"Sayonara Memory," is my new favorite song. It's the most recent Shippuden ending and I love it to death. I had it on replay as I wrapped up this chapter. I can't understand a word of it, but it's such a beautiful song. And because of it, I made good on my word and updated only after a month, lol.
In any case, this chapter has a lot of info in it, hence the title. It should clear some things up, and if not and you still have a question, shoot me a review or a PM. Additionally, this turned out to be way longer than I expected it too. Oh well, you guys don't mind, right? ;)
Also! There are sorta kinda some spoilers for the most recent Manga chapters; particularly about the previous Hokage's background, sooo, yeah. It comes up during Jiraiya's convo with Kakashi, just so you know…
Disclaimer: I own nothing that isn't mine.
Not wanting to let Kagome out of his sight so soon, Naruto followed her on the way to the Hokage Tower like a puppy would its mother. Sasuke came along as well, preferring freedom and the outside air to his confining room where no doubt a nurse was waiting to lecture him. Sakura, however, felt like the fourth wheel and excused herself to let them catch up, wanting some time to collect herself.
"You're coming to Ichiraku's though, right?" Naruto had asked with a wide smile.
Sakura's eyes flickered to Kagome involuntarily, and Kagome had the niggling idea that such a thing wouldn't be the most comfortable idea—it was hard not to pick up the awkward, discomforting tension between them.
It was even harder to not feel it as well. While it seemed that Sakura was not the same as before, and Kagome had realized that with her own eyes, it was hard to do away with the habitual dislike that cropped up at the first thought of her fellow genin. It was like a reflex; the last time Kagome had even seen Sakura was the day of team assignments when they had their little standoff over Naruto and Sasuke.
It was hard to do away with the image of the violent happy fan-girl who obsessed more over her hair than training to the girl in front of her—possessing the same temper, yet restrained, and somewhat more mellow but also serious—but it didn't mean Kagome couldn't at least try. So she mustered up a reassuring smile, an uncomfortable, awkward little thing, but a smile nonetheless. "Yeah, and you can tell me what it's like to be on a team with this idiot and stick in the mud."
"Oi!" Naruto flailed while Sasuke glared at her coldly.
Rolling her eyes, Kagome corrected herself, sarcasm practically dripping from her words. "I'm sorry, I meant this lovable idiot and charming stick in the mud."
Sakura bit her lip, amused, and giggled, but knew an olive branch when she saw one and so agreed.
"So," Kagome said a moment after Sakura had left, rocking on her heels as she peered at the two boys. "...Sakura looks different."
Sasuke snorted with barely concealed incredulity and continued walking. "Discreet. Very discreet."
Kagome and Naruto laughed as they followed after him. "I thought you're gonna get all the gossip from Sakura?" Naruto teased, a blond eyebrow lifting at her.
The girl rolled her eyes and leveled them with a flat stare. "Well, I would, but I figured asking her for gossip about herself is pretty rude." Kagome let out a small huff, and playfully shoved at Naruto—lithely, he weaved out of the way and flicked her on the nose, snickering when said nose scrunched and she pouted at him in response.
Sticking her tongue out at Naruto, she looked over at Sasuke, who was watching with that intense, dark stare of his. Kagome shoved down the shiver that threatened to crawl up her spine. "Just catch me up—last I saw, she was heeds over heels for you and you couldn't stand her, never mind look at her," she said with a pointed look at the Uchiha. She turned her sights on Naruto, who by that point was laughing loudly—which stopped short the moment he noticed Kagome's narrowed-eyed stare. "And you were tripping over your feet in your attempts to woo her while she couldn't stand you and showed you, quite violently might I point out, just how much."
Naruto cheeks flushed red at the reminder and his eyes strayed from her.
After Sasuke shot Naruto a smug look, who was rubbing the back of his head when a phantom pain of Sakura's punches erupted, the pair told Kagome of the shift in dynamics in their little team. She learned of what had started as shaky ties with the strength of a frayed string between the three had grown into a reluctant, but nonetheless stronger bond of fierce loyalty, ribbing camaraderie, and protectiveness, at least by the time the Chuunin Exams rolled around. The Chuunin Exams themselves were a reality check for the female member of their team. Kagome, however, noticed the distinct avoidance the pair doted on the exams in respect to them, as well as the time after the exams.
They arrived at the tower before she had a chance to call them out on it however, and soon enough, Kagome found herself left alone and standing before the familiar double doors that lead into the Hokage's office. "Meet us at Ichiraku's in an hour!" Naruto had reminded her eagerly, before dragging a scowling Sasuke away.
She hovered before the doors, reminiscing in those memorable times of being dragged through them alongside Naruto as some standard chuunin or jounin brought them in after a prank gone wrong—or horribly right, depending on the perspective—to be punished, something that had always had Kagome wondering. She'd figure that the Hokage had better things to do than dealing out punishments to a couple of unruly kids.
