Kin watched curiously as Amaterasu made her way to the meditation spot alone, following as she walked through the village at a languid pace. Watching her move silently and naturally stick to the shadows made him unconsciously proud, and nostalgia washed over him as he considered the past two years he had spent getting to know this girl.
She was an incredibly complicated human - reincarnation and everything aside, her personality was one that was difficult to help because she focused on anything and everything except herself and her own health.
It had been a couple of days since her telling off from her brother and Kin knew it had affected her deeply.
He was worried about how much her outward personality differed from her internal one - she kept herself busy every waking moment both physically and mentally because she knew if she relaxed for even just a second, her thoughts would wander to things she couldn't deal with, like her own weaknesses. She was terrified of acknowledging that she might not be okay and might need help.
That was why she ended up blurting everything she thought with her hyperactive brain - because one thing had to follow the next and she wasn't able to give herself time to stop and think. Because she was scared that she might work out that she may need to rely on someone else for the first time in her two lives.
When she settled down in the middle of their usual training ground and phased into her mental realm, he paused a minute before joining her.
As expected, she was flitting around her mental 'computers' and skimming through her findings, before sorting through her recent memories to organise and dissect them into certain categories.
"Amaterasu." Kin called quietly.
She paused what she was doing to appear in front of him, with a curious tilt to her head and a cheery smile.
A smile that was in every sense of the word - forced - and yet it was convincing enough to even fool herself.
"Yes, Kin?" she replied after a short pause. "I didn't see you for a couple days, where did you go? Did you get hungry again? I hope you didn't eat any of the Nara deer - that would be a political nightmare considering - "
" - you're not supposed to exist and that you know? Ha ha." she trailed off, avoiding his gaze. "What are you looking so worried for? Everything's going fine. I've decided which route I want to take my genin team and my potential specialisation. I'll implement the plan soon enough." she continued, turning to go back to her work. Kin expelled chakra to forcibly transport them to Kurama's layer, which was the only part of her mind not cluttered with her thoughts one way or another.
Said tailed beast lazily opened one eye to seem as though he hadn't been paying attention to anything for eons (when in reality Kin knew he had definitely been listening in on their conversation). As if he had realized what the summon was thinking, a red slitted eye locked with a pale one and the corner of his lip lifted to showcase sharp teeth in an offended snarl.
Kin ignored him, chakra swirling to form temporary barricades so Amaterasu couldn't escape. She turned to him, pouting.
"Kiiiiin, I have so much to do. What training are we doing now?" she whined, and he simply glared.
He conjured images of Amaterasu getting up every morning and applying skin-tinted concealer to hide her increasingly dark eye bags, before putting on considerably more baggy clothes to hide her thinning figure.
Her face went carefully blank.
"Tell me, how am I supposed to leave you alone when you're like this?" he asked quietly. "It's been two weeks and while your physical training has intensified, your rest and eating habits have worsened. Must I dictate how to look after yourself?"
He was comparing her schedule to when she was with them in the summoning realm - Aoi-sama had made sure to incorporate a reasonable training timetable and healthy eating and sleeping habits for the fragile growing child, but it seemed she had not learnt.
"I have a lot to do." she protested, but at having been caught out, her mental projection slowly phased into a more accurate representation of what she currently looked like.
The girl became skinnier, her face shadowed and her hair thinned.
"You definitely wouldn't even be worthy as a snack in that state." Kurama grumbled after a short, taken aback pause. He always saw everything from her own perspective, so Kin guessed he hadn't seen how she looked.
"Your container is a growing child." Kin stressed, pale eyes flashing irritably from the Bijū to the girl. "You need to look after it if you want it to grow into anything of use in the future. It's also affecting your performance and training and you know it."
Amaterasu simply slumped to the floor and lay on her back, hands to her temples with a deep sigh.
"Can we talk about this another time? I just... can't." she whispered finally.
Kin stopped another bout of nagging, letting out a silent huff before lying down next to her.
"Stop wasting your chakra. Let's have a chat out there." the feline murmured, and after a few long moments, the girl faded out of the mindscape.
"What a typical human weakling."
Kin stared up at the towering beast who had resumed his air of nonchalance by closing his eyes once more. Despite his gruff tone, he knew there was underlying worry in there somewhere.
