AN: So, sorry about the long wait. I had a bit of writer's block when it came to this story and I've been sick lately. I would have had this up last friday but some complications came up.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy the chapter. I am currently working on chapters for Hollowed By Thy Life, Eternal Spirial, Broken Hearts, Kitsunemun, and Moonlit Night. I don't know exactly when I'll be get the next chapter up, it depends on how long it takes me to finish the chapters for the stories mentioned.
Anyway, enjoy the chapter!
Uzu no Musume.
Chapter 27: Enter Konoha's Snake Mistress; Mitarashi Anko!
Mitarashi Anko was known as the Snake Mistress of Konoha, she was only twenty, soon to be twenty-one, but already listed in the Bingo Book as such. Less kind names were 'Snake bitch' or the like created by her own village.
If they were trying to use words to hurt her because of her past association with Orochimaru or not, they were failing. She'd developed a tough skin long ago, it was why she made such a good interrogator. She didn't have the patience for teaching, one reason why she was never offered a genin team, so she was surprised when the Hokage had called her to his office in order to tell her of her new student.
Uzumaki Naruto, the girl with a deceptive first name. Anko still recalled a time when she'd mistaken the Kyuubi host as a boy, but those days were long over. Looking at the blonde in front of her it was clear she was indeed a growing girl. Still kind of scrawny, or more like petite, though. Some of it may have also been neglect from her childhood, when food was hard to come by at times – Anko wasn't blind to how hated the girl once was.
Things had gotten better for her when her heritage came out, her connection with the Uchiha clan helped as well, as did simply being a chūnin of Konohagakure. The girl hardly looked her age though, much less a chūnin. It was impressive and from the rumors she'd heard she wasn't the only one impressed by the young heiress.
"So, you're my new sensei," Naruto said, rather than asked, in a monotonous tone.
Anko snarled slightly, the blonde looked as if she waned to be there just about as much as Anko herself; which wasn't much.
"For now brat," she said in a similar tone, arms crossed under her bust. "I want to be here just as much as you do, but I'm the only other snake summoner; so, lesson one... summon a bigger snake than me or be eaten."
Anko smirked wickedly and wasted no time summoning a snake, smaller than an anaconda but bigger than a boa constrictor, and it looked hungry.
One thing was for sure, Naruto thought vaguely as she jumped back, and summoned a snake on instinct (It was thankfully bigger, but barely), she would never forget her first meeting with Konoha's Snake Mistress.
Naruto leaned her shoulder against one of the large trees in the Forest of Death. A large purple snake with deep blue, nearly black, spiraling designs along it's body was wrapped loosely, but securely, around her body.
"She's... crazy..." Naruto barely got out as she caught her breath.
There were few who had ever gotten her this out of breath, and it usually only occurred after she'd used considerable amounts of chakra. She'd met this requirement nearly thrice over seeing as summons took quite a bit of chakra, and she'd been doing so multiple times in a span of two hours.
She had some of, if not, the best stamina in Konoha. Her chakra reserves were also large for her age. Someone else her age would be dead twice over, but even she had limits and could get tired. Uzumaki (and jinchūriki) or not.
"I don't know, Hime, I thought she reminded me of you," the snake said in a sightly hissing voice.
"Really, Mamushi?" she asked, looking at him as if to ask his sanity.
Sadly she could also see Mamushi's point, she and Anko did have similar personalities, but just a bit. Mamushi would have shrugged if snakes had shoulders to do so, instead he seemed to blink – which she was pretty sure was impossible for a serpent to accomplish.
"Head off, she'll catch up with us if we stay put longer," Mamushi advised, and she nodded. In the time she'd known him she'd come to trust him. It helped that he was the first snake summon she'd met.
Hearing the sounds of snapping branches and rushing wind, Naruto abandoned the tree branch she was on, barely evading the hail of kunai. As she landed on another sturdy branch, a snake as large as the Academy building rose up with Anko on it's head. The woman laughed, or more like cackled.
"Pretty good first lesson, brat, but you'll have to do better. Now, lesson two... survive till dinner or become dinner for my snakes, and other creatures in the forest. Good luck, Uzumaki," she said, smirking.
The snake shot after the young chūnin, and Naruto was once again off at the fastest speeds she could muster, trying to shake the larger serpent the entire way. Once again she was thankful that being an Uzumaki gave her more stamina than others, and being a jinchūriki boosted that already high stamina.
She needed a strategy though, she realized. If she couldn't summon a snake to match the massive one chasing her, she'd have to use her wit and cunning against them. Not to mention other skills...she could try some Ninjutsu, and if all else failed she could give her bloodline a shot. She wanted to save the latter for a last resort though.
