Snap Back To Reality @jazhop
Chapter 54

Snap Back To Reality 54

I leaned by the windows where I had placed some privacy seals. Taichi looked as serious as he was imposing and for a non-shinobi that was rather impressive.

"Word is that you killed a traitorous Councilman and took down an entire sub-sect of the ANBU."

"So that's the general consensus huh. To think they got it down before the Hokage even made his formal speech on the incident," I mumbled, although considering how big the village was and the fact that most everyone in it were shinobi, it made sense that they'd somehow get the intel and spread it around.

"It's true then? There was more to that night, more to what happened. I always suspected you were hiding something, but I didn't want to question you. I always put my trust in you, so please tell me you had a reason... a good reason."

I swallowed thickly and then nodded. I didn't have a reason to lie anymore and Taichi deserved to know the truth now.

"I didn't want to do it. It wasn't just kaasan I killed that night," I admitted reluctantly.

"What do you mean?" Taichi asked in visible pain.

"There was a kill order on both our parents. If I didn't carry it out, it would extend to you and Tsukiya and so I... I had to make it look like defence."

"You killed tousan?" Taichi asked breathless as he sat down.

I bowed my head in shame.

"You let me believe kaasan had gone mad and killed him," he hissed.

"That was information I couldn't disclose to you. You have to understand—you were just a—"

"—A child? Say that one more time, I dare you!"

"No, no you're right. You would have deserved the truth even if you were a child," I backtracked after wincing. "But it didn't matter what I wanted or what you wanted. I couldn't do it either way. For the better half of 4 years I had a curse seal on my tongue. Everyone in the organisation I was in was forced into one by Councilman Danzo. If activated, it could kill me. It was how I managed to take them down. I had studied for years to get rid of the seal," I explained hastily.

"Danzo—was he?"

I nodded. "He was the one who ordered the hit."

"This makes no sense. The Hokage wouldn't allow such a thing to happen to his own citizens, especially civilians. What could our parents have had that was worth their deaths?"

I winced at his question. There was nothing they had that was worth murder... nothing but the price to pay for my submission. This was all my fault in the end. I dragged them down with me.

"It wasn't them. It was me. I— this it was all my fault," I said, trying to keep my emotions in check but failing.

"I don't understand," Taichi pleaded.

"Our parents weren't involved in anything that would get them killed. It was simply the method that the Foundation used to ensure loyalty within its ranks. We would normally kill our partner, but they found my—my attachment to my family and instead leveraged your lives for my loyalty. But I could never do it... I could never kill my emotions," I said tiredly.

The shame was too much to bear. Taichi would hate me. He was well within his rights too. I was terrified to look up and meet his gaze, to see that hatred but I had to know. I hesitantly studied his eyes and all I could see was horror and anger. He no doubt hated me.

When he walked over to me next, I expected a punch to my face, a small price compared to what I had deserved. I would let him hurt me as much as he wanted. It was what I deserved, but it didn't come. Instead he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in.

"Why?" I asked, my confusion overtaking a part of my shame and grief.

"Why what?"

"W-Why don't you hate me?"

"They tortured you didn't they. For years they tortured you again and again. I should have seen it—the way you hate contact, how terrified you were of touch… for years you held all of this in and blamed yourself... Hina, you said I was just a child... then what were you, huh you idiot?"

"I was never a child," I whispered. "I can't use ignorance as an excuse."

"There are things beyond our control. I-If you didn't listen to Danzo then, maybe Tsukiya would never have been given the opportunity to grow up. Please—I've watched you suffer and suffer, don't hurt yourself more."

"How could I not? I-If I didn't exist Tsukiya would have parents. You would have parents," I said gritting my teeth feeling a familiar hatred well up.

"Here you go again! Blaming yourself. Dammit, do you want me to hate you, is that it?"

"It's what I deserve!"

"Then it's what you're getting," he snapped.

I stood back shocked at him raising his voice. Taichi never shouted. Even in his anger he was quiet. He seemed stressed and so he pushed his hair back and took in a few breaths to calm down.