"Whoever's there, stop pussyfooting. If you're going to come in, do it already!"
Kagome snorted, cracking a grin at the sardonic, grumpy shout that floated through the cracks. Grasping the handles, Kagome pushed the doors open and waltz in with a grin on her face. "Ba-chan, I'm ba-ack!"
So, Shiro's brat, eh?" Jiraiya mused to Kakashi as they lazily made their way towards the Hokage Tower via roof. "Makes sense with what happened to her clan. The Uchiha kid probably thought she was the only one who had a chance of understanding what he went through that night."
Kakashi gave a solemn nod. "It's been a while since you've seen her, hasn't it?" he asked after they leapt over to another roof.
Jiraiya nodded his head. "Not since Shiro…" His voice trailed off, his lips creasing into a frown as Kakashi's expression became solemn. "Well, she definitely has his looks." Jiraiya let out a wry snort. "You know, Tsunade used to spoil that kid rotten—she and his mother, Hana, were best friends when they grew up in the Senju compound."
Kakashi shook his head in amusement, his lone charcoal eye straying to the Hokage Monument. "You know, I'd always wondered why the Sandaime paid special attention to Kagome. Naruto I understood, but Kagome… At first I thought it was because of her abilities, but that didn't make sense because if that was the case, then what about Sasuke?" Kakashi snorted. "Imagine my surprise when he told me—"
"That the girl's grandmother was the love child of the Second Hokage?" Jiraiya finished for Kakashi in a wry drawl, smirking as younger male let out a loud laugh. He only discovered that nugget of information after a drunken slip up of his own sensei.
Compared to his brother, Tobirama was known to be rather introverted, serious, strong-spirited, and passionate: in simpler terms, he was like Orochimaru, a genius, but with deep sense of loyalty to Konoha, a sense of honor and moral code, as well as the awareness where the line was drawn and the sense not to cross it. However, that was only after Hashirama died and Tobirama became Hokage.
Unlike Orochimaru, Tobirama once had a weakness to one of the three Shinobi vices. While his brother had a propensity to gamble, Tobirama was reknown for his passion—and said passion was not restricted to his skills, or rather, his shinobi skills in any case.
Sometimes, Jiraiya entertained the thought that perversion was passed down from sensei to student, and as it was passed down the lines, it only got worse and worse. That it spared Minato had it returning and impacting double-fold on Kakashi. He was still waiting for the day that it would hit one of Kakashi's minions one day like a Tailed Beast Ball to the face.
In any case, fact was that Tobirama used to be the biggest closet pervert known to man, though he was of course as careful as he was considerate, and this fact was pretty much one of the most worst kept secrets of all time in the older generations of Konoha. Things, however, only got serious when Madara betrayed them, the First Shinobi War came rolling around, and Hashirama died. Konoha quickly forgot about their Nidaime's somewhat embarrassing indulgence in flesh as he stepped up to the mantel of Hokage and later sacrificed himself.
Honestly, it was completely out of respect rather than embarrassment that they left that little detail out of the history books, and coincidentally forgot it when passing down stories when children asked, "What was the Nidaime like?"
In any case, what wasn't common knowledge was that Tobirama had picked up a lady friend once he took the seat. No one but the First's wife knew that he was in a serious and committed relationship by the time he died in the First Shinobi War, and Mito brought her in to live in the compound. It was only a matter of time before Sensei himself connected the dots upon seeing a white-haired little girl running around the compound with Tsunade.
After a moment of silence, Jiraiya couldn't help break it with a snicker to himself. "I have to say though, that girl makes a damn fine dramatic entrance."
Kakashi snickered under his breath and after a moment of shaking his head, he grinned as he prepared for another jump. "Of course she does—I've taught her well."
Kagome ducked, swooping down with ease just as an empty sake bottle sailed through the air, soared over her head, and flew through the doorway. After a beat, there was a loud crash and a faint yelp of pain. Snorting, Kagome quickly closed the doors so that any other flying object would hit them instead of some poor unsuspecting passerby.
"Right," Tsunade muttered, shuffling some scrolls and getting down to business. Pulling back, she opened a drawer, drawing out another, smaller scroll and rolling it out before her. "I've been going through Sensei's notes… Now, he didn't write much about why you were sent off…"
"Well," Kagome started, rocking on her heels. "It wasn't so much as a mission than it was a training trip to be honest."
Tsunade peered at her 'niece'. There was only one reason why Sarutobi would send Kagome to her mother's shrine, and it wasn't to train any clan-related jutsu. "You're fully trained?"
"As much as I possibly could be," the Higurashi heiress replied softly, hand rising to unconsciously tangle her fingers in the delicate chain around her neck; from it hung a small, pink tinted jewel.