"You know, it would take a lot of stress off her if you just agreed to acclimatize her to your chakra."
"Keh. As if I would ever share my chakra with a wimp like that."
"You know what could happen and what that achieved in the other world."
The Kyūbi was silent at that.
"Imagine how much easier it would have been had Naruto been used to your chakra by the time he actually needed it. Amaterasu is a publicly known Jinchūriki and she will be targeted for it. Do you want to be ripped out and put into another host?"
"She doesn't want my chakra. She just told me to be nice to Naruto when the time came."
Kin sighed exasperatedly.
"Of course she's going to say that. She has no regard for herself or her survival. Her life goal is to provide a world where her loved ones are going to be safe and she doesn't need to be in it."
There was a silence at that.
Amaterasu's hand was fisted into Kin's fur and she had climbed to lie on his back.
'I just have a lot of stuff to do.'
Looking after yourself comes first.
'I need to make sure I'm strong enough. I need to start making bonds with the Rookie Nine. I need to keep up with what the clan wants me to be. I need to keep up to date with what's going on in the rest of the world - '
You need to look after yourself.
'I also need to make sure that Shisui's not mad at me and I don't make Chen feel like shit for being more behind than Kabuto and I, and I need to come up with a way to fix their financial situation because Tenten is holding him back from putting his all into training. I'm also really shit at kenjutsu and it's stressing me out.'
You're destroying yourself.
Amaterasu started when she realized she was crying. She sat up, sliding off her summon as her breathing suddenly felt restricted. She grasped at her chest because she couldn't breathe and the tears - why were there so many tears? She never cried - why was she crying? She needed to stop because what if someone saw… oh shit, she was becoming hypoxic - her lungs were burning -
"Hey hey! Imouto! It's okay, it's okay - "
Her blurry vision cleared and a familiar face came into focus but it also reminded her of blood, and lack of eyeballs, and pain, and suicide -
The face disappeared and she faintly realized that she was being grasped and pulled into a tight embrace - she heard gasping and hiccupping and sobbing - who was crying? Why were they so upset? Were they okay?
She needed to pull herself together, she needed to see if they were okay -
By the time the world came into focus, the sounds had stopped and all that was left was loud, laboured breathing. The shirt she was tucked against was wet and she was so tired.
Amaterasu realized that the loud, hysteric crying had been from... her.
Warm, relaxing, comforting chakra filled her mindscape and within seconds she was lulled into sleep.
"Is this what you were talking about?" the Uchiha boy holding onto his now sleeping summoner whispered in shock.
Kin nodded once, nosing the girl's neck and licking the tears from her face. With them came off the concealer she always wore, and Shisui stared at his sister's pale, thin, drawn face.
"I know she seems to be capable of being independent, but she needs to be looked after." the summon murmured. "I also know this is a big responsibility for you, seeing as you are also a child - "
"No." said the boy quietly. "Her wellbeing is my responsibility."
"I will help you." continued the feline. "You are not alone."
Shisui locked eyes with him, before bowing his head in silent gratitude.
"Three meals a day. Vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins - if you can't provide that then go to someone who can. Limit the physical training to genin team training as much as possible, but her mind needs to be satisfied. She needs some kind of activity, a hobby that will stimulate her mentally." Kin listed, the boy listening attentively. "We need to get her physical health up, and limiting her physical training will give her more time to spend with people who make her happy."
Shisui nodded before reluctantly adding "She also needs more sleep, but I don't know how to help with that."
"Leave that one to me." Kin replied. "Well done for gaining control of both genin and clan aspects of her training, Shisui. I'm sure that was no easy feat and it will make her recovery much more straightforward."
Recovery - that word echoed around the young Uchiha's brain.
Because his imouto was not okay.
"What do you think about a medical combatant group?"
Itachi didn't look up from his book but made a vaguely inquisitive sound that prompted her to go on. He did think it had been rather unusual for her to be so quiet this morning. Today was her weekly sparring day, so her team were to meet on one of the further out training grounds later in the day and hence she had the morning to spend with him.
Amaterasu plopped down next to him, having spent the past hour practicing her Fire Release, still in the beginning stages of perfecting her B-rank jutsu. She accepted the apple he silently held out to her, holding it in her mouth as she undid her singed bandages and started the process of rewrapping her arms.
