Naruto Thousand Hands (Mokuton Naruto AU)

Looks like Mito might confront Naruto with the knowledge she's the Jinchuriki.

Danzo is a schemer through and through. He plans well and when his plans succeed they succeed spectactularly. However, he doesn't plan well for unknown variables. The irony is that if Danzo hadn't been so focused on himself and his vision of Konoha, he could have very well have gotten access to Naruto and Biwako's DNA in order to create a super baby of doom with the powers he's trying to gain for himself. Of course, I doubt anyone could have seen Naruto coming, even without his Mokuton Kekkei Genkai, let alone Shukaku. Hopefully, Shukaku and Naruto come to some sort of terms.


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Looks like Mito might confront Naruto with the knowledge she's the Jinchuriki.

Danzo is a schemer through and through. He plans well and when his plans succeed they succeed spectactularly. However, he doesn't plan well for unknown variables. The irony is that if Danzo hadn't been so focused on himself and his vision of Konoha, he could have very well have gotten access to Naruto and Biwako's DNA in order to create a super baby of doom with the powers he's trying to gain for himself. Of course, I doubt anyone could have seen Naruto coming, even without his Mokuton Kekkei Genkai, let alone Shukaku. Hopefully, Shukaku and Naruto come to some sort of terms.
Honestly, I have always found him rather heavy on raw intellect, but also one of those who chose Wisdom as their dump stat. :p

I mean, I tried to make him come across as the embodiment of the saying 'play stupid games, win stupid prizes'. Did I succeed?
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...Anything that bothered you? I don't mean in-universe, but in the quality of my writing, plot included.
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Nope. No problems here. I actually like how things have developed so far.

Hiruzen being a well meaning, easily manipulated fool is nothing new. In fact, that's basically the interpretation that is the norm in fanfiction these days. It doesn't help that canon kinda backs this up. Even if canon doesn't portray him as negatively as fanfiction does.

Danzo not being a zealot of the 2nd Hokage is unique. He's anti-Uchiha, but not in the same way as canon-Danzo or Tobirama was. The fact that Danzo apparently had manipulated the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Hokages is new. What gets me here, is that Danzo is loyal to the concept of Konoha, but he doesn't actually understand the concept itself. He seems to have learned all the wrong lessons from both the 1st and 2nd Hokages and instead of helping the 3rd Hokage with his shortcomings, he tried to use them to his own advantage. And for what? A Konoha that doesn't and could never exist because his vision runs against the very purpose as to why the village was founded to begin with. The fact that Danzo isn't just responsible for the Uchiha, but the Senju as well and the reasons for it, is horrifying. Nevermind the fact that he's responsible for what happened to Sakumo, Naruto's ostrization and the rapidly growing disdain Biwako and even Mito are showing for the village. He can't see the forest for the trees and thinks Hiruzen is the only old incompetant that needs to get out of the way, when in truth, he's done more damage to Konoha than anyone could have imagined. Hiruzen is at least self-aware enough that he knows he isn't fit for the job- not that it's stopping him from making things worse.

Honestly, leave or stay, I hope Mito stays with Naruto and Biwako. I also hope that Ino blows the lid off of everything. Short term, things will get horrible for Konoha. Long term, if they could get rid of Hiruzen and Danzo, things would be a lot better. Another thing I like is the fact that Koharu and Homura seem to just do what they are supposed to, and just advise. No secret agendas, no alterior motives. They just advise and reign in Sarutobi's worst tendencies. It's kind of sad that, that is even a twist.


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Danzo not being a zealot of the 2nd Hokage is unique. He's anti-Uchiha, but not in the same way as canon-Danzo or Tobirama was. The fact that Danzo apparently had manipulated the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Hokages is new. What gets me here, is that Danzo is loyal to the concept of Konoha, but he doesn't actually understand the concept itself.
Well, it was someone else's idea, the part about Danzo hating the existence of those loyal to other things than Konoha as their top priority, especially those with concentrated power like clans. I simply added to it. Here is my post, quoting them.

...Hmmm... the First and the Second both died during the First War (Second Hokage) and shortly after (First Hokage), at least in my fic, so Danzo never manipulated Tobirama (and it's not like Tobirama isn't astute enough to have noticed several seconds before Danzo finished the first sentence) and at most only in Hashirama's last few years.

And for what? A Konoha that doesn't and could never exist because his vision runs against the very purpose as to why the village was founded to begin with.
Sadly, that interpretation is very much in line with canon. I didn't need to make much change... :confused: ;)

Honestly, leave or stay, I hope Mito stays with Naruto and Biwako. I also hope that Ino blows the lid off of everything. Short term, things will get horrible for Konoha. Long term, if they could get rid of Hiruzen and Danzo, things would be a lot better. Another thing I like is the fact that Koharu and Homura seem to just do what they are supposed to, and just advise. No secret agendas, no alterior motives. They just advise and reign in Sarutobi's worst tendencies. It's kind of sad that, that is even a twist.
LOL, while I do sometimes use mediocre fanon, I almost never fail to put in a twist or three. After thinking of what they had to deal with Sarutobi, I can sympathize with them and the way they treated Tsunade. Remember, when she stood up to them, they respected her much more.

... Which says a lot about Hiruzen's proverbial spine. Or, rather, its inexistence....

As for what the curveball ends up being in regards to Naruto's and Biwako's secrets and when, that's- a secret. :p
Regardless, I still think Mito and Naruto need to have a sit down discussion about Jinchuriki. Mito is afraid because she thinks Naruto doesn't know. Naruto doesn't know how to break the news that until recently, he thought HE was the Jinchuriki having pieced it together. Of course, the fact that he and Biwako then turned around and turned him into one...


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I edited the chapter a bit -- mostly really minor changes.

Such as Tsunade having opened the First Gate (of the Eight Gates) to trip up Shukaku, not just Sage Mode and Byakugo no Jutsu.


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@mandalorianjedi I'm just about ready to post the next chapter of Thousand Hands. :) I went by the seat of my pants again :p

Well, it's to be expected -- I'm a writer who plans out many future plot points, then often discards them because I've been inspired. ;)
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@mandalorianjedi What do you think?

Gotta get there,

I'm on my way,

Gotta get there,

Viridian City

I left my home and now I see a new horizon

But one day I'll come back to Pallet Town (I'm coming back, coming back)

I'm on the road to become the greatest trainer

And I won't quit until I'm #1 (Gotta be the one, the 1, 01)

We keep on tryin'

And then we try some more

To stay together

And find a place worth fighting for

‘Viridian City’, sung by Jason Paige, for the Pokemon anime Soundtrack

I wanna heal, I wanna feel what I thought was never real

I wanna let go of the pain I've felt so long

(Erase all the pain 'til it's gone)

I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I'm close to something real

I wanna find something I've wanted all along

Somewhere I belong

‘Somewhere I Belong’, by Linkin Park

…Remember that I’m using an exchange rate (if one can call it that) of 10 Ryo ~= 1 dollar. So if Shizune is talking about, say, eight billion, it’s the rough equivalent of 800m USD.


