The Boy Ninja
I grew up in a small village located in the heart of Fire Country. Most of the citizens there called in Konoha, while merchants and clients called it the Village Hidden in the Leaf. It was aptly named when you consider how trees seemed to surround the place from all sides.
Growing up in the Hidden Leaf wasn't easy, at least not for me. From an early age I seemed to have garnered the hatred of people I didn't know, and most of these people seemed to go out of their way to make my life difficult. It wasn't anything major, like beatings, or mob chases. It was much more subtle, much more calculated and somewhat organized.
Since I was only a little boy I didn't understand the full scope of the hatred these people had, so I chalked much of it up to coincidence. So the vendor at the food store charged me slightly higher than he did everyone else. What of it? He was having a bad day. So the girl at the clothing story sold me a beat up orange body suit? No big deal, I liked orange. So I couldn't go to certain restaurants because they weren't serving at the time, even when the place was empty. That's fine, people need a break from work occasionally.
You would be surprised what lengths a child's mind would go through to rationalize the situation in his favor. A child will warp and bend the reality around him to make himself feel more comfortable to the surroundings and act according to what the people want, and that is what I did.
To an extent.
I acted like a child that deserved their contempt, deserved their hatred, and I was paid back with even more of it. Things continued to escalate like this for twelve years and I grew into a habit of antagonizing the people around me, and they did the same in return. I pranked, schemed, blackmailed, and shouted at any villager who made me angry, and they, in return, spread awful rumors about me. Rumors that most people seemed to believe, no matter how bizarre.
It was from these rumors that the children I met in my academy learned about my character, without ever meeting me in person. They heard about me from their parents, and they heard about me from their neighbors and what they heard, they didn't like. I was a pariah , and very hated pariah at that. Unlike the adults, the children had little qualms about getting violent in order to teach me a lesson, and I endured their taunts.
I was too strong to break, too angry at the world to bend to their will, and I had a spirit that called out for something more than just the hand life had given me. I studied and worked as hard as I could to be the best that I could be and, for a time, it worked. It worked until I realized that no matter how good I was, there were certain things that kept me from being the best student, or even a moderate student, in the class.
I couldn't make a simple illusion clone.
You see, I live in a Ninja village. We make our money by collecting jobs from other villages. We've been known to do some of the dirtiest deeds on this side of the Elemental Nations, and we would probably do this until someone powerful enough to stop us comes here and blows up our home sky high, but I doubt that would ever happen.
A person can only be a Ninja if they manage to pass the Ninja Academy, and that's where I was enrolled in . You see I never graduated from the place, and there was a good reason why.
It started after my third attempt at failing the Academy test. I was told by my teacher, Mizuki, that if I could steal a scroll from the leader of my village, the Hokage, I would be able to pass. It was supposed to be a super secret test only handed out in very special circumstances.
Naturally, I was only too eager to prove to everyone that I could be just as good as they were, so I jumped at the chance to pass the test. I didn't even think about the consequences of my actions, or how illegal my actions were, I was just so desperate to pass. That's how pathetic I was. I was willing to go to jail, just so I could prove to the people who hated me that I was worth something.
I was an idiot. A sad pathetic idiot.
That night I found the scroll in the Hokage's building and stole it. That night I ran to the forest where I was supposed to meet my teacher to hand him the scroll, and that I night I waited for him to meet me while I practiced a Jutsu, a ninja art. The Jutsu I chose to learn was, ironically, a Shadow Clone, a more advanced version of the clone that I couldn't even perform, the same clone that kept me from being your average student.
You wouldn't believe how hard I struggled to learn in for the few hours I had to wait for someone to come and get me, and you wouldn't believe how close I was to dying from Chakra degradation while I waited. Of course I didn't care. I had to learn it, I had to, I had come so far, and I was so close.
So desperate was I to get every aspect of the technique correct, to read every side affect, to completely understand every one of its strengths and weaknesses from the scroll, that I completely missed the shadowy figure that stood behind me.
The shadowy figure that had reached down to my throat, turned it to the side, and severed the back of my neck from the rest of my body.
"You are awake, thank goodness," someone says. "Your readings said that you flat lined..oops..sorry I suppose you wouldn't know much about that, would you?"
A hand reached down to touch my arm, and something pulled me up and leaned me against something else. I had a hard time seeing in front of me since everything was so blurry, but I had an even more difficult time trying to keep my eyes open.
"I suppose you're still a bit tired,' the kind voice said. "Just lay down on the bed post and I'll get a nurse to come here and feed you."
I tried to tell the voice that I didn't need a nurse, that I was okay, but it wouldn't listen and disappeared. My vision started to color, and I could slowly open my eyes again. I felt so tired, so battered, and I couldn't believe that I was this pitiful. From an early age I had always had a strong constitution, and most of my injuries seemed to heal on their own. I didn't understand why, and I never questioned the reason, but now that I was in a hospital or, what looked like to be a hospital, I was seriously considering what exactly happened to me for me to be in this position.
I moved my hands on the bed and tried to push myself off the white sheets that covered my body and found to my surprise that I could barely move it, as if I hadn't used my arms for a very, very long time. It barely even felt like my arms. As if I was in someone else's body, but that couldn't be right. I looked to a mirror at the side and saw that was the case, I really wasn't in another body.
