Fiori: Well would you look at that, the last chapter actually received the most reviews out of all the chapters. I thank you all/
Now on with the show, sorry again all, but this is a kinda slow chapter that is more meant to pave the way for things to come. I hope you all find it acceptable.
Also I don't own Naruto.
Heir to Senju
It is said that no plan was capable of surviving contact with the enemy. When applied to the world of shinobi, such a saying became a simple fact. The more complicated a battle plan, the more likely it was to fail if even the slightest detail went wrong. It was one of the reasons why the Nara clan was so highly valued, as it was rare for any of their plans to fail, regardless of said plan's complexity. But others were not blessed with such ability, and often adopted a flexible mindset whenever possible, as plans that left room for improvisation were often more likely to succeed. Those shinobi that stuck to rigid thinking and were incapable of changing a plan on the fly, were often the ones that died during a mission gone wrong. That was why neither Sarutobi, nor the surviving Senju were surprised with the reactions that came about, when the council had been informed of Naruto's parentage.
The plan was to hopefully lessen the burden of hatred that was soon to be thrust upon the young Jinchuriki and Senju heir. By revealing his ancestry Sarutobi hoped to give pause to those who didn't understand the workings of the shinobi world. Doing so also blocked out any of Danzo's plans to try to weaponize the boy, as the disappearance of clan heirs was never something discreet. Thus kidnappings by any inside sources were blocked. Another potential benefit of his plan was that word would travel about the Senju clan's new heir. With any luck that word would reach his two loyal students and bring them back to the village. However the only part of the plan that had worked was the part to protect the boy from the dangers within his shinobi forces.
The reactions had been varied and numerous with the only unanimous reaction being shock. Many of the civilian members had been outraged, doing their best to dispute the information as it was put before them. Others had quickly gotten over their speechlessness and demanded proof of such an allegation. Others had been calmer in their reactions, but all the same they had requested confirmation on his claim of Naruto's heritage. In fact out of everyone on the council, only the heads of the Akamichi, the Inuzuka, and (oddly enough) the Uchiha had taken Sarutobi at his word. Even Danzo and his advisors had been leery and suspicious of the claim, and they had been the ones that had backed him in his claims when it looked like some of those present were one the verge of getting violent. For even if they didn't quite believe him, they could at least see the benefits of letting the majority of the village believe what they saw to be a little white lie. Though Sarutobi had to suppress the bark of laughter he had wanted to give at their reactions when he had handed out the copies of the blood work.
It had only been after he had passed out of an edited version of the DNA test that had been run by the Senju, that some semblance of calm had been restored to the council meeting room. All the results showed was that Naruto's blood had a partial match to Tsunade's, and nothing else. It hadn't escaped Sarutobi's notice that several individuals were curious about the missing half of the test results. As they themselves had no doubt used a similar test on their own clan heirs. Yet in the end it wasn't truly important that certain individuals suspected something off about the test. What mattered was that even if they suspected that there was more to the blood work, they couldn't deny that what was shown was indeed valid. Thus the majority of the naysayers had fallen silent as the documents were handed out and confirmed his claim.
However, even if they had believed the documents, it didn't stop many people from reacting negatively to the information. While it was true that the chant for the death of the Jinchuriki had stopped before it could truly gain any steam. It had not outright erased the hatred that had already accumulated. Even with Naruto's undisputed place as the new heir to clan Senju, many were unwilling to trust that he was truly human. Worse still the confirmation that he had been placed with a family ended exactly as both Hiroshi and Yurirama had feared, many a cold eye were cast upon the members of clan Senju. Friends outside of the family had turned their backs on them for the supposed betrayal that came with protecting the so-called demon that was masquerading as Tsunade's son. Oddly enough not a word was said against Tsunade; in fact several people praised her for abandoning her child after the demon had stolen his skin. However, very few people had anything good to say about any of the other Senju.
