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The Arashi no Megami

Chapter Text

Uzumaki Naruko

October 10th

10:53pm

Konohagakure

Running through the dark alleys a brick struck my leg, causing me to trip and fall.  As I fell my head hit something hard, dazing me as I heard laughing from behind me.  I slowly got on my hands and knees, shaking my head and putting a hand over where I hit myself.  I winced in pain and felt something warm and sticky on my fingers.  When I pulled my hand away I saw blood.  Before I could get up someone kicked me in the side, throwing me against the alley wall.  I shouted in pain and looked up at my attackers.  About a dozen people crowded around me, some holding knives but most with whatever they could find.

I whimpered in pain and fear before asking, “Why are you hurting me?”

A man with a piece of wood stepped towards me and kicked me in the stomach, forcing me to throw up my last meal, a half eaten apple and some stale bread.  “Because you killed our families you fucking demon bitch!” he snarled.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said as tears of pain leaked from my eyes.

“Lies!” the same man snarled as he kicked my in the stomach again.  “Tonight we’re going to finish what the Yondaime (Fourth) Hokage started seven years ago!”

I dry heaved and tried to crawl away.  The crowd jeered and threw stones at me, kicking me down whenever I tried to get up.  I managed to get out of the alley and crawled along a wooden fence until someone grabbed me by the shoulder and threw me against the fence.  

“Pl—please stop,” I whimpered as I sagged against the fence. 

The man, a different one this time, spat on me in the face then punched me.  Then another man came and grabbed one of my arms.  Before I could do anything he forced my left hand against the fence then stabbed his knife through my hand and into the fence.  I screamed in pain and tried to pull my hand free, but that only made the pain worse.  Then the man holding me against the wall grabbed my other hand and jerked it as hard as he could to the right.  I screamed again as the knife sliced through more of my left palm.  

Then I saw him pulling out his own knife.  “Don’t...  Please, don’t.” I begged.  

He snarled and slammed the hilt of his knife against my temple, stunning me before the knife sliced through my right hand.  I screamed again and frantically tried to pull my hands free, but with both arms stretched as far as they could go I couldn’t get any leverage and only served to cause even more excruciating pain.  Tears openly fell from my eyes as the crowd grew in size and began to throw anything they could at me.  Then a rock hit me in the head and everything became fuzzy.  

At some point the first man with the piece of wood swung at me until the wood broke.  Another time I felt something sharp slide into my side and be violently ripped out.  Then pain exploded in both my knees forcing me to sag, leaving the knives in my hands as the only things supporting my weight.  After that they kept hitting me with their hands, their fists, their feet, anything that they could.  Then everything disappeared into blissful darkness.  


Hatake Kakashi

October 10th

11:11pm

Konohagakure

Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, I lead my ANBU team in search of Naruko.  “Command, this is Inu (Dog).  Markets are clear.  No sign of the VIP,” I said into my radio.  

«Understood, Inu.  Proceed west to link up with Echo Team.»

“Understood,” I said as I motioned for Neko (Cat), Tora (Tiger), and Kuma (Bear) to head west.  We’d barely gone a hundred meters when the heavy scent of blood hit my nose. 

I immediately stopped on the roof of the next building and sniffed the air to try and determine which direction the sent of blood was coming from.  “Sempai (Senior)?” Neko asked as she landed next to me. 

“I can smell blood.  Neko, see if you can detect anyone nearby.”

“Hai,” she said then fell silent as she used her sensor abilities.  “There’re over two dozen people a hundred seventy five meters to the north-northwest.”

“Let’s go!”  In an instant we vanished from the rooftop and were heading towards the gathering.  As we approached the gathering the scent of blood got stronger and stronger until it drowned out any other scent that my sensitive nose could detect.  Soon after we could hear shouting and the distinct sound of flesh being hit.  When we finally reached a building overlooking the gathering my blood ran cold.  

In the center of the group was Naruko, her hands crucified to a fence with knives, beaten to a pulp, and both of her legs were bent at unnatural angles at the knees.  Her head was slumped against her chest with her red hair hanging down over her face.  What was left of her clothes were covered in blood.  My horror turned to rage when a civilian stabbed Naruko in the gut and started to disembowel her.  

My vision turned red as lightning gathered in my hand and the sound of chirping birds filled the air.  In an instant I was in the middle of the group with a Chidori (One Thousand Birds) through the civilian’s chest.  I jerked my hand out of the civilian’s chest and let him fall to the ground.  I turned to the rest of the shocked and terrified civilians with a still active Chidori surrounding my hand and said in an ice cold voice, “By order of the Sandaime (Third) Hokage you all are under arrest.  Resist and we will kill you.” 

In that instant the rest of my team jumped down and surrounded the civilians with their weapons drawn before any of them could flee.  “Get them out of my sight before I kill another one of them,” I ordered. 

“Hai!” my team said simultaneously before they began to herd the civilians away towards the ANBU Torture & Interrogation department. 

I turned back to Naruko, dissipating my Chidori, and my heart nearly stopped.  “Kami (God)...”  

Up close she looked even worse.  Her clothes would’ve been in better condition if they were rags while drying blood covered the rest of her.  Brushing her blood soaked hair out of her face I saw that her face had been beaten to the point that it was unrecognizable.  Looking down I couldn’t bring myself to count the number of cuts and lacerations that covered her, but at least half of them were deep or going dangerously close to a vital organ.  Her ribcage looked like it’d been trampled by a horse with at least two broken ribs sticking out of her chest, and her knees looked to be shattered.  It was a small mercy that she was unconscious let alone alive.  

As gently as I could I pulled a knife from one of Naruko’s hands.  Once her hand was free I caught her before she could do more damage to her hand on the remaining knife and reached for it.  At that time I heard a soft thump from behind me.  In an instant I was turned around, shielding Naruko with my body and ready to throw the knife in my hand.  “There’s no reason for that, Kakashi,” an old grandfatherly voice said from the shadows.  

Stepping out of the shadows was the Sandaime Hokage Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Shinobi no Kami (God of Shinobi), in his white and red Hokage robes.  Even in the darkness I could see his old wrinkled face and the sadness in his dark eyes.  “Hokage-Sama,” I said as I bowed my head.  

“How bad is it this time, Kakashi?” Hiruzen-Sama asked as he walked closer. 

“Very bad.  Probably the worst she’s been beaten,” I said remembering the dozens of times that Naruko had been attacked, but was hard pressed to find one as bad as this time.

“Then free her other hand and let’s get her to the hospital,” Hiruzen-Sama said as he took hold of Naruko’s free arm, unconcerned about the blood getting on his robes.

“Hai, Hokage-Sama.”  I quickly, but gently, freed her right hand before we used Shunshin (body flicker) to get her to the hospital.

When we arrived in the hospital lobby Hiruzen-Sama immediately barked, “Get a team of Med-nin and prepare an operating room!”

Someone shouted, “Hai!” but I ignored them as I used what little medical knowledge I had to try and stabilize Naruko.  Within moments a med-nin team arrived with a gurney and put Naruko on the bed.  One of the doctors started to use the Shōsen (mystical palm) to begin healing her injuries and get a diagnosis.  As the doctor began listing the injuries that’s been inflicted to Naruko, my heart dropped at the extreme and extensive number of injuries.  

When the med-nin took Naruko back to the operating room I tried to follow but a hand on my shoulder stopped me.  Turning I saw Hiruzen-Sama holding me back.  “I’m sorry, Kakashi, but as bad as her wounds were the doctors can’t afford to have any distraction while they’re operating.”  

I lowered my head in defeat as I said, “Hai, Hokage-Sama.”


 Uzumaki Naruko

October 11th

7:27am

Konohagakure Hospital 

A bright light shining through my eyelids forced me out of my sleep.  Blinking the sleep from my eyes I looked around and saw that I was in a hospital room again.  The creaking of a chair told me that someone else was in the room with me.  Looking to the left I saw the Hokage sitting next to me.  

“Good morning, Naruko-Chan.  How’re you feeling?” he asked with a sad smile. 

“Morning, Oji-San (Grandpa).  Just a little sore.”

Ji-San nodded with a small look of relief.  I sat up in my bed and saw that I was only wearing a hospital gown.  “Where are my clothes?” I asked as I tucked a lock of my lush maroon hair behind my ear.  

“Unfortunately what was left of your clothes were in worse condition than rags.  I ordered that they be put in the incinerator.”

“Oh...” I said.  “I really liked that orange jacket that you got me.  Do you know when I can leave?”

Ji-San smiled as he said,” I just need to sign the paperwork and you’ll be free to go.  Give me about half an hour to do that and pick you up some clothes to wear.”

“Okay, Ji-San,” I said with a weak smile.  “Do you know who helped me this time?” 

Ji-San nodded, “Yes.  It was Inu’s (Dog’s) team.” I nodded as Ji-San got up and left.  As soon as the door clicked closed my smile faded away and was replaced with a crushing sadness.  

Why does everybody except a few Shinobi want to hurt me?  I asked myself as a tear leaked from my eye.  Am I really a demon like people say?  Is that way they hate me?  

The door to my room opened and I quickly wiped my tears away.  Looking towards the door I saw a fifteen year old girl holding a tray of food.  She stood a little over one hundred fifty centimeters and wore a brown-red t-shirt with bracelets, white-shorts and fishnet leggings.  She had lightly tanned skin, light brown, pupil-less eyes, and violet hair in a fanned ponytail.  

“Anko-Oneechan (Older Sister),” I said with some excitement.  Although Anko-Nee wasn’t related to me in any way, she was the closest thing I had to family other than Ji-San.  She also knew what it was like to be hated by the entire village after her sensei, Orochimaru, betrayed the village.  

“Hey there, Gaki,” Anko-Nee said as she kicked the door shut.  “The Old Man said that you were awake so I figured that you’d want some breakfast.”

“Thanks, Anko-Nee,” I said as she put the tray on my lap.  Anko-Nee smiled and ruffled my hair until I batted her arm away.  

“Anything for my imouto (little sister),” Anko-Nee said before frowning.  “What’s wrong?”

“What?” I asked looking up at her.  

“You have that look on your face that you usually have when something’s bothering you.”  I cringed slightly and looked away.  Anko-Nee always was good at telling what people were thinking or feeling. 

“I... I was wondering why... why almost everyone hates me.  All the adults call me a demon and pull their kids away from me, stores kick me out or charge me three times as much, and people curse me whenever I walk past them.  What did I do to deserve any of this?”

Anko-Nee wrapped her arms around me and pulled me into a hug.  “I don’t know, Naru-Chan.  I honestly don’t know.  I can understand why they hate me, but it doesn’t make sense to me why they would hate you.  You’re so kind and nice and you think things through.”

Anko-Nee pulled away from me and gave me a small smile, “That’s one thing I still haven’t learned to do yet.”  

I gave her a small, slightly watery, smile too.  “I guess that’s why you have me, to think things through.”  

Anko-Nee leaned in and kissed to top of my head before saying, “Eat up so that we can go celebrate your birthday, even if it’s the day after.”

“Okay,” I said as I wiped my eyes.  I picked up my chopsticks and began to eat the meal Anko-Nee had brought me.  It was a simple meal, an omelette, rice, a couple pieces of toast, and a carton of milk.  It’d probably come from the hospital cafeteria, but what mattered was that Anko-nee had gotten it for me.  

