Naruto Thousand Hands (Mokuton Naruto AU)


Apparently a report-er
Despite him being the canonical 6th Hokage, there aren't a lot of Hokage Kakashi fics out there. Probably my favorite one is Deadly Touch which has Kakashi being awesome and basically forcing Sarutobi into making him the 5th Hokage by subverting most of the ninja forces right out from under both Hiruzen and Danzo and wiping out Root in secret.

So, what? Kakashi being an asshole was just his way of trying to get the kids, particularly Mito, to trust Sarutobi less? Because they didn't need any help there. I suppose depending on how Sarutobi and then Kakashi handle the fallout of their genin test will be the deciding factor on just what Naruto, Biwako and Mito will be doing going forward.
Kakashi was ordered to test his Genin's loyalty that way because Sarutobi is panicking and semi-paranoid. He fears Kakashi doing what you just described or something similar; he fears that Kakashi will get Mito on his side, so he sabotaged that possibility.... In short, Hiruzen sees the threat of Kakashi everywhere, even in places where he should be more level-headed because they are a risk of their own.

Edit: Sarutobi is not completely wrong to fear usurpation, either. From Kakashi or otherwise. Kakashi is loyal to Konoha and its people, not this particular leader.
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The Original M2J
Kakashi was ordered to test his Genin's loyalty that way because Sarutobi is panicking and semi-paranoid. He fears Kakashi doing what you just described or something similar; he fears that Kakashi will get Mito on his side, so he sabotaged that possibility.... In short, Hiruzen sees the threat of Kakashi everywhere, even in places where he should be more level-headed because they are a risk of their own.

Edit: Sarutobi is not completely wrong to fear usurpation, either. From Kakashi or otherwise. The latter is loyal to Konoha and its people, not this particular leader.
In otherwords, Sarutobi needs to retire, badly.


The Original M2J
There are a large number of fics that highlight that fact for various reasons and much of the time Hiruzen is cognizant of that fact himself. In this case, I'm not certain he is. Still, with the way you've set up the current situation, I'm hoping that Kakashi comes out on top and looking bad-ass. One doesn't get to see that very often.


Apparently a report-er
"Are you pleased now, Sandaime-sama?" Kakashi said, making his own displeasure clear.

The Third took in a puff from his pipe, then said, "watch your tone, Kakashi. I am still your Hokage," looking at Kakashi sternly.

Kakashi had never craved for the man's approval to Jiraiya’s level though, and he was long out of ANBU. What was the saying? 'You can take the operative out of ANBU, but you can't take the ANBU out of the operative'? Unfortunately for those who believed in the saying, Kakashi had been cured of most any loyalty he had had toward Sarutobi Hiruzen. Kakashi shrugged his shoulders visibly, making the Third's face spasm in annoyance very subtly. Kakashi was sharp enough to notice it, even when his nose was impeded by the accursed pipe and the Sharingan was inactive.

"…As a matter of fact, I am highly displeased," the Third said, frowning, "you have not uncovered the identity of their teachers, and they are more loyal to each other than they are to Konoha. Mito is more loyal to her teammates than she is to Konoha, and the other two likely do not care about the village."

"Whose fault is that? I normally don't say this, but I told you so," Kakashi said, relishing the renewed annoyance on the man's face.

Kakashi could smell his students-to-be nearing the office. A few seconds later, he noticed the Third make a discreet single-handed hand-seal… so he knew the man, being a Chakra Sensor, had felt them coming, too. A couple minutes later, the kids arrived at a walking pace.

Kakashi shrugged off the glares from his new students and, having reflected on both sides' behavior, decided to let Biwako off… though an apology from her wouldn't be remiss. Not so strangely, the three of them smelled nervous according to Kakashi's eyes and nose, though Biwako's rage eclipsed all her other emotions. The stranger part was that Naruto reeked of nervousness the most. Had Naruto done something else- naughty, for lack of a better word?

The Third began the talk, saying, "you three are to form Team Seven under Hatake Kakashi. Now, I would like to speak to each member separately. I have already had my conversation with Kakashi."

That- canny old man! The Third, having phrased things as he had, was implying that Sarutobi was the one to have pushed for Team Seven passing. What was more, Kakashi wasn't allowed to talk about the 'test' the Third had ordered him to put into his own test. Like haven’t already found more than one loophole; not to mention multiple plans for his next move, even a court-martial, ha! Kakashi giggled, seemingly perversely and lost in his own head, but he decided not to oversell things so he didn’t get Icha Icha out.

Kakashi straightened his face and posture, ostensibly due to the Third’s glare, but Sarutobi didn’t really faze him anymore. ‘You know, Sarutobi Hiruzen,’ Kakashi said inside his own head, ‘for someone who’s so paranoid about me usurping your position, you are remarkably quick to underestimate me.’


‘Kakashi’ was dying to know what the Third and Kakashi’s students had talked about, but that could wait for later. The four of them were in Training Ground Three, with the kids looking at each other strangely and glaring at him. ‘Kakashi’ clapped his hands while his original was using Genjutsu to trick the ANBU spying on them into not seeing anything and another clone was running interference with that annoying Telescope Jutsu and its crystal ball.

‘Kakashi’ said, “so, kids; we are going to do a role-playing exercise. I will be the Leader of the Village Hidden in the Foliage, the Hikage and- hmm- Naruto will be my best Jounin, Shaberu. Shaberu, step up.”

Biwako was eyeing ‘Kakashi’ shrewdly, Naruto looked resentful and Mito confused. Hmm, so Biwako is good at seeing through such things. ‘Kakashi’ said, “so, Shaberu. You have the loyalty of most of my forces, so there is a risk of you usurping my position. I secretly want you to make sure that the previous leader’s children hate you. Thus, as soon as you get the opportunity, make sure to test their loyalty to each other in a particular way.”

At that point, Naruto was also looking at ‘Kakashi’ in a new light. He said, “hm, Hikage-sama. How should I go about ‘testing’ them?”

‘Kakashi’ scratched his head. Then, he said, “first off, I want you to make sure that you are a hardass; that you come across as someone who doesn’t much care about them, but at the same time find an excuse that will hold up to scrutiny, like your obsession with not abandoning comrades. Secondly, don’t tell them about it, and don’t tell anyone else either! Because I’m a paranoid old man -see the hair?- but losing my faculties, I have left a loophole or three, though I’ve closed plenty. Thirdly, make sure to threaten them in such a way that you see which way they choose: each other, or Konoha? Fourthly, I am thinking of wording things in such a way that they think I’m their benefactor and you truly intended to fail them. Finally, I want you to find out who has trained them.”

Naruto, or rather Shaberu, said, “Understood, Hikage-sama! I am most definitely not thinking of using a hypo- hypothetical scenario to get my point across!” Then, Naruto got out of the role, saying, “don’t even walls have ears, Kakashi-san, though?”

‘Kakashi’ shook his head. He said, “as long as your new students don’t blab too soon, I’m certain that you have taken care of everything else, Shaberu. Also that you haven't told me anything about who trained them, even though you have an idea.” Then, he let the smugness show on his face, the half of it that was visible. His ‘eye-smirk’ as Genma had called it.

‘Kakashi’ could see the progression of emotions on the kids’ faces. He would like to be a fly on the wall when Sarutobi found out about Kakashi's 'indiscretion'.

Trust between those three and me is shaky and will need to be built from the ground up at best, even when it comes to Mito, but I'm glad to have this chance. Come to think of it, though…. They were really quick to believe the worst of Sarutobi, even though he talked to them first. They obviously know what he pulled with separating the twins. Could they know about the other secret about them that Sarutobi is hiding?

Kakashi needed to think on that further – Naruto and Mito needed to find out very carefully; the Kyuubi and what had followed its attack was a very volatile and delicate matter. He would also consult with Jiraiya, thanks to the little miracle of Fuuinjutsu Jiraiya had sent Kakashi with a Toad very recently.

Come to think of it, could Biwako have suspicions, like I do, about the Uchiha Clan Downfall? No, can’t be. She was too young to notice the signs. Then again, age is less of a factor than some think. Mito helped me make a seal for the Sharingan when she was six and improved it to the point I can shut it off or activate it in split seconds when she wasn’t even eight! Could Biwako have been able- forget it. Kakashi decided to shelve that train of thought for later.


Team Seven had gotten started with D-ranks. The face Biwako had made when first told what they had to do was especially entertaining. Mito would lag behind the other two's teamwork, probably not for the first time in her life, considering she lived with the Akimichi clan and was friends with the Yamanaka and Nara heirs, too.

On the other hand, Kakashi wasn't concentrating on teamwork as much as he had expected he would need to, so he was free to get his Genin's individual skills up to par. Even if adding Mito to the other two's maneuvers posed a challenge, she was much more in tune with them than Kakashi had dared hope.

It was time for the second weekly three-on-one spar. Kakashi was always right in time for team meetings, quite unlike his usual habits. He got Icha Icha out of his pouch in front of his Genin team for the first time. He noticed Mito roll her eyes – it was probably because of being around Jiraiya so much that she had recognized and dismissed it so quickly. Biwako and Naruto were looking at the book in curiosity.

"What's that book, Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto asked, looking hyper, but Kakashi wasn't fooled. Naruto was a lot like his father in that both were generally goofy, but the higher the stakes got, the more focused and dangerous and ruthless both got.

'Unlike Minato-sensei, though, Naruto's behavior is more a mask, I think; on the other hand, sensei was truly like that and his behavior more akin to split personalities,' Kakashi thought to himself, ‘that doesn’t bode well for Naruto’s mental stability either way. However much I loved and love sensei, he definitely had a few screws loose, beyond the usual for high-level shinobi.’

When Kakashi didn't reply, Naruto's face turned stony. Biwako put a hand on Naruto's shoulder and whispered something even Kakashi couldn't hear into Naruto's ear.

Naruto's face turned from moderately tan to a deep blush. "How- how do you know about me sneaking glances at those magazines in shops?!" Naruto said in a low voice, but Kakashi was able to hear him.

Kakashi put his Icha Icha Paradise 3 copy back into his pouch along with 1, 2 and both Icha Icha Violence books – however amused he was at poor Naruto’s predicament, they had something important to do and he wasn’t certain Biwako’s pride could take it if he fought her while reading a book.

The three of them were putting a little bit of distance between each other when Kakashi gave the starting signal. They were in a triangle formation, with Mito being at the far back from Kakashi, making the Clone hand-seal already-

Kakashi stomped on the ground, doing a one-handed hand-seal at the same time. 'Earth Style: Tracking Maze!' He had decided to shake things up in order to put the kids’ ability to work together to the test.

A 'Y'-shaped wall, decorated with dog-head statues cut off the kids from one another. Kakashi joined his hands, whispering, "part two," making the two-meter tall wall expand upwards, far beyond easy jumping distance for most Chuunin and also in every other direction, turning it into a maze of hardened walls. He also added a third part, changing his hand-seal, so that water started coming out the dog heads, enough to weaken fire ninjutsu.

'Just because I don't hate Biwako doesn't mean I will make things easy for her,' Kakashi thought to himself. He seriously doubted that Naruto's Earth Style would help the kids much, considering just how much Chakra Kakashi had concentrated into each wall and how tightly he had packed the rock-like soil. The strain on Kakashi's Chakra system made him shiver a bit, but he had Chakra levels comparable to the average Kage in their prime and amazing Chakra Control, so the Chakra expenditure of that jutsu didn't affect him beyond that.

Kakashi shook his head at how pitiful his Chakra reserve was compared to his- everything else, really.*

Let's see. Biwako has managed to locate Mito, if I judge by the direction she is heading. I wonder how? Chakra sense is dampened in there due to my Chakra's presence and density, to the point someone would need to be as good a sensor as the Sandaime to use it beyond a couple meters. The loud water shower and added smells should take care of any fellow tracker, whether they use their ears or nose, unless they are comparable to an Inuzuka.

The steady drain of Chakra to maintain the water shower was barely noticeable – Kakashi had made sure to find a bigger source of water under the ground to fuel that. Kakashi used one of the dog heads to look where Naruto was with his ‘Dog’s Eyes’ jutsu.*

Naruto put his index finger on the ground. After at least twenty seconds of trying, he shook his head, then tried again, which led to Naruto heading toward Mito, too. Kakashi couldn't believe what his senses were telling him. Both Naruto and Biwako?! What are they feeding kids these days?

As soon as the three of them had regrouped, Naruto made an Earth-style Wall in such a way that the three Genin could use it as a ramp to jump over Kakashi's own walls-

Kakashi wasn't idle, though. He used Housenka no jutsu to pepper them with small fireballs. Naruto hadn't noticed Kakashi until the last moment apparently, so when Naruto used water filled with Kakashi's Chakra to make a Water Formation Wall while only using only one hand-seal in record time, Kakashi stopped in his tracks for two tenths of a second, which was the equivalent of a pratfall for a regular Jounin.

‘Naruto can use a second element? So proficiently, at that?’ Kakashi thought to himself. The kids were fresh Genin! Wait. How long have they been hiding their skills and what else are they hiding?

The smell of something- different but known under the ground made Kakashi focus fully again. He decided to strike the different-smelling soil beneath him with shuriken imbued with Lightning Style Chakra, and was rewarded with the familiar sound and smell of Earth Clones dispelling. Of course, the kids wouldn't let things stop at that, so over twenty of Mito attacked Kakashi, some hiding under Jiraiya's invisibility jutsu.

