A/N: genre Mystery added to the story, Is it? I suck at organizing stuff correctly. Going T rating too, don't think I'll write stuff that might suggest M.
I got several ideas solidified, and I only had to fix a minor detail, so that's good.
If anyone's curious , it's from chapter one, only making the Naruto's sage red eye appearance go away. Well... If I had a laptop I would fix that detail( I published the chapter on an ipad.
17 communities? Whoa. Over 650 followers? I'm struck.
Naruto sat down on the loveseat, scratching his head in confusion. Though, he bore a smile to sway the woman across from him from asking any questions.
Her return had caused feelings to surface. There were some odd somewhat conflicting emotions rummaging about in him. Judging by Mito's relieved expression, she had no idea that he was a little angry. He guessed that either she was terrible at gauging others, or that he wasn't so transparent. Maybe it had something to do with her being tired, but he liked to think it was all of them.
That wasn't exactly the highest of his concerns. He should be more angry, hell; he wanted to be more enraged. Being imprisoned and getting his mind searched without his consent, which in fact; he probably would have given them permission to do because he wanted to find out whom he was.
That's what he identified in himself; it made him a little puzzled at that. That was not the abundant feeling in him though. It was...relief? Assured? 'What's the word?' He just felt like it wasn't that big of a deal.
Everything that had occurred to him over the past month, regardless whether it was painstakingly boring, it just seemed better. The hell?' Yeah, that sure was an odd thought. 'Better than what?' All he obtained was a blank memory and something else retarded to deal with.
He wanted answers now dammit.
"Troublesome..." Naruto mumbled. He could only lament at how perfect that word suited his predicament.
"Pardon?" Mito asked.
Deciding not to reveal those thoughts, he asked something else he was curious about. "So when's the old fart going to come around?"
She had an expression of bewilderment. "That's my grandfather you're talking about" Replying sternly.
"I didn't mean it in a bad way...I mean I finally get to meet the guy. Y'know, you always talk about him. He did help raise you and your sister right? He seems pretty cool and stuff"
Mito looked subdued, obviously drowsy. She merely sighed, "He did, but If you say so, I hope you don't refer to him that way, but he should be here in a minute or so"
He smirked. None of his earlier frustration seemed to have returned. 'Be more angry dammit!' It was too late however; he could feel himself merely accepting it. He sighed, raising a brow from Mito.
"So what else could you tell me about the Uzumaki clan?" Asking something to pass the time, and to fill the void of silence that made him slightly uncomfortable. Noise made everything better in his opinion.
"I dunno, it's not like I remember anything" Naruto stated.
"Right...Perhaps I should generalize about the way of life before the village" He nodded, mentioning for her to continue. "I suppose it can be said of other clans as well, but I can't be certain"
If there was one thing he knew, it was that she liked to be knowledgeable. She could probably flaunt herself because he didn't know a lot of things but she didn't give off that feeling. He was a perfect subject, mainly because of his amnesia. Hopefully.
"Our people were semi-nomadic; never staying in a area for too long." He was about to ask why before she explained it. "We were not the largest clan nor the most powerful, so we couldn't stay in one area for too long, lest we be discovered and destroyed. Our clan is knowledgeable with seals however, so we're fairly confident that our location could be kept secret for the time being"
She droned on a little more, so he felt like he shouldn't have suggested that topic. It wasn't that it wasn't a little interesting, but he did like to talk sometimes too. He would've stopped her, but he did like the way she talked; Firm, with carefully articulated words, quiet but with just enough volume. His head certainly felt a little weird.
She seemed to have to have finished talking, and he had no idea what were her last words. So he went for a different approach.
"So what's up with Emi? Is she not a ninja? I mean how did that happen?" He might as well humor her a bit, at least until her grandfather came. She gave pause, likely figuring out what to say with her response.
"How do we think we grow?" She asked rhetorically. "People are married into the clan. We are most often staying near a town to easily replenish supplies or to guard them. My own father himself was married into the clan. Not all aged civilians could be trained however, or as effectively, but we did need professions to sustain ourselves better, rather than rely exclusively on the income of missions from feudal lords. Some clans did dissolve with lack of forethought when they couldn't sustain themselves at rough times."
Not really what he asked, but he got some insight concerning her family. Thankfully she answered his question next.
She smiled sadly. "As with the situation with Emi, she was often plagued with sickness in her youth. Highly unusual, especially with one of Uzumaki descent." Her voice was softer. "I helped care for her when our parents were gone, along with my grandfather"
Emi was much shorter than her elder sister, so that might have helped their height, despite their two-year difference.
He gave a wide smile. "You really care for her don't you, I think you did a pretty great job... man I wonder if I have any siblings, I think I would be the coolest brother ever"
She gave a more genuine smile this time, however small that it was. It was definitely an improvement in his opinion.
A knock sounded on the door at that moment, and Mito quickly stood up to answer it. A gruff old man stepped inside. His aged appearance and serious expression spoke of pressing matters. However, it seemed his eyes spoke a little differently though. Naruto also noted he was younger than he initially thought and also he had a good beard going on.
The aged man walked over to him, Mito trailing behind him. "My name is Shin Uzumaki, grandfather of Mito right here, it's nice to finally meet you..." His hand held between them for a handshake.
Naruto quickly stood up, grabbing the gruff man's hand. "What's up old man?" He smiled in amusement at the sharp intake of breath of Mito. Her eyes widened in surprise, glaring kunai at him. "Name's Naruto, I would tell you more but I don't really have a damn idea of anything else other than that" Shin's expression didn't change, but he could see the nearly hidden amusement in his surprisingly lively eyes.
Naruto was also aware of Mito's hilarious reaction, worrying about her grandfather's response. He wasn't concerned about it though.
Shin let out a hearty chuckle. "I suppose we can be casual, It's a good thing too, I'm weary of all the formalities in the past few weeks"
Naruto smirked. "Alright, that's great! That's too much work for me too, I'd probably wouldn't do it even if I was forced too" Shin nodded in agreement, along with a laugh. Mito was seemingly surprised, but she shook her head and seated herself on the couch opposite of him, along with Shin. He didn't seem to be in trouble at the moment, at least, until Shin left the room.
"I just wanted to formally apologize" He started.
"Eh? What for?" Naruto asked.
"That person didn't follow through on my specific orders, He's a person a who wished to protect his village" The older man laughed. "I probably should have written down the exact orders for Mito to receive but I wanted to strengthen our clan's ties"
"Oh, uh, that's alright really. Trust is important right?"
