Thanks to those who left a review - I tried to fix the issues with dialogue tags in the previous chapters and this one. Should you find a passage where it isn´t clear who is speaking please let me know.
Disclaimer: I don´t own Naruto
Chapter 03: The Senju-Princess (04.10.36 AfoK)
The loud chirping of birds outside the window of my room woke me up. I turned around and was greeted by warm sunbeams falling on my face, blinking at the brightness I shielded my eyes with my hand. Flipping myself on my back I rubbed the sleep out from my eyes and stretched my body like a waking cat in the process of doing so my blanket got kicked on the floor.
I moved to a sitting position and rolled my shoulders and was impressed, what a good night rest in a comfortable bed could do for ones wellness. I stood up and gave the room another once over, which confirmed I didn´t misinterpret what I saw yesterday. This really was a huge room, I wondered with what I earned it.
Lying on a chair next to the Futon was a white Kimono, as my touch confirmed it was manufactured from the finest cloth, something I couldn´t have afforded as a child and later on in my life, my priorities didn´t include owning fancy clothes.
Placed on top of it was a note, written in the most artful handwriting I have ever seen.
You might prefer something more comfortable to wear than your rags
Thinking about it, yeah I actually do, on the other hand calling my badass clothes rags is a bit too much. For just a moment I considered ignoring those clothes just to show how awesome they are, but thought better of it, I´m no longer an obstinate child so I should start and act like it.
I ended my introspection and focused on my surroundings the only person in the vicinity was Kushina and given her position she must still be asleep. Strange shouldn´t she be at the academy around this time, she might still be suffering from the aftermath of yesterday ramen eating contest.
I shrugged and grabbed a towel as I left the room. Standing in the middle of the hallway I wondered where would I have hidden the bathroom.
This presented me with the perfect opportunity to have a closer look at the house, the little I saw yesterday was already incredible and I had no doubt the rest won´t disappoint either.
After taking my time exploring the house, I had to say it was breathtaking the size and the love for detail was just mindblowing, my old apartment didn´t even compare and using the same terms to describe this kitchen and the one in my apartment felt just wrong. They were so far apart in functionality, equipment, and just general awesomeness that it felt like the right thing to do would be to come up with a new term to call it just to make the difference between a kitchen and THIS more clear.
The same could be said for every other room I stepped into. It took me a while to shake off the impression the house had on me and more than once I had to ask myself how loaded was the Uzumaki clan. This house let it seem as if the Hyuuga and Uchiha were nothing but beggar compared to this.
The fifth door I opened ended my search for the moment since I found myself standing in the bathroom and in the same way the whole house took my breath away, it was no different. The ground and the wall were plastered with white marble carved into it were different motives, mostly consisting of fish or other sea creatures, and gave the whole room the feeling as if it was underwater and allowed a free view of your surroundings.
It was a nice touch and must have cost a fortune. In the back of the room, there was an in the ground sunken bathtub which was bigger than my old living room. Stairs allowed one the slow descent in it confines. Which easily could allow a whole family to bath together. I had a hard time to keep calling this a bath in my mind I visited hot springs in the past which were smaller than this.
I stripped out of the only article of clothing I still wore placed the towel on a small marble shelf and walked down the steps to the center of the tub, the edge of it while I was standing reached above my hip.
My attention was drawn to a set of seals on the wall, each one labeled with a different word. I tried to push a little chakra into the one with water written on it and immediately the tub started to fill up with water.
To my misfortune, it was freezing cold, which caused me to reach for the seal labeled with Fire. The good news, yes it indeed increased the temperature of the water within the tub, the bad news the freezing water was now steaming hot and I was jumping around in order to prevent my feet from burning up.
I deactivated the Fire seal and slowly but surely the temperature started to drop as the hot water mixed with the additional water streaming from the Water seal. It didn´t take long and the temperature passed pleasant warm mark and started to cool down again.
Since I was convinced there should be more settings than steaming hot and freezing cold, I tried activating the Fire seal again this time however I took great care in how much chakra I channeled through it.
And behold, it worked the water slowly started to heat in proportionate to the amount of chakra I used. After some fine-tuning, mostly owed to my shot chakra control I managed to get the water to adopt the perfect temperature.
