Naruto Thousand Hands (Mokuton Naruto AU)

Story1

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#1
Somewhere I Belong, AKA Thousand Hands (Naruto AU)





Naruto teams up with (Fem-)Sasuke, known as Uchiha Biwako. This story won't have pairings until the involved characters are well into their teens. Even if they share a bed, it's innocent (they're eight!)





Inspired by Ginjaa Ninjaa’s ‘History repeats itself’, with his blessing (he's on FFnet). This is also my second try at a Mokuton (Wood Style) Naruto story. Yeah, Mokuton Naruto is a cliche blah blah, yadda yadda. I know.





First two chapters beta-ed by Ginjaa Ninjaa.





Naruto was born to his canon parents, but one of them is descended from Hashirama; you'll see how later.





-----





Two children by a lake; a moment of understanding. Such a thing can change the world.





-----





Naruto made eye contact with his classmate, the one he thought was named Biwako. In her eyes, he could see the same pain he felt all the time, loneliness. Before he could think, his lips moved and he said, “wanna spar?”





It was too late for take-backs. Biwako looked at him with her completely black eyes for a moment, then nodded. Naruto followed the girl to a training ground, and the two of them stood still for a minute, sizing up one another.





“So how do we do this? I’m Uzumaki Naruto by the way,” Naruto said, starting to jump in place.





Biwako didn’t speak for a moment, but she simply said, “Uchiha Biwako. Taijutsu only.”





Naruto nodded and got into a stance. He had been looking at (ob-serv-ing? That’s what Iruka called it) the other Academy students in taijutsu practice for a while to copy them, and with some help from Iruka, had gotten somewhat good. Fortunately, the man had also helped him learn how to read and write, because the caretakers had been too afraid of Naruto to get close enough to him to teach him.





(“What’s the problem, Naruto?” Iruka said, making Naruto jump in place.





The boy had stayed in the classroom to try and study during lunchtime, but….





“It’s too hard, Iruka-sensei! I don’t get it! All those kanji, and- and-,” Naruto said, ready to cry.





“Wait,” Iruka said, realizing the problem immediately, “didn’t they teach you how to read at the orphanage?”





Naruto, expecting his sensei to mock him, lifted his head slowly. He said, “they didn’t.”





Iruka looked furious after hearing that, but he didn’t mock Naruto. He took the time to teach Naruto how to read, and even called him a very fast learner. It took Naruto two to three months to be called ‘adequate’ by Iruka and another to be ‘just above average’ at reading.





Another half year later, Naruto’s scores ended up slightly higher than the class’s highest scoring student in the testing, though he had already forgotten the girl’s name. The (academia only) scores were as follows:


Naruto: History: 100/100, Biology-anatomy: 100/100, Math: 97/100, Sciences: 99/100, Tactics: 92/100, Traps: 90/100, Ninjutsu theory: 100/100


Unknown girl: History: 100/100, Biology-anatomy: 90/100, Math: 95/100, Sciences: 93/100, Tactics: 99/100, Traps: 100/100, Ninjutsu theory: 100/100)





He now remembered that Biwako was the girl who always got the highest overall scores. He also remembered her taking her loss calmly -she had pouted for a bit-, unlike Sakura.





(“Sensei, this can’t be right,” the pink-haired girl he couldn’t remember the name of said, “why did you score my test lower than that bum’s?”





Naruto froze in place and looked at Iruka, only to see his sensei’s face was still smiling, but it was scaring him for some reason.





“Sakura,” the man said gently, “Naruto earned his marks. You keep putting others down when they show better performance than you instead of improving yourself – this is not an attitude worthy of a competent future ninja.”





The girl looked at Iruka, then at Naruto, then ran outside, crying. Fake tears? Either way, Naruto didn’t remember anyone else defending him like that except maybe for Motoko-san, and she had stopped, probably because Naruto couldn’t stand her.)





When Sakura’s parents had come to complain and threatened to pull her out of the Academy, Iruka hadn’t backed off. He had supposedly had some choice words about their and Sakura’s attitude.





Naruto didn’t know what the man had said then, but Sakura had become more serious in the practical subjects, and Iruka would help her get better, just like he did for Naruto.





(“Your stance is all over the place, Naruto,” Iruka said, looking the boy over carefully, “where did you learn it?”





Naruto said, “I’ve been watching the others and copying them. Is it that bad?” Rubbing the back of his head. He had also been fighting off bullies for a long time in the orphanage, but that was another story.





Iruka rubbed the back of his head too and said, “well, it’s good for a beginner. The very good thing is that it shows you can learn quickly.”





Then, the older male corrected Naruto’s form. It took many hours of trying again and again before Naruto was tired.





After that, Iruka treated Naruto to Ramen at the Ichiraku stand. The blond boy was busy slurping up the noodles in his bowl, when Iruka cleared his throat.





The man said, “hey, Naruto.”





Naruto said, “whak is ick Irukka-sensei?” Still eating.





“Chew first and swallow, then speak, Naruto,” Iruka said, scolding him gently.





“Sor- sorry, Iruka-sensei,” Naruto said, leaving the poor bowl of ramen alone for now. “What is it?” He said then.





“How would you feel if Sakura were to join our training sessions?” Iruka said.





“What! But Iruka-sensei, Sakura is- is-” Naruto said, lost for words, mostly because any word he could think of at the moment would make Iruka scold him.





“She’s a fellow classmate who wants to improve. Don’t forget that you’re not my only student, Naruto,” Iruka said, smiling gently at him.





That smile made Naruto not want to disappoint him. The boy said, “yeah, I guess, sensei,” sulking a bit.





Iruka ruffled his hair and said, “oh, don’t be like that, Naruto. You might even like Sakura if you get to know her better.”





Yeah, right,” Naruto murmured, still not over how Sakura tended to treat him.





“Just give it a chance, all right, Naruto?” Iruka said, almost pleading, and Naruto just couldn’t say no.





“Okay sensei,” Naruto said, not sulking anymore, “I’ll try.”





“That’s all I ask,” Iruka said and ruffled Naruto’s spiky hair again.)





Either way, Naruto had a spar to begin. He saw that Biwako had been waiting for him without complaining, and that made him respect her a little more. The two of them had never sparred in the past; boys and girls fought separately in the early Academy, so they had never done what they were going to that day.





Naruto put up the seal of confrontation, and Biwako reluctantly did the same thing. They tensed, and the second a bird passed just over a pond, the two of them moved towards each other. Naruto noticed that Biwako moved much faster than he could, but he shrugged off the knowledge and concentrated on the fight. Biwako kicked him in the gut, making his breath catch.





Then, Biwako tried to kick Naruto in the chin, but he stepped to the side quickly, making her mostly miss, barely grazing him. So, his pain tol- tol- whatever, saved him from that follow-up.





Naruto elbowed her in the kicking leg immediately, hopefully slowing her down. He had learned his lesson of holding back with girls after the Ami and Maifa incident.





Biwako backed off quickly, hobbling; she also seemed more surprised than hurt. She said, “your reflexes are as quick as mine,” sounding surprised.





This time, Naruto was the one who didn’t speak much – in fact, he didn’t speak at all, he simply shrugged. He tried to keep the fact that he was a bit out of breath quiet. The two of them, on another unspoken signal, clashed again; this time, Biwako’s much greater flexibility and clan training won out, and she pinned Naruto down.





Unfortunately for her, she hadn’t perfected the hold. And Naruto was much, much stronger than he looked, so he got out, though he was visibly out of breath after that e-xe-rtion.





Naruto looked at his opponent and decided to put his experience to use. After all, Biwako had to fight against girls who were more worried about getting a boyfriend -usually their arrogant prick of a senpai, Hyuuga Neji-, with Mito (ugh) her only challenge. Sakura was strong too, but she usually held back against Biwako for some reason. On the other hand, Naruto had had to outmaneuver Kiba in the past, outsmart Shino and block Chouji’s powerful blows.





…Not to forget showing patience to that lazy shit, Shikamaru. Seriously, his new habit of giving up every time he was supposed to face Naruto really annoyed him.





Mizuki, the assistant teacher, had had it out for him for a while; that was why Naruto usually had to fight the strongest students, but Mizuki regretted it when Naruto ended up stronger than them in barely more than a year. He could trick Shino and avoid Shino’s own tricks most of the time; move almost as fast as Kiba, with more a-gi-li-ty; and beat Chouji in a straight contest of strength, though he played to their weaknesses when he could.





He ran at Biwako, but not straight on, then used his incredible a-gi-li-ty to turn on a Ryo and attack her from behind. He punched her as she was turning, too stunned to react immediately, and got her in the cheek with incredible power, making her actually bleed and throwing her away from him.





Biwako got up shakily and wiped her injured cheek of blood. Naruto blurted out an “are you all right, Biwako?” But the girl ignored him.





She glared, full of hatred; at first, that worried him, but Naruto soon realized that she was seeing someone else in his place – he knew what being hated was like, so he knew that she was looking through him, and not to ignore him. She hated someone else with all her heart.





Biwako let out a cry filled with rage and attacked him again; this time, she wasn’t as smart in her fighting, so Naruto still had a chance. On the other hand, his stamina was running out, and Biwako was still going strong; he now knew that she had higher reserves, but fortunately, that didn’t ne-ce-ssa-ri-ly mean she could last longer.





Their last exchange ended with Naruto being kicked in the chest with incredible strength; he absently noted that this time, she had used her left foot. ‘Either she was holding back before, or her left is much stronger,’ he thought while flying through the air, coughing out saliva, hopefully without blood.





This time, she looked a bit worried, but when he got up, injuries no longer a problem, she said, “what are you made of?” Looking at him with a mixture of shock and… excitement?





Naruto dusted himself off, ignoring his worry that she would call him a freak in favor of focusing. He said, “I’ve always healed quickly. Now, let’s go!”





Thanks to Naruto having gotten his second wind, their next exchange ended up with Biwako getting a punch in the gut, then a kick in the chest when she bent down, being thrown away. She looked like a vengeful goddess then, eyes literally red, pain and fury twisting her features. It was all or nothing then. This last exchange would decide the fight.





This time, Biwako went for a punch in the face. She avoided Naruto’s counter perfectly, with an ease that seemed to surprise even her, which made her punch be weaker than it should be. Still, Naruto was seriously tired and hurt already, so his headbutt in the chest was weaker than he had expected; much weaker. Still, the previous gut and chest hits must have done their job, because Biwako dropped - at the same time Naruto did, and their fists met on the way down.





-----





There are three known methods to increase one’s natural talent for an element; four, if one counts the awakening of an already existent elemental Bloodline. One is through (usually illegal) experimentation, such as injecting oneself with an elemental Bloodline one does not possess the potential for. The second one is sealing a Bijuu with an elemental affinity or bloodline within oneself, though the compatibility with that Bijuu is lower when the affinities are different.





The other is when, in a process little is understood about, two people connect with each other during pitched combat, even if they are enemies, or even a (very intense) spar, and happen to possess the correct combination of elements. Even fewer know that this is the product of Ninshu*.





-----





It took a few minutes for them to catch their breaths, but when they did, Naruto said, “that- was- incredible! I never knew you could fight like that! What’s up with the red eyes by the way?”





“You said it,” Biwako said, “I wish I had healing and stamina regeneration like yours, though.”





“Don’t sell yourself short,” Naruto said, “I could tell that your reserves of stamina are much higher than mine; without the second wind I got, I’d have lost much earlier.”





“Right,” Biwako said, “wait, red eyes?”





Then, she looked at the small lake and whooped in joy, saying ‘Sharingan’ repeatedly… and fell backwards, unconscious.





Naruto caught her quickly, panicking. He said, “Biwako? Biwako! Come on – it’s not funny!”





He checked her pulse, but it felt normal to him. He carried her carefully to not be discovered, went up to one of the houses in the Uchiha district, trusting his gut; and, of course, it looked lived-in. He put her in a bed and went to her kitchen to make some tea. He had to decide if he would take her to the hospital, and it was a hard decision. He would immediately be blamed for any injuries she had, his fault or not.





Still, he steeled himself. It probably was actually his fault; he also wouldn’t risk Biwako’s health. He felt calm after deciding that, but he heard something he didn’t expect: movement from Biwako’s room.





He knocked at the door, saying, “Biwako! Are you awake?”





Naruto couldn’t hear what exactly she muttered, but she soon stumbled out of said room, looking like a zombie, like in the manga he sometimes read in the orphanage.





“Who’s- oh, it’s you,” Biwako said, slurring a bit.





“What’s wrong? Are you sick?” Naruto asked, worried again. He didn’t dare tell her that she sounded and looked like a drunk.





“What- no, it’s just Chakra exhaustion, but never mind that! How did you find my house?” Biwako said, a strange look on her face.





“I’m not sure,” Naruto said, “I trusted my gut; the place felt more alive, somehow.”





Biwako frowned a bit. She said, “that doesn’t make sense- wait. Are you a tracker, or maybe a sensor?”





“What’s that?” Naruto asked, curious. He had heard the words before, but didn’t know what they meant.





“Never mind- is that tea?” Biwako said.





“Yeah. I’m sorry I took over your kitchen, but I couldn’t sit and do nothing. How do you drink your tea?” Naruto said.





“I drink it with no sugar, and no cream or milk – I don’t like sweet things,” Biwako replied.





Naruto couldn’t believe that. He said, “even fruits?” Before he could stop himself.





“I can… tolerate fruits, especially non-sweet ones like tomatoes- okay, that’s a lie; I love tomatoes,” Biwako said, looking more alive.





Naruto smiled. He said, “I like all fruits, including tomatoes. ‘Cept lemons. Useless little-. I like vegetables too. I wish I had a place to grow them.”





“Why don’t you grow them here, in the Uchiha district?” Biwako offered.





Naruto could see that she was surprised by her own words, but she didn’t take them back. He eventually said, “I think I’ll do that. Thanks.”





Biwako went up to a mirror and simply looked at her own face.





“What are you doing?” Naruto asked after a while, seeing that she was absorbed in her reflection.





“Checking my eyes. Do you know what the Sharingan is?” Biwako said.





“Eh, not really…? But if it takes Chakra, should you be using it right after Chakra exhaustion?” Naruto said, a bit worried.





Biwako turned to him, her eyes once again red. Now that he was able to examine them, he could see a comma mark in each of them, at least until they turned black.





“You’re right of course, what was I thinking?” Biwako said angrily, hopefully not angry at Naruto.





“Is this ‘Sharingan’ a bloodline limit?” Naruto asked, curious.





“Yes,” Biwako said, swaying in place again.





Naruto quickly said, “you should go to the hospital for your Chakra exhaustion. You might have cuts and bruises too,” getting ready to catch her if she fell.





“Hmph,” Biwako said, “only if you go too.”





Naruto looked down and explained that the doctors and medic-nins in the hospital didn’t like him.





“Will they refuse to treat you?” Biwako asked, her expression neutral.





“Only if my problem isn’t very serious,” Naruto replied, “I also don’t want to make my re- reputation even worse, so please don’t tell anyone we sparred like that. If we go to the hospital at the same time, people might guess what happened.”





Biwako nodded. She said “I’ll lie and say that I got an older student as a sparring partner. Is that enough?”





“Yeah, thanks,” Naruto said, relieved.





“For the time being, you can sleep on the couch,” Biwako said, strangely calmly.





“Eh? Are you sure?” Naruto said, taken aback.





Biwako nodded. She said, “unless you prefer the orphanage,” slyly.





“Oh, gods no,” Naruto said, disgusted at the idea. While the new orphanage wasn’t anywhere near as hostile as the previous and rarely had kids disappear, it was still terrible… not to mention the lower amounts of food. It was a temporary arrangement and back to the orphanage, though. Right? Naruto smiled to himself bitterly.





-----





Biwako had just come back from the hospital. She had been given a pill for her Chakra exhaustion and prescribed a cream for her bruises. The doctor tried to question her on how she had gotten the injuries, but her cold attitude had helped her for the thousandth time.





When she got back, she found Naruto on the couch, asleep. However, he was twisting around as if he were having a nightmare and sweating terribly.





‘That can’t be healthy in this weather,’ Biwako thought.





So, she went to get a blanket. Unfortunately, as she was covering him, Naruto latched onto her in his sleep and wouldn’t let go.





‘I have to get away without waking him up,’ Biwako thought, ‘well, at least he’s not shaking anymore.’ After a few attempts, the girl resigned herself to her fate and tried to fall asleep.





She didn’t realize she had until she woke up. Fortunately, she had just enough time when she woke up to stop hugging Naruto.





-----





“Ugh – where am I?” Naruto said, realizing something was off, only to meet a black-eyed glare from up close.





“Did you sleep comfortably?” Biwako asked sweetly. Too sweetly.





Naruto soon realized that he had his arms wrapped around something - or someone. Biwako…? Shit.





Naruto unwrapped his arms from the girl and threw himself off the couch, hitting his head on something. Bright lights flashed in his sight.





‘Ouch. What happened?’ Naruto thought, blacking out for a second.





-----





“I said I’m sorry,” Naruto said, “what more do you want?”





“Idiot,” Biwako said, brow twitching. She had slept better than she had since- well, for the past month, and didn’t mind all that much, but she wouldn’t let Naruto know or let him off the hook.





Naruto sighed, but he didn’t say any more. Smart boy.





The coming night, Naruto crashed on the couch again and Biwako ended up lying next to him again. (‘Don’t you dare tell anyone! Idiot!’)





Soon enough, Biwako ended up telling Naruto to use her bed… and that was the story of how Naruto left the orphanage.





-----





The second spar Naruto and Biwako had was a week or so later. Biwako had been so sure of her victory thanks to her Sharingan that she lost easily. She learned not to underestimate Naruto, the hard way. And that was how the two of them became rivals, though not the hostile kind.





She wanted her rival to be strong, which was why she taught him the basic E-rank Academy jutsu early, telling him that he should try to learn them so well that he could do them without hand-seals. The two of them didn’t have anything more advanced, other than Biwako’s Goukakyuu (Great Fireball), but they wanted to correct that.





Biwako had been trying to find the Uchiha library for ages, but even now she had the Sharingan, it wasn’t so easy. She didn’t expect what Naruto suggested next instead of learning from scrolls.





“Let’s spy on shinobi who are training,” Naruto said, smiling wide and with teeth, which was a rare thing.





“What if they catch us?” Biwako said, not really against the idea.





“Your Sharingan can see really far, right?” Naruto said, still grinning, “my hiding skills are great, too, so let’s spy on adult ninjas.”





“I can’t copy jutsu very well yet,” Biwako said, annoyed at the fact that her Sharingan only had one tomoe (comma mark) in each eye.





“I’ll do it,” Naruto said, “my memory is great - I can me-mo-rize the hand seals perfectly.”





Biwako sighed. She said, “just be careful; don’t spy on Jounin, and don’t be your usual reckless self.”





Naruto crouched down, and Biwako could swear she saw a dark cloud hovering above his head. He kept saying ‘Biwako thinks I’m reckless’, depressed, drawing circles on the floor.





Biwako rolled her eyes upwards – Naruto was being an idiot again.





-----





Naruto learned, after a bit of careful spying on chuunin sparring in training grounds, how to use the Water Clone jutsu.





To be exact, he saw it used once, and managed to use it right in less than an hour of trying it. The hand-seals were Dragon, Ram and Tiger.





Biwako was looking at Naruto with her mouth open. She said, "Naruto… have you had training in Water ninjutsu?"





Naruto shook his head. He said, “no. I haven’t learned any of the elements at all.”





Biwako said, “I think you might be a sensor – even with a Water affinity, it’s unlikely you would have learned an elemental ninjutsu with so few hand-seals without some training, unless you knew how the Chakra had to be used for that jutsu.”





Naruto said, “you’ve talked about sensors before. What does that mean? Does it mean that I can feel Chakra somehow? We haven’t learned that in the Academy.”





Biwako nodded and launched into a lecture on the subject, complete with a lecturing pose.





“So, how do I use that skill?” Naruto asked.





“Well… I don’t know,” Biwako said, blushing.





“What do you mean you don’t know!” Naruto said, almost shouting.





“Give me a break, Naruto – it’s not like I know everything. Even if I do know a lot more than you do,” Biwako said, smirking.





Naruto sulked for a bit after hearing that, making Biwako- wait, had she just-





“Biwako,” Naruto said slyly, “did you snort just now?”





Biwako was blushing again. She said, “now you’re hearing things, too?”





“Biwako-chaan,” Naruto said in a sing-song voice, “don’t be like that. You can’t fool me; I heard you loud and clear,” smirking.





“Whatever. Idiot,” Biwako said, her expression once again unreadable.





Naruto murmured that she sounded just like a tsundere.





“What did you say!?” Biwako demanded, raising a fist.





Yup, definitely a tsundere.





“…What are you smiling at?” Biwako asked a few moments later.





“It’s nothing,” Naruto said, still smiling wide.





“So, Naruto – do you have a dream? Or maybe an ambition. I’m curious,” Biwako said a few seconds later, changing the subject, looking at Naruto without smiling; not that she ever did.





Naruto stopped smiling and thought the question over. He then said, “I don’t know yet. I… guess that I want to be accepted by the village, or at least find another place that will accept me. I believe that becoming a legendary ninja will help me in that; I definitely can’t be accepted if I’m just a nobody. Besides, with the village so- unfriendly, it’s better if I am strong. What about you?”





Biwako laughed without humor. She said, “I walked right into this one, didn’t I? I have this dream - no, it’s more an ambition: I will kill that man and avenge my family.”





Naruto decided to keep to himself the fact that she didn’t sound all that assured of her chances against whoever she hated. He said, “who is ‘that man’?” Almost whispering.





Biwako remained silent for a bit, seemingly thinking. Then, she said, “I might as well tell you. The man I hate with all my heart is the one who murdered the rest of my clan, who slaughtered them; my older brother, Uchiha Itachi.”





Naruto didn’t know what to say to that. No, that was a lie – he definitely had something to say. He vowed, “I’ll help you get stronger to kill your target and fulfill your ambition. You’ll see, I’ll be the best rival you’ve ever had!”





Biwako blinked, a hint of water in her eyes. She said, “oh Naruto,” and hugged him briefly, a rare thing, other than what she would do in her sleep.





-----





Biwako had found something when trying to discover the Uchiha jutsu library, with Naruto being there to help her against any traps her target had left.





She tried a password passed down by her father, but it failed to open the passage or safe or whatever it was. Grimacing, she wrote ‘foolish little sister, maybe next time’, then made a poking motion. That led to the revelation of a relatively small space, which had a large scroll inside, barely able to fit while folded up.





Biwako asked Naruto to check it for traps with a Water Clone. The clone unfolded the scroll, which had the kanji for Hawk, ‘Taka’, on it.





Fears forgotten, Biwako looked at the scroll in awe; few people got the chance to sign a summoning contract. But then, her blood ran cold: what if That Man had signed it first?





She checked, but none of the names belonged to him. The fact that Shisui had signed it last gave the girl hope.





“Well? Aren’t you going to sign it?” A voice said.





Biwako lifted her head to see the original Naruto smiling at her.





“I’m not completely sure,” she said, breathing slowly, “this is a life-changing decision.”





Naruto shook his head. He said, “summoning contracts don’t grow on trees dattebayo.”





“I know that!” Biwako said, snapping at him. Then, she said, “sorry. Just… let me think for a moment,” sheepishly.





Naruto’s expression softened, and he nodded.





Biwako thought of the cats – but cats didn’t fly. Some other members of the Uchiha had had summoning contracts of their own, but most of those had been taken by the village or were still in the home of the summons.





She made her decision.





-----





Naruto and Biwako started using ninjutsu in their spars, but they were still roughly equal; Naruto’s Water Clones would take a lot of Chakra to dispel with the Great Fireball, and gave him enough of an advantage to negate Biwako’s experience in ninjutsu.





Not to mention it created mist, and Naruto had the better hearing and stealth, so Biwako had to dispel them up close. Biwako’s sense of smell was amazing, but it didn’t help as much without special training. In the meanwhile, Naruto took Biwako’s advice to heart and practiced the E-ranks, mainly the Kawarimi no jutsu, so that he could do them faster and reduce the hand-seal number.





Biwako had kept training her hand-seal speed. She wasn’t as good as Naruto at reducing the number of hand-seals needed, apparently, so she had to be fast. Fortunately for her, her ma-nu-al dex-te-ri-ty was much higher than his. That morning, though, they had to go to the Academy, so they cut their training in hand-seals short.





-----





Mito had sat close to Naruto and Biwako that day, much to Naruto’s annoyance. Mito was the village’s darling; the ‘Honorable Daughter’ of the Fourth. Naruto found the easy way the people of Konoha accepted her unfair.





“So, what have you two been learning? Pervy Sage is back in the village, and teaching me how to use the Wind element!” Mito said, enthusiastically, her bright blue eyes shining.





“Fire,” Biwako said, speaking the usual way she did in the Academy.





“Ah, okay,” Mito said, “what about you, Naruto?”





Naruto simply shrugged, both disliking the girl and not wanting to give away his abilities.





“Mou! Can’t the two of you be more talkative?” Mito said, pouting. “Like Kiba- never mind, bad example,” she said.





Naruto rolled his eyes, and Mito pounced. She said, “so you do have a sense of humor, Naruto. I had begun to wonder dattebara.”





Naruto couldn’t help grinning. Maybe Mito wasn’t that bad, after all. Now that I think of it, she’s never liked being called ‘Honorable Daughter’. Maybe, just maybe-





“You usually look so constipated. You’re worse than Biwako, I think,” Mito said innocently.





Naruto took it back – she was as troublesome as Shikamaru would say. Biwako and Naruto turned twin glares upon Mito, who laughed nervously and rubbed the back of her head, chin-length strawberry blond hair moving around in sync.





Naruto still wanted to show up that pampered princess, even if she wasn’t that bad after all – he would show those idiot villagers that he was better than her. So, he decided to learn the Wind element and surpass Namikaze Mito in it.





-----





Naruto was checking on his plants in Biwako’s garden. Biwako was the only one who knew, but he had a habit of talking to plants. He had read in a book that that helped them grow, but in truth, he had done that even before. Had he somehow known that it helped them grow in-stinct-ive-ly, or was it just a habit he had gotten because he had been lonely? “Aargh, this in-tro-spe-ction thing is hard!” Naruto said out loud, tugging on his short blond hair in frustration.





He eventually noticed that two of his tomato plants had been uprooted, most likely by a dog or something like that. ‘How’d I miss that?’ Naruto thought, angry at himself - the ground around them was very messed up. He took one of them and put it in the ground again, but stopped himself before he did the same with the other. He knew it was too late for those plants – it was foolish to try to get them back… like it was foolish to have believed that Asuna-san would be able to come back from-





Naruto wiped his eyes with his shirt, near the shoulder, because his hands and sleeves were dirty. No. No! He wouldn’t cry any more, and he wouldn’t give up! He was Uzumaki Naruto, damn it!





Without bothering to think about it, Naruto put a little Chakra into the tomato plant he had replanted. He made a bit of a mistake, though: he used his Chakra in a strange way. Part of the Chakra that went into the plant reminded him of the Water Clone, another part reminded him of freshly tilled soil, and something felt strange about the Chakra in another way, too.





-----





Life is transient, and yet, some people are immortalized through their actions; through the light their very soul emits. That was the main principle of Ninshu: to reach understanding by linking their souls and their Spiritual energy -also known as Yin Chakra-, with Yang Chakra -Physical energy- as the medium.





What is even less-known is that Indra was not the only one to modify the process, though he was the only one to do so on purpose. Of all people, a direct descendant and reincarnate of the younger brother, Ashura, was responsible for that. His name was Senju Hashirama.





As a very young boy, Hashirama was secretly injected with White Zetsu cells by the nameless being some call Black Zetsu, in a gambit to trick an Uchiha into combining Ashura’s powers with Indra’s.





The operation succeeded beyond Black Zetsu’s wildest dreams, in every way. Far beyond. New, insanely powerful abilities emerged in Hashirama -and old ones were made beyond powerful-, such as his Chakra and flesh regenerating at a rate even his wife, a Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, was envious of.





Hashirama unknowingly tapped into something resembling Ninshu for the first time while taking care of a plant as a child, and went on to make a supreme form of Zetsu’s Mokuton, combining Ashura’s powerful Chakra and natural talent for Senjutsu with Zetsu’s Water and Earth element, Hashirama’s own talent for elemental ninjutsu, and -of course- what remained in Zetsu of that tree’s essence.





Many have theorized that Mokuton includes Yang Style, and is a Kekkei Touta rather than a Kekkei Genkai, among them Tsunade. The truth, though, is a bit more complicated: Mokuton includes Yin-Yang Style, being closer to Creation of All Things than anything else.





Unlike Creation of All Things, which doesn’t use actual Chakra but ‘Stamina’ because it splits it into Yin and Yang; Mokuton gives form with Yin Chakra and uses Yang to give life… while still keeping Chakra in its balanced form. People could study Hashirama’s abilities for a lifetime and still have more to find. People DID study Mokuton for a lifetime and found very little, and not just because those who knew the most were very tight-lipped.





What would it be like, if someone had the Mokuton at full strength, naturally? None of Hashirama’s direct descendants inherited his Bloodline Limit, because none of them had Ashura’s Chakra. Or did they?





History has a tendency of repeating itself.





-----





Naruto couldn’t believe his eyes. The tomato plant he had thought dead was in perfect con-di-tion.





‘What did I just do…?’ Naruto thought, ‘were the other orphans and those caretakers -old Tsuruko and Setsuna-san-, right? Am I a freak?’ Panicking.





He decided not to tell anyone about this.





-----





It was Naruto’s turn to do the shopping; mainly because Biwako was too tired that day. The usual for the two of them was for Naruto to always cook and take care of the garden and Biwako to always go shopping and clean.





He went to the butcher’s, when his eyes met the owner’s. He saw the emotions play out on the man’s face; from a smile, to unpleasant surprise, to anger and hatred.





“Out,” the man said, evenly.





Naruto’s teeth and fists clenched. He saw that the man had an expression of fear and was about to pick up a knife, so he left the store before he did something he might or might not regret.





Two women in the street gossiping started speaking about Naruto, and how ‘that thing shouldn’t be allowed to be a ninja’, so he glared at them, putting a bit of Killing Intent into the look, making the air heavy with his hatred. He could smell the piss running down the clothes of one of the women; he smirked at her with hate, making them both shudder.





Naruto reached a park, going to a secluded corner to calm down, closing his eyes. ‘Damn it! Why do they hate me like that? I don’t get it,’ he thought, and took deep breaths to calm down, while leaning on a tree.





While he meditated like that, he felt like the tree was reaching out for him, as if it had Chakra of its own. ‘My imagination is working like crazy today,’ Naruto thought, ignoring the little voice that reminded him of that tomato plant and told him he should at least tell Biwako.





…The next day, Iruka scolded Naruto. The man said, “is it true, Naruto, that you hit a civilian?”





“Huh? No, sensei, that never happened! I did make a woman piss herself by glaring at her, though, hehe,” Naruto said, smug, but hiding the fact that he could use Killing Intent thanks to Biwako.





Iruka shook his head. He said, “that’s bad enough, too. I’m disappointed in you, Naruto. You gave people fuel to spread lies about you. Besides, how can you protect Konoha’s citizens if they’re scared of you?”





Naruto looked down – he didn’t like disappointing his sensei. “Sorry sensei,” he said in a small voice, ignoring the very loud part of him that said he shouldn’t apologize and that he didn’t care about protecting Konoha’s citizens.





“Hey, Naruto. Chin up,” Iruka said, “how about I come with you to apologize to that woman?” Smiling.





“Hell no! Screw that bitch!” Naruto said loudly, startling even himself with how ve- ve-he-ment he was.





Iruka looked shocked, then pained. He said, “Naruto-”





“No!” Naruto said and bolted, hating the look he saw on his father figure’s face, but he couldn’t bring himself to apologize, even to Iruka.





…That night, Naruto forgot all about Iruka, because he found out something else. “Wait, so you found the Uchiha shinobi library? Without taking me with you? It’s dangerous!” Naruto said to Biwako, worried.





Biwako said, “don’t worry. I didn’t even try to get into it yet, but I’m pretty sure that’s it. Come on, follow me.”





She grabbed his hand, took him to one of the buildings in the Uchiha district and switched on her Sharingan. She tapped the floor on three particular places and a stone tablet appeared. She ‘wrote’ some stuff with her finger, did some hand-seals and there it was: a secret passage opened. “What can you feel from there?” Biwako asked, her eyes focusing on the darkness below.





Naruto molded some Chakra, but didn’t let it form into a jutsu, controlling it in a way that made it enter everything around him, but in a different form somehow. So, he used his sensory skill to make sure that, other than him and Biwako, there was nothing alive larger than a cockroach there.





Biwako hesitantly walked down the stairs of the passage, did a few hand-seals to close the entrance -apparently, her need to keep the Uchiha jutsu library secret was stronger than her fear- and they were soon met by a huge room - or so it seemed to Naruto, but it was too dark to see any more.





Suddenly, fire flashed, making Naruto jump. He immediately noticed Biwako with her hands in a Tiger seal, next to a lit torch attached to the wall. More torches were lit that were connected to that one, just like in those manga that had brave archaeologists and explorers find ancient tombs.





“Incredible, isn’t it?” Biwako remarked, her barely visible eyes betraying her excitement.





They both looked around; there were scrolls and books everywhere, and according to Biwako, the library had three more levels underground. The both of them explored those levels - the fourth and smallest level had things written by clan heads and just as important stuff, usually by the main families.





“What’s this?” Biwako remarked, “Advanced usage of Katon, by Uchiha Madara and Izuna?”





“Look, Biwako! The same guy, Madara. has a guide -no, many guides- for Fuuton, too! And a ‘how to’ on using fans like a Gunbai!” Naruto said, enthusiastic.





“Inside voice, Naruto,” Biwako scolded, “didn’t you want to learn about Fuuton? You should put the basics book on the first level, somewhere we can get to it easily. I’ll do the same for the moderately advanced Katon books; no clan head has written anything about the basics of Katon- wait.”





“What is it, Biwako?” Naruto asked.





Biwako showed him the thick book -more like an encyclopedia tome in size- called ‘Raiton: the Full Guide of Going from Expert to Grandmaster, Part 2’.





“What’s so great about- wait, Uchiha Mikoto? Wasn’t she your mother?” Naruto said.





He had met Uchiha Mikoto before and other than Iruka -and the man who owned a particular Ramen stand, to a point-, she was the only adult who had ever wanted him around. Sometimes, he would see her look at him and get an angry, scary look on her face, but he would ignore those times – she had been very good to him otherwise.





Nowadays, he understood some things better; so, he wondered what she had been angry at. He didn’t think it was Naruto himself.





Biwako smiled, though her eyes had a sheen on them. She said, “I think it’s time I learned a second element.”





Naruto couldn’t find it in him to disagree.





They also found a guide on tricks with shurikenjutsu, by Uchiha Shisui and Uchiha I- That Man… much to the disgust of his best friend, but she still kept it, mainly because of Shisui from what she said; a guide on wire use by Uchiha Fugaku; a guide on using the Shunshin in battle, by Uchiha Shisui, and incomplete documentation of two jutsu called the Raiton Chakra Mode and Hell Stab, by Mikoto again.





She had supposedly started writing the Lightning guide when she had been twenty one and a recently retired Jounin. The Hell Stab and Raiton Chakra Mode, she had written when she had been seventeen, a rookie Jounin. She was one of the few who had survived going up against the Third Raikage, in the first open battle of the Third Shinobi World War, though with a serious shoulder wound according to Biwako, who had just skimmed through some of the text.





Other interesting things were a jutsu called Housenka Tsumabeni, which made use of the rare Fire Style Chakra Flow, written by That Man with some help from Fugaku; the Clone Great Explosion, by That Man, along with the Shadow Clone, its kind-of parent jutsu; also Gouryuuka (Great Dragon Flame), Gouka Mekkyaku (Great Fire Annihilation) and Gouka Messhitsu (Great Fire Destruction), all written by Madara, the Gouryuuka co-written with Izuna like the previous guide.





According to Biwako again, Gouryuuka needed very high Chakra control, even though it was supposed to be weaker than the other two. In return, its range -and something called ‘versatility’. What was that?- was incredible, though it would also cost more Chakra the further it went from the user.





Finally, a series of books on genjutsu and Yin Style. Some had been written by unknown clan heads and relatives thereof; others co-written by Madara and Izuna, some co-written by Shisui and That Man and yet more written in collaboration by both of Biwako’s parents, Fugaku and Mikoto.





They had found a literal treasure trove of techniques, ninjutsu and otherwise. The two of them couldn’t keep the smiles off their faces, and they ended up studying the ninja arts well into the night, though they were smart enough to start from the basics. Barely. Fortunately, the morning after they had gotten into the library was a Sunday.





On the next school day, Naruto was nervous about seeing Iruka. He couldn’t eat much of his breakfast and could only think of how angry his teacher might be.





During the Academy’s lessons, Iruka didn’t act any different, but when he dismissed the class, Naruto stayed behind. When Iruka didn’t comment and simply started grading some tests, Naruto started sweating.





He couldn’t take it anymore and shouted, “Iruka-sensei!”





Iruka looked up from his tests, his expression unreadable. He said, “yes, Naruto?” Tests and pen left to the side of his desk.





“I’m really sorry, sensei! I shouldn’t have blown you off like that!” Naruto said, ending up rambling a bit, after that; partly because he still didn’t like apologizing, even to Iruka.





Iruka held up a hand. He said, “okay Naruto, I get it. Should I assume that apologizing to the civilians too is out of the question, though?”





Naruto looked everywhere but at Iruka.





“Your silence says it all,” Iruka said, dryly, “it’s not easy to forgive, I know. Just don’t lash out like that again.”





“You got it, Iruka-sensei!” Naruto said seriously.





-----





*(Biwako’s Lightning affinity improved a little bit in that exchange. Biwako’s talent for Fire improved more, though: her Fire Element ended up being an actual natural affinity when it had only been the secondary element.


In response, Naruto’s Water Element and Wind Element improved greatly. His Wind element remains a non-affinity, though.)
 
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Story1.5

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#2
Interlude (Ch 1.5)

-----

Snake, Ram, Monkey, Boar, Horse, Tiger ‘Goukakyuu no jutsu(‘Great Fireball jutsu’). Biwako molded Chakra in her mouth, inhaling through her diaphragm to fill her stomach with air, along with Chakra. Then, she immediately blew all the air and Chakra back out, turning it Fire-natured as it left her mouth.

Unlike what was -had been- usual, something went unexpectedly wrong or right in that last step, though.

WHOOSH!

The lake Biwako was aiming at had nearly boiled… or rather it would have, if it weren't so deep and somehow unnaturally resistant to fire and Fire ninjutsu, even for water. There was a sudden improvement in the power and reduction in the Chakra cost of her Great Fireball jutsu, and Biwako couldn’t for the life of her figure out why and how.

She couldn’t just accept her good fortune; an unknown factor like that might come back to bite her – her brother’s changing behavior had ended up-

‘No, I won’t think about that!’

Naruto was also someone she had a hard time predicting, but in that case, it might be a good thing; she needed someone in her life to keep her sane -she didn’t want to snap and become like that man-, and Naruto was perfect for the job. The fact that he was an excellent rival, with talent of a level she could never have expected, was the cherry on top.

