Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. If I did, it would be a wreck.
There has never been a bigger failure, ever, anywhere. If she can't even walk up a stupid tree, she's never going to be a real kunoichi!
Uzumaki Mito cannot imagine not being a kunoichi.
The six-year-old sits down by the base of the tree, crosses her legs and furrows her little brow in thought.
Chakra is supposed to be applied consistently. She's definitely doing that. Maybe it has to be smoother, more even? She decides to give it a try and tries again.
Lying down on the grass, she stares up at the lazy clouds and the dancing leaves and her vision blurs with tears of failure and disappointment.
She brings chakra to her hands and examines it. It's not the proper colour. It's not blue like the sky on a weak spring day. She knows this is strange.
The chakra she's holding is too dark. It's closer to dark teal, really, a colour that Mito really doesn't like very much. It doesn't come alive either; it's just there, unmoving, a lump of useless power. She tries to make the colours change with all her strength. The colours shift a little. The results are not satisfyingly proportionate to the amount of effort she put into that.
It reminds her of her first try at cooking. She made soup so thick that you couldn't stir it without the bowl moving-
She has an idea.
She knows that she doesn't have very good control over her chakra – perhaps because it's too thick? The soup had to be diluted to make it somewhat edible, but she can't dilute her chakra. So maybe if she tried holding back instead of going all out, would it make a difference?
She dashes for the tree again and holding her breath, sprints four steps up the tree trunk before falling back to the ground.
It's nothing really, in comparison to the height of the tree, but it's a start. More importantly – she was right.
She smiles a knowing smile, a smirk, lips quirked to the side, one eyebrow slightly lifted, glint in the eye, head and chin subtly tilted to take on the world in the bet of a lifetime and win.
Ninety minutes in, and Mito isn't so sure anymore. Restraining her chakra is harder than letting it rush out, and now she's exhausted.
She decides that the problem is a matter of where she's keeping the restrained chakra. It piles up and spills over the barrier she builds up and completely ruins the technique. So she has to keep it somewhere. But where? She can't take it out of her body and put it in a box. Maybe a sealing technique? The Uzumaki clan is pretty good at those, and she's going to start learning them next month. Well. Mito knows that unless she can get her chakra under control, she won't be able to learn the most delicate sealing techniques of her clan that require perfect, legendary, awe-inspiring chakra control.
Those are the best ones, after all.
The lessons on her clan's jutsu begin and she devours them, like toy boats to an ocean-wide whirlpool.
"Teach me more fūinjutsu!"
"I have to go home, Mito!"
Sensei's exasperated now, and with good reason too - this is the third time this week she's begged him for extra lessons at the end of the day. Eager students are every teacher's dream - but he wouldn't wish Mito's enthusiasm for work on anyone.
"Mito, you're seven years old. Go and play, or draw, or...something."
"But Sensei! I want to be a kunoichi!"
"Mito, you can be a kunoichi and play too, you know. Now shoo."
Mito's exasperated now. Sensei doesn't understand.
"But Sensei, I have to learn more fūinjutsu if I want to be a proper kunoichi. I don't want to be just any kunoichi. I want to be an Uzumaki kunoichi!"
It is through the droning voice of her sensei in the ninth week that she gets an idea. It grows and blossoms in her head, her agile mind calculating, musing, mulling. She scrambles for the door, flinging a hasty excuse behind her, and all but flies out.
She heads straight for her clearing, and closes her eyes. She takes a strand of chakra, compresses it, bends it and folds it in on itself, smaller and smaller, contorting it until she's satisfied. She grips her head with both her hands from the ache and focuses on a point in the centre of her forehead. When it's as small as she can get it, she does it again.
She carries on until she can't stand, and then she sits on the mud and carries on.
After repeating the process enough times to make her lose count, she hesitantly calls chakra to her hand.
It's proper chakra this time. It's fluid like water - she can feel it, malleable and liquid in her hand, ready and waiting to be shaped into a million different things. It breaks in one place and reforms in another, bursting with blue all the while. It flickers and twists and shatters into shards of sky; into a thousand different shades of blue - real blue.
She climbs up the tree and stays glued, upside down to the highest branch with her thick scarlet hair hanging down like a ragged velvet curtain for half an hour before walking down and away, complete with that smirk in place.
She's passing by a lake to get back to class, and the apology she's forming in her head is whisked away when she catches sight of her reflection. She gazes at the diamond on her forehead, and wonders how she's going to explain that away.
As it turns out, she doesn't need apologies or explanations. When Mito's sensei sees her exhaustion, the debris in her hair and the diamond on her forehead, he bends down and examines it. Mito thinks it's funny when his eyes pop out. It makes him look like a bug.
She puts chakra into her Yin Seal at every opportunity, saving up; treasuring; hoarding for a day when her life and the lives of others will depend on how much chakra she compresses and puts into that insatiable diamond on her forehead.
She releases the seal when she's got no other choice. Still, the girl with fire-coloured hair, fearsome strength, a volatile temper and incalculable numbers of deadly weapons even without the seal on her forehead that makes her infinitely more terrifying is known across countries and clans that inexplicably, never speak to each other.
Everyone she comes across is particularly wary around her forehead, understandably enough, but also, strangely enough, they are lax about the tags in her hair. They think they're just explosive tags, that because they're out in the open and so obviously visible she won't have the element of surprise, that there are only two of them.
They couldn't be more wrong.
The first time she is forced to release the Yin Seal is to save a young man with the darkest hair and eyes she's ever seen and his village. She snatches what she thinks is her last glimpse of his face, eyes wide with horror and mouth screaming in protest, hair whipping in the wind, the blood on his face wiped away by the force of the released seal and she screams herself with the effort of expanding the chakra that's been compressed since she was six years old. She feels jolts of red electricity down her skin and she doesn't know that she's never looked more beautiful.
The best moment of her life is when she wakes up. She isn't in hell and that's how she knows that the Yin Seal worked as it was meant to, and that she, her husband and the village they love is still intact. She meets her husband's worried eyes and proceeds to slap him affectionately round the head. She tells him in forthright tones, ignoring his pained protests (flat on her back or not, Uzumaki Mito's still got the best right hook he's ever seen) to get more powerful for the next time an egotistical maniac with crazy red eyes brings out a nine-tailed monster to fight with, so that she doesn't have to release the seal a second time because she's got one hell of a headache.
Mito doesn't go on missions anymore, not since she got old, and she's got the Kyuubi to thank for that. That annoys her.
She keeps gathering chakra to her forehead. She's knows she's going to need it one last time.
She comforts Uzumaki Kushina as only a grandmother can, and smiles down at the little girl with the red hair gently. She hopes that Kushina can use that special chakra of hers to deal with the Kyuubi. She hopes that Kushina's got enough strength to deal with the village and all the trouble that a nine-tailed monster brings with it.
She releases the seal, feels the jolts of red electricity marring her skin and closes her eyes.
If you have any questions about specifics dealing with chakra, please leave me a note through a review or a PM and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.