Just as I was finishing my meal Ji-San came in my room with a bundle of clothes.  “Ah, Anko-Chan.  Thank you for getting Naruko-Chan breakfast.”

“Anything for my imouto,” Anko-Nee said as she nodded towards Ji-San. 

Ji-San smiled and handed me the bundle of clothes.  “Here you go, Naruko-Chan.”

“Arigatō (thank you), Ji-San,” I said as I took the clothes and went into the bathroom.  I put on the clothes and took a look at my reflection in the mirror.  A seven year old girl stared back at me.  My silky maroon red hair fell down to my shoulder blades behind my back in a ponytail and two bangs hung down to frame my heart shaped face.  My skin was a light tan and my eyes were sky blue.  

The most distinctive feature that I had were the three whisker marks on my cheeks.  I brushed my thumb over one of my whiskers and shivered at how good it felt.  Anko-Nee always did like to tease me by stroking my whiskers until I was delirious, she always said that it made me purr like a cat.  

Pushing my thoughts away from my whiskers I looked over the clothes that Ji-San had gotten me. My pants were the standard dark blue Shinobi style and my long sleeve shirt was the same green as a Chunin or Jonin’s vest.  Over my shirt I wore a gray vest with an orange trim.  

Before I left the bathroom I reached under my shirt and pulled out my necklace.  It was a simple locket with the Uzu swirl on one side and a thunder cloud on the other.  I opened it and stared at the two photos inside.  And the left was a picture of me and Anko-Nee during her last birthday.  I was on the left holding up the V for victory with my arm around Anko-Nee who had her arm around me and was holding up a cup of sake.  On the right was a photo of a woman in her mid twenties. She looked like an older version of me with the same heart shaped face, maroon red hair, eye shape, and nose.  The only differences between us were my blue eyes and whiskered cheeks.  

Ji-San said the the woman in the photo was my kaa-chan (mom), Kushina Uzumaki.  I smiled, remembering the sheer joy that I’d felt when I learned that my kaa-chan loved me even though she died giving birth to me.  I closed the locket and put it back under my shirt and left the bathroom.  When I stepped out Anko-Nee whistled and said, “Wow...  That outfit works for you Imouto.”  

“Thanks again for the clothes, Ji-San.”  

“You’re welcome, Naruko-Chan.  Why don’t you and Anko-Chan go have fun while I...”  Ji-San paused to sign in resignation, “While I go back to my paperwork.”

“Have fun, Ji-San,” I said knowing just how much he hated paperwork.  Ji-San just nodded and left with a cloud over his head.  “Let’s go, Anko-Nee.”

“Alright, Gaki (Brat)!” Anko-Nee shouted before backflipping out the window.  I shook my head at her antics before walking to the windowsill.  I glanced outside and saw Anko-Nee safety on the ground four stories below waving for me to jump.  I climbed up on the sill and dropped to the ground.  As I fell I channeled my chakra through my legs to reinforce them for went I landed.  I hit the ground without a sound and barely disturbed the dust.  

“Let’s go, Gaki,” Anko-Nee said as she grabbed my hand and practically dragged me behind her.  

Predictably, the first stop was her favorite Dango shop.  Ignoring the few patrons awake enough to be there and glare at us, I habitually scanned the entire shop.  The only thing of note were the two Shinobi in standard Jonin uniforms, drinking tea.  The man had spiky silver hair sticking up and wore his Hitai-ate (forehead-protector) pulled over his left eye.  The Hitai-ate combined with his mask covered all but his dark right eye which was glued to the orange book in his hand.  The woman had straight purple hair, warm brown eyes, and wore red lipstick.  On her back was a standard katana set in a way to allow for the fastest possible draw. 

I walked over to them and greeted them, “Inu-San, Neko-San.”

Both looked up from their tea as Inu said, “Yo, Naruko-Chan.”

Neko narrowed her eyes slightly.  “Naruko-Chan, you know that you’re not supposed to use our code names when we’re not in uniform.” 

I nodded.  “Sorry Yūgao-San, Kakashi-San.” 

Kakashi just waved his hand.  “Maa, maa, no harm done.  No one here to overhear us.”

Yūgao shook her head and sighed.  “Sempai, you know that it’s against regulations to use our code names when out of uniform or base no matter what.”

Kakashi gestured around us asking, “Do you see anyone around us other than Naruko-Chan and Anko-Chan awake or caring enough to pay attention to us?”

Yūgao just pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed again before sipping her tea.  “So what brings you here, Naruko-Chan?”

“I wanted to thank you for saving me again last night.”

They both smiled sadly, or I at least assumed that Kakashi was smiling, as he said, “You don’t need to thank us, Naruko-Chan.  We’ve been doing it for a long time.”

“Still, it’s always good to thank the person or people who save you.  If you don’t mind me asking, how badly was I hurt?”

They both cringed before Kakashi said, “It was probably the worst beating, if it can be called that, you’ve ever had.  If we hadn’t shown up...”

I lowered my head and nodded.  “I understand, Kakashi-San.  Thank you both very much for protecting me for so long.”

“Naru-Chan, I got us some Dango,” Anko-Nee said as she came over.  “Hey, Kakashi-San, Yūgao-Chan.”

“Yo,” Kakashi said as Yūgao nodded.  

“Let’s go celebrate your birthday, Gaki!” Anko-Nee practically shouted as she grabbed me and started to haul me out of the store.

“Mind if we tag along?” Kakashi asked. 

“Sure,” Anko-Nee called out as she dragged me out the door.

Before Anko-Nee could drag me any further I formed a tiger seal with both hands and used a quick Kawarimi (substitution) with a nearby alley cat to get out of her grip.  

Anko-Nee looked down at the cat that she was holding by the scruff of the neck and blinked in surprise.  The cat hissed at her making her hiss back at it before tossing it away.  The cat landed on it’s feet and continued to hiss at Anko-Nee until she threw a kunai at it, frightening it away.  With the cat gone Anko-Nee looked around until she spotted me.  “Naru-Chaaaan, you’re no fun,” she whined. 

I shrugged and walked over to her with my hands in my pockets.   “Why don’t you try leading me to where we’re going rather than dragging me.”

“But that’s not as fun,” she pouted.  Behind us I could hear Kakashi and Yūgao trying, and failing, to stifle their laughter. 

I shrugged again and started walking down the street.  “So where are we going, Anko-Nee?”

“Training ground thirty four.  I’m going to teach you some more beginner stuff for being a Shinobi.”

“Lead the way then.”  

Anko-Nee nodded and jumped up to the rooftops.  I nodded to Kakashi and Yūgao before we followed Anko-Nee.  


Uzumaki Naruko

October 11th

8:34am

Training ground thirty four

We landed in the main clearing of the training ground.  Looking around I saw a few trees in the clearing, three human sized logs standing in the center, and a large pond not too far away.  “So what now?” I asked.  

Anko-Nee reached into one of her pouches and pulled out a piece of paper.  “This is chakra paper,” she said as she handed it to me.  “If you channel your chakra into it it’ll show what affinities you have.  Usually people don’t learn about their nature affinity until after they graduate from the academy and their Jonin instructor gives them a piece of chakra paper.”

I nodded and channel some of my chakra into the paper and something interesting happened.  The paper split itself into four pieces.  One corner began to rip itself apart until it was little more than dust, another crumpled up into a ball, one piece practically turned to water, and the last piece caught on fire.  I looked up at the others and saw that Anko-Nee and Yūgao’s jaws were hanging slack and Kakashi’s visible eye was the size of a baseball.  

“What?” I asked.  “What’s wrong?”

“How... How’s that... how’s that possible?” Anko-Nee muttered.  

“Is it unusual for someone to have,” I glanced down at the paper, “four affiliates?”

“Yes,” Kakashi said when he found his voice.  “It’s rare to find someone with just two at the age of seven like you.  Let alone three incredibly strong ones and the last just strong.”

I looked down at the remains of the chakra paper.  “So I obviously have Suiton (water) and Katon (fire), but what are the other two?”

Raiton (lightning) and Futon (wind),” Yūgao said after she got over her surprise.  “You have the best possible offensive and multi-use affinities that a shinobi could have.”

“So what now?” I asked as I let the last two pieces of the paper, one wet and the other crumpled, fall from my hand.  

“Well now we teach you how to access your affinities,” Kakashi said as he caught a few falling leaves out of the air.  He passed one of the leaves to me and said, “Channel your chakra into the leaf like you did with the paper, but try to light it on fire with your chakra alone.”

I nodded as I took the leaf.  Holding the leaf between my thumb and forefinger I channeled my chakra into it like I did with the paper.  After a few minutes nothing happened.  Frowning in concentration I thought back to how it felt when I was using the chakra paper.  For the briefest moment I’d felt something, four somethings.  I felt a cool steady trickle and a raging torrent; a soft tingle and blinding energy; a gentle cress and a furious jet stream; and a soft warmth and burning inferno.  I focused on the dual sensation that I felt was Katon and channeled it into the leaf.  In an instant the leaf burst into flames as if it were dipped in kerosene and held over a lit match.  I dropped the leaf and quickly smothered it with my sandal.  

“How was that,” I asked as I looked towards the others in triumph.  Again I was met with looks of astonishment.  

“People don’t get it on the first try usually, do they?” I ventured tentatively.  All three shook their heads.  

Kakashi handed me three more leaves.  “Try channeling your other chakra affinities into those leaves.”

I held all three leaves between my fingers and concentrated again.  Reaching inside of myself I drew upon the last three dual sensations that I could feel with in me and channeled one affinity into each leaf.  As soon as my affinities touched the leaves the Suiton leaf became soaked, the Raiton leaf crinkled into a ball, and the Futon leaf tore itself apart.  

“That’s impossible!” Anko-Nee almost shouted.  “Only someone with incredible chakra control could manipulate three affinities at once!”

“Not to mention having incredibly dense chakra to cause the level of results that those leaves showed with so little chakra,” Kakashi added.  

“What does that mean,” I asked.  

“You have tons of chakra and the control to use it effectively,” Kakashi answered.  “I guess we could show you a jutsu for each of your affinities, except Futon.”

“Why no Futon?”  

“Because it’s the rarest affinity in Konoha.  Only two people in Konoha have Wind as their affinity.  One’s currently out of the village and the other is about as trustworthy as an angry tiger.”

I nodded in understanding.  “So what jutsu are you going to teach me?”

Anko was the first to answer.  “Well since you have Katon like me I can show you the Gōkakyū (Great Fireball).  It’s a great beginner jutsu that’s very versatile.”

Teppōdama (Liquid Bullet) is also a good starter for Suiton,” Yūgao said.  

I turned to Kakashi who was tapping his chin with his book.  “I guess I can teach you Jibashi (Electromagnetic Murder).  It’s basic like the others, but just as versatile and effective.”

“So who’s going to teach me first?”

“Me!  Me, me!” Anko-Nee shout as she jumped in the air and waved an arm over her head.  

I shook my head at her antics before saying, “Alright, Anko-Nee.”

“Yes!” She shouted while fist pumping.  “Alright the hand seals to do the Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) are Tiger, Ram, Monkey, Boar, Horse, Tiger.  As your doing the hand signs you kneed your chakra inside your lungs and blow it out as either a fireball or a continuous flame.  The amount of chakra you put into it controls the size and power of the technique.  Understand, Gaki?”