For some reason I felt like I had to sigh in relief, and shook my head at the sheer stupidity of my action. Gritting my teeth I figured that I had enough time to introspect and so pushed myself off the bed, only to roll desperately to the ground in the next second.
You see my arms worked okay, but my legs were completely frozen. They didn't budge at all. I looked down at them and saw why. They were encased in cases of white bandages. I think they called in a caste back in my village, but these casts looked different. They looked far more advanced, far more symmetrical, and much thinner.
"What are you doing?" someone asks. "You really shouldn't be out of the bed. After all the injuries you came in with I would have thought you would be more careful."
The woman, who I noticed was rather short for an adult, bent down to pick me up. Or at least she tried to because she gave up after a few attempts. I could imagine why, the casts on my feet must have weighed a ton, and I had a body of powerful coiled muscle, even if I was a boy bordering on the age of thirteen.
"I'll have to call one of the interns," she mutters. She reached down to something that looked like a communication device and said, "Please, bring Resident Chiba here. I can't move the patient on my own." Then she put the device back in her pocket and frowned at my downed form. "I suppose we will have to wait for that boy to arrive."
As we waited I looked around my room and was amazed to see how polished it was. It was so clean, so sterile, and a myriad of devices, including a TV, were stacked on the walls. Growing up in Konoha very few people had access to a Television, since they were expensive, and most people didn't have the luxury of technological goods.
Here every part of the room seemed to have some kind of digital device attached to it, and I couldn't help but wonder if the person who ran this hospital was wealthy. Certainly they had to be if they could afford such incredible technology that only Lords and Ladies tended to own.
"Is something the matter, boy?" the nurse asks me. "You're acting like you've never seen a TV before."
I didn't want to tell her I've only ever seen one once in my life. I don't know why. Maybe it was the way she said it, or the way she looked at me like I was a strange oddity, but I couldn't confide in her. Though it could have just been that I didn't know her well enough, after all, you don't just tell someone you just met that the last thing you remember was a face in a shadow coming up from behind you, and sliding a kunai through your neck.
"I've just never seen a TV that big before," I tell her. This got a raised eyebrow from the young nurse. "Where I come from they are..smaller."
"That…is interesting," she tells me. "Considering how you were brought from the Juuban district I would have thought you would have seen the Megatron displayed in Down Town, Tokyo."
I don' know what a Megatron is, and I certainly have no idea what Tokyo is either.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" the girl asks. Her dark eyes, which matched her dark hair truly looked puzzled. "You act like you don't know what Tokyo is."
"Of..of course I know what Tokyo is," I try to defend. It didn't seem to be working since the woman shook her head. "I just forgot, I am just tired. That's all."
The nurse went silent for a moment then conceded. "Yes, yes I would imagine you would be." Her expression turned cheery. "We aren't that far from down town, perhaps we could arrange a visit there before you need to leave the ward."
I didn't know why she was so excited. Down town Konoha was never anything special, so what made down town Tokyo so special? In either case I had to answer the woman, who seemed to have a split personality from serious nurse to childish teenager, before she got even more suspicious of me. "Um, okay." I tried to move myself up, but failed. I sighed. "We'll go when I can move my legs."
The girl nodded and helped me lean against the bed rails. It must have made a strange sight. My heavy, bandaged form leaning on a bed, while I was on the ground, while her short, light frame waited patiently for the Resident Chiba she had called earlier.
Then I heard footsteps coming from the hall outside of the room. I could hear them because there didn't seem to be anyone inside of the hospital, since it was night, and I could hear the whistling of a boy, who sounded no older than twenty, approach my room. He knocked at the half opened door, and was allowed in by the short nurse.
"I've been waiting almost twenty minutes," the nurse says coldly. "What were you doing?"
The man, no, boy, shrugs his shoulders. "Helping Dr. Mizuno with a heart attack victim. The man just went into cardiac arrest and needed to be sedated. I held him down while Dr. Mizuno made sure he didn't…die."
The nurse seemed to consider this, and she didn't seem happy. "You should have told me. I would have went to help you." She bit her lip. "Chiba-san, is the patient okay?"
Chiba's easy going expression slipped for a fraction, and something much more dark took its place, only for it to be replaced by something much more unreadable. "I don't know." His body tensed and he looked at my direction. "Listen, you didn't call me just to hear about my day did you? If that were the case you would have asked me on a date or something."
The nurse snorts at the taller man, folds her hands over her chest. "In your dreams, Chiba Mamoru."
"More like my nightmares," he replies back, getting a glare from the much shorter nurse. "I'll take care of things on this end. Dr. Mizuno needs you. You should have been done feeding the boy."
For some reason, I don't like the way he referred to me as 'boy', but I couldn't say anything to that. I couldn't say anything stupid, and I couldn't say anything that might give me away. I didn't trust these people, and I doubt they trusted me. Aside from Dr. Mizuno, who I gathered was the woman I barely saw when I woke up, I couldn't be sure if anyone here wouldn't try to kill me.
Kill me like the man from Konoha.