With that hassle finally over, I enjoyed the bath, and once more was reminded, that you usually don´t appreciate the small things life has to offer until you are deprived of them.
I leaned against the smooth marble and closed my eyes, thinking that I could use my time in the bath at least somewhat meaningful and tried to get a grasp on my willful chakra. Since I didn´t have the luxury to allow it to stay this way, keeping me from utilizing a vast degree of my Jutsu repertoire and abilities.
I could call myself lucky, If I still could manage so much as a one-handed Rasengan at this point. An untenable situation, should I get into a fight I would have to fight my chakra to a greater degree than my opposition.
I really hoped, I wouldn´t be separated from Kurama for too long, because in the event I manage to get accustomed to my current state, getting him back might shoot my chakra control once more and I would have to start all over again.
Not a situation I would like to find myself in, not with the start of the Second Shinobi World War on the horizon. I needed to be at my best.
Despite my misgiving of what that would mean for Mito, I knew there was no other option and I soothed myself with the knowledge that independent of my arrival she would have transferred him to Kushina in a few days anyway.
This way I might even spare Kushina the self-loathing and hate she otherwise might have felt for my nine-tailed friend for taking away her Oba-san.
I entered a deep state of meditation and even went so far as to extend my awareness to the nature energy flowing around me, I didn´t dare to touch it, however. I wasn´t keen on ending up a statue, what without a doubt would have been the result in my current state.
I circulated the chakra within my body and lost myself in doing various chakra control exercises with it.
I opened my eyes to pruney skin and the feeling of cold water around my up to my torso submerged body. The results of my hour-long training sessions were varied but helped me in getting a clear picture of what jutsu I should rather not attempt.
I dunked my head on last time under the water and then waded through the water towards my towel and right, in my morning drowsiness I forgot to take some actual clothes with me other than the underwear I wore coming here. A bad habit that I formed while living alone, something I better break, before I end up in an awkward situation.
Kushina to my great relief was still in her room and according to her energy activity still sleeping.
I grabbed the towel and started to rub myself dry when I sensed somebody entering the Uzumaki compound and closing the distance to the house fast. I knew that particular signature rather well, which meant I might get into quite some trouble if I´m found this way.
I hurried up to remove the water sticking to my body and the moment I was done put the towel around my hips, a short touch at another seal and the water was drained from the tub, meanwhile, I proceeded to leave the bathroom fully expecting the visitor to stop at the front door for someone to open it.
I of course should have known better, I blame the soft bed for my lack of caution and awareness. It is a dangerous thing to return home and then getting too comfortable, to start feeling safe and drop your guard completely, to my defense compared to where I come from it couldn´t get any safer than here, still, this is gonna cost me, because the door swung open and standing in the doorframe at the other end of the hallway was Tsunade.
She was looking at me incomprehension clearly pasted on her face, my own expression probably not any better.
We stared at each other for a moment, the open door allowed a balmy breeze of fresh air into the house and reminded me painfully, by causing goosebumps when I was hit with it, that I was only wearing a towel right in front of her.
I loudly gulped, even if it has been a few years from my perspective since she died, I can still remember her temper as if it was yesterday when I was last on the receiving end of it and at those times she saw me as her adopted son, grandson or something similar and not as a total stranger half-naked standing in the hallway of her grandmothers home.
I could see how her hand slowly formed into a fist and her face became flushed with anger. My mind was racing searching for ways to escape my predicament, when suddenly Kushina still midsleep came down the stairs which conveniently ended in the middle of the hallway Tsunade and I had our stand-off.
Her gaze with still half-lidded eyes found me first.
"Oni-chan what are you doing there standing in the middle of the halway half-naked?" She asked yawning.
Only after I gave her no response she followed my gaze and saw Tsunade standing there.
"What are you doing here?" she asked with a barely disguised hostile undertone "If you are searching for Mito-obasan, she isn´t here."
With those words spoken she slowly proceeded to walk away, no longer caring about us. I´m not sure she comprehended the full extent of what she saw in her sleep-addled state.
To my luck, I was able to overcome my surprise faster than Tsunade, which gave me ample opportunity to dash forward and flee into my room before she had time to react. I closed the door behind me and was about to reach for one of my scrolls to unseal another set of my clothes, but seeing the Kimono still lying where I left it had me decide against it.