"Okay, let me rephrase that - think about how much a medic knows about the body, and how precise their chakra control has to be to affect certain body processes but not others." she tried again. "On top of using this to heal people, they're more than fully equipped to absolutely ruin someone's body."
This made Itachi look away from his book to stare at her.
"Would you still be able to call them medical ninja if they're using their skills for that?"
Amaterasu hummed, having finished with her light first aid and sliding into the splits to stretch for the next part of her solo training regimen. She finally had her first bite of the apple.
"Yes, because they can still heal. They'd be just as good at, uh, not healing as well as healing." she shrugged, exasperated at how she was tiptoeing around the idea that had been tickling her thoughts for the past few days. "Oh, for heaven's sake, we're shinobi - They'd be bloody good assassins and you know it."
She thought for a second before adding, "And incredibly useful for interrogation too."
Itachi was silent once more.
"They would." he agreed after a while.
"Tsunade-san uses her insane chakra control to enhance her strength. Imagine enhancing… let's say a chakra scalpel that's usually used in surgery. It just opens up so many doors for combat shinobi. Hence, medical combat shinobi - except we may have to come up with a better name." Amaterasu huffed as she slowly arched into a bridge position.
"And it would give Konoha a certain edge as we have the best medical ninja in all the nations." nodded her friend. "What makes you think that this kind of training isn't already in place?"
"I think individual medical ninja must incorporate it into offensive attacks, but I don't know whether there's an actual offensive medical jutsu training regimen." she admitted easily. "The only thing that comes to mind is maybe Kirigakure's hunter nin? I don't know."
At his wary look, she lifted herself out of her final stretch position and simultaneously finished her apple, throwing the core into one of the bushes. She reached over to pat his shoulder.
"That's why I've talked to you about it. Do let me know what you find." she grinned before hopping away to set up kunai traps for her evasion training.
If Itachi were the type to swear, he would have cursed Amaterasu to Kumogakure and back for giving him the idea. He closed the sixth book he found with a chapter on offensive medical ninjutsu but found that they were never used for more than small self defense techniques, with the exception of Tsunade.
She had once explained the process behind her Yin seal, which also allowed her to take more of an offensive role as well as a medical one within the shinobi ranks. Simply because it meant she was still capable of healing others even if she was hit.
Itachi was originally struck with the thought that there was something inherently wrong with using intimate knowledge of the human body for killing as opposed to healing. It felt wrong. However, the more he tried to stop thinking about it, the more it plagued both the academic and shinobi parts of him.
There was just so much possibility. Far, far more than the nerve scrambling jutsu, the small chakra scalpel or even Tsunade's strength enhancement.
Itachi was a pacifist. He knew this. He did not enjoy conflict and he did not like to kill. He enjoyed being able to help people with chakra, his heart warmed up at seeing patients improving, he was happy when they were better enough to thank him.
But he had his precious people, many of whom fought regularly on the front lines, and this was why he was never going to be happy as a hospital medic.
Itachi almost lost one of his teammates during his chūnin exams. He was sliced across the abdomen and his organs had spilled. While he was able to put them back and stabilize the bleeding quickly enough that he survived the ordeal, the experience had terrified him.
Not the actual injury - it was a relatively simple closing procedure and he had assisted in many of a similar sort at the hospital.
The Uchiha was scared shitless because his teammate had thrown himself between the enemy and himself, because he had not been vigilant enough to see the enemy coming. Itachi never wanted someone to die in return for his own survival. And he had always been a shinobi - he shouldn't have missed the attacker, even if he was preoccupied with healing his other teammate.
When confronting his teammate after he woke up a few days later, he had simply croaked, "You're the medic, Itachi. You know we have to protect you no matter what."
He was right - medics did need to be prioritized, because they could save more lives. But a part of him - the part that had been trained since he could walk - was uncomfortable with this. The idea of a field medic: one that was adept enough at combat to hold their own against other ranked shinobi while simultaneously specialised in emergency medicine, really appealed to him. There was no point in being able to do complex medical procedures if said medic was specialised to be sent out into the field. Seeing as there wasn't currently a specific subgroup or training regimen for this purpose, Itachi believed that it would increase survival rates past simply having medical ninja on missions.
