Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto and I don't make any money from this.
Summary: Stranded in the middle of nowhere in Fire Country, a Mary Sue tries to do what all Mary Sues do. But she should have thought about what her actions look like from a Naruto-verse perspective…
Beta: Lord Scruffy
A/N: This was inspired by Slipstream, a fanfic universe by Vega that tries to look at Mary Sues realistically (well, as realistic as possible in unrealistic universes). Years later, I decided to give it a try myself.
The Life and Death of Mary Sue
My name is not Mary Sue. But, for the sake of cliché, it might as well be.
I write down these memories partially because I've read somewhere that this helps to work through events in a therapy sort of way, but also partially because I hope there are people out there who are willing to learn from my misadventures.
As you might be able to deduct from this most ridiculous nom de plume, I am one of those lucky girls that got drawn into an anime-verse in a most mysterious fashion. I was the average teenage girl who is artificially blond, has lots of friends, even more potential boy-friends, loves shopping and gossiping and hanging out with said friends, hates school and homework, dutifully goes to church every Sunday, bitches and moans about her allowance (or rather her lack thereof), argues with her younger siblings, and dreams of having her own car so that she can go wherever the wind blows.
Contrary to many other Mary Sues, I don't have any special qualifications, like having trained in Martial Arts since just about forever, or having suffered through a crappy childhood. I'm not very outstanding physically (no mascara-lined, haunting, sky-blue eyes or luscious red lips, no meter-long slender, toned legs, no classical hour-glass figure, no peachy, smooth skin). I'm not the smartest girl around. I'm not too athletic. Neither am I the fastest or strongest or most limber or most graceful or most anything. I don't radiate sex-appeal either, consciously or unconsciously.
Before all of this happened, my primary concern was getting through school every day, then homework, then avoid having to do any household chores so that I could watch TV, listen to the latest pop-band, hang out with my friends, go to the mall, or something like that. I liked my creature comforts, my hot shower a day, my hairdryer, my make-up, my manicure set, my tons of hair accessories. I didn't like getting dirty, having to do work of any kind or, heavens forbid, babysitting my younger siblings.
But, nevertheless, I was the one who got thrown into a story universe, where I undoubtedly was supposed to turn the heads of the main cast and grab myself a hunk of man-meat because I manage to dazzle them with my imagined qualities. At least that's what most think is supposed to happen when a Mary Sue appears.
Too bad that it doesn't work like that.
I realized this after I got back from an unplanned trip into Naruto world. Lots of hunky ninja to choose from, a huge main cast so that there's one for every type, cool and awesome fights (and fighters), and lots of drama. Sounds great, doesn't it? You get a huge choice of boyfriends who you already know the qualities of because you have read all about them. You get the chance to see those drool worthy buffs in action first-hand, and you can give them a pep-talk once they're down – inevitably leading to a hot and steamy make-out session, or something along those lines.
But there's one little detail nobody ever tells you: When you get thrown into another universe, you're forced to live by their rules. And those rules are hardly ever as exciting and cool as they might look like on television.
I'm going to share my story with you so that you might learn something from my mistakes, in case you have to suffer through a similar experience. However, my hopes that you'll take my words to heart are slim, because quaint little Mary Sues like you always seem to know everything better.
Well, to start off with, I need to warn you about universes with superpowers: having them is by far not as great as it might seem. If you're especially unlucky, you'll fall into the miniscule percentage of people who are gifted thusly (that percentage varies from universe to universe, but there hardly are any with more than ten percent – otherwise, such 'superpowers' would turn into ordinary, and ordinary hardly makes a good story). I say unlucky because most of the time, you get stuck with a shitload of power and no control. That's because control requires hard and focused training for years. And of course, since you are a Mary Sue, you probably have never heard of a concept like that.
I was lucky in that respect. Naruto-verse is one of the kinder universes. The worst thing you might get stuck with is a bloodline limit that you'll probably never discover because you have no clue how to unlock it. The rest of the whole chakra-fuss isn't so bad. Everybody there has chakra in greater or smaller quantities, and as long as you leave it alone, it's not dangerous at all. Suddenly being thrown into Naruto-verse doesn't turn you into a ticking time-bomb like, for example, being turned into a mutant from X-Men would do. A clueless person can't accidentally blow themselves up with their own chakra. And chakra doesn't boil out of control on its own accord.
Then again, this is why Naruto-verse also has its draw-backs. If you're aiming to get the attention of the main cast, you will need to impress them with your skills instead your complete lack thereof (there's only one other way I could think of to catch their attention – become a damsel-in-distress that, most of the time, won't be saved for a long time because nobody knows of your existence and thus would never stage a rescue mission for).
And, let me tell you, in Naruto-verse, learning skills boils down to hard, back-breaking work for years. It doesn't help if you've got a lot of chakra, when you have no idea how to use ninjutsu, genjutsu or, hell, even regular martial arts. What kind of ninja would be impressed with you if your shuriken are more likely to hit yourself instead of anywhere close to the target?
Needless to say that a wee little lazy and egoistical Mary Sue doesn't stand a chance at becoming super powerful anytime soon.
But I bet you that, after the first few days, you ain't gonna think about superpowers or not. You're going to wonder where your next meal is going to come from. You're going to wonder where you will sleep next. If you're especially lucky, your greatest problems will be that you don't like the job that a kind person has offered you. But most of the time, you're going to get a really rough wake-up call when you realize that boys and clothes are by far not as important as survival is.
At least that's what happened to me. After the TV sucked me in (I was watching Naruto episode a hundred-something), I got dropped in the middle of Fire Country forest with no clue where I was and how I got there. There's not much resemblance between those huge, sturdy trees, the soft-smelling ground draped with moss and old and dry leaves, the many unknown plants that grow on and between the trees, and their simplified cartoon rendition on TV. Cartoons don't give you the air moving through the crowns, the call of the birds, the humming of the insects, the crawling ants that decide to climb across your face because you landed in their path. And there is no way in hell that a simple cartoon can show you just how freaking huge a forest is where you can walk for days and days on end without ever encountering a single human.
When I got dropped into a strange, unknown forest, you can imagine how very not-happy I was. I curiously explored the area, not quite believing I wasn't dreaming. Then I went through a denial phase and a panic phase when I realized that I was all alone with no idea where I was and nothing to eat, nothing to drink, and no signs of civilization. When night fell, it turned into miserable acceptance, lots of tears and angst and all that stuff.
A few hours before dawn, it started drizzling. Again, not something cartoons show very often (except when they need an excuse to make clothes even more form-fitting than they already are or take them off for fan-service). But rain in Konoha is cold and wet and soaks you through until you wish you were made out of sugar so that your misery would end within a respectable amount of time.
But, of course, Mary Sues aren't made of sugar. So I continued walking in what I hoped was a straight line, keeping in motion to prevent me from freezing completely solid (I'd had enough of that during the night).
The rain took care of my thirst, but was a lousy substitute for food. Have you ever been really hungry? No, I don't mean the skip-dinner-as-punishment hungry or the I've-had-a-really-good-workout hungry, or even the I'm-on-a-diet hungry. I mean the there-is-no-food hungry. Believe me, there's a difference. Maybe not the physiological aspect of an empty stomach. The psychological one though is as different as night and day.