He nodded in agreement." It's a bit different than from what I'm used to, multiple clans under my care, we were never in a position when we had to attack each other before the villages formed. So we're just on shaky terms"
"Well, I think you will do pretty well, I mean you're old, so you should know stuff right?" Naruto replied. Mito had a somewhat agreeing look with that; she would've probably said it differently though, with more needlessly complicated words.
Mito watched the exchange between her grandfather and Naruto. Their discussion ranged from various unimportant subjects; from food, stories, and his circumstance. Casual, it seemed, which she participated in with a little.
"Ah, yes, before I forget, may I see a you perform the seal on that kunai?" Her grandfather asked.
"Sure!" Naruto replied. A blink later revealed that he magnificently disappeared, it was quite the sight to see. Her sensory ability revealed that he was nearby, in his room.
"That sure is..." Shin seemed impressed. He exchanged a particular look, he was caught. She kept herself calm. It seemed he grandfather remembered something she had forgotten. He merely shrugged."There's something about him.." He played with his beard.
"I had a sensory type track him with specific orders but he reported nothing that would endanger us..."he added. There was a reason why he was entrusted care of the village. A secondary plan if the first should fail.
"Are you..." She started to ask, but Shin merely shook his head. Naruto came waltzing it back in before anymore could be said.
Mito carefully observed her grandfather, he was surprisingly relaxed. Even in the presence of someone new. It was like this with her sister as well, this was more significant however. So she could only guessed that Naruto wasn't in any sort of danger.
Naruto sat down once again across from them, the tri pronged kunai in his hand. Smirking as he looked at the looks that he got from her grandfather. From her as well, it was no wonder he could easily bypass the seal around the apartment. Emi had helped obviously.
Emi suddenly appeared through the unlocked door, making everyone turn towards her. "Ugh, Naruto, I can't believe you just left me out there, I had to walk all the way over here alone"
"Oh sorry!" Naruto apologized, rubbing the nape of his neck. "I'm not sure what to say, I just forgot?"
Mito could only feel amused, even if Naruto didn't hastily reveal his technique, Emi would have blown his cover wide open. Her grandfather sent glances around the room, inspecting the others, bemused. The blond seating across from her still hadn't caught on just yet.
"Huh?" She replied, her hands firmly placed on her hips. Her eyes widened when she saw their grandfather but she quickly masked herself. "Oh Uh, Hey sis, grandpa! Finally nice to see you all back!"
Momentarily distracted, Shin gave a warm greeting, along with everyone else.
"It's okay Emi" She hinted, from which she quickly caught on. She was immediately relaxed, also seeing that her Shin riding seem to be displeased in any way.
Emi nodded and turned back to Naruto once more. "Did you forget about me because Mito came back" She turned towards the blond, expecting something from him.
"Yeah!" He spoke honestly and bluntly. She was surprised by that response...and was honestly-
"She scared the hell out of the me," He continued. "I mean I had no idea what to do, so I tried to distract her with this thing" Displaying the Kunai in his hand. She gathered herself as quickly as she could.
She ignored him as her sister laugh and take a seat beside the blond.
"It is fun teleporting around like that, especially if you do it fast. " She took a loud sigh. "So what was going on?" Mito briefly took a moment to explain the gist of things.
Shin cleared his throat. "Naruto, I was going to ask how it worked, you didn't seem to perform any hand seals when you did it,"
The whiskered man gave a blank stare. "Huh, what the hell are seals? With hands?"
Mito nudged in, letting out a chuckle. "He seems to be able to do it without understanding some of the basics"
"That's...interesting" Shin commented. "Tell me, what can you tell me of it, perhaps we can deduce the origins" It took a moment for him to reply.
"Well, all I know that it involves time and space, but I don't know how or why. I have to concentrate on one of them, because I think something bad will happened otherwise. You also have to visualize and position yourself or you land on your ass" He nodded sagely but otherwise continued. "I can bring someone else with me too, so I can do that stuff for them…. I wonder how big I can bring something with me or how far..."
"I'm not sure any of that would actually help"
"I don't think I know anything else honestly..."
"Naruto also knows the shadow clone jutsu" Mito added.
"I do?" He said. "What's that? It sounds pretty cool"
"Hmm, One of the jutsu from Tobirama Senju..." Shin reflected. Mito quickly explained to Naruto who he was, the brother of Hashirama.
Shin thought for a couple moments, as Naruto and Emi began to talk a little more. That technique could certainly become quite powerful in the right hands and used correctly. Someone could easily bypass any barriers that may have been placed in any area, as long as they're not physical barriers.
"Well" Shin started, the others grew attentive. Her grandfather turned serious, straightening his poster and raised his voice to a more leadership level. "Naruto, if it turns out that you are not from Konohagakure, then I extend an offer for you to join our village and clan"
She was not expecting that. It was now obvious that he approved him of going to Konoha. Looking over to Naruto, she saw her surprised sister looking expectedly at him too. He was actually relaxed, and not being jubilant as she thought he would. Maybe he didn't understand the importance or significance.
"Huh, so I would be an Uzumaki then?" Naruto simply asked.
"Yes, you would be, if you chose so"
"huh..." Naruto leaned back, sighing.
His chakra was reminiscent of one. Except, there were plenty of signs going towards that he was from Konohagakure. Perhaps someone in the clan had disappeared off and entered the Senju clan that would explain his jacket. To remember their origins, so he should be recognized by someone when they got to Konoha. It should be that simple.
Shin stood up from the couch, heading towards the door. "Well, I suppose it's my time to say goodbye for now, Mito, you and the others will be leaving in a week's time, Along with Naruto of course"
Naruto joined in. "Later old guy!" Joining in on the farewell with them, much louder than necessary as Shin chuckled and left the building.
"I can't believe you kept calling him that" Mito stated.
"Well he's old"
"That's true" Emi agreed.
Mito looked at her sister. "Don't encourage him"
Naruto stood up exuberantly. "Ah well, whatever! Who wants to get some ramen!" Effectively ending the conversation. She stood up, not really minding what was for dinner. Today, she needed to rest and help train Naruto. She guessed that it wouldn't take too long; he did perform a jutsu that seemed complex to master.
"Holy shit it's hot!" Naruto yelled. With surprising speed, he proceeded to strip right before her. Before she could properly react or avert her eyes, he already had the majority of his clothes disregarded and with the help of a chakra induced jump, performed a cannon ball into the lake water.
