YES, I know an update. Surprising, isn't it? Sorry for the late chapter, I was so busy I can't use my same-old multitasking ability. I'll do this fast so you could read the chapter already.
Thank you Crimson Rose Blooms, for beta-reading and for your non-stop support (and your patience). Shout out to my friend "Alex" who never fails to criticize my grammar and mechanics. And lastly, for those who reviewed (I read each and every one of it), favorited and followed this story, you have my deepest gratitude.
"Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it."
On the night of the second day Ayame was hospitalized, the girl realized how peaceful and silent it was and never wanted to leave.
The purple-haired girl had confined herself in her hospital room with the books her friends had brought her. Sakumo felt it was inappropriate and forced her to 'see the sun' but the four-year-old did not really want to see it or care for it. The silver-haired jōnin gave up just before he was called by a mysterious masked ANBU that only conversed with hand signals. The rest of the day was spent reading when someone climbed to the window and disturbed her.
"Maa, you are an idiot, aren't you?" Kakashi jumped off the window and gazed at her with a questioning look.
Ayame glanced back at the book she was reading and nonchalantly replied, "You want to learn something new?"
"What is it?"
"The door can be used as an entrance and an exit."
The Kurosawa girl raised her head to find Kakashi in front of her and almost reflexively smashed the book she was holding at him. Thankfully, she managed to control her actions or the book would have been destroyed – the books in Konoha were surprisingly delicate. The girl would regret it if her only source of entertainment was destroyed because of her petty nature.
Kakashi's scarf was hastily attached to his neck and his mask was slightly askew. He had finally visited his foster sister after contemplating a long time. Yesterday, he was too undecided and did not visit her. The silver-haired chibi felt all his worries were for nothing after seeing the girl had the time to tease him. A smile appeared on his lips and he had the urge to shake his head.
The four-year-old girl closed her book and mentally noted the page she was at. "Since you're here, go back to the house and brew me coffee."
"Coffee?" The chibi raised one of his eyebrows at his foster sister's words and sat on Ayame's hospital bed.
"Yes, you heard it right. You don't need to repeat it—"
Realization hit her. She had replied on pure reflex. Those were the exact same words for her usual orders to her secretary in her previous life.
Ayame glanced back at the silver-haired boy who did not even flinch at her authoritative tone. It was habit. Back then, she was a little irritated at her secretary because she was repeating things she had just said. She perfectly understood that it was for confirmation but after a full day of stress, she had already thrown the formalities out of the window.
Sighing softly, Ayame continued, "The nurses in here refused to give me coffee and I badly need it."
The Hatake only bobbed his head to the right, a little disoriented. "Did they tell you the reason?"
It was a lie of course. She knew full well that children were not advised to drink coffee until they were old enough. But she had a habit of drinking once she finished a book and old habits die hard.
It was not her first time confined to a hospital and, if the times she was rushed to the ER in her past life counted, she could say she was already a seasoned veteran. Contrary to other people's opinion, Ayame liked the smell of the place. She dreamt of being a doctor in her childhood. If she had pursued her dream, she would have spent her days in a place that smelt of antiseptic. But life played a prank and instead of working inside of it, Arabella became confined inside it.
Remembering her previous life's name, a wave of nostalgia washed over her.
Ayame had also accepted the fact she and Arabella were two different individuals. It took her years and the process was slow, but it was nevertheless an accomplishment. Her two memories had finally found harmony and she could confidently announce that she died in her past life and reincarnated into a new one. Of course she would not do it; the people of the Naruto-verse would consider her a lunatic and there was a large possibility of a Yamanaka knocking on her door.
Kakashi, in contrast, was silently watching the girl without anything important going through his mind. He was seated in front of her and deliberating if he should ask her how to brew coffee. The boy had no idea and his father was not home. It was understandable. After all, it was Ayame who was doing everything inside the Hatake household while the silver-haired boy was busy training.
When Sakumo told him that Ayame was hospitalized, he had just gone home after meeting the group in the abandoned lot. It was a shock to find out that Ayame was confined for chakra exhaustion and not minor at that. The first thing he thought was how idiotic she was and how she even managed to get herself into that kind of situation. After a while, he realized it was his foster sister that he was talking about and she could create life-threatening mistakes without even blinking.
Kakashi never knew how to curse but at that time he wished he knew how.
Asuma and Ibiki, after visiting the four-year-old girl, told him the details of her hospitalization. The silver-haired boy knew that one day Ayame would find herself in hospital because of chakra exhaustion. She had a habit of exhausting herself. The girl might not know this but Kakashi was silently criticizing how she trained but in the end, deemed it was not important since it was her own body.