Field, or as Ama had named it; Combat medics wouldn't be able to utilize the main tactics of ninjutsu or genjutsu, since it wasted chakra that could be used to heal teammates, and taijutsu restricted them to short-range combat, which made it a risky proposition.
Offensive medical jutsu seemed the obvious solution.
Itachi grabbed a spare sheet of paper and started writing down his ideas.
The combat medic would have to be incredibly fast to avoid anything the enemy could throw at them and needed to get behind the enemy's defenses to bring them down. Dealing with the enemy needed to be done quickly and efficiently so that the combat medic wouldn't waste any more chakra than necessary.
The answer to everything was improving speed, and a concentrated form of offensive medical jutsu, tailor-made to fell enemies with only one hit.
Itachi let a small smile onto his face as he paused to review his sheet of notes.
He was onto something.
"Huh. This is great, 'Tachi." Amaterasu whistled as she scanned his notes.
"What's this?" Chen asked curiously, jogging over despite him dripping in sweat from their team sparring. Itachi had been so excited he had come straight to where Amaterasu was next scheduled to be and waited till her session was over.
"A little idea we had this morning." she answered distractedly and her teammate gawked. There were sheets and sheets of notes, not to mention the filled notebook she was holding.
"You did this in a few hours?" he exclaimed, looking incredulously up at the other Uchiha, who simply shrugged.
Amaterasu paused her reading to wave over her third teammate.
"Oi Kabuto! Have a look at this and tell me what you think!" she called to the form which was just about to leap off.
The silver haired boy paused, staring at the three of them crowded over what seemed to be papers. He didn't want to disturb them - they all seemed pretty invested (but he was glad she invited him over - he was curious).
He walked over and daintily took the paper that was thrust in his face as soon as he was close enough. It was helpfully titled 'Summary Sheet', and the more he read, the more his eyebrows raised.
"You came up with this?" he asked Amaterasu quietly, and she shook her head, pointing to the other Uchiha without looking up from the notebook.
"C'mon Kabuto, you're a medic - you must have some suggestions." she prompted.
Kabuto quickly looked away from the Uchiha boy who's gaze flickered up at that to meet his for a brief second. He knew of Itachi Uchiha - he was a widely known genius, the heir to one of the founding clans of Konoha and the one to bring back one of the Densetsu no Sannin, who he was now apprenticed to. And he was two years younger than Kabuto was.
If that wasn't intimidating, he didn't know what was.
At his wary gaze, Itachi offered a small smile.
"I have not worked on this for very long, and while I am very intrigued, it is just an idea. Amaterasu mentioned you were a medic too?"
Kabuto shook his head.
"I wouldn't say that, I just know some medical jutsu. My... mother taught me." he murmured, noticing Amaterasu glancing at him curiously at that.
There was a brief silence in which he read through the summary sheet again, before finding the courage to speak.
"I ... think I have a few suggestions." he offered finally, and Amaterasu rolled so she was now on her back to give him her full attention. Chen tilted his head curiously at him, and Itachi was back to his poker-faced staring.
So Kabuto took a breath, and talked.
"You mentioned that speed and one hit takedowns should be the primary goals for the field medic, but I think stealth should be up there too. In these scenarios you've got frontal confrontations in a squad situation - evasion and being stealthy while the rest of the team engage is just as important as being able to quickly make use of an opening and taking down your target."
Itachi nodded, jotting it down.
"Interesting. You've also reminded me that frontal confrontations aren't necessarily the only scenarios - adding stealth and evasion skills would also makes the combat medic much more versatile if they were able to infiltrate enemy positions. Perhaps the subgroup of field medics could have their own subgroups - like you said, they seem versatile enough."
"Exactly, they could specialize further into espionage, assassination, high ranked mission support... It's a matter of training resources though - a lot of medical ninja learning is through hands on experience, right?"
Both of them talked for the next hour, bouncing ideas off each other eagerly. Amaterasu followed for the first ten minutes but eventually tapped Chen who seemed to be falling asleep and they moved a slight ways away to have their own conversation.
"So, remember when I said I thought you had photographic memory?" she began, taking a scroll out of her kunai pouch and releasing several thick books on fūinjutsu and calligraphy with a pulse of her chakra. Chen nodded, looking at her warily.
She simply grinned at him, which made his stomach sink even more.