In the first three cases, focus is either on the aspect of punishment or self-improvement or self-denial. You know that there is a well-stocked fridge for when you're allowed to eat again. In the fourth case though, you don't have that reassurance. It is a very, very not-good feeling to realize that no amount of waiting will rectify the situation. That, if you don't scrounge up something edible in this forest, starvation is a very real possibility. In a situation like that, it takes a lot less time until leaves and mushrooms and berries start looking really good, even if you have no clue whether they're poisonous or not.
But thankfully, this is where the Mary-Sue-factor kicks in. Mary Sues are not allowed to die ignoble deaths of hunger or poisoning because they are city-bred and have no idea how to survive in a forest without elaborate supplies and camping gear.
That doesn't mean though that you won't get a healthy taste of just what survival means. In my case, it took me three days, a nasty cold, and severe stomach cramps from some mildly poisonous leaves to be rescued.
I count myself very lucky that I wasn't one of those destined-to-be-damsel-in-distress Mary Sues because it inevitably would have involved a group of bandits finding me first. And a lone, moderately good-looking Mary Sue surrounded by ten plus unwashed, lawbreaking men will never end well, let me tell you. Being damsel-in-distress is only romantic if you aren't in the situation yourself. Until your hero comes, the bad guys can do with you whatever they want, and reality is hardly ever restricted to a PG-13 rating.
No, my rescuer wasn't an unwashed, lawbreaking bandit but an unwashed, lawbreaking rice farmer trying to illegally hunt some game to supplement his family's dinner table.
As soon as I saw the man with his bow, I knew that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. And, let me tell you, that is not a good feeling, either. Starving in an endless forest, and then coming across a guy that could have sprung out of a historical movie hardly makes you trust in your own sanity.
After quite a bit of confusion (thankfully the confusion didn't extend to language issues – Mary Sues seem to have the miraculous capability to speak the tongue of the region they first land in), the farmer guided me back to his village and told me a bit about where I was. As soon as he mentioned Fire Country, I was all ears, and a few further questions ascertained that I had indeed landed myself in Naruto-verse.
And this, my fellow Mary Sues, is the moment all of you are supposed to be waiting for, the moment where everyone knows that the main cast is waiting just round the corner to confirm whatever conclusion Mary Sue has come to.
Only, reality once again doesn't work like that.
You have to understand that nobody cares about you. Fate doesn't care about you enough to arrange a coincidental meeting with whoever you like. The universe doesn't care about you enough to have landed you in an area anywhere close to where the action takes place. And your Mary-Sue-factor will only prevent you from dying until you have had some interaction with the main cast – otherwise you wouldn't be a Mary Sue.
So, in my best interest, I should have stayed the hell away from Konoha and let my Mary-Sue-factor protect me until I could survive reasonably well on my own in Naruto-verse. After all, after you have satisfied your Mary-Sue-ness, nothing and nobody prevents you from killing yourself through sheer stupidity.
But, being the naïve and unthinking girl that I was, I immediately focused all of my energy on how to get to Konoha. I didn't even stop to think of what my actions had to look like from a Naruto-verse perspective.
What would a Hidden Village do if a lone teenage girl with no identification appeared on their doorstep and demanded to see one of their ninja? What would a ninja do if a girl with no identification told them that ninja's whole life-story, including thoughts and events that are supposed to be top secret and should never have spread beyond the few people involved, let alone the walls of Konoha?
Regrettably, those three days in the woods hadn't knocked enough sense into me to think first and run to Konoha second.
The farmer who had found me in the forest was so gracious as to feed me and let me sleep under his roof for the first night. At that point, I had been so starved that I gratefully ate anything they gave me. But if someone had served me the same food a week earlier, when I hadn't been thrown into Naruto-verse yet, I would have turned my nose at the simple fare of bland rice, a few vinegary vegetables with strange herbs, and clear river water. The quantity, too, would have been less than satisfying although I had gotten the biggest portion out of them all.
Yes, my dear Mary Sues, you can count yourself lucky if you are in a universe where global commerce has evolved enough to somewhat compensate for seasonal and regional dependence on food-choice. Where, after all, is a simple and poor farmer supposed to get exotic spices or vegetables from, just because the food would taste slightly better with them?
Thankfully, the farmer seemed to swallow my story of looking for my brother in Konoha, and that I had been robbed on my way there. It was the first excuse I had been able to come up with – telling a farmer that I was from another world probably wouldn't have been a good idea. He was so nice to tell me that, twenty miles to the west, there was another village through which a trading caravan was going to pass this week, and that their next stop would be Konoha.
The next day, he sent me on my way on the road to Takamura, the village where the caravan was going to pass through. It was supposed to be safe and easy going, and I should arrive there without problem a long time before nightfall. But do you have any idea just how bloody long twenty miles can be when you have to walk every single one of them, and your head feels hot and stuffy from a cold? Five miles into it (or at least what felt like five miles to me – nothing as nice as a sign with distances in the middle of nowhere!), my feet started to hurt something bloody awful, and my sniffles weren't solely caused by a runny nose anymore.
You mustn't forget that I had been stumbling through thick forest for three days already, and my shoes had alternately gotten wet and then dried and then gotten wet again. I can count myself lucky that I had worn sneakers – making that kind of nightmarish trip in high-heels would have driven me insane not even twenty minutes into it. Anyway – although my sneakers were a lot more comfortable than high-heels, they were starting to dissolve at the fringes, and they began to chafe some serious blisters on my feet.
Around noon, I found a stream of cold water, and I just couldn't bear it anymore. From the way my socks had stuck to my soles, I could tell that the blisters had broken, and in some of them, blood could be seen. Without looking at my feet – I didn't want to know how bad they looked – I broke down sobbing, holding my sore feet into the icy water, hoping that that would turn that awful pain off.
That was the moment when it hit me just how completely fucked up my situation was. I was all alone in this world. Nobody knew me, nobody cared about whether I lived or died, and I had absolutely no clue what to do. I had no clue where exactly I was (except on the road to Takamura), no clue how to survive in the woods, no clue what dangers might be involved in traveling, and I had no marketable skills with which I could earn some money to get myself something to eat. In short – I had nothing except the clothes on my back and my sore feet. How was I to survive?
On the riverbank, I cried myself to sleep in the noon sun, trying to ignore my yet again empty stomach and the way my nose was completely clogged up. To be honest, at that point, I had thought that giving up would be easier. And yes, even in retrospect, I have to admit that giving up would have been better. It definitely would have been quicker. At least, it would have spared me a long, futile journey that definitely didn't end like I had imagined.
After I woke again late in the afternoon, I mechanically put on my socks and shoes, trying to ignore the way my feet were aching. Then I continued my travel towards Takamura because there was nothing else I could do. Do you have any idea what it feels like to know that you have to keep going, that, no matter how much it hurts, quitting isn't an option because quitting would mean dying slowly and painfully? That is a completely new definition of panic and desperation, I tell you.
When I finally reached Takamura, it was together with the last rays of the sun. Takamura had been named aptly – it was situated on a small hill that made the last few hundred meters a torture. It is so much easier just trotting along without knowing how much further it is, than seeing your goal in front of your eyes and seeing just how long it is taking to get even a little bit closer to it.
I don't know what picture I made, but the first people that saw me looked suitably shocked until an elderly grandmother took pity on me and guided me to a bench. I collapsed on it and no ten horses would have managed to get me up again – not least of all because I couldn't feel my feet anymore and would have been dragged behind those horses.
