi bristles, turning and kicking Han hard in the shin. Over a flurry of verbal abuse, Utakata takes a step closer and says quietly, “We should ask Yagura to meet us after things have been settled in the village. I don’t think he’s encountered any of the other jinchuuriki besides me.”
The sharpness in his amber eyes says that isn’t the only reason, and Kurama can easily make the leap, even if the kid is avoiding mention of it in front of Zabuza. Yagura’s had the closest encounter with Obito in this time, and might be able to recall something that they can use. Since Kurama's more or less in the dark about the Uchiha’s actions right now, beyond him being that shadow leader of Akatsuki and not having decided to infiltrate his own organization as Tobi yet, it’s a good idea.
“You're a smart kid,” he says, and means it wholeheartedly. “Thanks for helping in the fight, too. That was damn clever of you.”
Utakata ducks his head a little, but there's a faint, pleased smile on his lips. “I didn’t want to get in your way, since we’ve never fought together before, but I thought I could help. I'm glad it worked.”
“Gave him plenty of time to pull that hat trick out of his ass,” Zabuza says, eyeing Kurama again. This time it’s less lustful and more as if he’s measuring Kurama for a coffin. “We should have that spar some time, Red.”
Kurama snorts derisively. “Yeah, no. I’d be picking you out of my teeth in ten seconds flat, sword-freak. If you even lasted that long. But I think Yugito is still up for kicking your ass, if you're hard-up for sparring partners.”
“Scared?” Zabuza taunts. “Can't beat an opponent unless they’ve been brainwashed for decades?”
“Fuck off. The only thing scary about you is that you seem to think the piranha teeth look is attractive.”
“I haven’t had any complaints. Want to try it and see for yourself, Red?”
“What did I just say about the flirting?” Rōshi complains, and ducks obligingly when Kurama takes a swing at him. Kurama's claws skim the tips of his hair and he huffs is disgruntled disappointment, pulling back.
“I don’t know,” he challenges. “Want to try saying it again? Louder, this time?”
“Rōshi hardly needs encouragement to be loud.” Han sidesteps another kick—aimed at his kneecaps this time—and raises his head, looking down the road to where it curves around a stand of trees. “Incoming, Kurama.”
Mobile watchtower, Kurama thinks in amusement, turning back to watch the path. His ears catch familiar footsteps, flying flat-out over the dirt, and a moment later Naruto barrels around the turn. For an instant Kurama is prepared for anything, from homesick tears to Obito in hot pursuit, but then he realizes Naruto is beaming and laughing, running with his arms outstretched. With a chuckle, he pushes past Zabuza, stepping to the front, and crouches down just in time for the little boy to slam bodily into him. He grunts and rocks back on his heels, but manages to redirect momentum as he rises, hauling Naruto up with him. He hugs him tightly, burying his face in familiar blond hair, and can't fight a smile of his own.
He’s said goodbye to his Naruto. This is the one that needs him now.
“Hey there, kit,” he murmurs. “Miss me?”
“Kurama-nii!” Naruto pulls back to give him a wide grin. “You're okay! There was a big explosion and lots of chakra and Yugito-nee got really worried for a bit but you're okay now!”
Kurama chuckles, scuffing a hand through his wild hair. “Not a scratch on me,” he confirms. “You were good for Yugito and Haku?”
“Of course!” Naruto says like it’s a forgone conclusion and not a vague hope Kurama had clung to. “Gaara an’ me helped Haku make lunch, and Fū washed the clothes and then Yugito-nee helped her hang them up.”
“That’s a lot you guys got done,” Kurama approves, tweaking the tip of his nose. He half-turns so that Naruto can see his companions. “Remember Rōshi, from the inn in Ame?”
Naruto waves cheerfully. “Hi! I remember! You're the guy with the pointy beard, like Hokage-jiji’s but bigger!”
Rōshi touches his beard a little self-consciously, but manages a smile in return. “Hello again, Naruto.”
Han snorts quietly, moving forward, and bends down to put himself at eye-level with Naruto. “Hello, Naruto,” he echoes. “I'm Han, jinchuuriki of Kokuō, the Gobi. Kurama saved my life, and I'm in his debt, so if you ever need anything, just ask it of me.”