Kakashi fought her hand-to-hand, dispelling the clones before Mito had the chance to gather her wits, but the Uchiha clan's coming of age jutsu covered the space between the original Mito and Kakashi before he could follow through, surprisingly powerful considering how damp and filled with Kakashi’s Chakra the air was.

Naruto’s globs of mud landed where Kakashi's eyes would have been, had he not used the Kawarimi no jutsu to escape. Then, Biwako's shuriken started coming towards Kakashi at a rate and with a precision that reminded him of- well, of her brother, when Itachi had had his Sharingan off at least. 'So, they have been hiding more! I haven’t even seen Naruto use his staff when not startled,' Kakashi thought absentmindedly as he deflected the shuriken with a kunai, 'could Biwako already have the Sharingan? If so, why isn't she using it, though?'

Filing up all those discrepancies for later, Kakashi decided to finish the spar. He swiped at Naruto’s arm with his kunai, then caught the other hand by the wrist. Kakashi threw Naruto in such a way that the coming punch’s force was redirected toward Naruto himself, likely spraining the kid’s wrist. Then Kakashi had to contend with Biwako’s tanto and Mito’s Fuuinjutsu-based trap. He used ‘Fire Style: Vapors Jutsu’ to counter a ‘Wild Water Wave’ from Naruto and make Biwako back off at the same time, while gathering more water vapors to turn into the Hidden Mist Jutsu.

Not wasting any time, Kakashi went on the attack. His nose wasn’t hampered by his own mist, so he used his full speed and response time to disarm Biwako, then knock her out by pinching her shoulder blade, near the spine where the Gate of Life was located. He went to do the same to Mito. There was logically no way she should have had the time to react, and yet Mito sidestepped at exactly the right time for Kakashi to simply cause her pain with his pinch.

She tried to get some kind of Cursed Seal on Kakashi while Naruto was preparing something so huge that even Kakashi, being no kind of Chakra sensor, was able to sense the Chakra building up. As Kakashi knocked Mito out, he could feel himself slowly lose Naruto’s scent. ‘The cheeky brat is infusing my Hidden Mist with his own Chakra!’ Kakashi concluded, but it didn’t keep him from reaching Naruto and knocking him out.

A few minutes later, after Naruto had taken care of all injuries with an efficiency and level of skill that still impressed Kakashi, Kakashi started going over the kids’ performance. He said, “well, your teamwork has improved in the past few weeks, but it wasn’t the main reason why you performed so well. I know you kids don’t exactly trust me yet, but two of you have been holding back hugely, only revealing your skills -or some of them- when under duress."

Naruto looked contemplative, so Kakashi told him to speak freely. Naruto said, "Kakashi-sensei, isn't a ninja supposed to keep their skills secret until they really need those skills?"

Kakashi shook his head. He said. "The saying is mostly valid. Young shinobi aren't meant to hide their skills from their teachers, though. That's a misconception. It leads to learning less and weakening oneself in the long run."

Naruto looked down, seemingly contemplating something again.

"That goes for all three of you," Kakashi said, raising his voice a bit, "if you would like to tell me or show me or learn something, I'm available. I can't promise I will always have time, nor that I will definitely teach you what you might ask, but I will at least hear you out."


Kakashi was -somewhat secretly- watching while his Genin were pulling weeds from a garden. He saw Naruto put a hand on Mito's wrist- yes, that wasn't a weed; Naruto was right to stop her.

"What's going on here- what are you brat doing to the Honorable Daughter!?" An elderly male voice yelled out, brandishing a walking cane like a staff.

Kakashi twitched, but he decided to wait and see how the kids would handle the situation.

The old man fussed over Mito while glaring at Naruto and threatening to report him. Kakashi could smell Naruto's rage, but in his body language, it was barely perceptible. "Let go of Mito," Naruto told the old man, who started threatening Naruto with his cousin, Homura, who was a trusted advisor of the Third's.

Naruto put his hand on the man's shoulder and squeezed . He told the old man something in the ear very quietly while a shaken Mito moved away from the old man and hid behind Naruto. The old man smelled of terrible, terrible fear that put even Kakashi on edge, so he moved to put a stop to the confrontation, before Biwako had the chance to make things worse.

"Y- you little- I am not so easily intimidated. Mr. Teacher! Do you know what that little monster did and said?!" The man, Mitokado Miura or something, said.

Mito said, "don't listen to that crazy old fart, Kakashi-sensei! The bastard started everything!" Her voice shrill.

"Young lady," the old man said, "please do not argue with me on this," trying to shove Naruto away, then hit him with his cane, but only succeeding in dropping to the dirt with a little discreet help from Naruto.

Miura started yelling about an assault, so loudly that his wife came out. Fortunately, they weren't close enough to other houses for neighbors to come. Then, Kakashi intervened. He helped the man to his feet, 'accidentally' elbowing him in the gut to shut him up. Then, Kakashi said out loud "don't bother lying, Miura-san. I was here, hidden, all along. So, this is what you are going to do: you will sign on the mission sheet, paying us triple the standard fee for our exceptional performance. You will keep away from any member of my team. You will also refrain from spreading any rumors, especially ones filled with lies.

» That will have some benefits for you, too: one, you will be able to request missions from Konoha shinobi in the future. Two, the shinobi of Konoha will still be willing to protect you and not accidentally cause you to have a heart attack, then forget their medical knowledge for a few minutes. Three, you know who I am; you know what influence I hold, so don't pretend you don't, nor that Homura-san will support you against me. You also know that my father's failed mission had a backlash on me. You wouldn't want that kind of reputation to fall on your children and grandchildren, would you…?”

When that- incident was over and done with, Kakashi told his students, “kids, two rules when dealing with civilians, especially clients: one, be very careful and never get physical, preferably even when they do so first. Two, rule one can be ignored like I did only when you are certain you will get away with it.”

Kakashi knew that all that nonsense had only escalated to that point because there had been no consequences to the offenders. Perhaps people would get the idea after a scare or three. He sighed under his breath. If the Third had cared less about the idea of Konoha and more about the people- oh well. Dwelling on what ifs nearly broke me before.


The Third and both his advisors were looking at Kakashi with varying degrees of disquiet. At last, Homura broke the silence. He said, “was that really necessary, Kakashi?”

Kakashi nodded, but did nothing else.

“You will have to explain more than that,” the Third said, an edge in his voice.

Koharu opened her eyes. Koharu actually opened her eyes! Kakashi made sure to listen very carefully.

She said, “what I do not get is this: why have we gathered here for something so trivial?” An edge in her voice, too.

The Third said, “if our civilians don’t feel safe in their own home village, then what image do we show to potential clients? This is of monumental importance!-”

“Hiruzen…?” Koharu said, “get bent,” closing her eyes to half-lidded again.

The Third just stood there, looking dumbfounded. Kakashi wasn’t much better off.

Homura cleared his throat, then said, “I believe what Koharu meant is that things will only escalate further if the situation isn’t nipped in the bud, and that one civilian or two aren’t much in the grand scheme of things. Related to me or not. Remember – this happened due to your negligence, Hiruzen. I’m washing my hands of this matter.” Then, the man walked away.

Kakashi stood at attention, not-so-secretly enjoying the expression on the Third’s face. The Third lifted his head, telling Kakashi to ‘just go’, which disappointed Kakashi a little. He had wanted to see him in anguish for longer. There’s something seriously wrong with the Third, though. For a moment, Kakashi had caught him murmuring something like ‘is he the one who has the eye?’ and ‘international changes beneficial to Konoha’.... Perhaps he should send Jiraiya a message about that.


After cleaning the Inuzuka kennels, walking the pups, sewer duty and catching Tora twice in a row, with Naruto the only one not to get scratched or bitten at all, Team Seven was being given a C-rank mission, meant to take place in the Land of Wind.

The Third gave Kakashi two scrolls, then said, “you are to meet with a certain Sand Jounin by the name of Baki and give him the scroll tied with blue rope. The one with yellow rope contains the rest of your briefing. Any questions? No? Get out of my office,” not even glancing at the Genin.

Kakashi told his students what to pack, then walked to the Forest of Death. Yellow rope meant complications. He opened the mission briefing there, which contained a few extra instructions- My, my…. This is interesting. What are you up to, Sarutobi Hiruzen?
There seems to have been a lot that happened during and after the Nine Tails Attack. I can't help but wonder if perhaps Naruto has the Yin Chakra and Mito has the Yang Chakra. It would explain why Naruto has less issues controlling his chakra than in canon. I have a feeling the Jinchuriki issue is going to come forward soon, with it being revealed just who (if not both of them) the Jinchuriki is. Nevermind that with the high chance of encountering Gaara, Biwako's Sharingan and Naruto's Mokuton will likely be outed. Ironically, even without Mito or Naruto being a Jinchuriki, between the Sharingan, Mokuton and the Uzumaki sealing techniques and Kakashi just being a general bad-ass, Team Baki is severely outclassed even with Gaara on their team.

One thing I'd like to see is Temari being a bad-ass (her canon match against Tenten doesn't count because they were horribly mismatched to the point that the fan theory of the random matches not being entirely random has merit). It's outright stated in canon that she should have been a Chunin long before the canon Chunin exam and that she was intentionally held back (which was likely used to justify why Shikamaru was promoted over everyone else when all was said and done).


Apparently a report-er
Did you notice Hiruzen's suspicions that Kakashi has Uchiha Kagami's eye and is the one who has mind-whammied Hiruzen and the rest of the world?
(Of course, Danzo easing down when Kakashi started being sent on even more missions when Naruto was 10 or so probably helped)

As for Team Baki, well, we'll see. :D
Yes, but I passed that off as Hiruzen seeing shadows everywhere and being overly paranoid now that he realized he's been mind controlled over the years. I'm betting he's suspicious of pretty much everyone but Jiraiya at this point.
Especially when you consider that Hiruzen looks like he was looking for an excuse to drop the hammer on Team Kakashi and both Koharu and Homura unreservedly and unhesitatingly sided with Kakashi, despite Homura being related to the complaintant.


Apparently a report-er
Especially when you consider that Hiruzen looks like he was looking for an excuse to drop the hammer on Team Kakashi and both Koharu and Homura unreservedly and unhesitatingly sided with Kakashi, despite Homura being related to the complaintant.
Yeah. They've gotten tired of Hiruzen's shit, too. Any gripes with the chapter? Should I make Homura more hesitant?

Edit: Jiraiya famously sucks at Genjutsu. That might help, too.
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No gripes. Actually, it was actually nice to see Homura professionally level-headed. Most fanfictions have him, Koharu and Danzo being an Unholy Alliance against Sarutobi, who is generally portrayed as a saint. That only works if the writer is particularly good, like Larry Hess. I've actually been digging many more recent fics that have taken a more measured response to the living members of Team Tobirama and (occasionally) Danzo.
Oftentimes, Koharu and Homura don't have any depth to doing what they do and come off as 2D villains.


Apparently a report-er
Hmm…. Time for plot twists. Also, sometimes field advantage is a real b**** .

Warning: character death, language


Biwako and Mito weren't getting along very well recently. Naruto wasn't sure what had crawled up their asses and died, but he hadn't called them out on it. 'After the mission,' he decided.

The three of them and Kakashi had been tree hopping for hours when they reached the end of the forest. Biwako landed gracefully, Mito came to a stop a bit carelessly and Naruto- well, he simply landed. Kakashi took Naruto aside, confusing him.

Kakashi said, "so, Naruto. I noticed that you were able to rapidly take control of elements still infused with remnants of my Chakra. Being able to absorb Chakra is generally something a person either has the potential for or they don't…. And most don't. It's something even more exclusive than being a natural Sensor, by far. I strongly suspect that you have both talents, though, because I know you are a Sensor type, and you wouldn't have been able to manage that Water ninjutsu so well without the other one," his expression not changing. Well, what part of it was visible.

Naruto's thoughts went back to what little he had managed to find out about his Bloodline Limit. Yes, Mokuton could absorb Chakra, but Naruto had had no luck with that part of it.

"Now, now, Naruto. No need for that pout," Kakashi said, his eyes closing in such a way that he gave the impression of smiling.

Naruto scoffed, saying, "I wasn't pouting!"

"Sure you weren't," Kakashi said, still 'eye-smiling', "so, you've been trying and failing? You had already known about that talent?"

Was Kakashi fishing for information? Naruto shrugged his shoulders, trying for a nonchalant expression.

Kakashi sighed and looked away. He said, "I'll get you to trust me someday," his voice sounding a bit different than usual.

There was nothing else to say, so Naruto said nothing.


As they were power-walking through a meadow, Kakashi twitched minutely. Naruto would have brushed it off, but several seconds later, so did Biwako.

Kakashi called for a stop with a hand gesture, so Naruto stopped moving, though he was the last one to do so. The man said, "Hokage-sama has given us a secondary mission: eliminate any bandit camps we detect. Do you three understand?"

Naruto said, "yeah," nodding.

Biwako looked at Naruto, her eyes wide open, then she blinked. ‘What’s that about?’ He thought to himself.

Mito looked confused. She said, "well, I don't get it, sensei. Could you explain?'

What Naruto said was, "we kill all the bandits."