"That's what you're getting because that's what you're giving yourself. No one hates you in this world more than you hate yourself, and I'm sick of it. What hurts me now isn't what you did to our parents, but what you're doing to yourself," he scowled, body shaking with repressed stress, and eyes glistening with tears.

I stepped back and pursed my lips, pushing back the way it threatened to tremble along with my hands. This sense of dread, this foreboding feeling clenching at my heart and pulled out my breath, it was suffocating. It was my shame. Such unbidden, unending shame. Why? Why did it never end?

"Y-you wouldn't understand," I hissed angrily. "You didn't drive a knife through tousan's chest! I did! You didn't rip through kaasan's heart! I did! So h-how could you ever understand the hatred I have?! You haven't even taken a life!"

I had shouted too and suddenly I found it hard to breathe and the trembling in my hands intensified. When I looked down it was dripping in blood. No this wasn't good. I didn't ever let myself dwell on these feelings. Nothing good ever came from feeling them. I should ignore them again, crack a joke and leave it at that, but when I looked at Taichi's hard eyes I couldn't.

There it was again the countless voices screaming in my head, begging for their lives, the lives I took in cold blood, and at the forefront of those voices were kaasan and tousan's cries of pain. The sound of my heartbeat felt like thunder in my ears. The world was spinning.


"I-I— I need t-to go."

My own words were jumbled in-between terribly quick breaths and I didn't even register having jumped out of the window until I was staggering through the rooftops and falling in-between the cracks. I hit my side painfully on the way down into the backstreet, but the pain barely registered through the panic. The voices didn't cease. It felt like they were trying to drown me in my wake.

I held my throat and heaved for air. My gasps came in short painful bursts, but it was increasingly harder to come in and before long I felt my peripheral vision blur. Then I passed out.

Why did my cheeks hurt? I blinked my eyes open to find Anko slapping my face. What? Why was Anko hitting me?

"Goddammit vege-senpai, do you have any secret hobbies I'm unaware of? Like falling asleep outside in some shady back-alley?"

"Wha-what?" I mumbled in irritation as I pushed her hands away from my face.

Then I got up and grimaced as my memories came crashing down on me. I groaned into my hands and prayed to whatever deity was up there that they could give me the power to erase memories. Had I just had a full-blown panic attack in front of Taichi? No, I was so stupid. This wasn't about me and I made it so. I should have been helping him but instead I overreacted and—

"—Hina, you're beginning to freak me out," Anko said worriedly.


Before I could say anything else Taichi came running down into the ally out of breath. I was shocked when he pulled me into a hug again.

"Am I interrupting something?" Anko asked awkwardly.

Taichi ignored her completely as he shook my shoulder and ducked his head in frustration.

"Don't you ever run out on me like that again! I thought you were hurt or worse," he said hiding his face in my chest.

"Ok I was just coming here to relax and celebrate being alive, so I'm going to head off to a drama-free zone to do that," Anko huffed.

"You're Hina's team-mate, right?"


"Good. I give you permission to slap her when she's being an idiot."

"I don't need permission to do that. Who do you think I am?" she asked cracking a grin.

"I'm right here," I sighed in embarrassment.

"What actually even happened? Do I want to know?"

"No!" I said hastily. "Just an overreaction..."

"If that's what you call hyperventilating and jumping from a window in panic," Taichi said in distaste.

"A panic attack?" Anko asked raising a brow.

"I do not have those," I hissed in sudden aggravation before I got up and dusted myself of. "It's a onetime thing. Don't blow it up... I'm sorry for worrying you though Tai-nii, I won't do it again."

Taichi groaned in exasperation before he pulled away the tears in his eyes, got up and stormed of.

"Please take care of this idiot. I-I need to be alone," he said barely containing his anger and tears.

It was only after Taichi had stormed out of sight, and the guilt settled back in my chest, had Anko whistled in disbelief and turned to me.

