While the reviews I've gotten for this work have been heartening, I'm afraid it won't be updated as regularly as many of you might like. My other works, most notably Gaiden, Youko, and the sequel to Issan, have top priority, and some of them are long overdue as is.
To Nero Sparda: Your request and the Oneshot are well under way, but it'll be a while before they can be posted. Keep an eye out over the summer.
That said, on with the show!
Senju Hashirama blinked, his hand still outstretched in greeting, as he gaped down at the recumbent form of the mysterious genin before him. Part of him was wondering if he'd said something wrong, another wondering if perhaps the lad wasn't ready for visitors just yet.
But mostly, he was wondering just how long his younger brother, Tobirama, intended to keep snickering behind his back like a sugar-crazed hyena.
"You still got it, aniki," the white haired Senju chuckled, smirking behind his fist as his brother glared at him "You can still knock 'em dead with a look, though I think your wife may object to you charming teenage boys instead of her."
"Tobirama…" the older Senju growled, his tone instantly sobering everything within a five-mile radius, much to the detriment of the off-duty ANBU trying to drown their sorrows. Tobirama, to his credit, merely straightened up and stopped snickering, though he still had the gall to smirk at the Hokage. Ah the joys of brotherhood.
"All kidding aside, what the hell did you do?" the younger Senju asked, looking over the comatose blonde with concern as the nurse fussed over him, checking his pulse and calling for the doctor in charge "Yeesh, looks like you gave the poor kid a heart attack or something."
"I certainly hope not," a calm voice intoned, the duo looking round to find the head doctor standing there, her black ponytail looping round to rest against her chest, rather than down her back, a bemused expression on her face as she looked the two brothers over "After all, I'd hate to have to kill my husband for doing such a thing to one of my patients."
"No need for that, Retsu-chan." Hashirama chuckled weakly, holding up both hands to ward off his wife's temper. Hokage or not, it was clear who wore the pants in their union, as she well and truly knew "I'm sure the boy just wasn't quite ready for visitors is all."
"Especially not such important ones." Tobirama agreed, though he reveled in the sight of his normally impeccable brother walking on eggshells before his Sister-in-law "Took one look at Aniki's face and blanked out, poor sod."
"I hope you aren't implying something, Tobirama-kun." Senju Retsu asked, smiling serenely at her brother-in-law and causing him to sweat buckets "My husband's features are not nearly so gruesome…" she smiled serenely at the preening Hashirama "now if he had seen him first thing in the morning…"
"She's got you there, Aniki." Tobirama chuckled weakly, patting his depressed looking older brother on the back as the chief medic went to work on the mystery genin "You're a real bear before you get your morning coffee."
"Like you're any different?" Hashirama shot back, shrugging off the hand, albeit without much resentment, as he led the way out of the room, knowing his beloved preferred to not have people watching her work, wanting to keep her trade secrets as they were.
"Still," Tobirama allotted, falling into step beside his brother as they vacated the premises, hospital staff bowing respectfully and moving out of their way "that was a pretty weird reaction, don't you think? I mean he looked like the Shinnigami himself had grabbed him by the balls and twisted."
"Quite…" Hashirama grumbled, shivering at his brother's…GRAPHIC description of the boy's reaction, a frown marring his features as he walked out into the daylight once more "It almost looked like he recognized me from somewhere…but I highly doubt that's possible." He pulled out the duplicate of his necklace "And then there's this…whoever that youth is, I feel he's connected to something BIG."
"Big enough to wanna keep ol' red-eyes in the dark?" Tobirama inquired, referring to his older brother's rival, and Clan head of the prestigious Uchiha Clan "You know he's gonna be putting his nose where it's not wanted."
Now while Hashirama had vouched for Madara, for the entire Uchiha Clan for that matter, and continued to do so to this day, Tobirama, and the majority of Clan Senju, couldn't shake off their feelings of mistrust for the sharingan wielders.
It wasn't the fact that their clan element was Fire, the polar opposite to his water and Hashirama's wood, nor was it the fact that their sharingan allowed them to steal the hard earned skills of their opponents, which included a fair few Senju techniques to date.
No, the main driving force for Tobirama's mistrust of the Uchiha clan was their sheer, unbridled arrogance. The bastards honestly believed they were gods among men, or at least the older generations did, with Uchiha Madara, the exalted Clan head, and supposed wielder of a PERMANENT Mangekyou Sharingan, being the first to preach of their superiority.
