Disclaimer: Miwa-chan is the only one that is mine.

Warning: Violence. Language. Manipulation.

Beta: Searching. For. Enadi


We traveled slowly, staying in each town for a few days at a time. Naruto had progressed to learning the second stage of the Rasengan, and as for me…

When Naruto found out I was using shadowclones to train and after explaining why, he had literally yipped with glee (as he now had a way to significantly help his training) and said that the two of us finally had a 'twin move'.

Oh come on, we've seen them in movies all the time. Twins always have some super awesome move that only the two of them can do. We have Mass Shadowclones! It's so awesome, Imouto!

I was a little amused and pleased at his reaction, and I had a feeling that Jiraiya was as well. I had dispatched a fair majority of my shadowclones to Konoha and Jiraiya warned me that as we traveled further away from the village, the less clones I would be allowed to use and send. There was a limit to how much information one should absorb in the course of a day.

Even with that limit, and how quickly I was progressing, I was still a little reluctant to learn more. It was just difficult and even with medication and Kurama's chakra, the headaches were just flat-out annoying. But I persevered, if only because I had no reason not to.

We traveled at a slow pace, stopping from town to town and staying for a few days at a time. It was a while before we finally reached the same town Tsunade was in (not that Jiraiya or Naruto knew it yet). Jiraiya left the two of us at the edge of town, intent on securing our rooms for the night before he came back and we all went out to eat.

Naruto and I sat back to back on a small grassy hill, overlooking the village. I leaned against him and he leaned against me. The sun was bright and warm above us, and I felt completely content in our place.

"So how do you think everyone is back at Konoha?" Naruto asked, his voice a little groggy. Perhaps he had fallen asleep in the late afternoon sun…?

"Dunno. We left while Konoha was still pretty… messed up. Perhaps we could send a letter to Sasukenii-chan and ask him what's up?"

"Mm! Maybe not just him though… what about everyone?"

"I don't really know everyone as well as you do… how about we split up writing the letters? I'll write to… Sakura-chan, Ino-chan, Sasukenii-chan and… Chōji…?"

"Okay! Then I'll write to, uh… Shikamaru, Kiba… Hinata-chan! Oh and, um… uh…"

"Shino."

"Yeah, him! Oh, oh… what if we write to Bushybrows, too?"

"I guess I could write to Tenten… oh, but if I'm writing to her, then I want to write to Temari-senpai."

"Hmm… then I'll write a letter to Neji, too. And we can both write a letter to Gaara!"

"Sounds like a plan."


(´・ω・`)


"Alright, brats, let's grab something to eat before we head back to the inn," Jiraiya said, walking ahead of us. The sky had already turned into a darkened blue and the streets were clearing out. My body still felt lax from the brief doze with Naruto outside the village in the sun.

Jiraiya stopped before a bar, about to head in when Naruto stopped him.

"What!? You can't make us eat in there! It's a bar. We're still kids!"

Jiraiya snorted. "Just don't order any alcohol and you'll be fine."

"I don't think they'll give us any even if we did," I muttered.

"Oh they will. You are a shinobi; that legally makes you an adult in the Elemental Nations, but it's frowned upon," Jiraiya said dismissively.

"… That's a little sad," I said, moving to follow Jiraiya into the bar. Naruto gave a sort of strangled cry of indignation that I—as his little (baby) sister—was going into a bar for dinner, before following behind us.

I bumped into Jiraiya's back, my hands flying up to my nose to rub it sorely. Our godfather had stopped dead center, before he let out a booming laugh. "Well, well! If it isn't Tsunade-hime!"


(´・ω・`)


I felt squashed between Jiraiya and Naruto. The waiter had already taken our orders and we waited patiently for them. Naruto had already finished his drink and was effectively stealing mine—not that I could really complain as I would have done the same.

"So… the old man is dead," Tsunade echoed, her eyes trailing downcast. Her lips twitched into a sort of bittersweet smile before she scoffed, "Serves the old fool right…"

I felt a rush of anger towards her, and beside me I could feel Naruto stiffen. My eyes snapped towards her and on pure reflex alone, I snarled, "You hold no right to say that."