"Family troubles huh?" she asked in a jovial there-there way.

I just responded with a deadpan stare. Couldn't she read the mood? I had just fucked up one of the most important conversations in my life and acted like a selfish prick the entire time. I should have held it together for Taichi. Instead he comforted me...

"Well time to go relax away from all this drama."

"What do you mean?" I sighed tiredly, unsure if I was mentally up to Anko's hijinks.

Anko chuckled as she pulled out a bag full of beer cans and other assorted alcohol. I looked in and raised a brow.

"This is probably not a good idea," I huffed.

"We survived a literal S rank suicide mission and you just murdered 350 people and got your dream revenge on some creepy old fucker. I see you've lived a little from your new tats and earrings but trying to be a sensei wannabe isn't how to have some fun."

"Sensei wannabe," I breathed out in indignation.

"You coming or not, or are you going to brood like some dark avenger who found out murder wasn't the end-all to their misery?"

I snorted and snatched a bottle from her. For someone who pretended to not care, Anko sure did pick things up.

"Anko you look really stupid, but sometimes I forget you aren't."


I forced a laugh as I shot off onto the rooftop. Anko grumbled behind me as she tried to catch up.

"Take that back you little shit!" she shouted throwing a kunai at my back.

I dodged easily and poked my tongue out at her.

"Make me!"

It took an S rank mission, a monumental village betrayal, and me nearly ending up on the chopping block for our team to drink. A lot of Genin teams had abused their right to alcohol way before we did. Of course usually your Sensei would get involved at that stage and personally ban you, but I didn't think Orochimaru cared enough for that… well at least he didn't care about Anko or Rui doing it as much as he would for me. We found ourselves sitting on the top of the Hokage monument, too close to the edge for it to be safe as we passed around the sake.

"Puaaaah! That hits the spot," Anko said happily.

"Is this a good idea? Where did you even get so many bottles?" Rui asked.

Anko snorted at the question, her expression souring a little.

"Don't ruin the mood Rui. The person I took it from can go SUCK A DICK!" she shouted angrily, flipping of the sky before downing the entire can and crushing it.

"Wow they sound like fun," I chuckled as I downed another one.

"Ne, are you even drinking age yet Hina-chan?" Anko teased.

I grumbled in irritation. "You're only three years older. Are you drinking age?"

"I've been drinking age since I was ten! You see it's because you get to drink when you're an adult and I was so independent I did everything on my own by then," she said proudly.

"That sounds lonely," Rui said sadly.

"Fuck me. Don't tell me you're one of those mopey drunks?" Anko asked in irritation.

"Rui is always mopey. But you know what Anko. I became a Genin at 6 so technically I was an adult before you!" I laughed.

"Pfft what, did you come out of the womb an adult now?" Anko challenged.

"I did," I huffed. "Because I'm the goddamned reincarnation of an evil pharmacist who would extort sick people for money! Though it wasn't so bad... I had a wife."

"Your imagination is wild! That sounds like something a five-year-old would dream up," Anko retorted.

Rui just sighed, sipping his first cup slowly and zoning out. I turned to Anko and wanted to cry, but instead a bitter chuckle ripped from my throat as I leant back and looked at the stars. I was an adult, right? So why was I so emotional? Why couldn't I control myself like I could in my past life? Why was this urge to go to Gaku and throw all my frustrations onto him so enticing? I was an adult. I was the one who was meant to comfort Taichi, not the other way around. Why did my body betray me like this?

"And even with a second life I managed to screw up too huh," I whispered.

"Dammit Hina! You're becoming mopey too. This was a bad idea. You two are boooh-ring," she grumbled, sticking her tongue out and making a disgusted face.

"I don't think it's so bad," Rui finally said.

"Of course you don't find it annoying. You're the king of moping," she accused.

Rui sent Anko a raised brow and ignored her. I turned to him and realised he was really in no mood to celebrate. None of us were. I don't even think Anko wanted to celebrate, but she was just so used to putting on an indifferent façade that it stuck.