Throwing caution to the wind she went through the hand seals, and summoned another snake. To her relief it was only marginally smaller than the one after her. The biggest she'd summoned yet. On the downside she was even more tried after summoning another snake, especially one that big.
She knew her reserves would refill – for lack of better term – themselves in time, quicker than most thanks to her heritage. But she'd still need time, so she'd have to hold off on summoning or using any high level ninjutsu.
"Ah, good...Shirasaki will take care of Hiroki," Mamushi said as they distance themselves from the two fighting snakes.
Naruto took that as the snake she'd summoned, and Hiroki must have been the one Anko was on.
"Ya know, Mamushi, I've wondered. Why aren't you as big as them?" she asked, jumping to yet another tree. "I mean, you're kind of small compared to them or your brother."
Mamushi probably would have gone red in anger if snakes could.
"I'm not small!" Mamushi insisted, giving her the snake version of the evil eye. "I just happen to be more of a stealth type, and very poisonous. As for my brother; Manda is simply a freak, and the boss after our father's demise...he hit a freakin' growth spurt! He wasn't always that large."
The way he said the part of him being very poisonous made her laugh, it was if he was adding that in as a warning to her. The rest just made her laugh more sincere, and she couldn't help but wonder how Manda would take Mamushi's words.
though she'd not been able to summon the boss snake yet, she'd heard of him from stories – which didn't exactly give him the best reputation – and from Mamushi. She did doubt that Mamushi would actually poison her, though she wouldn't put it past him to bite her if she annoyed him enough. Of course it would be a dry bite, as she knew Mamushi was capable of choosing when to release venom in a bite and when not to.
Smirking in her amusement, Naruto focused more on her situation. From the corner of her eye she caught the movement of purple and was unable to avoid being kicked into a tree. Anko landed on her abandoned branch, a smug, slightly sadistic, look on her face.
"You spend too much time talking, Naruto, now lets see how long you can stay alive against me."
Naruto barely had a moment to catch her breath before Anko was on her, nearly severing her jugular with a kunai. Narrowing her eyes she knew, this was going to be a long day.
A week later Naru all but limped out of the Forty-Fourth Training Ground.
Anko wasn't in all that much better shape, though her aches and wounds had occurred more recently in their training. The first two days had been the hardest. Finally, nearing the end of the second day, Naruto recalled Anko wasn't simply testing her ability to summon, and began fighting back just as Anko had been doing since the first day.
Before Naruto had simply been summoning snakes, and using her intelligence to get away and defend against Anko. She was kind of embarrassed at how long it took her to realize she wasn't restricted to using those skills – though Anko had stated in the beginning that she wasn't to use Kenjutsu since she herself had little to no skill in the field.
Needless to say, Naruto quickly learned why the Hokage had chosen Anko to train her, and why she was a Tokubetsu Jōnin instead of a jōnin.
"You've done good, kid," Anko said, ruffling the top of her hair, much to Naru's silent annoyance. "Now that you've gotten the hang of snake summoning, I'll teach you a few tricks. Maybe work with you on your Katon Ninjutsu, you seem to have a lack of them, and need some help controlling the ones you do know."
The blonde chūnin looked over at the purple haired woman, and smiled. She hadn't really thought Anko would want to continue training her now that she could summon snakes as large as the Academy, but still a bit smaller than the Hokage Monument. It would still be a little while before she could summon the boss, or the largest of the snakes used in for battle.
The same could be said about her ability to summon cats, though she'd had the cat summons longer so had more practice. It was only natural she was a bit further ahead when it came to summoning cats.
"As long as we don't have to spend another week in that death trap," she told her, and Anko laughed, shaking her head once she'd calmed down.
"No, not unless you want to," she said, smirking. "Come on, Kid, I'll buy you some Dango before we head to the Hokage's office."
Naruto nodded, following after Anko excitedly. It might not be ramen, but it was almost as good.
The Hokage stared at them for several seconds.
Though glad to see both well, he would admit he was a bit surprised to see Anko had wounds, but only slightly surprised; Naruto was very skilled for her age, and with her newly awakened bloodline he supposed he should have expected it.
Still, Anko was one of his most skilled, and not a Tokubetsu Jōnin for nothing. He wasn't surprised ANBU was looking to recruit Naruto, though in the beginning he'd had his hesitance and doubt. He knew most of that was his protectiveness of the blonde girl, especially after what Itachi had to go through after joining ANBU so young, the youngest in his time as Hokage in fact.
He'd made it so the graduation age was no younger than twelve after the Massacre had happened, even though not everyone – Danzo for example – agreed with this action. Still that wasn't something he could do for ANBU.