What would Danzo do?


Naruto was lying on his bed, thinking about something a clone of his had put in words while its mind had been idly wandering. To be exact, what ‘home’ meant. Not the dictionary definition, but the poetic one.

Simply put, Konoha wasn’t home for Naruto. Never had been in his memory and he had been thinking of leaving for a long while. He had, at first, simply wanted out of Konoha, but that wasn’t enough anymore. These days, he had more- defined plans. To get to Viridian City, Naruto first needed a Pallet Town to start from and go back to.

Kakashi had started growing on him and Iruka was the father Naruto had never had, but hopefully, they’d understand. Thinking of Iruka brought him back to the fact the man had sought him out and -probably accidentally- gotten Naruto into trouble with the Sandaime. Naruto was supposed to explain where he had been shortly after the mission in Wind in a semi-formal interview, the day after the next. Sarutobi Hiruzen was a busy man, after all.

Clenching and unclenching his fists, Naruto’s thoughts went to his staff, his other source of anger. It was meant to be temporary; it was meant to be replaced by a bigger, sturdier one because Naruto would have outgrown it. Then why, why was its destruction when Shukaku had gotten free bothering Naruto so much? Was it because he would use a piece of the previous staff each time he had made a new one? Was it because it was someone else who had destroyed it? Or some other reason?

The whispers Naruto would often hear turned into laughter. Obnoxious, sadistic laughter. ‘Fuck you, Shukaku,’ Naruto thought, though hopefully, Shukaku would hear. The laughter intensified, which was a good indication that Shukaku had heard.

Naruto started swearing under his breath so foully that even Tsunade would have been impressed. Not that that would save him from getting his ass kicked by her for talking like that, but she would definitely have been impressed. Hmm…. Come to think of it, do Bijuu have things like reproductive organs? If not, then Shukaku is probably one of few male Tanuki without-*

The screech Naruto received in reply told him he had hit a nerve. That was good. It was, at least, something positive, because nothing was going well lately. ‘What else?’ Naruto thought to himself, rubbing his head because of the headache Shukaku had caused. “What else does fate have in store for-,” he said out loud, but stopped himself. ‘Gah! I sounded just like Neji! Need to clean my mouth!’ Naruto thought, running for the bathroom, then grabbing his toothbrush and toothpaste.


"How was your mission to Suna, Naruto-kun?" Kabuto asked, giving Naruto his order of food rations and soldier pills, as well as other medical supplies. It was in Biwako's name, so that 'we can take advantage of otherwise useless, unavailable money', as she had put it.

"It was- eye-opening," Naruto said, not divulging anything further, but not able to hold in a yawn.

"I see," Kabuto said evenly, but he didn't pry.

"Kabuto-san," Naruto said, "I just realized – you're related to Yakushi Nono, right? Did you live in the same orphanage I did after I left my first one? Or were you at an actual home?"

Kabuto adjusted his glasses. Then, he said, "I lived in Mother's orphanage, too, even though Mother had adopted me legally. I left when I became a Genin, which must have been- when you were five years old or so."

"Yes," Naruto said, trying to reach a decision. Oh, screw it! "You must have left at most a year before I entered the orphanage. I wonder, though – did you ever meet a one-eyed old man with a bandaged arm?" He said, noting the way Kabuto flinched.

"Why are you asking, Naruto-kun?" Kabuto said, but his voice was much colder than usual. The look in Kabuto's eyes behind the glasses was that of a cold-hearted killer – Naruto had seen those eyes in mirrors at times he had been about to lose control.

"I was just wondering," Naruto said, his focus on Kabuto's eyes, "how come a certain person never bothered me, even though I showed rare talents. Was there someone protecting me? If so, who was it?"

Kabuto no longer looked ready to kill, but the small smirk on his face showed dark amusement, hopefully not at Naruto's expense. Kabuto said, "I will make a few inquiries, Naruto-kun. Perhaps someone else had called dibs for the future. I wonder…."

Leaving Kabuto to his musings, Naruto took the medical supplies and walked away – who knew where Kabuto's loyalties lied…? Probably not with Konoha, though. Or, at least, not with Danzo, judging by his reaction and words.


As Naruto walked towards the Hokage's office, he could hear whispered gossip from many meters away. Something about Kakashi and Jiraiya having had a shouting match a few days earlier…? Naruto gave a sideways glance to the Academy building, which was attached to the administrative building. Outside of the latter, Kakashi was waiting, so as soon as Naruto entered, so did Kakashi, face grim.

The presence of the small Katsuyu fragment hiding in Naruto's white and green-blue jacket was comforting to him, though Naruto wasn't sure if Kakashi had an idea of them being around. With Kakashi's nose, probably.

Kakashi knocked on the door of the Hokage’s office, opening it before the Third could finish saying 'enter'. Kakashi entered slowly, his body language showing him to be bored. Finally, Naruto walked in, feeling apprehensive and annoyed both.

The Third welcomed them, then said, "Kakashi. You are dismissed."

The atmosphere in the office was suddenly charged. Kakashi didn't even move a little.

"…Are you going to disobey your Hokage?" The Third said menacingly.

"Sending out a fresh Genin's teacher in what is meant to be an informal questioning, Sandaime-sama? I get that you have it out for me for some reason, but involving my students? How would you like it if I were to drag Konohamaru in our- ha, feud…?" Kakashi said, still sounding as bored as Shikamaru had ever gotten.

The Third looked at Kakashi dully, but his expression turned into a furious one – a bit too late to be genuine.

"Jiraiya was right," Kakashi said, his eyes wide open, "there's no way that's because of age only. It's either you are under someone's thrall fully now, or this is an impostor. I owe him an apology and forty thou-"

Before Naruto could realize what had just happened, the Third had stabbed himself in the throat, then turned into so much ash. Kakashi let out a small gasp, which was the equivalent of a scream in anybody else. Naruto was just frozen in place.

Katsuyu quickly slipped out of Naruto's clothing, saying, "Naruto-san, what happened?" Then looking around.

Naruto snapped out of his shock to say, "Katsuyu-sama! Why'd you get out!? Just hide again!" A few moments later, Naruto said, "I mean, please hide," realizing he had been a bit impolite and disrespectful to a creature for which those things were extremely important.

Katsuyu went back into Naruto's jacket, but Naruto knew that said summon would punish him later. The look Kakashi shot him assured Naruto that Kakashi would be asking questions, but they had more pressing things to deal with.

