Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto
Scroll 1: Chains
Somewhere in the darkness something scurried along the dusty, cold stone passages. The tiny echoes as the miniscule feet that clacked along the emptiness gave the impression that it was the only living creature in this place.
Not that it mattered anyways. The occupant of the cell could not have told the difference between artificial or natural light even in the best of circumstances which this most certainly was not. Darkness would be his forevermore unless he was executed first.
He guessed because of who and what he was that that would not have made a difference in his situation. Why would it? After all he was probably up there competing with Itachi and Orochimaru for Konoha's most hated and definitely most wanted worm food, only this time they might get their wish.
Whereas both of the former Konoha nin and S-class missing criminals had left before any possible retaliation for their offences could be enacted upon, he had come back willing though not in this situation or in these circumstances. Especially, not after he had literally sacrificed his life and dream for a mission, which he was quite certain, after racking his battered memories, was not a crime against the village.
Then again he was a special case and was judged guilty merely by a glance or the mention of his name. After all not many would accuse a twelve, almost thirteen, year old of premeditated murder without evidence or witnesses.
How long had he been here again? Oh, right close to five weeks in quarantined solitary. He had almost lost count of how many guard changes there were, which were about four per day.
It was only a slight difference from his earlier years as a social pariah at the tender age of 5 hours, or the years that followed, until his enrollment in the academy.
'Was it worth it, Teme?' He asked the emptiness before quietly asking himself 'Was it really worth all this?'
Initially he would have shouted the answer, no doubt, no hesitation, no regret…nothing but his conviction and beliefs. Yet, this time of abandonment by those he had thought precious really caused him to pause and reevaluate everything.
Of course he rationalized that no one had been given permission to visit him, but that also begged the question of what exactly was he guilty of? Then as if to add insult to injury and break his spirit in one go, when he finally was allowed visitors, the remains of Team 7 had been allowed to 'check up' on him.
That ended quite well if he recalled correctly.
His sensei hadn't been the talkative type and deferred to his teammate at this point. He had, however, made it clear that in no uncertain terms that he would not be anywhere near the blonde within the young teen's natural life and that their ties were all but severed. Naturally discounting the fact that the bonds were non-existent to begin with.
And his other teammate, well…his ears were still ringing from what she said, quietly at first, and he still sported the bruises from where she showed him her true feelings and of course appreciation for fulfilling his word. It had been wonderful to know that she cared for him so.
As well as courageous, he wouldn't forget that either.
It definitely took a strong kunoichi to lash out at her former teammate, whom was coincidentally shackled to the wall, without fear of retaliation of any kind. Well that and she hadn't been back since. Neither of them had.
What exactly did he do wrong again?
Oh, right. He kept his promise and the mission was successful.
"That makes the fifteenth this week." Annoyance coated every word. The speaker was glaring at the document sitting oh so innocently upon the desk.
"If I had known that this was the result of last week's announcement, I would never have let the council have their way. In fact I'd like to see how they'd deal with this situation. Maybe it would open their eyes."
"Tsunade-sama…" the speaker's tone warned.
"Yes, yes, I know." The seemingly eternally young woman waved her assistant off, annoyance still coloring her speech. "For the sake of Konoha and all that."
"Well, he is considered the strongest of the candidates." Shizune offered, not believing a word falling from her lips, just providing hearsay for the sake of the conversation.
"Being Hokage doesn't mean personal strength is everything," Tsunade snorted, "true it is a prerequisite for the position, however the title means so much more than that."
"Though I think many have forgotten." The last part was muttered.
"Who else was nominated then?" the dark haired medic inquired, slightly curious.
"Hatake Kakashi, Sarutobi Konohamaru, Nara Shikaku…" the medic listed off the top of her head. "There were others, and while they'd make excellent leaders, well, you know how politics is."