He makes you weak, whispered a voice that sounded a lot like the gentle tones of Ita- like that man.

So much so, that she repeated her hand seals, letting out a Great Fireball that created even more steam than before, leaving her panting.W Without meaning to, her mind went back to simpler times; her father teaching her the Great Fireball, to be exact.

As expected; you are my child, after all.

‘Dad,’ Biwako thought, a few drops almost but not quite falling out of her eyes. She longed for those simpler times, of piggyback rides on a brother who didn’t seem to be a psychopath, of a mother and a father and an entire clan of relatives… and hated herself for it.

“Oi, Biwako! Time for lunch!” A voice shouted, making Biwako start. Naruto was behind her, in the place where her father had been standing when he had acknowledged her, waving at her and asking if something was wrong.

“Coming!” Biwako said, laughing without humor under her breath.

Food was ready; it was Naruto’s turn to cook, as usual. The both of them were about equally as good at cooking; which was to say decent, maybe even good but not great; they had split the jobs that way for good reason, though, and Naruto was improving

After they had eaten, Biwako had a question for Naruto, something she had been curious about for a while. So, she said, “so, Naruto, I told you about who I hate the most. Who is the one you hate the most?” Very interested in his answer.

Naruto didn’t even think it over and said, “Yamanaka Maifa!” His face twisting into an ugly expression that exposed his canine teeth.

Biwako was surprised. “The Academy’s Deputy Headmistress? What did she do?” She said, smelling a story behind this.

Naruto nodded and started speaking again. He said, “you see, it started when Ami and her two cronies tried to bully me. I had weird hang-ups then, like about hitting girls, so they beat me up. That’s when I fought back, hitting Ami in the arm and accidentally snapping it, but a teacher saw the last part and brought me to Maifa’s office. Ami’s cronies tried to run away, but the teacher -one of the assistants, Mizuki-sensei- was a stick in the mud and took everyone to Maifa.

»Maifa questioned us, seemingly to understand what had happened; Ami tried to be excused to go to the hospital, but the woman wouldn’t let her. Even the teacher wasn’t allowed to leave or tell Ami’s parents. It still seemed like I was going to be blamed for everything, though. But when Maifa was told that nobody else had seen what happened, a gleam appeared in her eye.

»Suddenly, none of us could move; I only heard a whisper of ‘Shinranshin no jutsu’ (‘Mind Body Disturbance jutsu’). The teacher asked her what she was doing and why, and I still remember her words. She said, and I quote, ‘this boy is an important military asset. I cannot let a lowly bully from a minor clan ruin that. If need be, I will make the girl “disappear” and make her parents forget about her’. She- she did something to all of them, and afterwards, Ami and her cronies remembered nothing, and she now thinks she broke her arm in a fall. Mizuki-sensei doesn’t seem to remember, either – but the man has been… different since then.

»I broke out of the jutsu holding me still in my anger. Maifa simply looked at me with a smile, complimenting my power for breaking her Shinranshin. For some unknown reason, she didn’t try to do anything to my memories, but she did tell me nobody would believe me if I told on her. That might mean she was working alone, but I’m not gonna trust a word that comes out of her mouth. After what happened that day, I realized what Konoha was really like. I’ve let Iruka-sensei think that I’m going to protect Konoha’s citizens, but the only reasons I haven’t left yet is because I have nowhere else to go and Sensei himself. Recognition from them? Ha! Who cares! Sorry I haven’t been very open with you.”

Biwako was looking at Naruto wide-eyed. The bitterness she saw from him reminded her of when she asked herself, ‘why didn’t the ANBU or the Hokage notice on that night?’

She asked him, “are you going to take revenge on her?” Looking at him in a new light.

Naruto shook his head. He said, “what’s the point? If she’s working with the higher-ups, then what am I going to do? Kill the Hokage too? He’s the Headmaster of the Academy, after all. If she was working on her own, then she was trying to help me in her own twisted way. Very, very twisted. I still don’t get the crap about military assets, though.”

“You know what this means, though, right?” Biwako said, her lips curving upwards slightly, “we need to go to the Uchiha library so that we can research exactly what that bitch meant.”

After all, while the main thing the library contained was information on the ninja arts and jutsu, hence it being called the Uchiha Jutsu Library or Uchiha Shinobi Library, it had more than that. Information on various clans, even Konoha’s -for some reason, especially Konoha’s- memoirs of various Uchiha and more.

Naruto said, "Biwako!" Looking at her with his mouth open; was it that rare for Biwako to use that kind of word? She smiled or rather smirked, smug for having flustered Naruto. He then smiled at Biwako shakily and hugged her tightly, chuckling under his breath.

‘He’s starting to grow on me,’ Biwako thought, ‘like a fungus,’ which made her smirk wider.
 
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Story2

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#3
After those rumors that Naruto had hit a civilian, Konoha had become really fearful and hostile. To keep his agreement with Iruka, Naruto avoided being out and about unless it was to go to the Academy. Once, when a villager had thrown a rock at him, Naruto played a nasty prank on him later that ended up with the man having an arm and leg broken, his skull frac-tured and in a coma for two weeks by accident.





Naruto hadn’t been caught. Even Iruka had never suspected a thing, but Naruto swore to himself that he would be more careful from then on, ignoring the voice in his mind saying ‘why bother?’ Well, it should at least be on purpose. I refuse to have so little control!





After eavesdropping on a conversation between a teacher and that monster of a Deputy Headmistress, Yamanaka Maifa, he was able to find out how the teams were formed. He had the choice between being the Rookie of the Year and the Dead Last, and he decided on being Dead Last – mainly because the villagers of Konoha might fear and hate him less if he weren’t seen as powerful. Though pretty much the only reason he cared was his promise to Iruka.





On an unspoken agreement, Naruto and Biwako didn’t use the Shadow Clone in their next few spars -even after learning it well-, much less its explosive variant, even though both of them had learned the two jutsu. Of course, that might have something to do with how much Chakra they took and the way they split stamina between them – Naruto’s Shadow Clones barely had enough Chakra to explode when he made more than five or six.





Naruto started working on the Wind Style training; he tried to cut a leaf using only his Chakra, which was much harder than it sounded. He had already managed the Water element exercise in less than two weeks. Biwako’s feat of managing the Lightning exercises about equally as quickly didn’t surprise Naruto much; such feats were only to be expected when it came to her.





After several months, Naruto managed to fully cut the leaf, partly thanks to Madara’s advice in the prologue of his beginners’ book (‘imagine two spinning discs making contact. The point of contact is where the cut spreads, in two directions’). After that, he learned a D-rank Wind ninjutsu, Fuuton: Shou (Wind Style: Thrust), which pushed one relatively small object or person away. It took him three weeks or so to learn Shou.





He had also studied the Uchiha clan’s information on the Senju clan’s fighting styles. For some reason, Naruto felt drawn to the Senju clan, Hashirama and Tobirama the most of them. Well, Tobirama had been the greatest Suiton user in the history of Konoha.





Naruto was good at learning by doing things with his body. That didn’t mean that he wasn’t good at learning from books and scrolls, though; it was just slightly slower going. He needed some help from Iruka, but he managed to piece together some of the Senju clan’s styles, but Iruka urged him not to try anything more advanced. ‘Learning something wrongly is very difficult to undo,’ Iruka had said.





Naruto was also starting to get the hang of the fewer hand-seals thing – he recently managed to substitute with one of his Water Clones without Biwako noticing in a spar, mainly because he could use the Kawarimi (Substitution / Body Replacement) with only one hand-seal.





The track record of the two of them remained about equal, and neither had managed more than two wins in a row. They also found out their elements through Chakra paper, a process that held surprises for both of them. Biwako stared into… well, nothing, after her paper crinkled into a ball, then burned to ash.





According to her, her talent for Fire Style had increased recently, but that she would have two affinities was still a surprise. As for Naruto, he had expected Water, but not Earth in his affinities.





The Hawks started to train Biwako, including in Raiton and the basics of using her nose for tracking, and the advantage of her having a high-level teacher and him not having one proved to be too much. That was the first time Naruto lost three weeks in a row, so he went to Iruka for advice.





-----





“Iruka-sensei,” Naruto said, distressed, “I need help ‘ttebayo.”





“What is it, Naruto?” Iruka said, putting down his cup of tea calmly.





So, Naruto told him the problem without details. He told him that he had a rival, and that they were surpassing him; none of the skills he could learn at the moment could counter their skills, and he didn’t want to get left behind; would his rival throw him away in that case?





Iruka smiled a bit. He said, “firstly, if you two are friends, not just rivals, then they won’t throw you away. Secondly, have you tried improving what you’re best at instead of learning new skills? Try not to learn too much at once; it’s like trying to look left and right at the same time.”





Naruto thought it over. Wind Style was a bust; he just wasn’t good enough at it to counter Biwako’s improved Raiton. Even if he learned Earth jutsu, Earth simply wasn’t good against Lightning. So, that left the Water element. ‘Yes,’ he thought, ‘there has to be a reason it’s not considered weak to Lightning, con-duc-tor or not.’





“Thanks Iruka-sensei,” Naruto said with a grin and hugged his teacher.





“Ow. Can’t- breathe,” Iruka said, getting paler and paler.





“Oops. Sorry, sensei,” Naruto said, blushing in embarrassment, and released the man.





Naruto read up on water and discovered that only when the water had ‘impurities’ did it remain a good conductor of electricity. So, he looked into some books on chemistry and physics. He managed to purify the water on the fly, which took him nearly as long to manage as extracting the water from a leaf without hand-seals had, despite help in training from Shadow Clones; a trick which he discovered thanks to Iruka’s advice, again. It was possibly the most difficult skill he had ever tried to learn related to the Water element.





Naruto had to invent a whole new hand-seal through knowledge of Chakra theory and clone trial-and-error both. To be exact, he made a modified version of the Dog seal, which was less costly than trying an actual higher level purified jutsu with its own hand-seals.





He only had the Chakra reserves of a slightly above average adult Chuunin if he was estimating things right, but the quick restoration of his Chakra and his great Chakra control allowed him to train with two clones for hours; more clones, when he was doing something less costly, like when he made the new hand-seal.





Naruto had a new appreciation for Senju Tobirama, who had been a very productive jutsu inventor. Naruto's clones had nearly blown themselves up more than once when making the new hand-seal.





The help of a certain medic-nin didn’t hurt, with his own custom food pills, which allowed him to get enough nutrients and energy for Naruto not to need to take many breaks to eat when training. The skill of purifying the water, despite how costly it was in terms of Chakra, got him the win for two matches straight.





-----





The Hokage was in the Academy, and all the students stood at attention. He gave a speech and introduced an ANBU by the codename ‘Wildcat’. Wildcat told them about his Mokuton, which was the combination of Water and Earth natured Chakra, and showed them two jutsu: the Moku Bunshin (Wood Clone) and a ninjutsu which made houses out of nowhere.





Naruto couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. Could it be – could he have Mokuton? He met Biwako’s eyes, and the same shock was in them.





-----





Naruto tried for days to use the Wood Clone, to no avail. Again. Tiger, Dog, Snake, “Mokuton: Moku Bunshin no jutsu!”





Nothing again. “Damn it,” he said, fists clenched, “why the fuck can’t I do it?!”





Biwako whispered that a bloodline might need to be activated in an intense situation first, but Naruto wouldn’t give up; he knew he could do it as he was!





The next try created a bit of sawdust, which didn’t look like much, but it was, in fact, his first success in using Mokuton. If he ignored how healthy and strong his trees and plants were and how incredibly high-quality the fruit and vegetables were, that is. In hindsight, it was obvious; when he was in a good mood, the plants seemed more alive, but he had thought that was a trick of the light. As for the time he had brought a dead plant back to life, that was probably a fluke he’d need lots of practice to manage again.





“Yatta!” Naruto said and started jumping around.





After winding down, he saw Biwako’s serious expression. He said, “what’s wrong, Biwako?”





“So, you’re a Senju,” Biwako said, expression unreadable.





“Well, yes, apparently. Is that gonna be a problem?” Naruto said. Will she not want to talk to me again?





Biwako shook her head and smiled; she actually smiled! She said, “no, but it’s fitting, don’t you think?”





“Fitting?” Naruto asked, a bit confused.





“Madara and Hashirama,” Biwako explained, “only one could match the other; it might well be the start of something legendary, this rivalry we share.”





Naruto smiled too, for real, and all plant-life around them came alive.





“Wait,” Naruto said, “does that mean Tsunade-sama is my mother or grandmother, or something?”





Biwako blinked. She said, “I didn’t think of that. Should we look for her? I could put the Hawks on a search.”





Naruto said yes to the idea, and felt really happy; he might have a living family member out there! He nearly didn’t notice that Biwako looked sad and envious. Nearly. After all, he had gotten very good at reading his only friend.





He put a hand on Biwako’s shoulder. He could see how she put on a brave face, but was hurting inside; he didn’t begrudge her the envy she felt, and silently showed his support.





Biwako unexpectedly hugged him, and Naruto couldn’t believe his senses. It was only the second time she had initiated something like that outside of their sleeping arrangements, and the first time it lasted so long. She trembled a bit in his arms, but she didn’t cry. She might not be able to cry anymore.





-----





Naruto was planning his tactics on their new spar; he couldn’t think of how to beat Biwako a third time in a row, but he would try his best; she had copied him in using Shadow Clones to train, and had learned a new jutsu that could rip through his defenses. Perhaps Iruka’s advice of playing to his strengths would hold true again.





Mokuton was a tough nut to crack, so he wouldn’t keep on that for now. He’d look up in the Uchiha archives what his female relative was known for, other than her medical ninjutsu; same with Hashirama. He’d also ask Iruka.





-----





“Well, let’s see,” Iruka said, nursing a cup of tea, “Tsunade-sama? Where do I start? You see, Tsunade-sama is known for her great Chakra-enhanced physical strength; Shodai-sama was also a medic-nin, like his granddaughter.”





“Any details on her strength?” Naruto asked, leaning forward in interest. That sounded familiar.





“Well,” Iruka said, “I don’t know for sure, but apparently the key to her enhanced strength is timing, precise Chakra Control and knowledge of anatomy. She’s also naturally strong, even without it. Why? Do you want to try to reverse engineer it?”





“Maybe,” Naruto said, smiling at Iruka mysteriously; or, at least, that was what Naruto hoped it looked like. Naruto had managed something like Tsunade’s strength before- no, don’t think about it.





“Well, I wish you luck,” Iruka said, winking at Naruto, “it’s going to be a long and difficult road.”





Naruto nodded and thanked Iruka, snapping out of his thoughts. He decided to stay there and finish his own tea; Iruka promised that he would treat him to lots of ramen if he managed to get the basics of Tsunade’s Chakra-enhanced strength. Considering the fact that he had probably had the basics instinctively since four years of age- no. I decided I won’t think of that. I won’t!





Naruto shook his head and shrugged his shoulders repeatedly. He tried to think of something, anything, else. His Academy teacher…? Yeah. Iruka no longer asked Naruto to raise his grades, because Naruto told him that he was trying to rig the team selection. That might have given away the fact that Biwako was his rival, but he didn’t mind; Iruka was discreet. He wouldn’t tell anyone unless he was certain, at least.





A tear ran down his face and it got slightly harder to breathe because his nose had started clogging. Asuna-san… why?





-----





Naruto had put together what he had found out from the Uchiha shinobi library and what Iruka had told him. He would try to use his strength beyond lethal situations. Mold Yang Style Chakra at the right moment; put it into my arms, including the shoulders and shoulder blades and release it as I… punch! Ahhhh!





It had only taken him a few days to get down the basics of Yang Style by making a leaf harder, a record that went beyond even his Water Style training… which had been sped up by the fact he had already gotten down a C-rank Water element ninjutsu in the form of the Water Clone.





He destroyed the small tree he was using as a target with one punch. He was hurt by the backlash, though; his right arm was broken in at least one place, and his knuckles were bleeding. It was lucky he healed extremely quickly. So, he decided to work more on his Chakra Control and anatomy knowledge; first, he would read books while his arm was healing on its own.





If his reading speed was slower because of the distraction of the pain and being reduced to one hand, well, that wasn’t a huge problem. His pain tolerance was insanely high, according to Biwako. Well, all those bullying kids at the first orphanage helped.





After his arm got better he, the original, did a new Chakra Control exercise, the Tree Climbing, while two clones were slaving over his book on the human body and its workings. Now, he could climb a tree without using his hands. It took him only three tries until he was able to manage it; then, he stuck leaves on himself to make the whole thing harder.





Unfortunately, the Water Walking exercise was much more difficult. One step, two- crap!-


(Splash!)





Naruto kept failing at it, but he didn’t stop trying. It took him hours, especially with the distraction of Shadow Clones dispelling and him recreating them, without using them to help him get the exercise, but he managed to stand on water shakily.





The next day, after he could manage to spar with a Shadow Clone without falling in, with a leaf stuck on his forehead, he called it quits and went back to trying to use Tsunade’s strength technique… consciously, at least.





He was targeting a boulder this time because he didn’t want to cause any more damage to trees. His knuckles bled again, but it was skin deep; he didn’t break his arm when he cracked the boulder. He was pretty sure that he had made his punch stronger than the previous time and much stronger than the subconscious uses of his past. Ugh. He would go to the hospital to be certain that his arm had healed correctly before, though; mainly because Biwako would be on his ass if he didn’t. Ugh again.





-----





“So, you say that you broke your arm in at least one place… yesterday?” The medic-nin, Yakushi Kabuto -the same one who had given him food pills- said, “I can see that your bones have broken and mended perfectly, in two places. It’s like weeks or months of mending have taken place! You have an amazing healing factor, Naruto-kun. In the future, though, be sure to come to me immediately; there is always the chance you will heal incorrectly.”





Naruto nodded with a smile and said, “okay, Kabuto-sensei.”





Kabuto rubbed his head in embarrassment. He said, “no need to be so formal, Naruto-kun; I’ve told you that before. Call me Kabuto-san, or something.”





“Very well, Kabuto-san. Thank you for your help,” Naruto said and bowed to the teenage medic-nin. This was the first person who treated him as a human being in the hospital, so he made sure to always be polite and courteous.





At first, he had feared that Kabuto was trying to poison him with those pills, but the older male had proved himself good on his word. The fifteen-year-old, white (gray?) haired medic-nin had unofficially become Naruto’s physician – Kabuto was always called upon whenever Naruto was in the hospital, on Kabuto’s own request. The man also often gave Naruto tips on nutrition.





Kabuto nodded back and gave him a piece of advice: “One last thing, Naruto-kun. Make sure to get enough nutrients, especially red meat, fish and yoghurt for proteins, certain vitamins and calcium. There is a chance that healing your bones like that has used a lot of your body’s stores of nutrients, and you don’t eat enough red meat; I could tell,” Kabuto said, serious as only a medic-nin or doctor giving advice could be.





Naruto grimaced. Yoghurt was yucky, but he would bear with it; he already had Ayame and Teuchi to nag him to drink milk, so he wasn’t lacking in calcium – just in case Naruto’s healing took a lot of nutrients, though, he had better be careful. He would make sure to eat more meat as well. It wasn’t that he didn’t like it; it was just something Biwako, who did most of the shopping, often ‘forgot’ to buy.





After all, the nearest butcher was a bit too worshipful of Biwako, and disliked Naruto very much, which Biwako couldn't stand – he didn't blame her after that guy had kicked Naruto out with no reason. Maybe hunting animals would be better, or at least sending clones to keep from losing out on training time.





Kabuto also said that ‘most of the more obscure vitamins that are necessary to convert calcium effectively and efficiently, are actually present in more than high enough of a concentration in you, which is rather rare.’ “You probably won’t need supplements other than my food pills, Naruto-kun,” Kabuto said afterwards. Then, the older male absentmindedly told Naruto he was free to go, so Naruto left.





‘It must be all those fruits and vegetables that keep me from missing vitamins,’ Naruto thought. He had made it his mission to obtain seeds and other samples of various kinds of trees, bushes and plants that produced something edible; then, he made them grow relatively quickly with his Mokuton.





Larger-scale jutsu -or any actual combat jutsu- of that element were still beyond him; he could only make lower-sized trees, too. The Wood Clone was still something he couldn’t use well; it was like something had helped him with the dead tomato plant – maybe it was the emotions he had felt then?





He had played around with the Earth element a bit, but couldn’t put much time into it. He had managed to cover a leaf with a little bit of dirt over the past month; it should take another month to manage it perfectly at that pace.





-----





The time of the spar between Naruto and Biwako had arrived, and Biwako couldn’t wait. The two of them stood in a stance, and on an unspoken signal, they attacked each other with taijutsu. They knew each other’s style too well to manage anything, though, so Biwako activated her -very basic and weak- version of the Hell Stab. Naruto- punched the ground?!





Biwako lost her balance and very nearly pierced herself with her own jutsu. By the time she recovered, Naruto was on her… and punched her in the gut.





Biwako’s world was spinning, and she thought, ‘what- the hell- happened?’





…Naruto had been smug for the entire day; Biwako couldn’t be (too) angry at him, but she was angry at herself for losing so easily. She had to step up her game. But what would she work on? It needed to be too quick to allow Naruto to disrupt her balance, or maybe… yes, Housenka no jutsu (Phoenix Sage Fire / Phoenix Flower jutsu) should work.





After all, the Hell Stab was a bust for now; the information was too incomplete, it was weaker without learning the Raiton Chakra Mode and even if she had been able to use it well, the full version was too lethal for a spar. When she was better-rested, Biwako made sure to memorize the Housenka no jutsu scroll from the genin section of the Library. After managing that, she went to practice it by the lake.





She went through the hand-seals, and-





(“Nii-san, nii-san! Please show me one of your jutsu!” Biwako said, hoping that her brother would show her something amazing.





She half-expected a poke in the forehead, but Itachi nodded, saying, “all right, Biwako. I have some time now that the Chuunin Exams are over.”





Her brother had just become a chuunin at ten - he was amazing! He took her to a training ground near a river.





The jutsu Itachi showed her was called ‘Housenka Tsumabeni’ (Crimson Claw of the Phoenix / Phoenix Flower, Crimson Nail / Phoenix Sage Fire, Crimson Claw). He threw a few shuriken and set them on fire. Then, those flaming shuriken completely destroyed a few targets, changing their course in midair.





Wow. “How did you do that, nii-san? The shuriken moved on their own! Is it because of the fire? Is moving like that the difference between the Housenka no jutsu Dad showed me and this one? Is it-?”





Poke!





Biwako rubbed her forehead, saying, “ow! Nii-san! You’re mean!”





Itachi shook his head in exasperation and said, “foolish little sister. One question at a time. Now, this is a Chakra Flow jutsu; using the Fire element in Chakra Flow is very difficult, so it is rare. While Father is capable of using this jutsu, I am the only one to truly master it in generations; the only one with Fire Chakra Flow of this caliber or higher in Konoha -definitely higher, I admit- was Sarutobi Sasuke, Hokage-sama’s father. When you were in Mother’s womb, we thought you were a boy, so you nearly got named ‘Sasuke’.”





All Biwako heard was that her brother was incredible; she didn’t much care about people who had died. Wait a moment. “Nii-san,” Biwako said, “where did the name ‘Biwako’ come from then?” Thoughtful.





“Like Sarutobi Sasuke, Hokage-sama’s father, was one of the strongest male shinobi of his generation, Sarutobi Biwako -Hokage-sama’s late wife- was one of the strongest kunoichi of her own. Sarutobi Sasuke was an incredible Katon (Fire Style) user, while Sarutobi Biwako used Fuuton (Wind Style) with paper fans to augment her husband’s own Fire Style from afar. It was my idea to name you Sasuke or Biwako,” Itachi said, “but I digress. The difference between Housenka and Housenka Tsumabeni is like the cool early morning weather and the blazing early afternoon sun,” Itachi said, smiling fondly.





Itachi then said that Housenka Tsumabeni was far hotter and could be controlled from afar much better than Housenka.





“Why didn’t you say that in the first place, nii-san?” Biwako said, definitely NOT pouting!)





…The Fire jutsu fizzled out, making Biwako breathe out a ball of fire smaller than an adult’s fingernail.





Biwako shook her head and tried again. She had to be strong enough to beat Naruto! And kill that man, of course.





…Biwako tried for hours to get that jutsu, even using Shadow Clones like Naruto, but it didn’t help her get it. Flashbacks of that man kept getting into her mind. She hated him, didn’t she? Then, why did she keep remembering all that?!





What was worse, she couldn’t detect a single hint of that man faking his emotions even now! Was he that great of an actor? What was the truth and what was a lie?





(‘People live their lives by what they accept as correct and true. But what does it mean to be “correct” or “true”? Such vague concepts… Their reality may well be only an illusion.’)





(‘I'll always be there for you, even as an obstacle for you to overcome. That's what big brothers are for.’)





Uchiha Itachi was so confusing! At first glance, he was either a psychopath and pretending all along or someone who had snapped under the pressures of ninja life and gone homicidally insane, then pretended to have been a psychopath all along for- some unknown reason.





All Biwako could tell was that Itachi was a lying liar who lied. But what was true and what was a lie? Fact was, Itachi had tortured her with their clan’s deaths for hours, making her go unconscious for close to three days.





(‘I did it to test the limits of my abilities.’)





(‘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.’)





Biwako grit her teeth, but something struck her as strange once again. She thought that man’s words over, and realized what was wrong: the man had killed even the babies (she shuddered at that). Then, why had he told her she wasn’t worth killing? Had he only been trying to rile her up to keep her from thinking about any inconsistencies?





If so, it had worked. It fucking worked. But what was the true purpose? She had already established that Itachi was one of the biggest liars in existence, but there had to be something she was missing! Did it have something to do with his tears on that day?





Wait, tears? Why did she remember Itachi shedding tears when he was attacking her, and why had she only remembered now?





‘The mystery deepens,’ Biwako thought.





Uchiha Itachi was more complicated than he had allowed her to see, and she would make sure to investigate him thoroughly before killing him. Going back to practicing Housenka no jutsu, she swore that Itachi wouldn’t get to pull the wool over her eyes ever again!





…After two days of trying to get Housenka no jutsu, Biwako was feeling impatient. Should she-? ‘Well, it worked for Naruto and for the Summoning jutsu,’ Biwako thought, ‘why not now?’





So, Biwako went to Iruka for advice. The man was sitting at his office, probably grading assignments. The girl cleared her throat, making Iruka finally acknowledge her presence.





Iruka said, “Biwako. What brings you here today?”





“Iruka… sensei,” Biwako said, reluctantly showing the man respect, “I need some advice.”





Iruka put down his pen and looked at Biwako in curiosity. He said, “I see,” stopping at that.





Biwako took a deep breath and told Iruka that she was trying to learn a jutsu, but found it impossible to manage it. She even told him about the flashbacks to that man that she got whenever she tried it.





Iruka mulled it over for a bit, then said, “that jutsu – is it Katon (Fire Style)?”





“Yes,” Biwako said, not elaborating.





“I think I see the problem – after all, I am a Katon user myself, though my primary element is Water,” Iruka said, taking on a lecture pose, “Fire is unique in that it is fueled by the user’s passion. An indecisive and torn heart cannot perform Fire Style well. While all jutsu need focus, and one’s Spiritual Energy, thus their Chakra, is affected by emotions, Fire is especially unforgiving of lapses. For most jutsu, the most consistent results come when the user is calm and focused. Fire needs both that and passion; you need to be in control of your passion. Not the other way around. Especially when first learning a jutsu.”





Biwako digested that for a few moments. She hated that man, didn’t she? Why was she torn? But she wouldn’t lie to herself – she was, after all, very confused by Itachi’s behavior. Then, deciding to bite the shuriken, she said, “what kind of emotions are best and how do I get through my mental block?”





Iruka said, “good question,” rubbing the back of his head. Then, he said, “the best kind of emotions to use are hatred and love, though protectiveness and lust for battle work too. As for your mental block… well, I’m not sure. Have you tried thinking of someone other than your brother? If you have someone you want to protect, it might help.”





Biwako let out a quiet sigh, then said, “thanks Iruka-sensei,” trying to find how exactly she would follow Iruka’s advice.





“You’re welcome, Biwako. Do you know that another student came to me for help with their Suiton (Water Style), Chakra sensing and reverse engineering Tsunade-sama and Shodai-sama’s techniques relatively recently?” Iruka said, giving her a knowing smile. Then, he said, “you are also not the first Uchiha I have ever interacted with. Just remember this: Uchiha have a tendency of withdrawing into themselves whenever their emotions get too intense due to fear. I can only hope you are brave enough when that time comes.”





Is that a challenge? Biwako shrugged, bid Iruka goodbye and left, thinking, ‘that teacher is too smart for his own good! Well, I shouldn’t use Shadow Clones for now. They might affect my concentration and spiritual energy.’ As for Iruka’s last few sentences, Biwako found them cryptic and clear at the same time.





…Biwako was back at the pier. She went through the hand-seals for Housenka no jutsu. She imagined Naruto and protecting him against enemy ninjas, letting out a much larger ball of fire – it wasn’t right yet, though: Housenka released multiple balls of fire, not just one, and it was still weaker than it should be.





After a bit of thought about Itachi and Naruto, Biwako’s blood ran cold. ‘What if that man kills Naruto just because he’s my f-friend?’ She thought, shivering a bit after she thought of that. ‘Should I stop being friends with him?’





She knew it would devastate Naruto; she was his only and best friend. No… so this is what Iruka warned me about. ‘Run, run and cling to life pitifully’ like Itachi said? No. Fuck that. I am not a coward! I will figure out something else.





The alternative was… to get strong enough to protect Naruto- no, that was an insult to him, and his resolve and talent. Then, to fight by his side as an equal; protect one another. There would be no dying for Naruto while she was around! There would be no easy win for Naruto in the spars between them, either; Uchiha Biwako does not lose, and I won’t let that monster take anything more from me!





Rat, Tiger, Dog, Ox, Rabbit, Tiger! ‘Housenka no jutsu!’ Biwako said in her mind, letting out a dense ball of Fire-natured Chakra, then another, which exploded when they met the lake.





Then, she decided to try Goukakyuu no jutsu (Fireball jutsu) while thinking of how she’d protect Naruto from Itachi and fight by Naruto’s side. Hatred and protectiveness filled her in equal measures, and instead of a continuous flow, she breathed out a powerful ball which moved much faster than any of her Katon had before, fell into the lake, then exploded, making the lake shower her with hot water.





She stayed in place, looking at the giant water shower… and yet the water didn’t quite reach her. ‘That was powerful!’ She thought, ‘that one old woman would have said I’ve been blessed by Amaterasu and Kagutsuchi.’





Biwako heard a sigh and realized someone had a grip on her shirt. The grip let up, and she turned to see Naruto.





Naruto said, “and you call me reckless. What was that!” Gesturing at the lake, an angry frown on his face.





Biwako realized that Naruto had saved her and was speechless.





Naruto’s expression changed, looking at her with concern. He said, “are you okay, Biwako?”





Biwako shook the mix of emotions off and said, “I’m better off than I’ve been in months,” realizing that she meant it.





Naruto looked confused, but he said, “all right. Just don’t do that again. Please,” seriously.





Biwako said, “I’ll try, but no promises,” walking less carefully than before, almost skipping.





Naruto said, “oi, Biwako, wait for me!”





…It took Biwako three more days of testing the ways she released the Chakra to manage to get Housenka no jutsu to a satisfactory level of mastery, and one more, that one with clones, to improve it to where it was usable in a real battle, or at least an intense spar.





-----





It took Naruto over a month to go from sawdust to splinters to a functioning dummy, and another ten days to make an actual Wood Clone. Unfortunately, Biwako’s new jutsu, Housenka no jutsu, was a decent counter to Water Clones, Shadow Clones and Wood Clones. Αccording to Biwako, her Fire Element in general had gotten even stronger recently – something he had seen for himself, too.





Fortunately for him, his skill with Water ninjutsu had also gone up thanks to his Shadow Clones practicing it; he learned Wild Water Wave, a C-ranked Water ninjutsu which unleashed a waterfall-like wave from the user’s mouth to wash away their foes. Thanks to help from Iruka, his own improved Chakra Control and his Shadow Clones, it took him less than a week to learn it.





So, they were back to winning and losing alternately. Naruto would have liked to have learned the Kirigakure no jutsu (Hiding in the Mist jutsu), but even the Uchiha hadn’t managed to copy everything.





Biwako had taken to using Shadow Clones to train, too. After she once nearly fried herself, and injured her fingers on impact with a target when trying Lightning jutsu another time, she was much more careful with the Lightning element, mainly using clones for new things; she still had a small scar near her wrist, though thanks to Kabuto, her fingers had healed perfectly.





…Naruto was a month or two before reaching nine years of age when Biwako came up to him with news.





She said, “Naruto, the Hawks have found your relative. Tsunade is in Shiruku City right now, in the south of the Land of Fire.”





“Yosh! So, how will we reach her? I hope you have a plan,” Naruto said, bouncing on his feet.





“Of course I do,” Biwako said, looking somewhat offended. She then said, “Fuuinjutsu, the art of Sealing. The Hawks have taught me about the Summoning and Reverse Summoning jutsu, I have known the basics of Sealing since an early age thanks to my parents, so I made this,” showing him a temporary tattoo. She also said something about making a contract.





“It goes this way: we use both our blood to apply the tattoo,” Biwako said, “then, we will be able to summon one another or send a distress signal by putting blood on the tattoo. So, where do you want yours?”





Naruto was worried over what Iruka would say if he saw his tattoo, but he simply said ‘fuck it’ and told Biwako to put it on his left forearm. Biwako put her own on her right shoulder, and the two of them finalized the contract by cutting their palms -Naruto more deeply, because he healed fast- and putting blood on each other’s tattoo.





“Let’s try it!” Naruto said, fired up.





“Okay,” Biwako said, with just as much enthusiasm, even though it was hidden under her poker face. “But first, we make sure the tattoos are invisible. Fortunately, I’ve managed to make enough progress in Sealing to be able to include that,” she said after that.





She taught him the hand-seals to make it invisible, so that it only appeared when his blood was splashed on it. It also would alert the other, as soon as blood would fall on the tattoo and send them the other’s position. Naruto was just glad that Iruka wouldn’t see the tattoo; especially considering Biwako intended to make a permanent version when she was more confident in her Fuuinjutsu skills.





“You learn quickly; as expected of my rival,” Biwako said, looking impressed, “have you ever considered learning Fuuinjutsu?”





“It’s very useful; I never knew until now,” Naruto said, impressed, “but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is no guarantee it even worked.”





Biwako glared at him, offended. “Let’s just get on with it,” she said.





She went to the other side of the small house and summoned him… three meters (ten feet) in the air, dropping him on his ass.





“Ow ow ow! You little-!” Naruto said, a bit annoyed, especially now that he looked at Biwako’s smug smirk.





Giving Biwako a glare that promised retribution, he bit his right hand’s thumb and smeared the blood onto the tattoo, running through the correct hand seals – pop! Biwako appeared next to him, her feet sinking into a mud puddle made by Naruto’s Water ninjutsu earlier.





“So, I think it’s safe to say it works,” Naruto said happily, ignoring Biwako’s glare, “but will it take more Chakra with more distance? It took a huge chunk of my reserves right now.”





Biwako shook her head. She said, “it’s a Space-Time jutsu. It takes the same amount of Chakra at all distances and has no distance limit,” looking at Naruto as if it were obvious; and damn, it was obvious.





Naruto was great at learning, but some things were taught ahead of time to clan children. Apparently, Biwako still had more Chakra than Naruto did, which was why the jutsu had taken a lot out of him.





-----





Biwako appeared just outside a particular town. The forest out there was lush and beautiful, and the trees were quite tall, though not especially thick. After admiring the scenery, she went through the motions to summon Naruto.





(Poof!) Naruto appeared in smoke.





Biwako dismissed Garuda, the granddaughter of the Hawk boss and Biwako’s personal summon. Her mind wandered to the first time she had met them.





(Biwako was in the Uchiha district’s training ground, which was protected by seals to ensure privacy. Her reason was so that she could test the Summoning jutsu after signing the Hawk contract.





It had taken quite a bit of research -read: spying on shinobi training; then asking Iruka when that had failed- on her part and Naruto’s to discover the hand-seals of the Summoning jutsu.





She bit her thumb, drawing blood, and went through the sequence: Boar, Dog, Bird, Monkey, Ram. She said, “Kuchiyose no jutsu (Summoning technique)!”





In a small cloud of smoke came… a large, colorful egg?! “What the crap is that!” Biwako said, breaking her calm facade.





Naruto snickered a bit and said, “wow, I did expect that your first try would be at least a little bad, but this is an epic failure!”





Biwako said, “if you have nothing important to say, stay silent,” annoyed by both the words and the snickering.





“Okay, how about this?” Naruto said and suddenly turned serious. He then said, “keep the flow of Chakra stable, no sudden lowering or increasing of the- output. You should also put at least three times as much Chakra as you did this time into it.”





Biwako calmed down at hearing that and decided to take the resident Chakra Sensor’s advice. She repeated her previous actions, this time putting over five times as much Chakra into the jutsu and keeping the output as even as she could.





The jutsu resulted in a much larger cloud of smoke, in which a relatively small brown hawk appeared. It flapped its wings erratically a few times, looking disoriented, but it stabilized very quickly. It said, “who is the one that summoned me?”





Naruto said, “wait! The bird talked!” Shocked, only to receive an identical deadpan ’idiot’ from both the Hawk and Biwako.





Ignoring Naruto and his cloud of depression, Biwako looked the Hawk in the eye and said, “I think I’m going to like you. My name is Uchiha Biwako, and I’m the one who summoned you,” smirking.





“Interesting,” the Hawk said, “my name is Garuda. Our last summoner was Uchiha Shisui; do you happen to be his direct descendant?”





Biwako admitted she wasn’t. She also told Garuda of the Uchiha Clan Downfall, and how Shisui had died a year or two before it, without ever having children.





“Shit,” Garuda said, “Grandmother needs to hear about this,” and disappeared in another cloud of smoke.





Naruto snickered again and said, “your summon just ditched you. By the way, did you have to not tell me that summoned creatures talked?”





“Yes, I did. And yes, it did ditch me,” Biwako said, an eyebrow twitching. Then she said, “by the way, Summons can Reverse Summon their contractor, so there’s a chance that-”





After a brief bout of nausea, Biwako found herself on a huge plain. She looked around, seeing mist not far above her. She activated her Sharingan, and realized she was seeing the clouds, not mist. ‘A plateau!’ She thought, and indeed, she could make out the actual ground far away, indicating that she was at the highest point of said plateau.





“Uchiha Biwako,” a booming voice said.





Biwako instantly turned around, making her neck ache. She saw the largest bird she had ever encountered -by far- in front of her, the Sharingan seeing every detail. Its upper parts were black, whereas its belly and tail was dark grey and the rest of it was very light grey, with light red markings around intelligent red eyes.





Biwako said, “are you the boss summon?” Not lowering her guard, refusing to admit to being startled.