Kakashi said, "well, not an inaccurate description," looking Naruto in the eyes.

Mito cringed away, saying, "are- are you two serious?!"

Kakashi opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Naruto interjected with, "yeah, shinobi kill. Sometimes scum like bandits; sometimes ninjas from other villages who were in the way; and sometimes a person who is in the wrong place at the wrong time." Despite his harsh words, Naruto wasn't really bothered by that truth. He could either accept reality and move on, or give up and go on to be a civilian. Yeah, no. I've been trying to be a ‘better’ person for Iruka-sensei and not attack people from Konoha, but why should I care about bandits? I'm a shinobi first, after all.

This time, all three of the others were scrutinizing Naruto.

"…Naruto," Kakashi said, playing with his white -silver?- hair, "have you killed before?"

Naruto immediately said, "I don't want to talk about it," turning away.

"But-," Mito said.

"If you're curious, ask Biwako when I'm not around," Naruto said, trying to make it clear the conversation was over.


Biwako was tracking the bandits. Once Kakashi had noticed she was good at tracking with her nose, he had put her in charge of following the bandits' scent, only giving her a few tips from time to time. Admittedly, Kakashi knew a lot of tricks that the Hawks didn’t, probably because only a few of their clan relied on their nose.

Those bandits stank of alcohol, but they were much cleaner than Kakashi had described bandits as. When she said that, Kakashi's eyes narrowed. Kakashi said, "I know, and their better hygiene is not a good sign at all. Stay on your guard for a possible shinobi leader."

Biwako clenched a fist as her breathing and heart rate picked up. The time to test herself had come. Hopefully, any missing nin that were with the bandits would be a challenge. Head in the game, Biwako. If I lose to some lowly bandit or D-ranked missing-nin, Naruto and- Madara will never let me live it down. That’s if I survive.

As they passed by a flowing river and creeped closer to a cave that must house the bandits, something felt wrong to her, but she wasn't certain what. She activated her Sharingan discreetly. It was a warm late-spring evening. The water puddles that were around were unusual in that weather, but somebody could have- no. Crap!

Too late, Biwako noticed one of those puddles had a little bit of Chakra in it. Two shinobi jumped out of it, wrapped a chain around Kakashi and- no. Kawarimi no jutsu. Biwako took advantage of the two enemy shinobi’s moment of surprise at the log in front of them to throw a few shuriken at them, then two kunai with ninja wire in their rings. They deflected the shuriken, but she wrapped the wire around their chain.

Biwako made a one-handed hand-seal, electrifying the wires. Nothing. No good conductor. She increased the power, but the two ninjas separated the chain, leaving them twitching and a bit charred, but fighting fit.

One of them went for Mito and Naruto and the other guarded the former’s back from Biwako. Seeing Naruto punch the ground from the corner of her eye, Biwako used a Raiton jutsu with two single-handed hand-seals to- no. He used what remained of the weapon to keep from being electrified, and without wires, she couldn’t-

Her enemy let out a hiss, nearly dropping the chain-like weapon. Why- Oh. The heat! Biwako couldn’t think, only react, because the man ran at her, swinging his dripping -poisoned?- weapon. She sidestepped twice, but the man was agile and skilled – he maneuvered well, so the chain was still going to hit her.

Dirt from her Mud Hazard hit the man just below the slashed Kiri forehead protector, making him falter. Her Raiton Chakra- enhanced shuriken were redirected barely enough for the former Kiri-nin to get his shoulders impaled and lose the use of his arms, rather than his life. Biwako drew her tanto, enhanced it with Raiton Chakra and cut off his arms just above the wrists, using her Sharingan to make sure the angle was one that would keep him from attacking her back. She didn’t want to test Naruto’s skill with poisons that way, though the enemy's attempt to kick her and bite her made her chuckle for some reason.

After lodging a kunai between the back of the guy’s head and neck and taking a quick look at Naruto’s side of the fight, Biwako switched off her doujutsu. The other, similar-looking missing-nin was dead. Just like her own opponent-

Oh, shit. She had killed someone. Mutilated him. She- she felt nauseous, like she was going to puke. After a few seconds, though -just after she had resigned herself to puking-, the nausea subsided. Strangely enough, Biwako didn’t much care, one way or the other. She wasn't sure why she had nearly puked. With a last uneasy glance behind her, she walked up to Naruto and Mito.

“Naruto,” Mito said, “what- you just- you just destroyed him, just like that! I know that we’re ninjas, but you didn’t just kill him! You mangled him fi-first. His legs-,” a tremor in her voice.

Biwako let out a loud breath out in a sigh.

Mito turned to her, saying, “Biwako! Did you see what Naruto did to-”

The only thing Biwako did was point toward the other enemy shinobi – what remained of him at any rate. She really didn’t want to speak to the annoyance, but the sudden intake of breath from Mito was bothersome all of its own for some reason.

A throat clearing alerted Biwako to Kakashi’s presence. He took Mito aside, had a few words Biwako couldn't hear, then they both returned. Mito looked thoughtful, so Biwako didn't bother looking at her twice.

Suddenly, Naruto perked up and made a single-handed hand-seal. He said, "I feel something! A lot of people with weaker Chakra are coming!" Getting into a ready stance.

Biwako could smell the stench of sweat, alcohol and tobacco approaching. Nine men burst out of the cave, pausing in confusion, but a few regained their focus immediately. One of them shouted something, then drew a dagger.

Before Biwako could do anything, the bandits had been ripped to pieces by stalagmites, in what she recognized as the Doruuuso (Earth Flow Spear) .


Biwako had moved before she could think about it consciously, sidestepping and bringing up a kunai out of her seals, deflecting something clumsily-

The kunai had been knocked out of her hand and her arm was hurting all over with the force. By the time she got her bearings, Kakashi had killed all of the remaining enemies.

I- I nearly died. I dropped my guard and very nearly got killed. Biwako realized she was panting, her entire body trembling and everything starting to spin. Something was touching her back, something that smelt like a forest after it had rained, very familiar and comforting.

She could vaguely hear Naruto's voice somewhere – behind her maybe…? She turned her head – he was next to her, his hand on her shoulder blade rubbing circles. She could see him, and almost everything around them, very clearly. Too clearly. Biwako became conscious of the flow of Chakra to her eyes, so she stopped it.

"Biwako! Was that the Sharingan?! Oh gods! That's amazing! It looks just like Kakashi's, so it's at full power!" Mito's grating voice hit Biwako's ears.

Naruto covered Biwako with a blanket, three of his clones standing vigilant in the Manji formation around her, one of them keeping Mito at bay. Biwako was really thankful; too thankful for words to describe.

Kakashi showed Biwako what had nearly killed her. It was a somewhat damaged crossbow bolt. 'If that had hit me, I'd be a goner!' She thought with a shudder, ‘now, time to focus again. We're on a mission,’ taking slow, deep breaths.

Kakashi started in on the history of the Land of Rivers, something about it having been a battlefield in the First and Second Shinobi World War. "Fire owns a big chunk of land in what is otherwise River Country, as does Wind, after negotiations with Shodai-sama and the then Fire Daimyo. Just how much land each owns was the main point of contention between Suna and Konoha in both the First and the Second Shinobi World War," Kakashi said, Biwako listening with half an ear.


After the plains and rivers giving way to less green land, ending up somewhere there was sand everywhere the eye could see, then night falling, the four of them made camp by necessity, because of the moon being in a lightless phase. Mito kept complaining about the weather, but Naruto had started feeling on edge at some point, eventually to a level even the two former Kiri ninjas hadn't gotten him; so he didn't respond to her. Something dangerous is coming!

Just as Naruto thought to signal the others, he heard footsteps on the rough rocky ground they had made camp on, ones that weren't coming from any of the others. Naruto exited the tent and turned towards where they sounded. He first saw the hair, mostly orange, but with parts being green. Then, he noticed the dry cold of the desert night become more bearable. The woman's -kunoichi's- Chakra was extremely powerful and felt hot- no, scorching. The fact she hadn't bothered to hide made Naruto even more wary.

She looked maybe five or six years older than Kakashi. Speaking of Kakashi, he had placed himself between the three of them and the woman. Naruto could feel Chakra similar to Biwako's coming out of Kakashi’s face, something that made his worries that much greater. 'He activated the Sharingan!' Naruto thought to himself with trepidation, 'he's never used it before!'

“The teamwork to use here is simple: stay behind me and don’t get anywhere near this woman! She’s out of your league!” Kakashi said, a different kind of edge in his voice, more primal and nearly- panicked.

Naruto stayed in place, frozen, until someone -Biwako- dragged him back a few paces. At the same time, Kakashi said, “so, might I ask what you want with us, Pakura of the Infernal Death?”

The woman scoffed, then she said, “you killed the Demon Brothers and my civilian allies. Did you expect no reprisal?”

Kakashi shook his head. He said, “you’ve fallen far, Hero of the Hidden Sand,” his voice even.

Don’t call me that!” ‘Pakura’ said, the temperature increasing again. Then, she said, “what do you know, Hatake? I know that your village once turned on you because of your father -that piece of shit!- and I’m sure they’ve sent you on more than your fair share of suicide missions…. But Suna went one step further and gave me gift-wrapped to the fucking Yondaime Mizukage! I’m no hero, much less of that village. I’m every bit the monster you are and vice-versa, though we can’t compare to a Kage’s evil.” She calmed down after a few deep breaths, which did interesting things to her chest- no, focus.

So, Pakura had been backstabbed by her village? Naruto could relate. He was also disappointed – apparently, Suna wasn’t any better than Konoha. Perhaps somewhere deep inside, he had hoped it was only Konoha that were such bastards. ‘Joining Suna is probably off the table, even if they weren’t Konoha’s allies. Kiri, I knew what they are like, so a hard pass. Iwa- ugh, no. Kumo- well, I don’t know…. They’re very fond of backstabs in general,’ Naruto thought to himself.

A fight started, and Naruto was mesmerized by the moves of the enemy kunoichi and Kakashi – the woman was extremely agile and was able to use Katon (Fire Style) and Fuuton (Wind Style) with one-handed seals, to devastating effect.

He had thought he had known how skilled and powerful Kakashi was, but the way he was fighting proved that he hadn’t even been trying before. Beasts made of Raiton (Lightning Style) Chakra were countered by gusts of wind, which were countered by Kakashi’s Fire Style: Vapors jutsu, which was burned away by- wait. A few strange fireballs had devoured Kakashi’s Katon, and only grown stronger for it. Kakashi was doing a great job keeping Pakura at a distance and even on the back foot, but Naruto still worried.

As the fight kept raging, lighting up the desert night, Naruto thought he had heard something from further away… a stronger wind started brewing – sandstorm? No, that’s not natural. It has Chakra in it. Is it Pakura’s doing? Or-

With no more warning, a sandstorm filled with Chakra struck at both Kakashi and Pakura, starting with Kakashi’s back and making Naruto cough, not even two seconds after the distant sound. When the storm subsided and Naruto’s vision and airways cleared, he noticed Pakura many meters away from where she had been, looking unharmed. Kakashi, on the other hand, was bleeding. A lot. His clothes had been destroyed at the right side of the back and even his head was bloody.

Pakura said, “Gaara-san. Please do not interfere,” very sternly.

“Mother wants your blood. Both your blood,” the newly revealed Gaara, a short redheaded boy around Naruto’s age, said.

How had he sneaked up on all of them like that? Even Naruto had had less than a second of warning. The redhead stank of malice, figuratively, and his Chakra-


‘That Chakra! It reeks of sadism!’ Naruto thought to himself, ‘no, there are two kinds of Chakra-!’

Before Naruto could consider what he had just stumbled upon for more than a second, Kakashi physically stumbled, probably due to the blood loss. No! Off balance, Kakashi shot a purple-colored Lightning Style jutsu at Pakura while she used Wind Style…. But Naruto ignored her and shot a Daibakufu no jutsu (Great Waterfall jutsu) using only one hand-seal and making plus gathering water faster than ever before, draining most of his Chakra in split seconds in the dry environment and imparting as much momentum as he could.

He managed to intercept Gaara’s sand with the A-ranked jutsu and stop its advance, just before it would have hit Kakashi. Ah! That fucking hurts! Naruto's insides felt like his blood had turned into acid at certain places. He managed to only let out a small grunt.

Internal Chakra burns again?! Naruto watched the zapped and trembling Pakura warily as he approached Kakashi, but she only said, “I’ll get revenge for my men some other time!” And clumsily threw a smoke bomb near her.

Sensing Pakura’s wavering Chakra, Naruto could tell that while probably not low on Chakra, she was extremely weakened by the Lightning jutsu, to the point she might even lose to an advanced Genin team like theirs-

("A medic-nin puts their squadmates first and doesn’t charge into the fray, at least not carelessly," Tsunade said-)

No. He had other priorities. Biwako reached Naruto just as the smoke dissipated, with Mito following shortly after. Only then, did Naruto allow himself to let out more noises.

"What's wrong, Naruto?" Mito asked him, sounding very worried.

"Can't talk now. Light," Naruto said, letting out another grunt, though the pain was subsiding fast, fortunately. He also disinfected his hands.