"Let's test that."
The little girl then opened one of the books to point to a large page with a complicated diagram on it and various random characters at certain points. He was given a minute to study it, and then she gave him a sheet of paper on which she seemed to have drawn the diagram but...
"You've missed some bits?" he questioned slowly. Amaterasu smiled.
"Yup. Can you complete it for me?" she asked.
Well. So far it was simple.
He completed that test. And the one after. And all the ones after that.
They became increasingly complicated, with her asking to draw a diagram as if it was reflected in a mirror, and one where she asked him whether any two of the fifteen diagrams she had shown him complemented each other. And then whether any of the others fit into that one.
It had taken him about a minute to sift through his memory and realise that despite the diagrams being pretty similar, all fifteen of the diagrams were able to fit together in a way that just worked -each 'border' complemented the next in both shape and the meaning of the characters.
She then asked him to draw it, and this took much longer and he was much less successful at trying to put what was in his head onto paper.
"Why did you ask me to do this?" he asked curiously as she patted his shoulder and thanked him for his time once he was done.
"I just wanted to see if I could find any limitations to your memory, but at this current stage I don't think I can. You know what you've done here isn't normal, right?" she said, looking - dare he say it - impressed.
Chen felt slightly uncomfortable. He thought it wasn't anything particularly difficult for him so it must be normal. He was quite an average kid in all senses of the word. These puzzles were fun and required him to think but they hadn't taken him much effort.
"I think," Amaterasu began contemplatively as she opened a beginner's book on calligraphy. "You should have a go at practicing this. Your memory is fantastic and you've used it for remembering every step of how traps are set up as well as their activations, but I think down the line, fūinjutsu will really complement that and make them more effective."
"And you think that because I answered a few questions about some pictures I can do fūinjutsu? Me?!" he said incredulously.
"I don't know." she admitted easily, and he almost faceplanted. "But I know fūinjutsu is about slotting complicated looking things together and seeing as you've pretty much compiled a storage scroll from memory of the components…yeah, I think there's a chance."
Chen gawked at that, double taking his drawing that she gestured to. That was a storage scroll?
"But! You seriously need to improve your calligraphy and drawing skills if you ever want to even consider it as an option." she deadpanned, and he chuckled sheepishly. "Your brain is incredible, Chen. Let's just try and find a way to utilize it in a way that'll help you become a better shinobi."
He stared at the books that were in front of them, his interest peaked.
"Sounds good. Hey, do you mind if I borrow these for a sec?"
Minato gazed at the three files in front of him thoughtfully, his head rested on a hand. It had been just under six months since the three odd cases were put together into a makeshift team and he was glad his little gamble had paid off. They had exceeded his expectations and had managed to form one of the closest teams that were currently in circulation, despite how little time had passed.
Skills wise, they seemed to function well enough to complete D-ranks and the occasional C-rank, with a 100% success rate and short completion times. Most of his worries had been about whether they would get along, so he was glad to hear that they were very closely knit. He had also planned for Amaterasu to be slowed down in her fast advancement by putting her with teammates that were lacking in certain areas so she could work on her teamwork, get to know people her age and settle back into the village.
This was exactly why he did not expect the current meeting to be as big of an event as it was. He interlaced his fingers in front of him and regarded the slightly bizarre mixture of high-ranking shinobi in front of him - which, he noted with a sinking heart, included two of the three Sannin.
"I believe I only called Team Shikaku's sensei to the room." he began warily, finding himself filling with dread at the way the members of the group each seemed to bristle in indignance at the statement.
This was not what he expected to be dealing with this morning. The meeting was supposed to last five minutes. They were supposed to agree with him that yes, the team had only been together for six months, no, they were not ready and yes, the other two needed some more time until they would be able to hold their own.
The two to his right were the only ones he had originally expected to speak to in this meeting - Shisui Uchiha and Shikaku Nara. While the team was mostly under Shisui's care, Shikaku oversaw them and officially had the title of being their jōnin-sensei.
Despite how young Shisui was, he technically had enough qualification to be appointed as a jōnin-sensei by himself. However, as he had such a close relationship to one of the students, Shikaku was in place to override any potentially biased decision he may make regarding the team.
Next to Shisui, with a stern amber gaze, stood the director of Konoha hospital: Tsunade Senju. At his questioning look she harrumphed and crossed her arms.