“Indeed I am,” the gigantic bird said, “my name is Takamichi, boss of the Hawk contract. I am also Garuda’s grandmother. She apparently took an immediate shine to you; it remains to be seen whether the rest of us will be as impressed, of course.”





Biwako bowed moderately deeply, as if addressing an equal and said, “it’s an honor to meet you, Takamichi-san.” Immediately, Biwako could see that the Hawk boss was displeased, but she refused to be cowed and maintained eye contact, not even deactivating her Sharingan.





Takamichi now looked… pleased? She said, “impressive. You are not easy to intimidate, and are a proud bird- I mean person. Even a boss summon’s ire is not enough to make you bow down.”





‘How did she manage to fool me with the Sharingan on when she pretended to be annoyed at me?’ Biwako thought, incredulous, her respect for Takamichi increasing. Out loud, she said, “so, glaring at me was a test?”





“Indeed it was,” Takamichi said, “Uchiha Biwako, we of the Hawk Clan are very long-lived even for summons. I once met Uchiha Madara personally, when I was but a youngling, and my summoner and I had the privilege to participate in a hunt with him. You remind me of him the most. I truly hope that you won’t take after his worst points, though.”





That sounded ominous. Still, Biwako nodded at Takamichi and said, “anything else I should know?”





“Only this,” Takamichi said, “at most, two contracts of animal clans are possible for a person. However, you will have to get approval from me and the Hawk Council first for such a thing; on the other hand, contracts with other humans do not interfere.”





“I see,” Biwako said after thinking it over, “what about training? I don’t have a teacher right now.”





Takamichi said, “when you are able to summon me, we will speak of that; until then, only basic training will be available; what is your primary element?”





“Lightning, I think,” Biwako said, hiding her rising mental fatigue expertly.





“My own element,” Takamichi said, “impress me and I will take over your elemental training myself.”





“Understood. Am I dismissed now?” Biwako said evenly.





Takamichi said, “by all means,” this time sounding amused.





When Biwako realized she didn’t know how to end the summoning, she simply decided to reason it out on her own. First, she tried to feel out her connection with the Hawks. Then, when that failed, she tried to find the connection her Chakra network had to her previous position.





The last thing she saw before disappearing from the land of the Hawks was Takamichi’s incredulous expression.)





“Is something wrong?”





Biwako was startled out of her daydreams by Naruto’s voice. She said, “nothing, just thinking.”





Naruto didn’t reply. The two of them were following what must be Tsunade’s Chakra thanks to Naruto’s sensory capabilities. His range was a bit less than four hundred meters at most -less than a quarter of a mile- but his skill was great and precise enough that he could follow very small traces of the Chakra that had been left around the city. Strange, though, that someone so skilled would leave obvious enough trails to follow, or so Biwako thought.





She was able to put a scent to the trail, and it was full of… alcohol…? She decided to let Naruto do all the work unless her help became necessary. If Tsunade was drunk, though, it would explain why she was so easy for Naruto to sense.





“She’s with another kunoichi and an animal… in that bar?” Naruto said, uncertainty clouding his tone.





“What is one of the Sannin doing in a seedy place like this?” Biwako said, just as bemused.





They entered the seedy watering hole without bothering to put up a Transformation; such a thing would only put Tsunade on guard. The customers there looked at them, but immediately forgot about them; nobody tried to escort them out, either. It made Biwako wonder.





The two of them walked up to the young-looking blonde and the brunet woman with a pig in her arms.





Biwako said, “are you sure this is your relative? She looks a bit too young to be her.”





“I don’t understand it either,” Naruto said. “Oi, are you Tsunade?” He said with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.





Biwako wanted to roll her eyes and face-palm at his bluntness, but she controlled herself.





The blonde was visibly drunk. She said, “I am. Who’s asking, brats?” Slurring only a little despite her condition.





Biwako introduced herself, then Naruto did so for himself. “My name is Naruto, and I think we’re related,” Naruto said.





Tsunade blinked. Then, she sobered up all of a sudden. She said, “what made you reach that conclusion?” Very seriously.





Biwako intervened, saying, “we’re better off taking this outside, where people can’t see us.”





Tsunade narrowed her eyes and said, “very well.”





The brunette whispered something in the blonde’s ears, but Tsunade shook her head, saying something in turn. The four of them, plus pig, walked into the forest outside the town. Biwako could tell that the two adults had their senses peeled, likely for a potential ambush.





On an unseen signal, all of them stopped walking. Naruto said, “wait. I’ll check for eavesdroppers,” making a one-handed hand-seal and Biwako realized he was using his Chakra sensor skill.





She also discreetly scanned around with her Sharingan.





That put the two adult women even more on guard, but they relaxed when nothing came of Naruto’s and Biwako’s gesture.





The blond woman said, “okay, we’re far enough here. What was such a secret that you had to use all those precautions?”





Naruto said, “you’ll see in a moment. Mokuton: Moku Bunshin no jutsu (Wood Style: Wood Clone jutsu)!” Going through a few hand-seals. It took a few seconds, but the clones formed.





Both women entered a taijutsu stance but the results of the jutsu, two clones made of wood, made their jaws drop. Tsunade recovered first and said, “don’t be absurd, brat. That level of power and Mokuton is nothing compared to my grandfather. I’ll bet you’re just another experiment of Orochimaru’s,” scoffing dismissively.





“Tsunade-sama!” The brunette said, admonishing the older woman.





“So, you won’t even check?” Naruto said in disappointment, and Biwako could see the warning signs of Naruto losing it.





She decided to keep her mouth shut for the time being, but glared at Tsunade.





Tsunade said, “of course not. I can tell you believe what you said, but you’re sorely mistaken. I never had children and never will. Besides, even if you are related to me, you’re better off without me,” whispering the last part.





Naruto’s hands were fists. He said, “I understand,” whispering too. Then, he left them to run off alone further in the forest.





Biwako was utterly and absolutely furious. She looked Tsunade in the eye and hissed, “if he gets seriously hurt because of you, you are dead, Sannin or not,” and went after him.





She knew that Tsunade and Shizune followed behind her, but paid them no heed. The three of them -plus pig- reached a truly large clearing, only to see Naruto shatter several boulders and knock down trees with his bare hands, on the other side of the clearing.





Shizune let out a gasp, and Tsunade simply stood there. Biwako decided to wait, to only intervene if Naruto was about to seriously hurt himself. She could see the Chakra that covered his arms every time he punched clearly, and could predict his moves a split-second in advance.





-----





“Damn it, damn it, damn it!” Naruto shouted, tears and snot running down his face.





He felled boulder after boulder after tree, but his raging emotions only became stronger; frustration, sadness, anger, the pain of rejection. He could tell the three females were there, and them seeing him cry only made him feel worse.





Eventually, green-colored Chakra was visible even to Naruto, and covered his entire body rather than his arms, without him being able to fully control it. “This is-,” he said, letting his instincts guide him, “Mokuton – Call of Nature.”





His Chakra spread through the clearing and nature responded to his call. He channeled all of his emotions into his Chakra, including his regret at how much destruction he had caused, trying to mimic the size and species of the trees around him, and the result was incredible.





The clearing, over a hundred meters in length and almost half as much in width was now packed with trees, and even beyond it, the forest was also more dense, from what Naruto could feel… somehow; it was not his usual sensory. The destroyed trees had also been restored.





Naruto could only admire his handiwork, almost disbelieving. ‘I did all this…? Unbelievable. This is what it means to awaken a Bloodline? Biwako was right…,’ he thought.





Then, he swayed in place, and the analytical part of his mind noted that he was going through serious Chakra exhaustion before everything disappeared from his sight.





-----





Shizune was examining Naruto, all the while Biwako was worried to the point of chewing her nails, sparing a dirty look at an oblivious Tsunade every once in a while.





“He needs an infusion of Chakra, or the consequences will be severe,” the woman concluded.





“Then, what are you waiting for?” Biwako said, fuming, barely controlling her temper.





“Unfortunately, I cannot do the Chakra Transfer technique well enough for such a delicate case. Only Tsunade-sama has mastered it to the required degree, of all of us here,” Shizune said, still looking at Naruto.





In the meantime, Tsunade was staring at Naruto’s bloody knuckles and palms, as if in a trance….
 
Last edited:
Story3

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#5
“What’s wrong with her?” Biwako asked Shizune, almost ready to kill.

“She has hemophobia,” Shizune explained.

“What-? Isn’t that…? The greatest medic-nin in the world has a fear of blood? Are you trying to make a joke?!” Biwako snapped at her in disbelief.

“Do not take that tone with me, Biwako-san,” Shizune said, scolding her in a motherly way, “and yes, it’s something that has to do with her past, something that would take too long to explain.”

“Got it,” Biwako said, expression set in stone. Then, she punched Tsunade in the ear and said, “oi, snap out of it!”

Both Tsunade and Shizune gasped, the latter likely in outrage.

Biwako shouted, “this is your only relative who’s suffering here! Wake up and heal him, you wimp!”

Tsunade blinked repeatedly, as if waking up from a trance. Her gaze focused eventually, seeing Naruto’s prone body held in Shizune’s arms. She looked at his blood again, shaking a bit, but this time, she remained relatively calm. She said, “Shizune, report,” her voice not betraying any distress she felt.

“He got severe Chakra exhaustion, Tsunade-sama, after awakening -or partially awakening- his bloodline,” Shizune said.

Biwako was pacing in impatience and worry, and yet, she said nothing.

Tsunade examined Naruto herself, possibly confirming what her apprentice had told her. Then, she started glowing yellow, making Naruto glow the same color, then green. So that was the Chakra Transfer technique.

Biwako could tell that Naruto was breathing more easily after that, and sighed in relief. She turned to Tsunade, who was studying her. The woman said, “now, what to do with you? I have to somehow repay you for punching me in the ear and your earlier threats.”

Biwako’s mouth moved on its own and said, “I regret nothing!” Smirking smugly, despite herself. When she realized what she had said, she braced for a hit.

Tsunade smirked too. She said, “good answer,” flicking Biwako’s forehead with one finger, sending her tumbling.

Biwako, though, landed on her feet, sideways on the trunk of a tree, sticking to it using her Chakra. “I kind of deserved that,” she admitted in a bland tone which said she still didn’t regret her earlier behavior.

“That’s the spirit, Uchiha brat,” Tsunade said, her lips twitching upwards, “by the way, your Sharingan now has two tomoe in each eye. Congratulations.”

“Huh? Oh, right,” Biwako said, a bit absentmindedly. She took out the hand mirror she carried everywhere and reactivated her Sharingan, seeing two comma marks on each of her eyes. “So, when will Naruto get up and what is his condition?” She said, tension back to her body.

“The usual is six to seven days of unconsciousness for this level of Chakra exhaustion, walking again at nine to eleven days and over three weeks to actively use one’s Chakra again without risk of permanent damage,” Tsunade said, expression unreadable, “there should be no permanent damage as long as the boy does not overdo it.”

Biwako let out a sigh of relief. She said, “that’s a relief. Though, with Naruto’s rate of healing, it shouldn’t take more than a week until he’s back to using ninjutsu safely.”

“A healing factor?” Tsunade said, looking more interested, “care to share?”

“His arm had broken in two places. According to the medic-nin at the hospital, it should have taken three weeks or so to fully heal for a ninja without medical ninjutsu, but it took him less than twenty-four hours - less than an hour according to Naruto himself,” Biwako said, not seeing a reason to keep that information from Naruto’s relative, who was also the medic-nin taking care of him.

“Interesting,” Tsunade said, “just like Grandpa,” whispering, seemingly forgetting that Biwako was even there in her study of Naruto.

-----

Naruto felt as if he had been stepped on by the elephant boss summon; that was his first thought as he woke up, followed by ‘where am I?’

“Naruto-kun,” a somewhat familiar feminine voice said, “stay put, please. You went through quite the ordeal, and need your rest.”

Naruto moved his limbs around a bit. Satisfied that he wasn’t in enemy hands, for lack of being bound, he let himself by lulled to sleep.

...Naruto got up groggily. He felt as if pressure was being applied to all of his body, much like how training weights were supposed to be, only worse. ‘Wait,’ he thought to himself, ‘there’s an idea. Is it possible to make a seal that weighs down all of the body? it should be great for training.’

“Rise and shine!” Tsunade exclaimed, interrupting Naruto’s train of thought.

Naruto sat up with some help from who he soon recognized as Tsunade’s apprentice. His eyes met Tsunade’s, and he flinched.

The blond woman cleared her throat and said, “it appears we got off on the wrong foot, kid. Let’s try this again. I’m Tsunade, of the Legendary Sannin.”

Naruto signaled for water, which Shizune was quick to provide. After he drank a bit, he said, “nice to meet you. I’m Uzumaki Naruto, possibly Senju Naruto. Please take care of me.” Then, a yawn he couldn’t hold back interrupted him.

“I have to say,” Tsunade said, “I’m impressed at how quickly you recovered. It’s only been twenty hours or so; I would have expected you to be out for a week.”

Naruto stretched a bit, and decided to try to get up. The brunette, who introduced herself as Shizune, advised against it. On the other hand, Tsunade said nothing, but was simply looking at him with keen eyes.

He put a foot on the floor with difficulty, then the other. He was handed a walking stick, which he used as a literal crutch, to great effect; he only stumbled a little bit. Left foot, right foot, left again- shit!

The blond boy nearly went tumbling, only for someone with a familiar scent to catch him.

Biwako, the one who caught him, said, “idiot; you are forcing me to pick up the slack. You’re reckless as ever.”

“Thanks, Biwako,” Naruto said, relaxing without even meaning to.

“Anytime,” the black-haired girl said calmly, her arms still around him.

Naruto managed to get to a chair with Biwako’s help, and sat heavily, making the chair creak.

After a few minutes of Naruto catching his breath, he said, “so, how long was I out?” Stretching again.

“Twenty hours; didn’t you hear Tsunade earlier?” Biwako replied, a bit mockingly.

Naruto was surprised by the fact that Biwako wasn’t polite enough to use honorifics, even towards Tsunade. He knew that his friend almost never used them, but he thought her sense of self-preservation would keep her from pissing off someone so powerful. Not that he was one to talk.

“Hey, Naruto – is something wrong?” Biwako asked softly, worry in her tone.

Naruto was snapped out of his daydreams. He said, “I’m fine; just thinking.”

“I hope you didn’t burn out your brain,” Biwako said teasingly.

“Very funny,” Naruto shot back, but wasn’t able to say something smart himself; he couldn’t focus.

A few minutes passed in silence, then Tsunade spoke up. She said, “time for your exam; we’ll see how well you are recovering, and if there is risk of permanent damage to your coils and the rest of your body.”

She touched Naruto’s bare arm, hands glowing, and started ‘hmm’ing.

Naruto started panicking; he said, “wait, there’s a chance of permanent damage? Why?!”

“Did you think that awakening a bloodline is an easy process?” Tsunade said, her voice stern, “most of the Uchiha clan couldn’t use the Sharingan, but it wasn’t necessarily for lack of the potential to awaken it. Some of them simply damaged the coils in their head enough when they awoke it, that they couldn’t use it anymore. I once faced a Yuki clan member in the Second Shinobi World War who couldn’t expel Chakra out of his right arm; it’s likely, though not certain, that the awakening of his Hyouton had been the reason. He was still a real bitch to fight, though,” devolving into a rant about ‘fucking one-handed hand-seals’ and ‘damn annoying pretty boys’.

“Tsunade-sama! Language! Not in front of the children, at least!” Shizune said, shaking the poor pig back and forth.

Tsunade snorted, but didn’t press the issue.

“WAIT! What about my body? Is there permanent damage!?” Naruto shouted out, impatient.

“Don’t shout in my ear, damn it!” Tsunade said, almost equally as loud, making Naruto's ears hurt. Then, she said, “there’s no chance for permanent damage. Even if you were to train today -and this is not permission to do that; my orders as a medic-nin is that you wait until tomorrow evening at the very least- you would still be fine in the long term, though you’d still set back your recovery by doing something so stupid. In fact, your Chakra and coils are recovering at an increasing rate; either now that you partially awakened your bloodline your regeneration is faster, or the Chakra exhaustion slowed down your recovery. My money would be on a combination of both.”

“Aren’t you notoriously bad at gambling, though?” Biwako said snarkily.

Naruto used sign language to tell Biwako to ‘stop poking the sleeping dragon, idiot’, feeling much better already, but the girl ignored him.

“Oh, by the way,” Tsunade said casually, “when would you like to give your blood for a test? I’ve already determined that you’re a real Senju by scanning your Chakra, but I’d much rather do a proper DNA test.”

“Is it possible right now? I feel better already,” Naruto said, getting up from the chair, stretching to get the kinks out of his limbs and back.

“I’d rather wait at least an hour; Shizune healed your cuts and broken knuckles immediately, so you didn’t lose much blood, but your body is already stressed. Let me scan you again, though – I’ll judge how long you need for recovery,” Tsunade said.

She put her glowing hands on his arm again, and said, “your regeneration is still speeding up – I think that using medical ninjutsu of any kind, including diagnostic jutsu, on you improves it.”

“Really?” Naruto said, “what would happen if I learned medical ninjutsu?” A bit excited.

“Well,” Tsunade said, “that does explain how my grandpa healed himself without using hand-seals. He simply had to use a diagnostic jutsu on himself without seals, and bam! Instant super regeneration!” Smirking lightly.

“Wow! Hashirama-sama was incredible!” Naruto said, still excited.

Tsunade said, “I suppose so,” her expression strange.

Naruto couldn’t understand the mix of emotions, but he studied his relative’s expression. His analysis was broken by Tsunade speaking.

The woman said, “you wouldn’t happen to want to become Hokage, would you?” Narrowing her eyes.

“No,” Naruto said seriously, “the only thing I care about right now is keeping my loved ones safe, though Iruka-sensei and Biwako are the only ones on that list right now. I also don’t want to fall behind her in the ninja arts.

He kept the fact that he used to crave acknowledgement -and still did- to himself. That was something only Biwako -and probably Iruka-sensei- knew. The same with his desire to leave Konoha behind, but Iruka-sensei probably didn’t realize that.

“I see,” Tsunade said in a neutral tone, “keeping your loved ones safe, huh? Keeping up with your friend in the ninja arts? Well, not a bad goal to have, either of those.”

Naruto remained silent; he could tell Tsunade wanted to say more.

As if coming to a decision, Tsunade nodded to herself. She said, “Naruto, how would you like to learn medical ninjutsu, and the ninja arts in general, from me?”

“Li- like master and apprentice?” Naruto asked, stuttering a bit.

“Exactly that,” Tsunade said, a hint of a smile on her face, “so how about it? Want to be my second apprentice?”

Naruto stuttered over his reply even more, but he managed to say yes… somehow. His eyes fell on Shizune, and the woman seemed elated, no hint of envy at all. He could tell that the brunet woman cared about her master a lot.

Naruto said, “you should smile more, Shizune-san. It makes you look so much more cute and beautiful,” not knowing why those words came out out loud.

“Well, aren’t you a little charmer,” Shizune said with a grin and a light blush and ruffled Naruto’s hair, making him blush too for some reason.

“Hmph,” Biwako said, “congratulations, you womanizer,” a teasing tone along with something else in her voice.

Naruto turned to his best friend and said, “thanks Biwako, but what’s a womanizer?”

Biwako turned away, failing to hide a small smile, and said, “never mind – I’ll tell you when you’re older.”

“We’re almost the same age!” Naruto said, slightly annoyed by Biwako’s words.

Biwako stuck out her tongue at him.

“As entertaining as this is,” Tsunade said, “shall we get on with the blood exam?”

Naruto blinked. Then, he paled, saying, “okay, but will I have to be pierced with a needle?”

Tsunade rolled her eyes and said, “aren’t you a little too old to be afraid of needles?”

“You’re never too old to be afraid of needles!” Naruto declared, smirking despite himself, “heck, I know a woman over forty who’s afraid of seeing blood spilled.”

“Naruto,” Tsunade said, “shut up and take it like a man!” Glaring daggers at him.

Naruto wisely shut up; he could see Tsunade’s clenched fist, and knew he was close to being pummeled by someone who was known as the physically strongest human alive.

“Your bedside manner needs some work,” Biwako commented dryly.

Tsunade didn’t rise to the bait. She said, “if you ever become the most skilled medic-nin in the world, then you can criticize my bedside manner,” calm once again.

After a bit of resistance from Naruto, Tsunade took some blood from his left forearm and put it in a vial. She took some blood from herself too, put it in another vial, labeled them both, shook them around a bit and put them on the dresser.

Then, she went through a sequence of hand-seals and touched both the vials at the same time, frowning at something and biting her lip.

“Is something wrong?” Naruto asked, slightly worried.

Tsunade shook her head. She said, “I’m surprised, that’s all. It seems you are my grandnephew, but Na- Nawaki die- was too young to have been a father at all. So, it must have been Zairuji who was your grandfather.”

“Who was Zairuji, Tsunade-sama?” Shizune asked softly.

“He was my older brother. We weren’t very close; in fact, the only one of the family he was close to was Mito-baasama, our grandmother. He had been a wild child and a womanizer, and he fought a lot with Grandpa and our parents since early on – though with Grandpa, it might have been because of their similarities that they clashed,” Tsunade said, a fond smile on her face, “what I don’t understand is why he would go and get a random girl pregnant; womanizer or not, after he fell in love, he was very loyal to his lover, Namikaze… Reera*… oh, shit.”

Naruto looked at Tsunade, not realizing why she stopped and cursed; then, the reality set in: there was only one Namikaze line in Konoha, as everyone knew. He said, “wait, the Yondaime was my father? What about my classmate, Namikaze Mito?”

“There’s another Namikaze in Konoha? Oh, it must have been the goddaughter my idiot teammate was talking about with so much pride – I didn’t pay much attention,” Tsunade said, blushing a bit. “What does she look like?” She then said, serious again.

Naruto thought it over a bit. He said, “well, strawberry blond hair, eyes that are dark blue with a hint of green -the only others I know with that color are the Yondaime and me- and whisker marks like mine, only more thick… oh, shit. Shit, shit, shit!” Shouting in the end and clenching the nearest object in his fist, which happened to be a blunt kunai Biwako handed him.

The kunai bent under the force of his emotions, making an ominous creaking sound. He whispered, “I always blew her off when she tried to talk to me. Damn it! But if I didn’t get the whisker marks from having a Bijuu in my gut, where did we both get them?”

Tsunade cleared her throat. She said, “I may be able to shed light on that.”

“Wait, you know where my whisker marks came from?” Naruto said, incredulous.

“Yes,” Tsunade said, “your mother, Uzumaki Kushina, was the container of the Kyuubi after my grandmother; my father had whisker marks just like yours.”

“So, what does that mean?” Naruto asked, a bit confused, still unable to think clearly, not having fully recovered from his exhaustion.

“It means that if one is exposed to the Kyuubi’s Chakra in serious amounts before they’re born, they get those whisker marks. The same happens if they’re ‘reborn’ by eating its flesh, thus absorbing some Chakra from it permanently, like a pair of brothers from Kumo,” Tsunade explained patiently.

“Oh, I got it now. Who were those guys from Kumo, though?” Naruto asked.

“Their names were Kinkaku and Ginkaku,” Tsunade said absently, “but that’s a story for another time.”

“By the way, Naruto,” Biwako said, her smirk worrying Naruto, “did you really have to call your jutsu ‘Call of Nature’? It sounds like it does the same as the Inuzuka dog partners’ ‘Dynamic Marking’.”

They had discovered the notes on various clans that the Uchiha had on other clans, Konoha and outside. The notes on Konoha’s clans in the Jounin and Chuunin section of the library were surprisingly thorough and complete, and had been updated very recently.

“Oi,” Naruto said, carefully not pouting, “it was instinctive!”

“Do you mean that you instinctively called it that, or that you pissed yourself without realizing?” Biwako said, that damn smirk on her face.

“Come on, Biwako! Your naming sense isn’t much better – I mean, you named a jutsu ‘Lightning Style: Thunderbolt’. What is it, a Pocket Monsters move?” Naruto said teasingly.

Biwako scowled and said, “it’s a perfectly viable name! ‘Thunderbolt’ sounds badass! Too many manga will rot your brain, Naruto!”

“Oh, come on, live a little! You have one hobby that isn’t ninja training, and all it is is taking strolls around Konoha!” Naruto said, getting a bit more serious. “Oh, wait, did you just say ‘badass’?” He then said, less serious again, blinking a bit in surprise.

Biwako slapped her own forehead and said, “only you could change from joking to serious to joking again so quickly, you idiot.”

“Oi, I’m not an idiot, you jerk, dattebayo!” Naruto said, hating being called an idiot.

“You so are, you whisker-face!” Biwako said, losing seriousness fast.

“You look like a pretty-boy,” Naruto said, realizing his mistake as soon as he said it.

“What did you just say?!” Biwako hissed out, glaring at him horribly.

‘In for a Ryo, in for a fifty note,’ Naruto thought. Out loud, he said, “I said you sound like the tsundere love interest of the main protagonist from one of the manga I’ve read.”

Biwako’s eyes opened comically wide, like she couldn’t believe what she heard. Then, they narrowed, but a smirk started showing on her face. She said, “if I’m the thundere love interest, then are you the main protagonist?”

“Uh, what…?” Naruto said, shell-shocked.

Biwako patted him on the head, a mocking smirk still on her face, and sat down in seiza, closing her eyes without dropping the smirk.

Naruto could hear Tsunade’s snickers very clearly. He turned and glared at the woman, but she completely ignored him.

Shizune looked just as shocked as Naruto felt earlier, then a smile bloomed on her face. She said, “Naruto-kun, how many years have you two been married?”

Naruto groaned. He said, “not you too, Shizune-san! We’re nine years old – is that something you say to a kid?”

Tsunade, in the meanwhile, was still snickering. She stopped for a moment, only to say, “Shizune’s got a point there. Snrk- bwahahahaha!”

Naruto was not amused, and showed it by carefully NOT pouting.

After Tsunade stopped snickering, she went to work again, saying, “so, Uchiha brat-”

“It’s Biwako,” Biwako said, dropping her previous smirk.

“Whatever,” Tsunade said grumpily, “have you had a check-up? Naruto was healthy, but I don’t know about you.”

Biwako said, “all Academy students have gone through check-ups,” frowning lightly.

“Yes,” Tsunade said, “but have they been examined by me?” Full of confidence, or maybe arrogance.

Biwako put up a bit more resistance, but in the end, she gave in and let Tsunade examine her.

Tsunade put a glowing hand on Biwako’s arm. After a few seconds of that, Tsunade lifted her head to look at Biwako, saying, “what the hell, Biwako! Why are there traces of a possible S-ranked Genjutsu in your head!”

Naruto saw Biwako freeze, which was a rare sight. She said, “wait – it wasn’t wiped fully?” Shivering.

Tsunade looked at Biwako strangely, then said, “apart from that, you have minor nerve damage in the wrist area. Do you want those things healed?”

Biwako hadn’t said yes faster in her life, Naruto thought. She sat very still, too.

Tsunade did a few hand-seals, put her glowing hands on Biwako’s head and after a few minutes, said, “it is done. I recommend that you not use your Sharingan -or any Chakra around your head- for a few days. Make sure you aren’t put under any genjutsu for any reason for those days, too. I will put you under my personal surveillance if I have to.”

“Thank you,” Biwako said, and she seemed to be more at ease than ever, “what about my wrist? Is healing nerve damage even possible?”

“Impatient brat,” Tsunade said, her smirk showing she wasn’t angry. “I’ll get to that now. Healing nerve damage is not possible for medic-nins… other than me, of course. Strength of a Hundred Seal, Release. Creation Rebirth – Strength of a Hundred,” she then said, making a Tiger Seal.

Tsunade started glowing slightly. Strange markings spread on her face, then the rest of her body, and she touched Biwako. For a few seconds, the same markings were on the young girl. Then, they disappeared, and Biwako twisted her hand around, an expression of wonder on her face.

Naruto sensed for the Chakra that Tsunade was using, and what he could tell was that it was all her own Chakra because of the same yellow ‘color’, but in her forehead was a store of energy that was probably much greater in quantity than Tsunade could make on her own. What had she done? Had she stored her own Chakra or something?

The markings were no longer there, only the diamond-like seal(?).The Chakra in her forehead was no longer possible to sense, and Tsunade was breathing hard. Shizune helped the woman stay on her feet.

Tsunade said, “I really am out of practice. Though this is the first time I’ve used this jutsu, I don’t think it was supposed to tire me out this much – I didn’t even use a twentieth of the Chakra stored in there,” an expression of annoyance on her face.

“Wait… you used an untested jutsu on me?” Biwako said, one eyebrow twitching.

Tsunade waved Biwako off, saying, “I was certain of what it does, but I haven’t had the opportunity to use it. The time I invented it was shortly before I left Konoha.(*2)”

“Hmph. Whatever,” Biwako said, turning away.

It made Naruto worry, too. He said to Tsunade, “there won’t be any problems with Biwako because of the jutsu, right?”

“Extremely unlikely, but I will monitor her if it will put your minds at ease,” Tsunade said.

“Wait,” Shizune said, “what about the Academy? You two are students there, right? Or have you already graduated?”

Tsunade clicked her fingers, saying, “I knew I was forgetting something! Does either of you have a guardian that you have to contact? It’s not a good idea to go to the Academy, as the Uchiha brat -Biwako- has to rest for a few days, and Naruto needs his rest too.”

Naruto looked at Biwako, and she looked back.

After a bit of non-verbal communication, Biwako said, “I will ask a messenger Hawk to take a message from each of us to Iruka-sensei. Maybe we will say that we are sick, or something like that.”

Naruto nodded, but then something occurred to him. He said, “Tsunade… san. You said something earlier about my Wood Style partially activating. What did you mean?”

Tsunade didn’t answer for a few seconds. Then, she said, “call me Tsunade-sensei, or Tsunade-shishou(*3), Naruto. As for the activation of your bloodline, it means that you didn’t have enough Chakra to activate the full Wood Style -or maybe not a strong enough body- yet, so, while it started activating, it didn’t finish the process. Thus, you got Chakra exhaustion and didn’t get the Wood Style at its full potential.

»So, it won’t be anywhere as efficient Chakra-wise as it’s supposed to be, and some abilities may remain out of your reach. Not to mention the fact that your healing factor might become even greater when you awaken your Wood Style fully.”

Naruto digested that for a few moments. Then, he said, “wait, that wasn’t even Mokuton’s full power!?” Shouting without meaning to.

“It wasn’t – trust me on that,” Tsunade said, smirking, “Grandpa could make his Wood Clones so quickly that only Madara was able to see him substitute himself with one, and made a training ground with a radius of a bit over ten kilometers practically from scratch in only a few hours. Three hundred and twenty-six square kilometers – do you know how large that is?”

“How large was the space I covered with trees?” Naruto asked, truly curious.

Tsunade smirked and said, “including the trees beyond the clearing, about fifty times less than ONE square kilometer; without them, one hundred and seventy times or so less than a square kilometer. Don’t be discouraged, though – some people’s Chakra reserves grow exponentially, and your Wood Style will probably get a lot less Chakra intensive when you fully activate it, too.

»According to my father, who was told by Grandpa himself, Grandpa didn’t have his enormous reserves from the beginning; and now that you are going to be my apprentice, I will make sure that you improve in everything.”

Tsunade’s smirk turned sadistic, making Naruto shiver. Still, he had more questions. He said, “d- do you think that I have a Bijuu sealed in me, Tsunade-sensei? It’s the theory Biwako and I have for why I’m hated in Konoha,” a bit scared that his aunt would abandon him.

Tsunade’s hands glowed a bit again, and she put one on Naruto’s arm, then slipped it under his shirt. She looked puzzled, but she said, “I can’t detect anything like that. Of course, it’s possible, even likely, that your father sealed it in so tight that it will take years for you to use its Chakra. After all, he did split it in half using the Shinigami, according to Jiraiya when he was drinking his sorrows.


»My advice is not to worry about it except when you are improving your Chakra Control. I do have a few of the exercises that Grandmother and Kushina used to keep the Nine-tails from affecting their Chakra Control as much.”

“Thank you, Tsunade-sensei!” Naruto said, bowing in respect, happy that he had a relative teach him.

He saw Iruka as a father figure or maybe an older brother, but it was different with Tsunade.

-----

Naruto was standing in a clearing with Tsunade, just like the day before the last; this time, Shizune and Biwako were standing further ahead, though they were still well within sensing distance.

“Now that you are well-rested,” Tsunade said, a scary smile on her face, “it is time to see what you can do, Naruto. Then, it’s tortraining for you.”

“Tortraining?” Naruto asked, starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing. “Is it too late to change my mi-”

“Shut up and show me what you can do. Now, what jutsu do you know?” Tsunade barked out.

Naruto showed Tsunade his seal-less Kawarimi (Substitution / Body Replacement).

Then, the Transformation and the Clone jutsu with only one hand-seal each, the Shadow Clone, which had one seal to begin with; the Water Clone, which Naruto could use with only a Tiger seal; the Wood Clone, which, after the activation of his bloodline, he could use with only two hand-seals rather than three; Water Style: Wild Water Wave, which he had gotten down with only three hand seals rather than four(*4) and Wind Style: Thrust, which still took three hand-seals: Dog, Rabbit and Bird.

Tsunade’s eyes had narrowed, and that worried Naruto. She said, “are you able to extract the water from a leaf?”

Naruto took a leaf in his hand and did just that; all the while, Tsunade was watching with keen eyes.

“It’s as I feared. You have neglected some of the basics in favor of learning more things. Are you able to cut a leaf too?” Tsunade said, her voice even.

Naruto cut a leaf, then covered another in dirt.

Tsunade examined them. Then, she said, “it took too long for you to cut the leaf; same with the Earth Style and the Water Style exercise. There are also jagged edges in the cut, though they are more minor than I’d expect; Shizune is the expert on Wind Style though, not me, so we’ll leave that for later. Now, start jogging around the clearing.”

“For how long?” Naruto asked.

“Just do it. I will tell you when to stop,” Tsunade said, and Naruto started jogging.

Naruto was getting tired after nearly an hour of jogging around the clearing, so he started slowing down.

OUCH!

Something, and Naruto thought it was a rock, had hit him in the ass-cheek!

Tsunade laughed quietly, but Naruto could hear her. She then said, “don’t slow down, Naruto. Oh, we need to train your situational awareness and dodging ability, too, so make sure not to get hit again; I won’t throw the rocks so weakly and slowly next time.”

That was weak and slow!? What the hell! Naruto didn’t say anything, though; he only continued jogging, putting all his effort into dodging without breaking stride, too.

After he finished that training, with his bruises disappearing near-instantly, Tsunade had him show her his taijutsu. She also had him demonstrate his strength technique (or, rather, his version of her technique). Tsunade said, “I call it the Byakugo no jutsu (Strength of a Hundred jutsu). You seriously learned it in a week? I’ll have you show me what Chakra Control exercises you know next.”

Naruto looked at her seriously and said, “not… exactly. I’ve managed it before, instinctively,” grimacing at his first memory.

That said, Naruto showed Tsunade how he stuck leaves on himself, then left them on when he climbed a tree, and later when he walked on water. He had to dodge a few rocks again, this time on the water, but his aunt said that his Chakra Control was ‘adequate for his age’.

According to Tsunade, Naruto’s taijutsu needed a bit of work; learning from scrolls and an Academy teacher who didn’t know the styles very well will do that. She beckoned Naruto to follow her, and they went up to Biwako and Shizune.

Tsunade said, “Uchiha brat. Show me your taijutsu,” without hesitation.

“It’s Biwako,” the girl said, but she showed Tsunade her stances without a protest, other than narrowed eyes.

“Interesting,” Tsunade said, “your taijutsu is a bit more polished than Naruto’s. Can you use it well without the Sharingan, though?”

With that, Tsunade had Naruto and Shizune walk away from the two of them in order to spar with Biwako. Naruto looked on with worry.

“Don’t worry, Naruto-kun,” Shizune said, “Tsunade-sama DOES know how to control her strength.”

Naruto nodded at her and turned back to Biwako and Tsunade. As expected, Biwako lost handily.

Then, Tsunade told her to go all out, and Biwako activated her doujutsu and shouted, “Lightning Style: Thunderbolt!”

That jutsu was mid-ranged, and the longest range Raiton she had; mainly because the Lightning Element wasn’t meant for true long range.

Tsunade sidestepped, the jutsu apparently failing at its purpose.

Naruto could sense the Chakra of a Shadow Clone -or Biwako herself- under the ground, though – Biwako obviously used the light of the flashy ninjutsu to cover for her making a clone.

Tsunade lifted one leg… and stomped the ground, dispelling the clone.

Biwako herself had finished the hand-seals of Phoenix Sage Fire, and Tsunade swayed just enough for the small balls of fire to miss her – unfortunately for Tsunade, Biwako revealed that she had hidden shuriken inside those fireballs; shuriken that she controlled using… near-invisible wires…?

That move was new; Biwako never used ninja wire in their spars. She didn't put shuriken in Housenka no jutsu (Phoenix Sage Fire / Phoenix Flower jutsu) often, either.

Tsunade kicked the ground again, while holding a one-handed hand-seal, with a whisper of ‘Earth Style: Mud Hazard’, which sent a splash of mud… right into Biwako’s active Sharingan.

She recoiled, the shuriken went to random directions and Tsunade put a kunai at Biwako’s throat before Naruto realized what had happened.

Biwako admitted defeat, then cleaned her eyes with a handkerchief. Tsunade said, “that was impressive.”

"Impressive? Are you mocking me?” Biwako said, obviously annoyed, eyes still bloodshot.

Tsunade simply shook her head. She said, “don’t be absurd, Biwako; it WAS impressive – for a Genin, not even an Academy student. You made a great opening move by using that Raiton as a distraction and attack both. Using Housenka no jutsu wasn’t even a mistake, per se... but you need a much greater speed of reaction AND faster hand-seals to accompany your Sharingan.

»Did you notice how with one jutsu, I accomplished more than one thing? Rather like your use of ‘Thunderbolt’. Except the jutsu I used is one of the most basic ones in the Earth element; it’s barely D-ranked, while yours is probably at C-rank.”

Biwako’s focus on Tsunade’s words was absolute. She said, “so, I need to focus more on my reflexes and improving my hand-seals?”

Tsunade simply nodded. Then, she said, "we will have to see your pure taijutsu later. This got out of hand."

“Does that mean you will train both of us, Tsunade-sensei?” Naruto asked.

Tsunade said, “I’m willing to help her from time to time, but you will be my focus.”

Shizune spoke after many minutes of silence on her part. She said, “I’ll help both of you, too. My primary element is Wind, but I’m a fair hand with ninja wire and weapons, especially senbon.”

Tonton let out a squeal, and Naruto smiled at Shizune, saying, “that’s great, Shizune-san!”

Tsunade said, “my primary element is Water, though my skill with Earth Style is better than most Iwa Jounin, as Biwako saw first hand. I’m more than a fair hand at Fire Style, too. As for Lightning Style… well, I can use it. That’s all.”

“What about Yang Style and Yin Style?” Naruto asked.

Tsunade did a double take. She said, “so, that’s how you learned the Byakugo no jutsu in one week? You had already trained yourself in Yang Style?”