Sighing, she wiped off the sweat building on her brow and walked to shoreline. She had no clothes to change into, but putting her feet into the water would be sufficient enough to cool off.
After she took off her socks and sandals, she submerged her feet. Today was certainly hotter than she had initially thought, so it was relieving to cool herself off in the water.
Birds sung their song loudly in the trees. The water gleamed brilliantly from the brightness of the sun. So far it was a pleasant day. It wasn't really a beach, but there were some dry sand before the higher patch of land. She took a seat on a nearby partially submerged rock.
It probably would have been perfect if they were not training. Naruto was still somewhere underneath the surface, and had been for a couple of minutes.
He came about for fresh air a moment later. "That's much better" Letting out a pleased sigh. He swam relaxingly a while as they both cooled off. Partaking in some small talk in their break for the mean time.
Her mind wandered randomly, not particularly staying on one subject for long. She remembered talking to her grandfather about why he had offered Naruto to join the village.
He simply explained that it was because she trusted him, but it was a last minute decision of his. There was also that he didn't seem to mean any harm to anyone. 'You're comfortable with him too' he added when she gave her observations. She had known that.
She looked over the relaxing atmosphere. Mito had come to this place in particular in mind, a small fresh water lake with a nearby clearing for spars. It was suitable for training. There was some newly built training grounds near the village, but were reserved for the up and coming young ninja. For now, until others were created.
The lake was for water walking. Surprisingly he had some trouble with the tree walking technique, taking him an entire day to get it done. He did however, kept going, without a single break.
Perhaps she was too optimistic about him being a natural at everything. How does someone like Naruto, capable of performing an advanced sealing technique struggle with a simple exercise?
She couldn't pinpoint him sometimes…
The water walking technique was a little more difficult than the initial one, and he also had no talent for combat, if their earlier relaxed spars were of any indication.
She had initially started from the top, of more advanced techniques. To see if he remembered any of his training, it was fruitless however. So they had to start from the bottom tier, at least she wasn't teaching a civilian as he had a better grasp on some mechanics. He was still a ninja, albeit poor one with his amnesia.
If she didn't get him up to speed on combat, he might be a possible liability of the off chance that battles were to occur. It wasn't too much of a problem, but it certainly would add some unnecessary trouble to an all-shinobi group. It also wouldn't bode well with Hashirama when she went all the way with asking him to house a potentially useless person who couldn't help with their research.
After several minutes, she decided that it was time to resume Naruto's training.
"Naruto" She called out. Seeing him still swimming in the water.
"What's up?" He voiced, his water soaked banged nearly hid his eyes.
"Come back to the shore, I want to show you something, no need to put on your clothes" After a quick return, he popped out from the water.
He was obviously lean, like a shinobi should be at the least. Now conscious of his appearance, she averted her eyes. Luckily her small little glance was left unnoticed by him. He stood there expectedly with shining curiosity.
Standing from out of the water, she channeled chakra to her feet. "This is the next exercise you'll be accomplishing." Taking steps out into the surface, water rippling as she walked further out, a nice distance away for him to reach. When she turned around, Mito once again found his face filled with some awe.
"Alright, I'm totally gonna learn that, that's cool" He said, preparing to walk before she had a chance to explain, falling straight into the shallow water. He splashed around before he surfaced once more.
"At least let me explain..." She said to him.
"Right, go ahead" As he stepped out. His expression filled with eagerness and surprising determination.
"Channel chakra to your feet like the tree walking exercise, but this time it needs to be continually flowing and constantly adjust with the water" She explained a little more of the mechanics of before he tried once again.
His eyes closed in concentration as he focused on collecting his chakra, she seen a sight that was most curious, she inched closer to him. Oblivious to the ever-widening steps she took to place herself in a better position.
A seal, black as ink, was quickly becoming apparent on his abdomen. It fully formed, but it seemed...cracked, broken. Some lines were misplaced, not aligning with the circle that formed. There seemed to be a missing piece associated with the odd seal, what would be eight muddled little blobs was instead six. The center of it was completely blackened.
She slightly bent down to inspect it, fascinated by the seemingly broken seal. Never seeing such thing like it. A sudden scream made her flinch.
"Gaah!" Naruto fell over. Making her aware of how close she was, she was just about to bend down to see. She ignored any possible embarrassing connotations with her actions.
He babbled incoherently, not that she wanted to find out what he saying. He quickly stood up. "What the hell were you doing?, you scared the hell out of me"
"There was a seal on your stomach" His expression was wary, disbelieving.
"There's nothing there" As he looked down below. "Are you...uh..."
She interrupted. "Just!... Channel chakra and look once again"
He hesitated, an odd look formed on his face. Unreadable to her. She gestured pleadingly with her hands to continue with her suggestion. His brow was furrowed, but he did what she had said anyway.
As he channeled chakra, he looked below once again. His expression contorting in surprise. "Oh cool!...What is it?"
"I don't know, but it's a seal" It was all that she could say really.
"Damn, I'm really tired of that, It's like..."He sigh exasperatingly, his hand resting on the back of his head. The seal on his stomach disappearing as he stopped.
"I can probably check to see what it may be..." Another seal that she didn't know, it was nice occasion to try and figure out it's properties.
"Yeah, sure" He concentrated to form chakra.
Taking some steps closer to him before she stopped. "...Perhaps you should lay down to get comfortable" She suggested. "It might take some time to examine"
"Er, yeah...right" As he laid on the sand, fidgeting to get himself comfortable. She sat cross legged beside him, he then sorted to channel chakra once more. The seal becoming visible on his abdomen.
"Well this is a little weird" He commented. She ignored him, trying to figure out what exactly what the seal accomplished.
She already deduced that she might not find much, especially since it was damaged. Her little sealing techniques would give her some results. Some time passed as she performed them, and she watched it disappear before her eyes.
Mito looked over at his face, a snore escaping from him. "It's only been fifteen minutes..." Letting out a sigh, she shook him awake.
"Huh? W-what happened?" Naruto asked drowsily.
"You fell asleep..."
"Oh...Well, hurry up" The seal reappeared once more. She guessed that she wouldn't be surprised if he fell asleep again, but she continued to work.
She continued with her seals and tried to redraw the seal on his stomach in the sand, seeing as she had no spare piece of parchment nearby.
