AN/ Hello, gent here. It's been a while since we last talked. To anyone who PM'd me, they know that I've been working on a book for the last 5 or so months. More on that at the end.
I've decided to re-do my first attempt at prose 'Never Use Shadow Clones to do your Paperwork', but if I do everything note-for-note, then I'll blow my brains out, so I've changed some things. Well, a lot of things. Mainly, this is Post-timeskip, and I've reworked a few people's personalities a little bit.
Hope you enjoy.
The room was silent and heavy with the air of disbelief. Everyone heard exactly what she said without any problems, but the ones who weren't privy to her previous negotiations couldn't believe their ears. It had to be a joke, the preamble of a longer, more saddening situation that needed to be lightened beforehand.
In front of her desk was a row of six people, the ones most affected by the negotiations. And behind them were their heads of state minus two. The ones in front were Kurotsuchi of Rock, Yugito of Cloud, Fu of Waterfall, Naruto of Leaf, Mei of Mist, and Temari of Sand. Behind them were Onoki, Ai, Shibuki, and Gaara.
Kurotsuchi was the first one to break. "This is a joke, right?" she asked dangerously with a smile on her face. The smile showed her teeth in a most unnatural way. It was a smile that just screamed 'this better be a joke, or I'm clawing someone's throat out'.
Tsunade smiled back, though hers was real and triumphant. "Absolutely not. Welcome to the most influential political marriage of all time."
Yugito's jaw was rapidly clenching and unclenching. Despite her faith in her poker face and dutiful loyalty to her leadership, there were things that couldn't be allowed for. She wouldn't overtly speak out at the meeting, but a quick glance to Ai was all she needed to do to get the fact across that she didn't find it acceptable in the slightest and that there would be a follow-up.
Maybe even a refusal to do her job.
Fu looked shocked, but didn't share in the righteous indignation of the rest. It was unexpected, to be sure, but she was so used to talks in which she gave up at the very idea of friendship or voluntarily exiled herself into the forest, that the realization that she had a husband instead of a suicide mission was enough for her to not speak out at it.
Mei looked… well, it was always hard to tell what she was thinking through her face. She had a smile that looked genuine enough, but anyone who knew her knew that that was a mask of sorts. Anyone who knew her well, knew that the mask wasn't necessarily bad. Some wore masks to hide their pain and sorrow. She wore a mask to do everything from hiding her intent to kill someone, all the way to playfully teasing her subordinates.
Temari didn't know what to think. Her immediate thought was that of a certain lazy Nara who… well, they weren't dating. And it wasn't like she was crushing particularly hard on him. But still. She glanced at her 'husband'. Absolutely not. No way. This couldn't work out. She wouldn't allow it to.
Kurotsuchi was already turned around in her seat and yelling at her grandpa, the Third Tsuchikage. His face was steely and cold. He rebuked all of her efforts in denial by the simple order of "Kurotsuchi, sit down, and stop talking."
Kurotsuchi's mouth closed before her brain told it to. Her gramps was a stubborn old fool, but there was a reason why he was considered the strongest ninja in the village, not to mention his storied experience. He wasn't a man to upset when he got serious.
She settled for crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at her 'husband' out of the corner of her eye.
Tsunade raised a single brow. She'd expected the groom to be the one who was most vocal. Perhaps that was just the result of his training with Jiraiya, but his face made her feel that was false. He was just staring at her desk with wide eyes and a frown marring his face. When he looked up and saw her questioning gaze, he didn't know what to say.
"Th-This is a joke, right?" he asked, reiterating Kurotsuchi's previous question. "This can't be real."
It wasn't quite accurate to say that she enjoyed seeing him like that, but he was long overdue for a reality check. Her face softened for him. "It's a long story. We'll-"
"Like fucking hell it's a long story!" Kurotsuchi shouted. "I don't know where you get off-"
"Kurotsuchi!" Onoki barked out. Her nose flared in anger, but she was cowed back to silence.
Tsunade waited for a beat or two to continue on. "Like I was saying: it's a long story, but the gist of it is that while doing paperwork, the Fourth Hokage split his duties among various shadow clones. We theorize, but do not know, that the four marriage contracts came to him in this time, and he didn't double check his memories for any discrepancies."