At first, I didn't really register what she was talking about, then I realized that she was asking me, "What happened to you, dear? You look dreadful, and you are all alone, too!"
I didn't want to say anything about my otherworldly origins and I was too tired to think up another story, so I stuck with the one that seemed to have worked on the farmer. "Bandits," I muttered, "took everything – everything…"
Apparently I made a suitably shell-shocked impression because she didn't ask me anything else. Instead she called for her son, who was a hulking brute but surprisingly gentle when he lifted me as if I weighed nothing and then carried me inside one of the houses.
I don't remember much of that evening except for the old woman tending to my feet (hurt like hell), her throwing her son out to ask me whether the bandits had… hurt me (it took me several tries to understand that she was talking about rape, but in the state I was in, even that didn't shock me anymore), someone giving me some miso soup which was mainly hot instead of tasty, and then telling me to lie down and sleep.
That night, I slept like the dead. I woke with grit in my eyes and a dry mouth and a still runny nose. I tell you – being sick in a place other than home isn't only an annoyance, but also dangerous because it saps your strength like you wouldn't believe. And life in Naruto-verse is hard enough without being weakened by any illness.
I looked around to find the old woman kneeling in the corner of the room and mending my clothes that had gotten quite ripped during my trip through the forest. She didn't look as friendly anymore as she had the day before.
"You're awake," she commented needlessly, laying down my clothes. Before I could say anything, she vanished into another room and got me some more soup. This time it was cool, as if it had been made hours ago. "Here. Drink slowly while I change your bandages."
Surprised, I looked down at my feet that were swathed in white linen. Although the old woman was gentle with unwrapping the bandages, it nonetheless hurt a lot because they had stuck to the soles of my feet. I can count myself lucky that nothing got infected due to their poor understanding of germs and sterility. While she was working first washing my blisters and then redressing them (from the looks of it, I had been walking on bare flesh there at the end), she kept up an accusing monologue.
"You have very fair skin, and both your hands and feet are very soft. You have little muscle tone, and your clothing is strange. You don't look like you've ever had to work a day in your life, and you don't show any signs of having born a child. Yet you do not act like nobility, either. I don't know who you are and I don't want to know, but I want you to leave here as soon as possible and not bring your troubles upon us. Where did you say you were going?"
I was too shocked by her accusations to do anything but stutter, "K-Konoha."
She nodded as if she had known that all along. "You are lucky then. You made it just in time – the caravan is leaving tomorrow morning. Here are your clothes. They are still in good condition. Your shoes though… I have never seen such strange shoes made from such strange material. I had to throw them into the fire – they were completely unusable. You can have these instead. They belonged to my son until he grew out of them. It doesn't look like he will be getting children of his own anytime soon, so we don't need them. When you are done dressing, please leave. You can't miss the caravan – they are selling their wares in the market square. Just follow the noise."
This, my dear Mary Sues, is what your typical reception by the common populace is going to be like. They are surprisingly hospitable, taking in strangers and feeding them on the drop of a hat, but as soon as they get a closer look at your soft, urban bodies, they are going to try and get rid of you. Despite being human just like them, they realize that you are different. Different in looks, in behavior, in character. You didn't think that a typical modern-day human could seamlessly blend into a feudal society whose main populace lives under medieval conditions, did you?
Additionally, while you might get the language pumped directly into your brain, mentality and society are a different kettle of fish. So, watch out my dear Mary Sues, that you don't offend the natives with your brash and informal Western behavior. And, just a hint – be quick about learning what is a woman's role in the society you land in. That will spare you a lot of grief that your demands of Western gender equality undoubtedly will cause.
In that respect, I was lucky to land in a society that, while not regularly practicing female emancipation, was no stranger to it. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had landed in true feudal Japan – I would have been stuffed into a brothel faster than I could have said 'Konoha'. And my chances of getting out of that would have been astronomically small.
But, at that time, I was still a naïve little Mary Sue, despite all my wake-up calls to date. I politely thanked the old woman (well, I thought I was being polite and wondered why she looked offended – I should have known though that, being a Japanese creation, Naruto-verse would work on Japanese politeness gestures, which are on a completely different level from Western ones).
Afterwards, I painfully made my way into the direction the old woman had pointed me in. The shoes fit more or less (they were a bit too big but preferable to no footwear at all); however, my blistered feet hurt like a bitch. After the first dozen steps or so, the agony faded away to a dull throb, and I was a little happier than before. I was still wondering why I had been thrown out so suddenly, when I found the trading caravan.
Until today, I think it must have been my Mary-Sueness that greased my way to Konoha. Except for being a bit uncomfortable with hunger, cold, and sore feet, everything went so smoothly that it just couldn't have been coincidence.
The merchants I asked directed me to the leader of the caravan, and he accepted me without much fuss although I didn't have anything to pay my voyage with. As soon as he heard that I was looking for my brother in Konoha (even after thinking about it for a bit, it had stayed the best excuse for traveling through Fire Country) and that I had been robbed by bandits on my way, he directed me to a highly pregnant woman whose task it was to take care of the children.
Together with her, I watched the smallest ones and had to wonder how many chores those five years and older already had to do. And there I had been complaining about dusting and vacuuming my room once a week. The woman – Hikari – seemed content having someone listening to her stories about everything the caravan had been through. A few years ago, they'd had the misfortune of running into a group of bandits mixed with a few missing-nin. All except one of their guards had been killed. That one brave man had fled and gotten the help of Grass to free the group of merchants. She suspiciously didn't say anything about the time spent in the missing nins' care – I just noticed that there were a lot of kids around the age of three, four years old. She also didn't say anything about people being killed. She just pointed out the two guards with ninja-training they'd hired ever since.
This was the first time I'd seen a ninja outside TV, and I was sorely disappointed. They looked completely normal – no hitae-ate, no feline grace, no aura of danger that shinobi were supposed to be surrounded with. And they were old! With a few exceptions, the whole Naruto cast is below the age of thirty, and even Jiraiya looks very young and spry. Those two though could rival Sandaime's appearance. They had plenty of wrinkles and walked in a way that showed that age hadn't left them untouched.
And they were supposed to guard the caravan?
I didn't voice my doubts and did my best to hide my incredulity. They had to be as old as my grandfather. Ah, yes, my dear Mary Sues, there are always sides of the universe that your TV show doesn't cross into. You didn't think that every ninja above a certain age either died or became famous like the Legendary Three, did you?
In the evening, I was given part of the chores preparing the meal as if I had always belonged to the group. At least I knew how to peel and slice vegetables and stir a cooking pot… The other women talked around me, but thankfully didn't ask too much about my past. I had hinted at my parents being gone and that I was now looking for the only family I had left, and that seemed to be enough for them to fill in the missing details themselves. I just had to look suitably shocked and traumatized when I had little to no clue what they were talking about, and they left me alone.
Over the course of the next days and weeks, I slowly gained an understanding of what life was like for the common people in Naruto-verse. We stopped in five more villages, always trading to make a living. As soon as my feet and my cold were better, I began walking next to the wagons from time to time and took on more chores, like feeding the horses, helping set up wares, being a general maid for everything. They were quite astonished to see how well I could read and write and calculate numbers. Oh, you didn't know? Yes, reading and writing and adding are coveted skills in societies without mandatory education. You don't even have to go as far as becoming a Mary Sue to see things like that – just take a closer look at the poor countries in our world.