But what Kakashi never expected was for Ayame to stretch her pain tolerance and exhaust herself to death.
Ayame was hugging a pillow and looking at him with blank eyes. The boy was taken aback by her actions. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"I realized something." Ayame threw the pillow at him with sluggish movements. It made avoiding easy – the silver-haired chibi just had to lean to the right.
"Please…" Kakashi began to cringe. "Don't speak. I can feel the idiocy coming out from your mouth already."
Ayame never knew Kakashi's impression of her was so bad. She decided to ignore his opinion. "You're handsome, Kakashi—"
The Hatake did not know how to react to her words and was in a daze for a moment. He was used to everyone giving him compliments but no one had ever used the word 'handsome' to describe him. Most of the people called him cute.
"—with your mask on."
Ayame felt a sense of accomplishment. If Kakashi could see her face, he would see the self-satisfied smile plastered on her face.
"So never remove your mask. You get me? I don't want to see your face without your mask hiding it."
Kakashi wanted to strangle her then and there. He was fooled and the word humiliation was written on his face. On the other hand, the four-year-old girl originally meant well. She wanted to say that the boy was handsome but in the middle of saying it, she realized it was a good chance to spite him. It was a good thing she did since she felt unreasonably smug.
The chibi gritted his teeth, grabbed the pillow beside him and tried to smash it on his foster sister's face. Ayame was still agile although a bit tired. She had also gathered a decent amount of chakra after resting for two consecutive days so she easily dodged the pillow. She jumped off the bed and rushed out the door.
"Why didn't you die?" the boy managed to reply with an indifferent voice but the purple-haired girl knew he was pissed beyond belief. "You should have depleted your chakra completely so Konoha would have one less idiot."
"Sorry to burst your bubble but idiots pop out from time to time so killing me would not be the right solution. And I must inform you," she clicked her tongue as her hand released a small amount of chakra, "If I would die, I would still be smirking in satisfaction at the fact that I, Kurosawa Ayame, deftly one-upped you."
Their fight was definitely childish (in her defence, she was still a child) but she could not miss the chance to make thefuture copy-nin flustered. She could use it as blackmail if Kakashi ever tried to threaten her in the future. In any case, Kakashi was now talking to her and was already done with his rebellious phase.
A chakra scalpel formed in Ayame's hand. She threw it at the Hatake chibi. Kakashi felt danger and on impulse used the pillow he was about to throw as a shield. The scalpel travelled through the air and in no time struck the pillow. The silver-haired boy checked it in an instant and was indifferent at the disappearing scalpel made of chakra.
"A chakra knife?"
"Chakra scalpel," she corrected as she waved her hand. The chakra disintegrated faster and the blade disappeared immediately.
Kakashi pinched the bridge of his nose and appeared exhausted suddenly. "You used chakra but you're still confined for chakra exhaustion. Aren't you the smartest?"
Ayame, while bored out of her mind after reading a couple of books, had a sudden insight. She could control chakra well and if she got much better, couldn't she materialize things other than measly chakra strings? To check her hypothesis, she checked if her chakra reserves were enough and found them the right amount for one try – and she failed.
That was yesterday after the group left. Earlier that morning, she tried again and had concentrated much more. It had taken her a whole day before she managed to form one scalpel that could not be used to cut vegetables. Because of this, her chakra reserves were restoring at a slower rate. But Ayame was satisfied with the result and resumed her reading.
"Aren't you the ugliest?" the girl nonchalantly replied as she gave the boy an unimpressed look.
Kakashi rolled his eyes, a smirk forming. "Are you talking about yourself?"
Sarutobi Hiruzen adjusted his haori hat and focused his attention on the pregnant academy instructor in front of him. It was morning when the woman requested an audience with him and he had an idea of what she wanted to talk about.
"Adachi Kyoko, I wanted to tell you," the Hokage tapped the edge of his pipe on the tray, "But from what I can see, you're already aware."
"Hokage-sama, as much as I want to guide the students, I need my maternity leave," Kyoko pursed her lips and her hands trembled.
Hiruzen sighed and closed his eyes. "I don't want to force you, but please think twice."
It was a pleasure for Kyoko to work as an Academy instructor even if there were stubborn students like Uchiha Obito. The only thing that hindered her from dedicating herself from her job was her pregnancy. If she knew it would be an issue, she would not get herself pregnant.
"I… I'm really sorry, Hokage-sama."