I nodded.  “Good.  Here’s how you do it,” Anko-Nee said before doing the hand seals slow enough for me to follow.  Then she took a deep breath in, and blew out a ball of fire the size of a beach ball towards the pond.  The fireball hit the water and unleashed a large cloud of steam as the chakra fueled fire was doused by the water.  When the steam died down I made my way over to the pond while practicing the hand signs.  I reached the edge of the pond and did the hand seals while kneeding some of my Katon chakra and combining it with the air in my lungs.  

Finishing the chain of hand seals I breathed out and managed to make a small flame sputter into existence before it died out a meter away from me.  “Damn,” I muttered. 

“Maa, maa.  Don’t be so hard on yourself, Naruko.  It’s actually pretty impressive that you managed to actually get any flames on your first try,” Kakashi said.  “Try the Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) a few more times and then we can switch over to Jibashi (Electromagnetic Murder).”

I nodded and went through the hand seals again while taking a deep breath in.  This time when I blew out I put more chakra into the technique and maintained the flow.  The result was a small but steady flame stretching about three meters away from me until I cut the flow of chakra to it. Wiping some sweat from my forehead as I turned to the others I asked, “How was that?”

Anko-Nee wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me into a small hug.  “Looks like my imouto’s (little sister’s) a little prodigy.”

“She’s right,” Yūgao said.  “It took me a week before I could make a continuous flame.  Granted, fire is the opposite of my primary affinity so Katon is harder for me to use.”

I scratched the back of my head in embarrassment over the praise they were giving me.  I slipped out of Anko-Nee’s arm, ignoring her pout, and went back to practicing.  I formed the hand seals again and launched a ball of fire, this time the size of my fist.  

By the time an hour had passed I was able to launch a Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) the size of a beach ball like the one Anko-Nee showed me.  “Excellent job, Naruko.  Now let’s use the Jibashi (Electromagnetic Murder),” Kakashi said.  

Standing with my hands braced against my knees I nodded while trying to blink the sweat out of my eyes.  I mopped my face with my sleeve and looked towards Kakashi.  

“The basic technique behind the Jibashi is to collect Raiton (Lightning) chakra in your hands and release it in a wave of electricity.  The hand seals to use it are Boar, Ram, Snake, Horse, Dragon.”

I nodded and went through the hand seals as I gather my Raiton chakra.  Raiton: Jibashi,” lighting gathered in my hands and leaped forward about four meters before dying out.  

I went through the hand seals again, putting more chakra into the technique and tightening my control over it.  Raiton: Jibashi,” the lightning surged out of my hands, branching again and again until it covered everything with in a sixty degree funnel reaching out ten meters.  A soft thud made me look back towards the others.  Anko-Nee and Yūgao again were slack jawed while Kakashi had actually dropped his precious book.  

“No one does a jutsu that well on their second try do they?”  They all shook their heads. 

I nodded and went back to practicing the Jibashi .  After another hour Kakashi stopped me.  “I think that’s enough, Naruko.  Honestly, the only way that I can think of someone becoming so proficient with a jutsu in such a short time is if they had the Sharingan like myself or an Uchiha.”

I nodded in agreement, seeing as my last use of the Jibashi covered thirty meters with enough energy to stop a person’s heart.  

“I guess Anko-Nee is right, I am a prodigy.  Yūgao-San, can you teach me how to use Teppōdama (Liquid Bullet)?”

“Of course,” Yūgao said.  Teppōdama is similar to Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) but uses Suiton chakra to summon water in your mouth then propel it towards the target.”

Yūgao faced a tree and made a Tiger seal.  Her cheeks puffed up before she spat out a fist sized ball of water that punched straight through the tree trunk.  “A weak Teppōdama can distract an opponent or set them up for a Raiton jutsu while a strong Teppōdama can take a limb off if timed just right.  It’s said that the Nidaime (Second) Hokage was able to kill five people with a single Teppōdama who were lined up for a moment during a battle.”

I nodded as I faced a tree about twenty meters away and made a Tiger seal.  I reached into my dwindling supply of chakra and drew out the dual sensation that represented Suiton.  I focused it in my mouth and condensed it until water began to form.  Once I thought I had a reasonable amount I spat it out with a brief burst of chakra.  The Teppōdama that I launched was the size of a small fist and flew about seven meters.  

I prepared to use another Teppōdama as I heard the others speaking.  “How well do you think she’ll do in an hour?” Kakashi asked.  

“I bet twenty Ryō that my imouto’ll be able to do a Teppōdama with out hand seals.”

As I launched a Teppōdama I heard Yūgao hum in thought then say, “I’ll match you, Anko.  I bet that Naruko’ll be able to go through two trees but have to use a seal.”

“Maa, I’ll match you two as well.  I bet that she’ll be able to both punch a hole through two trees and do it without seals,” Kakashi drawled.  

After another hour of practice I was able to put a hole through two trees with a single Teppōdama (Liquid Bullet).  This left Anko-Nee and Kakashi pouting and Yūgao smiling as she became forty Ryō richer.  

I sat down in the shade of a tree and wiped the sweat off of my face with my sleeve.  Anko-Nee sat down next to me and pulled me into a hug.  “I’m so proud of you Naru-Chan!  I doubt anyone could learn three jutsu in three hours like you did.”

I smiled at her and gratefully accepted a water bottle from Kakashi.  I quickly drained about half of it before I started taking more controlled sips.  

“So what now?” I asked before my stomach rumbled.  I scratched the back of my head in embarrassment.  

“Well I guess that answers that question,” Anko-Nee said as she poked my stomach.  

I swatted her hand away and said, “Come on, let’s go to Ichiraku for some lunch.”

The others nodded and we started walking towards the tree line.  As soon as we reached the tree line though, the other leaped up into the trees.  “Hey!” I shouted.  “I’m dead tired here!”

I heard Anko-Nee crackle with laughter.  “Hope you’re not too tired, Naru-Chan.  If you take longer than fifteen minutes to get to Ichiraku then you’re paying for lunch.”  

I paused in uncertainty, knowing that I could easily reach Ichiraku in less than fifteen minutes, before I heard a hissing/whistling sound.  I immediately rolled forward as a kunai flew through the space that I’d been in.  The sound of more kunai filled the air, forcing me to continue to dodge and evade.  

“Anko-Nee!” I shouted in annoyance.  Anko’s response was to throw more kunai and shuriken at me.  I growled out several curses and took off, weaving my way through the woods and dodging anything that Anko-Nee threw at me.  


 

Uzumaki Naruko

October 11th

11:57am

Outside Ichiraku

I collapsed outside of Ichiraku panting like a dog and covered with healing cuts.  Anko-Nee dropped down next to me with a semi-crazed smile on her face followed closely by Kakashi and Yūgao.  I glared up at Anko-Nee and said, “You can be a sadistic woman sometimes, Anko-Nee.”

Anko-Nee’s smile just widened.  “Awww, you know that you love me, Naru-Chan.”

I huffed to myself and got to my feet.  “Come on, let’s eat.”  

I pushed the privacy curtains aside as I called out, “Ne, Teuchi-jiisan, Ayame-Chan, I’m back.”

Teuchi turned from the stove with a smile.  Teuchi was an older man with dark brown hair beginning to gray, black eyes, and weathered skin.  “Naruko-Chan!  Good to see you again.”

“Naruko-Chan!” Ayame called out as she reached over the counter to give me a one armed hug.  Ayame, Teuchi’s daughter, was a slender girl with long, dark brown hair, large black eyes, and fair skin.  

I returned Ayame’s hug before saying, “I’ll have a miso ramen with roasted pork fillet,” and sat down. 

“Coming right up,” Teuchi said as he turned back to the stove.  The others came in and gave Teuchi their orders too after they sat down as well.  

“Naruko, how were you able to learn those jutsu so quickly?” Yūgao asked from my left. 

I shrugged.  “I did the hand seals like you all showed me and felt the way my chakra flowed through me.  After that I kept on adjusting the flow until it felt right and the jutsu did what it was supposed to do.  After that I varied the amount and speed of the chakra I put into the jutsu.”

Yūgao shook her head in disbelief.  “To think that someone so young could be able to feel and control their chakra flow so well.”

Anko-Nee wrapped her arm around my shoulders from my right as she said, “Of course Naruko-Chan can feel her chakra flow.  She’s my imouto and my awesomeness rubbed off on her.”

We all chuckled.  “Do any of you know where I can get any scrolls on Futon (Wind) jutsu?” I asked.  

“You could probably ask Hokage-Sama,” Kakashi said after a moment of thought.  “He has access to an extensive library of jutsu scrolls.”

I nodded in thanks as Teuchi handed me my ramen.  I pressed my hands together and said, “Itadakimasu,” before breaking my chopsticks apart and starting to eat as the others were served their meals.  

After my third bowl I set my chopsticks down, signaling that I was finished.  “Delicious as always Teuchi-Ojiisan.”

“I’m glad you liked it, Naruko-Chan,” he said.  I reached for my wallet but stopped as Teuchi said, “No need to pay, this meal is on the house.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course, it was your birthday yesterday.  Think of this as a birthday gift.”  

“Arigatō.”  I hopped off of my stool as the others paid for their meals.  I started walking down the street as the others fell into step with me.  

We’d barely gone a block before something caught my eye.  Turning my head I saw an old woman sitting on a street corner.  She was of medium hight with greying brown hair, brown eyes, and a slightly wrinkled face.  She met my gaze and gestured for me to come towards her.  

I did so and when I came close she said in a worn voice, “Have your future read for three Ryō, Girl.”

“Three Ryō seems a bit steep, Obaasan (Grandmother).”

“I think not, Girl.  I have never been wrong about a person’s future,” she said with absolute conviction.  

I raised an eyebrow in skepticism but decided to humor her.  I handed her the money and the fortune teller took my hand, slowly traced her fingers over my palm as if sampling the finest silk.  

She was silent for a moment before saying, “You have a hard path ahead of you, Girl.  One of struggle and hardship.  But there is a great power lying dormant within you.  One that will lead you to be call the Arashi no Megami.  There are several beacons of light on your path to help you, Arashi no Megami.  The Guide, the Caretaker, the Tiger, the Mirror, the Sister, and the Stone.  Treasure these beacons when you find them, Arashi no Megami, for they will give you strength.”

“The Sister?” I asked.  “Do you mean Anko-Nee?”

“No, I see another person.  One who bares the same burden as you.”  Behind me I heard someone gasp.  

I glanced back and saw an intense look on Yūgao’s face and Kakashi’s eye was narrowed.  I turned back to the fortune teller asking, “Who then?  What do you mean by ‘one who bares the same burden as me’?  And who’re the others?”

The fortune teller just gave me a grandmotherly smile and said, “You need not worry about that yet, Arashi no Megami.  Enjoy the time that you have while you can, but prepare yourself for the future.”

The fortune teller stood and said, “I thank you for your business, Arashi no Megami.  Please heed my words, or darkness will take the elemental nations.”  Then she walked away until she disappeared in the midday crowds.  

I turned to the others asking, “Do any of you a clue about what she told me?”

Anko-Nee shrugged.  “All I heard was dormant power, Arashi no Megami, awesome name by the way, and a bunch of beacon thingies.”

I turned to Kakashi and Yūgao.  “And you guys?”