Very soon, I was helping an old guy keep business records and books of expenses. In return, they gave me food and a place to sleep, and one woman even gave me one of her old skirts, saying that a girl running around in trousers was scandalous.
Almost three weeks later, Hikari – the pregnant woman I'd watched the children with on the very first day – excitedly pointed out the Hokage monument to me. When I saw it, that shocked me out of the tentative routine I had fallen into: there were only four heads instead of the five I had gotten used to during Shippuuden. That was the very first time I started wondering just when I was in the Naruto storyline. Was the Fourth still Hokage, or had Kyuubi already come and gone? For all I knew, I had come to Konoha just in time to be eaten by a malicious demon fox.
And, yes, my dear Mary Sues, things like that happen. It is very rare that you are punted into the same time-frame as the episode you were watching. You won't be too far off (I probably wouldn't have materialized during the Shodaime's reign), but you never know when exactly you'll appear.
As soon as I realized that I could have just as well landed myself in the Kakashi Gaiden, I had to rethink my plan of claiming to be Rock Lee's sibling. Originally, I had wanted to go for Naruto, but that probably would have raised too many flags (no, despite being a Mary Sue, it is never a good idea to claim a family relationship to the main character, gets too many others involved). Rock Lee had been the only other option because there was no other male orphan in their generation that I knew (claiming clan heritage would have been just plain stupid).
However, that left me at a quandary. I had no clue how old Lee was. I didn't even know whether he had been born yet. But who did I know of the older generation who could very well have relatives they didn't know about? Maito Gai? Shiranui Genma? Namiashi Raidou? Gekkou Hayate? Claiming the Fourth as a relative probably was no good, either. Damn, I just didn't know enough about them to tell whether making any claim at all was a good idea.
While I was still pondering my troubles, the caravan had arrived at Konoha's main gate. I tell you – it's bloody impressive. The wall's at least forty feet high and four thick, and the gate's massive. I guess you got to be a ninja to be able to open the two wings, unless there's some fancy bit of technology involved. The trunks it's made of are at least two feet thick, and they are fit together so well that there's no gaps to speak of. I wonder how much that thing weighs…
Kaneda-san, the caravan leader, was talking to the gate guards, probably registering their presence in the village. It took a while, but then, finally, the guards waved us through. Kaneda-san though headed directly for me and pulled me away from the caravan. He told me that this was as far as I could go with them – I had to convince the gate guards on my own. And, he added, if I didn't find my brother, I could join their caravan again when they left Konoha. Apparently I was a good worker, and Omaeda-san's son was looking for a wife…
I should have taken his offer. Really, I should have. It would have afforded me a moderately comfortable living in Naruto-verse, even if Omaeda-san's son didn't have any relation with the Naruto cast. But, Mary Sue that I was, I balked at the idea of marrying just like that. And I was still hoping that… well, actually, I don't know what I was hoping for. That the Hokage knew some kind of trans-dimensional jutsu to send me back? That he knew how I had come there in the first place? That he would allow me to stay in Konoha? That he would help me search for a way home?
There is only one question I should have asked myself: why should he?
But, naïve that I still was, it never occurred to me that, despite being portrayed as one of the 'good guys', the Hokage was a ninja. And I'd had no idea what 'ninja' really translated to. Those two old geezers guarding the caravan might have been ninja once. They might even still be ninja, but they'd never had to show it.
I got my first taste of what a real ninja was like when I had to face the gate guards on my own. They were looking at me with suspicion in their eyes, showing their distrust of me to the fullest. "Who is it that you are looking for in Konoha?" the left one asked sternly.
Have you ever stood next to a chuunin when he doesn't bother to hide just how damn powerful he is? The casual way the anime portrays them never comes close to how intimidating they can be. Unconsciously, I've always measured the cast's power against Naruto, a real powerhouse in his own right. Compared to that, chuunin like Iruka and the gate guards aren't that intimidating – especially when Naruto effortlessly beats one up in the first two episodes, at the very beginning of his growth.
But upon arrival in Konoha, I was faced with two of them manning the gates, and they sure as hell didn't look or feel like pushovers. That, my dear Mary Sues, is another case where reality is quite different from fantasy. Reality measures power in comparison to your own strength, not to someone of the top five percent. And with those two chuunin, I could feel that they were leagues beyond my own meager skills of being able to wrestle my younger brother to the ground.
No, as I already mentioned, Mary-Suedom doesn't grant you instant superhero-abilities or the confidence to fearlessly face stern gate-guards that could barbecue you with a few flicks of their hands. To be honest, being a Mary Sue means that you're scared out of your wits most of the time and that you pray day and night that you'll somehow find a way back to your safe, little world with Mommy and Daddy and shopping malls and boyfriends.
The chuunins' intimidation definitely worked on me as I had trouble thinking clearly. "M-my brother," I stammered. And then, I said the next best name that came to mind. "Hatake Kakashi."
Whoopsie. Shouldn't have said that. I still don't know whether that's the Mary Sue curse that forces you to interact with the main cast, or whether it simply was my very own stupidity. I look nothing like Hatake, and unless I'm very lucky with the time-period I've landed in, I can't even claim to be a bastard child of his father's. I am simply too young with my sixteen years of age.
Form the way the two chuunin were looking at each other, they had their doubts, too. But I couldn't back out now – that would make me even more suspicious. The one to the right finally shrugged slightly and sighed. "Wait here, please."
He vanished in a swirl of leaves. I stared at that trick. It looks cool in the anime, but seeing something like that in person is way cooler. One moment he was there, then there were leaves twirling through the air, and the next moment he was gone with a feeling that tingled against my skin. Was that his chakra I had just felt?
Full of wonder, I picked up one of the leaves that had been left by that jutsu. It looked just like one of those thousands of other leaves littering the ground because of the multitude of trees surrounding Konoha. The question was – had that jutsu created them, or had it merely stirred up those already there?
The other guard seemed amused at my antics. Nonetheless, he kept a keen eye on me, and I had real trouble not showing how nervous I was. I'm quite sure that it didn't work.
When the first guard suddenly reappeared in another swirl of leaves, I couldn't help stumbling backwards with a squeak. He had materialized almost on top of me, and my face was only inches away from his. His hand that grabbed my forearm was the only thing keeping me from falling on my butt. And damn was his grip strong.
"If you would please follow Falcon-san here," the guard used my arm to turn me around before he released me, "he will take you to our security checkpoint."
I barely managed to keep my eyes from widening. Where before, there had been an empty stretch of grass parallel to the huge walls, there now was a silent figure in a hooded cloak with a mask and bone-white armor glimmering beneath.
Do you have any idea how ridiculous someone can look trying to hide their identity with a cloak and mask? Think little Death Eater wannabe, or cosplayer. I remember some horrible examples at an anime convention I had gone to. A white plastic carapace (probably remodeled from some old storm-trooper armor) that barely fit above bulging full-body spandex, trying to look mysterious with a beer belly and blunt plastic knives. I have yet to see someone pull off something like that without looking utterly ridiculous.
But the real thing…
Do you have any idea how frightening such an apparition can be when it suddenly is standing behind you without a single sign of how it has appeared? How menacing it can be with glimpses of bone-colored metal gleaming in the shadows? And don't forget – it's still daylight. I really wouldn't want to have a visit from guys like these in the dead of night.