Biwako only hesitated a moment before making a Shadow Clone, which used a certain D-ranked Fire Style jutsu, as he had expected. He examined Kakashi the manual way, checking out his own body and helping it heal with the Mystical Diagnostic Palm jutsu at the same time. Then, he used the jutsu on Kakashi for a second to make sure of the diagnosis. Naruto cut off some of the hair for easier access and cleaned the scalp wound with practiced motions, making sure to remove any hairs from the wound too, then used the Mystical Palm very carefully, mindful of the injury and of his own low Chakra, stopping the bleeding.

After that one, Naruto completely tore open Kakashi's ruined vest and shirt to clean up and disinfect the lacerations on his back. Naruto breathed in and out steadily, ignoring the sounds of a fight between his teammates and the redhead, and healed the back wounds as much as he could, too. He thanked his lucky stars that Kakashi had only been glanced at the head, cutting him but not getting the brain directly.

Then, it was back to checking Kakashi's head wound-

A hand caught Naruto's wrist. "Easy, Kakashi-sensei," Naruto said, "I'm treating your injuries."

"Rin, ish fiiine- ya’rr not- shenshei? Oh, Naruto," Kakashi slurred out.

‘While the wound might not have gotten the brain directly, the blood loss along with the exertion did,’ Naruto thought to himself. Out loud, he said, “it’s all right, sensei. The Jounin-level kunoichi ran away. Only the other guy is left, and he’s my age,” leaving out how the redhead, Gaara, had been able to sneak up on all of them, even Kakashi.

“Shoulda used Water jutsu and Hidden Mist,” Kakashi said, “Cha-ku-ra efi- efishency be damned,” slightly more clearly than before.

Naruto used some bandages, then fed Kakashi a blood replenishing pill and some water, urging him to slowly swallow them. He used the Mystical Diagnostic Palm on Kakashi’s head again. Finding nothing that Naruto would risk trying to fix with his current expertise, he left Kakashi be, telling Biwako’s clone he didn’t need light anymore.

The battle was still raging and Kakashi was in no condition to be fighting, so Naruto left a pair of his own Shadow Clones, with the explicit instructions to get Kakashi to a safe place, not to let him fall asleep yet and not to allow him to join the fight.

Teacher secured, Naruto got ready to jump into the fray. He lowered his goggles to cover his eyes, made a hand-seal and carefully channeled a bit of Chakra into said eyes for better night vision, something he avoided using if he could, because it would cause strong headaches afterwards.

The others had moved further, but Naruto found the positions of his teammates. Mito?! He went through three hand-seals, a Wind jutsu meeting Biwako’s Fire Style, lighting up the night even more than earlier and making Naruto reflexively close his eyes despite the goggles, but not cutting off the jutsu.

Naruto ran to the point he had seen Mito slumped over, finding her shoulder and chest bloodied, injured. ‘What should I do? Go help Biwako or-’ Naruto thought, hesitating. Then, he realized something and was tempted to smack himself. He made a Wood Clone to have it treat Mito, at least stabilize her, then put Chakra into his eyes again and headed for Biwako, whose Chakra was still going strong. Fortunately, the ground is made of sand, so it’s softer than the rocks behind me.

Taking advantage of a lull in the fighting, Naruto stood at Gaara’s flank, around twelve meters away- and immediately had to dodge multiple sand projectiles, ones that behaved a lot like shuriken. When even the ground made tendrils that tried to grab him, Naruto decided that enough was enough.

Why won’t you two die!?” Gaara shouted, at a distorted pitch, full of madness.

Apparently, Gaara was of the same opinion. Naruto could feel that Chakra climb in intensity and amount without even trying. He couldn’t see Gaara very well even with his night-vision technique, but Biwako’s groan of disgust told Naruto that Gaara had become really ugly.

All he could do from then on was dodge, again and again. An unknown length of time later, Naruto felt a lot of Chakra being gathered, heard something that sounded like multiple very large people inhaling deeply, then Gaara’s even more distorted voice say, “Fuuton: Mugen Sajin Daitoppa (Wind Style: Infinite Sand Cloud Great Breakthrough)!

He hadn’t wasted time. As soon as he had realized that Gaara was preparing an attack, Naruto had cut off the flow of Chakra to his eyes, made two Shadow Clones, gone through hand-seals and said, “Fuuton: Shin Toppa (Wind Style: True Breakthrough)!” Shooting off his strongest Wind jutsu, in collaboration with his clones, making sure to combine it with the dragons made of fire that Biwako had shot at the redhead. ‘It’s her Gouryuuka no jutsu (Great Dragon Fire jutsu)!’ Naruto thought to himself, shielding his face with his arm due to the immense heat, then drinking some water.

Once the heat had died down enough for Naruto to be able to focus on Chakra presences again, he managed to notice Biwako still going strong, but her Chakra indicated fatigue, too. As for Gaara-

“Is this physi- is this pain-! I can feel pain!? What the hell? I can’t stand it! No! It's terrible! Mother, please make it go away! Ta- Tanuki Neiri no jutsu (Forced Sleep / Playing Possum jutsu)!

Naruto had a really bad feeling about this. Sure enough, the most imposing and most foul Chakra presence Naruto had ever felt made itself known.

I’m free! I’m free! Shukaku is out, bitches!” The creature -obviously a Tailed Beast- said, its voice making Naruto’s whole body vibrate.

A sinking feeling of hopelessness took over Naruto, who could only let out a strong curse. He was trying to go over what he knew about the Bijuu when Biwako regrouped with him. He could barely hear her speak, his Chakra sense could only feel the Tailed Beast, which was jumping around in glee and there was a good chance they’d be trampled, by accident. The last part truly rankled. On top of all that, Mito was out of commission, possibly seriously injured!

‘Why did this Jinchuuriki, Gaara, appear and why isn’t the Jounin we were told to meet around? Why hasn’t anyone from Suna noticed and come? Or have they- never mind. I’ll think it over later, if we survive,’ Naruto thought to himself, retreating with Biwako. She normally wasn’t one to retreat, but she followed readily enough when Naruto put a hand on her bicep and pulled her. He could feel the mild tremble in her body – it made him realize he was trembling too. We’re way over our heads!

The movement must have attracted “Shukaku’s” attention, because it(he?) bellowed out, “who’s there! You are still around, damn gnats!?” Inhaling and murmuring, “Fuuton: Renkuudan (Wind Style: Drilling Air Bullet),” but clearly audible.

There’s no time! It’s attacking! As Naruto used the fastest Kawarimi no jutsu he had ever performed, winds buffeted him and Biwako, throwing them into the air. ‘If that had hit us, there would be nothing left! Even going over thirty meters away wasn’t enough to fully avoid the effect!’ He realized. There were more impacts, which he more felt with his body than heard. What was worse, he still didn’t know if Mito was well. The Wood Clone hadn’t communicated with him.

Just as he had thought things couldn’t get any worse, he heard his name being called and felt a second source of foul Chakra. Not as all-encompassing as Shukaku’s, nor quite as foul-feeling, but much more potent. Possibly more powerful overall if it was given the chance to build up. If he had to describe them, Shukaku’s Chakra was yellow-green- colored but not like Tsunade’s or Mito's – more like the color and feeling of puke. It also covered all of the area around them. The other Chakra was orange-colored, and Naruto could see it with his actual eyes.

No, I think it’s two sources of Chakra mixing. Yellow and Red!

Right at that point, the Wood Clone’s memories hit Naruto. It had finished Mito’s treatment with unprecedented ease, though she was his sister, so it was to be expected for her to heal faster than usual. Then, the clone had sacrificed itself to save Mito from one of Shukaku's (?) Wind Bullets. The other signs- No. Later!!

Mito crouched like a message-nin starting a run, her small frame visible, like an orange beacon in the night. Naruto tensed as Mito was passing him by, but she apparently had decent enough control over herself, Bijuu Chakra or not- no. A topic for another time!

Shukaku swatted her away with a backhand, not even bothering to use anything stronger like a jutsu, saying something about a ‘damned fox’. Naruto sent a Shadow Clone after Mito, then, he moved his head near Biwako's and whispered, saying, "oi, Biwako. This isn't the time to doze off. We got an enemy to beat or run away from!" Putting a hand on her shoulder and squeezing a little bit.

Biwako jerked out of her trance. She started coughing. She removed the cloth she had wrapped around her mouth and used another, still coughing. She said, "what's the plan?" Making Naruto worry even more.

'It's usually Biwako who makes the plans,' he thought to himself, coughing out sand and changing the cloth, too. Out loud, he said, "I can't sense Gaara -the redheaded guy who attacked us- anywhere. It's supposed to be the weak point of a sealed Bijuu: the host," still unable to see, sense or hear much other than Shukaku and the jumping around it was doing in its glee.

Biwako looked up for a few seconds, then said, "something's on its head, and it's red on top. Maybe it's Gaara," her voice steady once again, with no coughs and only a barely-detectable note of fear.

Naruto noticed Shukaku's Chakra become more- dangerous, for a lack of a better word. Not stronger necessarily. More like it was focusing on them once again. 'No,' Naruto thought to himself, 'it has been getting steadily stronger! We really need to hurry!'

""Formation Massive Conflagration?"" Both Naruto and Biwako said, almost at the same time.

As they dodged away from each other, making Shukaku land its downward punch on the sand of the desert, Naruto put his hands in the Clone seal, starting to put the plan into action.

""Tajuu Kage Bunshin no jutsu (Mass Shadow Clone jutsu)!"" Naruto said, barely able to hear Biwako's voice do the same, despite them not being very far from each other.

Naruto had carefully chosen the numbers to ration his Chakra. The Shadow Clone jutsu worked by splitting one's Chakra, but there were a lot of misconceptions on how it worked. The clones could be given a lot of Chakra, so they could function independently of the original, and each clone was given the same amount as another made at the same time – thus, an even split.

The original kept or gave as much Chakra as they wanted, though, apart from any Chakra used to create -not equip- the clones, and would get all remaining Chakra back when all clones were 'killed' or dispelled themselves. The 'even split' didn't refer to the original. The clones could also draw more from him, as long as he permitted it. It took a little bit of concentration from the original to have a clone do anything, from walking to using jutsu.

All that was relevant because this time, Naruto had given most of his remaining Chakra to the clones and decided to let them go wild, though he would regulate the Chakra draw as much as he could – it was the most lethal aspect of the Shadow Clone jutsu, which had gotten users killed in the past. Most of the clones went through hand-seals for strong Wind ninjutsu -mainly the True Breakthrough- while the rest distracted Shukaku alongside some Biwako clones. His Wind-using clones jumped closer to be in range, some of them getting dispelled.

False Scorch Style: Massive Conflagration was the name of the collaboration jutsu. Biwako needed far fewer clones, because she was way better at Fire ninjutsu than Naruto was at Wind ninjutsu, so on her own, she could use Gouryuuka (Great Dragon Fire) with seven dragon 'bodies' at once, nine if she sacrificed some efficiency, precision and such. Come to think of it, isn't Pakura from the clan with Shakuton (Scorch Style)? So that was-

The two- the many of them cast the Massive Conflagration, which landed on top of Shukaku's head, making Naruto cover his face due to the heat, which was far greater than anything he had felt before from such a distance, even counting the active forge of a blacksmith he had spied on once, in his curiosity, turning the still chilly desert night hotter than the desert day, forcing a sweaty Naruto to drink a lot of water and dry up his skin. 'Gotta find a way to carry my own water for jutsu, too. Fuuinjutsu?' Naruto thought to himself. 'Come to think of it, what about my older idea of weighing myself down with the help of Fuuinjutsu? I'll ask Auntie.'

Naruto still couldn't see or even hear anything, due to too much light and noise. He held his breath for a few moments. The fires died down quickly – suspiciously quickly. A booming laugh could be heard, but it didn't sound sadistic or insane. It sounded genuinely happy.

"Thank you. Truly," Shukaku said, then resumed his laughing. He then said, "unfortunately, I cannot let any of you live and spread the word. Know that you have impressed me, Shukaku, known as the Ichibi no Tanuki (One-tailed Tanuki/Raccoon-dog) with your skills. May your passing be swift."

Naruto was, at the moment, cursing his relative lack of progress with Mokuton. 'If only I had found the way to absorb Chakra, or gotten good enough to restrain a Bijuu with it!' He thought, gritting his teeth in frustration. He knew that even if he somehow managed to restrain Shukaku, it wouldn’t work for long enough to do anything but exhaust himself.

With every instinct screaming at him to stop and what sounded like Tsunade admonishing him in his mind, Naruto started walking closer to Shukaku. He shouted at him, saying, "Shukaku-san, I will face my death directly, on my feet, not my knees. Nor running away," not knowing where those words were coming from. He was furiously trying to think up a solution, despite his bravado, when Shukaku talked again.

Shukaku only said, "Good on you," chuckling. Then, he started gathering Chakra in front of his mouth. Visible Chakra, black and white with a yellow tint. Wait. Maybe- Not bothering to question the sudden crazy idea, Naruto got a running start and jumped into the air, using a whole lot of Chakra and turning upside down. As Shukaku merged the Chakra and swallowed the resulting ball, Naruto used both legs to kick him under the chin, boosting the strike with even more Chakra.


…When Naruto came to, he looked himself over and noticed the state of his body. He had a lot of burns and his legs were both pretty much mangled, but healing swiftly. He whimpered in his agony, but started getting his clothes off the wounds for treatment, mostly ripping them up. He recognized Biwako's scent shortly before she came into view. She was holding something that shone a little bit – something that looked like a large sake saucer, with Sealing markings on it.