I grabbed the Kimono and put it on, my scrolls despite not containing anything important or compromising I took with me safely stored on my back between the white Kimono with the Uzumaki swirl on the back and the orange Obi around my hips.
To my surprise, I sensed Tsunade following Kushina into the kitchen, which made my improvised precautions rather superfluous.
I thanked the lucky star I was born under and left my room and followed the scent of food.
I slowly opened the door to the kitchen expecting to run right into an ambush, only to learn my hesitance was for naught. No angry Tsunade was waiting for me to emerge.
Instead, I found her leaning on a wall watching the cooking Kushina.
"Who was that guy?" she probed "And don´t think for a second I would fall for that Naruto-nichan routine you tried to sell me."
"Häh" the red-head exclaimed, "What are you talking about? what routine? He is my Oni-chan and that´s it."
"So, you are telling me you aren´t the least bit suspicious of a stranger just appearing out of nowhere to be invited to live with you and grandmother?" Tsunade questioned.
"What is there to be suspicious about someone visiting his family?" Kushina wondered.
"Family? He doesn´t have red hair ... " Tsunade started only to be interupted by Kushina stating the obvious.
"You don´t either."
Tsunade ignored that comment with an angry glare aimed at Kushina back.
"Even if he is an Uzumaki isn´t it strange that I have never heard of him nor has Mito ever mentioned someone like him."
"Moah, what´s wrong with you? Second-guessing everything he is Naruto-nichan, there is no ulterior motive no secret plot for you to uncover, and if there was what do you care? Obasan and I can handle it on our own. We, I don´t need your meddling in our business Mrs. I´m not part of your family."
She berated Tsunade with a raised cooking spoon. That shut her up hard. In order to not let this argument get even more out of hand, I harrumphed vocally.
"Is it a bad time to ask for some of your deliciously smelling eggs?"
Kushina response consisted of giving me a deadpan stare.
"You can make yourself something to eat, Oni-chan." she pointed out emphasizing every single syllable of the Moniker she bestowed me with.
"I´m hurt, still salty about losing to me." I quipped.
Her response consisted of glaring at me as she stated
"I´m not cooking for you."
"Sure about that? You know I might be persuaded to invite you to eat another round of Ramen for lunch and if I should happen to have stuffed myself with the delicious homemade cooking of my little Hime, which I, of course, won´t be able to refuse no matter how much she gives me in order to not anger her. I won´t be able to eat as much Ramen as I did yesterday. So by cooking for me you might just happen to improve your chances to win against me considerably."
I lectured her with a mock seriousness.
Her left eyelid started twitching
"Are you suggesting I´m unable to win against you without cheating?"
"No, of course not." I said in mock dismay "I´m saying it is your only chance at beating me."
She slammed her plate on the table.
"I´m so gonna beat you, fair and square, and show you exactly who you dared to mess with, dattebane."
She declared enthusiastic until her verbal tic shone through and immediately used her hands to cover her mouth.
I smirked at her mostly for being successful to hear her say dattebane and less so for riling her up.
"I believe it when I see it, Hime-chan." I singsonged my nickname for her.
She started grumbling under her breath something about cocky blondes and it didn´t escape me that she could have meant either one of us with this since Tsunade shared my hair-color.
Which probably was the reason she felt like commenting.
" I didn´t know Mito-obasan lifted the Ramen rule only allowing you to eat them every two days." Well, that would explain why my grand scheme to have her cook for me didn´t work.
I gave Kushina a deadpan stare.
"Well played, for now, little one." I conceded.
I went to the cupboards and carefully looked at the carefully labeled sealing scrolls in there, to get an overview of what is possible with the ingredients contained within them.
I decided to follow Kushina's example and put some eggs with an assortment of vegetables in a frying pan. I hesitated a moment and turned to Tsunade.
"You want something, too ?" I asked.
"No -" was her curt response.
"Suit yourself." I said and put the pan over the fire of the stove.
After a minute, it seemed she gathered her courage to address me directly.
"Who are you? And what are you doing here?" she asked.
"Woah, do you always start with the hard to answer questions right off the bat? I mean, you already saw me naked and now you want to strip my soul, too. Isn´t there some kind of order to those things at least where I´m from you usually have to invite the other person to a meal or two, go stargazing, and then if both parties are willing you get to touch and kiss and somewhere way down the line we get to naked bodies and the loaded question about the meaning of life." I mocked her.