"Come," the ANBU motioned, his hand reaching for me from beneath his cloak. The white forearm guard looked used and scratched, its metal dented slightly in several spots. This was the real thing, and it didn't look ridiculous at all. Perhaps it also lay in the way he carried it like a matter of course.
I hesitantly stepped closer, waiting for him to lead to wherever we were going. Instead, he settled his hand on my shoulder with an iron grip, and then the world dissolved into a whirlwind of leaves. When it finally reformed again, we were in a small, inhospitable room with a table and two chairs. If there had been a mirror on the wall, it practically would have screamed interrogation cell.
But instead of appreciating my new surroundings, I had trouble staying on my feet. It was a good thing that the ANBU's hold of my shoulder was so tight – otherwise I would have ignominiously lost my balance and pitched over. Damn, was that the way a teleportation jutsu felt from the inside?
That is something you will soon learn as a Mary Sue: doing all those neat kinds of tricks your universe is famous for rarely feels as great as it looks. The neater something looks, the higher the cost is. And merely riding along in that kind of teleportation is disorienting enough. No wonder ninja don't use this in battle – it would be a liability to appear so unbalanced.
"Thanks," I muttered towards the ANBU.
Instead of releasing me though, he pushed me towards one of the two chairs. "Sit," he grunted and then left the room.
Now, I had the time to fully appreciate the interior décor. It was truly Spartan – bare concrete walls, bare concrete floor, uncomfortable chairs, both them and the table bolted to the floor. I don't know where the lighting came from – I didn't see any light bulbs or any other kind of electricity, but every corner was illuminated with barely any shadows. Otherwise, the room was completely bare. And it was cold!
I don't know how much time passed before the door opened again.
Ah yes, time. This is something you will need to get used to very soon, my dear Mary Sues. You will realize quickly that in societies that don't measure it in minutes and seconds, time is a very subjective thing. For the caravan, it hadn't been important whether it was 3 pm. or 3:05 pm. They had been able to tell the general hour by looking at the sun, and that had been enough. Even I had slowly been getting the hang of measuring time that way (at least I stopped confusing morning and afternoon and could use that newfound skill to determine which direction the caravan was roughly traveling in).
But in here, in a room that had no connection to the outside, time couldn't be measured by relying on the sun. I tell you, it is a very strange feeling to be caught in a limbo like that. It is unnerving to have absolutely no clue how much time is passing.
Fortunately, the door opening saved me from driving myself crazy. And the man I had been hoping to meet entered.
Hatake Kakashi inspected the room, closed the door behind him, and leaned against it with folded arms. Somehow he looked like himself, but at the same time did not. That's the problem with anime universes – a two-dimensional cartoon rendition might bear some striking resemblances to the real thing, but it can't ever be an exact portray. The man in front of me didn't consist of mono-colored planes. His skin had texture and wrinkles and shades and hues; his hair wasn't a solid spiky mass; his clothes showed signs of wear, and they bunched and stretched like real clothes do. And once again, I was surprised by the sheer presence he exuded.
Under his intense stare, I almost wilted to the ground. I had to keep myself from shrinking back any further than I already was.
"You are no relation of mine," he finally said. His voice was different from the one in the anime – higher but harder. I'd only ever watched dubbed versions of Naruto, so it might be the Japanese voice actor he sounded like. In any case, it was unnerving to hear a foreign voice from a familiar face.
Slowly, I nodded. To be honest, I hadn't really thought about how I was going to resolve the situation without causing myself even more trouble than I had already landed in. The only thing I could think of was to lay all my cards on the table and hope I could convince him of my admittedly absolutely ridiculous-sounding story. "I know. I am sorry, but this was the only way I could think of that would allow me to talk to you."
He raised his single visible eyebrow and I quailed. Having said it out loud, I realized just how stupid my plan had been. I was lucky I had gotten to see him at all instead of being thrown straight into jail or interrogation or something (unless this was jail or interrogation, but I was still hoping).
Another thing you Mary Sues will have to get used to is that you don't have the emotional protection of knowing everything is merely a fantasy. What might seem exciting and thrilling in your imagination hardly ever is in reality.
Take the Copy-Nin for example. Damn is the man hot, almost more so in person than on paper or TV. But he gives off a vibe that makes sheltered, naïve little Mary Sues quake in their boots. The Bad-Boy image is only hot as long as you're not confronted with the reality behind it. Having to stand in front of an intensely focused coil of man-killer is … unsettling, to say the least. Especially when you know that he won't hesitate to use his skills on you if you make one wrong move.
If the chuunin at the gate had been unnerving and the masked ANBU scary, Sharingan Kakashi was terrifying. And he wasn't even trying to intimidate me yet. He was slouched against the door, hands in his pockets, one knee angled so that the foot braced him lazily against the metal. Yet his one visible eye was incredibly sharp, made even more imposing by the fact that everything else of his face was hidden. In the anime, the face-mask and tilted headband looked cool. In person though, they made him look dangerous.
He blinked once, and I almost flinched. "Why do you want to talk to me?"
His voice was curiously bland, giving no hint as to what he was feeling or thinking. No helpful thought-bubbles or sound-effects or background music to indicate the general mood – just pay attention the next time you're watching TV, and you'll realize how much you can tell about what's going on merely by listening to the music. Concerning my situation with Hatake Kakashi, this kind of unpredictability made him even more menacing. Was I doing the right thing in telling him everything?
On the other hand, I had no clue what else to do in my fucked-up situation. If I wanted anyone's help getting home, I'd have to tell my story sooner or later. And Hatake Kakashi was one of the premier choices because he had the ear of the Hokage, and I had a pretty good grasp of his character.
But first, I had to find out which year it was so that I could tell what they already should know, and what they shouldn't know. Judging by Kakashi's age, I could be pretty sure that Yondaime was already dead, but after that? That's the problem with faces that have some Asian heritage – it's almost impossible to correctly guess their age. Had the Uchiha massacre happened yet? Had Naruto's genin team been formed yet? How far were the Chuunin Exams still away?
I took a deep breath. "How many years has it been since the Kyuubi?"
His single eye didn't show any reaction when he answered as blandly as before. "Seven."
All air rushed out of my lungs. Seven years. Itachi's Uchiha massacre was just around the corner, if my timeline was correct. Yes, my dear Mary Sues, you will always arrive as a precursor to exciting times. After all, it is your job to stand side by side with the main characters, isn't it?
There were so many things I could change by simply telling the truth. If I said something about the planned Uchiha rebellion, surely someone would do something. There were so many people I could save. Naïve and self-centered that I was, I thought that I actually had a choice of what to tell and what not to tell. I hadn't realized yet that I was already being interrogated, and that my every single gesture was being analyzed – and that 'interrogation' doesn't necessarily mean physical torture like one would expect from a ninja.
"You know," I began, blissfully unaware of my situation, "where I come from, there is this show on TV." A sudden thought occurred to me. "You do know what television is, don't you?"
I couldn't remember whether ninja had TVs or not. I only knew that Sandaime had his crystal ball, and that radios were common. But television?
The way he cocked his head didn't really tell me anything. I sighed. "Just imagine a radio that doesn't only transmit sound but also pictures, alright? Anyway," I continued, "there is this show on TV that tells the story of Uzumaki Naruto, most knuckle-headed ninja of Konoha. After he graduates from the academy when he's thirteen, he gets to be on a genin team together with Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura. This genin team is led by one Hatake Kakashi."