Staring up at him with slightly wide eyes, Naruto nods, apparently overwhelmed by Han’s excessive height. Han chuckles a little, straightening and tipping his hat back. His eyes flicker past Kurama, back down the road, and Kurama turns automatically to see Gaara approaching at a much more reserved pace. He eyes the strangers warily as he nears, and skirts Zabuza as much as he can before he latches on to the edge of Kurama's shirt.
“You're not hurt, Kurama-nii?” he asks solemnly, staring up at him with wide aquamarine eyes.
“Not at all, squirt,” Kurama answers gently, dropping to one knee. He holds out his free arm, and without needing any more of an invitation, Gaara winds his arms around Kurama's neck and holds tightly as he’s picked up. Kurama settles them carefully, a six-year-old on each hip, and pointedly ignores the way Zabuza is smirking at him. “What are you two doing out here by yourselves? Did you sneak out while Yugito wasn’t looking?”
“Oh!” Naruto wriggles in sudden, utter excitement. “Kurama-nii, Kurama-nii, guess what? We caught a geezer!”
Kurama has a very bad feeling about this.
Gaara nods in agreement. “Fū said we could come and tell you,” he reports.
“She said only if you were around the corner,” Naruto complains. “But that’s stupid. You're right here and it’s fine.”
“It’s not stupid,” Kurama corrects automatically, starting down the path again without waiting for the others to catch up. If Naruto means what Kurama thinks he does…oh boy. “She just wants to keep you safe. Tell me about this geezer.”
“He’s a geezer,” is Naruto's helpful clarification. “He saw me an’ Fuji-nee playing on the porch an’ said I should come with him back to Konoha ‘cause it wasn’t safe out here. Then Yugito-nee came out and she grew big claws and tried to scare him off, but he made himself an even bigger pile of spikes and poked her! So we all jumped him and beat him up, ‘cause Yugito-nee is awesome and teaches me how to throw shuriken really well and anyone who hurts her is really mean!”
Gaara nods silently, affirming that this is definitely what happened, and buries his face in Kurama's collar. After a long moment, he says very quietly, “I protected them, Kurama-nii. I found something I wanted to protect and I didn’t let that man hurt it. Like I promised.”
Kurama remembers him saying that, just as they entered Kusa. It feels like so long ago, even if it was only a handful of days. The memory is clear, though—Gaara had made up his mind that he would do anything he needed to in order to keep those precious to him safe, and now he’s proved it.
“You really are my ferocious warriors, huh?” Kurama asks fondly, pushing open the gate in the low fence with his hip. It squeaks as it swings open, and he lets it fall shut behind him with a heavy thud.
“Yep!” Naruto agrees brightly, and waves when Fū appears around the corner of the house. “Hi, Fū! We found Kurama-nii!”
“I thought I told you to wait for him at the corner,” Fū says, looking faintly frazzled, though she offers Kurama a swift smile. “Welcome back, Kurama-nii. Did Naruto tell you?”
“About the geezer you caught? He started to.” Kurama bends down to set the boys on their feet, then steps past them, keeping himself between them and the chakra signature he can feel in the back yard. “Is Yugito all right?”
“I'm fine, Kurama-nii.” The girl slips around the edge of the porch, and when Fū shoots her a look adds, “Haku, Momiji, and Fuji are watching him. It should be okay to leave for a second.”
Despite the reassurance, Fū’s mouth turns down, and she heads back around the corner at a swift trot.
Kurama takes advantage of the pause to look Yugito over. There's a stained bandage sloppily wrapped around one bicep, and her face bears the rapidly-healing imprint of scratches that were probably closer to deep gouges before Matatabi started on them. Fury kindles like a fire in his gut, but he tamps it down, locks it away, and crouches in front of the girl.
“You're okay, kitten?” he asks, holding her gaze.
Yugito meets his eyes squarely, expression firm. “It’s just scratches, Kurama-nii. The bandage is only because Naruto thought it needed one.”
That definitely sounds like something a six-year-old Naruto would insist on. Unable to find any trace of lingering pain in her face, Kurama accepts Yugito’s words and pushes back to his feet. “All right. Let’s go see this asshole you managed to hook. If we decide to skin him you get first dibs.”