"What's wrong," the teen asks. As the nurse left the room he bent down to my paralyzed form and put his arms underneath my shoulder. "Can't move your legs, I see." He laughs. "Sorry, bad joke."
I didn't respond to his attempt at humor, and just frowned at him for a response. He shook his head, and carried me to the bed, but not before making a snide comment on my weight. According to him I was pretty heavy for a boy barely into my teens. I wanted to tell him that I wasn't even thirteen yet, that I would be thirteen within a month, but I couldn't do that.
They seemed to think I was a teenager based on my appearance so I let them think that. It would probably be better for me in the long run. Less explanations.
"I am guessing Dr. Mizuno didn't tell you that she called child services, " he said, taking a seat next to my bed, pulling the medical blankets over me. "Which isn't that surprising since an emergency occurred."
I didn't need to ask what kind of emergency since he already mentioned it earlier. I may not be as smart as Sakura or Sasuke but I am no idiot. I just act like one. "How bad is it?" I ask.
He looks surprised and a little confused at the question. "How bad is what?"
"The guy with the heart problem," I answer him, as if it were the most obvious question in the world."What did you think I was asking?"
"I thought you were asking about your busted legs," he says, but then looks guilty. "Sorry, I didn't mean it that way." My eyes widen in panic and I try and move my feed underneath my cast, trying to get some kind of motion from it. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens. I start to panic and large hands grasp my shoulders, stopping me from breaking the white constructs attached to my legs.
"No, don't do that!" he shouts. His dark blue eyes look at me with disapproval and I hate myself for losing physically to this guy. I may have been shorter than him, but he sure as hell wasn't physically built like me. If I was better I could probably have mopped the floor with his carcass. As I am right now, I can't even put up much of a fight and he manages to subdue me. "Just relax and let me explain." His voice sounds desperate, somewhat pleading. "I am sorry, I shouldn't have said busted. That's not what I meant…damn it, stop moving!"
I slowly stop struggling and he sighs and leans against the chair. "For a guy of your injuries you sure put up a fight." His face looks thoughtful for a moment and then he rubs his temples. "Dr. Mizuno is going to be pissed. She wanted to be the one to tell you this."
"Tell me what?" I ask, sounding worried. "Is it my legs? You said they were busted, didn't you?"
The guy nods. "Sure, busted, but that isn't right. What I meant to say was they are broken. They work fine but they will need to be healed and it's going to be painful." He seems to wince. "There are a lot of screws in your ankles right now, and we, by which I mean Dr. Mizuno and her team, are going to remove them when most of your injuries are ready."
"That..sounds fair." This is strange, I don't understand why that is such a big deal. "So why were you afraid to tell me this?"
"Because…right now you are on pain medication," he says slowly. "Once we stop giving it to you, you are going to feel it." He clenches his fists. "It's going to be very, very painful. Bone re-growth is not a pleasant procedure."
I sigh in relief. I thought it was going to be more serious, I thought it would be something more drastic. Like my legs no longer work, or that I would be paralyzed for life. I've never met anyone like that, but I can imagine that it must be painful to be so powerless in a village where some heroes are worshiped as gods, just because they could do incredible feats like break mountains with their fists, or travel faster than the speed of sound.
"You don't look particularly worried about the pain," he says. He looks at me like I am a puzzle. "It's going to really, really hurt."
"I've been hurt worse," I tell him. This is true, though my healing factor seemed to have taken care of most of those injuries. Injuries from Taijutsu matches with the other kids, and some of the rougher scruffs I got into with the upper classmen when they caught me pulling a prank on them. "I'll be fine."
"…okay." He looks like I just released a heavy burden off his shoulders. "Um, do you mind not telling Dr. Mizuno that I told you. It's kind of important." He looks somewhat nervous. For a tall guy he sure is meek when it comes to talking about his superior. "I am just a volunteer resident, but I don't want to lose this job shadow position."
I don't understand what is so important about that, but I nod my head. "Sure, I won't tell her." Then I think about where I am right now. "If you wouldn't mind giving me some information as to where I am."
And so he started explaining to me about a country called Japan, a city called Tokyo, a district called Juuban, and about the General Secondary Hospital I was in. Our conversation eventually switched to what his name was, which medical school he went to, what his hobbies were, and, occasionally, about his friends.
The first thing I discovered was his name. His name was Chiba Mamoru. He was a first year Medical student at a local university. He lives in a nearby apartment complex by himself. I didn't ask why he lived by himself and not with his parents, and he didn't mention it either. He told me about the sites in the city that would be good for a visit, and told me he had a friend named Motoki that helped run an arcade that was also a tea shop.
I had absolutely no idea what an arcade was, but nodded with false enthusiasm when he described it to me.
Mamoru didn't seem to be the kind of guy who got around much, and from his description of the city it seemed like he stuck to places where people wouldn't normally bother him. He didn't talk about beaches, restaurants, or girls in his life, so I concluded that he was the solitary type. Of course I could have been easily wrong, but by the way the nurse treated him, I doubt it.