As if summoned by Naruto's thoughts, someone shoved open the office's doors, saying, "Old geezer! I've come to beat you and take that hat- wait; where's the old geezer?"

It was a kid, six or seven years old. As if that weren't enough, Naruto heard a vaguely familiar and extremely annoying voice say, "Honora- I mean, Konohamaru-kun! Please wait for me!"


The entire Jounin council had assembled to pick a new Hokage, or at least that was supposed to be its purpose.

An old, bandaged man took the lead, saying, "We are here, fellow shinobi, current and retired, to ascertain the truth behind the Sandaime Hokage's death and to pick a successor for the seat."

He really wanted to wring that man's neck, but he knew it wasn't yet time. 'Maybe I should ask Kabuto-san, in case he has more information,' Naruto thought to himself, remembering how the older medic-nin had reacted to Danzo's description. So far, Naruto only had what Biwako and his aunt had told him.

Naruto had asked Katsuyu not to reveal themselves, because he would rather keep them as a secret ace and, most importantly, keep his connection to the Senju clan hidden.

"I call Ebisu to the front," Danzo said, his voice commanding and clear, despite his age.

Despite himself, Naruto was impressed with Danzo's charisma, piece of trash or not. As Ebisu was recounting what he had seen, Naruto had to repress the urge to scoff or hit that super-punchable face.

"So, you see, that ruffian was there! I have no doubt in my mind that he was involved somehow-," Ebisu said, as passionate as he would ever get, Naruto figured.

"…Ebisu-san, please restrict yourself to facts," a dark-haired and white-eyed man that resembled Hyuuga Neji and the weirdo, Hinata. So, that's the Hyuuga clan head.

Ebisu seemed lost for words. Then, he said, "Hiashi-sama! Are you taking that kid's side…?"

A fierce-looking woman, who looked a lot like Kiba, said, "Can we really trust this man's testimony?" Her tone making her sound skeptical.

Murmurs went around, with influential Jounin and Clan Heads both, looking at Ebisu evenly; to Naruto, they were radiating disapproval.

Danzo dismissed Ebisu and called for Sarutobi Konohamaru as a witness. Wait, wasn't that-?

The testimony of a seven-year-old went as well as could be expected, as in, not well at all; maybe Danzo was getting desperate. In the end, Kakashi was elected Hokage, though the Yamanaka and the Aburame clan heads had called for Danzo. They felt strange to Naruto's senses; as if they were scared out of their wits.

The Yamanaka Head suddenly looked straight at him, and Naruto immediately knew the man was a better sensor than his- daughter? Naruto stared him down until the man turned away. While Naruto couldn't meet Danzo's eyes, for more than one reason, Ino's dad looked weaker than his eleven-year-old at the moment.


After that council meeting, rumors had spread that Naruto was responsible for the Sandaime’s death and that Kakashi had either done nothing or had helped. Kakashi and Jiraiya were running damage control, but since the latter had been out of the village at the time the rumors had started, it had been only Kakashi to manage things at the most critical point. The influential Jounin and the Clan Heads who had been there apparently weren't helping; even Hyuuga Hiashi. Did Danzo do something to stop him?

As a result, while well over half of the ninja force had rallied behind Kakashi, the rest of them blamed Naruto and distrusted Kakashi. Even some of Kakashi’s supporters would look at Naruto in suspicion. As for the civilians – well, they hadn’t dared do anything out of fear, only whispering about Naruto, and ‘friend-killer Kakashi’ becoming Hokage.

Naruto was walking to Ichiraku for lunch; a few bowls of Ramen with Biwako and Mito. The girls were talking with each other, or rather Mito was speaking and Biwako looked annoyed, turning away as if trying to tune Mito out. ‘Should I try to get them to get along better?’ Naruto thought to himself. He opened his mouth- ‘Nah, forget it. Some other time,’ he thought to himself, ignoring what sounded like Shukaku calling him a chicken.

Wait. What the fuck?

The Ramen stand was in bad condition. Rude things had been written on the scrolls hanging above the entrance, and the side of the building had broken planks in at least two places.

Naruto walked towards the right, where the owner was, and said, "What the- what’s happened here?" Lost for words.

Old Man Teuchi was looking at the wooden wall like it had offended him. He turned around, but he was acting strange; keeping his body in place carefully, like he was hiding something. Teuchi said, "O-oh, Naruto. Nothing much, just some hooligans doing what those kinds of people do. Nothing to see here, haha."

That kind of behavior was really suspicious. "What are you hiding, Old Man?" Naruto asked him, looking at Teuchi's face carefully.

Teuchi shifted every time Naruto did, keeping himself between the wall and Naruto. "I'm barely forty-three, Naruto! Not an old man," his voice breaking at some point.

"Teuchi-san," Naruto said, sternly.

Teuchi sighed out loud. He said, "Do you promise to not fly off the handle?" Suddenly looking twenty years older, like an actual old man.

Naruto felt his eyebrows rise. Then, he said, "I can control myself, Old Man," bracing himself for something terrible.

It wasn't as he had feared…. It was much worse.

Those who support the killer of Hokage-sama, go kill yourselves!

Naruto wanted to hunt down the bastards who had done that and wring their necks. He wanted to tear them apart, rip out their eyeballs from their skulls-

A hand on Naruto's shoulder stopped him cold.


"Naruto, don't," Biwako's voice said from somewhere near him, bringing him back to reality.

Still, he wasn’t getting why Biwako would defend the ones who had done that. “Biwako,” he said, hands shaking, “why are you stopping me? Those- people, whoever they are, need to pay!”

Biwako got close and whispered into his ear. She said, "It’s because you’re losing control over yourself. I don't want you to lose to anyone other than me, ever. Not a shinobi, not a Bijuu; not even yourself!"

The tone of her voice and her proximity made Naruto shiver. A few seconds or maybe minutes later, Naruto shuddered at what he had been about to do, which would have upset his plans at the very least, snapping out of his anger-induced trance. He had to be smart about teaching those people a lesson, so he said, "I wonder who did this," his voice light, "if only we had a hawk circling above to tell us, or someone with a great sense of smell…,” still near Biwako, at a low volume.

As Naruto walked away from the wooden wall, he looked back and saw Biwako mouth something at him, something that looked a lot like 'you owe me'. She got really close to the stand's wall, close enough to track with her nose. He also wouldn't be surprised if she had switched on her Sharingan to notice any leftover clues.

As Biwako was gathering information, Naruto went up to Mito. He wasn't too surprised to see her sobbing; still, he put a hand on her shoulder to calm her down. She immediately put her arms around him, making him stiffen, but he did manage to hug her back… eventually. Naruto wasn't sure how to handle someone crying for real, as the last time he had faced that up close was at age seven in the second orphanage.