"What makes you think I would be interested, you are even dumber than my teammate." she said outraged at my insinuation.
"Which teammate, Orochimaru, or Jiraiya?" I asked with a half-turned head and raised eyebrows.
"How do you know that?" she hotly asked.
"Please," I shrugged "as if it wouldn´t be common knowledge who the students of 3rd Hokage are."
"You still didn´t answer my question." she doubled down.
"What gave you the impression I would be willing to?" I wondered out loud "Perhaps the way I tried to avoid the question and steer the topic away from myself to other things? Or was it my cheeky attitude ..."
"I demand to ..." she snapped when my mocking became to much.
The atmosphere, which I did my best to keep pleasant, shifted at her outbreak as I turned serious the amusement gone from voice. I faced her.
"You demand, with what right do you demand anything from me within the confines of another clan, a clan I just so happen to belong to?" I stressed, "The only thing you can do is ask nicely in the hopes that I decide to divulge any information and since I all but outright said I´m unwilling to, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, is there?"
She gritted her teeth.
"I know you aren´t this obtrusive to satisfy your own curiosity. I assume it has to do with your worry about your grandmother and Kushina. Don´t be, there is no reason for that and contrary to what you might believe or try to persuade yourself of I´m no stranger and certainly no threat to either one of them." I tried to mollify her, but a glance was her way was enough to make it clear I was unsuccessful in my attempt.
"Unfortunately, there is nothing else I can do in order to make you believe my motives are pure.
So you have to make do with just my word, but rest assured all relevant parties, including the Hokage, are informed about me and the reason for my presence, and to be frank, you neither belong to that circle nor is your security clearance anywhere near high enough to be allowed to know. Now does this satisfy you any more than my previous answers, Jonin Tsunade Senju?"
"No, no it doesn´t," she said.
"Didn´t think it would, but that is all that you are gonna get. Feel free to stay around and try to learn more, shake something else loose, get me to comment on something, and puzzle me out it is your time that is wasted, after all." I challenged her.
"I´ll take you up on that then."
Well, that was too easy, as I suspected even her younger self couldn´t decline a challenge. Someone really should make her aware of this character flaw lest someone less respectable takes advantage of that.
According to the smell, my eggs were finished. I grabbed a scroll labeled bread and unsealed a small loaf and took it together with a plate filled with eggs to sit across from Kushina, I purposely allowed Tsunade to stay at my back. Thereby making a clear statement I don´t need to watch her and don´t think of her as a threat.
Kushina eyed me curiously, her mouth full her chewing momentarily interrupted as if she was seeing me for the first time. I wondered what that was about, giving Tsunade lip, something I doubt happened often for various reason, her being the student of the third, acting Senju clan head and an incredibly beautiful woman or was it something else, could it be it just now seeped in she doesn´t know me, but had been spending the night in the same house as myself?
The loaded fork on the way into my mouth was halted before it could reach it because there was still an unanswered question I had to ask.
"So, why aren´t you in the academy young lady? Still suffering from the consequences of challenging the great Naruto-sama?"
She swallowed the contents of her mouth without chewing them further and after taking a huge gulp from her glass to wash it down and to keep herself from choking she remarked.
"Mito-obasan asked me to stay home today, said something about our guest needing a guide or something, and then she also wanted to help me with this stupid Bunshin jutsu after her return, that is required to pass the Konoha graduation. I only got this week left to get it down."
I nearly choked on my food. Well, she truly is family ...
"Is everything alright, oni-chan?" Kushina asked concerned.
"Yeah, the food just went into the wrong pipe. Say why didn´t you learn the jutsu back in Uzu?" I questioned.
"In Uzu we didn´t need to learn such stupid jutsu." she said frustrated.
"Tss, stupid jutsu perhaps you just aren´t ready to become a shinobi."
I could understand Tsunade's resentment given the situation, she was probably hoping, that if Kushina doesn´t make the cut Mito might get to live a little longer if the higher-ups should declare Kushina as being unfit to be a Jinchuriki, but to attack her this harsh was a bit much.