Naruto recognized a project of Tsunade's made to hold living beings, possibly including the Tailed Beasts…. He suspected it wouldn't last more than a few hours at most, though, so they had to do something about the temporarily-sealed Shukaku immediately. He said, "Biwako. If my Chakra sense wasn't fooled, the sand Kekkei Genkai was a combination of Earth and Wind Elements. While I haven't studied Tailed Beasts other than the Kyuubi much, compatibility between host and Bijuu is a thing. I'm too injured and depleted to even try something, though, and we need to hurry."

"Can't you summon Tsunade- oh," Biwako said. No Chakra, no honey, as Naruto knew veterans sometimes said. Biwako hesitated for a moment and only a moment. She looked him in the eyes and nodded. Then, she unsealed an altar for rituals and quickly but carefully put Naruto on it, then placed candles around him, lighting them up with her Katon (Fire Style).

After that, Biwako went through around a dozen hand-seals, illuminated by the candles. Naruto, meanwhile, had been taking care of his injuries, painfully removing any remaining cloth and making sure they would heal right, ignoring the cold. The burns in his torso had already gone away but his legs had been closest to the explosion.

Thus, while not mangled anymore, the shattered bones hadn’t fully rejoined and the melted skin hadn’t fully regrown. A large part of the problem had been that his clothes had melted into his skin, but he had already removed every such piece.

Shisho Fuuin (Four Symbols Seal),” was what Biwako said afterwards. She touched Naruto on the belly button, at the Gate of Limit, located on the small intestine. He knew that the small intestine was the greatest supplier of Yang Chakra in the body, more so than even the heart was, unless the Gate of Death was opened.

Naruto felt nothing in particular for a few moments, then an immense pressure, like he was Atorasu* from the old stories and holding up the weight of the world. Finally, an agonizing pain, similar to when he had gotten Chakra burns – his entire Chakra system was on fire!

Ow- owowowowow! Argggh!

…After an unknown length of time, the pain had subsided to the point it was tolerable. Naruto tried to sit up, but what he recognized as Biwako’s hands kept him lying down under a blanket. She handed him some water, but he only drank a little bit. Then, Naruto unsealed his change of clothes and put them on, Biwako not trying to keep him from moving for some reason- oh! ‘I’ve been in my underwear in front of her for who knows how long!’ Naruto thought to himself, thankful that it was too dark for his blush to be seen.

Fortunately, Naruto had managed to put on pants and a white shirt when Kakashi arrived, stumbling, with Mito supporting him. His eyes immediately locked on to Naruto, saying, “Naruto!? Are you fine?! Your Shadow Clones dispelled, and I feared the worst-”

Biwako chuckled, but it was a cold, mirthless laugh. She said, “Naruto was being a reckless idiot and kicked a Bijuu in the face,” malice oozing from her, making Naruto blanch.

Kakashi blinked, then he said, “are your injuries manageable?”

Naruto used the Mystical Diagnostic Palm on himself, then on the others. He said, “yeah, no need for worrying too much, though I’ll have my other sensei check me to be certain.”

Kakashi nodded, then said, “I would like to be present when she gives you a check-up.”

Naruto didn’t reply for a few moments, then said, “I’ll ask her,” mainly to stall. ‘Well, Auntie Tsunade will probably say no, right?’ He thought to himself.

Kakashi, then Biwako perked up. That was when Naruto felt the approach of someone, too. No, three someones. It ended up being a very tall man who had half his face covered by a white cloth and tattoos on the other side. In short, he looked like Baki had been described to them, and for some reason, Naruto was able to see in the dark much better than before. Maybe the Bijuu?

“Greetings,” the man said, “I am Baki,” looking at Kakashi and bowing enough to be polite, barely.

“Kakashi,” their sensei said, introducing himself and bowing, too.

“Have you seen my student? He is eleven years old, has auburn hair, light-green eyes and pale skin,” Baki said.

Nobody spoke, not even Mito. The silence was palpable. Then, Naruto bit the shuriken and said, “yeah, the crazy bastard tried to kill Kakashi-sensei and the missing-nin sensei was fighting against. Pakura, I think…? She called him Gaara and told him not to interfere.”

“I see. Where is Gaara now?” Baki said, narrowing his visible eye, being joined by an older girl and boy.

Naruto said, “well, you know how it is. Crazy boy turns ugly, team use a collaboration Fire-Wind ninjutsu, crazy boy is no more, not even ashes…,” shrugging.

The older boy and Baki looked at each other, then the boy said, “you’re kidding.”

Biwako lit up their surroundings with her Fire Style and indicated something with her hand. Naruto turned to look at it, seeing a part of the desert that shone. That looked like- glass? If he remembered correctly, sand melted at 1700 degrees(*2), and there was a lot of glass around there.

The older girl, a tall blonde, ran there, shouting Gaara’s name. Naruto felt a twinge in his heart, and couldn’t squash down the guilt, no matter how he tried. Kakashi handed something to Baki while the blonde was searching for Gaara.

When the girl returned, her eyes bloodshot but dry, she looked at Kakashi, then Biwako, then Naruto, then Mito; as if searching for something on their faces. Apparently, she only found it in two of them, because she said, “You two, the blond guy and the black-haired girl. Are you the ones who killed Gaara?"

Naruto looked at Biwako, then they both nodded.

"I see," the tall girl said, clenching a fist. Then, she said, "our villages might be allies now, but they won't be forever. When that happens, I'll seek out you two and rip you to pieces. Remember my name – it's Temari," her voice filled with the anguish of someone who had lost family.

Her remaining teammate put a hand on her shoulder, whispering in her ear. Naruto caught something about things being better that way and 'we can sleep easy now'. Apparently, Naruto's senses had been boosted further.

The girl shrugged off the hand, saying, "how can you say that?!" Running off. Baki followed her after a last look at Team Seven, as did the boy.

Naruto slumped over, feeling like he had run from the Land of Wind all the way to Water, then back, twice without break. He sighed out loud, saying, "well, this happened."

Kakashi slumped over, too, then Mito and finally Biwako. With the condition all of the others were in, Naruto didn't have any trouble switching for a Shadow Clone and running off on his own.

Naruto went through hand-seals, saying, "Kuchiyose no jutsu (Summoning jutsu)," putting in just enough Chakra to get a hand-sized Katsuyu, asking them to Reverse Summon him post-haste.

Once in Shikkotsu Forest, he was able to feel an absolutely titanic source of Chakra, comparable to the Ichibi, possibly greater in amount, though much less potent. He had felt it before, but not from so close. Naruto looked up, and up, and up- “Katsuyu-sama-?” He said, startled by the Slug Summon’s size. ‘Katsuyu-sama must be at least seven times Shukaku’s size!’ He thought to himself. Naruto had never met the full Katsuyu before – it had been a part of them that would Reverse Summon him, the few times he had been in this place, even when he had first become a Slug summoner.

A small lump formed on Katsuyu’s body, turning into several slugs, which slid up to Naruto, merging into one. “Naruto-san, what’s wrong?” The slug asked him.

“Please don’t follow me too closely, Katsuyu-sama,” Naruto told the man-sized slug, “I’ll tell you later, I promise.”

Then, Naruto started sprinting off into the distance. He kept on running and running and running until he no longer felt like it. He stopped, caught his breath, then immediately started screaming, absentmindedly making sure that he took a good breath first to keep from ruining his throat.


He could handle being a Jinchuuriki. Hell, he had asked Biwako to make him one! He could even handle being separated from his closest family. But having been made the decoy to the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, made into the one who would receive all of the hatred and none of the benefits; being used and immediately discarded, with the Hokage not even giving a shit…. THAT made him furious. Hateful.

Naruto screamed out incoherently again, making the creepy, pale, almost white leafless trees shake with the full might of the lungs of a Senju-Uzumaki (newly-made) Jinchuuriki trained in Wind Style. Hearing heavy footsteps and the shattering of the ground in the distance, Naruto tensed for a moment, but he recognized Tsunade’s Chakra, so he relaxed a little bit. He noticed he had been drawing on sickly yellow Chakra, so he tried to cut the flow.

It was all but impossible, so he drew upon what he knew of the Bijuu.

(“According to Granny, the Kyuubi was harder to control when she was full of negativity. ‘To make a good vessel, you must first fill them with love’, she said once.”)

It was worth a try. Naruto thought of Auntie Tsunade, demolishing everything in her way to reach him; Biwako, who had been the only one his age there for him for years; Mito- no, not the time. By the time Tsunade reached Naruto a few seconds later, making a new clearing in the Damp Bone Forest, he had gotten rid of the other Chakra, which left him feeling more tired than ever.

Tsunade held him through the sobs he started letting out, stroking his hair. Naruto wasn’t sure what he was saying, nor if Tsunade was speaking words or just incoherent sounds to comfort him, but when his tears ran dry, he tapped Tsunade’s back and got back on his feet. She looked him over, then said, “what happened? You look like shit,” bluntly, but in a softer voice than usual.

“I- I found out who holds the Kyuubi,” Naruto said, seeing Tsunade’s eyebrows lift. “It’s not me, though. It’s Mito,” he then said, his body shaking in tension.

Naruto started from the beginning, the beginning of the mission to be exact. He talked and talked and talked until he reached the fight against the fully freed Shukaku. He told his aunt of how he had charged Shukaku and kicked him in the chin, causing his jutsu to backfire on him. The gasp she let out made Naruto pause.

“I will scold you over your recklessness later,” Tsunade said, her face unreadable, “now please continue.”

Naruto told her that he had blacked out for a minute there and come to to serious injuries. Then, he told her about seeing Biwako with one of Tsunade’s Fuuinjutsu projects, the sake saucer and how he had persuaded Biwako to seal Shukaku in him. He looked at Tsunade, but her expression was still unreadable. Finally, he told her of the arrival of Gaara’s teacher and teammates, or maybe family or both. He wasn’t sure. About the blonde, Temari, swearing vengeance and running off.

“…So, I left a Shadow Clone behind as soon as I had recovered enough Chakra, ran off and summoned a small part of Katsuyu-sama, asking them to Reverse Summon me here,” Naruto said, finally reaching the end. His voice was hoarse by this point, and not just because of talking and his screams.

Tsunade nodded, then she said, “what now?” Naruto’s confusion must have shown on his face, because she said, “I mean, what are your intentions towards Konoha?" looking at him neutrally.

Naruto froze in place. Before he could focus enough to speak, his aunt did, again.

Tsunade said, “don't misunderstand me. I don't much care about what happens to them anymore. You did say that you hated them and the Sandaime earlier, but if you intend to leave or to attack them… then I want to know, so that I can help you plan. You also need certain skills, such as defenses against mind probes like the Yamanaka clan's, as well as how to evade trackers such as the Aburame, Inuzuka and equivalents.”

Naruto put his arms around his aunt, thanking her again and again. Tsunade ruffled his hair, then said, “you’re welcome, Naruto.” A minute or two later, Tsunade said, “have you said anything about your loyalties, or lack thereof, to anyone?”

“Only to Biwako,” Naruto said, “she doesn’t have any ties to Konoha and I trust her with my life. She fully intends to follow me wherever I go.”

Tsunade smiled, just a little upwards movement in one corner of the lips. She said, “you’ve been thinking about this for a while, haven’t you? This is just the straw that broke the Wind-beast’s back.”

“Yeah,” Naruto said, feeling tired but lighter, somehow, even with Shukaku there. Oh, shit! Naruto almost jumped in place. He said, “what do you know of Shukaku, the Ichibi no Tanuki, Auntie Tsunade?” A bit frantic.

She said, “well, if the seal is not good enough, it can take over when the host is in a state of weakness, such as when sleeping. Don’t worry about that. The Four Symbols Seal is really strong, unless Biwako screwed up or- oh, crap,” becoming more frantic towards the end.

“What is it?” Naruto said, the sinking feeling returning.

Tsunade told him to lift his shirt, so he did. At the same time she was examining the seal, she said, “well, the Ichibi is really good at finding weaknesses in seals, so if the host’s mental state lapses, such as an outburst of really strong negative emotions… it can weaken the seal, possibly enough to take you over in your sleep.”

“Is the seal fine?” Naruto said, holding his breath in suspense.

Tsunade said, “I’m not sure. It’s been weakened from what I can tell, but we won’t know if it’s still strong enough until you’ve slept on it. Literally.”


*Atlas, obviously

*2 In degrees Celsius
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The Original M2J
Awesome. So, not only is Gaara dead and Temari want revenge for her bat-shit insane younger brother (I doubt Kankuro cares too much), but Naruto now holds the One Tail and Mito has the Nine Tails. Before Naruto does much of anything else, he's going to have to tell Mito about what she holds. He should also extend an olive branch to Kakashi about what he knows, though I would understand if he didn't. Arguments could be made for both options.