Hiroshi's business had begun to slowly die as fewer patrons entered his shop for any other reason than to subtly insult him, or occasionally demand that he move his place of business away from the good and honest folk. In Yurirama's case, she herself treating fewer and fewer patients, and those she did treat would often make requests for a new doctor as they sneered at her. The only reason she hadn't been fired was the simple fact that she was lucky enough to have tenure, thus requiring a formal board meeting to even think about firing her. But even then, shopkeepers had started to raise prices exclusively for members of the Senju clan whenever something needed to be purchased. It was when the Senju's found themselves barred from entering certain public places, with such petty excuses, such as a lack of free tables given as explanation, that they began t understand just what the villagers were trying to do.
Slowly but surely the Senju's were being isolated, and cast further and further into destitution. If not for Hiroshi taking the risk to start traveling outside the village and trading with foreign business partners, things could have gotten very bad for them.
However it was in this newfound pariah-hood, that something that had been thought to be impossible, started to happen. The Senju was not the only clan being isolated. Call it an odd quirk of fate, chance, or something else entirely. Regardless of what it was called, both of the founding clans of Konoha found themselves isolated from their peers. For those of the Uchiha clan had been placed under just as much suspicion as those amongst the Senju. The reasons were even of a similar nature, though there were slight differences in them, and even a difference in who was behind their sudden ostracism. While it was the civilians of Konoha that were behind the accusations of the Senju clan harboring and protecting the demon that had killed the real clan heir. The Uchiha found themselves accused by the other shinobi clans of being the ones who had released said demon upon Konoha in the first place.
No one had outright accused any of them of being responsible of said crimes, to do so would invoke the wrath of those far stronger than many civilian and the more narrow minded shinobi were prepared to handle. As the Hokage had a vested interest in ensuring the welfare of the few surviving Senju, and many of the Uchiha were shinobi, even if they lacked the Sharingan, no one dared trying to accuse them directly. But the members of both clans could tell, in fact it was rather easy to see from the cold looks that were showered upon them, such malice and suspicion focused upon them from every angle was proof enough of the villagers' opinions. Yet in their attempts to ostracize the two founding clans, it had resulted in a sudden reconciliation between them.
Both clans had suddenly been aware of their sudden isolation, both their own and that of the other clan's. Their allies were few and far between, and those in charge of the clans had few options when it came to regaining any form of political capital. In the end their only real options had been to turn to the other. Despite the years of hostility between the two clans, they had come to a sudden and common realization that they had no other choice. No one else would associate with them outside of necessity, and even then it was only with a vague mask of politeness. So with the revelation that not one, but both the families of the founders could be treated so, what was the point of holding onto old grudges?
Though it was not an instant alliance for there were still quite a bit of hostility and tension between the two clans, tension that would be a slow thing to dissipate, for the Senju and Uchiha had worked for years to accumulate it. Hostilities had not been restarted just from the instance of Madara's betrayal. That in fact had merely been a spar that rekindled a slowly dying fire of hatred and mistrust between the two clans. In fact since then several instances had occurred that only served to raise their ire towards the other. One major instance had been the appointment of Senju Tobirama as Nidaime Hokage, for while it was true that he was equal to his brother in terms of skill and strength, not to mention his manipulation of Suiton jutsu had been without equal. Madara's eldest son had been more than just a rival in combat abilities to the elder Senju. Truthfully, if one were to tally up the number of times Tobirama had lost to the younger man, they would find that the Uchiha was actually the stronger of the two. And yet Tobirama had become the second Hokage. The act had been seen as petty nepotism at its finest and only served to widen the gap between the two clans. Another instance had been the presence of an Uchiha teammate during the mission that had resulted in the death of Senju Nawaki. When the boy had returned baring minimal injuries despite the death of a teammate, many had seen it as an act of spite. The members of Nawaki's family had thought the Uchiha had simply let the beloved descendant of Senju Hashirama die instead of trying to protect him. In addition to those instances other events had cropped up over the years and slowly but surely it had resulted in both clans falling back into the antagonistic roles they had once held towards the other. Merely without the bloodshed that had been present in the Warring Clans Era.
Yet now, things were finally starting to heal. And the greatest example of such had occurred two and a half years after the Kyubi attack.