Never mind the fact that the Senju clan had beaten them back repeatedly before the two clans allied, nor the fact that despite being a 'God', Hashirama had been elected as Konoha's founding father by the majority vote.
'Hell it hadn't even been a vote,' Tobirama snorted, recalling the Uchiha elder's outraged face as the results were posted 'Ol' red-eyes was the only one to vote for himself.'
"Normally I'd berate you on your attitude to Madara-san." Hashirama muttered, shooting his Outoto a serious look as he tucked the duplicate gem away "But the fact is until we can determine the root of this, I don't want him asking questions without me there to hear the answers."
Naruto awoke to find the familiar roof of the Konoha medical ward over his head, sighing in relief as he leant back on the soft pillow laughing weakly to himself.
'It was all a dream…' he chuckled, covering his head with his arm and sighing again, his breath shaky 'There's no way I could've been hurtled back in time…probably just the meds messing with my head again.'
"I see you're awake." A calm voice called out, drawing the jinchuriki's attention to a smiling face framed by long black hair, dressed in a medical-robe he recalled Tsunade wearing for big operations and a green haori "How do you feel?"
'Like Gama-Oyabun set me on fire and then sat on me to put me out…' the blonde muttered internally, but shrugged it off and smiled cheekily up at the woman "Just peachy!"
"That's good to hear." The woman noted, sitting back and drawing an intrigued look from the blonde as to her unusual hairstyle "I have to admit I was worried when you first came in here."
"Heh, nothing can keep me down for long!" Naruto boasted, rubbing his nose confidently as he sat up, only to wince as pain wracked through his entire frame "Ite-!"
"Easy now…" the woman urged, pushing him down slightly so he was sitting up with his back propped up with pillows "Just because you're awake doesn't mean you should be running around."
"Heh…Baachan used to say the same thing." Naruto chuckled, smiling up at the woman as she tucked him in again "She was always telling me to take it easy after I pushed myself."
"Sounds like a smart woman." The medic approved, her serene smile oddly comforting as she soothed his hair with a gentle hand "Now then, would you care for some food?"
"Yeah! I'll have the usual Miso Ramen!" Naruto cheered, already tasting the divine nectar of the kami slidding down his throat, only to blink as the woman chuckled, clearly amused "What?"
"Ramen? What makes you think the hospital serves ramen to its patients?" the woman asked, covering her mouth with her haori sleeve "Don't you know that's the WORSE thing to eat when you're sick?"
"Say what?!" Naruto gaped, shocked out of his gourd that someone so nice could speak such blasphemy about the ambrosia that was his favorite food "That can't be true!"
"But it is." The woman assured him, her serene smile never leaving her face "While a tasty meal in moderation, the average bowl of cup ramen contains more salt than the body needs." She smiled at his startled gape "It can stunt your growth or lead to obesity if you over indulge."
"NOOOOOO!!!!" Naruto wailed, clapping both hands to his cheeks as he wept, his face a mask of horror and denial "Say it isn't so! Ramen-chan can't be bad for me!"
"Only if you overindulge." The smiling woman assured him, patting him on the leg to calm him down "I'm not saying you can't have ramen as a treat, but you should broaden your horizons and ensure you get plenty of vegetables." She smiled and tweaked his nose, causing him to blink cutely as she placed a bowl of gruel before him "Now eat up, doctor's orders."
"Man…" Naruto moaned, staring at the brown soup with a grimace as he spooned it up hesitantly "I always hate this part…" he spooned it in, his eyes shutting to brace himself for the flavor, only to blink in surprise "Hey…this tastes pretty good!"
"Why thank you." The smiling woman offered, watching him shovel it in as if nothing could please her more "It's an old family recipe that ensures fast recovery, I'm hoping it becomes Standard issue in the hospital.
"So do I!" Naruto enthused, pausing in his consumption of the deceptively tasty soup with an eager grin "This stuff's ten times better than the stuff Baa-chan's always trying to get me eat!"
"You really shouldn't bad mouth your grandmother dear." The woman reprimanded, her smile fading somewhat as she regarded him solemnly, hands on her lap.