"That's a new necklace," Tsunade commented idly and watched as the hand swiftly dropped, as if burnt. Kagome had stiffened, and though it was barely noticeable, Tsunade's perceptive gaze didn't miss even that.
"Just a little bauble I came across," Kagome muttered before looking out the window, and the Godaime noted an undercurrent of bitterness in her following words. "Practically worth nothing."
It was an obvious lie, but Tsunade didn't have the heart to call her out on it at the moment. "I'm sure," Tsunade murmured quietly, her honeyed gaze softening. Kagome's head turned back, peering at the scroll on the desk.
Sighing, Kagome shrugged off her pack and padded towards the desk, pulling out a scroll of her own as she did so. "This is the scroll the Third gave me," she said as she handed it over. "The details my father wrote are in there. I was told that I was supposed to go to the shrine when it unsealed."
"Higurashi's aren't fortune tellers," Tsunade said automatically as she scanned the scroll, yet her eyebrows furrowed. "And yet, the instructions are oddly specific," she went on, adding under her breath, "Honestly, why in the hell would you need to henge three years older?"
"I know," Kagome said with great emphasis, fists clenching at her sides. "But it doesn't explain how he knew! It doesn't explain..." Kagome trailed off, face twisted with pain. "He had to know what was going to happen, but...I don't know how he knew," she said in a fragile whisper, hands wringing in her lap. "It doesn't make sense."
Tsunade straightened, lowering the scroll and adopting a concerned, serious expression. "Kagome, what are you talking about?"
Kagome swallowed, and for a moment, she debated not telling…but, Tsunade-bachan was family, and her Hokage as well. Her mother, brother, and grandfather already knew the basics anyway. Anything beyond that, however, would be her secret to tell when she was ready. "Higurashi's aren't fortune-tellers," Kagome recited in a strong, confident voice, and it was testament to what she knew of her clan. "But," the girl added, her confidence faltering. "I assumed Father sent me to the shrine to get my training, yet, only my Grandfather and Mother were there—I didn't have a sensei waiting for me, like I expected."
Tsunade asked the obvious question, if only to prompt Kagome to continue. "Then from whom did you receive your training?"
"Not exactly who," Kagome replied, staring her aunt in the eyes. "But more importantly when."
A slim eyebrow raised in questioning.
"On the shrine," she begun, voice low, "There's this well; it's called the Bone-Eater Well. Two weeks after I arrived, I ran into a centipede demon that climbed out from it." At the word "demon," Tsunade went rigid, eyes widening and narrowing simultaneously, her attention certainly caught. "I proceeded to defend myself and my half-brother, Souta, when its speed caught me off guard and pulled me down the well. There was this...reaction," Kagome awkwardly phrased it. "My miko-abilities activated instinctively when the demon's claws penetrated my arms, and I blew off a couple of its hands. I think I blacked out for a moment, because next thing I knew, I was on the bottom of the well. I jumped out, intent on tracking the demon, when I realized I wasn't at my shrine, or even in Tokyo anymore."
Tsunade's eyebrows furrowed, her mind whirling, trying to come to her own conclusion as to where Kagome could have ended up. However, Kagome continued before she could utter a word.
Kagome closed her eyes, mentally and emotionally exhausted and showing it as well. "The well turned out to be a portal." Opening her eyes, she locked gazes with her aunt, confusion darkening her blue eyes as she confessed, "Bachan, somehow, I traveled five hundred years into the past, and I think Daddy knew it was going to happen."
Kagome spent the next few minutes summarizing her past adventures in the last year. She didn't bother going into the companions she made, of the relationships she created, and those that ended up broken. She didn't bother going into detail of the trials she went through. She didn't bother with the emotional and psychological torture she had endured to complete her 'mission'.
She only mentioned the most important of details, which happened to be the most basic as well: that the bauble hanging from her neck was only a husk of what was once a powerful jewel capable of granting the greatest of wishes at the worst of consequences; that it was ripped from her own body and then shattered by her own hand; that she had spent the last year hunting the pieces while an evil, sadistic demon with a penchant of mind games and bent on world domination did the same, simultaneously trying to kill them whenever the chance presented itself.
"And this demon, Naraku you called him, what came from him?" Tsunade had asked, sure of the answer but seeking confirmation all the same.
"He's dead," was all she would say, her eyes saying what she didn't: I killed him.
After done, Tsunade's serious expression melted off her face and she gave Kagome a small, comforting smile. Within seconds, the blonde had stood up and was in front of her. Kagome was swept off her feet and nestled into every straight and bisexual man's wet dream as Hokage gathered the girl into a snug hug against her chest.
Kagome however, didn't feel as such as her eyes popped and her lips turned blue.