Yūgao looked like she was debating with herself before saying, “Perhaps the beacons that she spoke of are symbolic.”

“The Guide, Caretaker, Tiger, Mirror, Sister, and Stone,” I said to myself.  “I can see the Stone and Mirror, and perhaps the Tiger, as being symbolic; but not the Guide, Caretaker and Sister.

“Speaking of the Sister, I can’t think of anyone other than Anko-Nee as a sister.  But what did that fortune teller mean by the Sister having the same burden as me.”  As I finished speaking I saw Yūgao and Kakashi tense. 

I narrowed my eyes at them.  “You two know something.”

They both did a barely noticeable flinch, but I caught it.  “You do know something.”

“What are you talking about, Naru-Chan?” Anko-Nee asked.  

“Kakashi-San and Yūgao-San both know something about the Sister beacon and the burden that we both have.”

Anko-Nee rounded on them shouting, “You what!?”

Both lowered their heads and looked away.  “We do know,” Yūgao said, “but we’re forbidden from speaking about it.”

Anko-Nee looked like she was ready to explode with rage while the anger that I felt was cold.  “Who forbid you to speak about why the village hates me,” I asked in a slow and deliberate voice.  

Both Yūgao and Kakashi flinched at the tone of my voice.  “Hokage-Sama did, Naruko-Chan,” Kakashi said.  

I nodded and started walking towards the Hokage Tower.  Behind me I heard Kakashi say, “Naruko-Chan, Hokage-Sama made the order to protect you.”

I didn’t respond.  Nor did I look back.  I kept walking.  Around me I could see the glares of the villagers and hear their whispers.  I met each glare with a look colder than ice.  Each person withered under my gaze and quickly retreated from my vision.  

When I reached the Hokage Tower I immediately went to Jiji’s office.  I ignored his secretary’s protests and opened the office door.  Inside Jiji was sitting at his desk reading the same orange book that Kakashi reads.  

Hearing me come in, Jiji quickly threw his book in a drawer and sat up straight. “Naruko-Chan, what can I do for you?” he asked with a smile.  

I stopped in front of his desk and crossed my arms.  “You can tell me why the village hates me.”

Jiji paled and asked, “What do you mean?”

“I spoke with someone today.  She mentioned a burden that I carry.  And last night people called me a demon.  They also said that they were going to finish what the Yondaime started seven years ago, the same day I was born.  Which also happens to be the day the Kyūbi attacked.  That leads me to believe that the Kyūbi and I are connected somehow.  Am I wrong?”

Jiji sighed and slumped in his chair.  “Where did you hear about the burden that you carry?”

“An old fortune teller that I met after eating lunch with Anko-Nee, Kakashi-San, and Yūgao-San.”

Jiji seemed to grow ten years older before saying, “I made a law decreeing that anyone who spoke of the events that transpired on the night of your birth and the subsequent results would be tried with treason.”

“What—happened—on—my—birthday, Hokage-Sama?”

Jiji winced knowing that I only used formal titles for friends when I was angry or showing respect, and he knew that it was the former.  “Your kaa-San was the jinchūriki of the Kyūbi no Yōko.  That means that it was seal inside of her, keeping it from running rampant.  But there’s only one time that her seal weakened enough for the Bijū to escape.”

“Child birth,” I whispered in realization.  

“Yes.  The Yondaime was with your mother to strengthen the seal to keep the Kyūbi within, but something must have happened during your birth.  I don’t know what happened but the Kyūbi escaped and attacked the village.  The only way to stop the Kyūbi was to reseal it, but your mother was too weak.”

“He sealed it within me, didn’t he?”

“Yes.  A Bijū’s chakra is so strong and corrosive that only a person with undeveloped chakra coils can handle it, otherwise the person would die.”

My shoulders slumped and I hung my head.  “So that’s why everyone hates me.  I have the Kyūbi sealed inside of me.”

“For what it’s worth, Naruko, I’m sorry for everything you’ve had to endure.  I’d hoped that my law would have protected you and let you live a normal life like your mother, but only a few people knew what she held unlike with you.”

“Thanks for telling me, Jiji.  I think I’d like to be alone for a while.”  I didn’t wait for Jiji to respond before I walked out of his office.  


Sarutobi Hiruzen 

October 11th

1:19pm

Hokage Office

I lowered my head in shame as the door closed behind Naruko-Chan.  Shame that I couldn’t have upheld Minato’s dying wish and that I couldn’t have protected Naruko better.  I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose, feeling much older than I was.  “Tori,” I called out.  

In an instant an Anbu member with a bird mask dropped down from the ceiling.  “Hokage-Sama.”

“Bring me Kakashi and Yūgao immediately.”

“Hai, Hokage-Sama,” he said before disappearing in a Shunshin (Body Flicker).  

I let out a long sigh and rested my head against my bridged hands.  Within a few minutes Tori returned with Kakashi and Yūgao.  I nodded my thanks and Tori returned to his post.  

“What do you need, Hokage-Sama?” Yūgao asked.  

“Naruko-Chan was just here and said that someone mentioned the Kyūbi to her.  I want you to tell me what happened.”

Kakashi started the story.  “We had just finished lunch and were walking through the markets when something caught Naruko-Chan’s eye.  It was an old woman of medium hight with greying brown hair, brown eyes, a slightly wrinkled face, and an oval shaped birthmark behind her left ear.  She was a fortune teller and claimed that she was never wrong.”

Yūgao picked up the story.  “She then took Naruko-Chan’s hand and stroked it for a few moments.  After that she said that Naruko-Chan had a hard path ahead of her and that a great power was within her that would lead her to be call the Arashi no Megami.”

“The Arashi no Megami?” I asked.  

“Hai, Hokage-Sama,” Yūgao answered.

“Hmm... the Arashi no Megami, the Storm Goddess.  An interesting name,” I said to myself.  “Please continue.”

Yūgao nodded and continued.  “The fortune teller said that there would be several beacons of light on Naruko-Chan’s path.  The Guide, Caretaker, Tiger, Mirror, Sister, and Stone. 

“When Naruko-Chan asked the fortune teller if Anko-Chan was the Sister the fortune teller said that she saw another person who ‘bore the same burden’ as Naruko.”

I stroked my beard in thought.  “The burden obvious refers to the Kyūbi within Naruko-Chan.  And the closest thing to a sister for Naruko-Chan with the same burden would be another girl or woman who is a Jinchuriki as well.  Is that how Naruko-Chan found out she was a Jinchuriki?”

“Hai, Hokage-Sama,” Kakashi said.  “She began to connect the treatment of the villagers towards her with the date of her birth and the lack of information on how the Yondaime defeated the Kyūbi.  Once she came to that conclusion she questioned us until we had to answer her.”

I nodded.  “What of the other ‘beacons’ that the fortune teller mentioned?”  

“We honestly have no idea who or what they could be, Hokage-Sama,” Kakashi said.  “Yūgao-Kohai and I were discussing it before Tori-San came to bring us to you.  Though, if what that fortune teller said about never being wrong is true then perhaps we should look for those ‘beacons’.  If they do help Naruko-Chan then I think it would beneficial to her.”

I nodded again in agreement.  “Very well.  You two may search within the village.  I’ll send a message to Jiraiya-Kun so that he can search outside of the village.  

“I want you two to go find Naruko-Chan and make sure that she’s alright.”

They both bowed their heads saying, “Hai, Hokage-Sama,” before leaving.

I turned my chair to look out my window overlooking part of the village.  “I’m sorry, Naruko-Chan.  For everything,” I muttered to myself.  


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Chapter Text

Uzumaki Naruko 

October 11th

1:21pm

Outside the Hokage Tower

I stepped outside and started to walk with no real destination.  My kaa-chan was the container for the Kyūbi no Yōko.  The only time that her seal holding it weakens was child birth.  The Kyūbi attacked the village on my birthday.  That means that I’m inadvertently responsible for the deaths of my kaa-chan and the Yondaime as well as the Kyūbi’s attack on the village.  

A tear welled up in my eye before I wiped it away.  Looking around I realized that I was just outside the Clan District.  I kept my head down and kept walking.  After a few minutes I heard shouting.  I followed the sound and eventually came across a group of three boys picking on a girl, all of them about my age.  

The girl caught my eye though.  She looked like she was only a few centimeters shorter than me with short dark blue hair kept just above her forehead with chin-length strands framing her face and her eyes looked to be the same featureless pale eyes of the Hyūga Clan.  

I looked back at the boys and saw one push the girl to the ground while another dump a half-eaten ice cream cone on the girl’s head.  I growled in anger.  The way they were treating the girl hit too close to home. 

“Hey! Leave her alone!” I shouted as I stepped out from behind a tree.  

The group turned to look at me and the boys laughed.  “Or what, Girl?  We’re Shinobi in training!”

“No.  You’re no Shinobi.  You’re all just bullies picking on someone who won’t fight back.”

The boys scowled and moved to surround me.  Before they could I grabbed a branch on the tree that I’d just come around and broke it off.  The branch was about two or three centimeters thick and about a hundred and forty centimeters tall, putting the end about a third of a meter above my head.  

The boys just smirked and started taunting me.  I ignored them as I gripped the branch in the middle with my right hand and put my left hand much lower on it.  I shifted into a wide fighting stance with my right foot forward and the branch pointed forward.  

One of the boys, the defacto leader, growled in frustration and shouted, “Get her!”

His two lackeys ran at me shouting.  I calmly spun towards the closer of the two on my left and struck him in the side with my branch.  He yelped and fell to the ground clutching his side.  I reversed my spin and came at the other boy with a downward strike.  He leaped to the side, but I continued my spin and bent down to a crouch so that my branch could take his legs out from underneath him.  He fell to the ground, hitting the back of his head.  

The first boy shouted at me and I turned, bringing my branch up in an upwards strike.  I caught him in the chin, snapping his head back, and possibly making him bite his own tongue if the amount of blood seeping out of his mouth was any indicator.  

I stood and looked towards the leader.  He was staring at me in fear as he took a step back.  He put his hands together in a Ram seal and said, “Bushin no Jutsu (Clone Jutsu)!”

Two copies of the boy shimmered into existence in front of him.  I made a single handed Tiger seal and said, “Suiton: Teppōdama (Liquid Bullet).” 

I launched a weak Teppōdama at the bully that passed through the Bushin in front of him and struck him in the chest, drenching him and knocking him on his back.  I turned towards the other two bullies but saw that they’d already ran away.  I looked back at the leader and saw that he’d gotten to his feet and was running away too.  

I dropped my branch and walked over to the girl.  She yelped in fear and curled up in a ball.  I raised my hands saying, “Hey, Hey, I’m not going to hurt you.  I’m Naruko.  Who’re you?”

“Hi—Hinata,” she said, raising her head enough to look at me.  

“Hinata.  That’s a very pretty name.”  She blushed before shivering as melting ice cream dropped down her face. 

“Here, let me help clean you up,” I said as I dug a hole in the ground.  

Hinata looked at me curiously as I made a Tiger seal again and used another Teppōdama to fill the hole with water.  I filled my hands together and scooped up some water to pore over Hinata’s head.  

She continued to blush and whispered, “A—ari—arigatō, N—Nar—Naruko-S—san.”

“You’re welcome,” I said as I used my sleeve to wipe away the last of the ice cream and water.  “I can dry your hair and your clothes if you want.”