Since the founding of Konoha the ANBU had not discriminated or cared about the age, gender or ranking of a ninja they considered for their ranks. It all came down to interest and skill.
"How did she do, Anko?" he finally asked, coming out of his own thoughts.
To his concern the young woman grinned.
"Better than I thought. At first her summoning wasn't that great, medium sized snakes but put under the right duress I was able to get a young, but large snake from her during the second day. I moved on to fighting her myself after that, and she did well for a chūnin. She learns quick, by the end of the third day I had trouble hitting her, and sneaking up on her. I think her bloodline probably helped with this, she was down two weapons the entire time seeing as I forbid her from the use of her swords."
Anko caught her breath before she continued her detailed account.
"As you can see she was able to hit me quite a bit, at times I believe I would be dead if she were truly aiming for the kill, and I hadn't countered appropriately in time. She definitely earned her rank. I was caught off guard by some of her original jutsu's as well, having not expected them. All in all she can now summon battle snakes almost as big as the Hokage Monument. I still have a few things that I wish to teach her, Hokage-sama."
Hiruzen was impressed, but not overly surprised. He'd known Anko would make a good sensei, if not a little too...exuberant with how she chose to teach.
That was one reason Anko was never offered a genin team, not that she would be until she chose to be a regular jōnin, which she hadn't quite met the requirements for yet. Hopefully the two wouldn't rub off on each other too much.
He paled at the thought, he didn't think Konoha could handle a Naruto who acted as Anko tended to.
"Alright," he began, "Until Anko has nothing more to teach you or I feel you've learned all you can, she will act as your sensei."
Anko and Naruto both nodded, and seconds later the two were dismissed. Hiruzen sighed, looking at the pile of paperwork before him. He felt a small shiver travel down his spine almost instantly.
He was positive it had been smaller before.
Naruto barely made it back to her apartment before collapsing on her couch. Rolling onto her back, the blonde stared up at the ceiling.
She couldn't remember being trained so harshly since...since her genin days. Since Mikoto-sensei, since the early days of Team Seven. She hated thinking about her former team. Two were dead, and the other might as well be seeing as she'd not seen her since the funeral of the Uchiha clan.
Sometimes she would find herself lost in thoughts of the days before Itachi massacred the clan. She'd wonder what would have happened if she'd been able to stop it, but in the end she knew she couldn't have. Despite how she wished she could have.
All she could do was honor their memories as best she could and move forward; there was no changing the past, and no place for her to dwell in it.
Pushing all thoughts of the past back, Naruto closed her eyes. In the end she fell asleep thinking of how she would begin training with Anko once more in three days; giving her time to check on Sasuke.
Naruto was up just after the sun rose, which was normal for her.
She knew Sasuke wouldn't be up till about eight, and the Academy didn't start till ten that day for reasons she wasn't sure about. Usually it had to do with either some sort of festival, holiday or Shinobi business which caused the teachers to be late.
Rolling up the right sleeve of her dark orange and blue jacket (something she sometimes wore over her usual ninja attire, but mostly when she had the day off), the blonde bit her thumb, and made certain hand-signs.
"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" she said, and as her right palm hit the ground there was a puff of smoke.
When it cleared there was a cat the size of a young lion, with Silver-brown fur, and brown eyes. Around it's right front arm was a cloth with the Uchiha Police Force symbol. Some summons wore the symbol of the village their summoner was apart of, to show their loyalty, but the cat summons were loyal to the Uchiha, and those who signed the contract with permission from which ever Uchiha held the contract; like Mikoto had allowed her to sign on her ninth birthday.
The cats had chosen to wear the Police Force symbol to show they still had support for the village the Uchiha Clan resided in.
"You called, Naruto-sama?"
Naruto sighed at how formal the messengers of the cat clan could be, even the young ones like Sora.
"Yes, I was hoping you could make a run to the nearest store and pick up these items for me. When you've finished bring it to the Uchiha compound where I'll be, and I'll also have a saucer of milk ready for you," she told him.
Sora nodded, grabbed the list from her, along with the money. All of this was done with the skill only a summon animal could pull off. As Sora disappeared, Naru headed back towards her bathroom, and pulled her hair back in a loose ponytail with an orange ribbon.
With that done she left, locking her apartment door behind her.
Taking to the roofs she sped off towards the Compound, jumping the walls of the Uchiha District and finally heading inside the familiar house through a window. Her feet hit the kitchen floor without a sound, and she quietly maneuvered the kitchen. As she had suspected, Sasuke had little to no food in the house.
It didn't take her long to make up her mind then, that if Sasuke couldn't be trusted to keep food in the house, then she'd have to help remind him or do the shopping for both of them herself. As she sat a pan on the stove a small sound alerted her to Sora's arrival.