"So?" He doesn't sound very impressed.
"So?!?" I repeat nearly hysterical, all my pent up emotions finally breaking through now that I had someone to listen to my story. "This show is supposed to be fiction, Hatake, a product of an overactive imagination, just like that crap of Jiraiya's you like to read! And now I'm standing in the middle of such a fictitious story! Where I come from, there are no ninja. There are no Elemental Countries! I haven't ever seen Konoha on a map, and believe me, we have mapped the entire globe. Konoha isn't supposed to be real, Naruto isn't supposed to be real, you aren't supposed to be real!"
That got a reaction out of the Copy-Nin. Sadly not the one I was looking for. "Your doubts of my existence aside – why should I care about starring in a piece of fiction? It is fiction, after all. Naruto Uzumaki has barely entered the academy – he is years away from graduating."
I shook my head, desperate to make him understand. "The problem is, Hatake, that this piece of fiction has too much truth in it to be merely fiction. Konoha exists, ninja exist, so why shouldn't the rest of it exist, too? I think it shows the future, what could happen here if you don't do anything. Even if you assume that the future it shows won't come true, there are too many things that should be Konoha's most hidden secrets known to only very few."
"Like?" His stance slouched even more, accentuating his already visible boredom. I assumed that meant he didn't believe me. Looking back at it now, I can see that he had been manipulating me expertly. He showed me exactly what I expected to see, and he kept me talking and talking… and talking. No better way to find the truth than to give someone plenty of rope to hang themselves with.
"Like for example that Naruto is the son of Uzumaki Kushina and Namikaze Minato, and that he is the vessel of the nine-tailed demon?"
My dear little Mary Sues, let me tell you one thing: blurting out SS-class secrets that are only known to one or two people in a hidden village is horrendously stupid. Even more stupid when you're standing in front of a paranoid ninja that could kill you in the blink of an eye, and who doesn't really believe that you are from some alternate dimension where his world is only a TV show.
In my case, I didn't even have time to blink before he was gone from the door and I felt someone wrench my left arm behind me. I don't really know when he dragged me off the chair, but I found myself face down on the ground with a pointy knee digging into my spine and most of Hatake's weight crushing the air out of me. Before I could cry out from the pain, his hands fisted in my hair, wrenched my head back, and placed a knife at my jugular. I was so startled that I jerked unconsciously, and it was only his iron grip on my hair that kept me from slitting my throat on his knife. As it was, I felt the blade draw blood, and I froze.
Do you have any idea just how much adrenaline the human body is capable of producing? And how terrified one person can be? I had known that the throat is one of the most vulnerable areas, and that the human body instinctively looks to protect it. But I hadn't known just how strong those instincts are. I hadn't known either just how intense a reaction can be when finding such a vital point threatened.
"Who told you that?" he growled, and it vibrated throughout my body. It didn't feel like a living body restraining me but rather iron beams. Instinctively, I tried to claw at the hand holding the knife, but somehow he had managed to pin my right arm beneath my body, and my left one was still wrenched painfully behind my back. He managed to keep me under complete control with the way he had distributed his weight and positioned his legs, leaving his hands free to do the threatening. When I didn't answer immediately, he shifted slightly and put more pressure on my left arm, and it felt like he was trying to dislocate my shoulder.
"N-no one," I managed to choke out, having trouble both talking and breathing. "It's s-show!"
I could feel the chakra pulsing under his skin, almost like being trapped beneath a high-voltage power source. At least I thought that was his chakra because I had never thought it possible that a person could practically be humming with energy. "And what else has this… show told you?"
"E-ev'ry-thing! Chuunin 'xam, Orochimaru, 'katsuki!" I was terrified that he didn't believe me. If I hadn't had so much trouble talking, I would have babbled my soul out.
The power station feeling increased briefly, and then everything happened so fast that not even my pain receptors could follow properly. One moment, there was a knife to my throat and I was lying face down on the ground, the next I was tied to one of the chairs with my arms and shoulders hurting abominably. The ropes were so tight that I couldn't move a finger, and the slightest movement either forward or backward put more pressure on my abused shoulders.
Only then did I realize that, at some point during my trussing up, I must have banged my ankle against something because a belated wave of pain spread through it. Together with the whiplash from being moved so quickly that my head was still spinning, I was quite miserable and thoroughly terrified.
When I regained my bearings, Hatake Kakashi was sitting on the other chair across the table from me, forearms and elbows braced against the metallic surface. His hands were steepled, and he was leaning so far into my space that his face was only inches from mine. Otherwise though, he was a calm picture of serenity. "Talk."
And I started talking.
Do you have any idea what interrogation is like? No, not the 'beat them up until they talk' kind or the 'torture the truth out of them' version. I'm talking about the kind where there is two people sitting in a room and they're just talking. Asking and answering questions for hours upon hours. He even got downright friendly about it, not the sadistic or unrelenting questioner one would expect.
Some unnamed hours into it, he offered me to get rid of the ropes if he could search me first for any weaponry planted on my body. By that point of time, I was too achy and cold and hungry and thirsty to protest anything. My arms and my butt had turned numb, and I would have given anything to stretch or move.
I hadn't known though that 'searching me' meant stripping down to my birth suit and letting myself be inspected on skin-level. Although he was absolutely professional about it, that was a level of frightening I hadn't ever touched upon. Undressing in front of a man who neither had the decency to look away nor let me turn around. And then, he even deftly ran his hands over every square inch of my skin and looked in my mouth. To check whether I had any implanted or hidden weaponry, he explained.
No, my dear Mary Sues, there wasn't anything exciting or sexual about it, despite this being Hatake Kakashi feeling me up. It was intimidating, humiliating, and terrifying. Afterwards, he threw me a new set of clothes that he had unsealed from a scroll. It wasn't accompanied by the cloud of smoke like in the anime, or the typical popping-up sound. You only get a feeling for how many sound effects an anime invents when they are missing.
No, the clothes appeared in a manner I can't really describe. There was some of the tingling high-voltage feeling, and the air above the scroll shimmered briefly. And then, from one moment to the next, dark fabric was there. Only, it didn't suddenly appear because it felt as if it had always been there and I had been simply too stupid to see it.
As I said, I can't really describe it.
While I dressed in the new clothes, Hatake handed my old ones to someone outside. And then we went on with the questioning. At one point of time, I got something to eat and drink. The hot tea was marvelous, chasing away some of the bone-chilling cold that had penetrated my body after countless hours of sitting in this room.
Either there had been some kind of sleeping drug in the food or I was that tired on my own, but not long after eating I nodded off. I don't know how long I slept on the uncomfortable chair, but when I woke up, I just caught him entering the room again.
And the questions continued, voiced in different ways to make myself trip up and show inconsistencies in my story.
I had never known just how many details there were in the Naruto show, and how convoluted the storyline became later on. The Uchiha massacre, for example. At that point of time, I had only seen the Shippuuden up until Gaara was rescued and revived by Sasori's grandmother. Hatake refused to believe that Itachi merely snapped and slaughtered his whole clan and then spared his brother on a whim so that Sasuke could hate him. There also were countless questions about my world. Do you have any idea just how different our worlds are? There were questions I had never before thought about, like why we had such problems with overpopulation. In Konoha apparently, every child was appreciated (with the exception of a select few) because they needed people to fill the ranks of their shinobi.