"Well, there is nothing wrong with having problems learning the Bunshin no jutsu. First of all, it is a crap jutsu, not even a genin would fall for it. I always wondered why it is even taught to the children and second what all future greatest shinobi have in common is that they never learned to perform this jutsu as genin." I lectured firmly convinced in the truthfulness of my statement.
In the background, Tsunade snorted.
"Yeah right, the best fail at an E-rank technique makes sense. All the Shinobi I know had no problem with learning it."
"Well that just shows how little you know, doesn´t it." I mocked "Since you are in a room with two Shinobi who both have trouble with this very jutsu and both are or will be among the best Shinobi you will ever meet. Right Kushi-chan?"
"You can bet your life on it." Kushina told her.
"Good girl," I praised her "now let´s eat up and I show you an even better jutsu, probably the same your Oba-san wanted to show you."
"Yes !" she screamed and started to bolt down her food.
"Woah slow down a little, you are aware you have to wait till I have finished too before we can start." at her comprehension she slowed down and resumed chewing.
It took her another three minutes to finish her meal, after which she started to harass me making side-remarks to eat faster and the like. It would have been hilarious to watch if I wouldn´t have been the target of her antics. Of course, I could have made a Kage-Bunshin at any time to start instructing her while my real self indulged in my breakfast, but similar to Tsunade's challenging nature Kushina was impatient to a staggering degree as was I during my childhood.
Iruka must have had the patience of a saint to endure prolonged exposure to my extroverted and impatient self. A virtue I should adapt myself, after all, I can´t rightfully criticize them without being aware of my own weaknesses, even though I managed to rein them in, to a certain degree my bad habits flare up from time to time, so this is as much training for me than it is for her.
A short glance to the back confirmed Tsunade needed a tempering too, the annoyance was clear to see. Which served to give this whole situation a different spin, with Kushina disliking Tsunade she could be doing this whole routine to get rid of her.
To my regret, there was no way to find out for sure aside from directly asking her, and the chances to get a truthful answer were nonexistent.
When my plate was finally empty, I was practically dragged outside by Kushina. She lead me at the seam of my Kimono through some backyard exit and we left the house towards the direction of the lake, only to stop when we got close to the shore.
She then whirled around demanding.
"Now show me this super-duper technique."
"Yeah show us." Tsunade unnecessarily added.
"You know being stared at like I am, by the two of you a lesser man might get performance anxiety." I joked.
Kushina darted her head to the side in a questioning manner, not allowing her the time to formulate that she didn´t get the reference I put my fingers in a familiar position molding a little chakra another me popped up next to me.
I was a little put off by my performance since there was a huge white cloud accompanying my clone springing into existence, that hid both me and my clone from view for a few seconds, a clear sign of wasted chakra owed to my current lack of a perfect chakra control. Something I´m sure didn´t escape Tsunade, Kushina on the other hand was staring dumbly at me.
"Ni-san" she fumed "didn´t you say, you would teach me an awesome jutsu."
"I did and I´m about to." my shadow-clone responded.
She interrupted my clone.
"Then why are you making a Bunshin?"
"Well, you really need to learn to allow others to finish speaking, I was about to tell you. So listen up, First of all, this is not a regular Bunshin." she was about to protest but the raised hand of the clone stilled her "It is called Kage-Bunshin no jutsu it creates a real tangible doppelgänger of yourself, who even can use jutsu."
"Really ?" she wondered and was already touching my real self, not the clone that just spoke to her.
"I´m the clone." my other self proclaimed.
Her eyes widened
"no way" and she ran to him to touch him in the same manner. "Awesome"
"Exactly, as `I´ was saying secondly by learning this jutsu you not only get some great utility in more than one way, but it will also allow you to pass the Bunshin portion of the genin exam with flying colors. To ..."
At this point, Tsunade decided to intercede.
"You can´t honestly be trying to teach the Kage-Bunshin to her, It is a B-rank kinjutsu and that for a very good reason, this jutsu is dangerous the chakra requirements alone could kill her, most chunin don´t have enough to perform this technique without a risk for themselves."
"Well, Kushina isn´t most. She is an Uzumaki." I said.
"What does that have to do with her learning the jutsu." Tsunade asked not getting what I alluded to. I couldn´t blame her, even she distantly related to the clan wouldn´t have regular contact with the secluded inhabitants of Uzu. Therefore the knowledge might not be at the forefront of her mind.