It took a while, but she tried to recreate what might be the appearance of it. It had no power of what it may have been, or anything like it. Just the outline. Done, she carefully double checked her work. She wasn't able to fully piece it apart and deduce the full extent of its properties, but she felt that it was all that she could do.
From what Mito had found out, the jutsu present on his abdomen was meant to seal something in. Not like an item, or something like that. That wouldn't require such a complex seal, or a large one. It was for something living.
It was broken however, whatever it was had escaped. Perhaps that had something to do with his memory lost. A small and weak theory that couldn't be supported however. Other theories had more strength. Only Kumo -at least that's what had been heard- had created something like that.
'Is he from Kumo?' After a little more thought, it didn't make whole lot of sense. Konoha seemed a whole lot more likely.
He fell asleep again, lasting longer than last time however. She was done so there was nothing else that could be done. 'But, perhaps it may have left remnants...'
Thankful for her sensory abilities, she started a search in the vicinity of the seal. She focused in deeper, looking for anything foreign that was present. It should have been easier to find something that was unique, but she found herself being wrong in her assumption. She had to search several times to even find a trace of it.
There was something small, tiny, nearly insignificant. It was difficult to pinpoint what it was, Naruto's chakra was drowning it out with its potency. It was most likely chakra from something, or someone, but she could not identify it.
"Something up? Because...Y'know...I've been laying down for like, forever now" Somewhat startling her.
"I'm finished." She replied.
"You look and sound disappointed" As he finally sat up, shrugging off some of the sand that clung to him. "I guess it didn't really lead anywhere huh? Or much"
"It did not"
"Hmm...It'll probably become clear when I recover who I am or meet someone, or maybe I'll never remember and it'll forever remain a unsolvable riddle or something like that"
"What's the point of a riddle if it can't be solved?"She retorted. Not finding the answers would leave some insufferable loose ends. Having his memories apparently nonexistent was already such a blow. He continued to remember things however, so he might recall something that was important.
"I hope I never remember, just to spite you."
"You can't keep flinching and continuing to run away. You won't be able to defend yourself with such lackluster taijutsu skills" Mito berated the blond standing across from her.
"You keep kicking my ass, that's why I'm running away" Naruto whined. Rubbing his cheek from an earlier punch.
"Your form is all over the place, either too stiff or too sloppy, there's not enough power most of the time. I'm no taijutsu specialist, but you're performing below expectations" She rubbed her temple to ease her frustration.
There hadn't been a whole lot of progress since then, but they weren't as focused as they were right now. In two days time they were to leave Uzushiogakure. He was still just as terrible since they began.
"We've trying to do that same thing, over and over again, maybe it's time we try another approach." He suggested. "I'm just as frustrated as you, y'know?"
"Oh really, what do think that we should just do then?" She asked.
He shrugged. "I dunno"
"Well..." He went quiet for a moment, contemplating his words. "Maybe you can bring someone else to teach"
"Are you saying I'm a atrocious teacher?" Mito questioned sternly.
"What? Where did you get that from, I didn't say anything like that." He scratched his head as Mito tried to calm her nerves. "I'm just saying that we should trying something different, other than doing the same few stuff with small differences, I mean it's not working is it?"
"I suppose so..." As both devolved into silence as they tried to formulate suggestions. She had to admit that Naruto certainly kept going, wearing her out near the end of the day. He was doing more than herself as well. She took pride that she was one of the best kunoichi in the village. Overall along with the male population too. Mito had to wonder how he was in his natural state.
"I got it! Emi once said to me that I should just let things come naturally to me, so maybe we should do that" Naruto recommended.
She shook her head, giving her reply."And how are we supposed to go about that if we've attempting that from the beginning"
"No, You've been telling me what to do and what was wrong, just let me be and figure it out"
It didn't look it might succeed, but she might as well humor him. Who knows, it might actually work but she wasn't going to place all her hopes on it. She readied her stance. "Well then, let's try shall we?"
He still stood there however, a hand placed under his chin in a thoughtful gesture. "Wait, how about you go all out too? Don't give me any time to think and stuff"
"Are you certain?"
"Yeah, You already have been beating me for days now, and besides it's different now. It'll just hurt a little bit more" Naruto finished.
She thought about it. No giving him time to react, or to think. Just relying on instinct. Was she giving him too much time to think? Was she too lenient? Giving him a little too much time to think to the point of second guessing himself?
Perhaps she going a little too easy on him, not pushing him hard enough. To really get results - if they were present- she would have to attack whilst he was unprepared. Along with her full speed.
"I understand what you're trying to convey" She answered. Allowing herself to be surprised would defeat the purpose. So she mentally prepared her next moves that she would used against him.
"Alright, just give me a moment to-"
She performed a jutsu, the body flicker for faster accelerated movement. She appeared right beside him, surprise clearly written on his face. She gave him no time or any slight act of mercy. Faster than when she sparred with him, she performed a roundhouse kick aimed for his torso. He caught it, whereas he wasn't able to do before. She continued to send a barrage of punches and kicks, as quickly as she could.
His expression changed to a concentrated look, his eyes shining. His movements flowing flawlessly to one another instead of the sloppy and pitiful ones.
She threw a punch, he grabbed it easily and attempted to grab it with his other hand. She broke free, but not before he failed to restrain her with his freehand. She jumped back, throwing blunted shurkien towards him. He pulled out one of his kunai to deflect them.
Landing quickly, she blinked as the tools she threw was about to reach her target. At that moment, she felt something cold press against her neck. Orange and yellow filling her vision. Naruto had appeared right before her with his kunai in his hand. If this was a death match, he would have emerged victorious.
"Uhh...Did I just win?"As he dropped his arm to his side.
"It seems so, and your idea actually worked" She gave light praise, almost reluctantly.
"Huh...Cool" He reacted, which wasn't much. Perhaps he was modest when it came to achievements he performed himself. She had initially expected him to wail in victory, jumping around excitedly. It was tame, like when he was able to water walk, tree walk and other things.
"So how were able to appear before me? I thought your 'jumps' were limited to those seals" She asked as she looked for anything solid that he had slipped on her.
"Yeah, there's one on you" He shrugged.
Mito blinked several times, there was no kunai on her. 'When did he?...' It took a moment for her to remember that she was weakly grabbed beforehand. She inspected her wrist, finding a seal similar to one on his special kunai.
He caught the sight. "Oh cool! I could do that too?"
"Can you take it off?" Offering her wrist to him.