Sakura doesn't count. Fake tears are something different! I think.

"Na- Naruto," Mito said, muffled by his shoulder, "what will happen with Teuchi-san and Ayame-neechan?"

Naruto was confused and probably frowning. He said, "What do you mean, Mito?"

"I mean, will they be safe? What if those people come back some other night?" Mito said, letting go of him to look at his face.

Naruto's blood froze. He thought it over a bit, then said, "You can use Shadow Clones, right? Can't you guard them?"

Mito didn't speak for a few seconds. She said, "I haven't tried to keep Shadow Clones all night before, but I'll- I'll do my best!" Then, after a minute’s pause, she said, “Naruto, did you notice anything- strange about me on the mission in Suna?”

“It was in the Land of Wind – they aren’t the same,” Naruto told her, not able to restrain himself.

“Yeah, that one,” Mito said, a strange expression on her face, “well, did you?”

Naruto breathed in and out, dreading the coming conversation. He said, “Yeah. Well, let’s take this elsewhere.”

Minutes later, in the Uchiha District, Naruto was serving tea – he had a feeling they would both need it, even if he wasn't very fond of it. He sat down and took a sip-

"Owowow! It's hot!" Naruto exclaimed, making Mito giggle. He must have been really out of it to make that mistake.

"So," Mito said, fidgeting in place.

Naruto sighed – someone had to go first, so he said, "So, at first, I had thought I was the one who had the Kyuubi. It explained some things. Not being able to find a seal on me, or other signs, could be explained by the Fourth -our father- being good enough a Sealing user to seal the Kyuubi without hope of escape. When I realized you were using its Chakra, some things fell in place but more questions appeared, too. I didn't know what to think of him, but I never really blamed him."

"Yeah," Mito said, looking down, "just to check – you don't hate me, right?"

"Huh-? Of course not! It's not your fault; others played with both our lives," Naruto said, and he meant it.

"…Why do you think the Old Man -the Third Hokage- did all that crap?" Mito said, squeezing the teacup's handle hard.

Naruto told Mito of how the Third had been controlled and made to commit suicide.

"So, it may not have been his fault?" Mito asked, looking hopeful.

Naruto shook his head. He said, "I have no idea. We might never find out for sure," sighing quietly.

Mito let out a scream that lasted five, ten, fifteen seconds in total, making Naruto cover his ears. Then, she said, "Damn it! I don't know what to think! What's going on in my life!?" Much louder than usual even for her.

Naruto wanted to tell her about Danzo, but he wasn't sure if that would put her in more danger. Then again, she was already a target because of her Bijuu. Oh, screw it! Naruto then said out loud, "Mito, there's something else you need to know. I'm pretty sure I know who's at fault for the rumor that I killed the Third. Watch out for a man named Shimura Danzo and, if you can, don't let him catch you alone," his jaw set in place. He also gave Mito a description of Danzo and told her most of the things that had happened in that meeting.

"Ebisu- Ebisu-san was involved?!" Mito said, her mouth open. She clenched her fists, but said no more.

Naruto said, "Just don't get near Danzo, please," grimacing at the thought of that creep. Mito looked distracted, so Naruto decided to speak about Danzo some other time.

He felt like going to sleep, even though it was early in the day. 'Need to go to Katsuyu-sama,' he thought to himself, Summoning them and asking to be Summoned.


Naruto had been let off the hook for having been missing from the village with an ease that surprised him after admitting he had been Summoned by his animal clan. Probably Kakashi's doing…. Wasn’t it strange, thinking of Kakashi as Hokage? All that wouldn't help with the most pressing issue, though. He had spent the nights since the Land of Wind in Shikkotsu Forest, just to make sure he wouldn't fully fall asleep, with Katsuyu attached to his shoulder this time.

He was sick and tired of sleeping with one eye open, literally. He punched the ground, making a large crater.

"Naruto-san!" Another part of Katsuyu, almost twice Naruto's height said, "what is the matter?"

Naruto grit his teeth, but he didn't say anything. The Katsuyu on his shoulder leapt onto, then into the larger part, the two of them merging.

Katsuyu said, "Naruto-san. While I was fully loyal to your ancestor Mito-sama, and supported Hashirama-sama's dream…. They are no longer around. I am loyal to you and Tsunade-sama, not Konohagakure; more so after seeing the way that village is going. Please, don't shut me out," sounding a bit upset, even frantic.

Making the decision to trust Katsuyu because they had helped him behind Konoha’s back before and because they didn't have a Konoha Hitai-ate on, unlike Kakashi's dogs, Naruto started speaking. He told Katsuyu of how he hated Konoha and everything it truly stood for, how he didn't know how long it would take him to get the Ichibi under control, how sometimes he thought of going to sleep in the middle of Konoha and letting the beast deal with them and more.

"Naruto-san," Katsuyu said, "while I do not care what happens to most of Konoha, I do care about your health, physical and otherwise. As such, I strongly recommend against letting out Shukaku-dono anywhere, as that will likely let him influence you more easily afterwards. As for getting Shukaku-dono under control… perhaps you should be thinking in other terms.”

"What do you mean, Katsuyu-sama?" Naruto asked the big slug, blinking.

Katsuyu said, "You see, Naruto-san, Shukaku-dono is a living, sapient creature. As such, thinking of how to control him might be a bad way to go about things. Instead, I believe you should seek to master yourself instead, then try to get Shukaku-dono to cooperate. Of course, a little force -or more than a little- might be needed at first with him, but when humans refer to 'control over their Bijuu' and 'Perfect Jinchuuriki', they do not refer to what you might think."

Naruto tried to parse what Katsuyu had just said, but most of it had gone over his head. He asked them to repeat themself, so they did. "Huh," he said, mostly to himself, "it sounds like Katsuyu-sama has met Shukaku and maybe other Bijuu before."

Katsuyu said, "Of course, Naruto-san. I am far older than I might seem at first glance," moving their antennae in seeming agitation.

Naruto said, "Well, yeah. I meant you know him, have met him up close. Anyhow, I've noticed that Shukaku is a living creature, too, though a sadistic and hateful one. Mastering myself, on the other hand…. How would I do that? Does it have something to do with Wood Style? Do you remember Hashirama-sama using it?"

Katsuyu let out a delicate laugh. They said, "Not quite, Naruto-san, but mastering yourself should help with your Bloodline. I believe in you; you will figure it out! As for Wood Style, I have a question: what do you think a Bloodline is to its possessor and what is Wood Style to you, in particular?"

Naruto had just about had it with Katsuyu's cryptic comments, but he took deep breaths to calm himself. Maybe Katsuyu was just getting him back for his previous disrespect. He sat down on a small boulder and tried his half-sleep meditation.