Fu looked over everyone and did a quick head count. "I count five."
Mei leaned over to meet her gaze. "I heard what was going on and put my hat into the ring too. I hope you don't mind." It was clear through her tone of voice that she didn't really care whether they minded or not.
Naruto squinted his eyes. His nose crinkled up. "But why me?! I still don't understand even a little bit of what's going on! I just got back to Konoha this day. I haven't even been home yet."
Tsunade was somewhat expecting this and already had an answer cocked. "Naruto, for what purpose do arranged marriages hold in the elemental nations?"
He shrugged. "To… strengthen bonds? Smaller countries do it all the time. To make alliances and stuff, right?"
Tsunade nodded. "And how many different headbands do you see in the room right now?"
Naruto checked around himself a few times. "Five."
"And how many girls- er, women do you see next to you."
Naruto didn't have to check around himself again. "Five…"
Tsunade splayed her hands out. "Do you see where we're going with this?"
Naruto's face scrunched up again, though this time it was in thought. "You… want to… make an alliance with the other five countries. Still though! Why does this-" he gesticulated around the room. "Have to happen this way? Why can't we just all sign a paper or something?"
"Yeah," Kurotsuchi piped up. "This is stupid. We could just sign another treaty like all the others."
Tsunade looked at her with an upturned brow. "And how did all those other treaties pan out?"
Kurotsuchi opened her mouth, but after a few uttered syllables, closed it.
"But why me?" Naruto continued on. "Why us?"
Tsunade swept a hand to the six situated in front of her. "We have an elite jonin, Jinchuuriki of the two-tails, and step-niece-in-law of the current Raikage; The Jinchuuriki, and only one of two strong military assets of the Hidden Waterfall; the sister to the Kazekage; leader of the Hidden Mist and carrier of two kekkai genkai; and granddaughter of the current Tsuchikage, who is also the holder of a kekkai genkai. All these people are influential and important figures to the people of their respective five countries."
Naruto paused and looked at the five more carefully. How could so many people that are so important be there? Two of them were Jinchuuriki no less.
"B-But… But I like Sakura."
Tsunade's face softened some more. "Naruto, a Hokage has a duty to the citizenry before she has a duty to her friends and family. I have not made this decision lightly. It is, however, for the good of the people. And not just our people. For all people. You could be instrumental to peace on this continent."
Naruto bit his bottom lip and sunk back down to his seat.
"I just want to say," Temari proffered "That this is a terrible plan."
That piqued Tsunade's interest. "Oh?"
Temari, with wide eyes, looked at all the people in the room. "You do realize that we're all shinobi, right? You know, people who kill, lie, and cheat for a living. We're also a people with deep-seated grudges and hatreds for each other. Historically, we're the kind of people who prefer the easy way out, the killy way out. Even if by some miracle, we don't manage to kill each other, there are others that will absolutely take advantage of this situation to turn us against ourselves. And, I have to stress, the likeliness of us not killing each other is really low." Temari pointed to Kurotsuchi and Yugito in turn. "Look at them!"
Kurotsuchi turned to glare at the sand mistress. Sure, she hated the situation more than anyone, but she hated being looked down on even more. Yugito didn't even react. She was too busy going over in her head how she was going to tell off Ai and the exact way in which she would threaten to leave if he went through with it.
Tsunade looked down on Temari. "And you wouldn't risk it? Sure, I have no real idea that any of you don't have ulterior motives," she turned her gaze to the four heads of state behind the now harem "but if there's even a one percent chance of this working, don't you want to try it out? Hunger, gone. Military engagements, gone. Inordinate suffering, gone. If we could put less money into figuring out ways to kill each other, we could put that money into things like infrastructure, and mass education, and a focus on technological developments. Us heads of state are already planning a way to pool our resources in a way that could develop our poor regions. This could change the world."
"Regardless," Mei said with her smile not slacking in the slightest. "The contracts have already been signed. There's nothing any of us can do about this now."
"And what the hell do you get out of this?" Kurotsuchi fired off.
Mei turned her head to the girl. "Excuse me?"
"You 'threw your hat in the ring'. You're doing this of your own free will. Why?"