He looked at it for a few moments. "Yeah" He replied. "I have no idea..." He laughed, rubbing the nape of neck once again.
"Try it..." The seal made her slightly uncomfortable. She could easily be found and he could appear...anywhere.
"Well I'll try" He said earnestly. Placing a nice firm hold on her wrist as he placed a palm on her seal. Retreating it, only to find that it was still present. He repeated this dozens of times, only to fail each time.
"Never mind" As she retreated her wrist from his pleasant grasp.
"I honestly don't know Mito" He replied, a apologetic smirk on his face.
"It's okay, I'll just take it off myself later on" She replied. "It's getting late, perhaps we should go back now."
Naruto carefully took off the towel around his waist and quickly dipped into the hot springs. It had been about a week now. Tomorrow was the day they were supposed to leave.
He felt the hot moisture enter his lungs as he took calm breaths. The near scolding water of the hot springs calmed his muscles, a little sore from the training that he had done.
He gave some greetings to the few other guys present in the hot springs, but didn't seem interested in conversing any further. Proceeding to a nearby corner, he merely decided to try and relax for a bit.
It was for still felt restless, especially so for when he alone., those weeks being stuck in the apartment did nothing to help that. He tried to talk to the nearest guy but it seemed he was finished, quickly exiting the water.
'Great...No one to talk too...'
If he had to be honest with himself, he was slightly frustrated. He could feel the hot pressure building slowly over in his head since he had arrived here, even with the return of Mito didn't help with that regard. The reasoning was that he was lost, completely so. He had no clear direction, he had to do something, but the largest problem was that he had no idea what it was or what to do. If he didn't have that looming feeling, he could probably ignore all that. Except it just wouldn't go away.
He clearly had no identity, nothing quite familiar to work on. Just vagueness, cluttered and hidden by fog. God damn did he hate things like that. Even he wasn't sure whether Naruto was his own name. That name and the gear that he apparently had was all he had to work with.
There was Mount Myoboku, that no one had apparently ever been too. Then there was Konohagakure, which sparked nothing of familiarity in him.
Perhaps he could reveal his insecurities to Mito and Emi, but he wasn't quite sure he wanted to burden them anymore than he had too. After all, it was his problem to deal with.
The training was a nice distraction, but it didn't necessarily give him a sense of satisfaction. Even if it was frustratingly hard, for some reason. Whenever he completed an exercise like the tree walking exercise, all he felt that he should've been able to do it. He didn't feel any sort of accomplishment through those seemingly tiny achievements.
He grumbled in the water, bubbles flowing out. He looked at his surroundings, it wasn't grand, as it was a small place. Fairly bare when it came to the amount of costumers though.
Naruto released a yawn and leaned back a bit, trying- and failing- to relax himself. Mito was situated somewhere on the other side of the wall. A small thought formed in his mind. She was obviously naked, and then he heard that humming tune she sung several times before.
He was suddenly intrigued by this, knowing it was Mito on the other side, Emi was supposed to be there. He wasn't curious about the tune however. Naruto paused, suddenly alert of his thought process. He looked around to see guys, most of them sat away from the wall. 'What the hell...Am I a pervert.?'
'Nononono' Denying it. It wasn't his fault, not at all. Now he felt that slip once more, another nagging feeling. Yes, those perverse thoughts stemmed from someone else. Or was it completely natural to feel that way?Then there was seal that was on her wrist. He could feel it calling, beckoning to him like a loyal dog. It seemed more like an angry guard dog though.
She had said that was 'keyed' to him and she couldn't take it off. Nor put on any counter seals to nullify the effects. At least, not without any unforeseen consequences. So he was entrusted to not take advantage of it.
"Naruto, I should let you know that you should consider my grandfather's words when you two met " Hearing Mito's voice sound. He had initially thought it was just his imagination, but other things were said.
"Uh..."He gulped audibly. Completely forgotten that she was a sensory type, and would always feel his presence nearby. "S-sure" He guessed that was a good thing, being disappointed was a sure tell sign that he was perverse. Wiping those thoughts away, at least Mito thought well of him, enough to think that he wasn't that kind of person. No accusations, that was a good sign.
He recalled some of Emi's little input on her older sister. He was also explained by her sister that she was a little haughty. That much he knew at least. She always had this sense of superiority because she 'ate' correctly, or spoke in a such a 'civilized' way.
As long as the meaning came across, or the food entered his belly, everything was okay. Better than okay, it was perfection in his opinion. It didn't mean to be so pointlessly complicated. He didn't exactly voice his opinion as of yet, but it didn't matter all the much to him. Maybe it was who she was, he didn't mind that.
'Kind too... but a little bit condescending' It was nice to knock her down a pegs at times. Plus, her reactions were hilarious.
She was being ordered to help him, that much he knew, at least partly. Not anymore if he knew now. He did his best to understand the reasoning to protect her village, his life was insignificant compared to the entire village. He was a potential danger to them.
The world didn't revolve around him, nor could he change it alone. Another feeling welled up before it disappeared once more, but he had a feeling that it had to do with his earlier thoughts.
Disregarding it, seeing as he had several of those already. He had already talked to Emi about it, letting things come naturally and not force it.
"Hey Mito?" It seemed a little odd to talk like this, he'd rather talk face to face.
"What might've happen if I were to have popped up anywhere else? Like in another village?" He asked.
She took a moment to answer. "Other than Konohagakure, This is just conjecture on my part, to put it bluntly, you might have been killed."
He flinched a little, he would have been defenseless, if his sparring matches were of any indication. Thanking whatever entity or event that had landed him near Uzushiogakure. He probably wouldn't have been given the same offer as the old man did.
"So why are the two villages so special?"
"There are many clans that joined the different villages, not all of them are quite as forgiving as us Uzumaki, although, that has caused some grief as well..." She said rather emotionlessly, but went back to her original voice a moment later. "The Senju would likely have done the same as us, Hashirama Senju, their clan leader, is quite a generous person."
"Huh, I should meet this guy, I have a feeling he's someone I would like" He replied.
"Along with others that are coming with us, we are staying at his compound, I have told you that before"
"Right...I wasn't really listening because you kept talking that time..." He was met with silence for several long moments.
"And what do you mean by that?" She said rather icily.
"Nothing bad I swear, um, I just like listening to you talk." She didn't reply to that."Uh...So why weren't you so worried?" Naruto asked. Again, another long moments passed. He let out a sigh of relief when she began to talk again.