Naruto shook his head. He said, “not quite," thinking of Asuna-san's unmoving body, shivering. "It took me less than three days to complete the exercise of making a leaf hard as iron. I just… get Yang Style. In comparison, it took me over six months to make a leaf look transparent using Yin Style, and only a small part of it; I still haven’t finished that exercise. I don’t doubt it will take me over a year to finish.”

“Interesting,” Tsunade said, her eyes lighting up. Then, she said, “as for me, I’m the leading authority on Yang Style; most medical ninjutsu, including the Mystical Palm, are based on Yang Style. Though, between you and me, some diagnostic jutsu, the Mystical Palm and the Chakra Transfer jutsu might not be ninjutsu, per se. If there’s anything left over of the legendary ‘Ninshu’, it’s probably those two jutsu.”

“Ninshu?” Naruto asked, the word striking a chord deep within.

“Not important right now,” Tsunade said, waving him off.

…A few days later, after Tsunade left a lot of books for Naruto -and a few for Biwako- in storage seals to study, the two children returned to Konoha.

When one is summoned with the Gyaku Kuchiyose no jutsu (Reverse Summoning jutsu), they have two choices: they either return to their original position in time, or they have to return manually (or be summoned again). Biwako was summoned by a Hawk again, and then summoned Naruto.

Naruto could see that the village was on high alert as he walked to the Academy with Biwako, though at a bit of a distance, so that most people didn’t find out about their friendship. He eavesdropped on a few ninjas jumping on the nearby rooftops, and he heard something about an intruder coming into Konoha from above, passing through ‘the barrier’.

Wait – were they talking about the Hawk? Naruto didn’t know whether to be worried or just laugh.

In the end, the ninjas of Konoha started settling down, though Naruto could tell they were still on edge.

Iruka’s keen eyes paused on Naruto for a few moments, then on Biwako. The lesson today was about the Second Shinobi World War, especially the Sannin and their achievements – funny, considering Naruto had been with Tsunade less than two hours earlier.

Iruka’s assistant, Mizuki, was present today to ‘learn the ropes’ or something like that. The assistant looked at Naruto, his eyes narrowing a bit, but he immediately hid it expertly.

‘Weird,’ Naruto thought, ‘Mizuki-sensei never hid his dislike for me. If anything, he dislikes me more now than before Maifa... he never graduated from assistant teacher, either, even after all those years. Makes me suspicious.’

Iruka told Mizuki to pick a student and ask them a question on the material.

Mizuki picked Naruto, saying, “so, Naruto – what was Tsunade of the Legendary Sannin best known for?”

Barely holding in his laugh, Naruto said, “she was known for her amazing physical strength and healing prowess as a medic-nin. She was the only one who could counter the poisons Chiyo of Suna made, and could punch the ground hard enough to crack it.”

Tsunade had told Naruto about a few of her achievements, and Chiyo’s name had come up more than once.

Mizuki paused, then talked to Iruka in whispers.

In the meanwhile, one of Naruto’s classmates said, “you made that up, Naruto! There’s no way a woman can break the ground!”

The classmate’s name was Nori, or something like that. He probably wouldn’t even graduate. Especially if Sakura, Ino, Ami and even Hinata killed him today.

Naruto could see the glares aimed at Nori, and would stay very far away from him for at least a few days.

Mizuki said, “that is correct, Naruto,” smiling in a fake way.

Naruto shivered, despite himself. That smile was creepy.

Fortunately, as Naruto and Biwako found out later, nobody had found out that the intruder was a Hawk, nor that Biwako had something to do with it. Biwako also set up a Reverse Summoning Seal in the Uchiha district, so there would be no need for the Hawks to infiltrate Konoha again.

As for being summoned by Tsunade, she could do it through the Slug contract, which Naruto had signed, but that was a story for another time.

-----
-----

Yes, the dreaded twin sister! Don't worry. I hate bashing, so neither my OC nor any canon character will be bashed, though Danzo and maybe the Sandaime will come close.

* From Layla. In turn, ‘Layla’ is a song by Eric Clapton.
*2 Yes, here, Tsunade hasn’t used Creation Rebirth in any way. She’s physically in her late twenties at most, not forty-seven, because of her Uzumaki and Senju heritage and [SPOILERS]. There’s no need for her special Transformation usually.
*3 Shishou means ‘Master’, as in Master and Apprentice
*4 Canon has it use only three hand-seals, but here, the explanation is that Yahiko had shaved off one of the hand-seals too.
 
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Story3.5

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#10
Shizune was examining Naruto, all the while Biwako was worried to the point of chewing her nails, sparing a dirty look at an oblivious Tsunade every once in a while.





He needs an infusion of Chakra, or the consequences will be severe,” the woman concluded.





Then, what are you waiting for?” Biwako said, fuming, barely controlling her temper.





Unfortunately, I cannot do the Chakra Transfer technique well enough for such a delicate case. Only Tsunade-sama has mastered it to the required degree, of all of us here,” Shizune said, still looking at Naruto.





In the meantime, Tsunade was staring at Naruto’s bloody knuckles and palms, as if in a trance….





-----





“What’s wrong with her?” Biwako asked Shizune, fuming, almost ready to kill.





“She has hemophobia,” Shizune explained.





“What…? Isn’t that-? The greatest medic-nin in the world has a fear of blood? Are you trying to make a joke?!” Biwako snapped at her in disbelief.





“Do not take that tone with me, Biwako-san,” Shizune said, scolding her in a motherly way, “and yes, it’s something that has to do with her past, something that would take too long to explain.”





“Got it,” Biwako said, expression set in stone. Then, she punched Tsunade in the ear and said, “oi, snap out of it!”





Both Tsunade and Shizune gasped, the latter likely in outrage.





Biwako shouted, “this is your only relative who’s suffering here! Wake up and heal him, you wimp!”





Tsunade blinked repeatedly, as if waking up from a trance. Her gaze focused eventually, seeing Naruto’s prone body held in Shizune’s arms. She looked at his blood again, shaking a bit, but this time, she remained relatively calm. She said, “Shizune, report,” her voice not betraying any distress she felt.





“He got severe Chakra exhaustion, Tsunade-sama, after awakening -or partially awakening- his bloodline,” Shizune said, her tone professional.





Biwako was pacing in impatience and worry, and yet, she said nothing.





Tsunade examined Naruto herself, possibly confirming what her apprentice had told her. Then, she started glowing yellow, making Naruto glow the same color, then green. So that was the Chakra Transfer technique.





Biwako could tell that Naruto was breathing more easily after that, and sighed in relief. She turned to Tsunade, who was studying her. The woman said, “now, what to do with you? I have to somehow repay you for punching me in the ear and your earlier threats," her expression unreadable to Biwako.





Biwako’s mouth moved on its own and said, “I regret nothing!” Smirking smugly, despite herself. When she realized what she had just said, she braced for a hit.





Tsunade smirked too. She said, “good answer,” flicking Biwako’s forehead with one finger, sending her tumbling, which Biwako managed to see coming- too late.





Biwako managed to land on her feet, sideways on the trunk of a tree, sticking to it using her Chakra with great difficulty. “I kind of deserved that,” she admitted in a bland tone which said she still didn’t regret her earlier behavior.





“That’s the spirit, Uchiha brat,” Tsunade said, her lips twitching upwards, “by the way, your Sharingan now has two tomoe in each eye. Congratulations.”





“Huh? Oh, right,” Biwako said, a bit absentmindedly. She took out the hand mirror she carried everywhere and reactivated her Sharingan, seeing two comma marks in each of her eyes. “So, when will Naruto get up and what is his condition?” She said, tension back to her body.





“The usual is six to seven days of unconsciousness for this level of Chakra exhaustion, walking again at nine to eleven days and over three weeks to actively use one’s Chakra again without risk of permanent damage,” Tsunade said, expression unreadable, “there should be no permanent damage as long as the boy does not overdo it.”





Biwako let out a sigh of relief. She said, “that’s a relief. Though, with Naruto’s rate of healing, it shouldn’t take more than a week until he’s back to using ninjutsu safely.”





“A healing factor?” Tsunade said, looking more interested, “care to share?”





“His arm had broken in two places. According to the medic-nin at the hospital, it should have taken three weeks or so to fully heal for a ninja without medical ninjutsu, but it took him less than twenty-four hours – less than an hour according to Naruto himself,” Biwako said, not seeing a reason to keep that information from Naruto’s relative, who was also the medic-nin taking care of him.





“Interesting,” Tsunade said, “just like Grandpa,” whispering, seemingly forgetting that Biwako was even there in her study of Naruto.





-----





Naruto felt as if he had been stepped on by the elephant boss summon; that was his first thought as he woke up, followed by ‘where am I?’





“Naruto-kun,” a somewhat familiar feminine voice said, “stay put, please. You went through quite the ordeal, and need your rest.”





Naruto moved his limbs around a bit. Satisfied that he wasn’t in enemy hands, for lack of being bound, he let himself by lulled to sleep.





...Naruto got up groggily. He felt as if pressure was being applied to all of his body, much like how training weights were supposed to be, only worse. ‘Wait,’ he thought to himself, ‘there’s an idea. Is it possible to make a seal that weighs down all of the body? it should be great for training.’





“Rise and shine!” Tsunade exclaimed, interrupting Naruto’s train of thought.





Naruto sat up with some help from who he soon recognized as Tsunade’s apprentice. His eyes met Tsunade’s, and he flinched.





The blond woman cleared her throat and said, “it appears we got off on the wrong foot, kid. Let’s try this again. I’m Tsunade, of the Legendary Sannin.”





Naruto signaled for water, which Shizune was quick to provide. After he drank a bit, he said, “nice to meet you. I’m Uzumaki Naruto, possibly Senju Naruto. Please take care of me.” Then, a yawn he couldn’t hold back interrupted him.





“I have to say,” Tsunade said, “I’m impressed at how quickly you recovered. It’s only been twenty hours or so; I would have expected you to be out for a week.”





Naruto stretched a bit, and decided to try to get up. The brunette, who introduced herself as Shizune, advised against it. On the other hand, Tsunade said nothing. She was simply looking at him with keen eyes.





He put a foot on the floor with difficulty, then the other. He was handed a walking stick, which he used as a literal crutch, to great effect; he only stumbled a little bit. Left foot, right foot, left again- shit!





The blond boy nearly went tumbling, only for someone with a familiar scent to catch him.





Biwako, the one who had caught him, said, “idiot; you are forcing me to pick up the slack. You’re reckless as ever.”





“Thanks, Biwako,” Naruto said, relaxing without even meaning to.





“Anytime,” the black-haired girl said calmly, her arms still around him.





Naruto managed to get to a chair with Biwako’s help and sat heavily, making the chair creak.





After a few minutes of Naruto catching his breath, he said, “so, how long was I out?” Stretching again.





“Twenty hours; didn’t you hear Tsunade earlier?” Biwako replied, a bit mockingly.





Naruto was surprised by the fact that Biwako wasn’t polite enough to use honorifics, even towards Tsunade. He knew that his friend almost never used them, but he thought her sense of self-preservation would keep her from pissing off someone so powerful. Not that he was one to talk.





“Hey, Naruto – is something wrong?” Biwako asked softly, worry in her tone.





Naruto was snapped out of his daydreams. He said, “I’m fine; just thinking.”





“I hope you didn’t burn out your brain,” Biwako said teasingly.





“Very funny,” Naruto shot back, but wasn’t able to say something smart himself; he couldn’t focus.





A few minutes passed in silence, then Tsunade spoke up. She said, “time for your exam; we’ll see how well you are recovering, and if there is risk of permanent damage to your coils and the rest of your body.”





She touched Naruto’s bare arm, hands glowing, and started ‘hmm’ing.





Naruto started panicking; he said, “wait, there’s a chance of permanent damage? Why?!”





“Did you think that awakening a bloodline is an easy process?” Tsunade said, her voice stern, “most of the Uchiha clan couldn’t use the Sharingan, but it wasn’t necessarily for lack of the potential to awaken it. Some of them simply damaged the coils in their head enough when they awoke it that they couldn’t use it anymore. I once faced a Yuki clan member in the Second Shinobi World War who couldn’t expel Chakra out of his right arm; it’s likely, though not certain, that the awakening of his Hyouton had been the reason. He was still a real bitch to fight, though,” devolving into a rant about ‘fucking one-handed hand-seals’ and ‘damn annoying pretty boys’.





“Tsunade-sama! Language! Not in front of the children, at least!” Shizune said, shaking the poor pig back and forth.





Tsunade snorted, but didn’t press the issue.





“WAIT! What about my body? Is there permanent damage!?” Naruto shouted out, impatient.





“Don’t shout in my ear, damn it!” Tsunade said, almost equally as loud, making Naruto's ears hurt. Then, she said, “there’s no chance for permanent damage. Even if you were to train today -and this is not permission to do that; my orders as a medic-nin is that you wait until tomorrow evening at the very least- you would still be fine in the long term, though you’d still set back your recovery by doing something so stupid. In fact, your Chakra and coils are recovering at an increasing rate; either now that you partially awakened your bloodline your regeneration is faster, or the Chakra exhaustion slowed down your recovery. My money would be on a combination of both.”





“Aren’t you notoriously bad at gambling, though?” Biwako said snarkily.





Naruto used sign language to tell Biwako to ‘stop poking the tiger, idiot’, feeling much better already, but the girl ignored him.





“Oh, by the way,” Tsunade said casually, “when would you like to give your blood for a test? I’ve already determined that you’re a real Senju by scanning your Chakra, but I’d much rather do a proper DNA test.”





“Is it possible right now? I feel better already,” Naruto said, getting up from the chair, stretching to get the kinks out of his limbs and back.





“I’d rather wait at least an hour; Shizune healed your cuts and broken knuckles immediately, so you didn’t lose much blood, but your body is already stressed. Let me scan you again, though – I’ll judge how long you need for recovery,” Tsunade said.





She put her glowing hands on his arm again, and said, “your regeneration is still speeding up – I think that using medical ninjutsu of any kind, including diagnostic jutsu, on you improves it.”





“Really?” Naruto said, “what would happen if I learned medical ninjutsu?” A bit excited.





“Well,” Tsunade said, “that does explain how my grandpa healed himself without using hand-seals. He simply had to use a diagnostic jutsu on himself without seals, and bam! Instant super regeneration!” Smirking lightly, not answering the question.





“Wow! Hashirama-sama was incredible!” Naruto said, still excited.





Tsunade said, “I suppose so,” her expression strange.





Naruto couldn’t understand the mix of emotions, but he studied his relative’s expression. His analysis was broken by Tsunade speaking.





The woman said, “you wouldn’t happen to want to become Hokage, would you?” Narrowing her eyes.





“No,” Naruto said seriously, “the only thing I care about right now is keeping my loved ones safe, though Iruka-sensei and Biwako are the only ones on that list right now. I also don’t want to fall behind her in the ninja arts.





He kept the fact that he used to crave acknowledgement -and still did- to himself. That was something only Biwako -and probably Iruka-sensei- knew. The same with his desire to leave Konoha behind, but Iruka-sensei probably didn’t realize that.





“I see,” Tsunade said in a neutral tone, “keeping your loved ones safe, huh? Keeping up with your friend in the ninja arts? Well, not a bad goal to have, either of those.”





Naruto remained silent; he could tell Tsunade wanted to say more.





As if coming to a decision, Tsunade nodded to herself. She said, “Naruto, how would you like to learn medical ninjutsu, and the ninja arts in general, from me?”





“Li- like master and apprentice?” Naruto asked, stuttering a bit.





“Exactly that,” Tsunade said, a hint of a smile on her face, “so how about it? Want to be my second apprentice?”





Naruto stuttered over his reply even more, but he managed to say yes… somehow. His eyes fell on Shizune, and the woman seemed elated, no hint of jealousy -or was it called envy?- at all. He could tell that the brunet woman cared about her master a lot.





Naruto said, “you should smile more, Shizune-san. It makes you look so much more cute and beautiful,” not knowing why those words had come out out loud.





“Well, aren’t you a little charmer,” Shizune said with a grin and a light blush and ruffled Naruto’s hair, making him blush too for some reason.





“Hmph,” Biwako said, “congratulations, you womanizer,” a teasing tone along with something else in her voice.





Naruto turned to his best friend and said, “thanks Biwako, but what’s a womanizer?”





Biwako turned away, failing to hide a small smile, and said, “never mind – I’ll tell you when you’re older.”





“We’re almost the same age!” Naruto said, slightly annoyed by Biwako’s words.





Biwako stuck out her tongue at him.





“As entertaining as this is,” Tsunade said, “shall we get on with the blood exam?”











Naruto blinked. Then, he paled, saying, “okay, but will I have to be pierced with a needle?”





Tsunade rolled her eyes and said, “aren’t you a little too old to be afraid of needles?”





“You’re never too old to be afraid of needles!” Naruto declared, smirking despite himself, “heck, I know a woman over forty who’s afraid of seeing blood spilled.”





“Naruto,” Tsunade said, “shut up and take it like a man!” Glaring daggers at him.





Naruto wisely shut up; he could see Tsunade’s clenched fist, and knew he was close to being pummeled by someone who was known as the physically strongest human alive.





“Your bedside manner needs some work,” Biwako commented dryly.





Tsunade didn’t rise to the bait. She said, “if you ever become the most skilled medic-nin in the world, then you can criticize my bedside manner,” calm once again.





After a bit of resistance from Naruto, Tsunade took some blood from his left forearm and put it in a vial. She took some blood from herself too, put it in another vial, labeled them both, shook them around a bit and put them on the dresser.





Then, she went through a sequence of hand-seals and touched both the vials at the same time, frowning at something and biting her lip.





“Is something wrong?” Naruto asked, slightly worried.





Tsunade shook her head. She said, “I’m surprised, that’s all. It seems you are my grandnephew, but Na- Nawaki die- was too young to have been a father at all. So, it must have been Zairuji who was your grandfather.”





“Who was Zairuji, Tsunade-sama?” Shizune asked softly.





“He was my older brother. We weren’t very close; in fact, the only one of the family he was close to was Mito-baasama, our grandmother. He had been a wild child and a womanizer, and he fought a lot with Grandpa and our parents since early on – though with Grandpa, it might have been because of their similarities that they clashed,” Tsunade said, a fond smile on her face, “what I don’t understand is why he would go and get a random girl pregnant; womanizer or not, after he fell in love, he was very loyal to his lover, Namikaze… Reera*- oh, shit.”





Naruto looked at Tsunade, not realizing why she stopped and cursed; then, the reality set in: there was only one Namikaze line in Konoha, as everyone knew. He said, “wait, the Yondaime was my father? What about my classmate, Namikaze Mito?”





“There’s another Namikaze in Konoha? Oh, it must have been the goddaughter my idiot teammate was talking about with so much pride – I didn’t pay much attention,” Tsunade said, blushing a bit. “What does she look like?” She then said, serious again.





Naruto thought it over a bit. He said, “well, strawberry blond hair, eyes that are dark blue with a hint of green -the only others I know with that color are the Yondaime and me- and whisker marks like mine, only more thick… oh, shit. Shit, shit, shit!” Shouting in the end and clenching the nearest object in his fist, which happened to be a blunt kunai Biwako handed him.





The kunai bent under the force of his emotions, making an ominous creaking sound. He whispered, “I always blew her off when she tried to talk to me. Damn it! But if I didn’t get the whisker marks from having a Bijuu in my gut, where did we both get them?”





Tsunade cleared her throat. She said, “I may be able to shed light on that.”





“Wait, you know where my whisker marks came from?” Naruto said, incredulous.





“Yes,” Tsunade said, nodding, “your mother, Uzumaki Kushina, was the container of the Kyuubi after my grandmother; my father had whisker marks just like yours.”





“So, what does that mean?” Naruto asked, a bit confused, still unable to think clearly, not having fully recovered from his exhaustion.





“It means that if one is exposed to the Kyuubi’s Chakra in serious amounts before they’re born, they get those whisker marks. The same happens if they’re ‘reborn’ by eating its flesh, thus absorbing some Chakra from it permanently, like a pair of brothers from Kumo,” Tsunade explained patiently.





“Oh, I got it now. Who were those guys from Kumo, though?” Naruto asked.





“Their names were Kinkaku and Ginkaku,” Tsunade said absently, “but that’s a story for another time.”





“By the way, Naruto,” Biwako said, her smirk worrying Naruto, “did you really have to call your jutsu ‘Call of Nature’? It sounds like it does the same as the Inuzuka dog partners’ ‘Dynamic Marking’.”





They had discovered the notes on various clans that the Uchiha had had on other clans, Konoha and outside. The notes on Konoha’s clans in the Jounin and Chuunin section of the library were surprisingly thorough and complete, and had been updated very recently.





“Oi,” Naruto said, carefully not pouting, “it was instinctive!”





“Do you mean that you instinctively called it that, or that you pissed yourself without realizing?” Biwako said, that damn smirk on her face.





“Come on, Biwako! Your naming sense isn’t much better – I mean, you named a jutsu ‘Lightning Style: Thunderbolt’. What is it, a Pocket Monsters move?” Naruto said teasingly.





Biwako scowled and said, “it’s a perfectly viable name! ‘Thunderbolt’ sounds badass! Too many manga will rot your brain, Naruto!”





“Oh, come on, live a little! You have one hobby that isn’t ninja training, and all it is is taking strolls around Konoha!” Naruto said, getting a bit more serious. “Oh, wait, did you just say ‘badass’?” He then said, less serious again, blinking a bit in surprise.





Biwako slapped her own forehead and said, “only you could change from joking to serious to joking again so quickly, you idiot.”





“Oi, I’m not an idiot, you jerk, dattebayo!” Naruto said, hating being called an idiot.





“You so are, you whisker-face!” Biwako said, losing seriousness fast.





“You look like a pretty-boy,” Naruto said, realizing his mistake as soon as he said it.





“What did you just say?!” Biwako hissed out, glaring at him horribly.





‘In for a Ryo, in for a fifty note,’ Naruto thought. Out loud, he said, “I said you sound like the tsundere love interest of the main protagonist from one of the manga I’ve read.”





Biwako’s eyes opened comically wide, like she couldn’t believe what she heard. Then, they narrowed, but a smirk started showing on her face. She said, “if I’m the thundere love interest, then are you the main protagonist?”





“Uh, what…?” Naruto said, shell-shocked.





Biwako patted him on the head, a mocking smirk still on her face, and sat down in seiza, closing her eyes without dropping the smirk.





Naruto could hear Tsunade’s snickers very clearly. He turned and glared at the woman, but she completely ignored him.





Shizune looked just as shocked as Naruto felt earlier, then a smile bloomed on her face. She said, “Naruto-kun, how many years have you two been married?”





Naruto groaned. He said, “not you too, Shizune-san! We’re nine years old – is that something you say to a kid?”





Tsunade, in the meanwhile, was still snickering. She stopped for a moment, only to say, “Shizune’s got a point there. Snrk- bwahahahaha!” Laughing like a pig- no. Even Tonton sounded less pig-like.





Naruto was not amused, and showed it by carefully NOT pouting.





After Tsunade stopped snickering, she went to work again, saying, “so, Uchiha brat-”





“It’s Biwako,” Biwako said, dropping her previous smirk.





“Whatever,” Tsunade said grumpily, “have you had a check-up? Naruto was healthy, but I don’t know about you.”





Biwako said, “all Academy students have gone through check-ups,” frowning lightly.





“Yes,” Tsunade said, “but have they been examined by me?” Full of confidence, or maybe arrogance.





Biwako put up a bit more resistance, but in the end, she gave in and let Tsunade examine her.





Tsunade put a glowing hand on Biwako’s arm. After a few seconds of that, Tsunade lifted her head to look at Biwako, saying, “what the hell, Biwako! Why are there traces of a possible S-ranked Genjutsu in your head!”





Naruto saw Biwako freeze, which was a rare sight. She said, “wait – it wasn’t wiped fully?” Shivering.





Tsunade looked at Biwako strangely, then said, “apart from that, you have minor nerve damage in the wrist area of your right hand and moderate one in some of the fingers of your left, along with a little bit of lingering damage to your joints. Do you want those things healed?”





Biwako hadn’t said yes faster in her life, Naruto thought. She sat very still, too.





Tsunade did a few hand-seals, put her glowing hands on Biwako’s head and after a few minutes, said, “it is done. I recommend that you not use your Sharingan -or any Chakra around your head- for a few days. Make sure you aren’t put under any genjutsu for any reason for those days, too. I will put you under my personal surveillance if I have to.”





“Thank you,” Biwako said, and she seemed to be more at ease than ever, “what about my wrist and fingers? Is healing nerve damage even possible?”





“Impatient brat,” Tsunade said, her smirk showing she wasn’t angry. “I’ll get to that now. Healing nerve damage is not possible for medic-nins… other than me, of course. Strength of a Hundred Seal, Release. Creation Rebirth – Strength of a Hundred,” she then said, making a Tiger Seal.





Tsunade started glowing slightly. Strange markings spread on her face, then the rest of her body, and she touched Biwako. For a few seconds, the same markings were on the young girl. Then, they disappeared, and Biwako twisted her hand around, an expression of wonder on her face.





Naruto sensed for the Chakra that Tsunade was using, and what he could tell was that it was all her own Chakra because of the same yellow ‘color’, but in her forehead was a store of energy that was probably much greater in quantity than Tsunade could make on her own. What had she done? Had she stored her own Chakra or something?





The markings were no longer there, only the diamond-like seal(?).The store of Chakra in her forehead was no longer possible to sense, and Tsunade was breathing hard. Shizune helped the woman stay on her feet.





Tsunade said, “I really am out of practice. Though this is the first time I’ve used this jutsu, I don’t think it was supposed to tire me out this much – I didn’t even use a thirtieth l of the Chakra stored in there,” an expression of annoyance on her face.





“Wait… you used an untested jutsu on me?” Biwako said, one eyebrow twitching.





Tsunade waved Biwako off, saying, “I was certain of what it does, but I haven’t had the opportunity to use it. The time I invented it was shortly before I left Konoha.(*2)”





“Hmph. Whatever,” Biwako said, turning away.





It made Naruto worry, too. He said to Tsunade, “there won’t be any problems with Biwako because of the jutsu, right?”





“Extremely unlikely, but I will monitor her if it will put your minds at ease,” Tsunade said.





“Wait,” Shizune said, “what about the Academy? You two are students there, right? Or have you already graduated?”





Tsunade clicked her fingers, saying, “I knew I was forgetting something! Does either of you have a guardian that you have to contact? It’s not a good idea to go to the Academy or missions, as the Uchiha brat -Biwako- has to rest for a few days, and Naruto needs his rest too."





Naruto looked at Biwako. She looked back.





After a bit of non-verbal communication, Biwako said, “I will ask a messenger Hawk to take a message from each of us to Iruka-sensei. Maybe we will say that we are sick, or something like that.”





Naruto nodded, but then something occurred to him. He said, “Tsunade… san. You said something earlier about my Wood Style partially activating. What did you mean?”





Tsunade didn’t answer for a few seconds. Then, she said, “call me Tsunade-sensei, or Tsunade-shishou(*3), Naruto. As for the activation of your bloodline, it means that you didn’t have enough Chakra to activate the full Wood Style -or maybe not a strong enough body- yet, so, while it started activating, it didn’t finish the process. Thus, you got Chakra exhaustion and didn’t get the Wood Style at its full potential.





»So, it will likely not be anywhere as efficient Chakra-wise as it’s supposed to be, and some abilities may remain out of your reach. Not to mention the fact that your healing factor might become even greater when you awaken your Wood Style fully.”





Naruto digested that for a few moments. Then, he said, “wait, that wasn’t even Mokuton’s full power!?” Shouting without meaning to.





“It wasn’t – trust me on that,” Tsunade said, smirking, “Grandpa could make his Wood Clones so quickly that only Madara was able to see him substitute himself with one, and made a training ground with a radius of a bit over ten kilometers practically from scratch in only a few hours. Three hundred and twenty-six square kilometers – do you know how large that is?”





“How large was the space I covered with trees?” Naruto asked, truly curious.





Tsunade smirked and said, “including the trees beyond the clearing, about fifty times less than ONE square kilometer; without them, one hundred and seventy times or so less than a square kilometer. Don’t be discouraged, though – some people’s Chakra reserves grow exponentially, and your Wood Style will probably get a lot less Chakra intensive when you fully activate it, too.





»According to my father, who was told by Grandpa himself, Grandpa didn’t have his enormous reserves from the beginning; and now that you are going to be my apprentice, I will make sure that you improve in everything.”





Tsunade’s smirk turned sadistic, making Naruto shiver. Still, he had more questions. He said, “d- do you think that I have a Bijuu sealed in me, Tsunade-sensei? It’s the theory Biwako and I have for why I’m hated in Konoha,” a bit scared that his aunt would abandon him.





Tsunade’s hands glowed a bit again, and she put one on Naruto’s arm, then slipped it under his shirt. She looked puzzled, but she said, “I can’t detect anything like that. Of course, it’s possible, even likely, that your father sealed it in so tight that it will take years for you to use its Chakra. After all, he did split it in half using the Shinigami, according to Jiraiya when he was drinking his sorrows.





»My advice is not to worry about it except when you are improving your Chakra Control. I do have a few of the exercises that Grandmother and Kushina used to keep the Nine-tails from affecting their Chakra Control as much.”





“Thank you, Tsunade-sensei!” Naruto said, bowing in respect, happy that he had a relative teach him.





He saw Iruka as a father figure or maybe an older brother, but it was different with Tsunade.





-----





Naruto was standing in a clearing with Tsunade, just like the day before the last; this time, Shizune and Biwako were standing further ahead, though they were still well within sensing distance.





“Now that you are well-rested,” Tsunade said, a scary smile on her face, “it is time to see what you can do, Naruto. Then, it’s tortraining for you.”





“Tortraining?” Naruto asked, starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing. “Is it too late to change my mi-”





“Shut up and show me what you can do. Now, what jutsu do you know?” Tsunade barked out.





Naruto showed Tsunade his seal-less Kawarimi (Substitution / Body Replacement).





Then, the Transformation and the Clone jutsu with only one hand-seal each, the Shadow Clone, which had one seal to begin with; the Water Clone, which Naruto could use with only a Tiger seal; the Wood Clone, which, after the activation of his bloodline, he could use with only two hand-seals rather than three; Water Style: Wild Water Wave, which he had gotten down with only three hand seals rather than four(*4) and Wind Style: Thrust, which still took three hand-seals: Dog, Rabbit and Bird.





Tsunade’s eyes had narrowed, and that worried Naruto. She said, “are you able to extract the water from a leaf?”





Naruto took a leaf in his hand and did just that; all the while, Tsunade was watching with keen eyes.





“It’s as I feared. You have neglected some of the basics in favor of learning more things. Are you able to cut a leaf too?” Tsunade said, her voice even.





Naruto cut a leaf, then covered another in dirt.





Tsunade examined them. Then, she said, “it took too long for you to cut the leaf; same with the Earth Style and the Water Style exercise. There are also jagged edges in the cut, though they are much more minor than I’d expect; Shizune is the expert on Wind Style though, not me, so we’ll leave that for later. Now, start jogging around the clearing.”





“For how long?” Naruto asked.





“Just do it. I will tell you when to stop,” Tsunade said, and Naruto started jogging.





Naruto was getting tired after nearly an hour of jogging around the clearing, so he started slowing down.





OUCH!





Something, and Naruto thought it was a rock, had hit him in the ass-cheek!





Tsunade laughed quietly, but Naruto could hear her. She then said, “don’t slow down, Naruto. Oh, we need to train your situational awareness and dodging ability, too, so make sure not to get hit again; I won’t throw the rocks so weakly and slowly next time.”





That was weak and slow!? What the hell! Naruto didn’t say anything, though; he only continued jogging, putting all his effort into dodging without breaking stride, too.





After he finished that training, with his bruises disappearing near-instantly, Tsunade had him show her his taijutsu. She also had him demonstrate his strength technique (or, rather, his version of her technique). Tsunade said, “I call it the Byakugo no jutsu (Strength of a Hundred jutsu); not to be confused with Creation Rebirth – Strength of a Hundred jutsu. You seriously learned it in a week? I’ll have you show me what Chakra Control exercises you know next.”





Naruto looked at her seriously and said, “not… exactly. I had managed it before, instinctively,” grimacing at his first memory.





That said, Naruto showed Tsunade how he stuck leaves on himself, then left them on when he climbed a tree, and later when he walked on water. He had to dodge a few rocks again, this time on the water, but his aunt said that his Chakra Control was ‘adequate for his age’.





According to Tsunade, Naruto’s taijutsu needed a bit of work; learning from scrolls and an Academy teacher who didn’t know the style very well could do that. She beckoned Naruto to follow her, and they went up to Biwako and Shizune.





Tsunade said, “Uchiha brat. Show me your taijutsu,” without hesitation.





“It’s Biwako,” the girl said, but she showed Tsunade her stances without a protest, other than narrowed eyes.





“Interesting,” Tsunade said, “your taijutsu is a bit more polished than Naruto’s. Can you use it well without the Sharingan, though?”





With that, Tsunade had Naruto and Shizune walk away from the two of them in order to spar with Biwako. Naruto looked on with worry.





“Don’t worry, Naruto-kun,” Shizune said, “Tsunade-sama DOES know how to control her strength.”





Naruto nodded at her and turned back to Biwako and Tsunade. As expected, Biwako lost handily.





Then, Tsunade told her to go all out, and Biwako activated her doujutsu and shouted, “Lightning Style: Thunderbolt!”





That jutsu was mid-ranged, and the longest range Raiton she had; mainly because the Lightning Element wasn’t meant for true long range.





Tsunade sidestepped, the jutsu apparently failing at its purpose.





Naruto could sense the Chakra of a Shadow Clone -or Biwako herself- under the ground, though – Biwako obviously used the light of the flashy ninjutsu to cover for her making a clone.





Tsunade lifted one leg… and stomped the ground, dispelling the clone.





Biwako herself had finished the hand-seals of Phoenix Sage Fire, and Tsunade swayed just enough for the small balls of fire to miss her – unfortunately for Tsunade, Biwako revealed that she had hidden shuriken inside those fireballs; shuriken that she controlled using- near-invisible wires…?





That move was new; Biwako had never used ninja wire in their spars. She didn't put shuriken in Housenka no jutsu (Phoenix Sage Fire / Phoenix Flower jutsu) often, either.





Tsunade kicked the ground again, while holding a one-handed hand-seal, with a whisper of ‘Earth Style: Mud Hazard’, which sent a splash of mud… right into Biwako’s active Sharingan.





She recoiled, the shuriken went to random directions and Tsunade put a kunai at Biwako’s throat before Naruto realized what had happened.





Biwako admitted defeat, then cleaned her eyes with a handkerchief. Tsunade said, “that was impressive.”





"Impressive? Are you mocking me?” Biwako said, obviously annoyed, eyes still bloodshot.





Tsunade simply shook her head. She said, “don’t be absurd, Biwako; it WAS impressive – for a seasoned Genin, not even an Academy student. You made a great opening move by using that Raiton as a distraction and attack both. Using Housenka no jutsu wasn’t even a mistake, per se... but you need a much greater speed of reaction AND faster hand-seals to accompany your Sharingan.





»Did you notice how with one jutsu, I accomplished more than one thing? Rather like your use of ‘Thunderbolt’. Except the jutsu I used is one of the most basic ones in the Earth element; it’s barely D-ranked, while yours is probably at C-rank.”





Biwako’s focus on Tsunade’s words was absolute. She said, “so, I need to focus more on my reflexes and improving my hand-seals?”





Tsunade simply nodded. Then, she said, "we will have to see your pure taijutsu more later. This all-out spar got out of hand."





“Does that mean you will train both of us, Tsunade-sensei?” Naruto asked.





Tsunade said, “I’m willing to help her from time to time, but you will be my focus.”





Shizune spoke after many minutes of silence on her part. She said, “I’ll help both of you, too. My primary element is Wind, but I’m a fair hand with ninja wire and weapons, especially senbon.”





Tonton let out a squeal, and Naruto smiled at Shizune, saying, “that’s great, Shizune-san!”





Tsunade said, “my primary element is Water, though my skill with Earth Style is better than most Iwa Jounin, as Biwako saw first hand. I’m more than a fair hand at Fire Style, too. As for Lightning Style… well, I can use it. That’s all.”





“What about Yang Style and Yin Style?” Naruto asked.





Tsunade did a double take. She said, “so, that’s how you learned the Byakugo no jutsu in one week? You had already trained yourself in Yang Style?”





Naruto shook his head. He said, “not quite," thinking of Asuna-san's unmoving body, shivering. "It took me less than three days to complete the exercise of making a leaf hard as iron. I just… get Yang Style. In comparison, it took me over six months to make a leaf look transparent using Yin Style, and only a small part of it; I still haven’t finished that exercise. I don’t doubt it will take me over a year to finish.”





“Interesting,” Tsunade said, her eyes lighting up. Then, she said, “as for me, I’m the leading authority on Yang Style; most medical ninjutsu, including the Mystical Palm, are based on Yang Style. Though, between you and me, some diagnostic jutsu, the Mystical Palm and the Chakra Transfer jutsu might not be ninjutsu, per se. If there’s anything left over of the legendary ‘Ninshu’, it’s probably those jutsu.”





“Ninshu?” Naruto asked, the word striking a chord deep within.





“Not important right now,” Tsunade said, waving him off.





…A few days later, after Tsunade left a lot of books for Naruto -and a few for Biwako- in storage seals to study, the two children returned to Konoha.





When one is summoned with the Gyaku Kuchiyose no jutsu (Reverse Summoning jutsu), they have two choices: they either return to their original position in time, or they have to return manually – or be summoned again. Biwako was summoned by a Hawk again, and then summoned Naruto.





Naruto could see that the village was on high alert as he walked to the Academy with Biwako, though at a bit of a distance, so that most people wouldn't find out about their friendship. He eavesdropped on a few ninjas jumping on the nearby rooftops, and he heard something about an intruder coming into Konoha from above, passing through ‘the barrier’.





Wait – are they talking about the Hawk? Naruto didn’t know whether to be worried or just laugh.





In the end, the ninjas of Konoha started settling down, though Naruto could tell they were still on edge.





Iruka’s keen eyes paused on Naruto for a few moments, then on Biwako. The lesson today was about the Second Shinobi World War, especially the Sannin and their achievements – funny, considering Naruto had been with Tsunade less than two hours earlier.





Iruka’s assistant, Mizuki, was present today to ‘learn the ropes’ or something like that. The assistant looked at Naruto, his eyes narrowing a bit, but he immediately hid it expertly.





‘Weird,’ Naruto thought, ‘Mizuki-sensei never hid his dislike for me. If anything, he dislikes me more now than before Maifa... he never graduated from assistant teacher, either, even after all those years. Makes me suspicious.’





Iruka told Mizuki to pick a student and ask them a question on the material.





Mizuki picked Naruto, saying, “so, Naruto – what was Tsunade of the Legendary Sannin best known for?”





Barely holding in his laugh, Naruto said, “she was known for her amazing physical strength and healing prowess as a medic-nin. She was the only one who could counter the poisons Chiyo of Suna made, and could punch the ground hard enough to crack it.”