Apparently a report-er
Awesome. So, not only is Gaara dead and Temari want revenge for her bat-shit insane younger brother (I doubt Kankuro cares too much), but Naruto now holds the One Tail and Mito has the Nine Tails. Before Naruto does much of anything else, he's going to have to tell Mito about what she holds. He should also extend an olive branch to Kakashi about what he knows, though I would understand if he didn't. Arguments could be made for both options.
I have a lot planned for the next few chapters. First, they'll have to check if Naruto can fall asleep without trouble, as in Shukaku possessing him. If he can't, what will they do? Will he even be able go back to Konoha, or stay away for a while? (Or forever.) Will Naruto be able to talk to Mito without thinking of how he was the scapegoat? Will Biwako be supportive, or resent the new power and skills Naruto has gotten, leaving her in the dust? (Find out next, in the next episode chapter of Dragonball Z Thousand Hands! :p)

Also, do you think 'Silver Shards' or 'Silver Slivers' sounds better as the name of a bloodline ability? (Yes, I intend Naruto to be able to use a form of Jiton (Magnet Release/Style). As an economic tool only, probably not in battle.)
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The Original M2J
I have a lot planned for the next few chapters. First, they'll have to check if Naruto can fall asleep without trouble, as in Shukaku possessing him. If he can't, what will they do? Will he even be able go back to Konoha, or stay away for a while? (Or forever.) Will Naruto be able to talk to Mito without thinking of how he was the scapegoat? Will Biwako be supportive, or resent the new power and skills Naruto has gotten, leaving her in the dust? (Find out next, in the next episode chapter of Dragonball Z Thousand Hands! :p)

Also, do you think 'Silver Shards' or 'Silver Slivers' sounds better as the name of a bloodline ability? (Yes, I intend Naruto to be able to use a form of Jiton (Magnet Release/Style). As an economic tool only, probably not in battle.)
Just to rub it in that a 12 year old girl who learned Uchiha and Uzumaki sealing from her mother, you should make it that Biwako's seal on Naruto is more stable that Chiyo's seal on Gaara was, so he gets to sleep. I've heard a couple of reasons as to why Gaara's seal was unstable: 1st, that Rasa had it made that way intentionally. 2nd, that Chiyo, while a competant seal specialist, didn't have the skill to seal a tailed beast. In fact, I remember one fic I read within the last year, that had Jiraiya fix Gaara's seal and then taught Chiyo better sealing techniques.

Does that mean that while Naruto won't use it much, if at all, in battle, that he will do that cloud flying thing like Gaara did during his fight with Kimimaru and Deidara?

Hopefully, Naruto will keep in mind that Mito is the most innocent person in this whole debacle and that she's as much a victim of circumstances as he was.


Apparently a report-er
Just to rub it in that a 12 year old girl who learned Uchiha and Uzumaki sealing from her mother, you should make it that Biwako's seal on Naruto is more stable that Chiyo's seal on Gaara was, so he gets to sleep. I've heard a couple of reasons as to why Gaara's seal was unstable: 1st, that Rasa had it made that way intentionally. 2nd, that Chiyo, while a competant seal specialist, didn't have the skill to seal a tailed beast. In fact, I remember one fic I read within the last year, that had Jiraiya fix Gaara's seal and then taught Chiyo better sealing techniques.

Does that mean that while Naruto won't use it much, if at all, in battle, that he will do that cloud flying thing like Gaara did during his fight with Kimimaru and Deidara?

Hopefully, Naruto will keep in mind that Mito is the most innocent person in this whole debacle and that she's as much a victim of circumstances as he was.
...Strangely enough, Team Seven aren't 12. They've graduated a year early, so they are 11. It's why I haven't even mentioned Wave and why the Demon Brothers aren't with Zabuza and Haku. (And will never meet back with Zabuza again, considering they're, well, dead.)

As for flying with the Silver Dust, or whatever I end up calling that ability, I haven't considered it. We'll see.

Finally, Chiyo isn't bad at Sealing, I think. It's just my head-canon that Shukaku is really good, beyond any other Bijuu, at taking advantage of weakness on the part of his containers, because his Cursed Seals can counter other seals.


Apparently a report-er
Oh, I thought of something else. Platinum is famously inert. What about making Naruto's skill 'Platinum Particles' and nixed the silver? It would be very useful for getting money, but not plentiful enough in most places and extremely hard to magnetize even for that particular bloodline, so I will have a justification for why Naruto doesn't try to use it in combat (other than spreading himself too thin).

There would be no flying through that method, but Naruto doesn't need it anyway. In fact, this might be a better choice. The only thing stopping me is that Pt is higher on the 'hierarchy' than gold, and I wanted something 'beneath' Rasa's Gold.

@mandalorianjedi What do you think?


The Original M2J
Could work, though you'd have to work out how he'd even find it. And it isn't a precious metal like Rasa'a Gold Dust either.


Apparently a report-er
Could work, though you'd have to work out how he'd even find it. And it isn't a precious metal like Rasa'a Gold Dust either.
Hmmm.... Platinum is very expensive and rare, and also very useful and important in the medical field from a quick googling. Yeah, I think it's decided.

As for how he finds it, Rasa could get Gold Dust out of the ground due to trace amounts of most elements being everywhere, so same as Rasa, I guess.

Finally, Platinum is relatively easy to shape in room temperature*, but doesn't tend to participate in chemical reactions. So I could make it really hard to use in combat (resistant to being shaped by Chakra, but not by hands and tools), to the point it's not worth it.

*But really difficult to melt
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Perhaps Ninja tools made out of platinum he can control? Nothing major, but perhaps just able to control it enough to change a kunai's trajectory mid-flight.
Another thought, playing on its use in the modern medical field, but perhaps while platinum is resistant to chakra manipulation in general, make it a great conductor/amplifier for medical chakra.


Apparently a report-er
Perhaps Ninja tools made out of platinum he can control? Nothing major, but perhaps just able to control it enough to change a kunai's trajectory mid-flight.
I don't think he will want that, after he finds out how much it sells for, even if they will keep much (most?) of it for medicine and medical devices.

Another thought, playing on its use in the modern medical field, but perhaps while platinum is resistant to chakra manipulation in general, make it a great conductor/amplifier for medical chakra.
Good idea! :)


Apparently a report-er
Haha, I've broken an old pledge to not give the main character more than one Bloodline. In my defense, I intend Platinum Particles to be too unwieldy to use in battle, so only economic benefits (such as making profit selling it) and medical ones. Since Naruto gets that, he’s not going to ever be able to control sand unless Shukaku fully takes over (in which case, it’s not Naruto doing the controlling), probably not even if he becomes a Perfect Jinchuuriki.

Danzo’s motivations behind pushing the Uchiha to rebel and his plan to raise the kids and harvest the eyes of the rest were, for the most part, thought of by user gardenof on SpaceBattles and borrowed with their permission. Danzo's thoughts about those who put something other than Konoha as their top priority, especially Konoha's clans, are also borrowed from them.

A part of the dialogue in the last part was inspired by Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone. Α really small part of it was almost identical, and I disclaim that particular part. Anyone familiar with HP should recognize it.

User mandalorianjedi of TFF has looked this chapter over and provided suggestions. (He’s known as M2J MandalorianJedi on FFnet.)

Interlude 4 (Chapter 7.5/10.5)


After sending off a Shadow Clone for some reason, all of a sudden, Tsunade looked at the ground with purpose. She bent down, picking up some dirt- no, what looked like powder, except it was silver-colored.

"Is that- silver?" Naruto asked, his mind spinning with questions.

Tsunade brought her palm closer to her face, looking at the silvery powder, then she formed a single-handed Ram seal, lighting up the hand holding the powder a little bit. Tsunade told Naruto to use the Mystical Diagnostic Palm on her through the powder, which Naruto did.

“Whoa,” he said, surprised, “it’s a lot easier to channel Chakra through this than any glove I’ve used! Though my inner flow of Chakra feels a bit- sluggish. Hopefully, it will pass soon," both having a bit of trouble with his Chakra Control and feeling his Chakra network to be strange, like an itch he couldn't scratch no matter how he tried.

"Tell me if the problem persists," his aunt said. Then, Tsunade’s usually hard-to-read face forming a smile, she said, “It’s not silver. This one is far, far more resistant to unaligned and most types of aligned Chakra than silver and far, far less resistant to medical jutsu. It’s platinum!"

Naruto wracked his mind for what that was. It was- a precious metal? Was it even a metal? Naruto wasn't sure, but at least he knew it was very expensive. He said, "Okay. What's platinum, though?"

His aunt lifted her head, saying, "You don't know-? Well, platinum is a precious metal, rarer and more useful than gold."

"Really?!” Naruto said, not having expected that.

Tsunade went on to explain that many anti-cancer drugs -most of which she had invented, of course- and medical devices like catheters and pacemakers needed platinum. "I threw myself into medical research while I was- well, out of it, with Shizune doing most of the legwork," Tsunade said, looking ashamed.

Naruto quickly changed the subject, saying, "How did it get here, though? Do you think-"

“Katsuyu,” Tsunade said all of a sudden, “have you been digging out and hoarding platinum recently?”

Naruto hadn't even realized Katsuyu -a part of them- had reached him and Tsunade. Either they were faster than he had given them credit for or they had used the Reverse Summoning jutsu or some form of it. Hopefully, Katsuyu could help Naruto with reverse engineering the Hiraishin, because he hadn’t trained with them much, whereas Biwako had trained with the boss of the Hawks a lot.

He couldn’t read their body language well at all, but he thought Katsuyu was confused. “I have not. Why, Tsunade-sama?” Katsuyu said.

His aunt revealed the powdered metal. Filings? She said, “It's pretty much pure platinum. The other explanation is- Naruto, are you able to use Jiton (Magnet Style)?”

“I don’t know. Is it supposed to be an elemental Kekkei Genkai (Bloodline Limit) with Wind and Earth natures?” Naruto said, thinking back to the fight.

Tsunade blinked and said, “Yes. How did you know?”

“Both Gaara and Shukaku controlled sand, and the Chakra in it felt to be made of Wind and Earth. I would know – I’ve been using those elements, and an elemental Bloodline, for years,” Naruto said, biting his lip. He then said, “some things have confused me, though. One, I’ve never heard of a Kekkei Genkai that controls two things that are as different as sand and platinum. Two, wasn’t Shukaku supposed to die with his Jinchuuriki? How did he manage to just- get free?”

“Well, the answer to your first question is that there are many varieties to the Magnet Style Bloodline, even without counting the Kumo flavor, and having talent for more than one is very rare. Nobody has been able to use three, as far as I know. The Third Kazekage could control iron – his Iron Sand was notoriously dangerous. The Fourth Kazekage has Gold Dust, which he is also rumored to have used to earn Suna more money…. Or barely keep it afloat, either or. The gradual but significant drop in the price of gold supports those rumors.

"As for the Ichibi being freed rather than killed…. Well, I’m not sure. It’s supposed to be an oddity even among the Bijuu. I’m sure that the Ichibi having been in control at the time played a role. Did you notice anything peculiar about it?”

Naruto thought it over for a bit. He said, “I can’t think of- wait. There is something. His Chakra was climbing in intensity and power as time went on.”

Tsunade’s eyes widened for a moment. She said, “Hoh, interesting. So, it’s because the Ichibi was in full control, for long enough to get most of its Chakra out of the seal, and its Jinchuuriki was killed!”

Naruto gritted his teeth. He said, “Damn it! We should have subdued the guy without killing him! We should- no. I know my limits, and the chances we would have been able to get Gaara with exactly the right level of force without getting killed are very low. For some reason, though, I wish we had!” Temari’s bloodshot eyes haunting his thoughts.

Tsunade suddenly started tearing up. She said, "Please let me keep the platinum! It's so useful! Besides, I can get a lot of money for the rest, if it's enough," making puppy eyes.

Naruto’s palm didn’t strike his own face, but it was a very close thing. He wasn’t even sure if she wanted the metal for medicine or to gamble. Probably both, knowing her. He said, “Auntie Tsunade. I want to keep the money for the future,” exasperated.

Tsunade snapped out of- whatever that was, her face becoming serious once again. She said, “Oh? So, you’ve decided on a plan, after all?”

Naruto took a deep breath, then said, “More the shadow of a plan, but yes.”

Tsunade said, “Care to share with the class?” Lifting an eyebrow.

“Give me a bit of time to flesh it out. I also want Biwako to be there, so that I don’t have to explain again. I can only tell you this: don’t keep money in Fire Country banks if you can,” Naruto said, smiling a bit smugly. “Now, give me the platinum back, please.”

Someone cleared their throat. To be exact, a part of Katsuyu. They said, “I beg your pardon Tsunade-sama, Naruto-san. You found this in my lands. Before you say anything, I do understand that without Naruto-san, it would have taken a thousand times the effort and time to dig this up, but I am entitled to a cut, correct?"

Tsunade stepped up, saying, "How much?"

Katsuyu's part said something about fifteen percent, half of it as it was and half of it in equivalent amounts of royal jelly.

"That's rather- generous," Tsunade said, "is there a catch?"

The Katsuyu fragment hesitated, fidgeting. They said, "Do you remember what I said years ago about how I stay healthy despite my- age?"

"Yes, you said that you need a mixture of a certain metal and royal jelly to- oh," Tsunade said, her eyes widening a little.

"Of course," Katsuyu said, "that amount of platinum and royal jelly should do no more than simply sustain me, but I am willing to offer you a second deal: give me more platinum and royal jelly, outside of the one in my lands, and I will cover a quarter of the Chakra cost for every Summoning for the next however much time. Each gram of platinum and each two hundred grams of royal jelly will be the equivalent of a day."