For the better or the worst, though, Naruto kept jolting into full awareness every time, unanswered questions -both those asked by Katsuyu and not- flooding his mind. So, he requested that Katsuyu teach him something.

The part of Katsuyu near him said, "What would you like to learn, Naruto-san?"

Naruto considered the question. What did he know about Katsuyu and their skills…? They were a capable healer, their true size was much greater than a Bijuu's, they could split themselves into many…. 'Of course, the size doesn't tell me much. I can learn medic-related things and how to improve my Chakra Control from Auntie Tsunade. Think, Naruto!' He thought to himself.

Katsuyu was a Summon; as such, they likely knew a lot about the Summoning and Reverse Summoning jutsu. What else? Being able to split might mean- oh! "I'd like to learn more about the Summoning jutsu and maybe clone tactics, Katsuyu-sama!" Naruto told Katsuyu.

Katsuyu's body language and facial expressions were a bit of a mystery still to Naruto, but he thought they looked pleased. They said, "Perhaps you should not be making hasty assumptions about others' capabilities, but in this case, you are correct, Naruto-san – I do, in fact, possess enough of a mastery of the Summoning jutsu to perform it without hand-seals. On the other hand, whether my tactics apply depends on how your clones function."

"Wait," Naruto said, "it's possible to use the Summoning jutsu without hand-seals?" A bit surprised by that piece of knowledge.

"One needs either the Rinnegan or to have focused almost exclusively on the Summoning jutsu for a literal century to manage that on the fly, Naruto-san. It is not a coincidence that most powerful Summon clans either have forelimbs suitable for hand-seals like the Toads or Apes, or have something to even the odds against others. Like the Snakes with their venom, talent for underground movement and other advantages; like the Hawks with their flight, superb eyesight and natural talent for elemental ninjutsu," Katsuyu said politely.

"Inscriptions?" Naruto asked, not having heard that term before.

"It's how I would use the Summoning jutsu at first, a long time ago – most Summons without the correct limbs do so. They are a part of what is known as Fuuinjutsu; you might know Inscriptions by their modern name, Naruto-san: 'Jutsu-shiki' (Jutsu Formulas). It's a branch of the Sealing Arts that is widely considered to be too much effort for little gain, when they could use Ninjutsu, instead. Most handed Summon clans and most humans among them," Katsuyu said, “though I respect the Toads for using both Inscriptions and hand-seals.”

Naruto could certainly understand that. Why spend months or years learning that particular branch, more months designing the formula and likely hours on each copy? On the other hand…. "Some things are only possible with Jutsu-shiki," Naruto said, "the Hiraishin (Flying Thunder God), as designed by the Second Hokage, used Inscriptions to allow him to home in on a place from what I know. I don't know what exactly the Fourth Hokage did to his special Kunai, but I can't learn Hiraishin without getting better at Inscriptions. Not to mention math; vectors in n dimensions," sighing at how much work awaited him.

Of course, the more my ambitions become- defined, solid, the more motivation I get. I had been putting in effort because I can only be accepted if I'm strong, and for Biwako's sake, of course. I think I'm starting to get what Katsuyu-sama meant by mastering myself. How can I keep Shukaku at bay if my resolve is weak? Also, for a jutsu, a ninja first has to see it, learn it, practice it, then -after many years of learning it inside and out- can it be considered somewhere near mastered. What did Sun Tzu write? 'If you know yourself and know your enemies, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles'. I need to know myself and to have resolve.

Katsuyu spoke, at last, breaking Naruto out of his thoughts. They said, "You seem deep in thought, Naruto-san."

"Yeah," Naruto said, "I just realized something."

"Do tell, please; if that isn't too forward of me," Katsuyu said, polite as usual, but their body language was a bit more agitated than usual. Maybe they were looking forward to hearing what Naruto had to say… or maybe they were getting bored. Who knew?

Naruto told Katsuyu what he had realized. After about a minute of silence, Katsuyu said, "I never got the impression of a lack of effort from you, Naruto-san, but the 'knowing yourself' and resolve part is certainly something I can agree with. If anything, I think you might be working too hard."

Naruto thought it over for a bit, but he wasn't sure if Katsuyu was right. 'Maybe I should ask Auntie Tsunade,' he thought to himself, 'of course, she'll just say I need to concentrate more on becoming a medic-nin. I'm- I'm not really cut out for that path, I think. I'm a fighter, even a killer; not a healer – though I’ll be the first to admit that having been able to heal Kakashi-sensei and Mito is great.’

Naruto decided to just get on with his lessons with Katsuyu and think about the rest later. Multiple parts of Katsuyu were instructing three Wood Clones on how to coordinate their Shadow Clones, elemental Clones and elemental Shadow Clones while Naruto was resting from the strain trying the Reverse Summoning jutsu to teleport himself had put on his body.

He got up shakily, still a bit nauseous from his many failed attempts at self-teleportation and a few successful ones. Naruto gagged once, then again, but he managed to hold in the vomit this time. He rinsed his mouth for yet another time, cleansing his throat by gargling the water again and again.

Unlike Shizune, who would have fussed over Naruto; Tsunade, who would likely tell him to tough it out but still let her worry shine through and Biwako, who would usually mock him, but be the first to realize when he was in actual trouble and leap into action, despite the other two being the best medic-nins alive… Katsuyu didn't speak at all and only watched.

Once Naruto felt better, he dispelled all the clones. While the knowledge entered his mind, it wasn't the only thing to do so – the clones' mental fatigue hit him like an Akimichi on the warpath.

Ugh- I won't fall asleep. Not like this. I won't fall asleep like this. I won't….

Naruto kept repeating the same words like a mantra until- "yeowtch!"

He noticed a small part of Katsuyu crawl away, having dodged Naruto's reflexive kick after pinching his calf. "Thanks, Katsuyu-sama," Naruto said, rubbing his leg and keeping the curses he wanted to shout between his clenched teeth. Apparently, Katsuyu-sama has one more punishment in mind. The mental fatigue hadn't been much of a problem in the past, but it seemed like Naruto had to limit his usage of clones a lot again.

After a lot of painful pinches, Naruto asked Katsuyu to teach him more about Inscriptions.

“Naruto-san,” Katsuyu said, their voice firm but not quite scolding, “are you going to be able to concentrate without any rest at all?”

Naruto said, “I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?” Rubbing his eyes.

“Leave your eyes alone, Naruto-san, please!” Katsuyu said, also saying something about eye infections and injuries.

Unfortunately, Katsuyu had been right – Naruto was too sleepy to focus. With a promise from Katsuyu to teach Naruto about Jutsu-shiki in the future, Naruto went back to his meditation, feeling more motivated.