I have no idea how long my interrogation went on. I only know that I got something to eat and drink every now and then, was accompanied on toilet breaks, and slept three times. My sleep was never restful; my limbs hurt from the uncomfortable furniture, my body was practically frozen solid, and I felt even more tired afterwards. Sleep deprivation of its finest. Everything began to blur together into an endless succession of questions and answers and yet again more questions. In the end, I think I was more or less talking in my sleep.
After the fourth time, I didn't wake in that small interrogation room but on a cot in a cell that was equally as small. I guess they must have drugged my sleep because I never felt them move me, and I don't think I'm that heavy of a sleeper. Now, the main theme was iron bars instead of bare concrete, but it didn't feel any better.
And I was alone.
For the first time since coming to Konoha, I had enough time to think about what exactly I had done and what I was doing. And it didn't take long for me to reach the conclusion that I probably had fucked up majorly. Nothing like a couple of steel bars, a hard cot, and a metal toilet bowl to light that message home. I could only hope and pray that they decided something in my favor.
When I thought logically about the whole thing, I could see the major flaw in my plan so far: just why had I been so sure that getting to Konoha would be my salvation? Why had I been so sure that they would help me? From their point of view, I had to be a stark raving mad lunatic who was in possession of dangerous state secrets and had no clue or motivation to make sure they stayed secret. I probably was suspicious as hell. I could count myself lucky that all they had done so far was talking to me and not started on more physical interrogation techniques.
In other words, I was screwed.
Dear Mary Sues, I have to warn you: Never, ever run afoul of the law in a place that doesn't endorse the UN human rights charta. Even in countries of our world, countries that claim that they are lawful, there are plenty of instances when it is broken. But at least the majority of the population can be sure that their basic human rights are protected.
However, shinobi nations don't have any laws like that. That means that they can do practically anything to you without repercussions. Torture, inhuman living conditions, no promise of justice; if they had wanted to, they just could have let me rot in this cell for eternity.
And that, my dear little Mary Sues, is what reality is like – not only in Konoha, but also in many places of our world. I was practically dependant on how much goodwill the Hokage would show me.
As far as things went, I could count myself lucky that I was treated very decently. Except for the mattress being old and lumpy, the only torture I went through was boredom. You can only think about the same things for so long before turning insane. I amused myself with counting bars, counting cracks in the ceiling, counting threads of my blanket, imagining fantasy figures by connecting said cracks to form constellations, pacing the room, singing to myself…
I got food and drink pretty regularly, and every second day I was escorted to have a shower. Otherwise, I had no way to measure time because everything was situated in an underground facility. How long had I been locked up like that? I have no idea. Everything was starting to blend together into a timeless void, and maybe I was turning a bit insane after all.
When I was finally fetched for another round of questioning, I was almost crying from relief. I didn't think the room was the same as last time because I couldn't remember the other table having a dent in its surface. The guy waiting for me inside seemed familiar, but it took him introducing himself to make me recognize him: Morino Ibiki.
I can tell you one thing: Neither manga nor anime are good at drawing scars. Some black lines on otherwise unblemished skin just doesn't touch on how painful and disfiguring they look in reality. And Morino had plenty of them for me to ogle although he hadn't even uncovered his head. One more thing: The manga doesn't help with getting a proper impression of the size of things. Morino was freaking huge, towering a good head above me and built like a brick wall. And, contrary to Kakashi, he didn't sit down opposite me but was pacing the room, preferably behind me which was unsettling to a degree I had never known before.
At the beginning, I made a bit of a fuss that I wanted to be talking to the copy nin. Morino merely smiled at me toothily, and before I could blink, Hatake Kakashi was standing in his place.
"You prefer it if I assume this form again?" he asked.
Ah, yes my dear little Mary Sues, talking to ninjas is always a mind game. Until today, I have no clue whether I ever got to see to the real copy ninja, whether it had always been Ibiki under a henge, or whether I'd had the fortune of being interrogated by several different people.
I managed to shake my head numbly, and without a visible signal (none of the smoke or clouds the anime tries to feed to you) it was Ibiki again.
This time, the questions were almost random, poking into one area before jumping to a completely different one. First, I was interrogated about Orochimaru – what I knew of his experiments, his skills, his association with Akatsuki, Sound, and Sasuke. Then about technology in my world, from cell phones to rockets to toasters. Then about what I knew of ninja education in Konoha. Then …
The questions were endless. But they were still better than being locked away in a cell, dying from boredom.
However, I once again was returned to my solitary confinement. This time, it didn't take that long for someone to come and fetch me for another round of interrogation. Now that I'd had plenty of time to rest and regain some of my mental equilibrium, some of my old personality returned. I was getting sick and tired of being asked the same questions over and over again in only minimally different wording.
At first, I had cooperated to the best of my abilities, but the more often they asked me the same things and the more sure I was that I wouldn't come to any physical harm, the more my teenage rebellion showed through. I was snippy, I was pouty, I was sarcastic, and I grew more and more desperate for someone to believe me. Ibiki never said anything, merely continued his line of questioning.
Then, one day, I wasn't brought to The Room, as I had come to call it. Instead, the ever-silent chuunin guard guided me to a part of the underground facility that I had never seen before. The corridors were as bare as before, but when he opened a door and shoved me inside, everything was set up like a comfortable conference room. Wooden table, carpet on the floor, a nice kanji scroll on the wall, padded chairs. I almost wept in relief at the sight that my abused posterior wasn't going to be forced to endure any more cold metal.
And at the head of the table, there was the third Hokage. I have to tell you – even seated and without doing anything, the man was one of the most imposing figures I have ever seen. Despite being old and wrinkly, I could practically feel the authority radiating from him, and it is no wonder that he was the leader of the village.
My time with the trading caravan had taught me that, to be polite, I had to bow instead of shaking hands, so I did my best approximation of one. I'm pretty sure that it must have looked suitably incompetent because he merely waved me off with a smile. "No need for that."
"Sir?" I was confused.
"Sit down, sit down. You know, your story is absolutely incredible." He leaned back in his chair, watching me attentively. Beneath the benevolent grandfatherly exterior, I could see the sharpness in his eyes.
"It's true, I swear," I cried. How could I make him believe? Had all that questioning been for naught?
"Ah, yes," he nodded gravely. "That is exactly the problem. You have given us no reason to doubt your story, as outlandish as it is. Because it is as outlandish as it is."
I must have looked as confused as I felt because he sighed and elaborated. "It is clear that you have had no ninja training. You aren't suffering from any genjutsu or seals and you aren't mentally unstable, but you nonetheless believe in your story. For a while, we thought you were a sleeper sent here by an enemy village."
"Someone who has been implanted with commands that activate whenever certain conditions are met. It is a sleeper's aim to gain citizenship or access to information so that they can fulfill their task upon activation. Mind you, none of that is something the sleeper does consciously. Sleepers always have plausible motives that they themselves believe in."
Slowly, I nodded. I could see how someone would think I was such a sleeper. "You said you don't think I'm a sleeper?"