"…What do you mean, 'no more than sustain' you?" Tsunade asked, a serious look on her face.

"While I simply do not get bigger anymore, no matter what I eat, more Royal Platinum Serum in a short time span increases my capabilities -and those of my fragments- a little bit. Permanently," Katsuyu admitted.

"Will that make Summoning you more Chakra intensive and is that affected?" Tsunade asked.

The Katsuyu fragment said, "Yes to your first question, though it is a worthy trade-off. At worst, the Chakra cost will increase by a third for the same size, if you give me the equivalent of a hundred years of Chakra cost discounts. As for your other question, most likely only negligible differences. What say you, Tsunade-sama, Naruto-san?"

His aunt made a gesture that meant, 'it's worth it', so Naruto accepted.

“So,” Naruto said, “what does it mean that I have Jiton for the stability of my seal, and how can we make sure I do have the Bloodline?”

Tsunade tensed a bit for a moment, then said, “Honestly, I have no idea whatsoever what it means. As for how we make sure… well, you should try to control the filings.”

Naruto groaned in annoyance, but he also felt a chill go down his back in fear. He decided to change the subject, saying, "So, I have a couple questions about Fuuinjutsu," Naruto said, "the first: is it possible to make a seal that weighs down someone for muscle training and write it on their skin?"

Tsunade thought it over for a few seconds, then said, "Perhaps, but I wouldn't recommend it. Such a thing might require dabbling into Juuinjutsu (Cursed Seal Arts), which on its own isn't bad, but it's rarely a good idea to put a Cursed Seal on yourself, and even without Juuinjutsu, it's probably too much of a risk, for obvious reasons. Sealing a lot of heavy material into objects and making how much of the weight is allowed to leak out adjustable is the way to go. The closest viable equivalent might be training underwater," grinning sadistically by the end.

Suppressing a shiver, Naruto asked the other question. He said, "is it possible for me to carry scrolls full of water for my Water Style?"

Tsunade shook her head, then nodded. She said, "Of course it's possible, but why scrolls?"

Naruto thought it over, then palmed his face. He said, "Of course! They would be single use because paper and scrolls are ruined by water, and turning normal scrolls into Sealing Scrolls isn't as easy as some people think, so it's a waste. What would be best, then?"

"What do you think is best?" Tsunade asked him back.

Naruto thought it over. Something that could be used for water, that didn't break easily. He said, "Shatter-proof glass containers?"

"Close," his aunt said, "well, we haven't gone over different mediums for seals in detail. I'd say we need a rust-proof metal that is a good medium for seals on the inside as lining and a less expensive metal but still rust-proof like brass, on the outside. Normally, it's shatter-proof clay vase or something similar, which is why you were close, but we have resources not available to others."

Naruto thought it over for a bit, then said, "You mean you want me to use my new Bloodline -if I have it- to help make it? Isn't platinum resistant to Chakra other than Medical Ninjutsu? That's what you said earlier. Won't it be wasteful to use platinum, too?"

"That and Biwako, who is an Uchiha, with a long tradition of blacksmiths and Fire Style; I'm sure she has tricks. Platinum is very, very resistant to most forms of Chakra. It's extremely conductive to the vast majority of Medical Ninjutsu, even more conductive to the Chakra Transfer Technique and an excellent medium for seals. It is said that the Sage of the Six Paths himself blessed the material," Tsunade said, frowning a bit, "while I don't know how much truth there is in that legend, my suspicion is that the easier a jutsu is to use through platinum, the more relation it has to the legendary Ninshu. Are you able to channel Mokuton through it?"

Naruto tried it, and it was nowhere near as easy as the Diagnostic Palm, but platinum still conducted it a little bit better than his usual gloves, even with the new challenges his attempts to manipulate his Chakra were facing. He said so to his aunt.

"I see," she said, looking contemplative, "that debunks a lot of my hypotheses. On Mokuton, on platinum, on Ninshu or all of them, I'm not certain. No. I shouldn't be rash in my conclusions."

Naruto's inner flow of Chakra felt sluggish still, so he and Tsunade decided to try out some more things. After quite a few tests his aunt had him conduct: with manipulating his Chakra, with Mokuton, with platinum, mainly in -mostly failed- attempts at controlling the metal, his aunt told him to go to sleep – that he could try making his new bloodline work another time.

The most Naruto had managed was to make a small amount of the platinum they had found easy to attract to a magnet. When his aunt told him to sleep Naruto, yawning, tried to protest. He was getting a headache, starting from the eyes and spreading through all of his brain, though.

It’s like the times I used the Night-Vision jutsu- oh.

After assurances from his aunt that she had things well in hand, Naruto unsealed a futon, lied down and tried to sleep.


Ino had always loved mystery novels, especially murder mysteries. At least reading them when alone, because otherwise, Shikamaru would somehow realize who the murderer was long before her and spoil the mystery every time. The newest mystery she was trying to solve, though, was a person. Her Academy classmate, Uzumaki Naruto, to be exact.

“Give it up, Ino,” Shikamaru said, like he knew what she was thinking, “Naruto is too troublesome for you to get any info out of him. Can you even tell what his favorite color is?”

“Sure,” Ino said, putting a hand under her chin, “I’m pretty sure it’s orange- wait. Maybe green or black…? Or even blue! He isn’t wearing as much orange as he used to.” She thought of Naruto’s newest jacket, which was sakuramento*, ocean to peacock and white. It was very stylish, and he usually wore it over a black or sometimes white shirt.

‘Come to think of it, there are a few colors Naruto avoids. I’ve never seen him in anything brown or purple, and only at most a couple of times a month in gray. He’s also good at combining clothes. He either has had decent color coordination all along, or Biwako has beaten it into his skull,’ Ino thought to herself, ‘that’s it! He really doesn’t like what he finds dull – he always wears either bright colors or something stylish enough even I can’t find fault with! Then, he leaves his shirt untucked like he's lazier than Shikamaru, ha!’

A sigh from Shikamaru knocked Ino out of her thoughts. Her dad had asked her to hang out with the lazy bum, but even being in the same room as him was a chore and she knew Shikamaru felt the same. “Doncha have something -anything- else to do and not bother me, Shikamaru?” Ino asked the bum, getting up from her desk chair and putting her hands on her hips.

“This digging you’re doing won’t end well, Ino,” Shikamaru said, the serious tone making Ino pause.

What Shikamaru had just said really annoyed Ino, but she managed to control herself. She said, “Why d’you think that?"

Shikamaru shook his head. He said, "Other than the fact he's 'taken', like you said? Well-"

"Do you think he hates most hues of purple?!" Ino exclaimed, that worry overriding everything else. "That can't stand!"

Ino heard a slapping sound from Shikamaru's face, but she ignored Shikamaru's dramatics.


Iruka had been suffering from terrible headaches and migraines almost every day for the past few months, barely able to hide them. Even so, he knew some students had noticed. The doctors had found nothing wrong with him, so when the aches had continued, he had paid the small fee to be looked at by a medic-nin. Nothing out of place.

Long blond hair, somewhat familiar-

‘Was that Ino?’ Iruka thought to himself, confused. ‘Or maybe her father, since the hair was darker than Ino’s and had hints of orange.’

Here’s what I have to do.’ ‘…I need to see Naruto!’ Iruka thought to himself, ‘why haven’t I sought him out? The headaches aren’t an excuse, nor is his graduation!’

Iruka’s shaking hands told him there was something really wrong, but he wasn’t sure exactly what. He left the not-yet-marked papers on his desk and power-walked through the corridors of the Academy, then into Konoha’s streets, intent on finding Naruto.


Tsunade was dreading the time Naruto would fall asleep just as much as Naruto himself was, even though she was hiding it as well as she could. She had sent a Shadow Clone to find Jiraiya -which, with Katsuyu's help and an implied offer to do 'anything' had only taken an hour or so- and gotten him to give her a couple of those suppression tags she had never had the knack for making, just in case, with an actual offer. 'I would have told Naruto to use that communication scroll, but fortunately, it wasn't necessary,' she thought to herself, preferring to keep Jiraiya from making all too accurate deductions.

She was dreading what Jiraiya would ask, too, but she knew that he was honorable enough not to go too far with his request. Tsunade shook her head in fondness. She loved the great lump, even though she couldn't find any romantic interest for him in herself. Even if she could, she was siding with Naruto against Konoha, which Jiraiya really, really wouldn't like. In fact, she should step up her training further, because there was a chance-

"Tsunade-sama!" The piece of Katsuyu on her shoulder said in warning.

'So, it begins,' Tsunade thought to herself, opening the First Gate of the Eight Gates and letting more of Katsuyu's gathered Natural Energy mix with her own energies, making more Senjutsu Chakra, enough to put herself into Sage Mode.

Sand got out of Naruto's sleeping form, grinding down the soil, turning it into sand, which then converged back into Naruto. The process repeated itself quite a few times very quickly.

"Ha, fuckin' brat," the Ichibi said, "like I wouldn't have found a way to get free!"

"Ichibi no Tanuki. I would very much like it if you left my nephew alone," Tsunade told the Bijuu out loud. In her thoughts, she was confused, though. The Ichibi sounded- apprehensive? Worried?

"Whatever, old hag," the Ichibi said, its voice reverberating through the Shikkotsu Forest, shaking the white, dead looking trees -though to Tsunade's senses, they were full of life- and the brown ones with leaves further away. "You're just like Bunpuku's niece, refusing to admit how decrepit and past your prime you are."

Tsunade smiled at the Ichibi, jumped into the air saying, "Sage Art: Strength of a Hundred jutsu, Quake," spun and landed with a vertical roundhouse, causing the ground to shake and dropping the Ichibi on its ass.

"Oh, that's fuckin' bullshiiii-"

As the Ichibi was getting up, Tsunade stamped onto said Bijuu's tail on her way to its head, stunning it with the pain and narrowly missing being sat on. Her reasons were pragmatic. Mostly. Hitting Naruto to wake him, however carefully, wasn't the most elegant method, but-

Ha, who am I kidding? Even if I had a better alternative, I would slap him awake anyway! It's also a good thing I'm able to keep the Jinchuuriki-grade Chakra suppression tags for the future.

The ranged finger-flick made a ‘poof’ sound and barely grazed Naruto’s cheek, making it start bleeding.

All the sand making up the Bijuu's body started dropping to the ground, though it didn't turn back into normal soil. Tsunade caught Naruto's falling body and landed on her feet, causing further damage to the ground of the Shikkotsu Forest and dropping out of the First Gate. She knew Katsuyu wouldn't be pleased, but all Tsunade could think about was the boy in her arms.

"Ow ow ow!" Naruto said, shivering and rubbing his ears and eyes. "What hit me?" He then said, his voice at low volume.

Tsunade put a hand on Naruto's shoulder, using the Diagnostic Palm without hand-seals. A few seconds later, Naruto sighed in relief, headache evidently alleviated and cheek no longer bleeding.

Bracing herself to deliver the bad news, Tsunade said, "So, the Ichibi has, indeed, managed to weaken the seal enough."

"Yeah," Naruto said, his voice shaky, "I can hear something like whispers in the back of my mind now. It's creepy, and- and- it worries me." Admitting to weakness -or what he felt was weakness- was rare for Naruto.

Tsunade hugged him for a short while. Then, she let go of him and said, "Sleep is out of the question, so we'll have to find another way. Do you know that there are various ways to meditate?"

Naruto scrunched up his face cutely, then he blinked repeatedly. He said, "there's a form of meditation that can help!?"

"Yes. Have you heard of half-sleep?" Tsunade said, "there's a form of meditation that is about entering -and staying in- a half-sleep state."

Naruto could see a problem with that. He said, "That's all well and good, but what if I fall asleep? You know very well that the first however many times you had me meditate, I would nod off!"

"Well, you know ways to keep from falling asleep when meditating, so we'll have to try again and again until you manage to get rest," Tsunade said. Seeing Naruto's worried face, she said, "We'll figure things out, kid. Besides, this is just a stopgap until you've figured out how to use Mokuton to block the Ichibi."

Naruto opened his mouth to say something, closed it and crossed his arms, looking sulky.

Tsunade didn't often get to see Naruto act his age -and younger-, so she cherished those moments. If only it were in better circumstances! She gently said, “Naruto, while I can seal a Bijuu, I don’t know what to do with its Jinchuuriki. I can’t maintain the seal. Maybe we should consider asking Jiraiya for his help.”

“Who is Jiraiya loyal to first?” Naruto asked, looking at her almost without expression.

Tsunade shook her head, saying, “Konoha.”

"There you got it. There’s no way I’ll trust him," Naruto said, grimacing. Then, his face lit up and he said, "got it! I'll have clones try out the meditation first!"


Despite being a clone, he was every bit a part of Naruto. Thus, when Biwako had started questioning him on where the original was, Naruto had tried to comfort her… only to be coldly rebuffed by a pissed off female Uchiha. ‘Of course Biwako wasn’t fooled for long,’ Naruto mused, smiling bitterly.

The expression on Biwako's face had briefly changed into something filled with guilt, but she hadn't apologized, so Naruto had gone to his room -the boss' room, whatever- to do… something. Whatever that 'something' was.

As usual for people who had nothing to do, his mind started to wander. He was home safe, after all. Home….