'Maybe I should leave the key to the Four Symbols Seal with Katsuyu-sama,' Naruto thought to himself. He had a hard time trusting others, but in this case, it was probably better to keep the key far from Shukaku's reach. He reached a decision, so he talked to Katsuyu before he could chicken out.


…Back in a more familiar setting, the forest outside Shiruku City, where Naruto had unlocked Mokuton, he felt at ease in a way he never had in Konoha as far as he remembered. It had been eleven days since he had started training with Katsuyu and, with Naruto's new resolve, it hadn't taken him more than a week to be able to manage the half-sleep meditation consistently. He feared for Biwako, though, which he told his aunt.

"Naruto," Tsunade said, "if you're scared you'll put Biwako in danger, then make sure to control yourself. If we put you in Konoha but far from her, your resolve might weaken because you don't care what might happen to strangers."

Naruto turned his head to look at Biwako, but she said, "I agree with Tsunade, Naruto. If you need motivation to realize that you're strong enough, I'm willing to put myself at risk."

Naruto had become much better at reading Biwako over the years. He could tell she was terrified and confident at the same time, somehow. He said, "I can tell you're not as calm as you're trying to seem, Biwako."

Naruto noticed Biwako's expression turn angry, like she had been offended. Then, it turned into grim resolve and something else Naruto had seen on her face before, but wasn't sure what it meant. She said, "I never said I'm not scared, but I trust you, Naruto. I'll take precautions just in case, but I know I won't need them."

"Hold- hold on! Tsunade-sama! And you kids! You can't be serious!" Shizune said, her eyes and mouth wide open, "are you really going to take such a risk!? This is- this is unnecessary!"

"Not really," Biwako said, her voice even, "Naruto can't afford to have his actions scrutinized much more in Konoha, so he needs to go back there. Without me near, there's a good chance he won't try hard enough to keep the Bijuu contained."

Shizune turned to look at Naruto. She said, "Naruto-kun, is that true? I know that you don't like Konoha, but to that degree?"

Naruto shook his head. He said, "Maybe Auntie Tsunade was right. You needed to be here for this, even if you don't like it. It's time for me to reveal my plans," looking Shizune, then Tsunade, Katsuyu and Biwako in the eyes, one after another. His eyes lingered on the latter – Naruto felt humbled by her show of support and trust.

That made Shizune pause. She said, "What plans are those, Naruto-kun?" Softly, but Naruto could tell she was fully alert, maybe even wary.

Naruto took a deep breath and started speaking. He said, "I can't stand Konoha; that fact isn't changing. With that in mind, I first considered joining Kumo or something," ignoring Shizune's gasp, "but the other Hidden Villages aren't much more trustworthy. Who knows if Suna won't give me back to Konoha just to get on their good side, if Kumo is or isn't as backstabbing to their own as they are with others, if Iwa won't kill me on sight, if one of the minor villages or civilian cities won't be too afraid of Konoha to keep me.

“Kiri is a place where rape is acceptable as an interrogation tactic and its Kage is so power-hungry he apparently framed the Yuki clan for treason just because they were politically powerful, so it’s a no brainer that I’ll stay far away. Since a civilian city would be defenseless if Konoha wanted to capture me, the only thing I can do is found my own Hidden Village. I've been gathering money for this-"

"Na-Naruto-kun," Shizune said, her breath catching. "Naruto-kun, do you realize what you're saying!? A new Hidden Village needs a lot of funds, which I doubt you've gathered in only a few- weeks? Even if you have already realized that, what about getting enough manpower? Finding a good location for it; one which is in a country with a Daimyo willing to sponsor you? What about having the reputation needed to attract clients, ward off enemies and more?

What if Konoha -and possibly the other major villages- decide the new village is too much of a threat to leave be? How long will making the buildings take? Hell, how will the village find people to teach its young shinobi? If you've even thought that far into the future, and I’m sure there are more problems I can’t think of right now."

Naruto hadn’t expected Shizune to curse, even mildly, but he decided to not think about that too much. He said, “Shizune-san, I’ve been gathering money for a couple of years now. I recently broke past ten million Ryo in savings, plus my new bloodli-”

“… Naruto-kun, ten million Ryo is not nearly enough for a new Hidden Village. You’d need billions to even get started!” Shizune said, interrupting Naruto.

“I’ve been siphoning funds from the Uchiha clan’s bank account and turning most of the money into gold, using parts of my inheritance I couldn’t get to directly for things like food, books and shuriken,” Biwako said evenly, “there was also a lot of hidden treasure in the Uchiha district; add to that my share from selling Naruto’s vegetables, and I’ve already managed to stash gold and notes worth over a hundred and sixty million Ryo – not to mention all the weapons, most of them high-quality. If need be, I’m going to use every single milligram of that to support Naruto’s goals.”

Shizune looked lost, but Naruto’s eyes didn’t stay on her for long. He looked at Biwako, whose calm face belied the statement she had just made. Usually, Biwako made sure that Naruto appreciated the fact she had gone out of her way to help him, but it was the first time since opening the Uchiha Clan’s library to him she was doing something so major – much less two such things on the same day. ‘Wait,’ Naruto thought to himself, ‘no. She’s always reluctant if it’s about Mito or- well, anyone other than me. She has always been this supportive when it’s for me, though.’

Biwako was looking back at Naruto, not showing any signs that she had realized just how heavy the statements she had made were, but Naruto knew that she knew fully well. He was torn between lunging to hug Biwako and keeping his self-control- oh, who am I kidding?

Without further ado, Naruto put an arm around Biwako's shoulders, then hugged her more fully, the top of his head reaching a bit above her chin.

Of course, Naruto couldn't wait to get taller, but Biwako's breathing and scent chased away those thoughts, calming Naruto in a way no kind of meditation ever had.

"You can let go now, Naruto," Biwako's voice said, barely reaching him, like she was far away. It also sounded a bit- squeaky?


Naruto opened his eyes, only to close them when a bright light went off, rudely startling him to alertness.

Naruto pushed Biwako away and went for his Kunai holster- familiar laughter stopped him short.

His aunt had a camera in front of her. She said, "Hahaha. You were late to react, Naruto! The photo will probably be a bit blurry, but not much!"

The Killing Intent coming out of Biwako made even Naruto gulp and step back. When Naruto turned back to look at his aunt, she had put away that bulky thing, likely sealed away into a scroll. Biwako looked like a vengeful goddess, irises red with her fully-developed Sharingan and hints of electricity on her hand.

Tsunade cracked her knuckles, but Biwako wasn't deterred. Naruto stepped next to Biwako, stood on his tiptoes and bent enough for his mouth to reach Biwako's ear. Naruto said, "Let's put our revenge on hold for now," in a whisper, devious plans to prank his aunt entering his mind.

It took a bit of convincing, but Biwako calmed down. Unfortunately, that only encouraged Shizune to start pestering Naruto.