"It took this village betraying us for me to question," Rui muttered.

Anko froze and so did I. Were we really going there today? I thought we were meant to relax and all even if it was forced. It was unlike Rui to open up about his feelings too.

"Are we really going to stay here after our own Village tried to kill us and hide the evidence?" Rui asked bitterly.

"Where else would we go? Being a nuke-nin doesn't sound so fun. All that running away and hiding would get tiring very quickly. I also value my head being on my shoulders," Anko groaned.

"We wouldn't survive even if we did manage to escape for a bit," I said realistically.

If you wanted to desert, you needed another village's backing. If you didn't have that, you damn well sure needed to change your face entirely, or be strong enough to fight anyone in your way. Deserters barely lasted out there in the wild. There was a reason even someone as strong as Orochimaru had to join an S class criminal organisation to stay alive after running from Konoha.

"This Village feels suffocating," Rui admitted, as if a hidden frustration was finally coming out.

It sounded like an old wound. There was something that hurt him before even this mission. Anko who had been smiling before looked just as uncomfortable now, as if she too was thinking of something unsavoury, and for the first time since we became a team, I hated that I knew nothing about their pasts. Maybe if I opened up first, I could finally get to know a bit about them too.

"I still live in the house I killed my parents in," I admitted, ignoring the pain in my chest to open up to them a bit. "It feels like every day in there their ghosts are holding onto my neck, condemning me for what I did."

There was a silence and then Anko swore.

"Fuck," she whistled. "Well don't worry baby-senpai, I rarely feel safe at home either."

I looked at her for a second and then Anko scowled and looked away, as if embarrassed she had even spoken at all. It must have been the alcohol. I felt embarrassed that I had assumed they might open up if I had first. I knew it! I should have just kept my mouth shut and made a stupid joke like I normally did. Rui apparently noted what I was trying to do and spoke before I purposefully threw myself of the proverbial mountain.

"You could simply ask Hina-chan," he said sternly as usual. "I wasn't keeping my life a secret. I just assumed that neither of you were interested as you never asked. I've only recently been picking up your double meanings."

"No one asked you idiot! Ugh, why are we even doing this today?" Anko stuttered angrily.

"Because it seems you are determined to play our situation off for laughs to cope with it. It seems like an ill-advised temporary relief. This alcohol is only exacerbating things," he said bluntly.

Anko looked like she was about to stab Rui with her kunai right about now. I wondered if maybe I had opened a can of worms that was best left sealed, but before I could even intervene Rui continued in unusual adamance. In fact everyone was acting unusual today.

"You know what our problems are?" he challenged. "Hina can't stop hating herself, you act all happy and purposefully annoy others because you want to seem fine when you aren't, and I—I cut myself desperately from my emotions so I don't have to admit that if I were allowed to feel, I wouldn't be able to handle it."

There was a silence, and I was just trying to get everything that was said to sink in, but I had missed Anko's sudden aggravation in her heartbeat or the signs of her snapping.

"No! You know what? Fuck you Rui! Yeah, that's right fuck you! Your problem is not that you can't feel, but that you can't do what needs to be done! We're Shinobi and you still cry when you take a life— what you think you're more pure, more human than us because you still cry like a baby over getting your hands dirty?!" Anko snapped angrily as she threw her can away and got up.

"Anko—" I said hoping to defuse the escalating situation. I wished I had kept my stupid mouth shut and drank my problems away now.

"—No, you know what, you're a little shit too! I know those tattoos and earrings were given to you because sensei likes you the most! He cares more about you than he does about me and you can't even bring yourself to call him sensei! You don't deserve his love!"

I was surprised by the amount of bitterness in her voice. It made me pause and wonder how long she had held that all in. Anko really did value what Orochimaru thought of her but I couldn't encourage it.

"Anko, he's not who you think he is," I said softly.

"Then who is he, huh? Just another sensei you can throw away like you did to that Inuzuka mut of yours! Like you're going to do to me!"