Tsunade had told Naruto about a few of her achievements, and Chiyo’s name had come up more than once.





Mizuki paused, then talked to Iruka in whispers.





In the meantime, one of Naruto’s classmates said, “you made that up, Naruto! There’s no way a woman can break the ground!”





The classmate’s name was Nori, or something like that. He probably wouldn’t even graduate. Especially if Sakura, Ino, Ami and even Hinata killed him today.





Naruto could see the glares aimed at Nori, and would stay very far away from him for at least a few days.





Mizuki said, “that is correct, Naruto,” smiling in a fake way.





Naruto shivered, despite himself. That smile was creepy.





Fortunately, as Naruto and Biwako found out later, nobody had found out that the intruder was a Hawk, nor that Biwako had something to do with it. Biwako also set up a Reverse Summoning Seal in the Uchiha district, so there would be no need for the Hawks to infiltrate Konoha again.





As for being summoned by Tsunade, she could do it through the Slug contract, which Naruto had signed, but that was a story for another time.





-----


-----





Yes, the dreaded twin sister! Don't worry. I hate bashing, so neither my OC nor any canon character will be bashed, though Danzo and maybe the Sandaime will come close.





* From Layla. In turn, ‘Layla’ is a song by Eric Clapton.





*2 Yes, here, Tsunade hasn’t used Creation Rebirth in any way. She’s physically between twenty-three and her late twenties, not forty-seven, because of her Uzumaki and Senju heritage, not having abused Creation Rebirth and having learned Sage Mode. There’s no need for her special Transformation usually.





*3 Shishou means ‘Master’, as in Master and Apprentice





*4 Canon has it use only three hand-seals, but here, the explanation is that Yahiko had shaved off one of the hand-seals too.
 
Last edited:
Story4

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#21
AN: This chapter has another spar between Naruto and Biwako – the recommended music is the Rival Battle Theme from Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.


This is the last of what I have finished; I've had Chapter 3, Chapter 3.5 and Chapter 4 ready since Spring of last year, and only edited them for posting.


-----


Naruto didn’t want to be a burden, so he had decided to give some of his vegetables, fruits, roots, edible plants and leaves, and other such things to Biwako to sell; they were currently of higher quality than anything else anyone could find anywhere in the world – at least, in Naruto’s not-so-humble opinion.


It would almost hurt him physically to part with things he had grown with his own hands and Chakra, but most of them would go to waste anyway; he had too large a garden nowadays.


Biwako said, “you aren’t a burden, Naruto. There’s no need to pay rent. Besides, I don’t need it,” evenly.


“If you don’t need the money, then put it aside,” Naruto countered, “besides, you’ve opened the Uchiha library to me – that’s priceless.”


Biwako sighed. She said, “you won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, will you…? All right, but two thirds of the money will be yours – this time, I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer.”


After consulting Shizune and Tsunade, Biwako got the necessary permits in Konoha; normally, they wouldn’t be available to a child barely ten years of age, but being the 'last loyal Uchiha' had its perks, apparently. Tsunade also advised them to start selling them at a serious markdown at first, because nobody would buy them at the price they were actually worth until they had tried them and gotten (kind of) addicted.


-----


“Tsunade-sensei,” Naruto said, “do you have any pictures of my mother or father? You could make it a birthday present for me becoming ten tomorrow…?” Desperate for something of his parents. Anything. He hadn’t dared make such a request before, when he had barely known his aunt.


Tsunade thought it over a bit, then unsealed a photo that contained an old woman with dyed brown hair; Tsunade herself; a little redheaded girl, five or so years old; and a young boy who was ten or eleven, with light brown hair and hazel (?) eyes. Tsunade looked to be in her mid- or late- teens.


Naruto could see that Tsunade was unable to look at the picture for long. He took it in his hands with reverence and looked at the little girl’s face very carefully. Her big violet-colored eyes were not that difficult to spot. He said, “is that…?”


“Yes,” Tsunade said, her body trembling a bit, “that’s Kushina when she was a kid, and the older woman was our ancestor Mito.”


Naruto could tell that the young boy was a sore spot – it must have been Nawaki, her little brother; she always changed the subject when it reached him. So, he didn’t say anything about him. He only said, “what about Namikaze Minato?”


“I don’t have any photos of him,” Tsunade said, “why don’t you ask your sister?” Looking at Naruto with a strange half-smile.


Naruto shook his head. He said, “what am I gonna tell her? ‘Hello, I’m the twin brother you never even knew about’?”


Tsunade winced, but she said, “you can’t run away forever, Naruto. I know that from personal experience.”


Naruto barely kept from saying something scathing. He said, “it’s not that easy sensei ’ttebayo.”


Tsunade smiled at him in a strange way again, saying, “yeah, I know….” After a few minutes of silence, she withdrew another photo; this one had two people in their late teens, and the woman said, “here. Look at this one.”


It contained a young man with light blond hair and hazel eyes and a young woman with bright blond hair and electric blue eyes.*


The female was the most beautiful woman Naruto had ever seen, bar none. Tsunade barely even came close. “Are these…?” He said.


“Yes, they are your grandparents,” Tsunade said, “my older brother, Senju Zairuji; and Namikaze Reera, his lover.”


Naruto couldn’t take his eyes off his grandmother. He said, “what happened to them?”


Tsunade said, “Zairuji died before he even turned twenty-three years old, on a B- turned A- ranked mission; he was being evaluated for the Jounin rank. Around half a year after that, Reera gave birth to Minato, though I never connected the dots. Grandmother went to visit little Minato a bit too often for an unknown orphan, especially after Reera’s death five years later, though Grandmother died only a couple years after Reera did – again, I never connected the dots. I wonder why Grandmother never told me….”


“Was Reera a kunoichi?” Naruto asked, very curious.


“She was a civilian – do you think I would be called Konoha’s most beautiful kunoichi if I had had her as competition?” Tsunade said, a strange expression forming on her face, “though I did some digging the past few days – looked at some letters exchanged between Reera and Zairuji when he had been away at the front, and her parents were actually ninjas, or at least one of them. Her father was a true Sealing Master, one of the few outside the Uzumaki clan. I think that the Uzumaki clan and the Namikaze family had brains wired differently to the rest of the world, and that’s why they were so good at Fuuinjutsu.”


Naruto found that very interesting, but he realized something. He said, “were you jealous of Reera being prettier?” Trying not to look smug.


Tsunade said, “it’s called being envious, not jealous, you brat,” glaring at him.


Naruto simply snickered. She hadn’t answered his question.


Tsunade smiled at Naruto again, but this time, it was more- genuine, not one of her sadistic smirks or the strange little smiles of earlier. She said, "I'm glad you are loosening up around me, Naruto. That doesn't mean you won't pay for this remark, though," her smile turning into the sadistic smirk halfway through.


-----


Biwako was in the Academy again while Iruka was lecturing them, a few months after Naruto’s tenth birthday. She noticed something out of the ordinary with Mito, though: she wasn’t cheerful like she usually would be. No, she was obviously depressed.


When the lessons stopped for lunch, Naruto took Biwako with him and sat near Mito –he had obviously noticed the same thing she had–, taking out the bento (lunch box) one of his clones had made.


It was rare for Naruto to show his friendship with Biwako in public, so this was a pleasant, though risky, surprise.


Mito lifted her head, saying, “Naruto…? What are you doing here?”


Naruto simply shrugged.


“I thought you didn’t like me at all,” Mito commented, blinking slowly.


Naruto said, “you caught me at a bad time before,” though he didn’t apologize.


Mito looked ready to question him, but she sighed and closed her eyes. Biwako could see she was shaking slightly, but neither asked her what had happened.


A few minutes of eating in silence later, Mito spoke again, this time seemingly back to her usual self. She said, “so, Biwako, what are you learning now?”


Biwako thought it over a bit, then said, “I am learning a secondary element, taijutsu, shurikenjutsu and how to recognize and break genjutsu better.”


Biwako didn’t mention that it was her dead cousin, Shisui, who was teaching her how to use shuriken, some taijutsu and about genjutsu. Nor did she say anything about the Hawk boss summon being the main one teaching her the Lightning Element, Shisui the Fire element and Tsunade of the Sannin taijutsu; nor about having started on a third element, Earth.


She had also improved the speed of her hand-seals by an insane amount, mainly thanks to various exercises Shisui had shown her and Shizune’s help. Biwako had also recently taken up Shizune’s offer to teach her first aid.


Mito nodded, seemingly impressed. “What about you, Naruto?” She said next.


Naruto smiled lightly, saying, “well, I’ve been learning about first-aid, how to use my main element and a few other things.”


Biwako knew that Tsunade had pushed a lot of medical books on Naruto, with Shizune teaching him about herbs, poisons and his third element, Wind; mainly how to enhance weapons with Fuuton (Wind Style) Chakra.


Tsunade had also barred the both of them from using clones to learn things faster unless she was supervising, and even when she was, she usually didn’t let them use them anyway. Her justification was that taking in memories from clones so often might overwhelm their young brains, and that their bodies might not be able to keep up. ‘It hasn’t been documented, what memories from multiple clones do to children,’ she had said. Biwako knew that the older woman had a point, but she definitely didn’t like it.


Naruto was also developing his very own Wood Style jutsu, but he remained tight-lipped on that. His sensory had also increased in range; rather than four hundred meters (a little less than a quarter mile) of radius, it had reached five hundred and fifty (around a third of a mile) in the past year and a half.


Another thing Tsunade was teaching the both of them was Fuuinjutsu (the art of Sealing); the woman was adamant that they both learn it. Probably because it was very important in most major surgeries, but neither of them minded learning it. Naruto probably felt more connected to his mother’s clan when he learned Fuuinjutsu, and Biwako remembered times past with fondness rather than bitterness, though she wouldn’t be able to truly rest easy until after Itachi answered some very pointed questions.


According to Shisui and her own memories, the treatment of the Uchiha by the upper echelons of Konoha had been nothing short of atrocious, which was yet another reason for Biwako to support Naruto, even if he decided to turn on that village. On the other hand, the plan to seize the seat of the Hokage by treachery and possibly force was really stupid – it reeked of desperation, rather. Biwako had raged at first when Shisui had told her – he had said he had been certain that Itachi wouldn’t approve of Biwako finding out, but also that he no longer cared what Itachi would think, which she was deeply grateful to Shisui for.


As for Naruto, while he did put serious effort into learning the medical arts, he often asked Tsunade for more combat training, repeatedly and sometimes to the point he grated on even Biwako’s nerves. The woman usually gave him Chakra Control exercises or physical training to increase his Control and reserves when he said such a thing; whenever he became a bit too annoying, she made him do ‘dodge training’, which -while a valid training exercise- was, in part, an excuse for Tsunade to hit Naruto.


Tsunade did give him combat training, especially in taijutsu -including their strength technique, Byakugo no jutsu- and both his primary elements, but Naruto wanted more of it and less medical training. The boy wasn’t as strong physically as Tsunade when she had been his age, but he was still naturally strong – as in, without counting the Strength of a Hundred jutsu, or any Chakra enhancement for that matter.


Mito spoke again, saying, “mou, Naruto! Do you have to be so mysterious?” And pouting.


Naruto smirked, saying, “that’s half the fun! Keeping people guessing ‘ttebayo!”


Mito blinked, zoning out for a few seconds looking at Naruto’s face. Then, she got up, said, ‘I gotta go!’ And left, forgetting what was left of her lunch there.


Biwako looked at Naruto, who looked back. She shrugged, and Naruto said, “Shikamaru was right, blond girls are troublesome.”


Biwako rolled her eyes.


Kiba approached them then and told Naruto, “Naruto! What the hell did you say to her!”


What? Has the mutt lost his mind?


“What…?” Naruto said, looking understandably confused.


“Don’t play innocent with me!” Kiba said, glaring at Naruto, “what. Did. You. Tell. Mito!”


“We just talked,” Naruto said, then narrowed his eyes. He said, “wait – do you have a crush on Mito?”



“That’s none of your business, you idiot! Now explain – why did she seem so upset!” Kiba demanded.


Naruto said, “she was like that when I got here,” narrowing his eyes further.


Biwako was starting to worry for the mutt and his apparent death wish and, as if on cue, she heard a puppy whimpering.


"What? Akamaru, whaddaya mean this clown is scaring you?” Kiba whispered.


If Biwako could hear that, there was no way Naruto couldn’t.


"That’s it! Me, you, the sparring ring!” Kiba said energetically, “and don’t think you can give up like other times, Naruto!”


Naruto only faced the non-clan children usually -and won-, giving up against Chouji and Kiba; and recently Biwako, Hinata, Ino and Sakura. Though she didn’t like the fact he had to forfeit against Biwako, it was better than fighting with both holding back almost everything in their arsenal.


He often tied with Shino, who was bad at taijutsu, and Shikamaru simply gave up first, the same with Ami… who was pretty scared of Naruto nowadays. Shino might know he was holding back, because according to Naruto, Shino looked at him in a weird way after their spars – though Biwako thought Shino always looked at people weirdly. Of course, she knew Naruto’s true strength.


‘Which means that this guy is fucked,’ Biwako concluded.


Biwako could tell that Kiba was mainly looking for an excuse for a fight, but Naruto might not see that, blinded by his brotherly instincts.


When the lessons resumed, after a lecture by Iruka, they had taijutsu spars scheduled.


Kiba was about to speak, when Naruto cut him off.


Naruto said, “Iruka-sensei. Can- uh, may I fight Kiba today?” With clear signs of impatience.


Everyone’s jaws dropped, other than Biwako’s and Iruka’s. Even Kiba looked like he was surprised.


Akamaru began whimpering again, probably intimidated by Naruto’s Chakra and presence. So, ninken (ninja dogs) can be sensor-types? Or is it because of his nose? Biwako hadn’t seen anything about Chakra sense in the entries for ninken in the Uchiha Ninja Library, but she resolved to pay more attention to all those irrelevant people because she might have to fight against them for real someday.


As for what the ninken might be sensing, Naruto’s Chakra reserves had increased the past year and a half from being on par with a slightly above average Chuunin to a very powerful Chuunin or weaker Jounin. While Biwako still had more Chakra than Naruto, and had grown too, the difference had shrunk. From having three times as much Chakra as Naruto, she had recently ended up with a bit over twice as much as him; she might have to redouble her training…. With care not to destroy herself or neglect the rest of her training, of course; fortunately, they had Tsunade to advise them.


On the other hand, Naruto had greatly improved his Chakra Control, and according to Tsunade, he should be ready to start learning the Shousen jutsu (Mystical Palm jutsu) by next month. As for Biwako’s Chakra Control, she was almost ready to learn B-ranked Fire Style and Lightning Style jutsu. She had already learned Ryuuka no jutsu, a Fire jutsu that spread by contact and made a new Lightning ninjutsu, the Jigokunagashi (Hell Current), though it needed quite a bit of polishing.


Lost in her thoughts, Biwako nearly missed the beginning of the spar between Naruto and Kiba.


Kiba attacked first, with Naruto waiting patiently, though the latter was obviously just as worked up. Kiba’s attack was wild, but still accurate… or it would have been, had Naruto not dodged. Kiba was still underestimating Naruto. By the time Kiba recovered from overextending, Naruto kicked the other boy’s ankle.


Crack!


Kiba cried out as his ankle was either sprained or broken. Before Iruka could intervene, Naruto punched Kiba in the gut.


To Biwako, the sight of Kiba balancing on three limbs while puking was hilarious, but the others didn’t seem very amused.


“Call! Uzumaki Naruto is the winner!” Iruka shouted in the midst of the other Academy students’ chattering.


“That was cruel, Naruto-kun,” Hinata said with her stutter absent, surprisingly enough.


The girl had an austere expression on her face, making her look like a true Hyuuga for the first time, making Biwako scoff.


“Biwako-san?” Hinata questioned, her stern façade broken.


“Kiba really had it coming,” Biwako commented, ignoring Shino saying something about it being illogical to hurt comrades so seriously.


Naruto didn’t say anything, but only walked away from the Academy completely. Mito wasn’t there; she hadn’t returned after she left during the lunch, and that was probably making Naruto worry. Biwako decided to stay at the Academy to inform Naruto of anything important that might happen after his leaving early.


She was tempted to send a Shadow Clone after him, but decided against it for the same reason she never displayed the Sharingan around a Konoha ninja or civilian: she didn’t trust any of them and also wanted to keep her abilities secret in case she ever had to fight them.


-----


Naruto was searching for Mito, but his sensor skill didn’t reach far enough to find her. He started walking idly around the village, overhearing civilians talking about an assassination attempt on ‘the honorable daughter’; he also heard that someone had been killed in the attempt.


He started walking faster when he heard all that; then, he found the strongest Chakra signature he had ever felt – stronger than the Third Hokage; stronger than Tsunade, even.*2


He found his feet taking him to Training Ground Three, where the owner of the super-strong Chakra signature was. What he found was, in hindsight, not that strange. The owner was extremely tall and had long white hair. He had his back to the side Naruto was coming from and seemed to be meditating.


“Beat it, kid,” the man said without turning to look at him.


“Jiraiya-sama?” Naruto blurted out.


Jiraiya turned around as soon as he heard Naruto’s voice, hopefully not giving himself whiplash. He was speechless for a few seconds while looking at Naruto’s face, making the boy uncomfortable, then said, “what’s your name, kid?” In a booming voice.


“I’m Uzumaki Naruto, Jiraiya-sama,” Naruto said, but he didn’t bow. So this was Mito’s godfather. Or was he Naruto’s too?


Jiraiya opened and shut his mouth a few times. Suddenly, another strong Chakra signature entered Naruto’s range, which he recognized as Mito’s. He turned towards her, with Jiraiya doing the same not long after. Had he heard her, or was he a sensor-type too? His Chakra didn’t feel like a sensor’s, though.


“Pervy Sage!” Mito shouted, barely even breathing hard, despite running at a great speed.


She started when she noticed Naruto, and kept looking between him and Jiraiya. Then, she straightened up and said, “so, you two have met,” her voice even.


“Mito… who is he?” Jiraiya asked, his expression unreadable.


“Oh, like you don’t know, Jiraiya!” Mito spat, trembling, with her fists clenched.


Jiraiya blinked, then said, “Mito, I swear, this is the first time I’ve seen this boy-”


“Cut the bullshit!” Mito yelled, looking ready to slap the man.


Naruto couldn’t help it – he laughed. He laughed long and hard, not caring about Mito’s shiver when she heard him, nor the fact his laugh sounded like that of a madman. He said, “this is rich! Everyone is like a toy to him, even his old student! It’s no wonder two of the Sannin left the village!”


Jiraiya looked at him, eyes narrowed, while Mito looked confused. Jiraiya said, “you are talking about the Sandaime.”


“Of course I am,” Naruto said, “is there anyone that that man didn’t treat as disposable?” Feeling his lips part in a grin.


Mito looked him in the face and cringed – Naruto had a feeling that his grin didn’t quite look happy, or sane.


“Normally, I would slap you for talking about Sarutobi-sensei like that -and most Konoha shinobi would do the same or worse- but I can’t find it in myself to care right now,” Jiraiya said, his expression as unreadable as his aunt’s when she played poker.


Naruto shrugged in indifference, still grinning.


“Shall we go see the Hokage?” Jiraiya said, expression not changing.


Naruto grimaced. “Do we have to?” He asked.


He would be happier if he never had to meet the Sandaime from up close. Feeling his Chakra didn’t count.


Jiraiya scrutinized him, saying, “I hate to ask, but why don’t you want to see the Hokage?”


Naruto said, “I would rather not meet the man who made sure to keep me from my sister for some unknown reason,” teeth clenched.


“When did you find out?” Mito asked him, her eyes suspiciously wet.


“A bit over a year ago,” Naruto admitted.


“Why didn’t you tell me?” Mito asked, tears running down her face.


“What would I tell you?” Naruto said, “‘excuse me, I’m the twin brother you’ve never met’? Would you believe me?”


Mito seemed ready to tear into Naruto, but Jiraiya interrupted her, saying, “how did you find out, Naruto?”


“I’d rather not say right now,” Naruto said very seriously.


“...Fair enough,” Jiraiya said, his expression once again unreadable.


The three of them walked back towards the Academy, but instead of entering it, they went to the Hokage’s office attached to it. The Hokage’s secretary bowed to Jiraiya and Mito, ignoring Naruto, and the three of them entered the room in which the Hokage did his paperwork.


The Third had brown eyes and was gray, nearly white haired; Naruto wasn’t sure, but he thought the hair had once been brown too. The man had a serious expression on his face – Naruto had been able to tell that the man was a sensor-type from the first time he had felt his Chakra; he must have known they were coming. The man made a few hand-seals at an extreme speed, making Naruto tense.


Sealing formulas spread all over the room, and Naruto regretted not sending a clone. ‘I shouldn’t have come here,’ he thought. He did recognize the array as being related to silence and privacy, but it could just as easily have been something lethal.


“Sandaime-sama,” Naruto said, trying for the tone his upperclassman Neji, the one who was popular with the girls, used with the weirdo – Hinata or something.


The Third said nothing, but Naruto was still tense, making him go for a kunai when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Fortunately, it was only Jiraiya.


Jiraiya said, “calm down, kid – you’re way too tense. I get that you don’t trust the old man, but I am here and on your side,” softly.


Naruto relaxed a bit, but didn’t take his eyes off the Third.


“So, it has come to this,” the Sandaime said, his expression still serious but not especially intimidating.


“Hokage-sama,” Jiraiya said, “I have come for an explanation,” his face even more blank than earlier, if that was possible.


“What will you do if you do not get one, or if it isn’t to your liking, Jiraiya?” The Third asked, looking relaxed.


Jiraiya said, “you could always order me to remain quiet, but your opinions won’t matter much if you’re ousted from office immediately afterwards due to the public outcry,” his lips thinning slightly.


Jiraiya was threatening the Sandaime! That took serious balls!


The presence of the Third suddenly became suffocating! Naruto faintly heard ‘Kuchiyose: Toad Elders’ and ‘Kuchiyose: Monkey King Enma’ while being moved to a corner of the office. All those powerful Chakra signatures not being held back started overwhelming Naruto; a buzzing in his ears was all he could hear, but he tried to course more of his Chakra through his body.


Suddenly, he could hear voices and feel strange presences… though he might have imagined the presences.


“Jiraiya-chan? Hiruzen-chan? What is the meaning of this?”


“I would very much like to find that out, Hiruzen! I know the both of you, and this must be very serious!”


“My remaining student has turned on me, that’s what it is!”


“What did you say, you old snake in the grass…?!”


“Woah, Jiraiya-chan! There’s no need for THAT kind of insult!”


“Please, Ma! This is serious!”


“I agree with Shima-dono, Jiraiya – that was over the top!”


“Enma-sama, when you hear what Sarutobi has done, you’ll definitely agree with me.”


Naruto opened his eyes, and the scene was entirely unexpected!


Two rather small toad summons were perched on Jiraiya’s shoulders, and a monkey summon (?) that was a bit taller and broader than even Jiraiya was standing next to the Sandaime, a hand on the much shorter man’s shoulder. Two copies of Jiraiya were standing in front of Naruto and Mito, with Mito curled up in a ball.


Naruto moved in front of his sister, coursing more Chakra through his body, which helped him feel better. He kept listening to the two older males argue, with the three summoned creatures trying to mediate.


After a furious debate between the two white-haired men, Jiraiya simply sagged and asked, “sensei… why?”


The Third thought the question over, then said, “you wouldn’t get it, Jiraiya.”


“Just spit it out,” Jiraiya said, a defeated, disappointed expression on his face.


‘Did the Sandaime ever look at Orochimaru the same way Jiraiya-sama is looking at him?’ Naruto wondered.


“Very well,” the Third said, looking older than ever.


The Third Hokage went on to tell all of them how the time after the Kyuubi attack was a difficult one, with low manpower; he had believed they couldn’t afford to protect two infants from rogue Iwa assassins – and yes, they were a very real threat; after all, Namikaze Minato was that hated in Iwa, and a small group of Iwa missing-nins had nearly gotten to Mito recently.


Naruto could tell that he was still hiding something, but the man continued on to say that he, Danzo and Orochimaru had convened, and all three had agreed on that course of action while Koharu and Homura had been in the hospital, having been injured in the Kyuubi attack.


“In hindsight,” the Third said, “Orochimaru was only trying to undermine me. I’m not sure why Danzo and I liked the plan. I can only assume senility on both our parts – besides, there was something distracting us: a slew of thefts and kidnappings, most of which were attributed to Orochimaru later. Afterwards, I had to keep the secret, or I’d lose the support of most of Konoha.”


“That’s your excuse? Senility; distraction? It’s not like you were under mind-,” Jiraiya said, then suddenly stopped talking. All eyes were on Jiraiya this time, as he tried and failed to speak. He took a moment to collect himself, then said, “Uchiha Kagami’s eyes went missing around that time, didn’t they?”


The Third nodded, then said, “yes, I discovered them missing a week or so later when I checked- wait, are you saying…?”


Jiraiya nodded. He said, “you and Danzo wouldn’t have been stupid enough – well, at least, you, sensei, wouldn’t have been stupid enough to separate the twins without something like the Kotoamatsukami mind-controlling you.”


“Are you saying you think that Orochimaru might have access to the Kotoamatsukami!?” The Third said, looking horrified.


“That’s what I suspect,” Jiraiya said, his expression grim.


The Third still had an expression of horror on his face, but he took a deep breath and said, “no, no- let us not jump to conclusions. Even if Orochimaru can be very subtle, there will be indirect traces: opinions suddenly changing, the balance shifting in favor or against particular nations and more; so, we will be able to be reasonably certain whether you are right or wrong,” his body slowly relaxing and his expression turning neutral once again.


“That’s why you are the Professor, sensei… though I don’t think this is a conversation we should be having in front of Academy students,” Jiraiya said, his body also relaxing a bit.


The summons felt and looked less tense too, but they stayed there. Naruto was taken outside by Jiraiya’s clones, and was carrying Mito in his arms.


Naruto had a lot to think about. He was still furious at the Third, though; even more so, after the whole circus in there. He didn't much blame Jiraiya, who had actually made sure to protect him and Mito; the way the Third had acted was extremely irresponsible… which was par for the course for the man, actually.


-----


Naruto was on a mission, kind of. He yawned; he was missing sleep and breakfast for this! It was going to be worth it, though. He was infiltrating the old Senju compound to get as much of the Senju Ninja Library as he could, especially Hashirama’s and Tobirama’s jutsu scrolls.


Most importantly, Naruto wanted to get whatever notes on the Second’s Hiraishin (Flying Thunder God) Tsunade didn’t have on her already, barring those in the forbidden Scroll of Seals, though his aunt didn’t know where in the library they were; and, of course, anything he could find on the Mokuton (Wood Style), because so far he had been pretty much flying blind.


He was ‘armed’ with a few vials with Tsunade’s blood, though his own might do in a pinch. Fortunately, the Senju compound was nοwhere near the Inuzuka compound, nor very close to the Hyuuga compound, so it was less likely for Naruto to be detected. Yay for Tobirama’s vanity and paranoia! Naruto didn’t like doing this like a thief in the night -though it was early morning- but he really didn’t want to explain things to any of the idiots in charge. A Wood Clone was home 'sleeping' and would be attending the Academy in two hours or so, because Wood Clones were much more durable than Shadow Clones.


Naruto was using Jiraiya’s jutsu, taught to him by Tsunade, the Touton (Transparent Escape) jutsu, to infiltrate unseen. He was also covered in seals that would keep the Byakugan from noticing him and scent-killing spray, just to be sure. Tsunade didn’t need to help Naruto all that much in training his infiltration skills – he was a natural in stealth.


His fellow sensor-types would be able to find him, but he would have to take the risk, because there was no known way to make oneself invisible and hide one’s Chakra from sensors at the same time. The only one to manage that in the history of the Hidden Villages had been Mu, the Second Tsuchikage, who was known as the Non-Person because of that and his mundane stealth skills.


He poured a bit of Tsunade’s blood into the seal protecting the gate of the Senju compound and put some of his Chakra into it. Nothing happened.


‘Wait,’ Naruto thought, ‘why isn’t anything happening?’ Getting more worried by the second and keeping his eyes on the main array.


A few seconds later, the array glowed a faint green. Knowing that that was what was supposed to happen, Naruto opened the gate, entered, closed it behind him and reactivated the blood seal with a few hand-seals taught by Tsunade. He went to the correct house, again according to his aunt’s instructions, and entered it after using more blood and Chakra to nullify another Blood Seal. It took him less than a minute to find it – it was the largest building in the complex.


The boy went to the basement and used his sensor skill, putting his index finger on the floor the way Tsunade had taught him – it barely increased the range of the skill, at least above the ground, but the precision and accuracy went up by a lot that way. According to Tsunade, Naruto would likely never go above five or so kilometers of range as a normal sensor, which was still a really good maximum range, but his precision was absolutely insane.*3


‘Now, where is it…?’ Naruto thought, using the floor and dirt below as a medium to spread truly minuscule amounts of separated Chakra, in the form of Physical energy and Spiritual energy, all around. Something that only applied to true sensor-types, since a non-natural sensor like Iruka would need actual Chakra, more than the infinitesimal amount someone like Naruto could get away with, and wouldn’t be able to spread it as efficiently and be more noticeable and less precise as a result. The man did know some tips for a true sensor-type, though, fortunately for Naruto.


Sensing was done by molding Chakra and circulating it through one's body while separating some of it into Yin and Yang instinctively. Even among sensor-types, it was an advanced skill to be able to consciously separate Yin and Yang with such ease. The ones who truly mastered it were able to make themselves invisible to other sensors by simulating civilians.


Naruto didn’t need to only limit himself to his plain-old Yin-Yang Style Sensory, though. When that failed, he went through a few hand-seals, executing one of two Wood Style jutsu he had made himself. ‘Wood Style: Forest Net Works!’ He said in his mind.


The building housing the Senju Ninja Library was made of wood. Dead wood, which made things harder, but Naruto hadn’t been idle in the past year and a half. He hadn’t been taught much in the way of offensive jutsu, so he had had time to explore his Wood element. Rather than go for offense (which could be covered by any of the three normal elements he could use eventually, even if his aunt was being stingy) or defense (which he could use both Earth and Water for), Tsunade persuaded him to use the Wood Style for supplementary jutsu, for the time being at least.




That was how ‘Wood Style: Living Makibishi’ had been born. Naruto would use Mokuton to make ninja spikes, usually beforehand, and those spikes, made with his Chakra, could be manipulated almost at will to grow quickly and impale someone’s foot. Shizune hadn’t yet taught him enough about poisons to risk putting some into the makibishi, nor had he gotten good enough to control the spikes without a hand-seal, but Tsunade apparently intended to put him through his paces with poisons soon.




‘There!’ Naruto thought; a large hollow space in the basement stood out.




He went through a series of hand-seals, wrote a few things out on a particular place, and a secret passage opened. Naruto snickered at how similar the defenses the Senju and the Uchiha used were – fated enemies his ass!




He closed the library’s entrance behind him and took out a few special Sealing Scrolls sealed in a band around his forearm and in his new goggles (which were green rather than orange!), a gift from Biwako; the Uchiha style of Sealing was all about making items with specific properties, and Biwako had found notes on that in the Uchiha Shinobi Library. The idea of forearm bands also belonged to Biwako – she had no shortage of good ideas, especially that band full of shuriken on her wrist.*4 Not that Naruto would admit that to Biwako herself.




Naruto preferred the Shuriken Kage Bunshin his aunt had showed him and promised to teach him eventually. It was amazing! That was why he rarely wore his own wristband of shuriken, even though he could copy Biwako’s near-perfectly. Back to reality, Naruto went about sealing as many scrolls and books as he could into his own scrolls, while a few Shadow Clones looked for anything by Tobirama or Hashirama.




...He eventually managed to seal pretty much everything, but he had been unable find anything written by a Hokage. He had found his great-great grandmother Mito’s notes on Sealing and Sensory, though.




After quite a bit of using his Forest Net Works again, he found something that even Tsunade might not have known about. A place in the Library where the wood felt… closer to alive, kind of. Naruto likened it to one of his Living Makibishi.




In fact, it was exactly like that. While most of Konoha had been built the usual way, Hashirama had made SOME buildings and trees, like the Academy, as well as the Forest of Death a little ways outside Konoha – though the latter had been made in his anger and depression over Madara’s defection. Apparently, the main Senju building only had a few additions by Hashirama, and Naruto had stumbled upon one.




Naruto manipulated the wood with a few hand-seals. It resisted him more than any other wood he had ever manipulated, but after putting in a lot of tightly-controlled Chakra, he managed to make the passage open without needing a password or the correct hand-seals.




‘Yet another creepy passage,’ Naruto thought in humor, then shivering at the thought of ghosts. He entered the space anyway.




There, he hit the jackpot: more scrolls by his ancestor Mito, including information on something called the ‘Adamantine Chains’, Kuchiyose: Rashoumon, a lot of Suiton and Doton jutsu by Tobirama and Hashirama, quite a few jutsu from other elements too, notes on improving one’s skill with the Water element, notes on sensing, the Bringer of Darkness genjutsu (which was a failed, but still otherwise useful, attempt to make doujutsu users useless), the Shadow Clone (which Naruto already knew), the Taju Kage Bunshin (Mass Shadow Clone), more notes on Space-Time jutsu – even some notes on the Hiraishin; what he couldn’t find was anything about the Wood Style.




‘That’s what I wanted the most!’ Naruto thought, hopefully without a pout on his face. “Damn it!” Naruto whispered, but he knew that he had been extremely successful anyway, and shouldn’t get greedy.




Naruto dispelled his clones, made sure that the scrolls were sealed safely and that the anti-Byakugan seals were on, then activated the Transparent Escape and left after spraying a little more scent-killing solution on himself.




When he reached a safe house guarded by a small part of Katsuyu, he had said part contact another piece of Katsuyu, with the message prompting Tsunade to use the Reverse Summoning Jutsu to take Naruto to a safe house thirty kilometers or so outside of Konoha. They had tested the range in which his Wood Clones would stay whole, and had concluded that he could maintain a Wood Clone nearly from the other side of Hi no Kuni (Land of Fire / Fire Country).




-----




“Incredible,” Tsunade commented, a small smile on her face, “you found my family’s most secret scrolls after a few hours of searching! I’ve looked for the rest of the Hiraishin’s notes and Grandmother’s Fuuinjutsu for decades! Grandmother never showed me that part of the Library! Now we just have to read the Scroll of Seals and we’re set!”




Naruto preened under his teacher’s praise; she seldom praised him so strongly. “I did have a kinda unfair advantage ‘ttebayo,” he admitted, referring to his Mokuton.




“There’s no such thing as an unfair advantage in the ninja world,” Tsunade said, baring her teeth, “just take the compliment and shut up, Naruto!”




“Eep!” Naruto said, letting out a squeak that was worthy of that weirdo in his class – the Hyuuga, Hinata or something, that is.




“Today, we’re going to train your sensor skill,” Tsunade said, “I am not a sensor-type, but my father was, so I know some things about it; these scrolls will definitely help. Here, read this,” showing him a scroll which went into detail on how to saturate the air and earth with one’s Yin-Yang Style energy by putting one’s finger on the ground, more detail than Tsunade had gotten into when she had taught him how to do that.




Tsunade had made sure that Naruto’s senses and situational awareness were as good as possible, including his Chakra sense, but there was a lot of room for improvement.




-----




Naruto still hadn’t gotten any word back from the Hokage, only Jiraiya, who was around at the moment.




Jiraiya said, “Naruto, please keep everything you heard in the Hokage’s office secret. Even your heritage – well, at least for now.”




The whole Maifa incident passed through Naruto’s mind, and the boy could feel his hatred for the village he lived in grow. ‘They are gonna cover it up…?’ He thought, clenching his fists.




“Just for now,” Jiraiya said, as if he read Naruto’s mind, “we’ll figure it out, kid,” ruffling Naruto’s hair.




Naruto tried to slap Jiraiya’s hand away without success.




-----




Naruto woke up next to Biwako, who was shivering in her sleep.




‘It’s definitely not because of the weather – another nightmare?’ He thought; it was currently May, after all.




He hugged her tightly, and Biwako gradually stopped shivering. She now had a somewhat content look on her face.




When both of them woke up (again, in his case), Biwako proposed a spar, since they hadn’t done that in a while.




-----




Biwako smirked at Naruto while they were going through warm-ups. She had finally managed to get Hell Stab down without messing up her fingers, though the power was still relatively low without the Raiton Chakra Mode, and she was probably missing more information than that, too.




She had also improved her Hell Current to a point it was usable in a spar, and gotten down the Katon: Gouryuuka no jutsu (Fire Style: Great Dragon Fire), which was B-ranked, after nearly two months of effort, but wouldn’t use it in the spar.




Biwako activated her Sharingan, preparing. Naruto started things off by substituting himself with a Wood Clone, but Biwako’s eyes didn’t miss it, so she used a Doton (Earth Style) jutsu to force him to come out.




Naruto got closer to her while his clone made a single hand seal, releasing the Wild Water Wave. Biwako made a Tiger seal, then a Snake seal; she had finally figured out how to use two ninjutsu at the same time, like the Sandaime; it was all about being able to use something so easily as to be almost subconscious, so that she could focus on another thing.




While her relatively weak Great Fireball (due to a lack of hand-seals and focus) was combating clone Naruto’s water jutsu, a small clump of mud hit original Naruto’s eyes; that was the best she could do with the Earth element when using only a single hand-seal.




The Water ninjutsu stopped before it could completely overwhelm the fireball because Biwako put the original Naruto between her and the water as a human shield. Naruto managed to free himself thanks to both of them being slippery with sweat, but not without a Lightning Style: Thunderbolt leaving her index finger, hitting the Wood Clone in the chest.




As the clone collapsed into splinters, Biwako and the original Naruto engaged in taijutsu. Naruto was much better at it than he used to, seemingly overwhelming Biwako, but it was a trap because she had been learning something new from Shisui. She drew a tanto and coursed Lightning Style Chakra through it, scoring a glancing hit due to a dodge from Naruto, but it still paralyzed him.




Then, she went to put her kunai over Naruto’s throat, but Naruto managed to put his hands together in a Bird seal and get her with a Fuuton: Shou (Wind Style: Thrust), which pushed her away a bit. She was caught off guard by that, and Wind Style Chakra apparently removes the electricity from one’s system, so Naruto managed to put his kunai over her throat at the same time she recovered her wits and did the same over his heart.




“A tie…?” Biwako whispered in disbelief, copious amounts of sweat running down her body and her breath having turned into panting.




She hadn’t even gotten the chance to use her Hell Current or Hell Stab!




“Apparently,” Naruto said, also panting and sweating hard.




A feral smile was on his face, and Biwako was startled to hear laughter… and even more startled when she realized it came from her. That was a fight out of one of Naruto’s manga (which Biwako would never admit she had read)!




Naruto laughed too, and said, “what do you call it – a dance? Well, that was a great dance, Biwako!”




“Indeed,” Biwako admitted, "the dance of death," she murmured, referencing what she had read somewhere – possibly in Madara's books.




They barely got to spar one another nowadays; their teachers had put them through the wringer, and they also had other hobbies, like Naruto growing his plants and trees, Biwako taking after-dark strolls and both of them reading manga.