She gave a jerky nod.  I focused my chakra into my hands and let my Katon (Fire) chakra overshadow my other affinities.  I set both my hands on Hinata’s shoulders and let my Katon chakra flow over her.  She gasped in surprise at the warmth but quickly calmed.  After a few moments she was completely dry.  

I cut the flow of chakra to my hands and pulled them back.  “That should do it, Hinata-San.”

“A—arigatō, Na—Naruko-San.”

I nodded and helped her to her feet.  “It was nice meeting you, though I wish it’d been under better circumstances.”

“Y—yes, s—so d—do I.”

I gave her a short bow and walked away.  After a few meters I heard someone drop down onto the road.  I looked behind me and saw a Hyūga member escorting Hinata towards the Clan District.  I nodded to myself seeing that Hinata wouldn’t be harassed again.  

I kept walking.  Once I was a distance from where the fight’d been I asked, “How much did you two see?”

Kakashi and Yūgao dropped down from the trees.  “All of it,” Kakashi said.  

I nodded.  “Did Jiji ask you to keep an eye on me after I met with him?”

“Yes.  He summoned us immediately after you left his office and asked us to watch you.”  

“You mean after I found out the I’m the reason why my kaa-chan and the Yondaime are dead and why the Kyūbi attacked the village.”

“No!” Yūgao practically shouted.  “You’re not to blame for any of that!”

“The hell I am!” I shouted back.  

“The only time my kaa-chan’s seal could weaken was child birth!  My birth!  The Kyūbi escaped and killed hundreds!  The Yondaime gave his life to seal it into me because my kaa-chan was too weak!  It was all my fault!” I felt tears on my cheeks but couldn’t tell when they’d started falling.  

Kakashi and Yūgao were silent as I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye.  In an instant arms were wrapped around me and a face was buried in my shoulder.  “I didn’t know, Naru-Chan!  I’m so sorry,” Anko-Nee practically sobbed into my shoulder.  

I wrapped my arms around her as tears continued to fall from my eyes.  “It was all my fault...  It was all my fault...”

“No it wasn’t,” Anko-Nee said.  “It’s no more your fault than I am a traitor because my sensei is a nukenin.”

Then I broke down and started sobbing.  I didn’t know how long I stayed in her’s arms, crying and berating myself about what happened on my birthday.  The entire time she just held me and and whispered that it wasn’t my fault.  Eventually I calmed and wiped the tears from my face.  

“Thank you,” I whispered to her.  

She gave me a soft squeeze and helped me to my feet.  I looked around and saw Kakashi and Yūgao a ways in both directions, to keep anyone from bothering us.  

Seeing that I’d calmed down, they both came over to us.  “We’re sorry, Naruko.  We only wanted to protect you,” Kakashi said.  

“It’s alright, you were just following orders.”  I looked at each of them and saw that Kakashi and Yūgao had looks of sadness on their faces and Anko-Nee was almost trembling over the revaluation of the events on my birthday.  

“Did either of you know my kaa-chan very well?”

“Yes,” Yūgao answered.  “She was my sensei.”

“Would you... would you mind telling me about her over some tea?”

Yūgao gave me a sad smile as she said, “I would love to, Naruko-Chan.”

I gave her a weak smile and started walking towards the main village.  Not long after we started walking Anko-Nee came beside me and wrapped her arm around my shoulder.  I reached up and held her hand as I whispered with a small smile, “Thanks, Anko-Nee.”

She squeezed my hand saying, “Anything for you, Imouto.”


Uzumaki Naruko 

October 11

2:14 P.M. 

The Peaceful Teacup

Once we’d all taken a seat in a booth and ordered our tea and snacks I asked Yūgao, “What was my kaa-chan like?”

She smiled off into the distance before saying, “Kushina-Sensei was probably the kindest and most generous person in the entire village.  She treated almost everyone as an equal and could make a friend out of almost anyone, even a Hyūga and an Uchiha.”

“But the one thing even a fool knew not to do was to make her angry,” Yūgao said as she shivered at a memory.  “One of her nicknames was the Akai Chishio no Habanero (Red-Hot Habanero) because she beat four boys to a pulp because they insulted her hair when she first started at the academy.  That incident combined with her temper earned your mother her nickname.”

“She was also headstrong, impulsive, eccentric, and as stubborn as a mountain when she wanted to be.  Often times she’d end up hitting someone she was arguing with if they angered her.”  

I chuckled lightly as I imagined my kaa-chan arguing with someone then hitting them on the head.  “How skilled was she?”

“She was a master Kenjutsu user,” Yūgao answered.  “She was so good that the Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū (Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist) feared her.  Especially after she killed two of them and beat the rest during the Third Great Shinobi War.”

“Wow,” I said in awe.  “What about Ninjutsu?”

“Her affinities were Futon (Wind) and Suiton (Water).  She used both affinities to deadly effect.  Futon to attack enemies from afar and to enhance her Kenjutsu, Suiton to attack at close range and again enhance her Kenjutsu.  But when she fought on water she became almost as deadly as the Yondaime.”

“How?” I asked as the waitress came back with our tea and snacks.  

Yūgao paused to sip her tea before saying, “She would spread her chakra through the water and manipulate it however she wanted.  Even down to the smallest drop.  One moment the water you’re standing on is calm and the next it’s trying to kill you, all the while a master Kenjutsu user is trying to take your head off.  The Yondaime himself said that he would never consider fighting you Kaa-San on water unless he had no other option.”

I nodded in amazement as I pulled my plate of pork dumplings towards me.  I pressed my hands together and said, “Itadakimasu.”

Then I broke my chopsticks apart and popped a dumpling into my mouth.  Once I chewed and swallowed I asked, “Do any of you know who that Hinata girl that I helped is?”

“Yes,” Kakashi answered as he looked over his book.  “She’s the oldest daughter of Hyuga Hiashi, the current clan head of the Hyuga Clan.”

The dumpling that I’d raised to my mouth slipped out of my chopsticks.  “That was the Hyuga heiress?  Why didn’t she fight back or something?”

“From what I’ve heard she’s pretty shy and timid.  She probably got that from her kaa-san.  Hitomi-San always was a little timid, even when she was with Kushina-Sensei,” Yūgao commented.  “Now that I think of it, Hitomi-San also struggled with some hero worship towards Kushina-Sensei after she saved her during a skirmish with some Kumo nin.”

A groan escaped me as I said, “So that means that Hinata-San might end up following me around?”

Anko-Nee laughed and put her arm around my shoulders.  “Looks like you’re already building your own fan club, Naru-Chan.  My awesomeness must’ve rubbed off on you.”

I groaned again in response and glared at Yūgao and Kakashi as they laughed at my expense.  “Laugh it up you two.  Just wait until I’m able to kick your asses into the next century.”  

I sighed and leaned back as I contemplated what I should do about Hinata if she were to develop hero worship towards me.  “I guess it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to get to know her,” I said to myself.  “Though I guess I’d have to wait until I see her again.” 

I glanced over at Yūgao and her sword before asking, “Yūgao-San, could you teach me how to use a weapon?”

She raised an eyebrow and asked, “Why to you want to learn how to use a weapon?”

“Well, I was able to take on all three of those boys that were picking on Hinata-San with the branch and I might need something like that again.  I’d at least like to know how to use something effectively.”

Yūgao smiled before saying, “Sure, I can help you.  We can visit a weapons shop that many ANBU go to after we finish our tea.” 

“Arigatō,” I said as I picked up my dropped dumpling.  

Kakashi gave me an eye-smile, thing.  “It’s probably good that you start learning how to use a weapon now.  It’s a lot easier for the mind to remember something when it’s taught it at a young age.”

I nodded I agreement and swallowed.  “That’s part of the reason why I want to learn how to use some sort of weapon now.  Do any of you have a suggestion on what I should learn?”

“You can never go wrong with kenjutsu,” Yūgao suggested.  We all gave a small chuckle since the kenjutsu user was suggesting kenjutsu.  

“Something that’ll surprise people is a kusarigama, a sickle on a chain,” Anko-Nee mentioned.  “The kama’ll keep people from wanting to get close to you while the weighted chain’ll keep them further back.  Plus if you manage to wrap a person in the chain you can channel you Katon (Fire) or Raiton (Lightning) nature into the chain to injure them.”

I raised my eyebrow at her.  “That was surprisingly well thought out.  Who are you and what’ve you done with Anko-Nee?”

We all chuckled again before Anko-Nee shrugged and said, “Eh, I have my moments.”

I turned to Kakashi who was tapping his chin with his book in thought.  “From what I saw during your fight with those boys I think that the naginata would be a good match for you.  It’s an unusual weapon for a shinobi, but an effective one.”

I nodded as I ate another dumpling.  “Those all seem like good suggestions.  I guess I can try each weapon at the store.”

We continued to eat our snacks and drink our tea for another fifteen minutes or so before we paid for everything.  I wiped my mouth with a napkin and slid out of the booth only to bump into someone.  My arm flew out to catch the other person as I said, “Gomen (sorry), I wasn’t looking.”

The first thing I saw as I steadied myself was a mop of pink hair.  Looking lower I saw a girl about my age with a somewhat large forehead, emerald eyes, and a rounded face with a pointed chin.  “Um... it’s okay,” she said hesitantly.  

“I’m Uzumaki Naruko.”

“Ha—Haruno Sakura.”

“Sakura-Chan?  Where’d you go?” someone from the front of the tea house called.  

Sakura turned and said, “Here, Kaa-Chan.”

A moment later a woman with the same eye color and facial features came around the corner of the row of booths.  She came over to us and asked, “Why did you run off like that, Sakura-Chan?”

“Um... I... I had to use the... the bathroom.”

“Well let me know next time.  Okay?”

“Okay, Kaa-Chan.”

Sakura’s mother looked at me and gasped.  “Kushina-Chan?!  No, wait, you’re her daughter.  Naruko-Chan, right?”

I nodded.  “Hai, Haruno-San.”

“It’s Mebuki, Dear.”  She looked past me and smiled.  “Kakashi-San, Yūgao-Chan, how are you?”

“We’re good, Mebuki-San.  We were just leaving to get Naruko-Chan some weapons,” Kakashi said. 

Mebuki gave me a warm smile saying, “I’m so glad that you’re becoming a kunoichi like you kaa-san, Naruko-Chan.  If you ever need anything please come to me, I at least owe my former teammate’s daughter that.”

I bowed low saying, “Arigatō, Mabuki-San.”

As we walked towards the entrance I heard Sakura ask, “Kaa-Chan, who was that?”

When we stepped outside Yūgao took the lead and we started walking to the west.  After a while we reached the craftsmen section of the market district and followed Yūgao to a building close to the center of the craftsmen section.  I looked over the building, noting the forge attached to the back of the building, the living quarters above the store, the sign saying ‘Hashimo Weapons and Equipment’, and the racks of weapons in the window next to the open sliding doors. 

As we walked into the store I saw an older man with greying black hair, brown eyes, and a burn scar covering his left cheek at the counter on the left.  On the right was row after row of brightly lit racks and shelves of various weapons and equipment.  The man looked up from his book and smiled.  “Yūgao-Kohai, Kakashi-Kohai, good to see you two.”

He turned to Anko-Nee and myself before saying, “And you brought friends.”  He walked out from around the counter, with a slight limp, and held his scarred hand out to shake.  “I’m Hashimo Musano, proud owner of this establishment.”