Eventually our talk went the other direction and he asked me about myself. This is where things got awkward because I realized that I wasn't in Konoha anymore. Wherever I was probably wasn't even in the Elemental Nations. Since that was the case, I talked very vaguely about my village, trying to make it sound like some of the places he described to me.
From my description he seemed to have come to the conclusion that I was from one of the islands, possibly from Okinawa, but didn't ask me anything deeper. I just pretended like that was where I was from and he asked me how life was like in such a small village on the islands, and I made up some bull story about how great it was.
For some reason he didn't seem to believe this part. And this lead me to believe that Chiba Mamoru was not as naïve as I gave him credit for.
"Ahh, you look like you are all better." A gentle voice wafts into the room and I turn my face to the entrance. "And I was wondering where my shadow was."
Mamoru looks uncomfortable and apologizes to her. He walks out of the room, but not before telling me to give him a call if I need anything. He lived nearby after all. For reasons I can't fathom I actually don't mind the offer, I put the card he gave me into the pocket of the hospital gown I am wearing and turn to face my doctor.
"I am guessing Chiba was so infatuated with telling you about his solitary life than actually feeding you, no?" she asked dryly, looking at the meal beside my bed. "Though I can guess why, you are an interesting specimen…mister…"
"Uzumaki Naruto." There, I said it. My name. Time for the moment of truth, time to see whether or not I am really in the Ninja world. If she gets angry, if she looks uncomfortable, if she suddenly tries to hurt me, I am going to know that I am close to the village.
But all she does is snort. "Interesting name." She takes the seat Chiba Mamoru was in just a minute ago and hands me my plate of food. "Naruto…not a common name. Uzumaki, perhaps, but certainly not Naruto." She observes my face, trying to find something. What? I don't know. "I thought it would be something along the lines of Ben, Thompson, John, something…European."
I had no idea what that meant and why my name should sound different from what it already was. Uzumaki Naruto seemed like a name, just like any other and I've always worn it with pride. "No, that's my name." I wanted to say 'believe it' or 'don't you forget it' but I am not in the mood. I am so tired. "Why should it be different?"
"Simple, really." She folds her hand over her face. It looks somewhat mysterious. "Because you are clearly not Japanese."
I want to tell her she is correct, but know that isn't the answer she wants. Besides, sounding like some kind of illegal alien probably wouldn't do to gain her trust. "Why do you think that?" I ask her. "Is there a reason I shouldn't be Japanese?"
She continues to eye me. I try not to look away from her calculative blue eyes, but fail when I see them narrow ever so slightly. "Your Japanese sounds…strange. I can't place it. Just the way you pronounce each word leads me to believe that you grew up somewhere else. Then there is your face, I have never seen anyone with your skin color and your blond hair." She reaches out and touches it. "It's natural. All natural, which is something you don't see around here."
"Your hair is blue," I point out. "There weren't a lot of people with blue hair where I come from."
She snorts, again. "Yes, I get that a lot." Then looks back at me with the same puzzled, calculative look. "But that isn't even the biggest problem. The biggest one is your height and weight."
"I know, I am kind of short," I tell her. "Er, it's not my fault. I tried to drink lots of milk, but nothing happened."
"That's not it, and drinking excessive amounts of milk is not going to work." She taps her finger on her chin. "How old are you exactly?"
Now we are at a crossroads. People here seem to think I am in my early teens, but that isn't the case. If I tell her that I am only twelve, going into thirteen, more questions would probably be raised and I can imagine that I would seem even more mysterious to this doctor. I can't have that, but if I lie to her, she will know. I am not a bad liar, but I know that doctor's are pretty good at spotting them. It's one of those common sense things everyone knows, especially the kids who tried to get a doctor's note to skip out on exams they weren't ready for.
"I am going to be thirteen," I tell her evasively. "In a month or so."
"Thirteen…interesting..very interesting," she says. She smiles. "You must have been the biggest kid in your neighborhood, yes? Assuming you lived in Japan."
My mouth becomes dry, this is going to be harder than I thought. "Yes…I was big, I guess," I lie to her. Truth was that I was the shortest kid in my class. Even smaller than a girl named Hyuga Hinata. "Is that a problem?"
"Not really," she says cheerfully. I am not good at reading people, I don't have amazing abilities like that but I already know she is faking her attitude. "It's perfectly natural to have blond hair, blue eyes, a California surfer complexion, a wrestler's compact body, and the height of a teenage Japanese boy at the age of twelve."
She continues to smile and her eyes close. I screwed up, I just know it. I made an assumption that the people here would look similar to myself based on the build of Chiba Mamoru, but he must have been a rare occurrence in this place. Dr. Mizuno isn't exactly tall and she is clearly the norm in this place, even the nurse from a few minutes ago was probably more natural in build than Chiba.
"Um, I guess the milk I drank worked," I say, trying to smile, but can't since my face feels sore. "Nothing wrong with that."
"Yes, nothing wrong with that at all." She smiles and then frowns in the next instant. Her face turns deadly serious. "Jokes aside, you aren't from Tokyo. Your Japanese is incredible for a foreigner and you seem to be somewhat comfortable around us Japanese folks, but you are clearly not one of us."