-----




*Imagine Boruto’s eye color which, according to Sarada, is a purer blue than Naruto.




*2 Tsunade in this story has about four times as much Chakra as she did in canon, which is about on par with prime Tobirama, prime Sarutobi and twenty-four-year-old Minato. The hypothetical prime Minato would be a bit stronger than all three of them, though.




*3 Seventeen-year-old Karin had a range of ~10 kilometers in canon, maybe more. Adult Karin likely has a way greater range. Also, note the NORMAL sensor part. No Senjutsu and such.




*4 It’s a canon jutsu of Sasuke’s. Look up Kuchiyose: Raiko Kenka / Summoning: Lightning Flash Blade Creation
 
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Extra: Information on the characters

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#27
Some information on how I see the characters from my notes (barely edited, sorry), though with the long time since I wrote the original versions of the chapters, there might be inconsistencies. Mainly for my reference, so not necessary to read them; they aren't vital to understanding the story.

I also edited pretty much everything in the past chapters.
-----

(Naruto's main flaw (other than his insecurity of sometimes) is opposite to a canon trait – he is quite vindictive and doesn't forgive easily. Other flaws include his unapologetic nosiness (more recent thing), to a level worse than Ino sometimes; his hatred for apologizing; his mostly hard-working -almost workaholic- nature is sometimes marred because he is used to mastering things quickly, though Tsunade is working on that.)

(Biwako's flaws are her disregard for her own safety (not to the point of suicidal stupidity; at least not anymore); her tendency toward being rude to those she doesn't care about and disregarding them (Naruto is really vindictive toward his perceived enemies. Biwako is somewhat ruthless toward even 'extras', as Bakugo from MHA would say).... She also is literally almost completely unable to cry, no matter what her emotions.)

(They both have the tendency of nearly overworking themselves, a certain bent towards violence and anger (especially Naruto) and love of the high of battle (especially Biwako). Biwako isn't as revenge-driven nowadays and Naruto is getting worse, so Naruto might be the one to need pacification by his Uchiha friend rather than the canon other way around. They can both be a bit hypocritical.)

Naruto's favorite food is ramen and fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables in almost any form (except lemon!), though he really dislikes strongly sour things like most yoghurts and wines, putting more than minimal vinegar and putting most any amount of lemon at all on or in foods. He is indifferent to practically all tea despite the fact it has herbs in it, though he is quite good at brewing it. He doesn't like mushrooms, in a soup or not, very unlike Hashirama. Terrible at baking sweets for some reason, so he has to talk Biwako into making him some.

Biwako's favorite foods are medium rare steak (more generally, non-overcooked meat of all sorts) and tomatoes, which are one of the few sour things both Naruto and Biwako like. She also used to like rice balls a lot, but she has fallen out of eating them more recently. She likes tea, but is bad at brewing it. She hates eating most fermented things, despises anything sweet (though she is good at baking) and doesn't much like milk.

Naruto's hobbies are reading manga (and sometimes books), training and gardening (though it's both a hobby and a job, considering he makes money out of selling parts of some of his plants); also pranking, though he is a 'filthy casual' prankster according to Mito.

He dislikes arrogant pricks (other than himself, being a bit arrogant himself. Hypocrite), those who see him as the Kyuubi, those who see him as a bully, actual bullies, liars, being called stupid and those who mess with others' minds for no good reason (especially Yamanaka Maifa*)

Uzumaki (soon Senju) Naruto:
Gender: Male
Birth Date: October 10
Age: 10~11
Height: ~145 cm
Weight: ~47 Kg
Blood Type: B-
Appearance: Golden blond short hair, blue eyes with a hint of green, large like Kushina's and similarly shaped; three whisker marks on each cheek, less prominent than Mito's
Handedness: R
Classification: Sensor Type, (future?) Medical Nin, Jinchuuriki (Ichibi)
Affiliation: Shikkotsu Forest (canon home of the Slugs)
Ninja Rank: Academy Student; soon to be Genin
Element used: Water, Earth (affinities); Wind (affinity
), Yang
Greatest Strengths: Stamina Regeneration, Self-healing, Chakra Control, sense of hearing, memory, Chakra Sensing
Greatest Weaknesses: Yin Style, Hand-Seals, Fire Style, somewhat; can be countered by anyone who can hide their Chakra and the noise they make near-flawlessly (Tobirama and Muu mainly; also Hashirama when in Sage Mode. The Second Mizukage relies too much upon Genjutsu to be a good counter to an adult Naruto. As for people among the living... Orochimaru and probably Hiruzen. Jiraiya maybe, especially likely if he enters Sage Mode beforehand.) (In spite of his excellent memory, Naruto is terrible at anything to do with painting, even copying. On the other hand, Biwako can copy something for obvious reasons, but the results, according to many, have no soul.)
Most hated thing(s): Those who lie to get him in trouble, being called a freak or monster


Biwako's hobbies: she likes training and taking walks, especially in the moonlight. Also reading books and manga, though she doesn't often admit she likes manga, nor does Naruto admit he also likes reading books (to a point; he doesn't count books as a hobby; 'too much like schoolwork'.) Her final, lesser known hobby is, well- you will see in the next chapter singing.

...The first time Biwako saw Naruto eat broccoli without putting anything other than a bit of salt on it, she called him a freak of nature. His haunted reaction to her calling him that affected her enough to keep her from uttering anything like that ever again.

Uchiha Biwako
Gender: Female
Birth Date: July 23
Age: 10~11
Height: ~152 cm
Weight: ~47 Kg
Blood Type: B-
Handedness: L (mainly, because she is partially ambidextrous)
Appearance: Very tall for her age; black hair cut short but growing once again (she used to put it in a ponytail like her brother that man) ; black eyes.
Classification: None (for now)
Affiliation: Great Sky Plateau (home of the Hawks, non-canon location, but presumably existent in canon)
Ninja Rank: Academy Student; soon to be Genin
Elements Used: Lightning, Fire (Affinities); Earth, Yin
Greatest Strengths: Elemental ninjutsu, Speed, Sense of smell (Fugaku has some Inuzuka in his ancestry; it was likely a clusterfuck that happened generations before), planning ahead (though she hasn't refined that. Need to write carefully in the future in order to not make it an informed attribute.)
Greatest Weaknesses: underestimating anyone not named Naruto or Uchiha too easily, inside battles and outside of them; losing her head in the enjoyment of fights with anyone called Naruto; too careless with her well-being; Yang Style
Most hated thing(s): feeling helpless


Stats (as compared to Sasuke in canon at the same age)
Ninjutsu: way ahead
Taijutsu: moderately ahead
Genjutsu: significantly ahead
Intelligence: a bit ahead
Strength: ahead for now. Endgame: likely between 60% and 90% of Sasuke's strength in the upper body. (Lower body: she might be stronger than Sasuke, even as adults)
Speed: slightly better than Sasuke
Stamina: way, way higher reserves than Sasuke
Hand Seals: Equal to Sasuke

Overall fighting style: a bit behind canon Sasuke in that she is too quick to resort to ninjutsu, unlike Sasuke, who was a lot more efficient and conservative.

Weapons: way ahead due to naturally higher manual dexterity, though manual dexterity will likely not quite reach Itachi levels, ever.
Stealth: the same as Sasuke
Traps: the same or slightly better
Sealing: way ahead of Sasuke
Stam. Regen: same as canon Sasuke
Seal-less: far ahead
Chakra Control: significantly ahead

On her flexibility: women, on average, are much more flexible than men. The same way Biwako's upper body strength is going to be very much lower than Sasuke's, her bones are going to be (already are) more flexible than Sasuke's. By a wide margin.

Her Sharingan helps her much more when it comes to instinctive spatial calculations and much less in discerning colors than canon-Sasuke's does, but it evens out.

I will come back with Mito's characteristics later.

Edit:

Mito likes standing in -and looking at- the rain, swimming, her twin brother Naruto, Ino (?), studying for Fuuinjutsu (the art of Sealing). She also likes eating Ramen (her favorite is Seafood Ramen), Red Bean Soup and cooked fish and other seafood (not Sushi!). She likes Jiraiya (the Pervy Sage) in small doses, and when he is focused on her training.

She dislikes her height and verbal tic (Dattebara) being mocked, any activity that has her in the sun for prolonged periods (she burns really easily), studying for anything other than Fuuinjutsu, and Ino (?). She can't stand any meat or fish that is raw or undercooked; she also dislikes raw vegetables, but after Naruto got her a steam cooker as a gift, she often eats them steamed. She is indifferent to perversity (and used to it), unless someone gets handsy, in which case, she pummels the offender.

Her hobbies are swimming in the river (she only recently was deemed strong enough to do it without adult supervision), reading Manga (Naruto recently got her into the habit; she is more of a casual reader, though) and pranks.

Namikaze Mito
Gender: Female
Birth Date: October 10
Age: 10~11
Height: ~133 cm
Weight: ~31 Kg
Blood Type: AB-
Appearance: Strawberry blond, somewhat long hair (used to be chin-length, but she's growing it for hair-based jutsu); dark blue eyes with a hint of green, smaller irises like Minato; very short; three whisker-like marks on each cheek, a bit more prominent than Naruto's
Handedness: L&R (complete ambidexterity)
Classification: ??? (Jinchuuriki (Kyuubi-Yang)
Affiliation: Konohagakure (Hidden Leaf), Mount Myouboku (canon home of the Toads, obviously)
Ninja Rank: Academy Student, Genin next
Elements Used: Wind (affinity), Fire not too far in the future, Earth at some point
Main talent: Fuuinjutsu (Sealing Arts), combat instincts (already comparable with someone like Madara in that field, in spite of his great natural talent and having grown up in the Warring Clans period. Madara at her age at least. She is only in her preteens! As an adult, her combat sense and intuition will probably be off the charts, surpassing everyone else, including Madara and canon!Naruto, who have shown great feats of brilliance in that field), stealth, Shape Manipulation. Possibly multitasking too.
(In civilian stuff, painting.)
Main weakness: While she is really good at intuitive moves, getting her to plan ahead much in anything but Fuuinjutsu is all but impossible. She tends to get flashes of brilliance, though... when she doesn't make silly mistakes. Also, Hand-seals.


Ninjutsu: far worse than both Naruto and Biwako
Taijutsu: moderately worse
Genjutsu: can counter it, barely
Intelligence: Idiot Savant (?)
Strength: Stronger than Biwako, weaker than Naruto without even his Chakra enhancement jutsu
Speed: Can keep up with them at least
Stamina: Overall much higher Chakra pool than Biwako and especially Naruto, though Naruto has better Chakra Control and knows somewhat better how to be efficient in other ways, too
Hand Seals: Far, far worse than Biwako. About equal to (equally as abysmal as) Naruto

Weapons: Worse than Naruto, far worse than Biwako.
Stealth: (Even) better than both of them.
Traps: Slightly better than Naruto, slightly worse than Biwako
Sealing: Far better than both of them, better than Jiraiya in many ways, almost rivals the current top in the world, Sasori
Stam. Regen: She regenerates Stamina much faster than Biwako, but moderately more slowly than Naruto
Seal-less: She is worse than Biwako at shaving hand-seals off non-Fuuinjutsu. Far worse than Naruto
Chakra Control: Worse than Biwako, much worse than Naruto

Flaws: She's a bit impulsive and reckless, has a foot-in-mouth syndrome, is naive, tends to take way too much guilt on her shoulders. Similar to canon Naruto, whom she's based on of course. Doesn't suppress her negative emotions as much, but it's still something she does. Not to the point of creating another personality, though... probably.

* Hell, Yamanaka Maifa's name literally came from the term 'mindfuck'!)
 
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Story5

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#29
About Naruto’s first clear memory: this is what happens if Sarutobi doesn’t care – he never warned people that anyone caught attacking Naruto would be punished, nor did he try to explain that a Jinchuuriki isn’t the same as the Bijuu beyond telling people about the sealing, so things went south. Thus, an AU or at least divergent aspect; I am well aware that in canon, there is no evidence of Konoha’s people attacking Naruto physically, other than Mizuki of course.



This memory also further explains why Naruto learned Tsunade’s technique on his own so easily. By the way, the OCs are one-off characters I made, but the names are references; anyone who guesses where the names are from gets an Internet cookie.



User mandalorianjedi of The Fanfiction Forum has helped me polish this story with his critique.



(TFF is not a FFnet affiliate. Search for thefanfictionforum(dot)net )



-----



“…Say what now? Shisui-san – could you repeat that?” Biwako said, her breathing coming out loud and her fingers twitching; even her heartbeat was audible to her ears, and her hearing was far from the best of her senses. The illusory world of the Gunbai still worked just like reality.



Shisui only smiled, though to Biwako, the expression seemed bitter. He said, “you heard me right the first time, Biwako. The Uchiha intended to assassinate the Third Hokage, if possible without anyone knowing it was the clan who did it, and manipulate the rest of Konoha into putting an Uchiha in the Hokage’s seat.”



“But… why?” Biwako asked, but even as she did, memories of her childhood and things she had seen in the Uchiha Ninja Library came to the forefront.



Mikoto… yet another Uchiha family has been forced to move back into the clan district via jacking up the rent and constant harassment.”



Why? Why are they doing this, Fugaku! Sarutobi doesn’t even have the guts to do so officially!”



Ways to make Inuzuka stop in their tracks – airtight containers of stink bombs within Seals so that they wouldn’t see them coming; a certain ninjutsu called the Sonicboom jutsu; counters to those smells and sounds for the Uchiha themselves, because some Uchiha also had enhanced senses other than eyesight, especially those with Inuzuka blood like Biwako herself; certain perfumes that kept Inuzuka from finding someone far better than even the best of scent-killing spray(*0) .



Ripping the Inuzuka’s partner to pieces with extra brutality; poisons that only affected dogs -including nin-dogs- mainly airborne and touch-based; the exact way to move to render the basic techniques of the Inuzuka, Tsuuga and Gatsuuga, much less effective; an Earth Style jutsu -stolen from Iwa- that hardened the skin in such a way that claws and fangs would break off and more-



“…Perhaps if we showed our dedication to Konoha-”



We have proven ourselves time and time again, Fugaku, and you know it!”



Then let us hold our heads high and cow any and all opposition with our strength.”



Certain perfumes, poisons and pesticides that made the Aburame’s Kikai and the Aburame themselves lose control, weakened them or killed them; the Sonicboom jutsu again-



“…What are they doing to my godson, Fugaku? Can’t we just-”



Just do- what, Mikoto? What could we possibly do that we haven’t already tried?”



At that point, Biwako had a hard time hearing anything because her parents were speaking at lower volumes.



“…Said it y- self. Strength-”



Mikoto. Do- realize what- proposing? …Sound like- fool Yashiro or even worse-”



Yes… certain things were starting to make sense. So, Itachi might have wanted to keep Konoha from tearing itself apart. Then again, why had Itachi used that terrible illusion on Biwako if he had only wanted to prevent even worse things than the clan dying from happening? To keep her too furious to look at the facts more carefully, as she had thought before? Something else? Why? Why? Why! WHY!!



…Biwako woke up screaming; she bent over the side of the bed and vomited, the powerful emotions overwhelming her once again. Something was off about her eyesight, though, to a vertigo-inducing degree, which didn’t help with her urge to vomit; she didn't mean the activated Sharingan, either.



Later, in front of the bathroom mirror after rinsing her mouth many times and brushing her teeth more than once, Biwako noted that not only were her eyes on; her right Sharingan had three tomoe (comma marks) in it, though the left one still had two. It took a bit of time for her to calm her emotions down enough to deactivate her eyes.



'How and why? When Shisui-san told me all that, my reaction didn't evolve my Sharingan. Now, though, after dreaming of that time, my Sharingan has evolved. Confusing,' Biwako thought to herself, trying to make sense of her Bloodline Limit.



Biwako was still shaking slightly. 'Even if Tsunade and Shizune-san had a point when they talked about sleeping in the same bed not being proper now, it’s kind of an emergency,' she thought to herself, still not at the best of shapes, ‘maybe I should knock on Naruto’s door.’



Before she could decide either way, Naruto’s bedroom door opened. He was shivering; he didn’t have the smell of vomit on him, but she could smell the tears and, even if she couldn’t, there were tear tracks on his face, unlike Biwako’s mostly dry eyes.



Naruto took a look at Biwako, did a double-take, then went about making some tea for both of them to drink, not even asking her what was wrong yet. Smart boy. It was a milder variety of tea, though the name escaped her, perfect for helping with insomnia. He poured some for both of them, not bothering to go through formal tea ceremony.



Naruto put a small amount of sugar into his tea, not even bothering to put any near Biwako; while that could seem impolite to some, to Biwako, it was a sign of how well he knew her. In a surprising twist, while Naruto liked most vegetables, fruits and herbs -well, pretty much all of them but lemon- and was really good at brewing it, he wasn’t especially fond of drinking tea. He didn’t dislike it, unlike milk, but he usually preferred drinking hot cocoa -made with water, not milk- or even coffee nowadays.



Biwako knew that many people swore by milk heated to between ‘warm’ and ‘lukewarm’ for a sleep aid, but neither she nor Naruto would ever drink more milk than necessary.



"Want to talk about it?" Biwako told Naruto. Naruto's past was still largely a mystery to her.



Naruto took a few shuddering breaths, then said, "it's something from the orphanage."



Biwako waited patiently for Naruto to speak, but she didn't take her attention off him. After what felt like a long time, he started talking again.



“It’s- it’s my earliest clear memory,” Naruto said, obviously doing one of the breathing exercises Tsunade had taught them.



Biwako had known plenty of breathing exercises to begin with, mainly ones well-suited for the Fire element; though they were also well-suited for something else. Her mother had taken advantage of the breathing methods during her childhood to learn how to sing more easily… and not only her.



(“Mom…? Your voice is so pretty!” Biwako said, entering the dojo after hearing her mother’s voice.



Her mother stopped singing after a few seconds, saying, “thank you, Biwako.”



“I never knew you could sing! You sing so good too!” Biwako said, impressed, then realized she had said it wrong.



“It’s ‘sing so well’, Biwako,” her mother corrected her gently.



Biwako stomped her feet, saying, “Mom! At least give me time to correct myself!”



Her mother giggled, saying, “my apologies, Biwako-hime. Your royal subject has overstepped herself.”



“You better apologize- wait, are you mocking me?” Biwako said, starting to get annoyed again.



Her mother said, "of course not."



"Hmph."



"I'm only being sarcastic," her mother said, a hand in front of her mouth.



Biwako didn't know what that meant, but she knew that her mother was laughing at her. She knew it! Biwako stomped her feet on the floor again, letting out an annoyed sound.



Her mother put a hand on her head, saying, "relax, Biwako. Didn't you wish to know more about my singing skills?"



"Oh, yes!" Biwako said, "how can you sing so well, Mom?"



Her mother explained how she had learned how to when she had been around Biwako's age from an older relative.



“Can I learn too? Will you teach me, Mom?” Biwako said, very impatient for learning how to sing.



“It’s ‘may I learn?’ ” her mom said, “but all right, Biwako. I will teach you how to sing… firstly, how is your progress with the diaphragm-breathing exercise?”)



Biwako realized she had started singing a melody her mother had sung to her many times. Naruto was looking at her, his mouth hanging open. He said, “I didn’t know you could sing!”



She stopped singing and said, “anyone can sing. Singing well is another story.”

Naruto gave a short laugh, but his expression darkened quickly enough. He said, “about my first clear memory… I remember eating with the other orphans when I was four years old. I had just finished my food, so I went to ask for seconds. The orphanage was well-funded apparently, even if sometimes kids mysteriously disappeared. The caretaker, Asuna-san slapped me out of nowhere, even though I think she had been good to me until that day. Another caretaker, Motoko-san, stopped her, but Motoko-san also later kept the other boys from playing with me; ‘for their protection’ or something.



» At night, I cried myself to sleep, thinking of Asuna-san’s anger and slap, and Motoko-san’s words. ‘Am I sick or dangerous or something?’ I thought. I woke up to a pillow smothering me – Asuna-san had returned and was trying to kill me. I thrashed and thrashed; I felt myself weakening until warmth spread from my belly to the rest of my body. I kept thrashing; I heard a cracking sound, then another one. I took the pillow that was on my face and threw it away from me.



» I looked around, and Asuna-san was lying half on the floor, half on my nightstand. There was blood on the wall above the nightstand, and more blood on the nightstand itself and the floor. The latter was coming out very fast from a spot on Asuna-san’s head, close to her ear. I felt really tired all of a sudden; it felt like I had been running for hours. The room stank like when one of the younger kids had shit or pissed themselves. I hadn’t known then what death smelled like. That was when Motoko-san entered the room.



» She went up to Asuna-san and checked her – probably looking for a pulse. Then, she started crying over her body. At the time, I was too young to understand she was dead. I kept asking where Asuna-san was the days after."



-----



Naruto, along with Biwako and Mito, were having lunch at the Academy once again.



“...And I told Ebisu-san ‘what are you doing there? You’re just as big a perv as Pervy Sage, aren’t you?’ He was startled and made noise; then, he had to run away before any of the girls saw him. Really, though, he was probably telling the truth and it was an accident – he’s a bit of a prude,” Mito said, engaged in a conversation with Biwako, her eyes a bit teary.



Naruto saw Ino approach them and frowned despite himself. Mito had told him about Ino breaking up their friendship, not to mention that the resemblance with Maifa was obvious, making Naruto even more wary of her.



“Mito,” Ino said, “could we talk?” Looking down.



“I’m here, so talk,” Mito replied, a bit frostily.



“I mean alone,” Ino said, biting her lip.



Mito heaved a great sigh, but she nodded. She led Ino a bit further, next to a giant tree that was rumored to have been made by Hashirama, which Naruto could confirm thanks to his Forest Net Works.



Naruto made two hand-seals and put Chakra into his ears without any shame, something he had learned from the scrolls of past Senju spies and trackers; he wasn’t very good at it yet, but it should be enough for him to eavesdrop – the two girls hadn’t gone far and he had naturally good hearing. He didn't trust that girl as far as he could throw her. Wait, wrong analogy. Naruto didn’t trust her as far as he could throw a boss summon while Chakra exhausted.



“…So, Ino-san, what did you wanna tell me?” Mito said, and Naruto could see her agitation from where he was despite her face being mostly hidden.



Ino swallowed nervously, cleared her throat and swallowed again. She said, “I’m sorry, Mito. I’m so sorry!” Bowing low.



Naruto wasn't expecting that. He couldn’t see expressions from where he was, but Mito went still. Then, Mito said, “you’re sorry? You said you couldn’t be friends with me anymore! Why…?”



“I- I was scared!” Ino admitted, “when I saw that ANBU die and Ebisu-san get so hurt by those Iwa missing-nins, I was terrified… I’ve never felt so scared before in my life! Please, Mito! Please forgive me! I want to be friends again!”



Mito sighed again, then fell silent for a few seconds. Afterwards, she said, “I don’t think I can forgive you immediately, but I’m willing to hang out again.”



Ino said, “thanks, Mito – you’re the best!” Hugging Naruto’s twin.



What Ino said next was too quiet to make out, but Mito said, “no! Keep your hands off Naruto!”



Naruto blinked – just what had Ino said?



Ino talked at a low volume again, but this time audible; she said, “why? Do you wanna keep him all to yourself? He did beat up Kiba for you,” blowing a raspberry.



“Ugh, Ino, you can be so annoying…,” Mito said, sighing.



Ino’s Chakra, which Naruto was examining more carefully, felt a bit familiar. Was she a fellow Sensor-type or something? He shrugged; while he didn’t dislike Ino, regardless of looking so much like her, he still didn’t trust her; partly because she was too loyal to Konoha.



-----



"I can't believe that Ino!" Mito said, huffing.



Biwako lifted an eyebrow, but Naruto knew why Mito was saying that.



"She's so boy-crazy!" Mito explained, waving her hands around.



Naruto smirked at Mito, despite himself, and said, "at least this time, it wasn't about that Hyuuga, right? Ino's tastes are improving!"



"Huh? Naruto, how do you know-," Mito said, looking confused.



Naruto could feel his smug smirk grow; he normally didn't act like that, but Ino's sudden interest had given him a strong confidence boost. He said, "now, now, Mito; do you really expect me to reveal my methods so easily?"



"...You eavesdropped on me! How?!" Mito said, outraged, "don't you think you should at least apologize?"



Naruto lost his smirk. He said, "sorry, Mito. I was worried for you – that's all," giving her a sad smile.



"Well," Mito said, "I guess it's fine!" But still pouting and crossing her arms.



"How about this: I will pay for the first two normal-sized bowls at Ichiraku's after we're finished with the Academy for today," Naruto said, making Mito squeal in happiness.



Mito beamed and said, "I forgive you completely!" Without hesitation, then hugged him.



Naruto stiffened in her embrace, but then, he relaxed and hugged her back. After the Academy let out, Ino tagged along with the three of them. She kept shooting glances at Naruto.



Ino eventually said, "so, why exactly did you hurt Kiba that much a couple weeks ago? Not that he didn't deserve it, but what’s your reason?"



Naruto smiled at her and said, "there's only so much idiocy and cockiness I can take before I snap. I hope Akamaru will keep better control over his pet from now on."



Ino cringed a bit. She said, "wow, Naruto, that's a scary smile." Then, she said, "wait, Akamaru's pet? Where did that come from?"



Naruto smirked, full of smugness, saying, "you know how the smarter one is the owner and the stupid one is a pet when it comes to dogs and humans, Ino? And how Inuzuka partner dogs are as smart as humans?"



"Well, yes- wait, you mean Kiba isn't much smarter than a normal dog, so he's a pet to Akamaru?" Ino said, looking directly at Naruto's eyes.



"Exactly!" Naruto said, smiling.



Ino smiled back, which then turned into a smirk; then, she said, "you're such a dork, Naruto! Besides, I'm sure you wouldn't tell Kiba that to his face!" And started snickering.



Naruto tried to scowl at her, but her snickering got worse.



Ino then said, "your pout is adorable!"



‘Pout’? ‘Adorable’?! He was not adorable! Was he?



Naruto looked in Mito and Biwako's direction, but they were both too busy glaring at Ino. He then looked at Ino again, seeing her smirking at the other girls. He shrugged, deciding to let Ino dig her own grave – he hadn't known that Mito was so overprotective.



When they reached Ichiraku Ramen, Biwako sat down slowly and formally, Ino strutted over to a stool like a queen among peasants and Mito jumped onto one enthusiastically. Naruto simply sat down.



"Old Man," Mito said, "I want the Kushina Shio special!" Back to her usual self.



Naruto twitched when he heard his mother's name and said, "I'll have the same as Mito, Teuchi-san."



Ino turned to look at Naruto and said, "are you sure, Naruto? Mito can eat a whole lot of Ramen! It's a wonder she hasn't gotten fat-"



Mito punched Ino's bicep, making the Yamanaka wince theatrically.



With a smile on her face that reminded Naruto of a mythological kitsune, ironically, Ino said, "and now your hand is as heavy as a guy's. Are you sure you aren't one? No, wait; you're too short-"



Naruto decided to intervene – he didn't want to watch how girls bonded with one another, nor did he particularly feel like seeing Ino maimed. He said, "Ino. Are you going to order or not?" Faking impatience.



Biwako had ordered a bowl of beef ramen. She was being unusually quiet, even for her, this day. Naruto looked at her, worried. Biwako turned to look at him, looking him in the eye, somehow realizing he was looking at her. She kept looking into his eyes with her own black ones. He didn't know what she was looking for, but he smiled at her… which, for some reason, made Biwako’s pale face turn pink. Come to think of it, Biwako never cringed when he smiled.



Ino snickered once again. She said, "well, at least now I know I stand no chance with Naruto. Oh, why do the cutest boys always either have someone or are ice kings?"



"…I have no idea what you are talking about," Biwako said, looking forward, where Teuchi-san and Ayame were cooking.



Naruto wondered why Biwako had answered that, but he shrugged that off. Naruto ended up paying for everyone's ramen except Mito's; the latter had to pay for every bowl she had eaten other than two normal sized ones; Naruto had been very careful with the words he had used when he had promised.



Still, Ino was a force of nature; Naruto still couldn't tell for sure how she had managed to get him to pay for her and Biwako, too. Poor, poor Namekuji-dono!* As for the Kushina Shio special Naruto had gotten... well, he had finished it, gotten a second one and eaten all of it too. Ino ranted about how there were 'two of them'. She didn't know just how right she was.



Well, even in Naruto’s earliest memories in the first orphanage, he always had at least two full plates or bowls at every lunch and dinner, and a truly huge amount at breakfast. Unbidden, that memory came back to him; Asuna-san's-



His mood thoroughly ruined, Naruto starting walking back to the Uchiha District.



-----



Naruto found a strangely big toad, roughly the size of Naruto's head, waiting at the entrance of the Uchiha District. He didn't think much of it, considering a lot of animals, some of them strange, had made the Uchiha district their home; when he had awakened the Mokuton, even more animals had started showing up.



When the toad talked, Naruto realized this had something to do with Jiraiya.



It said, "oi, are you Uzumaki Naruto?"



When Naruto said yes, the toad got its tongue out of its mouth and released a small scroll, saying, 'this is for you'. Naruto took the scroll and entered the Uchiha District without even looking back.



'What the hell does Jiraiya want?' Naruto thought to himself, still in a bad mood.



After he reached Biwako's -no; their home… or rather the closest thing to home he had in Konoha-, he tried to open the scroll… and failed.



'How come I didn’t notice the blood seal?' Naruto thought, 'I'm really out of it, apparently.'



Then, Naruto bit the skin at the base of his thumb and bled on the blood seal. One more, stranger-looking scroll -it had different colors on each side and Fuuinjutsu markings on the margins- and a paper letter appeared. The scroll was empty of writing, even smelt new, so Naruto looked at the letter.



Naruto,



I'm sorry I took so long to contact you, but the Sandaime and tracking a certain organization had me busy for too long.



I know that you think what the Third and I have said about him being mind-controlled is an excuse, and it might well be. I know I made a rather large leap in logic, but we need to be ready for any possibility, and the jutsu we spoke of is way too dangerous not to be prepared for. You can think of this as an old pervert ageless lover of women being paranoid.



Now, getting to the reason I sent you this: the Sandaime is going to be easier to persuade to do something for you now. Do you have any requests for him? I'll be your intermediary. Please limit it to one major thing, or a couple of less major ones.



Send your answer via the scroll; whatever you write on the yellow side will appear on mine, and whatever I write on mine's other side will appear on your scroll's white side. Write 'True Erasure' twice in a row to wipe the side you are writing it in.



Try it out.

Sincerely yours,



Jiraiya, Sage of Mount Myouboku



Naruto mused on Jiraiya's speech patterns – he usually sounded informal when speaking, unlike his letters. Naruto then shook his head. He thought, 'I don't need anything from the Sandaime. I don't need anything from such a person! Even if the mind-control theory turns out to be true, he never even bothered to visit me; I can't be loyal to that kind of person, nor trust him with anything. No, operation "Somewhere I Belong" is very much a go, even if Iruka-sensei- wait… I have a request that the Sandaime is the only one who can fulfill.'



Naruto wrestled with himself; he hated having anything to do with that man. It would feel too much like he owed the bastard something if he asked for even the smallest of favors… never mind the fact that the Third owed Naruto, not the other way around. Maybe Biwako would have advice. He would have to talk to her and Mito about it anyway.



-----



"You should do it!" Biwako said without hesitation.



"Just like that?" Naruto said, grimacing like he had smelt something foul.



Biwako nodded, saying, "of course! It's a unique opportunity. Remember that Shinobi use all tricks in their arsenal and take advantage of their- of opportunities," not quite getting what kept Naruto back. Maybe his pride…?



"It's just- I- it feels too much like I would owe him something," Naruto said, then his expression changed like he had thought of something more. "I don't want to owe that man anything – I'm not even sure if I should become a Genin in this village," he said, a grim look on his face.



Biwako did a double-take. She knew or at least strongly suspected what the plans Naruto had for the future were, even though he hadn't voiced them, per se: he wanted to join another Hidden Village or become a wanderer or something like that. She had been keeping all money she would get from vegetable sales outside the Land of Fire banks and even withdrawing as much as she could of her inheritance because she intended to follow him wherever he would go; there was nothing binding her to Konoha after what Shisui had told her.



Still, it was only the second time Naruto had said something so blatantly disloyal to Konoha and the only time so far he had proposed not to graduate at all.



Biwako tried to think of an alternative; after all, they needed to have mission experience, and she didn’t want to leave before they had squeezed every drop of resources and training out of Konoha. Hmm… new Genin would give their written oaths sometime between getting the forehead protector and meeting their Jounin sensei. If she could sabotage that process without anyone knowing….



She would have to throw herself into Genjutsu; forget improving her Body Flicker, her Fire Style, her Lightning Style Chakra Flow, her taijutsu and her shurikenjutsu when she was with Shisui. Focusing on her Sharingan and Genjutsu -maybe the sword to keep from getting rusty- was the way to go.



-----



Shizune was supervising an all-out spar between Naruto and Biwako. Naruto was preparing for the signal-



Start!”



Biwako started with a hail of shuriken. Naruto deflected them with a kunai in such a way that they would get in her way-



Shit!



Biwako had managed to slip through the gaps and was at melee range. Naruto drew a kunai, swiftly channeling Wind Style Chakra into it-



(Clang!)



Their weapons met, and Naruto barely managed to keep her tanto from grazing him. He shot off a -somewhat weak- Wind Ninjutsu using a single-handed hand-seal, but Biwako had apparently predicted that, so she shot off a small fireball at the same time.



Naruto disengaged and dropped to the ground quickly, but he still didn’t completely avoid burns on his face. He hissed, but he made sure to move again, and none too soon, because more shuriken were coming his way.



He used a Doton jutsu to get below ground, then he shot off as soon as the shuriken were clear-

Crap!



One more shuriken was coming. Naruto managed to harden his skin using another Earth Style jutsu, deflecting the shuriken with his forearm, but he could hear the rest of the shuriken coming back at him from behind. Maybe-



Naruto made a simple Earth Clone under the ground and towards his right, so that it would be on Biwako’s left side, the one on which seemed a little slower to react. Then, he made a substitution with a tree branch in such a position that Biwako would be unlikely to look at the place the clone was at.



Biwako had wasted no time. She used a full-body tackle, electrifying Naruto, keeping him from drawing Living Makibishi to drop between them.



Ow! Fortunately, the clone hadn’t been affected. It used an Earth Style ninjutsu and threw mud at Biwako’s head and feet.



Biwako’s head twitched, but didn’t turn.



Naruto took the opportunity, though, and used a Wind ninjutsu on dry ground, aiming the dirt at Biwako’s eyes. He prepared to- all of a sudden, there was another Biwako under the ground to his Chakra sense.



‘She substituted herself with a clone at the last moment!’ Naruto thought to himself.



Biwako got out of the ground immediately and looked at Naruto, making eye contact.



By the time he snapped out of the Genjutsu, just short of a second later, a lot of shuriken were coming at him; some were even sparking with Lightning Style Chakra. Damn that bracelet!



Naruto tried his new ninjutsu in combat for the first time. He made a Dragon seal -the seal that helped with modifying Shape-, then Tiger, then a modified Dog seal, which he tended to use for his purified water jutsu.



Suiton: Uzushio no Kabe!



An offshoot of ‘Suiton: Suijinheki’ (‘Water Formation Wall’), ‘Uzushio no Kabe’ (‘Wall of the Whirling Tide’) made a miniature whirlpool to stop an opponent’s attack.



Naruto caught the shuriken in his defensive technique, molded his Chakra in the correct way to sense Chakra, then shot them off, along with the water at where he felt Biwako to be.



She went underground. Naruto was about to cause a mini-earthquake when she shot off out of the ground, shooting- electrified senbon?! No, they were made of Lightning Style Chakra!



Naruto was down, unable to get up. He heard Shizune call the match and felt her Chakra healing him, but he could only think about his loss.





-----



Autumn came and went, and Naruto had become eleven years old. The birthday party he had had with Tsunade, Shizune and Biwako was the stuff of legends; his sensei had nearly ended up drinking sake after years of abstinence, but Shizune had managed to persuade her otherwise with copious numbers of senbon. His training had also gone well.



His aunt(?) teacher(?) Tsunade had found a way to motivate him more for his medical training. Teaching Naruto -or helping him with- a non-medical ninjutsu as a reward. She had finally taught him the Shuriken Shadow Clone when he had gotten down the Mystical Palm, reviving a fish with it… which had taken him nearly two months of practice. At least, she had allowed him a Shadow Clone for learning it.



Another time, she had taught him an offensive Earth ninjutsu, Doryuuso (Earth Flow Spear), easily C-ranked and with the potential to be upgraded to A-ranked, if Naruto's suspicion was right. It was 'death from below'; using hardened clumps of soil and rock as long stalagmites to impale enemies to death. It had been very difficult for Naruto to learn, far beyond what a C-ranked ninjutsu of one of his affinities should have been. He had had to learn to spread his Chakra into the ground, then use it to affect the ground further; if he hadn’t been a sensor, it might have taken him twice as long!



It had taken Naruto a bit over two months to get it down, even being a sensor, even with his experience with the Earth element. In many ways, it was worse than the Mystical Palm – at least, that one he had had little to no prior experience with to guide him, took slightly less time, and it was an A-ranked jutsu besides.



("Tsunade-sensei," Naruto said, "do you know why it took me even longer than the Mystical Palm to get down the Earth Flow Spear, even though I was already really good with the Earth element and had a clone or two helping with it, too?"



Tsunade smiled at him mischievously. She said, "oh? So, you noticed something off?"



Naruto suddenly had the feeling that he was being pranked. He said, "you know what the problem was?!" Practically shouting his lungs out.



"Inside voice, Naruto," Tsunade admonished him. "Yes, but can you pinpoint the problem yourself?" She said then.



The boy breathed in and out, trying to think what was different about that jutsu. He had gotten down the Water Dragon Bullet, which was B-ranked and had more complicated Shape Transformation, on his own in three weeks or so, but that one had fourteen hand-seals (*3).



Could it be the fact that this jutsu had fewer hand-seals? Or maybe the fact Naruto was somewhat better at the Water element? But that didn't explain away such a huge dif- oh, that cunning bi- woman! Naruto said, "so, I take it that Doryuuso doesn't usually have only two hand-seals?" Probably looking ugly with a grimace on his face.



Tsunade nodded. She said, "you got it. Normally, that jutsu is taught with seven hand-seals first; Snake and Bird are only the final ones," smiling at Naruto proudly.



"Why would you do that?" Naruto asked, frustrated.



His aunt bent down to look into Naruto's eyes and put a hand on his shoulder. Then, she said, "Naruto. You are used to learning things easily; you have natural talent, and a whole lot of it. Unfortunately, that comes with its own set of problems. When I was a genin, everything came easily to me; my teammates were very driven, but I simply coasted through at first. Orochimaru eventually became arrogant, because he never learned the lessons Jiraiya knew all along, and I managed to grasp when I had the 'dead-last', Jiraiya himself, surpass me in combat ability… though I did catch up eventually. You have the same set of issues as both Orochimaru and I did when we were around your age; I simply tried to make sure you wouldn't end up lazy or entitled.")