The squeaking gate swings open again, admitting Zabuza with his sword still slung over one shoulder, and he catches Kurama's gaze, tipping his chin at the woods that surround the house. Kurama nods in return, taking that to mean that Utakata, Rōshi, and Han are checking to make sure no one else is going to sneak up on them, and lets the swordsman catch up before he follows Yugito’s path towards the back of the building.
One step around the edge of the house and it honestly takes every ounce of Kurama's self-control not to burst into laughter.
Konoha's fabled spymaster, the feared and fearsome Toad Sannin Jiraiya, is sprawled out on his back in the center of the grass. From his toes to his navel he’s covered in a thick layer of ice, and from navel to chin he’s completely cocooned in hardened sand. There's enough of Chōmei’s glittery Scale Powder scattered around the area to make Kurama suspect Fū blinded him repeatedly, and a bruise around his eye that perfectly matches the shape of Naruto's fist is just starting to turn purple. Yugito’s shuriken and kunai are spread in tight clusters across the ground, and odds are good that Jiraiya's sporting scratches from her claws somewhere under the ice and sand.
At Kurama's side, Zabuza gives a low, impressed whistle and slides Kubikiribōchō down, planting it in the ground and leaning casually on it. “Well, Red, got to hand it to you, your kids don’t fuck around. Nice, Haku.”
Sitting on the porch, wary eyes still trained on the spymaster, Haku flushes happily.
Kurama gives in and chuckles, stroking Yugito’s hair gently as he shifts around her, and offering a proud smile when she glances at him. She smiles back, clearly pleased, and Kurama looks at the other three jinchuuriki in turn. “Good work,” he says, and doesn’t even try to keep the amusement out of his voice as he leans over the thoroughly trapped Jiraiya. “Hello, Toad Sage. Fancy meeting you here.”
“Funny,” Jiraiya says, narrowing his eyes. “I don’t remember seeing you around. How’d you trick Naruto into playing along with you kidnapping him?”
Abruptly losing his humor, Kurama scowls. “I'm Uzumaki Kurama,” he growls, and sees dark eyes go wide as the family name registers. “No tricks, asshole, I promise. But I figured if his godfather wasn’t going to step up and take a little fucking care of him, his uncle might as well.”
“Kushina didn’t have a brother,” Jiraiya says, low and threatening. “I would have known.”
Kurama snorts, stepping back. “Would you? Hell of a lot of rubble to dig through, just to get to Uzushio's genealogies.”
Jiraiya scoffs. “And the Kazekage’s kid? The granddaughter of Taki’s headman? Kumo’s second jinchuuriki? I suppose you're all magically related?”
He could deny the implied accusation, but Kurama's really, truly not in the mood to deal with a bastard who’d try to hurt a kid. Who did hurt a kid. Yugito might be a kickass kunoichi, but Jiraiya is roughly four times her age. He should fucking know better. “Yeah, no, them I kidnapped. And they're pretty damned happy about it, too.”
“We are,” Fū agrees, crouching down on Jiraiya's other side with a threateningly cheerful smile. She waves brightly when his eyes land on her. “Hi, geezer! Kurama-nii’s my actual favorite person in the whole world, so every time you're mean to him I'm going to kick you, okay? Somewhere painful.”
Jiraiya blanches, then nods quickly. A rustle in the bushes has his eyes snapping left, and warily tracking over Rōshi and Han as they wade out of the tangled undergrowth and draping branches, Utakata a silent shadow behind them.
“Clear,” Rōshi grunts, then crosses his arms over his chest and stares grimly down at the Toad Sage. “So, are we cutting pieces off? Feeding him to the foxes?”
“I could do with a bite,” Momiji says judiciously, uncurling himself from one of the porch beams and leaping lightly down to the deck. He pads over, sniffing delicately, and adds, “I mean, I usually like the younger, more tender stuff, but old, tough, and stringy will do in a pinch.”
“I—stringy?” Jiraiya's face goes through several contortions, as though he wants to protest but can't figure out whether it’s a bad idea or not.
Kurama snorts. “Sorry, Momiji, I think I've got a better idea. I’ll find you some fish to make up for it, okay?” When he looks down again, Jiraiya is watching him warily. With a smirk, Kurama raises his hands. “It’s not torture. We’re not actually animals. Well, some of us. How about a trade instead?”