Anko-Nee shook his hand first.  “Mitarashi Anko.  Good to meet you.”

As I shook his hand I said, “Uzumaki Naruko.  Why is it that you call Kakashi-San and Yūgao-San kohai, Hashimo-San?”

He smiled saying, “Call me Musano.  As for why I call them kohai, it’s because I was an ANBU member back during and after the Third Shinobi War.  I worked with them several times until I nearly lost my leg during a battle.”

I nodded and gave him a slight bow.  “So what do you people need from me?” Musano asked.  

“We came here because Naruko-Chan wants to learn how to use a weapon,” Kakashi answered.  “So far we’ve narrowed the weapons down to a sword, kusarigama, or naginata.”

Musano raised an eyebrow at me.  “Those are some interesting weapons you want to learn how to use.  Why those weapons?”

“I have four nature affinities and those weapons seem to match both my affinities and my fighting style.”

He blinked at me then tried to clear out his ear with a pinkie.  “I’m sorry, Naruko-San.  I could’ve sworn that you just said that you have four affinities.”

“I do.”

“Kami above!” He almost shouted.  His head whipped towards Kakashi and Yūgao who both nodded in confirmation.  “How can a seven year old girl have four nature affinities?”

I shrugged.  “Maybe good genes?”

Musano put his head in his hand and shook his head muttering, “Of course her daughter would have four affinities.  Kami or Akuma or whoever would do something like that to her family.”

He picked his head up and said, “I’ll get you some of the weapons that should fit your hight and reach.  I’ve got a small dojo in the back that you can test which one feels the best.”

“Arigato,” I said with a bow.  

Musano wandered down an isle before I asked, “What did he mean by Kami or Akuma having something to do with me having four affinities?”

Kakashi shrugged and walked towards a doorway at the far end of the counter, opposite of the entrance.  Yūgao patted me on the shoulder saying, “What Musano-Sempai meant was that your kaa-san would have either impossibly good luck or the absolute worst luck possible.  She seemed to switch between the two at the most random or worst possible times.”

Then Yūgao motioned for us to follow her.  We stepped through the doorway at the end of the counter and into a hallway.  At the end of the hallway was the smith and halfway down the hall was a doorway to the dojo.  The room was twenty meters square with thick tatami mats covering the floor and had sturdy wooden walls.  Lined up neatly along the right wall we’re a variety of humanoid target dummies that showed generous amounts of ware and tear.  Kakashi was leaning against the left wall reading his orange book.  I sat down next to Kakashi and after a few moments Musano came in, his arms full of weapons.  He laid them out on the floor and motioned for me to come over.  

“We can start off with the kodachi.  It’s a short sword made in the same style as a katana but shorter and lighter.   Pick one that feels right in your hands while I get a dummy for you.”

I nodded and looked over the three blades that he’d brought.  The shortest blade was thirty five centimeters long and the largest was forty five centimeters long, the last one was forty centimeters long.  All three had a small guard at the base of the blade and a hilt long enough to be gripped with two hands.   I picked up the mid-length kodachi and made a few practices swings.  As testament to it’s fine craftsmanship it felt well balanced in my hand, but seemed a little light to me.  

I set the blade down and picked up the longer one.  This blade felt right in my hand, as well balanced as the last one but with enough weight behind it.  I walked over to the practice dummy and took several slow and controlled slashes at it.   Once I’d gotten a feel for the reach of the weapon I sped up.  I started making fast and deadly attacks that were still well controlled, leaving numerous marks on the dense wood.  I stepped back and switched the kodachi to my left hand then repeated my slow then fast strikes.  

I stepped away from the dummy, somewhat out of breath, and turned to the others.  Anko-Nee and Yūgao were smiling, Kakashi was actually looking at me instead of his book, and Musano stood with his arms crossed.  “Not bad, Girl.  You seem to be a natural with a sword like your Kaa-san was.”

I bowed to Musano saying, “Arigatō,” before setting the kodachi down and picking up a kusarigama.  The sickle like kama wasn’t nearly as well balanced as the kodachi had been, but that was to be expected with a metal blade and wooden grip.  The weighted chain attached to the base of the kama was about two and a half meters in length.  I held the kama in my right hand and a length of loose chain in my left.

As I moved towards the dummy Musano instructed me on how to use a kusarigama.  “Typically you spin the chain above your head and launch it at the enemy’s weapon to disarm him by either making him drop his weapon or wrapping the chain around his weapon and pulling it out of his hands.  Then you deliver the killing blow with the kama.  That doesn’t mean the the chain itself isn’t deadly too.  A blow to the right spot with the weight can disable, cripple, or kill your opponent.  Even better is if you can wrap the chain around them and channel a Raiton or Katon jutsu down the chain at them.”

I nodded as I started spinning the chain.  After a few spins I lashed out at the dummy.  The chain hit across the dummy’s neck and wrapped around it.  With a pull on the chain, I leaped at it and struck with the kama.   My first slash came across the face, the second along the stomach, then I stabbed into the collar. 

“Not bad,” Musano said.  “Looks like you also have a knack for kusarigama-jutsu.  I haven’t seen someone execute a good wrap-and-strike combination like that on their first time in a while.  Let’s move onto the naginata.”

I nodded as I unwrapped the chain from the dummy then carefully wound it up.  I’d just set the kusarigama down when I heard someone run into the store shouting, “Tou-San! Kaa-Chan! I’m home!”

Musano stepped partway into the hallway and called out, “I’m in the dojo with some customers.  Your Kaa-San is out shopping.”

Musano stepped back into the room followed by a girl.  She had brown hair pulled into two buns on either side of her head with bangs hanging over her forehead and brown eyes.  She wore a red Chinese style shirt and brown pants.  

“This is my daughter Tenten.”

I gave her a small bow of my head saying, “I’m Uzumaki Naruko.”

Tenten smiled and said, “Hi, Naruko-San.  You’re buying a weapon?”

“Yes.  I’m about to try a naginata.”

I picked up a naginata that was one hundred forty centimeters long, thirty centimeters of which were blade length.  I set the butt of the staff against the ground and saw that the simple hand guard was almost perfectly level with my eyes.  The entire weapon seemed to be balanced at about shoulder height where I gripped it with my right hand.  I faced the dummy and settled into a neutral ready stance, my right foot towards the dummy, my left hand below my right, and the naginata held level.  I made slow several thrusts and slashes then made several strikes in rapid succession.  

I stepped away from the dummy and set the naginata down with the rest of the weapons.  “All these weapons feel natural to me, Musano-San.  Would it be possible to get one of each?”

“Of course.  It’ll cost you, but the more weapons you know how to use the better your chances of staying alive are.”

I bowed to Musano as I said, “Arigatō.”

He smiled saying, “No problem kid.”  As Musano started collecting the weapons Tenten came over to me.  

“Are you training to become a kunoichi?”  I nodded.  “Me too!  I want to be a great kunoichi like Tsunade-Sama!  Though, how come haven’t I seen you around the shinobi academy?”

“It’s because I don’t go the the shinobi academy.  My adoptive sister, Anko-Nee, along with Kakashi-San and Yūgao-San are teaching me with the Hokage’s permission.”

“Wow...” Tenten said in awe.  

“What rank are you,” she asked the others.  

“Kakashi-Sempai and I are both ANBU,” Yūgao answered.  “Anko-Chan is still a genin, but she’s getting ready to become a chunin.”

“Damn straight I am,” Anko-Nee said.  “I’ll definitely become a chunin during the next exam when I show everyone how awesome I am!”

I looked back to Tenten when she asked, “Hey, do you want to train with me?  I could use someone who can give me a challenge.”

I smiled.  “Sure, Tenten-San.”

Tenten smiled as she said, “Yay!  You can call me Chan if you want.”

“Alright, Tenten-Chan.”

Tenten’s smile widened.  “I can meet you as training ground one in about two hours if that works for you.”

“That works for me.”  

We walked out into the store and I saw Musano standing behind the cash register with two kodachi, a kusarigama, and a naginata next to him.  He looked up as I stopped next to him.  “The cost’ll be thirty thousand eight hundred Ryō.  I’m guessing that I should bill this to the Hokage.”

I nodded.  “Arigatō, Musano-San.”  

I collected the weapons but saw that the cost didn’t match with the price tags.  “Musano-San, I believe that you’ve short changed yourself.  The cost should be forty seven thousand Ryō.”

He shook his head.  “No.  I gave you a one third discount on each item.”

“Why?” I asked, knowing that he was losing a substantial amount of money.  

“I respect you and your mother too much to charge you the full price.”

I bowed deeply as I said, “Arigatō, Musano-San.”

“Here’re a few scrolls on different styles to use with the weapons,” Musano said as he placed half a dozen scrolls on the counter.  I nodded as I slipped the swords over my shoulder and hooked the kusarigama onto my belt.  I held the naginata in my left hand and reached for the scrolls before Kakashi picked them up.  

“I’ll carry the scrolls for you Naruko-Chan.”  I nodded in appreciation and turned to leave.  

Once we were outside Anko-Nee said, “Let’s head to training ground one so that you can learn how to use your weapons, Naru-Chan!”

I nodded in agreement and leaped to the roof tops.  


Uzumaki Naruko 

October 11

4:21 P.M. 

Training Ground One

I leaped down into the main clearing to join the others.  Looking around I could see a few trees scattered around the clearing, a large pond in front of us, and rows of targets off towards the left.  I leaned my naginata against a nearby tree and took my kusarigama off of my belt.  I glanced over at Kakashi and asked, “Can you hand me the scrolls on kenjutsu?”

The first one was the standard Leaf Style taught to any Konoha shinobi who wanted to learn kenjutsu and the second was a style called Kodachi no Kage (Shadow of the Kodachi).  “Yūgao-San, have you heard of the Kodachi no Kage Style?”

“The what?!”

I looked up and saw Yūgao staring at me in disbelief.  “You’ve heard of the style?” 

“Any swordsman worth their blade knows about the Kodachi no Kage.  It’s one of if not the most difficult styles to learn or defeat.  Your mother and I only got the basics down before she died.”

I looked down at the two scrolls in my hands before tossing the Leaf Style scroll back to Kakashi, who caught it without looking up from his precious book.  I scanned over the scroll and immediately picked up that the Kodachi no Kage style required the user to use two kodachi at once, one in a reverse grip and the other in a standard grip.  The kodachi in the reverse grip served as both a shield and a second weapon while the one in a standard grip was the main attack weapon.  The style also called for the user to switch grips on the swords to confuse the opponent and attack them from different angles.  I set the scroll down, unsheathed my kodachi, and squared off with Yūgao.  

I settled into the ready pose detailed by the scroll.  I stood in a low and wide fighting stance, left foot forward pointing forward, right foot back pointing right.  My right kodachi was held in a standard grip pointing forward, level with my shoulders.  My left kodachi was held in a reverse grip over and level with my chest, also pointed forward but parallel with my arm.  

Yūgao got into her ready stance.  She stood in the same position as myself but her feet were closer together then mine and she stood more upright while she held her katana in both hands in front of her.  I nodded to her and she came at me with a slow and controlled downward slash.  