"Well, what are the Uzumaki known for besides being Masters of Fujinjutsu ?" I questioned.
Her face told me she got it, Kushina saw the need to speak it out.
"Our near-endless endurance and high charka reserves."
"Exactly, and high chakra reserves are usually difficult to control so for the average Uzumaki to be able to make a normal Bunshin he would need chakra control on a level most Jonin don´t have, which is furthermore complicated by the fact, that Konoha usually starts their shinobi on more difficult chakra control-exercises as a genin and beyond." I pointed out.
"So you see" I addressed Kushina "the village didn´t provide you or anybody else with high-chakra reserves with the necessary tools to succeed at learning this technique, which in your case nearly could have prevented you from becoming a genin. Quite the outrage if you ask me, after all, you possess an incredible advantage over other shinobi, which would undoubtedly allow you to become an incredible ninjutsu specialist a few years down the line. But you were nearly held back, might have even been labeled as a failure, because the teaching staff didn´t consider you might have just too much and a too powerful chakra to perform a cantrip."
"So, I´m awesome because I can´t do the normal Bushin ?" She asked uncertainly.
"No, you are awesome because you are you and you will be even more awesome with the Kage-Bunshin at your disposal. So let me explain how it is done." I said, "First, you need to mold chakra then disperse it equally throughout your body, imagine it like a second skin you form around yourself, then when you got that far you make the cross handseal and while you are performing the with the handseal accompanied changes to your chakra you have to imagine yourself separating into two equal parts."
"Huh, that doesn´t sound too difficult." she mused.
"Well most techniques don´t when dumbed down to the essentials, but this technique didn´t get ranked B for its chakra requirements." It was declared forbidden because of it "It is not an easy technique to learn, so don´t let yourself get discouraged if you don´t get it immediately, understood." I told her.
"Yeah, Uzumaki Kushina doesn´t give up, Oni-chan." she affirmed.
"Good, then get to work. If you manage to get a single functioning clone till lunch, I will personally persuade Mito to suspend her Ramen rule for today." I said.
"Yatta -" she cheered and went to work.
After I had confirmed she was on the right track by closely watching her chakra through my sensor abilities, I sat down upon a close-by rock and tried to enjoy the scenery. Tsunade stayed close by and mulled something over.
"You know, you could try to learn the jutsu yourself." I said to her "Instead of just standing around watching me, I mean I´m flattered ..."
"Don´t get too full of yourself." she retorted.
"So, you aren´t interested?" I asked.
"In you, hell no!" she seethed.
"That was not what I meant." I tried to clarify "The jutsu, Kage-Bunshin is a great tool and I have yet to meet a Shinobi with the chakra required to use it who didn´t profit from knowing it in some fashion." I paused for a moment only to needle her while smirking by saying.
"Oh, I get it. You are scared Kushina the according to you talentless Shinobi might take less time learning it than you. A quite substantiated fear, she would never let it live you down and neither may I."
"You are out of your mind!" she glowered
"Really? Am I? then you certainly won´t have any trouble to convince me from the opposite." I looked at her "How about a little bet?" I offered "If Kushina wins you will be the one not only paying for our ramen meal, but you will also persuade your grandmother to allow it."
"And if I should win?" she questioned.
"Don´t know think of something, it won´t matter, because you won´t win against Kushina," I told her.
"You have got quite some confidence in the abilities of a child you just met."
"Might be or perhaps I know something you don´t. Who knows?" I shrugged "So what about it do you accept the wager?"
"Yes, and should I win you will answer all the questions I have." she declared
"Sure, Sure not that it will come to that."
I was sure of that at least because for someone like Tsunade with her less potent chakra an additional step in learning the jutsu was needed, increasing the density of the chakra spread throughout her body to create a hard shell being able to contain the rest.
She undoubtedly will figure it out, She is a smart woman after all, but by the time she does Kushina will be close or already should have succeeded in learning the jutsu. I couldn´t suppress my smirk by thinking at a free Ichiraku Ramen buffet.
"Hey, Kushina!" I shouted. "Tsunade said if you can learn the jutsu faster than her she is paying for our Ramen. So don´t let me down, Hime."
She returned the brightest of smiles and redoubled her efforts. Tsunade was about to start when a hawk descended upon our position.