Auntie Tsunade had pranked Naruto well with Doryuuso. The boy could admit that, at least. On the other hand, he had learned a vital lesson: he couldn't and shouldn't give up just because something was hard.



Naruto wasn't sure what teaching a ten-year-old such a dangerous jutsu just to make a point about hard work said about his aunt, but at least she had cautioned him not to use Doryuuso around anyone he didn't truly intend to kill. He was glad about healing that puppy's leg either way, which was the milestone he had reached and gotten the reward for. The day before, his aunt had had him dissect corpses, both human and animal; Naruto wasn't going to specialize in veterinary medicine, but practicing medical ninjutsu on animals was a time-honored tradition, or so Tsunade insisted.



Naruto, thanks to Tsunade’s lesson on perseverance, had gone back to learning genjutsu and turning a leaf transparent; it had taken him around five months of instruction from Shizune to be able to 'disappear' a leaf almost a third of the way, and that was with him being allowed a clone to train in it alongside him or let him do something else simultaneously every time.



According to his aunt, a ninja didn't need to be good at everything, but Naruto intended to get good enough at it that Biwako would have a hard time getting him with genjutsu; she had improved hugely in that field, and Naruto knew exactly why. Of course, Shizune had also taught him how to recognize and dispel genjutsu better, which came a lot more easily to him than producing Yin Style Chakra; mainly by putting him in a genjutsu, herself.



("When are you going to use the genjutsu on me, Shizune-san?" Naruto said, "I'm rea-"



Naruto stopped speaking suddenly; something was wrong with the circulation of his Chakra. He made dual single-handed Ram hand-seals to enhance his concentration and Control… he found the problem; some foreign Chakra in his head's coils, but he didn't want to risk problems with his brain, so he went with the standard method and halted all of his Chakra's circulation for a moment, then released some of it in a tightly controlled shockwave.)



It had taken Naruto almost as long as making a third of the leaf invisible, starting with dispelling her more mundane Genjutsu and working his way up to the difficult ones, but he had managed to detect and dispel some of Shizune's most subtle genjutsu near-instantly. In the meantime, he had been crushed by Biwako in their all-out spars recently because of that blasted third tomoe.



Unfortunately, he couldn't use the Genjutsu Dispel skill without a hand-seal very well yet; if he tried it at enough power to dispel a B-ranked genjutsu, he might cause himself internal Chakra burns according to Shizune. It was strange, though – it was becoming harder and harder for Shizune and Biwako both to get a genjutsu to stick to Naruto, even without him doing anything to counter.



On the other, offensive hand, with all five hand-seals, Naruto could manage to succeed in a False Surroundings genjutsu one fourth of the time – though even when it worked, Biwako could near-immediately detect and break it… without her Sharingan; it was that obvious. There was also Naruto’s first major failure in the medical field.



(Naruto's squeamishness around corpses and the injured and sick was slowly disappearing. He was on yet another training trip with Tsunade-sensei, and she had him -and herself- work as support for Shizune. She was getting herself used to working as a medic-nin again by helping her original apprentice with her work.



As they were walking away from the site of a successful healing session, Naruto heard a chirp-like sound. He looked around, finding a small bird on the ground. He walked closer – he could see that one of its wings was bent. It tried to claw at him, but he didn’t pay that any mind and used the Mystical Palm on it. The wing, though, just wouldn’t get in place. He used a relatively advanced diagnostic jutsu on it and after a bit of checking the other wing out, he knew what he had to do to fix the broken one, though probably not perfectly.



Naruto used the Mystical Palm again; he aligned the wing correctly and fixed it. Why was the bird’s breathing getting more shallow and its cries weaker, though? He frantically used the diagnostic jutsu again, and discovered that some of the bird's bones were broken and some of its internal organs also had damage. Most of its bones also had a strange structure Naruto hadn't found in ground-bound animals. He wasn't good enough yet to be able to tell the exact difference, though.



'Never mind that!' Naruto thought. Then, he said, "Shizune-san! Tsunade-sensei! A little help…?"



Neither of them moved, though Naruto thought he saw Shizune and even his aunt twitch. "...Please…?" He said, but his aunt shook her head.



Naruto decided to try to heal the little creature as best he could – he apparently couldn't rely on anyone at the moment. He used the diagnostic jutsu again, mapping the bird's body, then the Mystical Palm to mend its internal organs and bones.



It was not enough; the bird was dying in his arms. Naruto threw a last desperate look at Tsunade and Shizune, but nothing worked, on either front – the bird's chest stopped moving. He tried to revive it but he knew, deep down, that it was too little, too late. "…Why?" Naruto said, looking at Shizune and Tsunade both, feeling betrayed.



Tsunade said, "it's better that you get used to failing to heal something now, with an animal, rather than lose a person on your first failure," her eyes shining with unshed tears. It was the most openly sad expression Naruto had ever seen on her face, worse than when she had shown him her family photos.



Naruto stopped breathing for a moment. The wind had been taken out of his sails. The anger came back, though. He said, "did you have to do it this way, though? I have few enough people that I trust- wait. Is this about me asking for more offensive jutsu?"



"…Partially," Tsunade admitted, making Naruto get angrier, "it was worrying me, that you were being half-hearted about the medical field. You are very talented in it, so if your negligence gets someone you love killed, you might never forgive yourself."



Naruto blinked. He said, "is that what happened to you?" Speaking softly.



"Not quite – at first, it was kind of the opposite problem," his master said, biting her lip and clenching an empty bottle of soda so hard that she made it into a very small ball. "I wasn't taking most of my ninja abilities seriously when I first became a Genin. My grandfather had died less than a year before, leaving the village in Sarutobi-sensei's hands. Having the recently appointed Third Hokage as my Jounin sensei made me feel invincible, like I would never need to actually fight. Combine that with the preference I had for the medical field and my reluctance to kill at the time, and I focused on learning how to provide medical aid without putting much effort into my combat skills.



» Then, I had a wake-up call; or, rather, multiple ones in a row. The first was that the three of us got separated from our sensei, leading to both Orochimaru and me being captured and used as hostages. The second one was that it was Jiraiya -someone I had considered an incompetent- who sneaked up on them and saved us, though with another Konoha ninja helping him. The third one was that the chuunin helping Jiraiya got killed in the process. I tried to save her, but I knew that with her injuries, even Grandpa would be hard-pressed to manage that – she was too far gone.



» That’s when I chose the path of the combat medic, similarly to my grandfather. While I don’t often use directly offensive ninjutsu for fear of not having enough Chakra to heal, I have good enough Taijutsu skills that I have no problem taking care of enemies and healing allies both; not to mention Byakugo no jutsu and my other trump cards. On the other hand, I have Chakra reserves that, even in my atrophied state, were almost twice those of the average Kage. Now, I’m closer to the point Jiraiya is at, if you are right about what his Chakra was like to you, than to myself a year ago.”



Tsunade then went on to explain that a medic-nin needed a different skill-set from a fighter. She said “a light and steady hand, precise application of their Chakra and skills, a knack for both academia and practical application, patience, the capability to dodge well enough that the medic-nin doesn’t die until everyone else on the team does and more.



» You know, I once contemplated making the unwritten rules of a medic-nin more official… then, I realized that if the medic-nin is unable to fight, they are a liability to their team. I still believe that a medic-nin needs an inexhaustible supply of Chakra and self-healing that can regenerate limbs without hand-seals to stand on the front lines, but I never made it official… especially if we consider the fact that I got my self-healing jutsu to work too late to ever use it in a fight.”



Naruto digested the long explanation for a minute or so. Then, he said, “so, I need to increase my Chakra reserves by a lot?”



“You are already progressing well,” Tsunade reassured Naruto.



Naruto wasn’t as convinced. He would graduate in less than two years. By that time, he needed to get enough Chakra to both fight and heal without sacrificing his performance in one of them.)



Once, he had accompanied his aunt-slash-teacher to healing a noble, who was getting herself used to being the main healer once again, rather than support. His performance had gotten him an A-ranked ninjutsu, Suiton: Daibakufu (Water Style: Great Waterfall), which had taken him nearly a month to get down; it was an exploding shockwave of dense water.



Tsunade had gotten Shizune to teach him Gale Palm when he had managed to synthesize a plant-based poison using only his bloodline and helped him perfect his house-making jutsu when he had gotten down the Chakra Scalpel. One of Naruto's favorite jutsu was the Water Prison, which Tsunade helped him figure out from past accounts of Senju and Uchiha after he had picked up the Chakra Transfer Technique… the latter had taken him all of a week, which, considering it was technically S-ranked, was an amazing feat.



Naruto fought Biwako in an all-out spar, months after the previous one, as a great finish to the birthday party; unfortunately for him, she had improved her balance and dodging capabilities to the point his enhanced strength was all but useless against her, her improved swordsmanship capabilities were too dangerous for him and the three tomoe were still a pain in his ass, so he lost.



Apparently, now that Biwako was good enough at taijutsu that she didn't fear his enhanced strength and had kenjutsu, he would need to fight her at a distance… but she moved too fast for him to keep her away. Not to mention the fact that her reflexes were ever so slightly ahead of his own, and her flexibility had always been far superior.



-----



“Damn it. Damn it!” Naruto said, punching the ground, making a small crater.



He had lost to Biwako yet another time. He could tell Biwako was studying him, but-



“Naruto,” Biwako said suddenly.



Naruto lifted his head to look at her, only to see a small frown on her face. She said, “instead of getting angry and hitting things, why don’t you channel that energy into getting better? Ba-a-ka.”



Naruto almost growled. He said, “it’s not that easy -ttebayo! I’ve been left behind; far behind!”

“…You have a bloodline. Why don’t you use it?” Biwako said, a perplexed expression on her face.



“It’s too slow for me to use it, and you’ve never given me enough of a breather to drop Living Makibishi,” Naruto said, still frustrated.



“What, do you want me to hold back?” Biwako said, raising her voice slightly.



Naruto glared at her furiously, saying, “of course not!”



“Then think of how to counter my abilities,” Biwako said, biting her lip. “You’ve already shut down my Genjutsu somehow.”



Naruto tried to think of a way to counter swordsmanship plus shuriken plus Chakra Flow plus incredible speed. He could only think of one thing: a weapon.



Naruto decided to go to Tsunade for advice, even though his faith in her was shaken.



…Naruto said, “Auntie Tsunade. I need your advice,” grimacing.



Tsunade nodded. She said, “what is it, Naruto?” Her face almost unreadable.



Naruto could tell that his aunt was sad, probably because she knew he was still a bit angry at her, but he didn’t say anything about that. He said, “it’s- I’m falling behind Biwako and I don’t know what to do. I decided to learn how to use a weapon, but I don’t know one that would let me give her a hard time – is there a weapon around that would be able to flow my Chakra really well and withstand mine and Biwako’s Chakra Flow at the same time?”



Tsunade didn’t speak for a few moments, then she said, “what material would that weapon be made of, then?”

“Steel with Chakra-conductive metal- wait. What about wood? I mean, that kind of wood?” Naruto said, getting more excited as he talked.



Tsunade smiled softly. She said, “we will have to test its properties, but yes, I suspect it will be really accepting of your Chakra, really durable and relatively easy to replace. How about a bo staff?”



Naruto decided to try it. He made- a branch that looked nothing like a staff.





“…Do you know anyone who knows how to use and make a staff, Auntie Tsunade?” Naruto said, his joy cut short.



“What am I, chopped liver?” Tsunade said, frowning, “the Third taught me the basics of Bo Staves when I was in his team, though I haven’t needed to use one. It was the one thing Orochimaru had a hard time with: blunt weapons, though he was very good with swords. Surprisingly, Jiraiya was decent at both.”



It was an interesting idea.



“Naruto,” his aunt said, sounding a bit hesitant, but her gaze was focused on him. “Biwako has the goal of finding her brother and beating some answers out of him. She is rather driven. Do you have one?”



Naruto opened his mouth – of course he did! Then, he closed it. He wanted a place to belong, true, but was that something that would make him driven? Was it specific enough? What was it that he really wanted to do in the short term and what was his long-term goal?



He would have to think it over.



-----



Naruto had gotten a return message from Jiraiya on the 'special' scroll.





Kid,



You need to pull up your grades at the Academy and graduate early. You have less than three months. Make sure to tell the girls so that they try to graduate this March, too.



Naruto rolled the scroll back up and smiled, rubbing his hands together. So, he needed to raise his grades? So be it. He would make a 'miracle' comeback!



-----



Iruka said, "Biwako, it's your turn to throw the shuriken and kunai for this week's shurikenjutsu exam," smiling.



Biwako threw the shuriken six at a time, and all twelve of them were dead center. She wasn't even fazed by the challenge – though Naruto knew that it wasn't much of a challenge for her. The kunai, she threw one by one- but with her back turned. She still got a perfect score.



It was Naruto's turn, and he took a bit of time to weigh the projectiles-to-be, realizing that they were not very high quality, the balance was wrong and they were too blunt even for practice weapons.



Naruto looked at Mizuki, glaring at the white haired fool who was still ‘learning the ropes’ as a teaching assistant despite having worked in the Academy for years; the man only looked back with a serene expression, but Naruto could almost feel the smugness rolling off him. The boy had an idea. He had a great idea. He could see Mizuki shudder from the corner of his eye, but he couldn't pay attention to the piece of trash right now.



Naruto chose to throw the kunai first. He enhanced his body through a variation of the Byakugo no jutsu, then threw the dozen blades hard enough to embed them into the bullseye of the targets they hit, one by one; even though they were blunter than the rubber slugs Naruto sometimes bathed with.



When the time to throw the shuriken came, Naruto did the same for the first eleven ninja stars, but for his last go, he threw the shuriken in a different way, and slightly off in aim... ending up with it ricocheting twice, then hitting Mizuki in the back of the head. Hard.



Iruka-sensei went up to Mizuki quickly; the lighter haired man groaned from his place lying on the ground and slowly got up, with Iruka-sensei's help, though he was wobbly. Once Mizuki was no longer as dizzy, he glared at Naruto, who smiled at the man. Naruto wondered why Mizuki shuddered, though the man still glared – Naruto's smile wasn't that creepy, was it?



Iruka-sensei whispered in Mizuki's ears. Fortunately, Naruto could boost his hearing. "… know what you did. If you try to pull that kind of shit ever again, a blunt shuriken on the head will be the least of your worries."



Then, Mizuki whispered back. He said, "I'm pretty sure Naruto did that on purpose. Aren't you going to-"



Iruka-sensei scoffed. He said, "if I were him, I would probably have put a lot more strength into that throw. You saw how deep those kunai and shuriken reached before, and they were just as blunt. Just be grateful you are alive and well – you could have been crippled or worse. Now, don't change the subject," still whispering.



Mizuki looked as if he was about to object, but Iruka-sensei patted his back, obviously using a lot more strength than necessary, then said that Mizuki was fine.



"Wow, Naruto," Kiba said, "you're so clumsy! It’s no wonder you're the dead last!" Laughing.



A few other students also laughed at Naruto.



Naruto also forced a laugh and said, "it's true, what they say, isn't it?"



"What was that, dead last?" Kiba said, showing his teeth.



"I said," Naruto said, "that the puppy that barks the loudest is usually the runt of the litter. In this case, the stupidest too. Haven't you learned after that beatdown you got?" Without moving.



Kiba got into Naruto's face and bared his teeth again. He said, "you wanna fight?! I'll beat you in front of Mito, and-"



A slapping sound echoed, and Kiba stopped talking suddenly. Naruto could tell that Mito was behind Kiba, but he hadn’t realized that until less than a second before Mito had slapped the back of Kiba's head.



'I didn't even hear or otherwise sense her; even though she has the strongest Chakra I've ever encountered other than possibly the Sandaime, Biwako, Auntie Tsunade and Jiraiya,' Naruto thought and could feel the cold sweat going down his forehead.



Naruto sidestepped, seeing Mito's hand go through the space where his head had been split-seconds before. He soon had to dodge again, because Mito didn't give up.



"Sit still so I can get you!" Mito said, letting out an animalistic growl.



Naruto blew a raspberry at her, then said, "it's 'stand still'. Let's save the enthusiasm for the ring, though."



"I wanna pummel you and I wanna do it right now!" Mito said, her voice very shrill, showing her annoyance.



Naruto winced – his poor ears! He could also sense that Iruka-sensei had arrived, so he said, "Iruka-sensei, is it possible for me to fight Mito today?" While still dodging, holding his hands over his ears to prevent any more pain from Mito's shrieks.



"Well, Naruto," Iruka said dryly, "how can I resist such a heartfelt request? Mito, to the ring, now."



Mito froze. She turned slowly and robotically to look at their sensei, then said, "yes, Iruka-sensei," her posture stiff.



She walked toward the sparring ring and so did Naruto. Naruto smiled at Mito, but his sister cringed slightly. Was Naruto's smile that cringeworthy?



Mito breathed in deep, possibly to gather courage for something, then said, "how about we use ninjutsu too, Iruka-sensei, Naruto?"



Naruto shrugged, then said, "I'm all for it."



Iruka-sensei thought it over a bit, then said, "yes to some ninjutsu; genjutsu and Fuuinjutsu are also allowed, but no directly damaging jutsu other than you or clones using taijutsu, no weapons and no kind of explosion or explosives; for obvious reasons. Also, nothing pre-prepared – so no seals or traps you didn't make on the fly. No help from others, and that restriction includes summons."



Naruto thought over the restrictions, then decided that the element of Earth would offer him the best defensive and supplementary capabilities, so he would forgo Water and Wind to avoid revealing much.

Iruka-sensei gave the signal, and Naruto created a few Earth Clones under the ground without using hand-seals, all the while looking Mito in the eye. Mito made the Clone seal, but one of Naruto's Earth Clones got out of the ground and punched her in the gut repeatedly, while two held her by the wrists and two others held her by the ankles.



Mito was too durable to get hurt much by Earth Clones, but Naruto the original charged at her. In the blink of an eye, Mito tensed her muscles and flipped herself, forcing the clones holding her to the ground. Then, she punched out the one punching her, leaving only the two clones that had held her legs 'alive', because the impact on them had been softer.



Naruto completed his motion and punched Mito in the cheek, launching her away, but unfortunately not far enough for her to lose by ring-out. She spat blood, but unlike most of the girls in his class, she wasn’t fazed. Her hands met again, but Naruto made one of his clones use the D-ranked Mud Hazard to get her eyes, sacrificing the clone because that jutsu was too costly; it was something an Earth Clone that had already burrowed through the ground could barely fuel, and even that was only because it was of its own element.



He went for a charge again, but Mito put a hand in a single-handed hand-seal and managed to catch his fist with the other, even though her eyes were full of mud. Suddenly, Naruto felt his body become unresponsive; he stumbled back, using his other hand to support his hunched frame. What did she-



"You know," Mito said, wiping her eyes with her sleeves, "if you hadn't underestimated me so much and lowered your guard when you blinded me, I would have lost, and very quickly too. You came at me in a straight line when you really know better, and didn't even bother coming at me immediately after your clones attacked me."



Naruto's mind was going a mile a minute. Mito was walking back towards him, slowly because of still trying to clean her eyes, and he was helpless – she wouldn't have any trouble throwing him out of the ring. He couldn't even control his Chakra enough for a jutsu!



"The Self-Cursing Seal(*2) is an amazing thing!" Mito said.



That sounded like a Cursed Seal. What did he know about Juuinjutsu (Cursed Seals)? Many were irremovable, but they were usually those that took a lot of preparation. Mito wasn't a complete stickler for the rules, but she respected Iruka-sensei and his authority very much, so she had almost certainly followed his rules and made the seal on the fly.



Maybe it could be broken with willpower? '…What am I thinking,' Naruto told himself with a scoff, 'this isn't one of my manga.'



Naruto considered trying to dispel it like a genjutsu – he tried just that after managing to make a one-handed seal with his left, and was rewarded with a weaker restriction. Unfortunately, that didn't even last a second before the seal was back at full power and more, and his time was about to run out. 'That's it! I'm on the right track!' He thought.



Naruto made his final Earth Clone attack Mito, gathering his Chakra at the same time, without a hand seal. His clone was dispelled without much difficulty, but bought Naruto time anyway. He unleashed a huge burst of Chakra, but tried to keep it tightly controlled. As a result, he blew Mito away without causing much destruction. Unfortunately, Naruto was no Hyuuga; he couldn't send her very far at all. Suddenly, he felt a burning sensation inside, which quickly escalated to levels nearly unheard of for Naruto; it was kind of like what he expected from his blood being replaced with a strong acid.



Mito's mastery of the Sealing Arts was superb, Naruto had to admit. The good news was that he had broken free of that annoying seal; the bad news was that he had lost nearly a third of his reserves so far. Worse yet, his entire body was in agony – had he caused himself internal Chakra burns? He should have been more careful with his Chakra Control - Tsunade-sensei was going to make him do remedial Chakra Control training. Naruto grit his teeth and concentrated on the fight. Mito had put her hands together like a cross in the Clone seal, making three extra copies of her appear.



Naruto didn't speak; he simply formed seven Earth Clones, only four of which were above the ground, this time with a Snake hand-seal to reduce the cost and the strain on his Chakra network, gritting his teeth again.



Mito said, "I'm the master of clones! You can't hope to win like this!" Smiling ferally.



"Now who's underestimating whom? Let's see if you can back up your words in a battle of clones," Naruto said and made his clones attack the four copies of Mito.



A taijutsu match of sorts ensued; in the meantime, Naruto used a diagnostic jutsu on himself with two hand-seals and discovered that he had very mild internal Chakra burns, but they were in three places of his Chakra network. Fortunately, they were healing just fine and were already mostly gone.



Naruto had numbers on his side, his clones took up far less Chakra each, they could burrow through the ground briefly, and he had superior taijutsu skills… not to mention that the original Naruto's speed and strength were greater than the original Mito’s. On the other hand, the originals weren't participating in the fight, and Earth Clones lost a lot more speed and power compared to the original than Shadow Clones did. Too bad I don't know the Tsuchikage's Rock Clone….



That's without counting Naruto's injury, nor the fact he had spent a lot of his Chakra already; his healing factor required much less Chakra than the Mystical Palm usually did, but the receding internal burns were still taking a lot. Well, Naruto had always wondered who would win a battle of attrition between the two of them.



…Over ten minutes later, after literally hundreds of clones, both Naruto and Mito were panting in exhaustion. Naruto could feel the sweat running down his face, but it was the headache that worried him. Unlike Shadow Clones, the normal elemental clones like the Earth Clone had no mind of their own, and had to be controlled by the original through a mental link. That part was what caused the headache. 'Heh,' Naruto thought, 'brought down not by the burns, which have already healed, nor Chakra exhaustion, but mental strain. Who'd have thought?' Putting a hand on his temple.



He heard Mito groan in pain, so he looked back at her. She was holding her head too.



'Of course,' Naruto thought, 'the Shadow Clones bring back memories and mental fatigue!'



Out loud, he said, "I can see the strain those clones have caused you. Can you even go on?"



"I- I can!" Mito said, swaying on the spot.



Naruto approached her, wary of tricks. Before he reached grabbing distance, Naruto stomped on the soil in Mito's direction, using Yang Style Chakra for the Byakugo no jutsu (Strength of a Hundred jutsu), rupturing the ground, making her lose her balance. Finally, Naruto shoved his sister out of the ring while she was off-balance.



"Winner: Naruto," Iruka-sensei said, sounding really impressed.



Naruto could see how dejected Mito was, so as a good brother, he decided to rub it in. He said, "what was that you said, Mito? I underestimated you and lowered my guard? Heh, take your own advice."



Mito glared at him for a moment, then she smirked, saying, "yeah, laugh it up, Naruto. I'll get you next time, don't worry."



"In your dreams, Mito," Naruto said and offered his right hand's fingers for the Seal of Reconciliation.



Mito reciprocated, so the two of them clasped fingers.



"Wait, wait, back up! When did Naruto get so strong?!" Kiba said, with Akamaru barking. Then, Kiba said, "wait, what do you mean 'he always was like that', Akamaru?"



Naruto shook his head and said, "like always, Akamaru is showing way more intelligence, common sense, observation skill, insight, level-headedness and knowledge than you. Are you sure that you are Akamaru's partner and not his pet, Kiba?"



Kiba looked at Naruto, his eyes wide; Naruto could also hear Ino's gasp. 'Did she really think I wouldn't say it to Kiba's face?' He thought.



Unexpectedly, Kiba laughed, with his mouth mostly closed, not showing his sharp canines this time. After the Inuzuka calmed down, he said, "you know, you're the first one to say that to an Inuzuka and their partner, as far as I know. Many ignorant people think that our dog partners are pets, but you not only know better, you made a cool joke about it! I might manage to like you, after all!"

Naruto’s reply was perfectly poised and intelligent… he would like to say, but he only said ‘huh?’



-----



Naruto was walking out of the exam room, holding a Konoha forehead protector, reluctant to actually wear it. He pocketed it; maybe he would wear it in front of his throat or something. Biwako’s Transformed Shadow Clone was at his forehead, taking the place of his goggles. Hopefully, that would be enough to counter the oath-taking thanks to her genjutsu.



Their sensei was supposedly Hatake Kakashi, a name Naruto had seen more than once in the archives of the Uchiha Ninja Library. If the Uchiha had gotten things right, Kakashi was definitely a greater threat than the Hokage himself and likely greater than Jiraiya too.



‘Well,’ Naruto thought to himself, ‘we will see in two weeks.’

-----

“Mito,” Naruto said seriously, “we need to talk.”

Mito looked at him, her face scrunched up in confusion. She said, “what about?”

Naruto took a few deep breaths and said. “I- never mind. I’ll tell you another time,” ignoring Mito’s worsened confusion. ‘I chickened out, damn it!’ He thought to himself, unable to tell his sister that he believed their father had sealed a giant fox in him.

He had tried before, but he hadn’t even reached the ‘we need to talk’ stage.

-----



*0 Yeah, Naruto could have used that when he infiltrated the Senju compound, but it didn’t occur to him.



*'Namekuji' means 'slug'; Namekuji-dono is this Naruto's wallet, as a parallel to canon's Gama-chan ('gama' means 'toad').



*2 The Self-Cursing Seal is the immobilization seal Danzo used on Sasuke in canon.



*3 There's no way Suiryuudan had (anywhere near) 44 hand-seals; Zabuza must have been trying to trick Kakashi with extra seals (which backfired immediately after with Daibakufu (Great Waterfall), possibly because Kakashi had already known both jutsu).
 
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Story6

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#39
This chapter (and possibly others to come) won't be kind to Sakura. Note, though, that she's far from incompetent, and is capable of growing as a character – I don't like Bashing at all; I actually don't hate canon Sakura, either.



Warning, there is also not-so-covert suicide baiting in this chapter. Unrelated to Sakura, of course.



Please tell me your thoughts. Did anyone come across as an irredeemable monster and/or the victim of Bashing?



-----



All Naruto could think was ‘shit!’, because the one who would supervise his oath-taking was Yamanaka Maifa, the Deputy Headmistress herself. Not only that… he had been woken up and dragged by ANBU to the Academy in a surprise visit, and there was one supervising the oath taking, too, along with an unmasked man and woman, each in a Chuunin vest.



Fortunately, the Biwako clone on his forehead still had plenty of Chakra despite having been active for over seven hours. Biwako was right to be so vigilant! She wouldn't let Naruto live that down. Ugh. Well, Naruto’s Shadow Clones still weren’t very good at using the Mokuton, so Biwako being able to use Genjutsu: Sharingan with hers so well was very impressive.



The female Chuunin was an Academy teacher, Naruto believed, but he couldn’t remember her name, for the life of him.



Two other, likely slightly older graduates were there. A brown-haired girl Naruto didn’t recognize and a male Aburame other than Shino, were also in the small -for Academy standards- room to sign the oaths themselves – the unknown girl was even really close to his position. How was he going to get out of this?



No. I should trust in my capabilities and Biwako’s. Fortunately, she has planned ahead and leaves a new Shadow Clone on my forehead every morning and night. Think, Naruto; what can Biwako’s Genjutsu overcome and what can it not?



He arrived at the conclusion that the Aburame should be top priority, same with the ANBU – the former because Aburame had senses most people didn’t, so he was almost guaranteed to be resistant to Genjutsu and the ANBU due to her being an ANBU -of course- and because she was a complete unknown. Considering Maifa was a Jounin -though not missions-active- and really good at mental manipulation, she was likely to be resistant to Genjutsu, so she had to be disposed of or mentally weakened somehow too.



Thus, the only ones to only get Biwako's Genjutsu treatment would be the pair of Chuunin and the unknown female graduate. Naruto made a few covert hand seals, making a small plant that could synthesize an almost completely undetectable substance which dulled the reactions and mind of a ninja, and as an extra effect, weakened the senses of an Aburame and their bugs severely. Fortunately, both he and Biwako had a really high resistance to it.



The ANBU twitched, and Naruto started panicking on the inside. He relaxed and kept his breathing the same, though. When nothing else happened, Naruto felt relieved, but he still didn’t let much shine through outwardly – he had years of hiding his true feelings in the Academy to fall back on.



‘Is that purple-haired ANBU a sensor-type? I doubt she is an Inuzuka with that hair, though it could be fake, so…,’ Naruto thought to himself, ‘she will be on guard from now on, so I had better make sure she can’t do anything at the same moment I execute my next action. Fortunately, Maifa isn’t as careful… as far as I can tell, at least – a lot of the Yamanaka clan are sensor-types, too.’



Maifa started speaking, giving a lecture on the responsibilities expected of a member of Konohagakure’s ninja corps. Naruto kept half an ear on her, but his mind was working faster than the Yellow Flash could attack, trying to find a solution. Fitting, being his son, ha!



He would have to take the risk of using his bloodline again; it was the only way out he could think of. At a moment Naruto couldn’t feel being watched, he made three more covert hand-seals. He could have used the Jutsu with just one, but he was trying to minimize Chakra leakage – wasted Chakra made someone easier to detect.



Naruto felt the use of Chakra from his forehead. He realized Biwako had used a Genjutsu to delay the ANBU, but he didn’t relax just yet. The Wood Clone Naruto had just made traveled towards the ANBU through the wooden floor using his new Kabutomushi no Jutsu (Beetle Jutsu), though it was the one jutsu only Wood Clones were able to manage, not the original.



Then, the clone injected a hallucinogen into the ANBU’s foot as covertly as it could barely a moment after Naruto felt more Chakra use near his forehead. The beauty of that particular hallucinogen was not only that it worked really quickly, but also that its effects were mostly suppressed when the target was under Genjutsu while at the same time reducing the capability of the target to resist said Genjutsu.



Of course, Biwako had had to get used to plant-based drugs, poisons and venoms of all sorts. Due to her concentrating so much upon Genjutsu; also due to Naruto learning to make such things quickly and him learning how to use the Bo Staff -well, the Staff he was using was actually much smaller than a Bo Staff and gradually growing- Biwako had lost most of their recent all-out spars, with Naruto's few losses being mainly because he hadn't built up enough of a resistance to all his own poisons.



Naruto was not getting any closer to thinking up a goal other than ‘get the hell out of Konoha’ and maybe joining another village, though. Certainly nothing that made his blood boil in passion or gave him direction.



Naruto assumed direct control of the Wood Clone, a trick he had discovered recently thanks to examining the Water Shadow Clone and the Earth Shadow Clone more carefully. He felt the resistance of the very floor to his efforts first-hand, but ignored it. He tried to think up a way to get Maifa… then he realized: why not just- make sure she isn't feeling well?



Naruto had the Wood Clone inject the woman with an undetectable poison that would soon send her to the toilet vomiting and shitting uncontrollably, then had the clone track down Biwako in case she had problems too.



Naruto suspected that either Hashirama had made all of the Academy himself, or Hashirama’s trees had been used as material. After all, no other kind of wood resisted Naruto’s attempts nearly as much. He would use Forest Net Works, but he had better things to do at the moment.



He gave the unsigned paper to the Academy teacher at the urging of the male Chuunin. The man called the woman Suzume.



A shiver went down Naruto's spine when 'Suzume' stared him down through her glasses. She's- does she suspect what I was doing? The moment broke when she took out a small bottle, poured out a liquid and- cleaned her hands with it.



Naruto started breathing harder. He ground his teeth, glaring at the woman, barely able to keep himself from shooting Killing Intent at her. I can take cursing at me, but treating me like I'm something filthy and contagious-



The other Chuunin cleared his throat and coughed a few times- the woman cringed away from the male Chuunin, making the man roll his eyes. Naruto's anger disappeared immediately. He scoffed under his breath and went back to his seat. A germaphobe? Ha!



-----



Naruto was waiting for Iruka to arrive and announce the graduations – the class above them was in the same lecture hall, including the Hyuuga most of the girls liked, Neji. Neji was too busy staring down the weirdo who looked like him, Hinata. In fact, if Naruto was reading things right, Neji despised Hinata… that couldn’t be right, though. He would always call her ‘Hinata-sama’ in a harsh and mocking tone, though. Well, enough about those two.



Naruto and Iruka had ended up more and more estranged; Naruto, while contemplating his goals and dreams, had realized one thing: the man couldn’t be part of Naruto’s life. Iruka was very much loyal to Konoha and all of Naruto’s ideas for the future had one thing in common: they would take place far away from Konoha. Thus, Naruto had been distancing himself, though it was more easily said than done.



Sakura walked up to Naruto, making him think, ‘oh, no. Not this crap again.’



Then, Sakura said, “Naruto, could you please make room for me to sit next to Biwako-san?” Very sweetly. Too sweetly.



Naruto resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Sakura was a manipulative bitch, but it wasn’t like she was very good at it. Fortunately, he would be rid of her soon. Naruto said, "nope."



"What?!" Sakura said very loudly, waving a fist near Naruto's face.



Naruto rubbed his ears, saying, "oh come on, Sakura! Your voice sounds like the screeches of a wounded animal!"



In truth, Sakura's voice wasn't particularly shrill; Ino's and Mito’s both were worse, and Mito's could reach insane volume on top of that, but Naruto was trying to annoy Sakura.



!!



Apparently, Naruto had succeeded in annoying her, because she tried to punch him in the face. Naruto blocked using his forearm. ‘Oh! She hits hard!’ Naruto thought to himself, but he didn’t let that show.



Before she could do anything else, Naruto grabbed her extended arm at the wrist with his free hand and squeezed.



“Ah-ow! Ple- please stop, Naruto-” Sakura said, her voice suddenly changing into something vulnerable.



Fake. Liar. Naruto couldn’t help his reflexive reaction. He squeezed much harder, making Sakura let out a ‘kyaa-!’ which got stuck in her throat. Sakura let out a few tears, which Naruto could tell were actual tears of pain this time, not Sakura being a manipulative bitch; so, he let her go.



When Iruka entered, Sakura rushed to tell him what had happened; or, rather, an imaginary version of it in which he had attacked her unprovoked.



“I see,” Iruka said, sizing both of them up visibly. Then, he said, “I’m not going to even bother asking Naruto his version of the events. Sakura, you do realize that lying to a superior directly can have consequences?” Making Sakura perk up, then freeze in place.



Naruto was still a bit pissed off at Sakura, no matter how smug the look he was able to give her after Iruka telling her off was. Maybe a prank was in order- Mito’s eyes met his own; Naruto found a familiar mischievous glint in those dark blue eyes. Perhaps they could bond over a shared love of pranks, not to mention it might take her mind away from Jiraiya’s prolonged absence.



After a long speech by Iruka, one that Naruto had barely paid attention to and most of the others even less, Iruka started announcing the graduates and teams. The only thing Naruto had paid attention to was Iruka's barely visible grimaces and the way he would massage his temple at some points.



Iruka said, “The early graduates are Uzumaki Naruto, Uchiha Biwako, Namikaze Mito and Haruno Sakura.”



Naruto’s thoughts came to a halt. What the shit-?



As the teams were being announced, Naruto was having a hard time calming down. Sakura was going to be joining them as an early graduate – that was giving Naruto a hard time controlling his reactions and breathing, harder than he had had in years; even that ANBU's presence hadn't been as daunting. He really, really didn’t want to be in a general group with her, much less teammates.



Naruto ground his teeth as quietly as he could. He could kill that girl twenty different ways by the time she realized and yet- and yet his hands were tied. He barely managed to keep tears at bay by focusing on how much he hated that girl.



Sakura was giving Naruto a mostly unreadable look; it held something that looked like anticipation and- more. Naruto wasn’t sure just what, but there were a lot of emotions there. Then, she looked at Biwako, apparently forgetting about Naruto. Oh, how I want to throw a shuriken at Sakura or ten- no. I need to listen to the team assignments.

He tuned back into Iruka’s words, and just in time.



“The kunoichi originally slated for Team Three is unable to join it due to- reasons, so the team will consist of Rock Lee, Hyuuga Neji and Haruno Sakura. Sensei is Might Guy.”



The cries of over a dozen disappointed fangirls resounded in the hall. Strangely enough, Sakura made a similar sound, not a sound of triumph, making Naruto’s head clear, but also confusing him. Hmm, why? I don’t get it. Naruto scoffed quietly at the fact he was giving even that much thought to Sakura of all people, making sure to go back to listening to Iruka.



“Team Seven will consist of Uzumaki Naruto, Uchiha Biwako and Namikaze Mito. Sensei will be Hatake Kakashi,” Iruka said, then went on to tell them of Teams Nine and Ten, because Team Eight were still together and Genin*.



Naruto sighed in relief – at least he wouldn’t be teammates with that girl. Of course, Jiraiya had promised that the three of them would be in the same team, even told him who their sensei would be, but Naruto found it hard to trust people nowadays. Nowadays, as in over half his life.



-----



Biwako decided to finish her career as an Academy Student with a ‘bang’, as Naruto would say. She hadn’t tried a certain exercise in- over a year, actually. She substituted her shuriken pouch for the kunai equivalent. She activated her Sharingan and prepared herself-



Biwako jumped in the air, withdrawing multiple kunai, doing everything as Itachi had shown her. She ricocheted the weapons off one another… she landed and went to look at her handiwork. Unfortunately, the kunai, while all on target, were mostly nowhere near the center.



I- I did everything right! Exactly as Itachi showed me! Then why-?



Biwako ran the previous sentence through her mind again – she had done exactly the same moves as Itachi. Though she hadn’t unlocked her Sharingan at the time, the circumstances and the repetition had burned it into her brain. The problem was obvious to her now: Itachi had been a twelve- and thirteen- year-old male, with his dominant hand being the right one. He had also been extremely dexterous, even at twelve.



Biwako was eleven, female, had a different body type, was primarily left-handed and didn’t have hands as dexterous as Itachi had had, though she would try to catch up-



Wait. I’m not Itachi – why am I trying to copy him? I’m my own person! Hadn’t I had that same problem with all those members of the clan comparing me to Itachi? I will train to beat him; not to match him, nor copy him. Biwako put on a wristband almost identical to the other one -the one that contained sealed shuriken- on her wrist and started over. She calculated every move in advance. She didn’t manage it -was even worse than before-, but she hadn’t intended to, anyway.



Third time’s the charm. After having seen how the kunai and her seals-covered wristband behaved during this exercise using her Sharingan, Biwako was certain that she could manage it. She drowned out her nervousness and simply did it. Flawlessly.