Picturing the diagram from the scroll, I brought my left kodachi forward and angled it so that it was pointed down and back. Yūgao’s blade slid down mine as I slashed my right kodachi at her side.  She countered by shifting the her katana to the other side of her body to block my blade.  With her blade locked with both of mine Yūgao bore down on me with her superior hight and weight.  I struggled to stay up as I tried to think of a maneuver from the scroll to get out from this situation.  

Just as my knees were about to buckle I remembered a diagram.  Using the point where Yūgao’s katana ground against my left kodachi as a fulcrum I spun my entire body to the left.  Without something to bare down on anymore Yūgao fell forward as I continued my spin and slashed at her back with my right kodachi, careful to only leave only a light cut on her flak jacket.  I followed up by slashing my left kodachi over her head.  

I took several steps back as Yūgao stood and turned towards me.  She nodded saying, “Very good, Naruko-Chan.  Let’s go again.”

We both entered our respective ready stances before moving to engage each other.  

By the time Yūgao called for us to stop I was covered in healing scratches and my clothes had several cuts.  I glared at Yūgao saying, “These clothes were brand new.”

She smiled unapologetically.  “You can stitch them up later, Naruko-Chan.”

I huffed in mild irritation before walking over to Kakashi and Anko-Nee who were sitting under the tree.  I sat down next to Anko-Nee and slid my kodachi back into their sheaths.  I pondered how to wear the sheaths in a way that would still let me draw them in the way that I needed to hold them.  “Anko-Nee, do you have any wire?”

“Of course,” she said as she reached into her pouch and handed me a reel of wire and a kunai to cut it with.  I set the sheaths down so that their curves lined up with each other but with the hilts opposite of one another.  I took the wire and started weaving it around and between the sheaths as finely as possible before cutting it every ten centimeters.  Once I reached the end of the sheaths I set the reel aside and started tightening the sections of wire as much as I could.  Satisfied with my work, I took my double sheath and slipped it over my shoulders so that one kodachi hilt rested over my right shoulder and the other my left hip.   

I reached for my naginata jutsu scrolls as Anko-Nee said, “You look awesome with your kodachi across your back like that, Naru-Chan.”

I smiled as I looked over both scrolls.  After a few moments I picked the Onna-bugeisha no Odori (Dance of the Female Warrior) style.  The style focused on graceful flowing movements combined with circular and thrusting attacks.  I scanned over the scroll before standing and picking up my naginata.  

I squared off with Yūgao again as I fell into a neutral ready stance, a standard fighting stance with my naginata held horizontal at stomach level.  Yūgao got into her ready stance and started circling to my left.  I turned with her, keeping my left shoulder toward her and my right shoulder back.  I turned ninety degrees before she came at me.  

I blocked Yūgao’s hip-to-shoulder slash and used the extra length of my naginata to keep her at a distance but thrusting and slashing at her.  Using a technique from the scroll I spun to the left and slashed at shoulder level.  When Yūgao blocked my slash I continued into the second part of the technique by spinning to the right and slashing at knee level.  She blocked that strike as well I used the final part of the technique by spinning to my left again but slashing downward this time.  Yūgao stepped back to avoid my blade and nodded in satisfaction.  

Before either of us could re-engage someone off to the side shouted, “Look out!”

Yūgao and I both leaped backwards just as a Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) passed between us.  We both looked to the left and saw two boys coming towards us.  Both boys look similar enough to be brothers with the same black eyes and spiked blue tinted, dark hair.  The older one looked about fifteen while the younger looked to be my age.  

“Sorry, Yūgao-Sempai, Naruko-Chan.  Sasuke-Kun is still trying to learn to control the Gōkakyū,” the older brother said as they came to a stop in front of us.  

Sasuke looked away in embarrassment as Yūgao said, “It’s okay, Itachi-Kohai.  Everyone has trouble controlling a jutsu that they’re just starting to learn.”

“Niisan, how do you know these people?” Sasuke asked as he tugged on his brother’s sleeve.  

“I’ve worked with Kakashi-Sempai and Yūgao-Sempai several times in the past and I’ve protected Naruko-Chan several times since I joined ANBU.”

I nodded to Itachi saying, “Thank you for helping me again last night, Itachi-San.”

He smiled softly.  “You’re welcome, Naruko-Chan.  I just wish that the rest of the village could see you in the same light as I do.”  

“What do you mean by that, Niisan?”

I spoke before anyone could say anything.  “I was born on the same night that the Kyūbi attacked the village and was defeated by the Yondaime.  Because of that many people think that I’m the reincarnation of the Kyūbi.”

Sasuke frowned before saying, “That’s a stupid thing for people to think.”

I glanced at the others and saw Kakashi, Yūgao, and Itachi giving me subtle nods at my story.  Anko, meanwhile, was blushing lightly and stealing glances at Itachi.  I looked back at Sasuke and asked, “Do you want to practice your Gōkakyū with me?”

Sasuke seemed to forget his disappointment at my treatment by the village as he said, “Sure!”

I nodded to the others and followed Sasuke to the pond.  “I assume you know the hand seals for the Gōkakyū so tell me how it feels when you use it.”

We stopped next to the pond as Sasuke considered what I said.  “Well... I feel the chakra build up in my lungs.  Then I convert it into Katon chakra.  After that I launch it all at once.  The Gōkakyū (Great Fireball) usually either fizzles out quickly or flies off in a random direction.”

I nodded.  “Try showing me then.”

He nodded and turned towards the pond.  He carefully made the needed hand seals then shouted, “Katon: Gōkakyū!”

A ball of fire the size of a soccer ball formed in front of Sasuke’s mouth before it flew forward.  It traveled about six meters before it fizzled out.  

“Try putting more chakra into the technique, Sasuke-San.”

“Alright, but that’s usually when the jutsu goes off in a random direction.”

Sasuke went through the hand seals again and made a Gōkakyū the size of a beach ball, but when he launched it it went far to the right for about thirty meters.  I nodded at the display and fell into thought.  “How did the flow of your chakra feel when you used the jutsu?”

He looked at me as if I was speaking another language.  “How did your chakra feel as it moved through your body when you used the Gōkakyū?”

“Oh!   Well... um, I can feel my chakra build up in my chest and then explode out when I cast the jutsu.”

“Try the jutsu again, expect this time imagine that your chakra is traveling down a hallway with a bunch of sliding doors.  Instead of throwing all the doors open at once and letting your chakra explode out, open the doors halfway in time with your chakra as it flows out.”

Sasuke looked at me skeptically before shrugging and going through the hand seals.  This time his Gōkakyū went fairly straight for about twenty meters.  

“Good job, Sasuke-San.”  When no response came I turned and saw Sasuke staring at the spot his Gōkakyū had landed in shock.  I snapped my fingers in front of his face making him jump in surprise.  

Before I could say anything he threw his arms around me in a hug as he shouted, “Thanks, Naruko-Chan!”

When he realized what he was doing, Sasuke leaped away from me with a strong blush on his face.  “S—s—sorry, Naruko-Chan!  Uh, San!”

I just smiled and patted him on the shoulder.  “It’s alright, Sasuke-Kun.  The key to any jutsu is how well you can control your chakra while you cast it.”

His blush faded and he gave me a nervous smile.  “Thanks, Naruko-Chan.”

I nodded as I heard someone call out, “Naruko-Chan!”

I looked around and saw Tenten running across the field with a backpack.  I waved to her as Sasuke asked, “Who’s that?”

“That’s my friend Tenten.  I met her earlier today and promised her that I’d help her train.”

Sasuke nodded as Tenten came to a stop in front of us, panting slightly from her run.  “Hey, Naruko-Chan!  Who’s this?”

“This is Sasuke.  I was just helping him get control of a jutsu that he was struggling with.”

“Really?  What jutsu was that?”

“The Gōkakyū (Great Fireball),” Sasuke answered with some pride.

“Wow... to know an elemental jutsu already...”

“What do you want to train with, Tenten?” I asked.  

“Weapons!” She said as she took off her backpack and pulled out a number of kunai.  I took one of her kunai and tested it’s balanced then it’s sharpness.  I raised and eyebrow at both it’s near-perfect balance and it’s razor sharpness.  I looked at the maker’s mark and saw that Masuno had made it.  

“Your Tou-San makes excellent weapons, Tenten-Chan.”

“Thanks, Naruko-Chan.”  Tenten picked up her backpack by a strap and we all made our way over to the throwing targets. 

About half the targets were wooden circles about a meter and a half across with bullseye rings and the other half was human shaped with bullseyes in the center of the chest and face.  We stopped about fifteen meters from the human targets and Tenten passed us about a dozen kunai each.  

I took my weapons and moved over the the target on the left.  I tossed a kunai and watched it hit the outer ring of the chest bullseye at about one o’clock.  I nodded to myself and readjusted my grip slightly and threw again.  The kunai struck the middle ring at one o’clock again.  I readjusted my grip again and threw the kunai dead center.  I threw the rest of my kunai before I looked over at the others targets.  Only three of Sasuke’s kunai were outside the bullseye while all but one of Tenten’s kunai was in the bullseye.  

“That’s some impressive aim, Tenten-Chan.”

She blushed slightly at the praise.  “Thanks.  My Tou-San says that a shinobi that misses is a shinobi that dies.”

“He’s right,” I said as I walked down to my target to retrieve my kunai.  The others followed and we inspected out throwing skills.  Out of the twelve kunai that I’d thrown only two of them were out of the bullseye.  The rest were clustered in a group the size of my hand.  I pulled them from the wood and walked back to the throwing line.  

We kept practicing with our kunai until Sasuke asked, “Do you two want to practice taijutsu?”

I nodded while Tenten said, “Sure.”

Sasuke and I passed Tenten our kunai before we both settled into the opening stances of our respective stances.  Sasuke stood with his shoulders square to me, feet wider than his shoulders, and his tucked his fists into the sides of his waist, the opening stance of the Uchiha Saegiru Ken (Intercepter Fist) Style.  I took step back so that my right foot was behind my left, angling my body to Sasuke, and brought my open hands up to chin hight.  

Sasuke raised an eyebrow and asked, “What style is that?”

“It’s a style that I’m making myself with the help of Kakashi-San and Yūgao-San.  I haven’t come up with a name for it yet, but it is effective.”

I took a moment to go over everything that I knew about the Saegiru Ken .  Like my style it relied on counter attacks, but my style was much more aggressive while the Saegiru Ken was meant to keep the opponent at bay until the user’s Sharingan could copy and counter the opponent’s style.  I nodded to myself and rushed him.  

Sasuke grinned as my left hook flew past his face, but it quickly disappeared as he moved to block my follow up roundhouse kick.  My kick staggered him but he recovered quickly enough to block the barrage of punches that I threw at him.  Then he started throwing counter punches at me.  

My punch to the face was deflect enough for it to miss before it became an elbow strike to Sasuke’s wrist to counter his punch.  As soon as his punch was deflected my elbow strike became a palm strike to the chin.  Sasuke took a step back and swept his arm across his body to knock my hand aside.  Then he threw a straight punch at my head. 

I block his punch with my forearm before snaking my arm up and around his.  I trapped his wrist in my armpit and brought my forearm up across his elbow, stopping in time to cause pain and not hyperextending his elbow to breaking point.  He yelped in pain and I kicked his knee out from under him.  I let go of his arm and wrapped my other arm around his neck then jerked my arm, and his head, to the side.  Sasuke froze as he found his vision pointed in a drastically different direction than it was a moment before.  