No, I am not. "Okay. You got me. Maybe I am not Japanese. So what? What happens now." I cut to the chase. I can act like a brash idiot, I can shout at her, I could probably even tell her that my name is Uzumaki Naruto and I am the the Future Hokage, but I don't do that. There is a time and place for everything and right now just trying to get a grip on my new situation takes priority. "Are you going to arrest me or something?"
She sighs. "No, you say that you are twelve years old. Our laws aren't as backwards as you Europeans, or Americans, lead yourselves to believe. Our standard protocol is to first find out where you come from, and try and direct you to the embassy of your nation."
"Okay." I don't know what an embassy is but I like the part of bringing me back home. "So what now?"
"Now I ask what nation you come from."
I gulp. This is not the question I want to answer. Whatever I tell her is going to sound stupid. Based on my talks with Chiba this city seems to be at peace, and they don't seem to use things like Chakra power. They are much more focused on using wireless machines that use some kind of unknown power that could potentially be electricity, or gas. Yes, I am not in my world anymore.
So what could I tell her? What could I say to get me out of this situation? There is really only one solution and I have to make this sound convincing. I have to put everything I have into this and I have to make sure not to make a single mistake.
"I…I don't know where I come from," I try not to let my voice break. "I don't remember…anything."
They take me to a place called Juuban General Orphanage. From the title of the building I can guess this isn't the place where happy children go to reunite with their parents, not that I still have delusions like that. I gave up on dreams like that a long time ago. I think most of us poor lost boys and girls did. It wasn't like we had a choice. Whether we were abandoned, given away, or stolen from our homes (Ninja village remember?), we all had the same attitude about our future adoption prospects.
As I walk down the halls of the facility I cannot help but wonder which one is my room. This place doesn't seem so bad, and if the rooms are as large as the ones I saw earlier, I might actually like this place more than my old apartment. I wonder if they might consider giving me a roommate, but then decide against it. I have too many secrets and one wrong move might cost me my life.
"Here you are, Uzumaki-san," Mamoru-san tells me. He opens the door to a small one bedroom complex with a desk and bed. "It's got a great view of the Juuban Middle school nearby." I walk into the room and the tall man follows. "See that place, that's where they are probably going to register you."
I nod my head at his finger and ask him a question. "You seem to know your way around this place…any particular reason?" I can already guess the answer, but I want him to tell me. I don't trust this man, I don't think I'll ever trust an adult in my life again, but I want to know more about him. He…is not a bad person. A bit cold, a bit callous, somewhat odd, but he is the only person who gives me a straight answer. "It's okay if you don't want to tell me."
"No…it's fine." He pulls out a chair, there is only one in the room and sits on it. "Hmm, still has the same problem." He mutters something under his breath and proceeds to move the chair in an angle such that it stands up straight. "No, don't think it's ever going to go away."
"Er, right." I take a seat on my bed and jump when I feel a spring trying to impale my right butt cheek. I look back and see that it's literally coming out of the mattress and look at Mamoru. "Not exactly what I was expecting, but it's better than some beds I've slept on." Or floors I've slept on for that matter.
The teen shakes his head. "I know, orphanages don't exactly spend a lot of money on our mattresses, if we get those to start with, but occasionally we get saddled with the worst of the lot." He gives up trying to make the chair he is sitting on balance and stands up. "May be I will come over later with my tool kit. I used to keep one around here when I…"
He just gave himself away. I can see his face, it looks uncomfortable. "When you lived here, right?" I don't need him to say yes, and he doesn't confirm or deny my statement. "It's okay…I kind of know how it is."
I know what it's like not having parents. I know the shame that comes with thinking that your parents abandoned you. I know the jealousy people like us feel when we see a happy family. I know the awkwardness that comes with walking with your peers and suddenly they start complaining about their fathers or mothers.
Most of us orphans try and stand well clear of subjects that have to deal with our parents, not because we want to, but because we don't know how to tell people politely to shut up before we stick a fist to their jaw.
"Yes, I suppose you would know what it must be like," he says slowly, his eyes stare off at the room. For a moment he looks at the place with nostalgia. It's as if I am not even there, like I am just part of a fixture in the room, and I grow uncomfortable the longer he does this. "Um, right, thanks for bringing me here."
He doesn't answer me with words, but nods, while staring out the window. I don't need to ask what he is looking at. It must have hurt, it must have hurt a lot. To always get such a clear view of the kids with parents, the kids who came out of Juuban Middle school with their families picking them up, while he stood in his dark room with a busted chair, and a bed that could stab a piece of metal to his back if he wasn't careful.
"Chiba-san, maybe you should go," I tell him. Being here is probably bringing up bad memories for him. My time at the orphanage wasn't exactly pleasant either, but I've learned to put those demons behind me or , at least, I would like to think I have. "How about I come to your apartment and get the tool box? I am actually pretty good at home repairs." Which is true. It wasn't like anyone else was going to fix the furniture in my one bedroom apartment.
"Are you sure?" he asks me. He looks slightly uncomfortable. "I can come back, it's not really a problem."
"No, I don't want to trouble you," I tell him. He has already done enough for me. Dr. Mizuno gave me the address to walk here, but it was this man who took time out of his busy schedule to bring me here. "it's getting late." I look at the sun. They say Japan is the country of the rising sun, or at least from the brochure I got from the US embassy. "You probably have school, I guess."