"Kabuto Yakushi is a member of this team and is also under my pilot group of combat medics in training. Any decision made regarding his recommendation for the chūnin exams will affect my training plan and the group as a whole. Hence, it falls under my radar."
How did she - well, seeing as no one else in the room seemed surprised at her statement - how did all of them find out that he was calling this meeting to talk about the team's chūnin exam nominations? He was pretty sure he only sent for Shikaku and Shisui.
Actually, now that he thought about it...
-o- A few days prior -o-
"Hokage-sama! I am certain this time that the girl -"
At Minato's exasperated look the flustered receptionist stopped her furious screech and lowered her voice to meekly try and argue that 'the girl was definitely here' and 'she hadn't made an appointment'. At one shake of her boss' head she quietly apologized before slinking away.
"She falls for it every time." said a familiar voice, seemingly in awe at how gullible the woman was.
Minato did his best to glare at the offending black-haired girl who released her camouflage jutsu and rippled into his vision. Her stealth was impressive as always - while the camouflage jutsu hid the user from other's sight, it did nothing to mask the sounds of clothes or footsteps, nor did it hide smells. And yet the girl had compensated for those drawbacks somehow.
It just cemented the fact that she was simply toying with his poor receptionist.
"One day she's going to die from the high blood pressure you've caused her." he intoned morosely, returning to the paperwork in his hands.
"There are much worse ways to go." was her only reply as she appeared by him to give an affectionate hug, pressing her cheek to his in the process. The Hokage was a fraction of a second too slow to flip over the paper in his hand as he realized it was potentially relevant to her but - ugh. That was enough.
She appeared in front of his desk again with a sly grin on her face. He pinned her with an accusing stare.
"Kirigakure's hosting this time? How exciting, I've never been that far east."
"Whether you actually go there is up to your sensei to decide." he said warningly. "You've also only been with your team for less than half a year. Remember, it's a team-based exam, Amaterasu."
"Very true. I should keep my teammates in mind." she agreed simply with an enigmatic smile.
No, never mind. He did know why everyone was here.
Kabuto Yakushi did have medical ninjutsu listed as one of his skills and Minato knew Tsunade was setting up this new scheme to train medics to be more suited for the field. He just didn't realize the two were connected in any way.
The Hokage realized with a start that that was definitely not genin territory - particularly as the now chūnin Itachi Uchiha was undergoing the same training despite being Tsunade's official apprentice. Actually, now that he thought about it, Tsunade was piloting the new scheme with only three hand-picked medics that showed the most promise in both medicine and combat. It was eventually supposed to lead to a subgroup of medically inclined Tokubetsu Jōnin, so how did Kabuto...
With a newfound headache and a deep sigh, his eyes flicked over to the next Jōnin in line. Of course, it was going to be his head of Torture and Interrogations, because why not.
Ibiki Morino stood, towering in his usual trench coat and imposing 6"3 height.
"Amaterasu Uchiha has been an intern in my office for the past five months and has shown promise in this specialty. Her advancement to an official apprenticeship is only awaiting a promotion to chūnin, as it is against my department's regulations to train genin." he stated in his usual cold baritone.
Okay. Well, he wasn't aware that was happening either - Minato glared at the small picture of a cheerily smiling girl in the middle of the three files laid out in front of him as if it was going to make the situation better.
He thought she would be doing genin team training and Uchiha training and spending her time with her friends and family - but no. Of course she bloody wasn't.
But seriously - Torture and interrogation?
Minato realized he had been silent for too long.
"...Right. And uh, Sensei? Are you here for Amaterasu as well?"
Jiraiya cackled from his position leaning against the wall.
"No, I'm actually here because she said it would be funny. She doesn't disappoint." he sniped, and Minato was very close to groaning out loud.
"Also popped in because I wanted to see the third teammate's potential for fūinjutsu. Something about photographic memory - but that's irrelevant I guess." the Toad Sage added as an afterthought and pretended not to notice as Minato slammed his head into his table.
A few moments of silence passed before he raised his head again and reached for a blank piece of paper.
"Right then. What are the opinions on sending this team to the Kiri chūnin exams?" he sighed.
By the time he had dismissed everyone but the two Sannin and his right hand, Minato's page was filled with notes but no conclusion had been drawn.