"…For the last time, Shizune-san!" Naruto said, "there's no way I'm gonna stay in Konoha! I went on that mission to the Land of Wind and foreigners -the teammate and the Sensei of someone I killed- were looking at me more positively than most random people in Konoha! The other teammate, who swore revenge on us and was also Gaara's sister, apparently, wasn't much different from Konoha's citizens in how she looked at me, but at least she had a real reason!"

Shizune looked like she had swallowed a lemon. She said, "I'm telling you for your own good, Naruto-kun! If you leave Konoha, it's only going to get more dangerous from then on! You'll be declared a missing-nin and hunted by everyone!"

Naruto said, "I have a plan to deal with that part," starting to get really annoyed at Shizune. When he saw her about to say something again, Naruto said, "For my own good…? Tell me, Shizune-san: what is the psychological effect of growing up hated and feared by almost everyone around on a child?"

"Well, you would at least be safe," Shizune said, weakly.

Naruto pressed on. He said, "Shizune-san. Do you know when I survived my first assassination attempt? At what age, I mean," through his teeth.

Shizune's whole body shuddered. She said, "At what age, Naruto-kun?" Looking like she would rather not hear the answer.

"It's my first clear memory, from when I was four," Naruto told her, "one of the caretakers at the orphanage I was in must have heard something about me being the Kyuubi reborn and believed it. She tried to smother me with a pillow in my sleep. Asuna-san was also my first kill," almost growling out the last sentence.

Then, Naruto went on to describe months of having to dodge bullies at the orphanage because he had killed one of the more beloved caretakers. "I managed to reproduce the super punch in a couple of months or so, but I couldn't control it well, so I stopped using it at some point, until I learned about Auntie Tsunade, years later, and realized what I had to do to control the output… though I used it wrong at first, injuring myself a bit.

"After I started using my instinctive version of Byakugo no jutsu, I sent a lot of other kids to the hospital; one of them stayed in his wheelchair for all the time I remained in that place, so I probably crippled him for life – I eventually realized that. That must be why those at the hospital hate me. The only one who was in my corner at the orphanage, Motoko-san, only helped because she pitied me.

“I was transferred to another orphanage a bit over a year later. Everyone was wary of me there, but they didn't hate me the way those in the other one did. The matron said something about 'Mother' possibly being upset if they didn't treat a child, any child, well. I didn't learn how to read and write even in that orphanage, both because I was too embarrassed to ask and because the caretakers feared me."

It seemed like Shizune had a lot to think about. A lot of what she had said was nonsense, but- could she be right about some of it?


Naruto and Mito were brainstorming about what to do to the people who had had the gall to attack the Ichiraku family in such a cowardly way. Biwako had washed her hands of the matter once she had helped find out all the culprits' names, but Naruto didn’t mind – he had just thanked her wholeheartedly.

On the other hand, Naruto and Mito had been leaving Shadow Clones near the Ichiraku family's home and Ramen stand. Naruto was loath to show more of the jutsu he knew to anyone, even Mito -mainly because she could be a bit of a blabbermouth-, but it was necessary. Mito's Shadow Clones tended to dispel when she would fall asleep, so Naruto had taken on the majority of protection duty.

'Wow, Naruto! You can keep clones in your sleep! I wish I could do that, but I haven't gotten good enough – I need more practice and Chakra Control, Pervy Sage says!' was what Mito had said.

Naruto had kept his mouth shut and shrugged – he wasn't going to tell her about the troubles he had with sleep. When Mito had bugged him about when he had learned the jutsu, he had told her he had known it for 'a while' and nothing else.

Shukaku was also chiming in, in his own way, annoying Naruto.

I know! You should slit their throats in six places, in the shape of your whisker marks!” Shukaku said, gleefully.

Naruto had been about to say that it was too much, when he paused. It could be a good plan, with a few major modifications, of course.


Kakashi walked onto the bridge part of Training Ground Three, the Hokage Hat nowhere to be seen, but he wasn't alone. A man nearly as tall as Kakashi was walking alongside him.

The new arrival had brown hair and really dark eyes, and seemed to be a few years younger than Kakashi. Naruto couldn't help feeling as if he had met the man before, and not in a pleasant way. In fact, something told him the man wasn’t to be trusted.

Kakashi wasted no time in introducing the stranger(?). He said, "Okay, kids, this is Te- I mean, this is Yamato."

Naruto felt a shiver go down his spine. He concentrated, trying to sense the man. Unfortunately, it felt faint, like his Chakra was being expertly hidden. Naruto could only get something familiar but- not, at the same time.

“Hello, Genin. You may call me Yamato, and I am going to be your new Jounin sensei. Kakashi-senpai- I mean, Kakashi-sama has told me I should be more personable with Genin students; as such, I will introduce myself more thoroughly. I’m twenty one and was recently honorably discharged from ANBU, though I am not going to tell you what my mask was. I prefer a more cautious and organized approach to life and missions.

“My favorite thing to eat is raw walnuts. I dislike anything oily, including fried foods. My hobbies… well, I suppose I like reading. Both non-fiction, because of my interest in architecture, and horror fiction. Dreams for the future, well, I would like to reach my full potential, whatever that might be.”

Naruto didn’t trust this guy, but he wasn’t sure why – his gut feelings were spot-on more often than not, on the other hand. Well, I’ll just have to wait and see.


"So, you hold the Chokuto like so," Shisui said, "then, you know what to do with Lightning Style Chakra Flow, though your timing still needs work."

Biwako was improving her weapons usage, including Chakra Flow, both Fire- and Lightning- based. She had recently gone through a growth spurt, which had put her at 156 centimeters, so she had changed to a bigger sword – she had also noticed she was better suited for straight swords.

Shisui was, on one hand, an attentive teacher that was no stranger to giving praise and had no problem with unconventional solutions. On the other, he was a perfectionist taskmaster who -when she didn't make her movements both as close to flawless as possible and lightning-quick- made Biwako repeat the motion until she could do them to his standards.

The two of them hadn't addressed the boss summon in the room, but were getting along well enough. She knew in her mind that Shisui didn't think her helpless, nor did he look down on her, but she still would rather not talk about her problems with him. Fortunately, he hadn’t pushed her. When Shisui told her it was time for a break, Biwako sat down on a tree stump without complaining.

She was hard at work trying to catch up – Biwako really didn’t like lagging behind. Naruto being a bit ahead of her for a time was fine. She trusted him, as much as she was capable of trust at any rate. She was being seriously left behind, though, lately – in fact, since she had sealed that Bijuu into him.

I can handle being surpassed, but it’s so frustrating! Biwako had started looking into one-handed hand-seals not long after Naruto had shown that he could use his Chakra Sensor skill that way and had actually practiced them for the first time much earlier than Naruto. And yet, it had taken Naruto only a few months to reach the level Biwako had needed close to two years for, and that was before the sealing!