Tsunade's eyes narrowed as she looked at me and I scowled back defiantly at her.

"I hold 'no right'? Do you even know who I am?" Tsunade demanded.

"A coward," I said coldly.

That Man…

They both…

They both run away from ghosts.

They both hide away from their past, selfish little bastards. They hide away from their past and don't care for an instant about the others. About how their actions are affecting the others. If Tsunade had been in the village, that day, everything would have been so much more different.

But she wasn't there.

She was hiding away from her issues.

And yet…

And yet…

She dared to scoff at Grandfather's sacrifice when she hadn't sacrificed a thing.

Coward.

I hated cowards.

Tsunade's eyes flashed dangerously and she lurched up from her spot at the table, looming over me. "Look here, you little brat—"

"Or what?" I retorted, unable to restrain any ounce of fury from my voice. "You're just a coward who hides away from hi—your past, regardless of how it would affect others. Consequences be damned so long as you feel better. Well I have two words for you: Fuck. You."

I stood up from the table, ignoring the surprised look from Naruto and the unreadable one from Jiraiya. I shot Tsunade another venomous look before I flickered out of the bar.

Once I was out of the bar, I flexed my hands into fists.

Why was I so angry…?

I gave a short sigh through my nose, still feeling a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt my stomach churning and the sudden urge to just hit something rose upon me.

Why was I so angry?!

Do you expect an answer?

I paused, caught off guard that Kurama actually bothered to reply to my rhetorical thoughts.

… You're so bitter about that man that you're allowing your judgment to cloud. I suppose, it was bound to happen. Especially considering that you drew upon my chakra recently…

What do you mean by that?

I already told you before; my chakra—demonic chakra, nature chakra, raw chakra—latches onto the strongest emotion a human feels while it's in use. This is why it is always cautioned for one to have a clear head when pursuing the path of a Sage, or the path of a jinchūriki. Last time you drew upon my chakra, bitter feelings engulfed you… coupled with the strong indention my chakra leaves… It left for a more lasting impression.

A more… A more lasting impression?

Correct. Curious, isn't it? The raw emotions you feel towards your former sensei will forever be imprinted upon you. Whenever something or in this case, someone, reminds you of him, those feelings resurface.

… Will I… get over it?

Not until you come to terms with your emotions; with him.

I snorted. Whatever. I'm going to go cool off…

Try not to completely destroy the eco-system when you throw your little temper tantrum. I'd rather not have to listen through a stupid lecture on your actions.

Whatever.


(´・ω・`)


Cooling off, for me, was much different from cooling off for Naruto. For Naruto, it meant working his body till he reached a state of exhaustion where he just couldn't bother with anything anymore. Habit dictated that I worked my mind to such a numb state I didn't care anymore. What better way to do this than fūinjutsu?

So I ended up heading back to our hotel and ordering room service—paying for it with my own money as well, because I felt a bit guilty about ordering food back at the bar and not even bothering to eat it—and studied.

It was rather late when the two of them returned. The door opened and I looked up from the floor, papers laid askew with a mass of scribbles (my annotations) written across them. Naruto saw me and a look of relief washed over his face.

"There you are! We were looking all over for you," Naruto said, sighing as he hurried over to me.

I blinked in surprise at that. "… Where else would I be, but here?"

"With us," Jiraiya said, an irritated tone in his voice, "where you were supposed to be."

I felt a little guilty, but only shrugged in response. "If I stayed, things wouldn't have stayed civil."

"They didn't stay civil long after you left anyway," Jiraiya snorted.

I turned towards Naruto who scowled in response. "Yeah, well, she was a bitch."

Jiraiya gave a tired sigh. "She will also be our next Hokage."

Naruto snorted, not even bothering to hide his disdain on that comment.

"… I'm heading back out. I'll be back in a few hours. Make sure the both of you stay here. I don't want to have to waste my time looking for you," Jiraiya said, his tone breaking no argument.