"Oh she's not my grandma." Naruto assured the woman, feeling a rush of guilt at making her smile fade "I just call her that cause it ticks her off," he grinned and rubbed the back of his head "But ta tell ya the truth, I'm the only one who can call her that and get away with it."
"She must be very special to you…" the woman noted, her smile returning full force as she looked the boy over with approval "I hope that my grandchildren and I can be so close."
"You're a granny too? No way!" Naruto gaped, looking the woman, who looked no older than thirty and damn good for it, over in disbelief as she chuckled.
"Flatterer…" she offered, ruffling his hair and picking up the empty bowl and the tray it had been resting on with a smile "Shall I fetch you another bowl young man?"
"Yes please!" Naruto cheered, eager for more of that delicious soup as he thrust both arms in the air in jubilation "And call me Naruto, Uzumaki Naruto!"
"My name is Senju Retsu." The woman replied, smiling down at him serenely as she picked up the bowl "A pleasure to meet you, Naruto-kun."
"Madara-sensei…" Danzo greeted, crouching before the Uchiha elder reverently, still dressed in his ANBU uniform, having rushed here from headquarters "You summoned me?"
"Report." Madara ordered, reclining on an ornate chair before a giant banner, upon which was imposed the Uchiha fan crest. One hand was resting on his knee, while the other supported his cheek with his knuckles. The man's features were concealed by the darkness of the room, save for his active Sharingan, which were drilling into Danzo like lasers.
"Concerning the matter of the supposed attack yesterday..." Danzo began, lowering his gaze respectfully, and fearfully, away from those eyes "It turns out that it may NOT an attempt to instigate a war, but apparently the result of a jutsu experiment gone wrong." At the persisting silence he continued "The young man encountered by Sarutobi Hiruzen appears to be a genin of Konoha, as attestable by his Konoha Hitai-ate, which is in turn of the same quality and make as those produced by the Ten clan's outfitters-!"
"Danzo…" the Uchiha clan head muttered, his tone laced with irritation "all you have told me thus far are 'maybes' and 'apparent'…have I not told you to not waste my time on anything other than definite information or suspicions?"
"My apologies." Danzo offered, though internally he was clenching his teeth, a display of emotion he'd never DARE display physically for fear of retribution "However, the Shodai Hokage has begun a PERSONAL investigation into the matter…and has even seen to it that his own wife tends to the boy as he recovers." He dared to raise his head, though his eyes remained shut "Apparently what ever this young man's secrets are, the Hokage doesn't believe they should be made available to any outside his influence."
Madara was silent for a moment, his Sharingan eyes narrowing in suspicion as he regarded his pupil and spy with the spinning tomoe. 'What are you planning…Hashirama…?' he wondered, a surge of anger rushing through him at the mention of his hated rival's name 'Another bid to subjugate the Uchiha? Or is the title of Hokage not enough for you?'
In all honesty, the Uchiha clan leader had been considering packing his personal belongings and heading off to train, as it had become quite apparent that his clan had fallen under the sway of his former rival. He'd planned, and rightly so, to return as a conqueror, to remind the placid sheep of the true might of the Uchiha, to make them shed their so called ideals of 'Peace' with their hated enemies and take back the pride and prestige that was rightfully theirs.
But it would appear that his plans would have to be put on hold for a while. For if this one youth warranted enough attention that the Hokage himself was looking into things, then there just might be a new possibility to exploit.
"C'mon Tsunade…" Jiraiya groaned, kicking his feet lazily as he slouched after his annoying teammate, waving cheekily at the nurses as they walked past "Can't we just let you gramps handle things? I got places to be…"
"I could care less about your filthy habits pervert!" Tsunade snapped glaring at her lecherous teammate in disgust "Besides, aren't you curious as to who he is? I mean, not only is he a genin nobody's seen before, but when we found him he was practically flayed alive!"
"It was more like the outer epidermis of skin had been burned away." Orochimaru pointed out from the rear, earning dark looks from the budding medic, to which he merely shrugged.
"In any case." Tsunade muttered, ignoring their sensei's favorite in favor of Jiraiya "As the ones that found him, don't you think we have a right to check up on him?"
"While that is most certainly an exemplary attitude for a shinobi to take," a serene voice opined, Tsunade freezing as she realized her teammates were gaping at someone in front of her in alarm "I'm afraid that visiting hours are over, Tsu-chan."