I paused, feeling as if I'd been slapped. Anko was panting hard now, and she staggered on her feet, swaying as she did. Rui caught her quickly and she straightened herself up again. I looked down, trying to keep the hurt from my eyes.

"I would never throw you away," I insisted.

"Fuck you wouldn't! That's what everyone does," she said jerking Rui's hand of her shoulder and storming of.

I made for her, but Rui held my shoulder and shook his head. I sighed and wondered how things had gotten so bad. Somehow it felt like all this devolvement was my fauIt. summoned a snake quickly and left it on her to keep an eye out for her safety, but Rui was right, she needed to be alone.

"She didn't mean anything she said," he said resolutely.

"When you're drunk you tend to say what you're really thinking," I disagreed.

Rui shook his head. "No I have no doubt she believes her own words, but she is lying to herself. It's easier to think lowly of others so you don't hurt yourself when they inevitably fail you. She was thrown away before and she expects it to happen again."

I blinked up at Rui in amazement.

"You should become a psychologist... since when did you become good at reading people?"

"Not people, simply you two over the years. And I meant what I said Hina-chan—your issue is that you hate yourself."

"Possibly," I said awkwardly. "How should I go about fixing it?"

Even asking for something like this so flippantly took all of my effort. I couldn't ever picture myself doing a heart to heart like this in the future, but I didn't feel comfortable leaving feeling like strangers with my own team again. I had neglected their lives, too focused on my own, but it felt wrong to continue that way. Maybe for once I should look outside my own issues.

"I have no clue."

"No clue at all?" I asked in mild surprise.

"No, unfortunately I'm no psychologist," he said sardonically which forced a chuckle out of me.

"I suppose not Rui, but you care deeply and that's not something you should hide away. It's not something you can. Trust me, I've tried," I admitted awkwardly.

"Perhaps you should be a psychologist too," he hummed jokingly.

"Well let's not get ahead of ourselves and give each other what could be potentially terrible advice and pass it of as wisdom," I said, nervously airing my collar.

"Wisdom is to be shared. Kusari would share his quite often. Apparently opening up is attractive to females. They prefer the gentler touch of a man who accepts his emotions. I simply tried that method today—so maybe every word of wisdom may not be wise," he said with a far-off look.

I snorted. "His sources were romance novels Rui. And I very much doubt trying a romantic gesture would work in such a serious situation."

'He had no real experiences' was on the tip of my tongue but admitting that would hurt too much. It would just make the fact that he died before he got to live too real. I could picture him vividly growing up alongside me, finding a cute feisty girl to his calm cool persona, starting off a little shaky, then falling in love, only for her to find out that despite his cool 'I don't give a shit behaviour' he was a hopelessly romantic man on the inside. I could picture him leaving the life of a Shinobi behind quite quickly to start a small family, have some children, and write some romance novels. Despite being a badass in all rights he would have definitely choose the peaceful life.

"Then if I were to admit feeling, I would admit that I miss him very much. He had become a close friend in the short time we had together," Rui admitted bringing my attention back from my thoughts

"And I failed him..."

"There you go hating yourself again."

"Sorry," I said sheepishly.

To my surprise Rui pat my back and I looked up to find him acting too much like Taichi. I chuckled a little at his stiff version of the big-brother act. My smile died down at the glistening tears in his eyes.

"You didn't fail him. You were fighting alongside him while I was sitting in a caravan safe as he died. I was useless," he admittedly painfully.

"It was under my orders."

"Orders which I and Anko normally refused," he rebutted.

"Now who's hating themselves?"

He wiped his eyes. "Guess you're right."

We fell into a solemn silence as we looked up at the moon. I could imagine what it would look like red and bleeding, a backdrop to the violence waged in this world. While I was nowhere near drunk, the alcohol had set in mildly and I found myself sitting back down with Rui, unwilling to take myself back to Taichi and face him again. I was content to lay my head on the shoulder of my brother in all but blood. It didn't help that he put an arm around me in a rare show of affection.