It landed in front of us carrying a note tied around its foot.
"It is a summon from the Hokage, the compound doesn´t allow for ANBU to enter it." Tsunade explained.
Ah, that explains it, I reached down to the bird and removed the message.
"Well, Seems like you have to decide the winner without me. Don´t cheat." I warned her. "Hime, the Hokage wants to talk to me. So when I return I expect you to have won."
"You got it!" she exclaimed.
With that said I started the march towards the Hokage tower. I noticed someone tailing me not long after I left the confines of the compound. Have I already aroused Danzo suspicion or is this someone sent by the Hokage, too bad that without Kurama I would have to ask to be sure either way. I refrained from doing so, Danzo will be dealt with, in time and his position in the here and now is a lot weaker than it will be in the future meaning his hands are tied.
The only thing he could do to annoy me would be to withdraw his saboteurs in Uzu, since this might prevent the attack on Uzu. But a single Uzu shinobi for which he clearly had to suspect me of being shouldn´t warrant such a step, to destroy their over years carefully made plans, Madara wouldn´t stand for it. And why should they? I´m just one man, a potential asset to revive the Uzumaki clan in Konoha, and should I turn out to be a threat in any way shape, or form or to be asking the wrong question I´m sure to find myself on a mission that will go horribly wrong.
So a nonentity, but that of course doesn´t mean he isn´t curious. Well, how goes the saying curiosity killed the cat.
This time around I didn´t search for a chunin to escort me to the Hokage and instead went straight for his office.
Manning the front desk was the same auburn-haired woman I already knew from yesterday.
"Naruto-san, please proceed the Hokage is awaiting your arrival." she said without any emotional inflection in her tone pure unadulterated professionalism.
"Thank you, Miss?"
"Hatake, Kana Hatake?" I nearly tripped at hearing that, It couldn´t be, right? On the other hand, it would make a lot of sense, Kakashi was born this year 15th September, last month. If his mother was in ANBU she would be on leave and reinstating her would take time, a few months for her to get back into things, in which she could be tasked with being the Hokage secretary.
Small world didn´t think to run into her, while not outright searching for her.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
"Oh no, I just thought the name Kana fit you." she didn´t even twitch, not one for flattery this one.
She opened the double doors and I stepped inside.
The Hokage was sitting behind a new desk that outwardly wasn´t any different than his last one and if not for me knowing he destroyed his last one, I wouldn't have noticed.
"Hokage-sama, you wanted to see me." The doors closed behind me and I barely made two steps in the room when he threw something my way, without dignifying me with a single glance my way. I caught it with little trouble and was staring at a Konoha headband within my hands.
"I will instate you as a Jonin effective immediately."
"Thank you, Hokage-sama."
"Don´t thank me, I would have liked nothing more than to deny you becoming part of my forces. But your benefactor, who not only made you part of her clan but also made a strong case in your favor and laid it out in no uncertain terms what not accepting you would ultimately come down to."
He looked up from the papers on his desk and fixated me with his piercing eyes as he continued to say.
"So you see, I was given no other choice, with her decision already made up and I have learned not to try to sway the opinion of an Uzumaki, Mito-sama in particular. And I don´t need the headache of you running around accountable to none. So you better don´t make me regret this."
"Didn´t plan on it," I said with a smile, that gave away I had no intention whatsoever to stay true to those words.
"I feared as much." he dryly commented, "Tomorrow ten o clock there will be an obligatory meeting of all Jonin not on a mission or on guard duty, I expect you to be there."
"Of course, Hokage-sama."
"If there is nothing else you are dismissed."
I bowed and left his office.
Seems like Mito was hardworking, I wondered what else she has done this morning.
Suddenly my musings were interrupted when I sensed two identical presences from the Uzumaki compound, and I had to grin imagining the face Tsunade is no doubt making at the moment being bested by a genin, too bad I missed it.
Well, the important thing, after all, was to save some money and to humble Tsunade and get her to interact with Kushina.
I made my way back to the compound my shadow still accompanying me. When I reached the lake I saw a three smug grinning Kushina standing around watching Tsunade unsuccessful efforts to replicate Kushina feat.
One of the Kushina took notice of my approach and beamed all over her face. "I won, Oni-chan! Do you see!"