"I'm glad you're safe, squirt," Tsunade murmured fondly, threading slim fingers through the girl's hair. "You've been through a lot, I can tell, and when you ready to spill the full story, I'll be here waiting. In the meantime, I'll just say this once: you did well gaki, and I'm proud of how you turned out. That Hatake brat did well in raising you." Tsunade bent her head to kiss the crown of Kagome's head, and whispered.
"Shiro would be proud of you too."
Kagome, halfway about to pass out, relaxed into Tsunade's strong grip at those words, and tears built up in her eyes. "Thanks, Bachan," she managed to croak out, and with a chuckle, Tsunade released the genin from her death-grip.
The had barely sat down in their respective seats when they sensed company and felt a breeze. To the left, Kakashi and Jiraiya were crouched on the window ledges, watching them; Kakashi had his book open and up to his face, while Jiraiya had a dreamy expression plastered across his face, no doubt arriving just in time to see Tsunade's hug and imagine himself in Kagome's place.
"Still here?" Kakashi wondered idly, flipping a page. "You guys left over twenty minutes ago."
Leaning back into her seat, Kagome shrugged, a smirk playing at her lips. "We took the scenic route," she replied loftily, stealing one of his excuses.
Kakashi snorted, rolling his eye as his own lips twitched. "Imp."
"What is this, a party?" Tsunade muttered under her breath. "Yeah, sure, come on in, right through the freaking window. No need for proper decorum or whatever," she went on with no real conviction, her lips pursed only to hold back a threatening smile.
Snickering, Kagome turned and took a moment to study Jiraiya. Her eyes suddenly widened with recognition. "Hey!" Kagome exclaimed, jumping to her feet and leveling a finger at the older man with the long, spiky hair and red tattoos. "I know you!"
Jiraiya made a noise of surprise, but smirked soon after. "I'm not surprised—not many forget the Great Toad Sage, Jiraiya of Mount Myōboku!"
"What?" Kagome blurted out, confused with her eyebrows furrowed. "No! You're the guy from the photo Bachan sent me—her teammate!" Kagome had slipped her hand into her bag and pulled out the four-panel frame, and showed it to the man as proof. "You're the pervy guy she warned me to keep five feet away from if I ever met you!"
Kakashi coughed and let out a snigger. Jiraiya fell to the ground, stricken with injured pride. "Tsunade!" he wailed, jumping up and pouting. "I can't believe you said that! About me! Your teammate!"
"It's true, isn't it?" Snorting, Tsunade mostly ignored her teammates' overly dramatic antics and pushed away from her desk to rummage through the drawers of her desk, mumbling under her breath. "I need to find some sake…"
Her bag still open, Kagome, who was watching Jiraiya as one would a circus show—head tilted to the side in a show of silent fascination—dipped her hand into it once more. After a moment, she deftly pulled out a carefully wrapped package.
"I was going to mail it, but since you're here…" With a grin, Kagome handed it over to the Hokage with great flourish and even greater care. "Mother sends her best wishes."
Tsunade grinned widely and her head was thrown back as she laughed as she first peeled off a section of the wrapping. "Ah, I love you gaki! The wait is a bitch to get this imported!"
The others in the room all sweatdropped as Tsunade pulled off the wrapping completely to reveal a rather large bottle of sake.
**Just for the record, "Bachan" essentially means "Auntie."
So, yeah. For those who haven't read the previous version of this fic or don't remember, Kagome and Tsunade are related. Technically, they're like cousins twice removed or something, but for simplicity and Tsunade's vanity's sake, they go with a more Aunt/Niece sort of relationship lol.
Next chapter will possibly be the Ichiraku scene, then Kagome and Sasuke have a talk, and possibly a little fluff. Who knows?
Oh! And I almost forgot! I just got into Tumblr of all things! So, check it out! I mostly blog a lot of Naruto stuff, and if not, then anything cute of hilarious. Additionally, I was thinking about making it my base of sorts, and using it to give status updates/answer questions(you can even ask anonymously, which is a good thing for ppl w/o accounts). I was also toying with the thought of posting all my extras for this and other fics that I've written: like, omakes, future scenes, cut scenes. I might even take prompts and do mini fills, if anyone is interested-cause it might help me when I run into a writing rut. What do you guys think? There's a link and more info on my profile.
Tell me your thoughts!
A big huge honking thanks to all those who read, alerted, and fav'd this fic, and to these awesome reviewers!
Ta1ia, fierynightangel, Mzr90, SilverStar118, Jayne, Venas, AKARY YAMI, fofafie, irzenmonk, CrescentMelody, Valleygoat, ForgottenOncePromised, SweetHunniiBunnii, xXCrossoverLoverXx, ReaderWorm101, SereneButterfly23, Iowademonss85, Azumigurl, xXKillorbeKilledXx