"I wish Anko didn't go," he admitted.

"She wouldn't ever get so mushy," I snorted. "I'm barely holding on myself."

"I personally wouldn't mind doing this more often," Rui said in his unashamedly truthful manner.

I smiled at that. Hmm... this wasn't so bad not that I'd ever admit that out loud. Not one single part of me deserved such peace, but I couldn't help the tired, selfish part of me to sink into its comforts and never let go. This peaceable companionship was a single guiding star in an endless sea of black night, a waypoint in admits a supposedly endless journey.

It was quiet unusually poetic of me to think of such analogies, but they were calming. I slept alongside Rui on the Hokage Mountain for the rest of the night. My snake summon had come back sometime later to inform me that Anko had gotten home safely. Sitting under the stars, in the quiet of nature always made me contemplative.

In this quietness one was forced to think and sometimes thinking was dangerous. It forced you to re-evaluate your actions and thoughts, forced you to reconsider things you found normal. It was in these quiet moments that previously blasphemous thoughts would creep up.

I was caught in my memory of taking Danzo's life, of me cursing him to hurt him as much as I could, of feeling the catharsis that came with taking his life. I had never experienced such a high in my entire existence. Killing him had been a peak I didn't want to admit I found pleasure in. Killing Hakanai had barely even come close.

'You shouldn't enjoy murder', something in my head warned me.

But I did. I did enjoy his murder. I killed without remorse. I felt hardly anything when I took the lives of those people atop metal tables. It was only after I had committed the act that my mind would supply its wrongness and I would lay awake wondering what kind of monster didn't care. But it was even worse when it was someone I hated. The thrill of a fight was one thing, but to feel that sort of enjoyment from watching the light go out... it was terrifying in hindsight.

Was I any different from Danzo? If I hurt people who couldn't defend themselves, if I showed their lives none of the value I demanded for my family—was my actions any different at all?

No I did it to protect my family. Danzo did it because he could... but we both did it thinking we were in the right. It made my stomach twist in disgust. I didn't want Kusari to go through the pain that he did, I wanted him to live a long fulfilling life and yet—I had probably killed all the children in ROOT too when I activated their seals. Not painless deaths either. These were lives lost in a blinding pain I was all too familiar with.

"Hypocrite," I whispered in disgust at myself.

Now I was defending Orochimaru because I cared for him. Disgusting. In the end I valued the lives of those I cared about more than I valued the lives of everyone else.

"Hypocrite," I repeated more defeated this time.

Looking at the stars I wondered if I was going to reincarnate every time I died, ripped from my life again and again until I stopped caring at all. Maybe that was what I deserved for what I had done.

A melancholy mood had settled onto me. At least Rui looked peaceful sleeping to the side. I had him and I had others who cared about me, but it felt like it was only time before they realised the severity of my actions like I did. For a long time turning a blind eye to my own actions had worked. I was able to disassociate. Without Danzo it felt almost impossible to justify anything I had done.

What was there beyond his death? What was I meant to do now that I had my revenge? I felt lost now and I understood why I had taken to drinking. I was confused and it eased that confusion, directed my thoughts to useless things and kept my mind away from this problem that plagued me. It was a temporary relief to a bigger problem, one that I couldn't keep coming back to if I wanted to solve it.

I sat up and rubbed my eyes as I looked down at Konoha, sitting atop the head of a man that was supposed to watch over the village, like this rock made it seem, but had instead turned a blind eye to my pain and the pain of others. It was something I was familiar with doing too. I wondered if there was someone who wouldn't, someone who do the right thing if they were given a chance to take the role.

Minato would... die if he became Hokage. I didn't want to think about that, but it was a huge possibility now that Obito was under Madara's thumb. Hiruzen deserved to have that headpiece ripped from him in public. The only other candidates they would take seriously were the Sannin, but Kami knew none of them would do a good job except for maybe Tsunade if she got her head out of her arse.