"Bright and early," he mutters. "I've a test on Enzymes, then a lab on Titration, followed by a unit on viruses."
I don't understand a word of what he is saying, but I nod anyway.
"Do you have my card?" he asks me. I pull out the card of Chiba Mamoru, Faculty of Medicine at Juuban University, and show it to him. "That's the contact information for my Lab, my Supervisor is Dr. Saicho." I don't really know why I need to know that, but I nod anyway.
He gives me a manly hand shake and walks out of the door, but not before looking around the room one last time. I guess there are just some things that are hard to put behind you. Growing up in an orphanage is one of them, and I am about to add another demon I am going to have to leave behind.
Being a Ninja for one.
It makes me sad, it makes me insecure, but I know that if I want to live in Japan, assuming that the US embassy does not take me to the States of America (whatever that is), I have to change how I do things. I can't act the way I acted back in Konoha and if I am to survive I need to be focused.
With these thoughts in my mind I lay down on the bed and look at my feet.
I can walk now, but it'll take another month before they release me from the last of my casts, and add the next set of them. By then I will be thirteen and the laws affecting a thirteen year old will probably be different from one affecting a child of twelve. Not sure why, but that's how it goes for a lot of places, my old home included.
Funny, really. Even when I turn thirteen I have a feeling that nothing is going to change. I am probably not going to feel older, wiser, stronger, or more secure. I'll probably be the same snot nosed kid who couldn't do a decent Bunshin to save his life (literally) and I don't think I am going to feel any more comfortable with the people around me.
But who knows? Things might be different. There is always a chance. Always.
Months passed, people came, and people went. Most of them told me that they couldn't find ID records of me anywhere, and some even talked of deportation. It turns out that Japan is a country with a high population and many illegal immigrants from neighboring third world nations have tried to sneak into their territory many times before.
The problem is that most of them don't speak Japanese like me. Worse yet, they don't read Japanese like I can. That is usually what gives them away. Kanji is not something you can just pick up, you have to be immersed in it and I can read like the best of them. In fact, it turned out that I could read characters that weren't even used anymore, as if I was taught in a very high order prep school, like I was the scion of some noble.
I neither confirmed or denied this of course, I wanted to give them the illusion that I was potentially Japanese even if I did not look Japanese. My height, weight, and appearance were not going to deter me from living here, and if I was careful, just a bit careful, I could pull this off.
And I did.
When the immigration judge saw the evidence in my favor that I was possibly a Japanese raised foreigner, he decided to go with my case. There just wasn't enough evidence to show that I was an illegal immigrant and unless I dropped into the country from a plane, then there certainly wasn't any long distance illegal trafficking going on that day.
So with my new identity as Uzumaki Naruto, thirteen year old Japanese citizen, resident of Juuban, and all round foreign looking guy, I started my life in this new city.
"Are you sure you are going to be okay?" Mamoru asks me. He opens the trunk to his sports car, and pulls out a set of crutches. For a guy who spends a lot of time by himself, he seems to have a lot of snazzy equipment. "You want me to go with you to the office?" He hands me my crutches and waits for me to use them to prop myself up.
It's somewhat annoying to have him badgering me like this, but I can understand his concern. Though I am not sure how I feel about it. For a volunteer doctor's assistant he seems to take his position seriously. He doesn't get any community hours helping me off his clock, so it's not like there is any benefit of helping me, even if I was a patient of him and Dr. Mizuno.
"I'll be fine," I tell him. "I am used to it. You know how it is. Once you tell them you don't have parents things move a lot faster." They always do. When you don't have parents offices don't' ask you for a guardian to sign you out. Though I had a legal guardian, I never met him, so I tended to sign myself out, even if I spent most of the time sneaking out. "Thanks for everything." I am not sure how to say this last part. "Without you, things would have been a lot more…difficult."
He waves his hand away. I think he is embarrassed as well. "It's not a problem. Guys like us have to stick together." I notice he doesn't say 'orphans' like us. Someday I am going to ask him why, but not today. But I have a feeling that day will come soon. "See you around, Naruto."
He gives me another manly handshake and gets into his sports car. As I turn around I notice that a group of giggling girls are pointing at him. They don't even try to cover up their frothing giggles and sigh when he drives off into the horizon.
I am dead serious. It literally looked like he is driving into the horizon.
As I turn around to the direction of the school, and try not to trip on my crutches, I notice that I've got an audience myself. Mainly the student body. It probably isn't everyday a new transfer student who looks like they came from a European country, that they were once allied with, comes into your school looking like he had been through a horrible accident.
Fortunately, the Japanese are a polite people, if a bit distrustful of outsiders. If I look at the direction of someone pointing at me, they immediately look away and even when they are in a crowd, there is something very meek and shy about most of them. Though that could just be attributed by the intimidating presence my figure gives off.
Even walking on crutches, with a cast on both legs, I am almost a head taller than the average guy in the school. Which means I am even taller than the girls. It's a strange feeling, really. I've always wanted to be tall, the big man on campus, but I never got the chance. Uchiha Sasuke filled that role, along with other bullies who tried to steal my lunch money on a daily basis.