Yurirama had never had children of her own. Not because she hadn't wanted them, it was merely because no one had appealed to her in the sense that she wanted to bear their child. However the truth was that part of her couldn't wait to be a mother. It was part of the reason why after she had confirmed Naruto's status as a Senju that she had continued to be his caretaker. It should also be noted that previous to her caring for Naruto, Yurirama had on occasion been pulled to work a shift at maternity. To her, it had been some of the most miraculous moments of her life, watching as new life was brought into the world for the first time. The expressions on the new parents faces as they held their child for the first time. See such things had made her feel as if the world was just a bit brighter.
Yet if caring for Naruto was any indication, she never wanted to bring another being into the world. As a newborn babe he had been one of the cutest most adorable gifts upon the earth that any Kami could grant. As a toddler he was hell on two legs intent on sending her to an early grave, and anyone who said differently was a moron of the highest caliber.
It had started out innocently enough, the curiosity that came when a baby finally recovered from the trauma of being born. Naruto had started examining everything that had been brought into his visual field, and then came his ability to reach for the things that had caught his interest. Naruto would then do as all babies did and try to stick whatever it was he had managed to grasp within his mouth. Yurirama had at first thought it precious, and then the crazy child had tried to swallow an entire bottle's worth of Senju Iro's dementia medication. How Naruto had gotten a hold of the bottle, and how he had managed to get the cap off of the thing would always remain a mystery to her. In the end it didn't really matter, as she'd had to scream at the top of her lungs and lunged for the boy as he brought the open bottle to his mouth. She had no idea why, but apparently the small child had found her shaking him upside-down to ensure that he hadn't actually swallowed any of the pills to be the most fun he'd had in his short life.
After that, Naruto had seemingly made it his mission to give his caretaker a heart attack. If not for the fact that he radiated an aura of innocence and curiosity, she would swear he was doing it on purpose. But alas it appeared that her concern for his safety was completely coincidental to the small toddler. Not only that but he seemed to think her chasing after him to be great fun.
The most recent incident could be blamed on the fact that the child had far too much energy and had mastered running entirely too early for her tastes. She had set Naruto down in his high chair to prepare him for lunch, turning her back on him for all of thirty seconds to pull the food out, and when she looked back he had been gone. Currently she had no idea where he had run off to, but wherever he was, he was doing a remarkable job staying quite.
"Naru-chan, come out for Yuri-nee. If you come out now I promise I won't make you eat the pickles." She called as she searched through the house. Of course she was lying about not making him each the pickles. Even if he might hate the taste, he needed to eat them to be healthy.
But it was as she continued her search that she came across something that nearly made her shut down in fear and shock. It was the open window in the sitting room, a window that's sill was just low enough for someone of Naruto's size to reach if they jumped for it. Now normally she would have disregarded this, as it was unlikely that any normal two year old would be able to make such a jump, and then have the energy and strength to pull themselves up. But as she had learned, Naruto seemed to giggle at the improbable. With a speed born of desperation and fear, Yurirama rushed for the front door to at least ensure that he hadn't found his way outside. Only to nearly run head first into someone who looked to be about to knock.
"Oh shit. Sorry, in a hurry!" Yurirama apologized quickly as she tried to move past the stranger at the door. Too worried to truly notice who it was, or even what they had in their arm.
"I would assume. Might I guess that you were looking for this little one?" The dark haired woman asked with a small smile as she moved the arm supporting a small blond haired and blue-eyed child.
"Yuri!" Naruto called out as he made grabbing motions towards her.
"Naruto! Oh kami don't you dare do that again!" She called out as she took hold of the squirming toddler, holding him close to affirm he was still there. Naruto apparently startled by the genuine fear in her voice merely lowered his head, somehow understanding that he had done wrong in scaring her.
"Sorry." His small one word answer was genuinely repentant, though it probably wouldn't stop him from doing something again.
"It's okay, just don't do it again. Okay?" She asked as she held him away from her, so she could look him in the eyes.
"K," He replied with a childish smile.
"Good boy." She smiled back as she pulled him back to her. With her duty as his guardian done, Yurirama turned towards the woman who had found the small child outside. She was actually quite surprised by just who it was. There in front of her stood Uchiha Mikoto, wife to Fugaku the head of the Uchiha clan.