On the outside, her expression didn't change, but there was an edge now present in her voice. "My people just went through a very long, bloody, and brutal civil war. We want nothing more than peace and a future where blood doesn't have to be shed."
"Is that so? Because I'm pretty sure the Hidden Mist is flat broke right now. Are you sure this isn't about any of those pooled resources you're in need of?"
"I don't see the connection."
"Well I don't intend to whore myself out, even if it's 'for the people'."
"If you don't shut your mouth, I'll melt you with your own guts-"
"Do you see this?" Temari asked, hands wringing her hair. "We're already at each other's throats!"
"Silence!" Tsunade shouted. The room fell into an unnatural end. The annoyance that had been percolating behind in her gut finally came out full force. "Yes, you're right. This may very well be the worst idea in the history of the shinobi world. You're right. I can't trust any of you to not kill each other. You're right. I'm sure there are ulterior motives abound here. But get this through all your brains right now: this is happening. It's happening right now and right here. You better get used to it!"
Yugito was still stewing in thought, Fu was trying to make herself smaller, Naruto was still in shock, Kurotsuchi looked like she wanted to explode, Temari was annoyed, and Mei… well, it was always hard to tell what she was thinking.
Shizune poked her head through the door. "Is it all over?"
Tsunade gripped the bridge of her nose, trying to stem the oncoming headache. "Show them all to where they'll be staying."
Yugito stood up, practically knocking the chair back from the force. She said "I'll figure it out," before dashing out one of the open windows.
Ai sighed into the palm of his hand, said "Don't worry. I'll hold up my end of the bargain," and jumped out the same window, accidentally tearing through its borders and shattering the nearby ones that were open.
The headache got more intense.
"I need to breathe," Temari said, twirling out her fan and jumping out the window.
Gaara didn't look very surprised. "I'll hold it up too," he said, following her out the window.
The headache was starting to hurt.
"Fuck this!" Kurotsuchi said before shooting out the window.
Onoki grumbled something indistinctly as he went after her, but it probably had something to do with him holding up the bargain as well.
The headache began gripping her skull.
Naruto stood up. "I need to… I just need to go." The normally boisterous and energetic lad slunk out of the room past a sorry faced Shizune.
"And I," Mei said "Need to go to the little girl's room. Don't wait up." The Mizukage stood up and walked past Shizune as well, going the opposite direction Naruto went.
Fu looked at Shizune, who was doing her best to make herself look small. "Well, I guess it's just the two of us, huh?"
Shizune smiled nervously and nodded. "Yeah."
The seven tailed Jinchuuriki stood up and went to follow Shizune out of the room.
Tsunade sighed and sat back down in her seat. The deep throbbing in her head was starting to die down a little bit-
The door crashed back open with a red-faced Jiraiya breathing heavily. "What's this I hear about a political marriage?! What the hell were you thinking?"
And the headache came back full force.
AN/ So hey, here are some important things:
1.)I will be writing both this and my next book concurrently. The book takes precedence, so don't expect much in way of frequent updates with huge word counts.
2.)I'm going to be writing this with character development and interpersonal relationships in mind more than fight scenes. I'll try to be comedic when I can and when it suits the story, but it will have an overall more serious vibe.
3.)Give me some ideas of names for this fic. I'm not personally attached to 'Five Signatures', since that's not even accurate to the story. And I don't want something that riffs off 'Never Use Shadow Clones to do your Paperwork'. I'll mention you and any honorable mentions in the next chapter if you come up with a good one.
4.)Ages as are in canon.
The book that I've written that's currently out is called 'A Most Beautiful Shade of Red'. It's about a guy who wakes up in a room full of desiccated corpse remains with no idea as to how he got there and has to find a way to survive the perils that face him after he exits and make it back home in (hopefully) one piece. It's on kindle. Most things have a kindle app. Hell, my windows phone has a kindle app and windows phones have a 2% market share in the mobile phone area.
I'm not much for shilling my stuff, so this is probably all you're going to hear about it (unless you do want to hear about it, in which case you should let me know in a PM or a review). Check it out and buy it if you like it. It's only $3. Or its free if you have kindle unlimited.
I guess that's it. Chapters probably won't be this short, but don't expect much.