"And this is why familial and teacher-student relations at the same time are not a good idea." Jiraiya intoned thoughtfully as he leant against the wall.
"That Uchiha kid was fighting pretty hard to prevent them from participating in these exams." Tsunade agreed. "He had some pretty valid points, but he is being overprotective. I don't blame him for it. Better to be cautious and have them alive than... well."
There was a moment of silence as her words reminded them of Tsunade's own little brother who had perished during a mission.
"But from a promotion point of view and whether they are ready - they've already completed the threshold number of missions and their mentors' verdict is that they have a high chance of making it to the finals." Shikaku said.
Minato gave a deep sigh.
"That already I find hard to believe, but thinking back on it now... it's obvious. It's Amaterasu." he mumbled dejectedly.
Jiraiya shook his head amusedly.
"She's run circles around you right under your nose, kid. You let your guard down and now you're paying." he reprimanded lightly.
"Either way, their participation in the exams comes down to Amaterasu's status and safety as a jinchūriki then." the Hokage murmured.
"As Shisui said, she is Konoha's publicly known only jinchūriki. Her status is more widely known than Kushina's was, which given the circumstances couldn't be helped but it is definitely something to take into account. Her being targeted is a fairly likely threat." Tsunade spoke up again. "Again, like the Uchiha suggested, we could nominate to hold the exams next time and just send her to the one on our turf."
It made sense. According to all their sensei, Team Shikaku had specialist career progressions waiting on their promotions to chūnin, but these could wait another six months, couldn't they? However, they could be the solution to the problem he had been facing before Team Shikaku made themselves potential participants.
"I am already sending less genin to these exams than I did to the last one - mainly because it's Kirigakure and I think there's a high likelihood of disruption. It may seem insulting though and could project too obviously that we don't trust them. Either that or we're showing weakness - most of our outstanding genin were sent in the last round at Iwa. Sending a jinchūriki, and such a young, vulnerable one at that, might just even that distrust out. It'll also solve the problem of potentially seeming weak."
"But that also means you can't send more guards. If you want to display trust then you need the same number in your entourage as last time." Shikaku pointed out. "Which means less protection for the jinchūriki. What if something happens? We don't want to risk losing our bijū for the sake of a chūnin promotion."
Hence, the discussions continued. While his closest advisers argued, Minato took a moment to skim the up-to-date notes he made on the abilities of the team. At the bottom, he slowly penned out what specialties the team as a whole showed promise in:
Amaterasu's stealth, T&I training and Sharingan, and Kabuto's pre-genin team training...
Infiltration. Espionage. Information.
...coupled with Chen's traps and potential fūinjutsu...
...and Kabuto's medical combat training...
Minato let a grim smile cross his face.
Yes. She knew exactly what she was doing.
Sasuke/Naruto - 5
Amaterasu - 9
Itachi - 10
Chen - 11
Arata - 12
Shisui - 13
Kabuto - 12
Kakashi - 21
So started off with some deep talk and Amaterasu's habit of pushing herself to the limit without any subsistence has really been highlighted here by her summon.
I'm so sorry for my hiatus. I still love this fanfiction and never want to give up on it, but it's taken some time to come back to because I was ill.
*MENTAL HEALTH TRIGGER WARNING*
The reason why I chose to finally focus on Amaterasu's mental health here is because I was diagnosed with anorexia around eight months ago. It got really bad and I was hospitalized at the start of this year due to acute liver failure caused by my illness, and I've had to drop out of medical school. A friend I made at the hospital suffering with me passed away at the two month mark.
I guess I do see a lot of myself in Amaterasu - well, we definitely worry about different things but the overall gist is the same. She focuses on everything else but her. She is so good at hiding how she is, to the point where she believes her own lies and her projection. I'm glad I was able to address it and Kin and Shisui are helping her with it.
I'm so sorry for this down Author's note but I am excited to be back and will hopefully keep the chapters coming. I think I needed to get this out because I haven't really told anyone in my life what's been happening - because I didn't want to show weakness.
Hope you guys are all okay and if anyone wants to talk to me about this kinda stuff please feel free to PM me.
Second half of the fic was definitely much more fun and interesting! Hope you enjoyed!
Much love, Lei xx