The Hokage placed the pipe in his mouth and inhaled. While nodding ruefully he said, "Then I wish for your good health."
The woman bowed her head and with the large bump on her belly, she slowly departed. Hiruzen would have to resolve this without one of his trusted academy instructors. It was because of the case of growing number of children getting abducted on Konohagakure's premises. It became so out of hand that the families with missing children were sending in missions with the task of finding out what happened.
They wanted to know if their children were safe. However, even the Hokage, who had the highest authority, had no idea what the hell was happening.
To prevent the case from worsening, he decided to order the academy instructors to strictly watch the students even if they were not in class. It was a defensive measure to lessen the abductions but now, he was short of one academy instructor.
"Wolf," Hiruzen called out from nowhere.
A man appeared from thin air. His silver spiky hair was a trait that Hiruzen could not forget while the porcelain mask told him that he was not a comrade but a black-ops agent. There was a tattoo on his right arm symbolizing that he was a part of ANBU.
The third Hokage's gaze landed on the kneeling silver-haired man before him. "This is a direct order. Gather your team and find my two students."
"Could I ask whether you have ways to persuade them?"
"With or without, both of them will come back without complaint." Hiruzen's eyes crinkled, his hands reaching for the pipe on his mouth and blew. Smoke scattered inside the room as the ANBU coughed.
Like everyone, Hiruzen Sarutobi had once been a jonin-sensei and he enjoyed every moment of it. Now, two of his three students were outside of the village while the one who was left was so focused on his research that he refused the seat of the Jonin Commander. The Hokage's three students were the Densetsu no Sannin that were hailed during the Second Shinobi World War.
One of the Sannins was Orochimaru who Hiruzen considered the brightest. He was the most talented shinobi he had seen. The boy had good prospects and ambition – although his views were quite twisted and not fit for average people. Nevertheless, the Third Hokage still gave him the summoning scroll and taught him the summoning technique.
Senju Tsunade was the only woman in the group and with her medic skills, strength and will, she had also shown a great aptitude for leadership. She had contributed many things to her field, which was medicine. Hiruzen could clearly see that the girl was a Senju. However, after the death of her best friend, Kurosawa Ai, she left the village with only one bag in hand.
The Third Hokage guessed it was Tsunade's departure that made Jiraiya travel the world in search for "knowledge". The boy had a pretty obvious affection for the Senju. On the other hand, it was a good thing because after the white-haired boy's departure, Hiruzen found out he had set up a large spy network.
The Hokage's eyes darted back to the silver-haired ANBU. He was lost in thought and forgot he was in the middle of something. With a sigh, Hiruzen continued to give orders. Wolf nodded and disappeared into thin air like when he appeared.
Hiruzen, after the ANBU's departure, found himself immersed in paperwork.
"Tell me how I could calm down 'ttebane! This child— how could — I'm seriously mad!"
Two days had passed after Ayame's hospitalization and she found herself yet in another ruckus she did not volunteer for. Somehow, the Red-Hot Habanero obtained information about her hospitalization. Ayame discovered the raging lady with her blond companion in front of the Hatake home.
"What's happening, Kushina-san?" she nonchalantly greeted.
Kushina's red hair was floating behind her. With her hands clenched, she managed to reply, "I found out you were hospitalized for chakra exhaustion 'ttebane!"
The blond behind the Uzumaki did not even think twice before interjecting. "This was the girl Teuchi was talking about?! The one who exhausted her chakra?!"
It was pure guess work before, but now the four-year-old girl was sure the blond teen was Namikaze Minato. Ayame wanted to avoid guessing who was who while in the Naruto-verse, but the signs were too obvious. A blond companion that was with Uzumaki Kushina? It would be Naruto's father, no doubt.
While cleaning the Uzumaki's house, he had seen the Yellow Flash's face but never tried to remember his features. The legend was drunk and Ayame did not want to ruin Minato's cool image in her mind. On the other hand, now that she was seeing the blond real time, the four-year-old girl wanted to forget the creeping memory that the man would die in the future along with Kushina.
On the contrary, the red-haired teen was not mad. The Uzumaki was more worried than angry. Ayame was a little sister she never had. To know that she was confined because she exhausted her chakra was alarming. Kushina did not know how chakra exhaustion felt, given the endless supply of chakra inside her in the form of a bijuu, but she knew it must have hurt.
"Maybe we should talk while eating ramen, Kushina-san," Ayame suggested after closing the door behind her. Even though there was a mask on her face, she felt bare going outside.
Kushina visibly calmed down after hearing her words. "Alright, 'ttebane."
