Title: Body, Mind and Spirit
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or these characters and stand to make no profit from posting this story.
Summary: Shortly after becoming Hokage, Tsunade reviews some old personnel files and relives some old memories. Dark. References to child abuse. A chapter for each of the original Ino-Shika-Cho trio.
Body, Mind and Spirit
The scrolls lay untouched on her desk. She had put off opening them as long as possible. All other tasks completed Tsunade realized she no longer had any excuse for not reviewing these documents she'd ordered some assistant to fetch her from the personnel section.
Shikamaru Nara. That was the kid's name. Her first chuunin. The first one she had had the honor and the privilege and the duty to promote since becoming Hokage.
Scrawny little runt.
And seeing him had taken her breath away. He looked so much like his father had when he was his own scrawny little twelve year old self.
God, how much time had gone by?
She tipped the ochoko of sake back, letting the warmth of it fill her mouth and throat as she swallowed it down.
Undoing the ribbon of the first scroll she unfurled it over the desk in front of her…
A long time, a very, very long time indeed had gone by. What had it been, thirty-five, thirty-six years since she'd first encountered a member of the original Ino-Shika-Cho team?
She had been a wide-eyed twelve year old medical apprentice. Making her rounds with Koharu-shishou one day they had examined a plump little red-headed toddler spiking a fever. During the examination, Tsunade had come upon several troubling items, notably more than a few instances of fractures that had healed.
To a certain extent injuries in the extremities of children were to be expected. Skinned knees, twisted ankles, a forearm broken where a clumsy child has tried to break a fall, those could be understood occasionally as part of growing up. But these were numerous and some of them were unusual - compression fractures of the ribs indicating too much pressure, both clavicles mended.
And when she had started to question it, Koharu-shishou had instantly stepped in, cutting her off and addressing the concerned mother with reassurances and a supply of an anti-inflammatory for the fever.
Stunned, Tsunade had finished her rounds with Koharu in almost total silence, mumbling her answers and simply nodding when she thought she could get away with it.
This went against everything she had been taught about reporting suspected abuse. When the shift was over and they were back in Koharu's office, young Tsunade couldn't stand it anymore.
"Why?" she blurted out.
"Why, what?" Tsunade-chan, Koharu had responded with her own question.
"Why did you just let that woman go? Why didn't you find out more about that child's injuries, I know you detected them the same as I did! Why didn't you say anything? Why didn't you let me say anything?" The words that she'd been holding back all day came spilling out in a jumble.
"Didn't you catch the name on the chart, Tsunade-chan? They were Akamichi."
And that had been the end of the topic as far as Koharu was concerned. Tsunade could tell by the finality and simplicity of the answer that she wasn't going to get anymore out of her teacher. Without saying another word, Tsunade knew that Koharu had effectively assigned her to the library to figure it out for herself.
Tsunade had holed up in the medical records section for the entire weekend, studying everything she could find about the clan and Koharu's seeming indifference to the plight of that little toddler boy. What she had learned had only left her with more questions.
Trembling with rage she confronted Koharu with the most important one at work Monday morning. "What kind of a mother breaks her own child's bones as part of his training?"
Koharu answered calmly. "How could she not? If she delays it will only make his training more difficult, more painful for him. If the process of breaking and re-knitting the bones begins earlier, osteogenesis is encouraged. It will be easier for him to learn and practice the expansion jutsus of his clan when he is older. She is in fact, helping him."
"But it's wrong!"
"But they are shinobi."
And that had been her first interaction with the Akamichi clan.
Fingers tracing, toying delicately with the ribbon of the second scroll she finally forced herself to open it and reveal the face that had been in her office for his promotion not fifteen minutes ago. Shikaku Nara.
Shikamaru Nara had been in her office for his promotion. Shikaku Nara had been the scarred man standing behind him.
But he had been a kid once, long ago, too, hadn't he?