I look around to see if I am going to have the same problems as I did back then, and realize that yes, I am going to have the same problems, only this time I would have the advantage in sheer physical strength. I can say this because I spot my would-be bullies and notice that they are whispering harshly to each other, as if to decide how they are going to approach me.
Hopefully they will do it when I am not so injured.
"Oi, Gajin!" someone shouts from behind me. I try not to sigh. I am just about to open the door and go into the school. Why now? Why did they take this time to make me angry like this? Did they want to die? Did they want me to attack?
When a hand reaches my collar and tries to pull me down to its level, I get my answer. "I am talking to you." I turn around to see your stereotypical Junior Yakuza. He is taller than your average Japanese boy, but not by much, with a tough build, like he does heavy weight training or something. A small group of boys are coming toward us, most with the same expression he has on his face. "What are you doing here? Don't you know this is a Middle School? The airport is that way!" He points to a location which I am pretty sure is the Juuban Dump, but now Is not the time to get directional.
"Yes, I am pretty sure this is a school," I tell him in perfect Japanese. I can't afford to be anything but perfect. One wrong pronunciation, one wrong step, and my claim that I am probably Japanese born and raised will fly out the window. "And why are you pointing to Juuban Dump?"
He looks startled for a second then releases his grip slightly. I take this moment to shrug it off completely and stand as tall as I can. In Konoha this would not be threatening, but to a bunch of Japanese school kids who are theoretically my own age, this must look intimidating.
"I think he might be telling the truth, Taro," one of his friends says. "He has a Juuban uniform on." He points to my uniform, which almost makes me laugh, since he has to raise his finger up to do so. "Plus he doesn't have an accent."
Taro seems to consider this, but he doesn't like it. His expression turns neutral and he looks at the muttering children around him. Interesting that no one seems to approve of this action, but no one seems to try and stop him. I guess it makes sense. When he called me a Gaijin, he wasn't lying.
You see Gaijin is an offensive word that can literally mean alien. When a person is an alien, it means that they are different from you. When they are different from you, it means that they can't understand you and you don't understand them. You separate them from yourself and you can attach a lot of negativity to that person.
That's probably what is happening right now.
I am so different it's scary.
"Taro, let go," his friend says, grabbing his hands away. Slowly Taro does so, and walks into the crowd, but not before giving me a glare. I don't bother returning it. I've had old ladies give me worse. No, seriously I have. I've had an entire village give me that look, and worse. Taro didn't like me. Probably because I am different, but my village didn't just like me…they detested me.
Almost like they wanted me dead.
"Um, do you mind moving?" someone asks. I turn around to see a red headed girl shyly finger my shoulder to get my attention. "You are blocking the way." I notice that there are a lot of middle school kids who are waiting for me to enter. Afraid to go in front of me. Do I really look that threatening? And why do they fear people who look like me so much? No, wait, not fear? Distrust? "Did you hear what I said?"
I snap out of my thoughts and bow my head to her. "Sorry." I try and open the door, but her small hands clasp the handle and opens it for me. I turn to her. "Thank you." She doesn't say welcome, but that's okay with me. She looks to be older than thirteen, probably fourteen, and at least a year ahead of me.
"Can you tell me where the office is?" I ask her, before she could get away from my sight. "I don't have a map."
She looks apprehensive and I wonder for a second if she is a racist as well. Then she points to a nearby room. "Down the hall, and to your right."
Before I can thank her she moves away, and into the crowds of people who give me a wide berth. It's not that they think I am going to suddenly attack them, it's probably to do with the bullies I met earlier.
They made it clear that anyone who associated with me would not be tolerated. This isn't just the attitude of the Japanese, this seems to be the general attitude of any 'alien' in any given country. I hear things are worse in some of the Eastern European countries like Russia, but I don't have time to worry about people on the other side of the globe.
I walk into the Office and ask them for my student card. They ask me if I have my school supplies and if I am ready to get to class. I tell them I am. They tell me that my placement results came in a few days ago and that I was going to be joining children at least my senior in the upper grades. When I asked them why that was she looked at me with amusement and said that I scored extremely well on the grade placement test, with a near perfect score in Math.
That shocked me. I was certain that I would have scored low on the placement tests since I had gotten so many questions incorrect in many sections. Then I remembered that a fifty percent here in Japan was a pass, and an A is something like an 80% and up. Back in Konoha we had a much stricter marking system.
We also had a much more difficult school system. By the age of twelve we covered Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Kanji, and a whole list of obscure courses that most of us would probably never use. My best subject had always been Physics. There is something interesting about wind speeds, acceleration, and velocity that always fascinated me. I tend to pick up on things like that more quickly than most other subjects.
"So can you tell me where I am supposed to go?" I ask the receptionist. She smiles, stands up, and tells me to follow. "Miss, can you slow down? I can't exactly walk fast right now…"
She doesn't apologize and I get the distinct impression that she doesn't like me, even if she is cheerfully polite. That's okay. As long as she doesn't sabotage my entrance I am okay with her bitter-sweet attitude. "Here you are, if you need anything just ask your teacher." She walks away, and I am left feeling very self conscious.