Biwako was still staring into space when Naruto found her, teasing her for spacing out, then turning worried when she didn't respond. Message received, niisan.



“Biwako? What’s-? You look like you had an epiphany just now!” Naruto said, his worried gaze swiftly changing into something more relaxed.



Biwako said, “I’m surprised that you know what an ‘epiphany’ is, much less can use it in a sentence,” the words coming out without her meaning to.



Naruto's flat look told her that he wasn't in the mood for that kind of banter.



Biwako did her best to convey 'you shouldn't have teased me, then' without speaking.



Naruto shrugged, as if to say, 'I'm a hypocrite. Deal with it.'



Biwako rolled her eyes at Naruto. Then, she asked him if he wanted to watch her train.



Naruto looked at her, blinking fast, his mouth open. She hadn't made such an offer before, so Biwako didn't blame him for his surprise. "Close your mouth before something flies in," Biwako said. Not blaming him and not teasing him were two different things.



"You have enough disadvantages as it is so far," Naruto said, a slightly sardonic smile on his face, "are you sure you want to add yet another one?"



Couldn't he take it at face value?! Biwako scowled. She said, "what's that supposed to mean?!" Glaring at Naruto. Was that implied sexism?



Naruto took a look at her face, then said, "in the last four matches, you've lost three. Don't tell me you are a complete sore loser…?" Lifting his eyebrows.



Biwako took deep breaths, in and out. Then, she said, "of course I'm a sore loser. Those who aren't are content as career Chuunin at best. 'Sore loser' and 'competitive' are synonyms."



"Hey, don't disrespect career Chuunin!" Naruto said, scowling at her, "Iruka-sensei is fine with staying at Chuunin rank, but he's amazing!" Crossing his arms at stomach height.



"…Could we not have this conversation right now?" Biwako said with a sigh, feeling tired enough that she was ready to call it a day despite it being mid-afternoon.



Naruto looked ready to explode, but he held his tongue, saying, "fine!"



Biwako wondered what had crawled up his ass and died, as Naruto himself would say.



"You know, Biwako," Naruto said, "you could try not judging so quickly and carelessly," more calmly.



Biwako grimaced. She had thought he hadn't caught that. "What do you mean?" She said out loud, but as she said that, she knew Naruto hadn't been fooled.



The look he gave her silenced her. Biwako hated how vulnerable she felt at such moments – Naruto was usually able to 'read' her so well that it literally scared her… not that she would ever admit to that.



Nor would she apologize. Naruto had escalated first when he had mocked a serious offer, the fool.



-----



"Where is our sensei -ttebara!" Mito screeched out, making Naruto slam his palms onto his ears so quickly that he worsened the pain.



"Mito," Naruto said, grimacing in his pain, "could you please not be so loud?"



"Huh?" Mito said, "are you saying that I'm too loud?" Still at a volume too high for anyone sane.



"Painfully so," Naruto said, not holding back in his criticism.



"Indubitably," Biwako said without hesitation.



"You guys suck…," Mito said, sulking. "I know," she said perkily, recovering quickly in an epic mood swing, "it must be Kakashi-san! He's usually tardy. He was Dad's student. I only see him once a year or so nowadays – I think he pissed off Old Man Hokage, or maybe the Old Man pissed off Kakashi-san or both. Anyway, they got into a fight three or so years ago and now Kakashi-san is on missions away from the village non-stop! It might have something to do with- with the two of us and what happened all those years ago."



Naruto filed away the information. He didn't have the heart to tell Mito that he was still in contact with Jiraiya and that the man had told him about their Jounin sensei. He knew that Mito hadn't seen her (their?) godfather in over a year, so he hadn't told her he had a permanent means of contacting Jiraiya. He had asked Jiraiya why he hadn’t given Mito a scroll like his, too, but the man had been- evasive.



Maybe it had something to do with the Kyuubi no Youko. Ugh. I’m still tired. What was I thinking about, again…? Naruto slumped over on the lecture hall desk. Maybe he should rest for a few minutes….



"BOO!"



!!!



Naruto threw himself into the air by shoving himself upwards off the closest surface, then lifted his leg and kicked at the offending person downwards in an axe kick. ‘Byakugo no jutsu, Tsutenkyaku! (Strength of a Hundred jutsu, Heavenly Foot of Pain!)



(Crack crack. Crack!!)



When his heel fully landed, Naruto directed his body toward -and did an elbow strike at- where he felt the enemy to be, then threw himself away and twisted his body in such a way that he landed on his feet, his Staff held in his hands, ready to strike.



The unknown man that was in front of him started clapping. He said, “congratulations, Naruto, you just now came closer to killing me than anyone has in years. I am not going to tell you how many dozen and hundred S-rank and A-rank missions I’ve run in those years. Just know that it’s an extremely impressive feat on your part.”



Naruto scrutinized the man. He looked to be young despite his white (silver?) hair. In fact, Naruto swore the man couldn’t be a day above twenty-five. His eyes were really dark but not quite the same as each other – one was truly black, just like Biwako’s; at that same eye, a big vertical scar went all the way through, but something that looked like spiral-shaped seal markings on the skin was peeking out from the mask covering the lower part of his face; again on the same side as the scar and completely black eye. Well, maybe Naruto was seeing what he was expecting to see because of the description in the Uchiha library.



Then, Naruto came to his senses and looked for Biwako and Mito. They were near a corner of the near-empty lecture hall. Biwako had her hand on Mito’s shoulder and the latter was shaking like a leaf.



Naruto scanned the rest of the hall, only to see that one of the benches that worked as desks for multiple students had been snapped; almost pulverized in some places. He then noticed that his right foot was a bit achy, with quite a few splinters making their presence known through escalating pain. “Did- did I do that?” Naruto asked out loud, his question not directed to anyone in particular. Then, he said, “…Mito? Biwako? Did I- did I hurt you?” His voice cracking halfway through due to his worry and guilt.



Biwako cleared her throat. Then, she said, “I managed to get myself and Mito out of the way before you finished your- maneuver. I’m just fine; Mito only panicked a bit.”



Naruto was worried. He had only relatively recently reunited with his sister; would she fear him, maybe even hate him, over this?



Suddenly, Mito straightened up and said, “wow, Naruto, that was amazing!” A huge grin on her face, though she was still trembling a bit.



A chuckle from the strange man (Kakashi?) had Naruto turning to look at the man again, gripping his staff hard. The man said, “well, at least Naruto has his priorities straight. I’m Hatake Kakashi, your potential Jounin sensei. Well, lesson learned: I will treat you with more- care from now on,” the movements of his eyelids and visible facial muscles somehow conveying a menacing grin, making Naruto shiver.



'Damn it, Auntie Tsunade,' Naruto thought, 'your counter-ambush training has gotten me into trouble!'



Naruto limped up to Mito and checked her breathing, just in case her fear response had triggered something dangerous in her body, under Hatake Kakashi’s watchful eye. As he used the Mystical Diagnostic Palm, he could feel her Chakra and noted it was a bit different than usual, but couldn’t tell exactly how, nor a cause, so he let it go for the time being.



'Naruto,' his aunt and teacher had said, 'a medic-nin doesn’t let themself get injured if they can – that’s why I have you do so many dodging drills. Once you have gotten injured, though, take care of your wounds well but quickly; efficiently, lest you get killed and take your entire team with you.'



Naruto made a few hand-seals to use the same diagnostic jutsu on himself, the pain catching up with him, making him grimace. Then, he went through five hand-seals, using the Chakra Scalpel to swiftly reopen his wounds and remove the splinters from his foot and shin (ouch!), making sure to disinfect the wounds wherever needed (again, ouch!). Those splinters looked like they had come from a chair, Naruto noted.



Once he was done, Naruto checked for any leftover splinters and used the Mystical Palm just barely so that it wouldn’t have a chance of scarring. He wrapped some bandages around his legs, thanking his lucky stars that his Achilles Tendon hadn’t been seriously injured, somehow. He sat down on the floor, keeping his legs at a comfortable position.



Mito started telling Naruto to go to the hospital for his injuries, but Naruto knew he didn’t need to – something like that wasn’t beyond his capabilities.



Kakashi said, "perhaps you should consider listening to Mito, Naruto?" His suggestion being uttered in a firm voice. "If only for Mito's peace of mind."



"All right," Naruto said, "I only trust one of the medic-nins at the hospital, though. If he's not there, I will wait till next time," grimacing at the thought of the hospital and most of those working in it.



"Great!" Kakashi said almost cheerily, "now that it's settled, let's go!"



-----



"Hello Kabuto-san," Naruto said, smiling at the older medic-nin.



Kabuto smiled back, adjusting his glasses. Then, he said, "hello, Naruto-kun. Who are your friends and what is the problem you are having?”



Naruto told Kabuto about being startled awake and axe kicking his teacher, then Kakashi continued with saying that he had used the Kawarimi no jutsu (Substitution / Body Replacement) to replace himself with a chair, getting splinters in Naruto's leg. Then, Mito derailed the whole thing.



She gestured wildly, saying, “it was incredible! Naruto broke Kakashi-sensei, but it was a chair, after all, so there was no need to worry. He broke the bench next with the same axe kick, then he threw himself at empty air, but Kakashi-sensei was there, after all! Naruto elbowed sensei, but sensei dodged-!”



Kakashi chopped the top of Mito’s head, telling her to control herself. Naruto trusted Kabuto to a point, but he didn’t want any more people to know about his training with his aunt – especially those loyal to Konoha. It was bad enough that Kakashi had seen Naruto use the Byakugo no jutsu (Strength of a Hundred jutsu) and heal himself. Naruto would chew out Mito later.



Kabuto smiled at Naruto, saying, “that is extremely impressive, Naruto-kun. Your teachers must be very proud of you.” Kabuto also adjusted his glasses, giving off an eerie effect with the light.



Naruto rubbed the back of his head, his bashfulness not completely faked. He said, “thank you, Kabuto-san,” smiling at him. In his thoughts, though, Naruto was a bit worried about what Kabuto had deduced.



Kabuto was extremely sharp, as much as he usually hid it – Naruto had spent time with him, so he had gotten to know Kabuto, to a point. Naruto had noted Kabuto’s caustic and arrogant side too, which would shine through, sometimes.



As Kabuto was examining Naruto's legs, he said, "whoever healed you has done an excellent job, Naruto-kun. There's no hint of scarring, nor any splinters -even small ones- left," a small smile on his face.



Mito didn't say any more, fortunately. As they all left the hospital, Kakashi gave them instructions on where and when to meet him for the ‘true Genin test’. Naruto and Biwako had to put a lot of effort into shushing Mito’s indignant cries.



“Bring it on, sensei!” Mito said, punching upwards into the air, her determination showing on her face.



-----



Naruto needed to get to improving his single-handed hand-seals. He could do some less basic things after Shizune had started teaching him but, beyond that, he needed to work on them himself.



'There's no shortcut to this, Naruto-kun. There are better training methods and teachers in many cases, but sometimes, the only way forward is sheer, repetitive practice. Even Biwako-san has gotten this down, and she's not as good at shortening hand-seal sequences as you,' Shizune had said.



Naruto did a few manual dexterity exercises, including doing scales on a small replica of a piano, complete with sound. Then, he tried the Water Clone with three single-handed hand-seals. A jutsu he would normally have no trouble with came out with a Chakra drain worthy of six and a half clones, when he had only produced two. That was worse than his sealless attempts, though not as slow to form.



Naruto kept at it. In hours, he managed to reduce the Chakra drain to the equivalent of five Water Clones with two hand-seals, finding better combinations.



What should I work on getting down with one hand? Maybe the Gale Palm jutsu, or Shuriken Kage Bunshin…? I need to get them down to one single-handed hand-seal each, for devastating results. Of course, that’s too lethal for a spar, but we will go on missions soon enough. Maybe Suiryuudan no jutsu (Water Dragon Bullet Jutsu) ; Tobirama’s notes should be really helpful. I also know that Mokuton can absorb Chakra from those same notes, but Hashirama-sama hasn’t left anything on Mokuton himself.



Something told Naruto that he wouldn’t be able to learn how to absorb Chakra using Mokuton anytime soon, so he would prioritize other things. Tsunade had convinced him that he should work on what he already had to be able to use it more quickly. After all, they were going to be on missions soon.



-----



Biwako was going to try something else she had long considered out of her league. She equipped her bracelet, the one with Shuriken sealed inside, then put a hand on the War Fan, channeling a bit of Chakra.



From a moment to the next, she ended up next to the illusory Naka River. With a whisper of his name, Shisui appeared in front of her. He said, "so, Biwako, what is it today? Back to Lightning manipulation? Should we just talk? It's been a while since we've done that."



"Shisui-san," Biwako says, doing a breathing exercise that was highly advanced, one she had found in a book Itachi and her father had co-written, "are you familiar with Fire Style Chakra Flow?"



Shisui's eyes went wide. He said, "are you talking about what I think you are?"



Biwako shrugged. She prepared herself, then released multiple shuriken, breathing fire into them- she failed completely, not managing to imbue even one and giving herself mild burns.



After a few tries and more burns, Shisui intervened, saying, "you are doing it wrong, Biwako."



Biwako snorted. She said, "fanks, Fifui-fan. I'm too ftupid to have realived that myfelf," dryly, though her words were coming out strange.



"Really? I always figured you were pretty smart," Shisui said, smiling at her.



"…I was being farcaftic," Biwako said, looking at Shisui as condescendingly as she could manage with that lisp.



Shisui snickered. He said, "I was being sarcastic, too, though I truly do believe you’re smart. Seriously, Biwako. How come you fell for it that easily?"



Biwako crossed her arms in front of her chest, saying, "not funny, Fifui-san!"



Shisui gave her a beaming smile, one that made Biwako remember happier times, saying, "nice pout. It's not so great when the sandal is on the other foot, is it? Well, I'm glad that you are still able to act like a kid sometimes. Never lose that. Not for me, not for Itachi, not for Danzo or the Hokage…. Not for anyone."



Biwako ended up having a longer conversation with Shisui before she resumed her practice, this time with only one shuriken. She took air into her lungs and stomach, this time turning it Fire-natured while in her mouth and keeping it there for a bit longer than usual to help with putting it into the shuriken, stretching her pain tolerance to the limit.



Biwako was almost whimpering – the burns inside and outside her mouth were at a level she hadn’t faced before. She knew that in the Gunbai’s (War Fan’s) world, only mental influences worked, that neither physical training nor injuries transferred over to reality, but she could still experience pain.



Well, since she had gotten a feel for how it worked, she could use Shadow Clones in reality for learning Housenka Tsumabeni. That jutsu would be great for making the approach of multiple enemies much harder… and eliminating solid clones more efficiently.



Biwako's nose had gotten to the point where she was able to sniff out people hiding – in combination with her Sharingan, even Naruto wasn't able to hide from her. Naruto's Chakra sensing and sense of hearing was already at a level where Biwako couldn't hide from him, too.



She would be able to send Shadow Clones after Naruto while keeping him from making use of his own clones thanks to her skill with dual casting. 'I wonder how and how soon he will manage to counter this…. I doubt that Shuriken Kage Bunshin and Uzushio no Kabe -even Mokuton- are enough,' she thought, not a doubt in her mind about Naruto's ability to do so.



Just to be thorough, she decided to put a bit more effort into Exploding Clones and into making something subtler and faster… a Raiton Jutsu, maybe. Naruto had always had a bit of a hard time getting his own Shadow Clones to explode, because they didn't want to go through the pain and 'death'. Biwako had never had that problem. She really didn't want to know what a Yamanaka would say about her mental state if they knew about that, though.



Tsunade had let them off after filling the past few weeks with constant speed, teamwork and combination Jutsu training, and also refining what they already knew. While the two of them were naturally in tune, there was always room for improvement, according to Tsunade.



'You are getting close to doing missions out of the protection of a Hidden Village. You will need to concentrate on only a few things that you are able to use fast,' Tsunade had said.



Biwako was focusing on stuff that would need few hand-seals while alone and Taijutsu or Kenjutsu when with Tsunade or Shisui, so she wasn't technically disregarding Tsunade's advice. On the other hand, while she is a powerful ninja, the sun hardly shines out of her a- behind- no, ass.



-----



The next day, the day of the test, had arrived.



“Aah! Where the hell is Kakashi-san- Kakashi-sensei, whatever…!?” Mito shouted out, but fortunately, Biwako had reminded Naruto to take some earplugs with him.



The volume was still above normal to him, so he winced, thanking his luck and Biwako for the earplugs. He decided to try to calm down… and check whether Kakashi was already near Training Ground Three. He made a single-handed hand-seal, Chakra sensing having been the only skill he had been able to use that way for years.



Only two other human presences and- a dog? No, a ninja dog. Was an Inuzuka- wait. The notes on Kakashi had contained something about summoning ninja dogs- “Mito,” Naruto said, a realization dawning on him, “does Kakashi-sensei have a ninja dog?”



Mito said, “yeah, he has a pack of them. Summons or whatever. Why?” Blinking.



Naruto made a gesture to signal Biwako, who followed Naruto at a distance. Not a Water Clone; I will hide most of my proficiency in Water in Konoha. He made an Earth Clone to approach the creature- the hell!? It was a huge black dog, one that resembled a bulldog. Bulldogs shouldn't ever get that big!



Naruto slowly approached the dog himself when it didn't do anything to his clone. The dog had something in its mouth, which it spat in front of Naruto, then rolled over playfully. The Earth Clone took it, took a few steps away from everyone and unfurled the scroll, its sight relaying to Naruto the contents of the scroll, though blurry due to the limitations of that particular jutsu. At the same time, Naruto started rubbing the dog’s belly, much to the dog’s delight.



'Find me, then take away the bells



~Kakashi'



The scroll was also signed with a childish scribble, Henohemomoheji or whatever. Naruto told Mito to stay away from the scroll, then asked Biwako to sniff it. They would figure out the bells thing later.



Biwako did so, then said, "follow me."



Biwako jogged away and didn't even look back, so Naruto took Mito by the hand and started chasing Biwako until Mito started focusing, so he let go of her hand. The three of them ended up at the top of the Hokage Monument. Kakashi was on the Fourth’s head, but something was bothering Naruto. He checked for interlopers- wait. Kakashi has little to no Chakra! This is an elemental Cl-



“Kakashi-sensei,” Mito said, “we got you, finally!” Preparing to tackle him, not even a little short of breath.



“Wait, Mito!” Naruto said, panicking a bit, “that isn’t!-”



Then, Naruto calmed down a bit when he detected a second, invisible Mito trailing behind the first one. ‘Mito’ tackled ‘Kakashi’, passing through him and falling off the Hokage Rock-



The real Mito appeared mid-trip, her ankle having been caught in- a snare!? Kakashi got out of the ground, a kunai held at her throat, too quickly for any of the three to react. Naruto froze in place.



"So, what are you two going to do now?" Kakashi asked, having caught Mito in a hold that was all but inescapable.



Naruto started taking deep breaths. In and out. In and out. His fingers started twitching. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Based on how Biwako was squeezing his shoulder, she was counting down from five and would start throwing shuriken at another few seconds. When she reached ‘one’, Naruto made two Earth Clones beneath the ground and launched himself at Kakashi in the same breath, hitting the man’s wrist with exact precision, taking the kunai from him and using it to cut Mito’s leg free-



Naruto felt a numb pain in his left wrist suddenly, losing the stolen kunai the same way he had gotten it. Now! In response, he had his clones attack Kakashi. He heard the whistling of shuriken a split-second after he made a single one-handed seal to help cast faster. He hightailed it out of there. ‘Kawarimi no jutsu!’ Naruto said in his mind, shifting the seal then to help him with Sensing.



Kakashi made a noise of distress. Naruto felt Kakashi get in front of the rock Naruto had used as fodder. He looked up, only to see Kakashi deflect a lot of shuriken but still get pierced by a few. "Go- back- to Training Ground Three," Kakashi said, then poofed into smoke.



Kakashi had sent another clone! He had only sent clones! Naruto clenched a fist, suddenly angry at his new teacher. Unless he had been here all the time, watching us. Naruto's blood ran cold – he had been unable to detect any more of Kakashi. No sound, no Chakra presence…. Even Biwako's nose had been unable to notice another Kakashi.



Naruto started power-walking toward the training ground. Biwako did the same, saying, "did you two notice? Nobody batted an eye at the battle going on outside the Training Grounds, when we should have been swarmed by ANBU. That means Kakashi has enough pull to arrange for this, even after having a severe falling out with the Hokage."



"Well, yeah!" Mito said, gesturing wildly, "Kakashi-sensei is the strongest in Konoha! Even Pervy Sage has said he would probably lose against Kakashi-sensei in a fight. Pervy Sage also said that Old Man Third is afraid of Kakashi-sensei, for some reason… I haven't seen the Pervy Sage since then, after Pervy Sage got into a fight with Old Man Third…. Do ya think the Old Man sent Pervy Sage away because of that? But-"



That was- interesting information and speculation. If Jiraiya believes he would not be able to beat Kakashi in a fight, what about Auntie Tsunade? ‘This is a world full of monsters. I can’t afford to stay as weak as I am now,’ Naruto thought to himself. Out loud, he said, "what do you want me to say, Mito? I wasn't foolish enough to trust the Sandaime from the start," barely able to keep from sneering.



Mito shrank to herself, saying, "oh," in a small voice.



Naruto patted Mito's shoulder, being a little worried because Mito very rarely lost her energy.



-----



“I’m glad you three made it,” Kakashi said, leaning on a tree stump, looking very relaxed. "So, Biwako. What was that rain of shuriken about?"



"What do you mean?" Biwako asked, but Naruto had realized the problem.



"What I meant is that Naruto was in the line of fire," Kakashi said, his posture suddenly obviously tense.



Naruto could see Biwako's posture suddenly turn tense, too. He tried to defuse things, saying, "sensei, I was ready to escape. We've-"



"Naruto! I want to hear Biwako's reasons first!" Kakashi said, interrupting him.



Naruto could see the signs of danger in Biwako. He didn't know if Kakashi had noticed, but Biwako was utterly fucking furious at the moment. She said, "I trusted in his ability to get away. We've drilled thousands and thousands of times-"



"You've drilled using dangerous maneuvers like that, without supervision?!" Kakashi said, an edge in his voice that chilled Naruto's blood.



Most importantly, though, Naruto was starting to no longer be angry at this man. He was getting furious. Naruto said, "we had supervision!" Raising his voice.



“Naruto. Watch your tone, Genin,” Kakashi said, staring at Naruto’s eyes, both eyes unblinking.



Naruto bit back his first response, which was to tell Kakashi to go fuck himself. Naruto thought, ‘shit. I didn’t expect that Kakashi would be so stupid. Nice start for this team,’ to himself, his inner voice turning sarcastic towards the end. Out loud, he said, “very well, Hatake Kakashi,” trying to grin but only managing a sneer.



Kakashi said, sounding condescending, “I am your sensei and superior officer. You will call me Kakashi-sensei or-”



“No,” Naruto said, openly sneering this time.



“…No?” Kakashi said, blinking a few times.



“You may be my -our- superior officer, but you are no sensei. In the short time we’ve been togeth- we’ve been near each other, you’ve managed to insult and offend two of your future students; to spit on the efforts of my true sensei, the one who taught Biwako and I how to move like we are one person in two bodies, one who knows the meaning of teamwork and can teach it better than you would if you had a thousand years; to not even pretend you’ve tried to listen to your future subordinates.



» No. Hatake Kakashi, calling yourself a teacher is an insult to Academy teachers everywhere, let alone Jounin-sensei. Come back when you can at least see flawless teamwork you will never be capable of if it’s in front of your eyes,” Naruto said, concluding his speech with another sneer. He caught Biwako’s eye.



Then, Naruto and Biwako started walking away at the exact same moment.



“You will stay right there!” Kakashi said, making Naruto freeze in place for a moment due to the authority in his tone, “you will be dropped from the ninja program and never be allowed back if you leave at this moment. I will make sure of it.”



Naruto snorted and went back to walking away. He said, “Better this way than with a Jounin-sensei I could never trust. Mito, you coming or what?”



After a few moments of hesitation, Naruto was able to hear Mito’s footsteps following.



Kakashi said, “…Mito? You- why?” Sounding pained.



“I don’t want to fail out of the ninja program, Kakashi-san,” Mito said, “but it’s better than becoming like you. Not a failed ninja, but a living failure and worse than any piece of trash. I might not remember my father, but I’d like to believe he would be very ashamed of you.”



Biwako left her own parting words, too. She said, “possibly the most powerful ninja in Konoha… and yet, those hands will never hold anything. Perhaps you should follow your father’s example, Hatake. It will only bring about a better fortune to people around you.”



Naruto took in air through his mouth in a gasp suddenly, knowing what Biwako was talking about. He hadn’t expected her to take it so far, though. He signed at her, ‘why do you always poke the sleeping dragons?’



Naruto could suddenly feel Kakashi’s Chakra, despite not actively trying to sense it. He tried to get Biwako to walk faster, but she was still stubborn and kept her normal walking pace. She didn’t even acknowledge his sign language question.



“…What was that about, Biwako?” Mito asked, her eyes much sharper than usual, looking directly at Biwako.



“That was Biwako going way over the line, Mito,” Naruto said, his hands twitching in his agitation.



Biwako grunted and even Naruto, who knew her best, couldn’t detect any meaning in the sound.



Suddenly, Mito spoke up. She said, “wait. Didn’t Kakashi-san’s father kill himself when Kakashi-san was a kid? Biwako! Why?! Just- why?” Her voice coming out alongside what sounded like sobs.



Biwako let out a sound that reminded Naruto of a growl. Naruto said, “let’s go somewhere we can talk in private.”



Minutes later, they had reached Biwako’s home. Naruto plopped down onto the couch, Mito and Biwako sitting on either side. He noticed Biwako rubbing her temple and trembling in agitation. “Biwako. Are you all right?” Naruto asked.



Biwako sighed deeply, then said, “yes. That person pushed a lot of my buttons at once. I really wanted to stab him with my tanto until he died, then stab him some more.” She put both hands and leaned her weight onto one of Naruto’s arms.



Naruto chanced a glance at Mito, who was quiet, unexpectedly. She opened and closed her mouth, then said, “that doesn’t make it right -ttebara,” her voice at normal speaking volume, something rare for her. “What buttons exactly?” Mito said a few moments later.



Biwako stayed silent for a few seconds, in which Mito asked again. Naruto told Mito to wait.



Biwako said, "he was practically telling me that I don't care if Naruto lives or dies. Then, he shut out Naruto himself, showing that he only cared about any paperwork that would come out of his death or injury and put the nail in his coffin by threatening us,” scrunching up her usually almost expressionless face.



Mito hadn't spoken for over a minute and Naruto didn't want to break the silence, no matter how uncomfortable. At long last, Mito said, "you should say sorry to Kakashi-san," softly.



Biwako twitched violently, jarring Naruto's arm a bit. She said, "are you serious!?" Almost shouting the words.



"Oi, don't yell at me!" Mito said, raising her voice too.



Naruto was tempted to just get away, but he sighed, resigning himself to his fate. He squeezed Biwako's forearm and put a hand on Mito's shoulder.



Mito made a growl-like sound and looked at Naruto, but Biwako went still. Naruto said, “come on now. Mito has a point,” squeezing her forearm again.



Biwako tensed up. She said, "all right. Let's say I agree you two are right. I won't apologize either way."



Mito made a sound of protest, but Naruto let go of her shoulder and told her, "let it go, Mito. She is almost as bad at apologizing as I am."



Mito looked Naruto in the eyes and said, "are you serious, Naruto? Just how bad are you at it?"



Naruto made an 'ugh' sound at the same time Biwako did.



Mito said, "that bad, huh?" Laughing, though her face was still haunted.



-----



Biwako had just finished her training session with Shisui, back to regularly training things other than her genjutsu, when Indra appeared in front of her, startling her. Of course, she managed to keep her reaction contained, but she could tell Indra had picked up on it. ‘He’s improving at an incredible rate,’ she thought. Ninja training or not, Indra was amazingly talented – Biwako could admit that to herself.



“It is high time I took an active role in your training,” Indra said, his expression more open than usual and his voice full of energy, “now that I have a grasp on you ‘shinobi’ of the modern times and on the skills you require, I should be able to offer you something you will never find anywhere else, Biwako.”



Biwako had noticed that Indra’s vocabulary was slowly becoming less complicated and formal. She was also intrigued by his offer, so she said, “what is that, exactly?”



Indra spread his hands, saying, “what do you think the Sharingan is and does, Biwako?”



Biwako thought for a few moments. Is that a trick question? “They are special eyes that give the wielder a few special abilities,” she finally said, each of her words carefully measured.



“A passable answer, though very short – the bare-bones version, if you will. What fuels the Sharingan, though? What distinguishes a weak user from a powerful one, other than their amount of Chakra and level of Chakra Control, of course?” Indra said, watching Biwako very carefully.



Biwako tried to think of anything her relatives had said about the Sharingan. Indra stayed silent while she was concentrating.



(‘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.’)



Biwako’s breath stopped for a moment. Hatred? Wait. Itachi was a liar. Was there a more reliable source? She thought it over a bit longer-



(“I think I see the problem – after all, I am a Katon user myself, though my primary element is Water,” Iruka said, taking on a lecture pose, “Fire is unique in that it is fueled by the user’s passion. An indecisive and torn heart cannot perform Fire Style well. While all jutsu need focus, and one’s Spiritual Energy, thus their Chakra, is affected by emotions, Fire is especially unforgiving of lapses. For most jutsu, the most consistent results come when the user is calm and focused. Fire needs both that and passion; you need to be in control of your passion. Not the other way around. Especially when first learning a jutsu.”)



“The Sharingan is strengthened by the user’s passion,” Biwako whispered. That explains why the Uchiha tend to- tended to be so good at Fire Style.



Indra looked at Biwako, his eyes wide open in- glee? “Yes!” He shouted out, much louder than his usual. “The Sharingan gains power from passion! Have you not ever wondered why only about one Uchiha in three awoke the Sharingan in Konohagakure? The mostly peaceful existence of police officers and modern Hidden Village shinobi could not awaken the passions that would arise in the Warring States era, from everything you and someone else have told me of shinobi history!”



“Tsunade said something about the awakening of a bloodline being rough on a person,” Biwako told Indra.



“Why would you place faith in the words of that woman?” Indra said, the barest hint of a grimace on his face, “the loss of secret techniques; the passing of time; too little new blood; too much new blood. Those and even what that woman said could be among the causes of fewer Sharingan users. Unfortunately for her credibility, from what I have managed to get out of Madara, the phenomenon of a new Sharingan user damaging themself due to its awakening only happened in non-combatants exposed to the perils of war, in his time. Do you grasp what I am implying, Uchiha Biwako?”



“…Many of the modern Uchiha had gotten lazy,” Biwako said, biting a lip. That was a bitter pill to swallow. “Then, the reason Itachi succeeded had a lot to do with how weak most of the clan had gotten, even the combatants. It’s possible that my parents didn’t even resist for other reasons, on the other hand,” sighing quietly.



Apart from the sounds of the illusory river and some fake birds, silence reigned for minutes. Then, Indra said, “what will you do to combat those issues so that you do not end up weak?”



Biwako thought it over. She had Naruto to push her to new heights as her friend and rival, and Itachi as a target to surpass. What more could she do?



“If I might suggest something,” Indra said, “I would like you to meet somebody.”



Biwako perked up. She said, “does that have something to do with your reference to Madara earlier?”



Indra smirked for the first time in a while -maybe even the first time Biwako had ever seen him make that expression- and made a ‘come hither’ motion.



A male Uchiha, much taller than Indra, came forth. He resembled Biwako a lot in face shape and with that long black hair, though his was more spiky. His face didn’t reveal his age – he could be anywhere from mid-twenties to late forties. His active pair of Sharingan took in Biwako at the same time she was taking him in. The man then turned to Indra, saying, “now, I’m allowed to see my descendant, or rather Izuna’s? You rat bastard, what are you plotting?”



“She is my descendant as well, Madara,” Indra said serenely, “besides, you have a tendency toward- ‘overkill’ is the modern name of the concept, I believe. You could not be trusted with someone that young. Especially considering this foul language.”



“…Fair enough,” Madara said, literally shrugging off the matter. Then he said, “so, you are Biwako, the almost-last Uchiha?” Studying her again. “You look like any other young Uchiha girl,” Madara concluded.



Biwako stared Madara down, Sharingan to Sharingan. She didn’t even dignify his taunt with a response.



!!



Dread, then fear unlike any before filled Biwako. What- what the hell-! All of a sudden, she was an ant and this man a giant about to step on her. Genjutsu?! No. It’s pure killing intent! She didn’t stand a chance against him. She couldn’t even move her body. What could she- No. Go to hell, you bastard! She flexed her good hand in such a way that a finger broke, leaving her left-hand middle finger to face Madara in an obscene gesture and snapping herself out of her paralysis with the pain.



The feral grin on Madara’s face would have fazed almost anyone else, but Biwako only returned the grin. She placed her right hand in a one-handed hand-seal, then another and another. ‘Lightning Style: White Bolt’. The jutsu was based on a manga -other than Pocket Monsters- she had read and was a more streamlined and efficient but less powerful version of ‘Thunderbolt’. It was also the only elemental jutsu she could pull off with one-handed seals so far other than the Great Fireball.



Madara made one-handed seals of his own, blowing Biwako away using a Wind jutsu. Or rather, he blew away a log at the same time Biwako was releasing the Great Fireball, turning the Wind jutsu against him- until the wind became stronger, forcing Biwako’s jutsu back towards her. Oh crap! What do I do!? She reflexively brought her hands together, broken finger and all, and used an Earth jutsu, covering her body with a thick layer of mud at the same time she dropped to the ground.



The heat she felt on her skin was great, but nowhere near as bad as she had feared. Her training to learn Housenka Tsumabeni had been a lot worse. She got up as soon as she was sure the heat had passed. He must have redirected it!



Madara was looking at her, still looking very unimpressed. Biwako grit her teeth. This man! He makes me furious – that look on his face! Soon enough, the pain of her burns and broken finger caught up with Biwako. She was able to keep from letting out a sound, but she couldn’t bring herself to look at the finger directly – looking at it turned her stomach.



“You have a really, really long way before you are at a level where you would be considered even barely adequate for my era. If you ever reach it,” Madara said, looking at her more neutrally.



In reply, she presented to him her finger.



Madara laughed with little restraint. He said, “if only there were women like you in the Uchiha clan during my time…. Even one should be enough. I never succumbed to the pressure for me to marry and have children because the Uchiha women were all too weak-willed and compliant. That’s why I hoped that Mito would be interested, but apparently she had already decided to marry Hashirama. Ah, I was so envious!”



Biwako hadn’t expected Madara to be so open. Perhaps he had been unable to confide in anyone for years. Well, she could work with that. To torment him or to get information… it didn't matter. She said, “envious? Which of them were you envious of?” Smirking at Madara.



Madara blinked for a few seconds, then scowled at her, “I do not like what you are implying.”



“So, both of them?” Biwako said, blinking ‘innocently’. Then, something else occurred to her. "By the way, the fact that you are attracted enough to someone my age that you said you wish there were more like me for you to marry…. Well, it doesn't reflect very well on you, does it?"



The expression on Madara's face was priceless. It reminded her of the long-suffering look of someone who had lost their faith in humanity. Seeing him like that brought Biwako joy – Madara looked down on her and had shown her that she was nowhere near strong enough to reach his level; possibly not for a decade or more. If ever. She immortalized the moment with her Sharingan, then switched it off. No. I will reach his level. I will surpass him. I will!



One moment, she was looking at Madara's face; the next, she was alone with Indra again. His expression was completely unreadable at first, but for a moment, she noticed an imperceptible twitch on his face. She wasn't sure what it meant, though. Maybe I should have kept my Sharingan on.



Indra said, "do you see now?" His face stoic again.



She didn't ask what he meant. She only said, "I'm weak," gritting her teeth.



She despised being looked down upon, and Madara hadn't stopped looking down on her for more than a few seconds at a time. She hated him. Most importantly, though, she hated how someone had been able to rip her resistance to pieces with practically zero effort. A little voice was even telling her she might never reach- I hate- I hate-!



Biwako let out a scream, one that had nothing to do with her physical injuries. She screamed out her anguish, her hate, her- She couldn't even give a name to her emotions. She screamed long and loud; she screamed at the heavens, where the major gods were said to reside; she screamed at the Pure Land, where the souls of the departed dwelled. She screamed somewhere nobody was able to hear her apart from dead relatives, like Indra and Shisui-



"Biwako? Biwako, what is it? What's wrong?!" Shisui's voice said, sounding panicked.



Biwako took a few deep breaths, then said, "Madara. I met Madara today."



Shisui looked Biwako in the eyes. He said, "what did he do?" His face tightening, "is he the one who caused those burns? Did- did he break your finger?"



Biwako swatted away Shisui's hand. She watched Shisui's face turn more worried, then said, "you- you think I'm weak, too, don't you? That I can't even take care of myself! You look down on me, Shisui-san! Just like- just like that bastard, Madara," gritting her teeth again.



Shisui's face shifted to a strange smile. Was he looking down on her even more?! Before she could yell at him, he said, "pride comes before the fall, Biwako. Remember that," and disappeared.



Biwako broke down crying for the first time in- three years, maybe? She rode it out alone for some time – she had lost count, and not just because the world of the Gunbai was eternally lit by the late afternoon sun, or something that looked like it.



"How- how do I become strong, Indra? Stronger than Madara; strong enough that nobody is able to look down on me," Biwako said quietly, feeling slightly lighter.



Indra said, "well, the first step is to discard what is unnecessary. Only those that inspire the strongest emotions in you should be kept as bonds."



-----



“Uchiha Biwako,” Kakashi said, his face expressionless, “you are to present yourself to Sandaime-sama’s office in- two hours from now. Uzumaki Naruto and Namikaze Mito are to be there too. Goodbye.”



He poofed into smoke, revealing himself as a Shadow Clone. Again.



Mito had kept pestering Biwako to get her to apologize to Kakashi for the past few days. Naruto would usually manage to distract Mito with talk of pranks and targeting Sakura, but Biwako was still starting to get annoyed. Unnecessary bonds, huh? Is this what you meant, Indra?



-----



LOL, I hadn’t planned on Kakashi acting that way. It simply… happened. As for what Biwako told him… yes, she and Naruto were using what they know about Kakashi from his file against him, with Mito hitting yet another sore point or two. I don’t condone what Biwako told Kakashi, nor any form of suicide baiting for that matter. (Yes, the FSN reference was deliberate on my part.)
 
Last edited:
Story6.5

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#55
"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?
 
Story7

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#63
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) .



(Shink!)



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-



(Hahahahahahaha!)



‘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.



(BOOM!)



…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.



“AAARRRGGGGGHH!! GODS BE DAMNED, MOTHERFUCKING VILLAGE!! RAAAAGH!” was what came out of Naruto.



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
 
Last edited:
Story7.5

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#75
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
 
Last edited:
Story8

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#84
@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.



Kill-



"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?



Huh?



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

AoMythology

Apparently a report-er
#85
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.)
 
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