"Whatever," Naruto muttered, giving a sigh. Jiraiya rolled his eyes, but didn't respond; instead he headed back out. Naruto stuck his tongue out at the shut door before he rolled onto the floor. He eyed the mess of papers, tilting his head curiously. "… So do we wanna do the letters now, or in the morning?"

I smiled faintly. "Let's do them now before I go completely brain-dead. I'll send out my clones in the morning, but it'll take some time to get them there with the letters…"

"No worry," Naruto dismissed, waving his hand.

"I have extra paper in my bag, front pocket, and I have an extra ink set in the back pocket."

Naruto nodded his head, moving to grab the items. While he did that, I went about putting away the scrolls and organizing my papers. When I finally cleared enough room for us, Naruto had found the necessary items and laid them out in between us.

Before either of us could make a move, there was a quiet knock at the door.

"Yeesh, who could it be at this time…?" Naruto muttered. "It's open!"

The door opened and Shizune stepped in, her brow creased with worry. "I know it's late, and I'm sorry, but I must talk to you."

Naruto gave her a halfhearted glare and I itched to flicker out of the room. I had an annoying feeling at where this was going.

"… Look, whatever it is, it'll have to be quick. I want to get a good night's rest because I gotta start training first thing in the morning," Naruto said.

"That's just it," Shizune said quickly, stepping into the room and shutting the door. "I—I'm sorry, really, I am. But before you get into this, there is something you must know about that necklace, and, about Tsunade-sama."

I stood up, my posture stiff. "Do I need to be here for this? I didn't make any bet—"

"Please!" Shizune said quickly, her eyes wide and pleading as they turned towards mine. I flinched at that look, at that—Didn't I used to look like that when I wanted to train with him?—stupid look. Shizune wasn't here for herself, or for really Naruto. She was here for Tsunade. Because she cared for Tsunade and wanted what was best for her, and she knew how Tsunade really felt… how Tsunade would feel if Naruto won that bet.

At least, she thought she did.

My jaw clenched and I could taste copper as I bit down hard on my tongue.

"We don't care about that crazy old hag," Naruto snapped.

"Don't say that! She's not the type of person you think she is," Shizune snapped right back, her temper flaring.

"So she's not a selfish coward who runs away from her past even if it means hurting others?" I said icily, a rising sort of cold fury taking over me.

"What right do you—Y-Y-You don't know anything about her!"

"I know about her past," I sniped. "I know about her phobia. I know enough."

Shizune flushed, clenching her hands into fists. She closed her eyes and I could practically see her counting to ten. She released a slow breath. When she opened her eyes, she held an almost defeated look in her eyes. "Please forgive me. I didn't mean to shout."

"Tsunade-sama… she wasn't always like that," Shizune said, unable to hide a mild sort of frustration and disdain at that one word. "She used to be so kind… dedicated to the village, but she's changed."

I'm not going to be able to get out of this, am I? I asked rhetorically.

Kurama gave a quiet snort and I gave a sigh through my nose. Knowing this would take a while, I moved towards the window. I opened it up, and swung my legs outside. I leaned against the side of the window, with my back towards Shizune.

The cool night air was refreshing from the suddenly stuffy room. I gripped the bottom of the window, my nails digging into the wood and leaving marks. I didn't move anymore, though.

Somehow my anger was more bearable when I didn't have to see her—see those eyes, like a mirror

"She's never been the same, since that day. The day… she lost all she had," Shizune said, her voice holding an edge to it. "Dreams, hopes, everything. She had nothing left after that, except for the necklace and all of its memories. Please understand, that necklace is more precious than life for her. It's not simply a piece of jewelry to be gambled away on a silly bet."

"Look, a bet's a bet, and anyway it was her idea," Naruto said reasonably.

"You'll be sorry, if you think it's something to wear like it's a trophy! This is not just any necklace. It won't accept anyone else wearing it. Only on Tsunade-sama does it stay safe; when anyone else puts it on, they die."

I bit back a snort.