"We were friendly with the Senju clan, and by default with the Yamanaka clan. Their clan jutsu is especially useful for such a thing. So my grandfather and I were confident with someone like you. I imagine other villages wouldn't have taken such a chance..."
There was some muffled murmuring that he couldn't catch, but loud laughing was soon heard. It was Emi's, if he could recall. Apparently catching up with her sister.
"Be quiet!" Hearing Mito berating her little sister, but they didn't seem to talk anymore after that.
He relaxed, wondering what was so funny to Emi. Plenty of things were going happen now. Tomorrow, they would finally traverse to Konoha, along with several other shinobi of Uzushiogakure. Then...Well he wasn't sure so about those others things.
"Naruto?" He heard the voice of Emi sound from the other side of the barrier. Briefly, a vague impression of her also in a state of undress appeared.
"Damnit" He muttered under his breath before speaking up. "Uh, What's up?"
"We're going to go talk with our friends, bye"
"Alright" Not getting an answer. He decided to wade around the water, trying to ignore the seal he accidently placed on Mito's wrist. Tomorrow morning they were supposed ready for days of travel.
He had a dream when he slept that night. He was walking through wreckage of rusted steel and decayed wood. Making his way through worn and old buildings. He found himself standing on a fallen pillar overlooking destroyed wreckage. It was unrecognizable, some turned over buildings had fallen into a nearby river. The area might have once looked impressive at one point, y'know, if it wasn't obliterated.
He remembered thinking that it was a very odd dream. Walking through the area. He was here for something though, what that might be was lost on him. He trudged on however, impatience coursing through him. From the surrounding decrepit buildings, many others joined in his search.
"Naruto, are you ready?" He turned around to see Mito standing there by the doorway to his room, a small pack shouldered on her back. She probably used seals, just like him. She was likely oblivious to him knowing that he had figured that stuff out. I wasn't too hard, if he could take stuff out, he could put stuff in. Remembering the seal was a pretty nifty thing too.
"Yup! I'm all packed and roaring to go" He answered, flinging the pack onto his back. He also had such a fantastic idea, and couldn't wait to start it. Actually, right now was as probably as good as it could get.
"Let me see"
"Alright, I don't see why though" He shrugged, giving her to pack just to see.
"Naruto..." Her expression turned a little disbelieving as she searched a little around.
"This is full of ramen..."
"So? What's wrong with ramen? It's the greatest food in the land" He reasoned.
She simply looked a little struck by his reasoning. "You can't be so...Are you,..."
"Wow! Way to overreact Mito, I'm not that much of a idiot. I put my clothes in here" As he pulled out a scroll that was hanging to his back. Her brow was furrowed cutely, as in disbelief or something. "It's so I get my ramen really fast..."He added.
Mito's eyes widened a little, her mouth twitched a little, threatening to smile.
"Sometimes, Mito, you need to take a load off, you're too serious all the time" He smiled, undeterred by her glare.
"Here, " She simply said. "Emi is supposed to be here soon"
He got his pack full of ramen back, he put the scrolls full of items on the side or in the pockets.
"Right." He saw his coat, with the kanji of Mount Myoboku on the back. "You know I found out where this is"
He nodded. "Yeah, it's pretty far away though, a month full of traveling"
"You might be from there" She suggested.
"I don't think so, I read that people have never been on the top of it" He explained more of the descriptions of it's surroundings.
"You might be the first, or that a village was already been situated on it, perhaps on the other side of the mountains"
"So I might be from a strange land?" He shook his head, too many theories and not enough solid answers.
"There are plenty of contradictions that you are, or there must be some amazing coincidences" She stated." Like the shadow clone"
Mito had explained its capabilities. It was solid, capable of somewhat free thought and able to retrieve information upon dispersing. It was unique among the variant of the clone. It sounded really cool, he wondered how much he could make.
He shrugged, picking up that coat and placing it on himself. He next took the bag and wore it over his shoulder. That sense of dread, continued to bore at him. It made him nervous. It had stopped now, it felt like it was at the pit of his stomach. 'The seal?'
It had stopped yesterday, and on that night he had a strange dream. It's details kept fading and reappearing at odd intervals. Nothing could be extracted from it, so he didn't bother telling Mito.
He turned to face the door, Mito was still standing there. "It fits you well"
"Thanks" She dug into her pockets.
"My grandfather wanted you to have this" She pulled out a metallic piece, a black band attached to it. The symbol of the Uzumaki was engraved on it. The same as the one Mito wore on her forehead too. "You'll have to wear it, until we reach Konoha, not official until you decide to join"
He took the offered headband, as her tone suggested there was no room for complaints. Taking a moment to inspect it, before tying it around his head. It felt right to have something around it. It was comfortable.
A knock sounded at the door, that familiar annoying knocking of Emi. Mito immediately went to go answer the door as he followed behind. He just purposely hung back a little for specific reasons.
The door swung open, revealing Emi. A sad frown when she entered."Aw, I'll be so sad to see you both go..."
"You'll still be able to visit." Mito replied.
"But that would be while from now, and who knows how long your mission will last, you kept saying that it might be…" Emi had a sad frown on her face. The sense of goodbye was immediately in the air. It made him feel…
"Even if it does last that long, we're being rotated so I'll still be able to visit and stay here for a few months" Mito replied softly.
"I'll still miss you"
"Of course, I'll miss you too" Emi looked ready to cry, her eyes watery. She stepped forward to engulf her in a soft sisterly hug.
Naruto felt like he didn't belong in such a moment. Mito's expression had greatly softened; she looked peaceful, at ease. It was plain to see that she really loved her sister.
They broke apart, taking a moment to collect themselves as he stood there a little awkwardly. Eventually however, he was noticed by Emi herself.
Immediately, he too was given a surprising hug. Hesitantly, he returned the it. It was nice, he could only think.
"Watch her for me okay?" She whispered quietly.
"Uhh, if anything she's the one looking after me"
She was probably smiling but his comment was ignored. "It'll make me feel better, if you promise"
What else was he supposed to say? He wasn't going to deny her, the thought never crossed him. " I promise."
It was strange how he felt when he said that.
"Thank you." As she tore herself away.
Mito was looking curiously with that glint in her eye. She was holding the door open. "It's time to go now"
"Got it" As he stepped towards the door. Another too many goodbyes were made with Emi as they left the sight of Mito's apartment. He could only follow her absentmindedly through the village.