And—it’s a bad idea. Then again, Kurama's had a lot of bad ideas over the last few weeks, but they’ve all turned out okay eventually. This one’s not all that different, and if it all goes well, it’ll fix a hell of a lot of what went wrong.
“A trade,” Jiraiya repeats dubiously. “If you think I'm just going to hand over Naruto—”
“You don’t have a damn thing to do with Naruto right now,” Kurama growls, and it rumbles in his chest, just a little too deep for human vocal cords. Jiraiya's eyes narrow, but Kurama doesn’t give him time to ask his question. “No. You're looking for Akatsuki. I know their names, their faces, their powers, and where they're hiding out. I know their leader, and who’s actually controlling them, and what their master plan is. All their dirty little secrets, their weaknesses, their motivations. And I’ll tell you. All I want in return is for you to call off Konoha. If I can stay with Naruto, I’ll bring him back to the village myself, but I stay with him or everything’s off.”
Shock is written plainly over Jiraiya's face, shock and a little bit of awe, mixed in with confusion and disbelief in equal measures. “You—why?” he demands.
Kurama gives him a bitter smile, and it doesn’t come quite as easily as it once did, as it did even yesterday, but it’s still simple enough to summon it up. All he has to think about is Kaguya, is Naruto, is blood on summer grass and the end of everything. “Because Akatsuki’s leader took everything from me. I survived. My best friend didn’t. And I want to destroy her for that.”
Jiraiya hesitates. He looks at Kurama narrowly, glances over to where Naruto is tucked safely behind a grim-faced Yugito. A long minute of silence, and then he finally says, “Swear you’ll take him back to Konoha. Swear to me.”
“I swear on the Sage of Six Paths, and on the name I was given,” Kurama says immediately. “That’s not an oath I'm willing to break.”
“It had better not be.” Jiraiya wriggles a little, and when his prison doesn’t so much as budge he gives up with a sigh. “I swear on Mount Myōboku, I’ll talk to Sarutobi. I can't do anything about the other villages, though, if you took their jinchuuriki. You're on your own with that one.”
Rōshi huffs loudly at that. “Right. Like any village in existence can tell nine jinchuuriki what to do when they're all together.”
With a hum of quiet agreement, Han props his shoulder against a sturdy sapling, leaning carefully. The tree bows under the combined weight of the big man and his even heavier armor. “I would very much like to see them try.”
“People are jerks,” is Fū’s verdict. “Me and Gaara and Naruto and Yugito are all sticking with Kurama-nii. Nobody can make us leave him. He’s our Kurama-nii.”
With a quiet chuckle, Kurama ruffles her hair. “Yeah, yeah, sweetheart. Up. Haku, Gaara, care to let him go?”
From his perch on the steps, Haku turns to look at Zabuza, who shrugs carelessly. The boy inclines his head, then waves a hand, and the ice slides away.
“Gaara?” Kurama asks, turning to look for the little boy, and almost trips over him. The messy red head presses against his thigh, and shakes stubbornly. Kurama stares down at him for a moment, then sighs and crouches down, putting himself at eye-level. “Gaara. He’s not going to hurt us. But even if he does, I trust you. You're strong enough to stop him. You're strong enough to stop anyone who’s going to hurt what you love. I believe that. Don’t you?”
There's a long pause, and Gaara's hold on his pant-leg tightens. Then, slowly, he looks up, and says, “I can do it, if I have to.”
“I know you can.” Kurama leans forward and presses a light kiss to his forehead, right next to the kanji he carved into his own skin. “And we’ll help, too. All of us. You know that, right?”
This time the nod comes more quickly. There's a hiss of sand sliding back into the ground, and then Jiraiya sits up slowly, wary eyes flickering between the nine people and two foxes in the yard. He makes no move to rise, but looks past Kurama to Naruto and tries for a smile. “Hey, kiddo. Quite the punch you’ve got there.”
Naruto gives him a mulish glare and sticks his tongue out. Zabuza laughs with a definite mocking edge, leaning on his sword like a casual threat. Kurama just sighs, because no way in hell did he think this was going to be easy, but…well. He didn’t think that it would leave him the only reasonable adult on their side of the room.
“Fantastic,” he mutters, and almost thinks that he can hear his Naruto laughing. Of course the bastard would get a kick out of Kurama going head-to-head with his godfather.
The things I do for you, Kurama thinks, and only kind of means it.