"R-Retsu-Obachan…" the Shodai's granddaughter stammered, staring up at the smiling features of her grandmother in shock and trepidation "We…were just…"
"Thinking of sneaking in to check up on the boy who almost fell into your lap?" Retsu teased, chuckling as her granddaughter turned an interesting shade of magenta "Ara-ara, Tsu-chan, don't you think people will talk?"
"OBACHAN!" the blonde hissed, her twin ponytails rising like a cat's in her ire, shooting a glare over her shoulder as Jiraiya failed to completely suppress his snickering. Hell even Orochimaru, who normally exhibited nothing but cool indifference, had turned his head to the side in an attempt to conceal his smirk.
"Now off with you." Retsu insisted, turning the incensed blonde around and patting her rump to make her stagger forwards "The young man will still be here tomorrow, of that I can assure you, so you can come back once you've made yourself presentable."
"But I'm not!" Tsunade began, only to blink as the doors to the hospital shut behind her, her face flushing as she realized how easily she'd been manipulated, before rounding on the sniggering Jiraiya "What's so funny?!"
"Your grandma rocks!" Jiraiya cackled, holding his belly as he kicked doubled over from laughing so hard "Now I know who wears the pants in your family!"
"Get your mind out of the gutter you perv!" Tsunade growled, bitch-slapping Jiraiya into the pavement with a huff "and don't think I didn't catch you eyeing her up!"
"Hey! Even I have standards!" Jiraiya shot back, looking incensed at the very idea "I mean yeah she's pretty, but she's a GRANDMA, I'm not so low that I perv out on people's grannies!"
"He's right you know." Orochimaru pointed out, earning a look of disbelief from the Tsunade that he'd defend the idiot "While Jiraiya DID notice her, it was no different from the way anyone else would, he also kept his eyes trailed on her face the entire time."
"Like I said, even I have Standards." Jiraiya muttered with a glare, sitting up on the ground cross-legged and nodding sagely "Now if It'd been your mom…!"
"YOU SICK PERVO!" Tsunade snarled, digging into the idiot with renewed vigor, even as Orochimaru shook his head in disbelief at their antics. As he did so, he caught sight of the fire escape running along the walls of the building, his eyes narrowing slightly as he gazed upon it.
"What're you looking at?" Tsunade muttered, looking up from her favorite game of 'whack-a-perv' to follow her pale skinned teammate's line of vision, blinking in realization "Orochimaru you're a genius!"
"I am?" the pale youth wondered, looking over at her in confusion, shaken out of his thoughts on how rusty and unsafe the fire escape had been allowed to become and the security risks it posed as Tsunade pushed past him, his eyes widening as she made to clamber up it "Wait! You can't mean to-!"
"Good eye partner!" Jiraiya applauded, apparently unfazed after the savage beating he'd just received as he patted his teammate on the shoulder "Never woulda thought you had it in ya!"
"But I didn't-! I mean-!" the pale chunin candidate stammered, only to sigh explosively and lower his head, following after them with a long suffering expression on his pale face "Sarutobi-sensei is going to KILL us for this…"
"So gooooood!" Naruto moaned, swallowing down yet another bowl of the thick, creamy broth that Retsu-san had wheeled in for him, setting it aside and promptly picking up another off the cart, slurping it down eagerly before leaning back on his pillows, sated at last.
"My what a healthy appetite." Retsu chuckled; motioning for the traumatized nurse to wheel away the towering bowls of soup the blonde had consumed "You must have been quite hungry."
"Understatement of the year there, Retsu-san." Naruto chuckled, leaning back on the pillow and allowing the woman to pull the cover up under his chin "But after a meal like that I'll be raring to go tomorrow!"
"Oh I doubt that." Retsu countered, tucking him in with a smile "As the head nurse, I cannot in good conscience let you run around until I've given you a FULL check up."
Naruto turned scarlet, recalling the last time he'd been given a full check up by Tsunade and Shizune, more specifically how they'd made him strip for it, and promptly reaffirmed his resolution to make his escape before morning came. The hospital staff couldn't very well claim he needed medical attention after he led them on a merry chase around the village, now could they?
"Well, my shift is over now." Retsu noted, looking up at the clock on the wall and smiling down at the blonde as she stroked his hair "However, I'm certain that you won't be giving the nurses any trouble…" her smile changed "Will you?"