It seemed like a simple request, to watch over Mito. Although he felt very strongly about it. He didn't want to disappoint Emi, who was a good friend.
Naruto had been on some self searching, he couldn't help it. He had contemplated on how he was originally. Was he some sliver of his personality? Or was he his own unique person? Perhaps 'Naruto' was inside somewhere, or just a piece of him.
He blinked, realizing that they had stopped, their walk had been a while now. Mito was standing over a nearby bench. "So…Where is everyone?" He asked. Looking around where the apparent meeting point was. Which was a gate side, going towards Konoha and it's residing country. There was no one around, at least, no one that looked like shinobi with packs like himself and Mito. He turned to the woman, looking a little flustered for some reason.
"They're late…"She seem to concentrate for several moments.
"Aren't we on time?" He asked.
"Yes we are"
"So we didn't have to rush at all?" He asked, and realized something odd about Mito. "That's pretty funny"
She didn't seem to want to answer his question. "I know who they are, and it seems that they are not even close to being ready, or near here"
He looked around, a guard was stationed at the entrance. Some other civilians were walking around the sidewalk going about their day. He was still standing up on the other side of the bench where Mito was sitting. He wondered if they had enough time to…
"So…" Mito looked expectedly at him. "Want to go get some ramen?"
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah" He answered.
"Didn't we have ramen yesterday?"
He nodded. "Well, yeah, but that was yesterday"
She blinked several times, a blank look. "I'd rather not, we'll wait here until the others arrive. Besides, we ate a few hours ago" She sat down on a nearby bench.
"Aww come on, you said it might be a while, you got your cool stalker thing so you know where they are" He reasoned. She looked aghast at him.
"Did you just call my sensory ability…Th-The nerve!" She huffed and looked away. Her cheeks flushed in anger.
"Oh did I?" He scratched his head. "I mean it's kind of true is it? That's how you found me last time"
"Just be silent " She said harshly. Ending the conversation.
'I guess there's no ramen then…'He sat down dejectedly. Waiting in silence. Long minutes passed and he was tempted to risk asking her again. He decided not too, and started to pull out a instant ramen packet from out of his bag. Popping the cup open and alerting Mito.
"Are you really going to eat that here?" She questioned, a somewhat annoyed look lingered from his earlier suggestion.
"Sure, why not, ramen is ramen. Although I would like to have some hot water with it and see to Emi too"
"We saw her thirty minutes ago"
He shrugged. "That was some slightly heavy stuff, I'd like more normal moments with her. Y'know, I obviously don't have a ton of memories to remember people by, so I would like to have more of those precious little times...y'know?"
"But, don't you think those 'heavy' occasions are more significant?" She replied, her expression of interest and curiosity again.
"Of course, but sometimes I want more…happier times I guess. Even if it doesn't really seem much y'know? With anyone that would be my friend, like you" He looked down to take a good bite out of the block of instant ramen. It tasted okay, but the hot water and spices definitely made the dish.
"If we hurry, would you teleport us back here?" She asked suddenly.
He reacted instantly. "Hell yeah, Of course, I already have a seal placed at the ramen stand" He placed a seal on the bench, the one that was at the ramen stand only had the handle of one the kunai hidden under the seat. Well, before he replaced it with just the seal.
She laughed pleasantly." Of course you would"
He smiled, placing a hand on her forearm. He made sure that there was no one on the seat before he appeared before on the seat on the ramen stand.
There was no one else around, Emi was standing behind the counter preparing some ramen.
"What's up again Emi?" She flinched from the sudden noise, turning around to lock eyes.
"Naruto? Mito? What are you two doing here? Aren't you both supposed to leave?"
"Yup, Everyone's late though so we came by to have a snack" Naruto answered.
"Although I don't it would be a snack for you" Emi replied. He nodded happily in agreement. She sighed a moment later. "You made me get all emotional for nothing then?"
"Why? Are you emotional now?" She shook her head. "Great, come have some ramen then, it's been a while since we all had some ramen together hasn't it?"
She smiled, but otherwise nodded and quickly prepared their preferred dishes.
He kept having odd dreams when they stopped traveling and rested for the night. He remembered it fairly clearly, the second dream that he had. There always a lack of information of his part, something that he was supposed to know but didn't. He was looking for something for...something.
He kept sending someone somewhere. A place that was pretty far from the wreckage of the large village. There was a lot of searching, picking up wooden frames and clearing out the vegetation. There were many places that had been completely buried underneath and he couldn't resort to utter destruction to clear it.
Did he have jutsu that could do that?
Where was he? The only answer was that this was his mother's birthplace.
"Hey man, are you alright?"
He was shot out of his contemplation. Turning over to see a guy named Nori waving his hand in front of his face. He always seemed nervous for some reason.
"Yeah, I'm alright" Shaking his head from his thoughts. He was sprinting along with the other Uzumaki clan members; A team of ten shinobi, not including himself. Mito was up ahead, leading the other people and generally being a leader of the group.
"Oh good, I thought you were brain dead for a moment there because you had a blank expression" He laughed quietly.
That was another thing too, he was filled with terrible jokes. He probably thought they were pretty funny too. Naruto forced a chuckle, "That was pretty bad…"
He seemed like a good person though. A short guy with short white hair, his mother was married into the clan. He was seventeen years old.
"Don't worry about it, do you know how far we have to go now?" Naruto asked.
"Eh, after the end of the day, two more days after that." He replied quickly.
"Sweet." He answered. The first day could only be described as boring. The majority was spent on a boat to cross the channel between the Land of Fire and Land of Whirlpools. Tomorrow, they were supposed to meet up with some members of the Senju clan at the halfway point for an escort.
"So, How do you know Mito? I mean I've seen you talk to her a lot"
"Oh yeah, I fell from the sky once" He started. "I think you need to make a really good first impression on her" Mito once said that she might have been slightly put off if they had met normally. It wasn't the entire truth though; there was something else she had refused to say, he didn't know what though. He liked to think that they would still be good friends, no, he believed in that. She probably thought so too.
"Are you usually nervous around new people?" Naruto asked.
"What makes you think that?"Nori replied in his fast speech.
"Oh I don't know…Did you not make a good first impression on Mito?"
"Uh no…" He looked away. "I am pretty nervous when it comes to new people, I don't know why though"
"Well, It's obvious!" Naruto exclaimed
"What's that?" Nori asked.