The Yellow Flash was surprised by how things ended. The teen had been with the Uzumaki since academy days and he knew the red-haired girl was hard to calm down after being angered. To witness how fast a four-year-old solved the situation, Minato had to praise Ayame mentally.
They arrived at the ramen stand, to which Teuchi greeted them enthusiastically. The three of them sat down and ordered a bowl, excluding the Uzumaki who ordered a dozen. Ayame observed how calmly Minato reacted at Kushina's appetite and smiled behind her mask.
Kushina pointed her chopsticks at the four-year-old girl as she raised her eyebrows. "Now, tell me what the hell you did, 'ttebane."
"I ran around the Konoha's wall."
Ayame skillfully split her chopsticks. After seeing it was separated perfectly, she proceeded to eat her ramen.
The Yellow Flash saw what she did with her chopsticks and blinked a few times. Copying what Ayame did, Minato was amazed how the disposable chopsticks split flawlessly.
"You wouldn't get chakra exhausted by just running around, Ayame-chan."
On the way to the ramen stand, the Yellow Flash managed to get to know the girl better and finally realized what the Uzumaki meant when she says that the child was 'amusing' to be with. The Kurosawa girl had a dark sense of humor that somehow coincided with his humor. It was funny, but Minato would never admit it.
Kushina nodded, agreeing with his words. "Right," she muttered while slurping.
"It was because I literally ran while attached to the walls." The four-year-old girl glanced at Minato who had mirth in his eyes. "Used chakra to stick my feet and found out that chakra exhaustion hurts the hard way."
The Uzumaki froze, her hands holding the chopsticks with noodles in the air. "I don't know, 'ttebane. But I have the urge to say 'brilliant' and I have no idea why."
Minato faintly raised his eyebrows at the red-haired's words. He glanced at Ayame suspiciously then spoke, "Kushina, I think you're getting badly influenced."
Kushina, seeing that he was disagreeing with her change of attitude, smiled ruefully. "Too bad, 'ttebane." The Uzumaki flicked Minato's forehead. "I'm kind of liking this new change."
The Kurosawa girl heard the whole exchange and did not comment. She barely even glanced at the couple the whole time. She was preoccupied by a thought: how could Teuchi be alive after working 24 hours straight? Civilians could barely last a 12-hour shift and even if they did, they would be extremely tired.
'Except if he's not a civilian.'
Ayame narrowed her eyes and observed the man as he continuously cooked ramen. Contrary to other's belief, Ichiraku Ramen had many customers. However, by some divine intervention, whenever they decided to eat at the ramen stand there would be no customers.
Teuchi noticed her gaze and directed his attention to the child. For a moment, he thought she was staring intently at him with narrowed eyes but after a blink all he could see was Ayame's innocent look. Smiling at the four-year-old girl with his slit eyes, the man shrugged and continued cooking.
The purple haired child looked at Kushina with confusion. "I was distracted, sorry."
"It's alright. We were talking about how worried I was after I found out you were in hospital." The Uzumaki smiled, her hand combing her hair absent-mindedly.
Ayame furrowed her brows. "You don't need to be so worried, Kushina-san," she replied, dispelling the worries of the smiling woman.
"Well, I think you might not know this," Minato began as he placed his finished bowl on the counter. "Recently, there are cases of children getting abducted. Most of them never return but those did were badly wounded and on the brink of death."
The Hokage tried his best to cover it up but the number of kidnappings was too much to handle without the help of the clan heads. If Minato could give his opinion on the matter, the citizens of the leaf would learn about this case. It would be better if the masses were informed so that could be on guard.
Kushina sighed, her lips forming a straight line. "At first, I thought you were abducted and was hospitalized after returning, 'ttebane." The teen then dramatically placed the back of her hand on her forehead. "The first teme I took under my wing would be abducted? No way in hell, 'ttebane."
The Uzumaki narrowed her eyes and produced a murderous aura, her red-hair floating on the background.
Ayame and Minato's eyes met. Ayame was asking the blond if the Red-hot Habanero was always like this when hyped up. The Namikaze understood and nodded weakly. The Kurosawa sent the future Yellow Flash a sympathizing look and glanced back at Kushina.
"I will be the Hokage and fight them to death, 'ttebane!" A sudden loud shout full of enthusiasm came from the Red-Hot Habanero.
"Yes, yes." Minato paid the bill and guided Kushina out of the Ichiraku Ramen while nodding.