"Ah, Uchiha-dono. My apologies that you had to see such a display." Yurirama apologized, even as she took a step backwards, further into the house. While it was true that Yurirama had some doubts about the whispers that had begun to pervade Konoha, rumors which pointed the finger at the Uchiha as those responsible for the Kyubi attack. She felt it better to be safe, especially when Naruto was considered into the equation.
"It's no trouble Senju-san, I myself have had to have similar words with both of my children." Mikoto replied, a small smile gracing her lips, either not noticing the cautious air about Yurirama. Or, more than likely, Mikoto simply didn't care that Yurirama was being cautious.
"Ah, well in that case, I thank you for retrieving this child before he wandered too far. Might I ask what he was doing when you found him?" Yurirama asked in morbid curiosity. A desire to at least know what she should admonish Naruto for doing.
"I eat veggies!" the small child cried triumphantly, confusing his holder immensely
"He was playing in the flower bed over there. I got the impression that he found it quite fun to pull them out before stuffing them down his mouth. Lucky for you I stopped him before he could start eating anything toxic." Mikoto replied while gesturing to a noticeably destroyed flower garden, one that had miraculously survived everything ever thrown at the village. Save for the small bundle of terror now under Yurirama's arms.
"What am I going to do with you?" Yurirama sighed in defeat as she gazed across the upturned soil and noticed several plants looking to have been chewed on while still in the ground.
"Play!" Came the immediate answer.
"Not right now Naru-chan. Maybe later." Yurirama replied as she began to rock the child in her arms. Hoping the motion would calm him enough that he would stop squirming. Idly she noted that Mikoto was still standing before her, a small amused smile playing across the Uchiha matriarchs face. "Was there something else I could help you with Uchiha-dono?" She asked.
"Ah, well you see, I was wondering if you could use any help with that one there?" Mikoto asked as she pointed at the slowly calming toddler. This response however caused Yurirama to blink in mute shock. She stared at the older woman for several long moments before she called back into the house.
"Tenchi, could you come here for a minute!" A soft pounding of feet was heard as the new figure came as called.
Senju Tenchi was a young man, not particularly tall, or broad. Rather he was a slim young man, his only muscle growth had come about from hauling cargo and merchandise for his father, Hiroshi. Like his father his hair was brown, yet he had inherited the spiky mop style from his mother. His face was slim and bore a distinct smile upon it. Yet it was his eyes that were his most distinguishing feature. Like the princess of their clan, his eyes were a rich honey color, almost golden. All in all he was a nice young man that was wholly dependable and likable. Currently he was dressing in a rich green shirt and brown pants.
"Ne ne, Yuri-chan! What can I help you with?" He asked kindly.
"Take Naruto for a minute would you. My guest and I are having a conversation." She replied evenly as she carefully handed her clansman the small toddler in question. Tenchi seemed taken aback by the sudden presence of a child in his arms. But he had quickly grown used to being the secondary care taker of the small child.
"Okay, but what could you need to… ah I see." Tenchi had begun to ask as he took the younger Senju into his arms, Even as the toddler had begun to reach for his face. "Well come on then Naruto, let's go play." Tenchi said with a smile, though Yurirama caught the look in his eyes, a silent 'be careful' passing to her from her clansman.
"Is something the matter Senju-san?" Mikoto asked as soon as Naruto and Tenchi had left. Yurirama doubted that she hadn't noticed that brief look caution her clansman had sent her. After all Mikoto was a shinobi, and she was a simple civilian.
"I am unsure, Uchiha-dono. Please follow me to the sitting room; this is not a subject to be discussed in a doorway." Yurirama replied as she led the shinobi woman into the house. "Tea?"
"None, thank you. I believe you had something you wished to discuss." Mikoto prompted as she took a seat at the table.
"Yes, you will have to forgive my rudeness, but what interest could you possibly have in involving yourself with a Senju child?" The Senju woman asked her Uchiha guest.
"Ara, ara, such suspicion. Can one mother not simply offer her services to another, someone obviously struggling?" Mikoto asked, a small smile of amusement playing across her face.
"Had you been anyone else, making the offer about any other child I might believe that. However Uchiha-dono, Naruto is not just any child. I am well within my rights to be suspicious of anyone when it comes to his safety.
