Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. This story was written for fun, not profit.

Shall Pass

~~

Mio is eight years old, and looks nothing like an Uchiha at all. Some purists might argue that's because she isn't one. Her pigtails are blond and her eyes are green, and while she tries to mimic her sullen, withdrawn father, it doesn't look quite right. She can't keep still. Her ideas bubble over, because she's as smart as she is determined, and because she so desperately wants the approval her father can't give her.

But she tries. She is the youngest genin in ten years. Her jutsus are perfect, her dedication nothing less than commendable. So she doesn't really understand why, when the other new genin are congratulated, she gets told she's a year behind schedule. She doesn't know what the great Sasuke Uchiha has to prove through her.

She does understand that this is the way he is, though. When one of her classmates comes to her defense, scowling at her father, she stops them and shrugs. This is how life is. It, too, shall pass.

Mio Uchiha is a weapon, a tool in the hands of an imperfect craftsman. Her birth parents were the raw material, who worked around the rules or simply didn't acknowledge them. A weak chuunin, however perfect her control, shouldn't be able to sacrifice herself to stop a rogue ANBU captain. An outcast shouldn't decide saving his village is more important than fulfilling his dream.

Or if these things must happen, they shouldn't reflect so badly on the one left behind. Mio's father tried to forge himself, as he now tries to forge her. She will be imperfect as well, a flawed weapon, because the man shaping her defined himself by revenge -- and, ultimately, failed at it.

Her headband is too big, so she sits on a dresser in the empty Uchiha compound and tries to tie it around her forehead. It flops over one eye instead of staying put. When she beams and laughs, standing up on the dresser to imitate Kakashi, she is scowled at. But she's used to this.

She isn't used to her father walking over and fixing her headband for her.

As he steps back, arms folded across his chest, she gives him a bewildered look. And he looks back at her, so that if she squints, she imagines she can see back twenty years. She's his child, an Uchiha, maybe the last Uchiha in a few weeks or months or years. He made her as surely as his brother made him -- as all his enemies made him.

When she plants her hands on her hips, with a toothy grin and twinkling eyes, it's his goal she echoes. She'll get his brother and Orochimaru. She'll get all of them. Just watch.

Her smile falters as, utterly silent, he looks away.