Naruto, who suddenly got the feeling that saying anything other than a polite 'No ma'am' would NOT end favorably for him, simply shook his head slowly, letting out a sigh of relief as Retsu turned on her heal and walked out the door.
'Okay…THAT was scary…' he muttered, his heart starting up again as the terror that had pinned him to the bed faded away 'Man, and I thought Orochimaru's smiles were creepy…' he shuddered at the memory of the late snake sennin and his lolling tongue and creepy laugh 'not that Retsu-san's creepy or anything but…sheesh…'
Shaking his head, the Blonde closed his eyes, letting his senses wander as he took in the timing of the ANBU patrolling the building, a practice he'd gotten pretty good at over the years, even before Tsunade had been elected as Hokage, thus changing the patterns to her own tastes.
'Seems like a pretty tight group…' he noted, smirking in approval, as he was always up for a challenge 'All chunin class at least…one jounin…ten second intervals…'
With a smirk, the blonde jinchuuriki opened his eyes, walking over to the door, smiling up at the medic nin currently on watch and asking her to escort him to the restroom.
The medic, yet another newcomer that the blonde didn't recall, had done so with a kind smile, leading him to the restroom and waiting politely outside as he did his business. Unknown to her however, said business had involved creating a Kagebunshin to take his place, the blonde giving it instructions to lie in bed and pretend to sleep, as it would dispel if it actually fell asleep, before waiting a few seconds for the medic to walk it back to the room.
A quick henge later, and Naru-chan, his Orioke form, had assumed the form of a perky new orderly and stepped boldly out into the corridor, picking up a clipboard off the desk to keep up the appearance of things as she made her way towards the exit.
'Man…did they recruit a whole division while Ero-sennin and I were away?' the blonde wondered, eying the unfamiliar faces of the nurses, doctors and orderlies as she walked past 'I mean I now Baachan was all for increasing the ranks but come on-!'
He trailed off, letting out a gasp as he ducked around a corner, peeking out with a nervous look to find Retsu-san standing there, conversing with what looked to be members of the Inuzuka clan, judging by the markings on their faces, the woman of the pair holding her slightly rounded belly with a smile.
'Must be Kiba's aunt or something…' he muttered, gritting his teeth and hoping to whichever Kami was listening he was downwind, as he had no desire to be caught so soon, even more so by Retsu-san of all people 'Guess I'll take the roof route…' he muttered, retracing his steps to the laundry room, as a pile of fresh laundry to be aired would make his being their all the more believable.
"Would you hurry it up Jiraiya?" Tsunade hissed, clambering up the fire escape as quickly as she dared "I know it's rusty but you could at least shift your fat ass up a gear!"
"Maybe if I had something OTHER than your skinny ass hovering over my head as motivation I'd consider it!" Jiraiya muttered bitterly "And anyways, why don't we just wait till tomorrow to check this guy out?"
"Jiraiya, give it a rest." Orochimaru cut in, shaking his head to silence his teammate "You should know by now that if Tsunade-Hime wants to do something, she'll do it."
"Doesn't mean she's gotta drag US along with her…" Jiraiya muttered condescendngly, only to yelp as Tsunade stamped on his fingers from above with her heel.
"We do everything as a team, remember?" Tsunade reminded the youth, smirking smugly as Orochimaru clapped a hand over the white haired genin's mouth to silence his roars of anger "What would Sarutobi-sensei say if he found out you let me go into this alone?"
"He'd be patting us on the head for using our heads." Orochimaru quipped cheerfully, earning a snort from Jiraiya and a glare from Tsunade for his trouble.
"Whatever!" Tsunade huffed, pulling herself over the edge of the building with a grunt "I don't need you two cowards' help anyway-!"
She trailed off, eyes widening as she came face to face with a pretty, pigtailed, blonde medic with blue eyes and a figure to die for, who had apparently been hanging laundry on the roof to dry.
The two of them stared at each other, light brown gaping into sky blue, as if each was unable to comprehend what the other was doing there, only for Tsunade to lean back in alarm as she realized they'd been spotted, the blonde kunoichi paling as she felt, far too late, the telltale signs a tremor, her eyes widening as the fire-escape let out an ominous grown, the rusted metal giving way from the side of the building with a crack.
And that's all for now folks.
Yes, the Shodai's wife looks like unohana from 'turn back the pendulum'. Make of that what you will.