"Just keep meeting new people to get over that, uh, fear? Anxiety of yours" Naruto nodded sagely. "I mean, we're going somewhere new right? That's a great chance" Nori smirked, nodding furiously.
Naruto decided to talk with the other Uzumaki, as he had done since he had first met them. It was a pretty nice experience to talk with other people; A pretty, excitable red headed woman. There was also an older guy, who always seemed to be laughing despite how quiet he actually was. There was another Kunoichi, who liked to talk louder than Naruto himself. All amongst other unique people, three of whom who seemed a bit normal compared to the others. One of which was Mito. Naruto wanted to get to know them, seeing as they might be living under the same house for while.
Now he lying under the small tent he was given. Waiting for sleep to catch up with him. After the first shift, it was going to be his turn to watch over the camp with Mito.
The small tent was comfortable. It was comfortable, but un-welcomed. It was a little lonely, despite that he could already hear snoring at the moment. He chuckled, rolling over to his side. Being alone... He hated the thought.
He was expecting another dream tonight, maybe it would help his memories...
It wasn't a dream. No, it was just emotion that he felt. Were they his? They didn't feel like it. It felt detached, but how did he feel them? It felt like ages before he recognized that they were actually his. Only experiencing them as a memory, he thought. It felt distant, but they were still very present and alive. Was he experiencing it deep within his heart? Like it was locked behind a door that he couldn't open.
Was he like the old Naruto? One that still had his former memories. Or was he completely different? No, he had some ideals that he believed in, only he didn't remember how he learned them. Perhaps there was still his shadow being casted around him, not yet him but not quite his own person.
There was a multitude of emotions in them; Love, fear, loss. At times, he just felt…nothing. Only for other things to appear after that; Determination, relief, hope. The feeling of hope stood out to him, it was…admirable.
"Naruto…Naruto" He heard soothing exhausted voice.
He blinked awake; his heart felt heavy and his eyes mysteriously wet. "Yeah" he answered. His leg was being shook, only stopping when he replied.
"It's our turn "He heard Mito yawn tiredly.
"Alright" Replying drowsily. He wiped off the apparent tears and quickly put on his jacket, along with the cloak that he had. The air already felt chilly from inside the tent, so he could only assume that it would colder outside.
He was right, as soon as he stepped out. It was a surprising, considering the heat a week ago. It was really dark outside, the source of light was from a small flame some paces away from the general camp area. The moon gave no source of light, covered by the clouds overhead.
He was already slightly awake, instead of the mess he usually was at other times. His dream had something to do with that. Even then, he stumbled to the lowly lit area where Mito was. There was some stumps around, from earlier when they were all feasting around the fire pit.
He was seen being approached by her, a barely seen smile on her face. He had only seen it because of the light from the fire. She was tired, some bags under her eyes, something that he never seen before as she was always up before him.
"Here" She mumbled, she offered a cup of water.
"Thanks" Taking a swift drink from it, it was cool. He sat down a few feet from her taking in the warmth of the fire. Her hair was hastily tied up, some strands in front of her face.
He took a look around the camp, but it was dark and he couldn't really see much. There were tents around with the other people he was traveling with. He was told that there was a seal placed around the camp, in a hundred meter radius. The people that were up – usually two – were a precaution if someone quickly slipped by. Mito had the 'key' for it and would it alert her if someone came through, it could be transferred around. She also had her ability on top of that, so he assumed that it an easy job.
"I don't really like waking up this early, or being interrupted" Mito said, yawning once again. "I enjoy my sleep…"
"I think I like my sleeping more" He replied. Reasoning that he was always up a little later than her. There was still this tiny smile that she continued to wear, it was contradicting her earlier statement.
That sat in comfortable silence for long time. Slowly waking from their slumber. In that time, he could only think about how he was, those emotions that he felt were fairly powerful. What were the things that he experienced? What did he lose?
"What if I do remember who I am?" he asked. "Would I be the same person that I am now?"
She took several long moments to answers. "I think so, or at the least, close to who you are now"She seemed to believe her words.
"Why is that? What makes you think that?" He asked curiously.
Mito hesitated for a long time, other than the fire, the only other movement that he saw was her toes moving. Otherwise she seemed completely impassive. "I just do."
From what he could tell, she believed that. "Hmm… I really like everyone else so far"
"They're…lively" She replied. Not really in a negative though. "I went on missions with the other clans at Uzushio, There's some contrast of personalities between the Uzumaki and the others"
"Really? Which one do you like to team up with then?" He asked.
"I suppose I prefer my own clansmen"
"Huh, I would think that you would enjoy it a bit more with the others" Naruto asked.
"The others are more, serious, glum, too predictable, compared to the Uzumaki"
"Predictable huh? I guess that makes it less interesting then" She cocked her head to the side when he said that.
"You have to remember that we only recently became allies. We are certainly friendly with one another, except there is no trust. So it's understandable that we're wary of one another until those ties grow stronger, there's tension that might disappear over the years. My grandfather is working to build those bridges."
"Well, it'll only work if everyone starts to trust each other" He stretched, the drowsiness he carried earlier going away. Mito's perpetual smile seemed to have gone away too, replaced with a more thoughtful expression.
There wasn't much to do at a time like this. Other than sit around the fire and eat some leftover food. Talk a little, if Mito was up for it.
"You seem to be connecting well with everyone" She commented. That surprised him, it wasn't even something he noticed. "That's peculiar…"Going strangely quiet.
"Well, you said they were …uh, rowdy or something like that right? Maybe they're the ones that are good at that" He replied. Mito stared at him through the dimly lit fire, which crackled occasionally. She gave a noncommittal shrug, looking back at the fire. She was thinking, but he was no mind reader. He wondered if women were always so strange.
A/N: Hmm… I think. I think I got major stuff planned out, at least for a little while. Says a lot cuz I had no clue where I was going in the first two chapters.
Originally, there were supposed to be in Konoha at the end of the chapter, but I just kept writing. You see, I usually write events and then connect them together. Even for those further along in the story not in the chapter.
Please review; 'even good chapter' makes me think I'm keeping up with a consistent quality. More is always appreciated though.
Almost fucked up the chapter big time.
Despite what you may think, I'm still new to forming and creating stories. So it may be sloppy at times, but it's also why I'm writing fanfiction, to get better. I've never written before my first published chapter on FF. So not even a year. So I apologize for anything rough. I also don't want to baby readers and not just plainly tell. Show, don't tell. I've heard recently.
Should've named Shin, Bret.