You would be a good Hokage

I stopped and wondered why that thought had overtaken me after my trial. Fugaku, after all, had nearly sentenced me to death. It was only his honour to his Clan that stopped him. It was because of that, that I had told him he would make a good Hokage. It was well and good to serve the village first, but how would you serve an entire village if you couldn't first serve your own family?

Fugaku cared about his Clan. He had tried to hold of their coup in the story for as long as he could, but it had been a failing battle and so he stood with his family at the end and accepted his son's execution of him with grace. It reminded me too much of kaasan and tousan.

He would make it work. He wouldn't let the Council tell him to do anything because he had faced discrimination at their hands. He would integrate the Uchiha back into the centre of Konoha life and give us an edge in the future. If shinobi like Itachi and Sasuke never defected, half of Konoha's issues wouldn't exist. I doubt Suna would invade without a bigger fight than they could afford if Itachi and Shisui were here. Orochimaru would be hard pressed to accomplish his goals here if the Uchiha existed too.

I paused and shook my head. I'd told myself I wouldn't put too much value into a plot I read in another world. I'd changed too much already for Orochimaru to plan the exact same invasion later. It very well could come in a different form now, in fact, I was sure it would. Shikaku had Kimimaro under his care and that would mean we had two Kaguya Clan members out of Orochimaru's hands. Not to mention it took another decade or so in the story for Orochimaru to be under suspicion of his experiments, but my existence had hastened the process.

Things would never be as predictable as it was in a story and this life wasn't a story either way. I just needed to consider that I knew certain individuals' motivations and... what was I going to do with this information anyway? Why was I planning for the future as if I was going to prep Konoha for what was to come? This Village had abandoned me when I needed help... and so I had abandoned its people when they asked for mine. This guilt... maybe it was why. I frowned as I looked down at Rui. No it wasn't the guilt. It was their heart-breaking confessions of feeling unsafe in their own homes. They were family and it didn't matter what I had to do if it was for family.

I didn't feel the need to protect Konoha, but I would protect the people I cared about. It just so happened they existed in this godforsaken Village. I pushed Rui's hair out of his mouth and smiled softly.

Yeah, a safer world for my team, a place they could return to without worry, a world where they could flourish and make families of their own. It was a hard-fought dream, but I could taste it in the air. I couldn't give it to Kusari, but I could possibly give it to others.

It felt freeing to not feel so lost. I finally understood what I needed to do, and the first thing on my list was to get Uchiha Fugaku a seat in Konoha's Hokageship.


I find that I make decisions for myself best in the middle of the night under the guidance of the stars, thoughts wandering everywhere and anywhere, contemplating as many possibilities and issues as possible. It felt only right that I give Hina a moment to breathe so she could gather her thoughts cohesively. Also expect her to open up to people a lot more now. She's really trying her best to reconnect with people now that she doesn't have to keep them at a distance for their safety.

Also quick note give me your thoughts on a future Hina/Anko pairing? Hina's entered the dreaded puberty phase now so it only makes sense. When I write romance it will probably be very slow and really not go anywhere for a long time, especially considering Anko's 14 and Hina is 12 at this stage. I actually had a reason narrative wise for including this future pairing, and I think it's the most logical route to go down romance wise, but even if I do this, romance will not be a central focus of the story. I did contemplate Hina/Guy, but me being the biggest lesbian around has zero experience in heterosexual romance, and I don't often read romance other than shojou-ai or yuri so I figured I'd practice writing romance with something I could understand first.

Anyway I thought it'd kinda be like Naruto canon, where you have the cute crush as a kid, and then you have some rare romantic tension sprinkled around the late teen phase, and then somewhere around mid-20's is when you get the actual pairing. I imagined that eventually when I got to the pairing there would be a lot of disappointed people and a lot of happy people. That's the nature of pairings I guess, considering everyone has their own take on what's best, so it's definitely ok if you don't like the pairing… it's just that I've already plotted ahead and it's what I'm going to go for. Sorry in advance if it isn't your thing.

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