Ayame wanted to praise the Namikaze for his patience. Taking care of an Uzumaki with shouting tendencies was hard. However, Kushina was not only an Uzumaki — she's an Uzumaki with a bijuu.
"Please come back at the end of the week, Nara-sama."
"You don't have to use 'sama'. I thought you were calling my father for a moment there."
"Is that so? In that case, I will avoid calling you that." There was shuffling of papers and opening of drawers. "Then see you at the end of the week, Nara-san."
Ayame was leaning in the hallway. It was not her intention to listen to the conversation inside. Nara Shikaku, the heir of the Nara Clan, had replaced his uncle because his cousin was acting so lazy that the instructor raised his concerns. Ayame was surprised to find out that Shikaku's cousin was in her year but realized she never really tried to associate herself with people whenever she was in the academy.
It only took seconds before the Nara appeared outside of the door. The purple-haired girl glanced at the teen and their eyes met.
"Ah, the gaki that Kushina befriended," Shikaku lazily spoke with raised eyebrows.
"Nice to see you too, Nara-san."
Ayame's reply lacked enthusiasm. She still recalled when the dark-haired teen escaped to avoid the cleaning duty after they wrecked Kushina's apartment.
The Nara eyed her and stood straight. "Now that I think about it, I remember my cousin telling me that there were two children skipping grades in the academy."
Ayame knew the dark-haired boy's cousin had not told him anything – it just an excuse. The news of two children in the academy advancing at an incredible rate was a widely known topic, especially for the clans in Konoha. The clans were the first to know, given that each of them had a large network – which was the main reason they could stay peacefully in Konoha without worrying anything.
"I wonder who they are," the Kurosawa wondered out loud as she dusted her clothes.
Shikaku was amused with her antics. "Maybe I'll see the two of them if I visited the Academy enough."
The four-year-old girl smirked behind her mask and showed mirth in her eyes. "Maybe you'll see one of them today."
"Then that would mean that my luck is good."
The purple-haired girl then entered her academy instructor's office without looking back.
The room was quite messy with heaps of papers on the floor and on the table. A man wearing a hitaite glanced her way. Under his blank eyes were dark bags while his cheeks were without color. Ayame needed to take a second look before she completely understood what she was seeing. Her Academy instructor was overworked – an experience she knew all too well.
The man nodded at her and pointed at the empty space in front of him. Following her teacher's instructions, the Kurosawa slowly moved while studying the room.
"I know what you're thinking," the Academy instructor began, "You're not here because your performance was bad."
The four-year-old tilted her head and raised one of her eyebrows. "Then why?"
The man let out an exhausted sigh. "The exact opposite. It's because you're performing too well. "
These past few days, the Kurosawa name was getting tossed from ear to ear. A kid that was on par with the White Fang's child. No one knew that Sakumo adopted her, given that it was a part of the condition given by the Hokage. However the girl could tell anyone she wanted to.
Ayame was tagged as an orphan with unbelievable talent and her current Academy Instructor had held grudge against her because of the added work. A rumor had started spreading that the four-year-old was a part of an unknown clan from another village – a spy. Added to the fact that the girl's parents refused to interact with civilians, the citizens of Konoha started to berate her.
Scenes flashed in the purple-haired girl's head. In that moment, Ayame understood why she was called and had the urge to bash her head on a wall. The hearsays started to get out of hand and she knew it, but she had not done anything to clear her name.
Who would believe a four-year-old's words anyway?
"Then… what am I here for?"
They could kick her out of the academy if the council was not happy with her. At worst, they would throw her out of the village to calm the people. Ayame would not be angry if that happened. She could find a way to survive while finding the right time to clear her name.
"Don't talk that way gaki. You're making my head hurt." The instructor pinched the bridge of his nose. "The council called your foster parent and told him they want to throw you into the den of wolves."
"I know. I didn't understand at first either. Apparently, they wanted to make you an ANBU at four-years of age which triggered the White Fang's rage. You should've seen it. It was a spectacle," the man replied with awe.
Earlier that morning, he was called to the council meeting. He did not have any idea what the purpose of the gathering was but soon realize it was because of his prodigious student. When the agenda of the assembly was announced, his face was buried in his hands. The conference was needed since the Ayame was the last Kurosawa in Konoha. After hearing it, Hatake Sakumo's gentle face scrunched and his smiling lips turned upside down.
"For the first time in my life, I didn't know that my senior was that badass," he continued while smirking. "In the end, they changed the agreement. I would not tell you the exact details but from now on, you're out of the academy."
Ayame did not know how to react and could only stare at the man incredulously. "Sorry, but could you repeat that?"