"Hmm, true. Your suspicion is quite healthy given just who young Naruto is. However in this case it is unfounded." Mikoto replied with a thoughtful air to her voice.
"You will forgive me if I do not immediately take you for your word. Now might I ask again? Why might an Uchiha wish to help with the raising of a Senju child? Our clans are not exactly on the best of terms, so it has to be something more than just wanting to help." Yurirama replied.
"Actually it is a simple desire to help. Though it is not a desire to help solely you, or clan Senju." Mikoto conceded.
"So how does asking to help raise Naruto assist your clan?" Yurirama asked in confusion. Not clearly seeing how it could help, but knowing that it was the main goal of the offer of assistance.
"There are several reasons. Most concern my youngest son Sasuke. You are of course aware of the rumors that abound about the village these days?" Mikoto explained.
"Yes, I am very much aware." The Senju maiden replied.
"Then you know that it is very likely that my youngest son is to grow up with out any friends. I fear that the loneliness would do my son no good." Mikoto replied.
"Alone? But what about your other son? Surely he could be there for his own brother? Not to mention all the other Uchiha children Sasuke's age." Yurirama pointed out.
"My Itachi has recently graduated from the Shinobi Academy, thus I doubt he will be around much to help me with Sasuke. As for the other children, I do not want my son to be involved in the political chess game the parents of the other Uchiha children would doubtlessly try and play." The Uchiha matriarch explained calmly.
"But isn't that what you're doing now?" Yurirama pointed out calmly.
"Hmm, only to an extent. I wish no favors from you, or your family. Save a potential friendship from he who would eventually inherit the clan. And even then the friendship would not be to me, but rather to my son. The one not inline to inherited clan leadership." Mikoto countered.
"So… what your say is that you are trying to foster a better relationship between our clans, via the next generation?" Yurirama tried to understand.
"But why now Uchiha-dono? This could have been done generations ago?"
"Because previous to this, neither of our families have been on equal footing. Yet at this very moment we have both hit the bottom, so to speak. Your clan heir has the stigma that will follow him for the rest of his life, and my children have a similar stigma. Few parents outside of our own clansmen will let their children approach them." Mikoto elaborated.
"So with no one else to turn to, you might as well pick the only family likely to understand your plight." Yurirama offered calmly,
Yurirama was unsure what to make of the offer. On one hand the woman before her seemed genuine. Mikoto wanted to start bridging the gap between the two families, and she was offering to help raise Naruto. Yet on the other hand, she was an Uchiha. They had been silently feuding with them for decades, so the sudden olive branch was quite the shock. Added on was the fact that the woman before her wasa shinobi, and even if she did appear to be honest in her intentions, Yurirama had been played the fool by shinobi before. The Senju woman couldn't help but think that there was something more than what she was telling her, yet she couldn't quite place what that something might have been. In the end she had to make a choice, and hope that the gamble would be worth it.
"Very well then, I guess I could always use some help raising Naru-chan. You yourself saw, he can be quite the handful." She said with a smile.
"I'm sure, and thank you for taking up on my offer. I assure you, you wont regret it." Mikoto said as she stood to leave.
"Do you need me to see you out?" Yurirama offered as she too stood.
"No, but I thank you for the offer Senju-san."
"Please call me Yurirama, after all you're going to be helping me." She offered her guest.
"Then you may as well call me Mikoto, Yurirama-san." The Uchiha offered, even as she continued to exit the building, leaving the civilian woman to her thoughts. But it would not be till ten minutes after the Uchiha clan Matriarch had left that Yurirama would allow herself to relax. She had not truly realized how on edge that entire meeting had put her. Yet even an hour after the meeting had ended, she could not help but wondering.
'Did I make the right choice?'
It would not be till years after the encounter that Yurirama would have an answer her question. All Yurirama knew at that point in her life, was that interesting times lay ahead of her and her young ward.
Fiori: And that's the end of that. I really hope you can forgive me for all the politicking my story seems to involve. I honestly had no intention of putting that in when I started. It just seems to write itself in there somehow. Anyway hopefully the next chapter will be less politically inclined and more… I don't know action based.
Anyways, please review it actually encourages me to write more.