Sadly enough she did. Many a good candidate and leader were overlooked simply because they did not have the name, breeding, popularity, and rank to be considered. Especially in Konoha, with it being one of if not the eldest village amongst the Elemental nations. Call it bureaucratic elitism, but there it was, the Sannin themselves being the possible exceptions as well as Namikaze Minato, of course.
"I would have preferred Konohamaru to have won the nomination." The blond sat back in her office chair, making it creak a bit, the bright afternoon sky perfectly silhouetting her form. "I believe he is the best choice. He has the power, the passion, the drive, the charisma, and most importantly The Fire. He's the only one left that has it."
"You mean because he picked up the mantel of Prankster of Konoha and painted the monument?"
"That's not the only reason and you know it. But the primitive masses demanded and got their wish."
The other medic looked thoughtfully as she held the stack of Tsunade's completed paperwork. "You know, I heard that Danzo-sama has rejected the nominee as well. If I'm not mistaken that is."
"You heard correctly. He made his sentiments known at the last village wide council meeting."
The old military fixture rarely spoke a word during the village wide discussions, preferring to either discretely make preparations behind the backs of the council or to discuss his concerns privately with the Hokage. After all Konoha's continued welfare was his only priority at this stage in his life.
"I think for once I actually agree with Danzo on this subject, Kami forbid." Shizune's eyes widened considerably. Tsunade and the Ne leader had been at odds on just about every subject since she took up the mantel some fifteen years prior. The older blonde caught the look and glared, "and not a peep from you on that comment, Shizune."
The younger medic just smiled tightly before taking her leave. After all, paperwork didn't file itself and she had three more stacks after this one.
The older blonde, though looking aged not a day past twenty-one, thoughtfully looked out over the village proper with unseeing eyes and became lost in her thoughts. In spite of her perpetually youthful appearance, Tsunade was getting along in her years. Even she had to admit that the creaks in her bones, and the general slowing down of her systems, were signs of longevity. And her had every intention of enjoying what remained of her life.
At this moment however, she felt older that her sixty-five years. Her gaze finally rested upon the stone faces that looked over the Leaf. She spoke softly into the silence after a few moments.
"You know, whoever said the old proverb, 'Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it' forgot to add, 'and then some.'"
The Kazekage was leaning back in his chair, head bowed and hands steepled before him. His aquiline gaze stared unblinkingly into the distance as his thoughts wandered down different paths.
He had just received a missive from their contact, which pertained to their long time ally, and its contents were…giving him misgivings. His thoughts weren't exactly ominous per say, but disturbing enough in its implications that he was definitely beginning to question the wisdom of remaining politically aligned Konoha.
Their mission quota had been the rise these last couple of years as well as the quality of Shinobi and overall lifestyle for the citizenry of Suna had also improved greatly. In fact they could be considered prosperous.
However as well as they were doing, they were still somewhat behind their larger counterpart. Only with time that would change, especially with the current Anbu Commander, a legend in the making if not one already.
With that last thought Gaara called for his secretary. He needed advice as pertaining to this…news. He also wanted to speak with his long time and closest friend.
A/N: I had to gut this plot, like a fish, before I wrote it. Seriously. There were some things that I wanted but were in no way shape or form plausible…at all (wishful thinking just about kills a plot faster than a rant session). As I operate along the lines of practicality, plausibility and somewhat realistic basis, I realized that what I wanted was none of those…So I did some spring cleaning so to speak and streamlined it. Hopefully you'll enjoy it.
Before I forget…
Important News Flash: Jiraiya has not committed suicide via Pein.
Because, well, Konoha no longer has a reason to become directly involved with Akatsuki's activities and unless the pervert has a serious death wish, he'd only monitor them…from afar. I should think it's glaringly obvious as to why Konoha isn't involved…
Questions? Suggestions? Hopes and Dreams for this Fict?
Feel free to speak out, after all dynamics and originality are a must for a story and I take anything and everything into consideration. Who knows, the most outlandish ideas could potentially spawn something…
Until next time.