"Yep, I do. Just as I told you."
Taking a closer look at Tsunade progress showed me she was close and already figured out the additional step. And a second after I had that thought two Tsunade were standing in the clearing, she was short of breath, not solely from creating this clone alone but all her failed attempts prior. She dispelled the clone not long after she created it.
I gave her my best I told you so gaze.
She just huffed and stalked away, I waited till she was about to leave hearing distance to proclaim.
"We eat at 12 o clock at Ichiraku Ramen, don´t forget to bring your wallet." I shouted after her.
Her steps wavered a moment, but she continued her track without looking back. The three Kushina giggled and the one closest to me High-fived me.
"So, since you got this jutsu down so fast how about I teach you another one ?" I asked her.
"Sure," I confirmed, "but only if you want me to."
"Of course, what will it be this time? An awesome Dragon of Doom jutsu or a Fire jutsu to burn them all." She became a dangerous glint in the corner of her eyes at mentioning of Fire. A little Pyromaniac, hmm good to know. It took a mental note to not teach her any fire-jutsu away from a huge water-source.
"Well, not exactly I thought of something a little more basic. How is your Henge?" I asked.
Her mood turned sour and her shoulders slouched.
"That bad? Hmm"
Not really surprising the one they teach at the academy is also just a cantrip a weak illusion like the Bunshin that is put over the caster, which is why it is recommended to use this jutsu only to imitate people with similar and bigger build since it doesn´t turn the parts of the body protruding from the illusion invisible.
"Well, it is not surprising." I remarked "The Henge also requires far too little chakra for someone like you to get it right. I´ll show you the improved variant." deep down I knew that not every Shinobi academy in the elemental nations would have the same requirements, my run-in with Zabuza and his story about their final exam made that more than clear, the question was what did they learn back in Uzu?
Fujinjutsu more than likely, no Bunshin the elemental ones require a basic understanding of one element, and not every affinity opens up that venue. So it would not make much sense to even try and then there is the fact not everyone has a knack for elemental manipulation, there are a fair number of shinobi that got somewhere without a single elemental jutsu to their name, so trying to press them into a category might hamper their development.
So what else is there? I put answering the question on the back burner and put my focus back on my eager student.
"Here this is my version of the Henge, a real transformation," I said and with a poof of smoke, I turned it a little fox kit.
Her three iterations were confused for a moment surely questioning where I went until one of them looked down.
The first word I heard was "kawai" from three mouths and I knew I was in big trouble.
Okay, the first part of the chapter mostly served the purpose to make it clear that in this Naruto world things like electricity and therefore Walkie-Talkies fridges and the like don´t exist.
So there either exists a seal replacement for those with the necessary funds to afford something like it or it is handled how it was done before electricity was a thing.
I´m one who despises inconsistent technology levels in a story I read ... and those can result in some rather glaring plotholes ... so I see no need to grandfather reason for such in this story.
Not sure about the slice of life part this chapter had – the purpose is mostly to serve as a counterweight to the heavy themes that interspersed in Naruto introspection and later chapters to not end up with a too dark story.
Regarding the Henge and Bunshin Kage-Bunshin facts in this chapter – most are explained on my profile page I hope everybody who came so far in the story has already read.
The short version – given of how we see Naruto utilize his Henge and no other Ninja doing the same like transforming into solid objects – I find it reasonable to assume they just couldn´t, canon, of course, does not provide us with a great sample number since the Henge is pretty much exclusively used by Naruto.
But if we add everything together we know about the setting -
Uchiha acting as a police force with the official version for this task, for one them being distinguished by this nomination and second they especially good suited for that, at least implied to me it has something to do with the Sharingan namely their ability to see through illusion and their photographic memory – meaning everything but the most unorthodox disguise/Henge could slip past them.
Which Naruto Henge obviously includes and makes it to the shortlist of such jutsu – not even Pain with his Rinnegan was able to see through Naruto being transformed into Rocks or into the Futon Rasengan Shuriken.
Furthermore, as we have seen any other jutsu like the Akimichi subset or the ones of the Inuzuka that make solid transformation take a shit ton of chakra – so I doubt Sakura or any civilian born children would have an easy time performing the same jutsu we see Naruto use.
Last edited: 23.08.2020