The old man smiled slightly and folded his gnarly old hands on the table. "That's right. Normally, sleepers blend in perfectly with the rest of the population. That is what makes them so hard to spot. It is completely contrary to their objective to be conspicuous in any way. On the other hand, that might be a new tactic of getting a sleeper in, precisely because nobody would think someone drawing as much attention as you have would be a sleeper."
My mind was whirring in confusion. As cool as Kakashi's 'Look underneath the underneath' sounds, it can be a real headache. "So… You say I can't be a sleeper because I'm too suspicious, but that's exactly why I could be one, too?"
"Basically yes." The smile on his face was friendly, as if he wasn't talking about me being a potential traitor. Ninjas are insane. "However, I don't think that anyone would have tried to come up with a story as outlandish as yours. It is quite clear that you come from a society and culture very different from the Elemental Countries. Add to that the detail you have described your world with, and we are as certain as we can be that you are speaking the truth."
I don't think you can imagine how relieved I was to hear those words. The Hokage believed me! This was the biggest hurdle I thought I'd have to master.
Sandaime's next words though quickly reminded me of that fact. "So, now that you have managed to convince us of your story, what do you intend to do?"
"Eh, well, I… uh…"
As you can see, I hadn't thought that far. And that, my dear Mary Sues, is one of the worst mistakes you can make: trusting that, as soon as you get someone of the main cast to believe your story, that everything will miraculously turn out alright. If you have managed to land yourself in another world, people there are real, and real people are no miracle workers. At least, in most cases they aren't, even in dimensions where superpowers run rampant.
Finally, I found my voice again. "What are my options?"
"I assume that you would like to go home again?"
I couldn't do anything but nod and try to hold back my tears. Between being scared to death, trying to make sense of this insanity, bored out of my mind, and frightened for my life, I missed my parents and my friends something terrible. I hadn't seen them for several weeks, and I'd have given anything to be back to just being Mary Sue, annoying older sister, lazy daughter, mediocre student. Yes, I'd have even loved to go back to school, as annoying as it is. Nothing like suddenly being all on your own in a strange new world to make you appreciate what you had before.
"Alright," he smiled benevolently.
I didn't quite catch the signal he gave, but I definitely felt the two hands that grabbed my head and violently wrenched it around and –
and I woke up on the couch in our living room at home, completely unharmed except for a severe crick in my neck. It took almost a week for that crick to wear off. I still think that this was some after-effect of having my neck snapped in Naruto world instead of only being due to an uncomfortable sleeping pose.
Ah, yes, I bet you are wondering what just happened, aren't you? Well, my dear little Mary Sues, this is the tried-and-true method of coming back into your own reality: get yourselves killed in the other universe. And once you die there, you'll wake up back in your own world where little to no time will have passed (unless you're especially unlucky, but that's a one in a hundred chance only).
Why the Hokage chose to kill me? That I can only guess at, seeing as you know as much about my journey to the Elemental Countries as I do by now. I think it was because I spelled Trouble with a capital 'T'. First off, they couldn't be certain that I wasn't a plant. No matter how hard they searched, nobody would have found any trail of me beyond the woods I first landed in. And that is always suspicious – even if it corroborates with my being from another world.
Secondly, I knew plenty of stuff and, I admit it, I was too young and too immature to know when to keep my mouth shut and my head down. They couldn't be sure that I wouldn't go ahead and blab everything to the next best person, especially since I didn't have any motivation or experience in keeping quiet. How do you think a 7-year-old Naruto would react when a teenage girl squealed at his sight and started jabbering away at how cool he was and how cool his techniques were, and how awesome his fight with Gaara was? How do you think the general Konoha populace would react when I spouted the basic Naruto plot line, and when those events actually came true?
Thirdly, all my focus lay on getting back to my own world. They didn't know how far I was willing to go to achieve that result. After all, I probably would have gone with the next best person who told me that they could bring me home – no matter whether that was a Konoha ninja, a missing nin, or a civilian. And I probably would have told them plenty of secrets if they had asked. Oh, not deliberately, but I would have been manipulated into it pretty easily.
Nowadays, I wonder whether the Hokage would have let me live if I had showed a realistic understanding of the situation and made an effort of blending in, or if I had appeared more mature and aware of the consequences of my actions. But as it was, I had been more or less a loose cannon that nobody could predict. Basically a child with more knowledge than sense.
And, last but not least, keeping me in Konoha would have meant unnecessary expenses with little to no chances of ever being repaid. I would have needed an apartment and some start-up capital to tie me over until I found a job. A discrete guard detail making sure I didn't do anything untoward. Probably someone to teach me the basics of Naruto-World in order to integrate me, like society, vocabulary, customs, stuff that everyone learns while growing up. And things like that cost plenty of money.
No. Keeping me alive would have been a lot more trouble than killing me quietly and discretely. After all, because I claimed such outlandish origins, there wouldn't be any political repercussions from other countries or enraged nobles or whoever. Since I didn't claim any ties to that world, it was very probable that nobody would come around and state their own claims. And if someone did do so, Konoha could be certain that I had been a plant, and they could hold that over the other party's heads. Also, I had obviously been stark raving mad, spouting nonsense about other worlds and imaginary technology, so who was to say that I didn't fall victim to my madness and break my own neck? My body would have been disposed of a long time ago, after all…
And voila, instant family reunion for poor Mary Sue.
Just a tip in case you're going to try the same way of getting home: make sure that your death is quick and painless – nothing like waking up with severe stomach cramps after bleeding out through a gut wound. And, before you ask, yes, I tried that one, too, just not in Naruto-verse.
Oh, you didn't know? Then let me enlighten you: once you turn into a Mary Sue, you won't ever be safe again when watching your favorite series or soaps. After all, when you got sucked into your TV once, a second time is a whole lot more probable all of a sudden.
Well, to conclude my story, I was suitably happy seeing my family again, and they looked at me like I had turned completely bonkers. To them, I had only fallen asleep in front of the TV, not been away for weeks on end. And I would have called everything a very vivid dream, too, if it hadn't been for my feet. After my blisters had healed in Naruto-verse, I had built up very thick soles from walking so much. Guess what I found on my return…
Needless to say, that experience had changed me. Suddenly, all my friends seemed so shallow and self-centered, their concerns so petty compared to trying to avoid starvation or being interrogated for who knows how many weeks straight. I felt about a hundred years old when I heard them complain that their parents wouldn't give them enough pocket money to buy the latest cell phone. As a fellow Mary Sue, I can only warn you: it will be very, very hard during your first few weeks back in reality. You will have changed, and nobody will be able to understand why because to them, you only fell asleep for a couple of hours.
Eventually, I got back into the groove of High School. I reforged old friendships, made new ones, and was simply glad that failing Biology or not was my biggest concern for the time being. That is, until I got sucked into the TV the second time. But that is another story that didn't end nearly as well as my jaunt to Naruto-verse.
Take care, all you potential Mary Sues out there. Experiencing things first-hand really isn't as fun as it might seem. I can only warn you – the rest is your job. But since you are Mary Sues, you probably won't heed my advice until you get burned and discover for yourselves just how not-good that decision was.
Well, whatever. Have fun in whatever universe you get sucked into. And when you mess up, I can laugh at you and say, "Told you so."
A disillusioned Mary Sue
A/N: I'm not very satisfied with how this turned out. Everything seems to be a bit too abrupt to me, but even after editing it for the nth time in as many months, I can't seem to get rid of this characteristic. Any suggestions of how to fix that would be very much welcome.