Turning around she found Sora unsealing two bags of food. Picking them up and placing them on a clear counter, Naruto smiled in thanks.
"Thank you, Sora-kun, I appreciate the help," she said, reaching for a small saucer from the cabinet. "Hang on, I'll get your milk for you."
Sora nodded politely, but his excitement was clearly seen in his waiting eyes and tail, which was flicking from side to side excitedly. About ten seconds later she set the saucer of milk down for Sora, and returned to her task.
She set about unpacking the bags before cooking. She spent the next hour and a half making eggs, cutting tomatoes, and putting together some Onigiri with some of the tomatoes she'd diced, instead of sliced, folded into them. During this time Sora had returned to the Cat clan.
When Sasuke entered the Kitchen he was surprised to find Naru already there, making food. He was mostly surprised he hadn't realized she was there. He had smelt the food, but had thought it was his imagination. After the Massacre he'd often woken up to the smell of food or the sound of humming only to find his mind was simply playing tricks on him.
His mother wasn't cooking and humming as she used to, and his father wasn't hovering around, seemingly watching his mother work. Itachi wasn't waiting patiently for the food to be served.
Looking up from placing a plate of eggs, tomatoes, and sausage on the table, Naruto greeted him with a small smile.
"You didn't have much food in the house, so I had one of my cat summons make a store run," she said, placing a pitcher of orange juice down on the table.
"Thanks," Sasuke muttered.
The word was a little foreign to him. He hadn't said it often in the last few months. To be honest he was thankful, he wasn't sure what he would have eaten otherwise, seeing as he wasn't the best cook. It would probably take him a little while before he could make something without burning it a little. What little he did know came from watching and helping his mother in the Kitchen.
"You're welcome," Naru began, sitting down herself. "I made some Onigiri as well, for your lunch."
"So, where were you the last week?" he couldn't help but ask, his curiosity getting the best of him.
"Training. Hokage-sama has assigned me a new Sensei," she said, swallowing what now tasted bitter.
She still wasn't fond of having another sensei, not after Mikoto-sensei. She could move past it, but wouldn't called Anko sensei (She'd never called Tsunade-baachan sensei either). Anko would remain simply Anko, and the purple haired woman had seemed perfectly fine with that.
"Usually," she continued, "Chūnin's don't have sensei's, not like genin do, though commonly the teams do remain together in one form or another. In my case though, Anko is the only one who can help me learn about my snake contract properly."
Sasuke blinked at this, taken aback, and asked, "Snake contract?"
She blinked, before realizing she hadn't told him yet.
"Right, you don't know. While I was away I visited my clans homelands, Uzu no Kuni and Uzushiogakure. I found quite a bit, such as the clan summoning contract; The snakes. Anko is the only other one able to summon them in Konoha."
Sasuke was still a little confused. He'd heard of the snake summons, but from what he remembered it was signed by a missing-nin. A sannin at that. He only knew as much as he did on the subject from the Academy history lesson not long ago on the Three Sannin – no matter how brief it had been – and hearing about it from his father and Itachi talking about it in passing.
"I thought the snake contract was controlled by a Sannin?"
Naruto frowned, but stiffly nodded.
"Orochimaru, and he doesn't 'control' it, per say," she began. "The contract belonged to the Uzumaki clan, though few realized the clan had any summoning contracts at all. Uzumaki Mito, the Shodaime's wife, allowed Orochimaru to sign the contract; though, I'm sure if she knew how he's degraded the Snake clan's reputation she would not have. Anko is the only other person to have signed it."
Sasuke nodded, squishing any envy he might have down. It had always been known to him Naruto was powerful, a true prodigy – even if she didn't like the term – like Itachi. But a part of him couldn't help the tiny swells of jealousy at the power she possessed. He recognized, though, that she'd had to work for it.
The Villagers weren't the most fond of her, and didn't give handouts when in concern to her. Though she was a lot more tolerated now days, the majority still scorned her in one way or another.
Especially after the Massacre, it was ridiculous to him, but it seemed some still believed she'd been the cause of the Massacre. That she'd seduced Itachi into committing the act. It seemed they'd forgotten she was still just a nine, nearly ten, year old girl. No matter how mature or what rank she was.
Naruto smiled slightly as she realized what Sasuke was possibly thinking of – though she was no mind reader, so she couldn't be sure, she just knew how to read people well.
"After we finish breakfast we'll train until you have to get to the Academy," She said, causing Sasuke's eyes to widen before he nodded, a little of his excitement leaking out. Though he tried to hide it, and would have succeeded if she hadn't known him and the Uchiha in general so well.
It was nearly ten minutes later that saw the dishes washed, and Naruto and Sasuke outback training together.