“Looks like I win our first fight, Sasuke-San,” I said as I let go of him.  

He slowly go to his feet, staring at me with surprise and a hint of awe.  Then I heard Anko-Nee shout, “Ha!  Pay up, Itachi-Kun!”

I looked over at the others and saw Itachi handing Anko-Nee and Yūgao several Ryō.  Kakashi was still reading his book, but I was almost certain that he’d seen every moment of our fight.  Tenten, however, was looking at me with stars in her eyes.  

“That was so cool!” Tenten cried as she suddenly appeared in front of me with her hands held together, making me take a step back in surprise.  “You have to teach me your taijutsu style!”

I scratched the back of my head as I said, “Uh... sure.  I can teach you tomorrow around ten or so.”

“Yay!” She shouted as she threw her arms around me and picked me up in a bone crushing hug.

“Ten—ten-Chan!  Can—can’t—breath!” I rasped out as my vision started going dark 

She yelped and quickly dropped me shouting, “I’m so sorry, Naruko-Chan!”

I dragged air down my throat until my lungs were full then started coughing.  Once I regained my breath I groaned out, “You’ve got a pretty strong grip, Tenten-Chan.”

She blushed and looked away.  “Sorry, Naruko-Chan.”

“It’s alright,” I said as I got to my feet.  “Do you two want to spar or go get something to eat next?”

A growl from both their stomachs answered my question.  Tenten rubbed the back of her head in embarrassment while Sasuke said, “Let’s get something to eat.  Do you know any good places to eat?”

“I usually eat at Ichiraku.  It’s one of the few places that won’t kick me out or serve me spoiled food.”

Tenten frowned and asked, “Why would restaurants do that to you?”

“It’s because she was born on the day the Kyūbi attacked,” Sasuke answered.  “The stupid villagers think that Naruko-Chan is the Kyūbi reborn because of that.”

Tenten scowled as she said, “That’s stupid.  Naruko-Chan’s obviously not the Kyūbi, she’s too nice.”

I gave them a small smile.  “It’s alright guys, I’ve gotten use to it.  Besides, at least you two know who I really am.  Now let’s go eat.”

They both nodded, but were still upset about how the village treated me.  We walked over to the others and I said, “We’re going to Ichiraku for dinner.  Anko-Nee, can you take my naganata and kusarigama home? ”

Anko-Nee nodded.  “Sure, no problem.”

“Sasuke-Kun, I’ll pick you up after you finish eating,” Itachi said.  

“Okay, Niisan.”

I motioned to Sasuke and Tenten and we started walking back towards the village.  


Uzumaki Naruko 

October 11

5:31 P.M. 

One block from Ichiraku 

I paused as I felt the presence that’d been following us since we entered the village stop again.  I glanced behind us and saw a cream colored blur dart into an alley.  Turning back to the others I said, “You two go on ahead, I’ll be there in a moment.”

“Okay Naruko-Chan,” Sasuke said cheerfully.  Tenten nodded in agreement and they kept walking towards Ichiraku.  

I turned around and walked back to the alley and leaned my shoulder against the wall next to the entrance.  A moment later Hinata leaned out from behind the corner and froze when she saw me.  “Hello, Hinata-San,” I said in greeting.  

“EEEPPP!” she cried as she leaped back and tripped on her own feet.  

I reached out and grabbed her by the shoulder to steady her.  Once I was sure she wouldn’t fall I let her go and leaned back against the wall.  “Any particular reason that your following me, Hinata-San?”

She blushed and stuttered out something incoherent.  “I’m sorry, Hinata-San, but I couldn’t understand that.”

“I—I—I wa—want—wanted to—to th—thank you f—f—for he—hel—helping m—me ear—earlier to—today.”

I pushed myself off of the wall and said, “You’re welcome, Hinata-San.  Would you like to join me and my friends at Ichiraku?”

“H—hai.”

I nodded and started walking towards the stand, hearing Hinata following behind me.  When we reached Ichiraku I held the privacy curtains open for Hinata who said, “Arigatō,” quietly.  

I sat down on Tenten’s right and Hinata sat down on my other side while Sasuke sat on the other side of Tenten.  “Naruko-Chan, you’re back,” Teuchi said with a smile as he handed Tenten and Sasuke their orders.  

I smiled and said, “Yeah.  These are my friends, Uchiha Sasuke, Hashimo Tenten, and Hyūga Hinata.”

Teuchi’s smile widened.  “Any friend of Naruko-Chan is a friend of mine.  Your orders’ll be on the house tonight.”

“Wow!  Really?” Tenten asked. 

“Yep.  Do you want the usual, Naruko-Chan.”

I nodded.  “Excellent.  And how about you, Hinata-Chan?”

She blushed at the affectionate suffix and said, “I—I’ll ha—have the s—soy sauce ra—ramen with fi—fishcake, egg, a—and corn pl—please.”

“Coming right up,” Teuchi said as he turned back to the stove.  

“So, Hinata-chan,” Tenten asked, “how’d you meet Naruko-Chan?”

“Sh—sh—she fought o—off some bu—bullies tha—that were pi—picking on me ear—earlier to—today.”

“You just met her today too?”

Hinata nodded before Sasuke said, “Same with me.  I’d just met her when you showed up at the training ground, Tenten-Chan.”

They all looked at each other in amazement before turning their gazes towards me.  I shrugged and said, “Maybe we were all destined to meet today.”

Before anyone could say anything else Teuchi handed Hinata and I our ramen.  I clapped my hands together and said, “Itadakimasu,” before starting to eat.  The others followed my example and soon the only sounds were those of us enjoying our ramen.  

I finished my bowl before anyone else and motioned to Teuchi for another.  He nodded as I heard the privacy curtains part and someone say, “Naruko-Chan.”

I turned and saw Mebuki and Sakura entertaining the stand.  “Hello, Mebuki-San, Sakura-San.”

“It’s good to see you again, Naruko-Chan.”

It’s nice to see you too, Mebuki-San.”

Sakura tentatively stepped around her mother and said, “H—hi, Naruko-San.”

I gave her a small smile and nodded to her as Teuchi placed another bowl of ramen in front of me.  As I turned back to my ramen Sakura took the seat next to Hinata and Mebuki took the seat after that.  

“So, Naruko-Chan,” Mebuki said after she and Sakura places their orders.  “What weapon did you decide to choose?”

“I chose three actually.  The Naginata, kusarigama, and dual kodachi.  Tenten-Chan’s father, Musano, gave them to me for a reduced price.”

“Ah,” Mebuki said to Tenten, “So you’re Musano-San’s daughter.”

“Yep.  I’m going to become a great konoichi like Tsunade-Sama!”

Mebuki smiled.  “That’s a fine dream to have, Tenten-San.  Naruko-Chan, I’m surprised that you decided to train with three weapons at once.”

I shrugged.  “It doesn’t seem that hard to me, though Kakashi-San, Yūgao-San, and Anko-Nee say that I’m a prodigy.”

“Wh—why d—do the—they s—say that, Na—Naruko-Ch—chan?”

“Mainly because I learned how to use Katon: Gōkakyū (Great Fireball), Raiton: Jibashi (Electromagnetic Murder), and Suiton: Teppōdama (Liquid Bullet) in three hours today.”  Sasuke spat out the ramen in his mouth, Tenten’s jaw dropped, Hinata stared at me in disbelief, and Mebuki’s glass slipped out of her fingers and broke against the ground.  

“What?”

“Naruko-Chan,” Mebuki said slowly, “no one except for an Uchiha using the Sharingan could hope to learn three jutsu in three hours.”

I blinked at her in surprise before saying, “Oh...  I guess I really am a prodigy then.”

After that we started talking about each other’s lives.  Both Sasuke’s and Hinata’s fathers were hard on them because they were potential clan heirs.  Sakura would get teased by other kids about how smart she was and how large her forehead seamed.  Tenten wanted to become the next Senju Tsunade, but couldn’t seem to be able to get anywhere with anything except for weapons.  

Everyone was outraged when I told them about how the village treated me.  Especially when Sakura and Hinata were told that the village thought that I was the Kyūbi reborn.  When I told them my fake story about why the village hated me Mebuki gave me a subtle nod for coming up with a believable story.  

Then Itachi came to take Sasuke home.  He left after I promised to help him train tomorrow with Tenten.  Not long after that a Hyūga member came to bring Hinata home, pausing only give me a thinly veiled glare.  Then Mebuki and Sakura left with another promise of training at ten tomorrow. I looked at Tenten and said, “Well, I guess that we should head home now.”

“Yeah,” she said half-heartedly.  

We bid Teuchi and Ayame goodbye and left the stand.  When we got to the point where we’d have to separate I turned to Tenten and said, “I’m glad that we met today, Tenten-Chan.”

She smiled and said, “Me too, Naruko-Chan,” before pulling me into a short hug.  We went our separate ways and I headed towards the apartment that I shared with Anko-Nee.  

The apartment complex was about five stories tall and held about ten four-room apartments on each floor.  Most of the building itself was in various states of disrepair since everyone including the manager had moved out years ago after Anko-Nee and I moved in.  

I walked up a stairwell, ignoring the peeling paint and water stains.  I made my way down our hallway, stepping around holes in the floor.  I didn’t bother opening our door, it’d been broken off it’s hinges again.  Inside Anko-Nee was sweeping up broken glass, shattered plates and bowls, and splinters that raiders from last night had left behind in the kitchen/living room.  “Did they spare anything this time?”

Anko-Nee shook her head.  “Nope.  Bastards trashed everything they could get their hands on last night.  Can you check the stash in your room? I haven gotten to mine yet.”

I nodded and made my way down the hallway to my room at the end.  I idly noted that I’d have to fix the doorframe again since the door itself had been kicked in.  Inside my room the remains of my bed and dresser were pushed against the left wall, the few photos I had on the walls were torn down and smashed, and my ceiling fan in the center of the room was dangling by a single wire.  Inside my closet my clothes were ripped to pieces and the shelves torn down.  

I pushed the debris out of the way and started pulling up floorboards until I could reach the crawl space.  Then I started reaching around until my hand brushed cloth.  I grabbed the large duffel bag and pulled it out, grunting a little at the weight.  I hauled the bag out into my room and started pulling stuff out.  I pulled out two sleeping bags, two backpacks of clothes, a small camping stove, a couple pots, a couple cans of stew, a loaf of sealed bread, and a packet of utensils.  

I laid out the sleeping bags next to each other and set up the stove.  I opened up the cans of stew and pored them into a pot before lighting the stove and setting the pot over top of it.   Stirring the stew I could see pieces of carrot, potato, onions, beef, sausage, and some beans floating around in the gravy-like stock.  Once the stew started to simmer I set a lid over it and let it cook.  Soon an intoxicating aroma began to permeate the air, drawing Anko-Nee into the room with her own duffel bag.  

“That smells sooo good, Naru-Chan,” she said, sniffing the air.

She set her duffel bag down next to mine and pulled out another camping stove, a bag of rice, a canteen of water, and a couple of bowls.  While she got her stove ready I pored the rice and water into the other pot before handing it over to her.  With both pots cooking I shifted closer to Anko-Nee and leaned my head against her shoulder.  She wrapped her arm around my shoulders and kissed the top of my head.  “I love you, Naruko-Chan.”

“I love you too, Anko-Nee.”


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