Konoha hadn't felt like home in a long time, if ever. A lot of people had waxed poetic about home and how it was where one's heart was and other such things, but if they were right, every bit of Naruto told him that Konoha was not his hometown. It was an unsafe, untrustworthy, strange environment.

In fact, even the trees, at least the largest ones, felt almost alien these days. The Hashirama trees, to be exact. 'Even our ancestor is rejecting us. Typical,' Naruto mused.

He wanted out, and the original had conceived the beginnings of a plan he had started calling 'Somewhere I Belong Mark Two' after finding out about Pakura and the Kyuubi’s seal, or rather his lack thereof. The problem was that the boss had been having trouble distancing himself from Iruka.


Other clones dispelling got his attention. Naruto hoped that the boss would be able to deal with the insomnia coming their way. He grasped for Biwako's Chakra, finding her awake. He went to her room to tell her the news.

…The way Biwako was gripping her bedsheets made Naruto worry, but when he put a hand on her shoulder, she didn’t shrug him off, though Naruto could tell she had barely kept herself back.

Another influx of memories hit him, and he realized that even clones could lose control to Shukaku’s Chakra, though none of them had been fully possessed by Shukaku himself so far, and the Chakra was sent back to the original… and other clones, too. ‘That’s not good,’ he thought to himself. “I’m gonna dispel now. I have to,” he told Biwako, drawing back his hand, which had already started to be filled with Bijuu chakra.

The way Biwako’s Chakra flexed, then drew back into her made his heart break, but it was necessary for her safety. That was what he told himself. Really need to figure out how to suppress a Bijuu with Wood Style!


As much as he hated it, Danzo had to admit that everything had gone off script during the culling of the Uchiha. It wasn’t like he had wanted them all dead – only the threats, and he didn’t mean purely regarding the coup.

Some clans had never properly integrated into Konoha, and would place their own interest far ahead of the village’s. The Uchiha clan; the Kurama clan; the Hyuuga clan. Even the Senju clan. While the Kurama clan had contained -and still did- a convenient danger and scapegoat in the form of its Bloodline Limit and the ones who could wield it, and the Hyuuga had an even more convenient method of control readymade, the Uchiha had had no such restraints.

Of course, Danzo had made sure over the decades that the Uchiha wouldn’t be trusted lightly. A nudge here, a few words in the right ears there and everything had been going well. Then, an Uchiha had apparently orchestrated an attack on the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, leading to great losses in Konoha. Whether done by a rogue element or not, it had been a great chance for Danzo to establish a new, truly loyal, overall better Uchiha clan.

He had had it all planned in his head. Itachi would have eliminated the greatest threats and died in the process, but not before he had killed his own parents -who were sentimental fools to a point- and others, including that waste of space Yashiro who, by Itachi’s expression whenever the man had been mentioned, would have died by Itachi’s hand no matter whether the rest of the Uchiha survived or not. Even if Itachi had survived his deed, that could have been rectified, and the boy would have been too fatigued to resist.

Root soldiers would have collected eyes and hopefully samples of genetic material from the dead and dying, making sure that Root’s finest would be equipped with great tools in their eye sockets and that the Uchiha would have had a higher likelihood of rising from their ashes. Danzo would have taken in the orphaned children, including Itachi’s younger sister, out of a desire to cultivate the future of Konoha and the Uchiha. He would have educated them all the right way.

Unfortunately, Danzo had not taken a particular factor under consideration: if he had been correct in his assessment that a rogue Uchiha had been the one to orchestrate the Kyuubi’s attack, then what else could and would that rogue do? In his folly and desperation, Itachi had enlisted the enemy’s help, blast that idiot boy! At least, that was what Danzo had pieced together. As such, Danzo’s plans for a new Uchiha clan had been thoroughly ruined, and even the eyes had disappeared completely. His Root hadn’t even found a single eyeball!

It wasn’t like Danzo had bought into Tobirama’s nonsense. ‘Feel too deeply’ and ‘Curse of Hatred’, my foot! The Senju and the Uchiha weren’t too different from one another… which was why Danzo had used the Shodai’s hype against his own clan after both siblings’ deaths, playing on other villages’ fear that another Senju Hashirama would emerge. He hadn’t been able to do that with the Uchiha because of Tobirama’s previous meddling – Police Force, indeed! Of course, everything had fallen into place later.

Before and during the Second Shinobi World War, every single Senju other than Tsunade had been eliminated, one by one, by Konoha’s enemies. Which, again, was further than Danzo had hoped to take things, but how could he have planned for Sarutobi’s incompetence as an administrator in times of war? Sarutobi had always been incredible at tactics in his own fights, so Danzo had overestimated the fool.

Later on in the Second Shinobi World War, a decisive strike had seen Uzushio destroyed – one executed by Kirigakure (Hidden Mist), though Iwa (Rock/Stone) had also been involved, even if it had never quite been proven. It had blindsided Danzo, which meant that Sarutobi hadn’t stood a chance. The retaliation force, led by Hatake Sakumo and consisting of only him and the Sannin, had reportedly turned Kiri’s mist and rivers red and, along with Suna changing sides, ended the war in Konoha’s favor.

While Suna had hated the White Fang and still cursed his name, apparently the man had been going somewhat easy on them. Kiri, despite how hardboiled their shinobi tended to be, had become absolutely terrified of him, and Sakumo’s name was still told only in whispers there. Though the ‘calling down true Lightning from the skies to kill hundreds at once’ part must have been an exaggeration, Danzo had still worried.

Of course, Sakumo had been a threat. His philosophy had run too close to Danzo’s own sensei, Senju Hashirama, before the latter had lost his will to live. At least Tobirama had had some of the ruthlessness required for leadership. If the White Fang had become Hokage, Konoha would have become weak, possibly even weaker than during Sarutobi’s reign. Thus, Danzo had slowly but steadily eroded Sakumo’s support base. The opportunity Danzo had prepared for had taken a while to present itself, but the results spoke for themselves.

It was a pity that Sakumo hadn’t at least gone through with the assassination of even one of the Cloud’s young Jinchuuriki, but at least he had been blamed for starting the war, with predictable results, never mind the fact that Kumo had been not just pushing boundaries, but putting proverbial exploding tags on said boundaries repeatedly for nearly six years by then, including but not limited to the attempted abduction of Uzumaki Kushina.

Back to the Uchiha clan, Danzo wanted two things: leverage over the last ‘loyal’ Uchiha and for her to at least awaken the Sharingan. The Yondaime’s children, her teammates, were an obstacle to him getting control over the Uchiha, but since the female teammate was Konoha’s Jinchuuriki, he would leave that one alone until his mastery of Mokuton and the Sharingan had progressed enough.

Fortunately, Danzo had had the foresight to retrieve Kagami’s eyes before they would truly become necessary -curse Danzo’s previous hesitation and Sarutobi’s vigilance!- and to delay Sarutobi’s discovery of Orochimaru’s labs just enough for the research into Mokuton to progress really fast. After quite a bit of brainstorming, Danzo had the bases of a plan that would likely allow him to both awaken the girl’s Sharingan and put her in a position that she would have no other option but to become one of his Root.

It would take a sacrifice or two, but Danzo hadn’t gotten where he was without the ability to sacrifice a few pawns. Or a lot, for that matter. The Sharingan was an important asset. So was the Kyuubi. Compared to those two assets, most others paled. Thus, they were expendable in comparison, as were potential threats to Konoha’s prosperity, stability and power.


Mito was really confused. Nothing made sense! Kakashi, her Jounin teacher, had taken her aside just after the C-rank that had nearly ended up an A-rank, to tell her that she was the container of the Kyuubi. Jinchuuriki was the term for those like her, and she suspected that Gaara was- had been one too. At first, she had gotten angry at the Pervy Sage, but Kakashi had explained that the Old Man- that the Hokage had given permission only then.

Supposedly, Jinchuuriki were weapons for their villages. ‘The Power of Human Sacrifice’ was what the term meant. All ninjas were weapons and tools if the Ninja Code were to be believed, though. Was there a set of Ninja Code clauses for Jinchuuriki?

What would Ino and Chouji say? What would- what would Shikamaru think? Mito tried to keep her worry away, but she couldn’t help it. Her thoughts kept coming back to that topic. What about Naruto? Would he accept her? Mito kept thinking about all of that on her way home, passing Ebisu, her former tutor in the basics of the ninja arts.

“Honorable Daughter,” the man said, “I would like a word with you, if you don’t mind.”

Mito hadn't seen Ebisu in a while. The memory of him lying on that hospital bed, hooked up to machines came back to her, so she accepted.

"Well, you see," Ebisu said, adjusting his sunglasses with two fingers, "status and reputation are important in this world, do you not agree?"

"I- guess…?" Mito managed to get out of her mouth, quickly becoming uncomfortable.

"As such, spending time- ahem! I mean, hanging out with those far beneath one will drag that one down, do you not agree?" Ebisu said, playing it cool.

Mito could only say "Um-," the talk making her more and more uncomfortable.

"As such, would you not agree that spending time with ruffians such as that Uzumaki boy will drag you down?" Ebisu said.

A cold shiver ran down Mito's spine. Kakashi had told her something about Naruto becoming known as the supposed container of the Kyuubi. 'Would he be saying the same to Konohamaru, or- everyone who’s ever made friends with me, if he knew?' She thought to herself, a cold shiver running down her spine.

"Therefore, through my guidance, you will be able to separate wheat from chaff. Keep away from the bad sort, as it were, haha. After all, I am an Elite Tutor," Ebisu said, but Mito could barely hear him over the ringing in her ears. "Honorable Daughter, are you listening?" Ebisu said, looking both annoyed at and worried for her.

If he knew, he would be looking at me like that old fart looked at Naruto.

Mito shrugged off Ebisu's hand on her shoulder. She said, "You talk too much for an 'Elite Tutor', Ebisu-san. Talking like you can decide my life for me…. I can tell the bad sort myself, thank you!"

Ebisu looked taken aback for a moment, then his mouth turned thinner. He said, "Where does this impudence come from, Honorable Daughter? I was only trying to warn you. To prevent you from associating with riff-raff – scum, filth, as it were-"

"Stop it-"

"-Perhaps that boy has already started tainting you with his nonsense. If you hang around such- individuals, you might end up just like them, Honorable Daughter," Ebisu said, adjusting his sunglasses again.

"Enough!" Mito said, almost roaring, "my name is Mito, not 'Honorable Daughter', and I can tell that I shouldn’t associate with the likes of you, Ebisu of the Broken Glasses. Now, go away, you bootlicker."

Ebisu adjusted his sunglasses again; twice, thrice, four times in a row. He said, "is that what this- mentorship that we share amounts into, Mito-san? That time I put my life on the line for you," his voice sounding- broken and his glasses never fully straightening out.

Mito almost fell for it. Almost. Then, she remembered just why she had gotten so angry. That man was dismissing Naruto because of the rumors; the rumors were because of the Kyuubi. So, he didn't care about Mito anyway. She said, "you put your life for something that wasn't there – for an 'Honorable Daughter', for a false thing, for someone that never existed.

"Ebisu-san, if you're so easy to fool with a few rumors, then what would happen if people spread rumors about me? Because you only look at the top -surface, whatever- you wouldn't be able to tell if they were true, because you don't know me," Mito said, feeling a bit more calm than before, but in a vicious mood. "If you did, or at least paid attention, you'd have realized that I knew the crap you spewed about status was bullshit. After all, my godfather is Jiraiya of the Sannin-"

"A legendary shinobi," Ebisu interjected.

"-A street urchin who grew up into a legendary Ninja. Years and years later," Mito finished her sentence, almost whispering.

Ebisu said, "It was Jiraiya-sama's destiny to become great. Unlike that boy-"

"Not arrogant of you at all to pretend to know people's destiny," Mito said with heavy sarcasm, easily to the point of rudeness, reminded of that fool she would never again call 'senpai', Hyuuga Neji.

"-He was dead last in the Academy for most of his time there. Also, do not interrupt me-"

"So was Pe- so was Jiraiya-sensei," Mito said.

At that point, they started talking over each other, so Mito stopped talking and started walking away.

"Hono- Mi- Mito-san, please think it over. Perhaps that boy has told you things that are simply not true," Ebisu said.

Mito turned around to look at Ebisu, eyes to eyes-? Yes, he had removed the sunglasses. She ignored that and said, "You were right – I shouldn't spend time with riff-raff. Bootlickers, 'Elite Tutors' who have trained a lot of Hokage candidates. A big, fa- a big, giant zero of them. I don't like being lied to in my face, Ebisu-san. Not to mention that, even now, you're blaming someone else for your own sho- shortcomings, like being a bootlicking liar."

Ebisu let out a strange sound, similar to a gasp interrupted by choking. After a few seconds, he said, "I had not anticipated this. Are you truly going to choose tha- that boy over your tutor of years?"

Mito shook her head. She said, "Even if Naruto stopped talking to me for the next ten years, I wouldn't trust you ever again," turning away. For that matter, Mito should be much more careful about who she trusted in the future. She should have listened more carefully, the times when Pervy Sage had taken her aside.

"May I at least know why?" Ebisu asked, but Mito didn't even turn to look at him.

"I'd tell you… but I don't trust you with that information," Mito told him, her anger spent and only tiredness and -something else- remaining. "Sayonara (goodbye forever)."


*Sakuramento: Sacramento, a certain hue of green with some blue mixed in
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