As if to add to that, Naruto’s aptitude for the Wind element had recently caught up with the rest of his skillset and he had become yet better at one-handed seals, probably because of the Bijuu. If things kept on going like that, Biwako would become a damsel in distress, or at least seem like one compared to him!

Damsels in distress like fangirls were terrible creatures. Personally, Biwako couldn’t imagine not just relying on someone else to save her once, but systematically crippling her skills or pretending to be useless just to be saved by some girly-looking boy like Neji, no matter how talented. They also gave more fuel to those who didn't see Biwako -or other kunoichi- as fighters in their own right. 'The one who can bring back the Uchiha clan', people tended to say. Ha! The joke was on them. If she did, it wouldn't be in Konoha, and good riddance.

Biwako wouldn’t have ever been able to act that way. She had her pride-

(‘There is no value in killing the likes of you... Foolish little sister, if you wish to kill me, then hate me, scorn me, and survive in an unsightly way. Run, run and cling to your pitiful life.’)

Fortunately, while Naruto wasn’t blind and had noticed her trouble -even putting in extra effort to help her improve-, he hadn’t tried to pull his punches in all-out spars. She- she could only think about how she couldn't match him, when he was the best, most supportive friend Biwako could ever ask for. Had she ever even told him they were friends straight out, or was she still only calling him her rival?

I'm not sure- I- I don't even remember!

Biwako clenched a fist, trying to get her shivering to stop, even though it was a summer night -illusory or not- in Fire Country. She couldn't help feeling left behind. Her foot-in-mouth syndrome, as Naruto usually called it, was something she needed to get over last year. ‘Not that I regret making him do most of the chores for the past couple of weeks,’ Biwako thought to herself, ‘asking me to seal a Bijuu in him was beyond the pale! That stuff about it being necessary was bullshit, too!’

“Biwako?” Shisui’s voice said, not very far away.

Biwako blinked a few times. Then, she smiled at Shisui as best she could. “I’m fine,” Biwako said, much more softly than usual.

“That’s nice,” Shisui said, a small grin on his face, “but break time is over.”

‘That- that- that asshole!’ Biwako thought, having become more prone to cursing because of Naruto and Tsunade.


While she was keeping on guard for anyone hiding, Biwako had otherwise switched off her brain, so to speak.

Wait, is this an orphanage? And someone smoking…?

Not only an orphanage – it was the place Naruto had spent the first five years of his life. The smell of tobacco was a bit offensive to her sense of smell, but she had some Inuzuka in her ancestry. Unlike the Hatake clan, the Inuzuka had a natural resistance to offensive smells. The only way to overcome that would be to catch one off guard while said Inuzuka was actively enhancing their nose with Chakra. All but impossible.

It was strange, that someone would be up at such an hour outside an orphanage. Biwako decided to investigate.

"Go to bed, kid! Why are you outside at half past eleven at night? Chop chop-!" The woman said. Then, looking at Biwako's Forehead Protector, she said, "You're not one of the kids here, are you."

Biwako shook her head in the negative. She could tell that the woman had been having trouble with sleep for a while, judging by those bags under her eyes and some white hairs among black ones despite her looking to be in her late twenties, at most.

After stepping on the cigarette to put it out, the woman said, "Having trouble sleeping? I'm Shiroyama Motoko by the way."

Motoko?! Biwako jolted, recognizing the name. "I'm Biwako; I'll be in your care," she said, almost reflexively.

The woman sighed out loud. She said, "So, I can't help noticing you recognized my name," unable to meet Biwako's eyes.

Biwako said nothing at first, but when Motoko met her eyes, Biwako said, "Was there a question there somewhere?"

"Don't get smart with me," Motoko said in a strict tone.

Not feeling impressed at all, Biwako simply stared at the woman, emptying her face of all emotion. Yamato was useful for something, apparently.

Motoko shivered despite the warm weather. She said, "Sorry, force of habit. So, what can I do you for?"

Shrugging with one shoulder, Biwako sat down on the bench next to Motoko. She said, "I noticed that you are having trouble sleeping, too. A lot more than me, by the looks of it."

"Was there a question there somewhere?" Motoko said, making Biwako snort despite herself. Then, Motoko said, "I can't believe I'm considerin’ telling my problems to a girl who's the same age as many of my kids…."

Biwako said nothing.

"Oh, to he-eck with it! Have you ever done something you've regretted for years on end?" Motoko said, rolling another cigarette between her fingers.

Biwako said, "No, never. I've only ever regretted for so long if it's about things I haven't done – especially if I never even tried," very firmly.

Motoko sighed. She murmured, "From the mouths of babes…." Then, she said, "Do you think I can make things right, even after many years? I didn't do enough, and one of my children hated me for it…," unshed tears in her eyes.

Biwako took in a deep breath, then said, "Have you ever thought that it wasn't about what you did or not, but how you did it?" Seeing Motoko's confused stare, Biwako said, "I hate being looked down on or pitied, for any reason. Did your efforts come across as pity?"

By Motoko's wide eyes and slack jaw, she hadn't considered that. Biwako decided to leave the woman to her devices. She said, "Just talk to him," as parting words. She ignored the woman's 'Wait, please!' in favor of walking away.


*Tanuki are meant to have big testicles in Japanese lore. Poor Shukaku, hahaha!
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Extra: Future Weapons


Apparently a report-er
While Naruto is likely going to be using Staves made by his own Bloodline(s), Biwako, for whom swordsmanship is an important part of her arsenal....

Well, I can't leave her without something that can withstand insane clashes and I've already decided on the name of her future sword. She's not going to dual wield, though it's possible she'll have two swords to cover for more possibilities, so one would stay sheathed anyway. As for the War Fan, I don't think it suits her.

Ame no Ohabari: a sword that once belonged to Uchiha Izuna. It's one of the weapons the Uchiha clan created in the earlier days of the Warring Clans era, when they were near-unparalleled as weapons crafters.

Little more than a proof of concept originally, according to Izuna's writings, who likely found that out in older accounts.

That particular sword's special property is that it is not only extremely hard to destroy, it's also the only one other than -likely- the Kubikiriboucho that can be reconstructed by inexpert hands without loss. In particular, Ame no Ohabari can withstand extreme temperatures with little to no problem.

Yuki clan members Izuna fought against were unable to damage it with their ice, but where it truly shines (no pun intended) is in high temperatures. The black flames Izuna wielded and shaped could be channeled through that sword without damaging it in the least, and that might not have been the limit of its resilience.

(By the era Madara, Izuna and the rest lived in, while most Land of Water clans feared the Uchiha, some members would dare attack them.)