How will the class react seeing the Gaijin enter their classroom? Probably the same way the kids in Konoha did when they realized I was repeating the year and was saddled with them, again. Steeling my resolve I take a deep breath and open the door, with a bit too much power, and walk into the room.
I try not to act too sheepish at my oversight in strength and step towards the terrified group of students who look like they are about to have a heart attack. "I am sorry about that," I mutter. "I don't know my own strength." I really don't. Everything just seems so light, and I mean everything. Even the clothes on my body weigh nothing at all, as if they were made of silk.
"That's okay," a tall woman with red hair says. Since she's an adult, she doesn't have to look up to meet me at eye level. She points to the front of the class and I walk towards the place she is pointing to. Someone mutters 'Gaijin' and I try not to frown. It doesn't actually bother me that much, since I really am an 'alien' in the supernatural sense, so I can forgive them. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. "Class, please stop what you are doing. We have a new transfer student."
The class, and this time all of them, look at me. The boys look surely, while the girls look distrustful. Actually, both look distrustful. Only the boys seem to be better at hiding it, seems like the tough guy image is one of those constants wherever you go. "Hello," I say. "I guess I'll start with my name."
The class looks interested. I am guessing they are expecting me to say something like "Homer Simpson" from that TV show I saw last week, or "John Wayne" but I am going to disappoint them. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto." There are confused looks from most of them and a few even chortle. "I am thirteen years old."
Now there are hushed murmurs, as if I had said something wrong. Back in Konoha it wasn't unusual for children to skip grades, but it must have been an oddity here. "Did I say something wrong?" I whisper to my teacher.
She shakes her head, but looks slightly surprised. "No, but it's not common to skip a grade. You must have come from a very good school."
I want to tell her that I did, but that would raise up some very interesting questions that I am sure as hell not answering. "Maybe," I whisper back to her. Some of my classmates are leaning towards me to get a better hearing. "I can't say I remember."
She looks at me surprised but doesn't question further. I turn back to the class. "I live near the school and I live by myself." More whispers break out. I think I made a mistake saying I lived by myself. "I moved here about seven months ago." I have grown a bit in height since then, but not by much. "Please take care of me. I want to make friends with each and every one of you."
Damn it! I can't believe I said that. That must have came out so desperate. I look up from my bowed position and try to assess the extent of my damage and notice that it isn't as bad as I thought. I turn to my right and hear clapping and notice that it is the same red-headed girl I met earlier today. Her short shoulder length wavy hair, blue eyes, and green ribbon are enough to give her away.
Slowly a boy with swirly glasses starts clapping next to her, and they are soon joined by an overweight girl with chubby cheeks. Another thirty seconds pass and pretty soon the rest of the class claps as well, as if I was some kind of one man show and starts saying things like 'welcome', 'is that your natural hair color,' and 'wow, you look like you got beat up by the Yakuza.'
Miss Haruna, my teacher, points to an empty seat next to a girl with blond hair fashioned in twin pig tails and I take a seat beside her. The class soon starts, with some of my classmates looking at me with a bit more interest than they originally did, only this time they are slightly less distrustful.
I pull out the books I have in my back pack and try to follow along. Most of the math we are covering seem to follow along the lines of basic algebra, things I have already covered. I guess the placement wasn't wrong. I really do belong here. Even if I am not fourteen yet. Though I will be, given another couple of months, so it's not like I have a huge gap when it comes to grade skipping.
"Mm, ice cream…cake…ice cream…" the girl beside me mutters. I try and ignore her, focusing on my work instead. "Ice cream…ICE CREAM…Nooo!" The girl suddenly wakes up from her dream, and stands up. Her classmates roll their eyes at her and some even laugh.
"Damn it, Usagi!" the red-head from earlier says, throwing a ball of paper at her. "Can't you go through one class without bothering the rest of us?"
"But…someone stole my ice cream," she cries. "Naru, it was so scary."
Something smashes in front of the chalkboard and I can see Miss Haruna glaring at the girl. She has fire in her eyes and lightning sparks are flying out of her hair. "Usagi, get to the hall now." She doesn't shout, but by the way the blond haired girl gets up and runs, it almost seems like she does.
The problem is she trips on my crutches as she tries to run, and topples over a desk. Feeling like such a bastard for putting it there, I get up and almost fall down from the unbalance the cast puts on my feet. Somehow I manage to redirect the chakra in my body to balance myself. I am still not good at channeling it through my body, but I know how to do it.
As I stand in front of the girl looking like some juggernaut, I notice that she looks absolutely terrified.
Pointing a shaking finger she barely manages to say. "W-who the hell are you?"
Please Review: I'll get back to you guys when I have the time. I took a lot of your input and changed my style. As always not beta, no editors, no nothing. I really need to sleep. After reading a dozen Ranma/Sailor Moon fics (Vahn, Clays, etc) I had to write my own version of real world one. But I upped the darkness. Will I write a sequel to Shinobi father? Yes, maybe after a very, very long time. You'll actually like this one much better if you've watched the SM series. As always I am amazed at the audience!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Sailor Moon.