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Face Like Thunder

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A gentle hand ruffled his hair as he looked out at the sea. Glancing up slightly, a kind woman with long red hair and deep green eyes smiled down at him kindly. Her hair was moved slightly by the breeze, no hair ornaments locking the blood red strands in place. She wore a just barely knee-length purple kimono with what looked like clouds decorating the top half in a deep, burnt orange color. The material was silken, made to withstand but allow movement and breathing in the hot and humid climate of Uzushiogakure. A shinobi headband hung around her neck, the village symbol a spiral encased within a circle. A miniature hurricane, just like Tsubaki Uzumaki, the same woman who had birthed five sons and three daughters and still had time to run her entire clan.

"Amahiko, has something caught your attention?" Her eyes sparkled like gems, "Tenma is asking for you at the tower."

"Nothing, kaa-san." He sighed, "I'll go find oji-san."

"My brother can wait." She stared him down with critical eyes, "Something is bothering you."

He gnawed on his lip, regarding his mother with sad eyes, "I'm the youngest of eight children."

"Yes, I'm aware." She laughed, "And of what consequence is that?"

"What's going to happen to me? Am I just gonna be the backup of the backup of the backup of the backup of the-?"

"Hiko-chan." Her face was severe, "What are you talking about?"

"Am I just going to be the backup clan head? Not even the backup, the backup times eight!"

"And who gave you that foolish idea?" Her smile was amused, "Was my brother just a backup? Or my sisters?"

"Oji-san became Uzukage, though." His shoulders slumped, "And Hikaru-oba-san is a fuinjutsu master. Then Kaiyo-oba-san is, well, she's legendary. Almost as much as oji-san."

"Or more so." Tsubaki's smiled became a grin, "I'm pretty sure she could pick a fight with a God and still win."

"I'm not any of that." He huffed, "I'm just a chunin."

"For now, Hiko-chan." She snorted out a laugh, "I was a chunin once, hell, so was Tenma. Now he's become the Nidaime Uzukage, taking over for our great uncle by the time he was twenty-six. You're eight, you have time."

"Not enough." His eyes flittered over to look at the sea again, "I want to learn so much, kaa-san. I want to see so much."

Her hand brushed through his blood red hair softly once more, "You will, my child. You're only eight and already a chunin. You almost beat Nanami in her promotion age of seven. Only a year apart, and look at all she's done."

"She's the future clan head. It's expected of her." He rolled his eyes, "I don't wanna be like her. I don't just wanna be a clan head, or just a jounin. I wanna be more, kaa-san!"

"Maa, where'd you get all that ambition from?" She sighed, "For the love of Kami-sama, become Uzukage then! Take the hat when Tenma is done. Do it so your poor old mother won't get pestered to."

His smile was wide and blinding, "Only for you, kaa-san."

"Uh huh." She laughed, "Now go see what my pest of a brother wants. Oh, and bring home milk on your way back! We're nearly out!"

"Hai, kaa-san!"

He ran off the large Uzumaki estate and deep into the heart of the village. He can see the golden roofs of the buildings, taste the salty air, feel the rough stone of the sun-bleached buildings, watch his feet roam over the intricate tile floors of the village. He can feel energy rush through his veins as the sea breeze blows red strands of hair into his eyes. The streets are alive with vendors and civilians and shinobi, all milling around and completing their morning routines. Many waved, smiled as the saw his signature Uzumaki red hair in the crowd of people. He could see a lot of his clansmen around that morning, which was unsurprising. He couldn't go anywhere without seeing at least one family member. They were the most prominent clan in all of Uzushio, just in front of the Mizushima clan, and they were the founding clan to boot.

The early Uzumaki's had risen the cliffs from which their village was built on from the sea floor themselves, creating a sturdy base for what would become one of the most powerful villages in the Elemental Nations. Located just off the coast of the Land of Whirlpools, the clan that is known for sealing and longevity built their home and soon flocks of people, both civilian and shinobi alike, poured into the village in droves. The Uzumaki would always be the largest populated clan, Amahiko was sure of this. Their life forces were so strong, and there were multiple branch families of the Uzumaki besides the main branch, of which Amahiko himself was the youngest child of. 

Entering the Uzukage Tower, he quickly rushed up the spiral staircase and burst into his uncle's office, a large smile on his face. Tenma, a man of only thirty-four, sat behind his desk with his orange and white Uzukage hat perched on his desk beside the mountains of paperwork he had stacked up. The office was large, round, and had many books and scrolls scattered all over the place. The man himself had darker hair than much of his clansmen, darker than his sisters, but still just as red as any other Uzumaki. It was long, not as long as Tsubaki's whose practically reached her ankles, but about shoulder length and tied up into a topknot. He smiled when he saw his nephew enter the room loudly.

"Hiko-chan!" He laughed, "What's the grand entrance about?"

"I'm going to be Uzukage after you." His voice, while at a normal volume, was set and determined. He held his uncle's stare until the man felt a bead of sweat run down the side of his face.

"Damn kid, all of you take after your father." He muttered quietly so Amahiko couldn't hear before speaking up, "Well, I can see you're...determined."

"I am." Amahiko nodded, "I am prepared to live and die for my village. I told my mother I wanted to be something more, and this is that something more."

"Well, then, I guess it's only proper." Tenma laughed, "Kid, all your brothers' and sisters' had a sensei or two. I know you had your genin sensei, Tatsu Yoshida, correct?"

At his nephew's nod he continued, "Well, I think you're ready for more than that. She's an excellent jounin, don't get me wrong, but you and your team advanced before she could teach you anything besides the basics. Now she's out gathering intelligence, and you have no one to teach you. So, today's your lucky day because you're getting a new sensei."

Amahiko perked up instantly, "Who?"

"Me." Tenman smiled, "Your mom wants you trained with someone who's a high caliber ninja, and she was going to ask Kaiyo, but I swooped in and saved you. You can thank me later, but I couldn't subject my own nephew to that. I love my sister but...she's insane."

The chunin shivered, "Thanks, oji-san. This will...this will be the turning point! I can see it now, from now on I'm not just Amahiko Uzumaki!

"You wanna be something more?" Tenma eyed his nephew and then his hat with a sharp eye, "Well, lemme tell you something. I've been watching you, and I think you have some potential. I'm helping you because you're my sister's son, and you're good for a chunin. The question is can you be better than just good. If you are worthy of the title Uzukage by the time I'm ready to step down...I'll turn the damn hat over to you."

"Yeah!" Amahiko smiled widely, "Let's start training now! I wanna work some on my chakra chains!"

"Eh, later today." Tenma frowned, "I got mountains of paperwork to do at the moment, and if your aunt drops by and she finds out I haven't done any of it, she'll take the hat and become the Sandaime herself before you even have a shot."

He laughed, "Okay, Tenma-sensei! I'm gonna got get some ramen, find me when you're done!"

Joy coursed through his veins. His uncle was going to teach him, and he'd become what he'd always wanted. He'd become more than normal, he'd be more than just the eighth child. He'd be the Uzukage. Feeling the wind on his cheeks and tasting the salty air, everything was okay in that moment. Everything was at peace.

And then Naruto woke up.