"It… It all began with Naowaki…"

I closed my eyes, not wanting to listen to this tale.

I didn't want to hear about how Tsunade loved her younger brother. How it was his dream to be the Hokage and how he was such a bright and wonderful boy. I didn't want to hear about how the day she gave him that necklace, he was sent to the battlefield and blown away. I didn't want to hear about how when she finally came to terms with his death, she met her lover, Dan. I didn't want to hear about when she finally gave him the necklace, he died in her arms, covered in blood and thus rendering her so traumatized at the sight of blood she becomes immobilized. I didn't want to hear about any of it.

My nails dug into the window once again.

When Shizune finished her tale, I finally deigned to open my eyes.

"… Is that all?" I said softly.

"Please… you have to understand…"

"She's bitter. She's a coward. She's selfish. Yet she dares… she dares insult our Grandfather, his sacrifice…? She hasn't earned my sympathy; she doesn't deserve it," I spat, finally hopping out the window and into the nearly empty street below.

Aren't you a little bratty today?

I swallowed down the growing bile in my throat. I'm just… I'm just so angry.

Kurama gave an amused purr. Oh, yes, I know. I can feel it clearly. It's wonderful.

I stopped, closing my eyes and shaking my head.

You're… you're sick, you know that?

And you idolize me anyway, so what does that make you?

An idiot.


(´・ω・`)


I returned very shortly to our room to find Naruto there and waiting for me. We finished our letters and we went to bed. He was already gone and off to train when I bothered to wake up.

Our days shifted into a sort of routine. Naruto would train constantly on the Rasengan and I would work my ass off in fūinjutsu. Whenever I caught the sight or scent of Shizune or Tsunade, I made sure to hightail it the hell out of there. I didn't want to deal with them for the moment.

I wasn't… I wasn't sure what I was going to do about the whole Orochimaru v Tsunade v Jiraiya thing… Theoretically I could play sick and just ignore it, but this nagging feeling…

I was… I… I knew I was associating, on some level, Tsunade to That Man. I knew it was unfair of me (or was it?) and completely irrational, but it was hard not to. The similarities, the fundamentals of the reason I was growing to detest That Man were there.

But with it… with it came the most… the most strange feeling.

I knew… I knew Tsunade was going to be in danger, with Orochimaru and Kabuto.

Whenever… Whenever I thought of that—of that one scene—this feeling rose up in me, so fierce and strong and unsettling because I didn't like what it would mean. Didn't like what it meant.

So I ignored it. And to do that, I avoided Tsunade like the plague and threw myself into my studies.

Days passed by until… until it was that day.


(´・ω・`)


I knew it was that day the moment I woke up.

The sun hadn't risen and I laid in bed for a long while, my heart hammering and my stomach churning.

It was that feeling, again. Whenever I saw… whenever I thought…

I was associating Tsunade with That Man.

Because of that association I was… resenting her.

But the funny thing… the funny thing about hating someone. About seriously hating someone… you have to—you have to—you have to feel—first—you have to feel—

I swallowed and finally pushed myself out of bed.

I had—I had—I had to—I had to

Before I knew it, I was dressed and out the window.


(´・ω・`)


She wasn't hard to find. I knew her scent well enough and she wasn't exactly trying to hide from me, either. I landed a little ways behind her, my chakra concealed as taught to do. I made sure to keep my scent downwind and I hid away from their sight for the moment.

I watched as she engaged Kabuto and momentarily disengaged him. I then watched as he rushed towards her, grinning maniacally. "So you fear the sight of blood, do you? Let's put it to the test!"

She was frozen the moment Kabuto sliced his kunai across his palm. Her eyes widened and her body trembled and—

I flew out of my hiding spot, catching everyone by surprise before landing a solid punch across Kabuto. He was sent flying. I whirled towards Tsunade, ripping off my cloak and I placed it over her eyes.

"Don't look," I said softly, pushing her down to the ground as gently as I could. Her body shook and trembled but she sat down. I moved her hands to cover the vest and cover her eyes. "Don't look. Please, don't look."

The horrible, horrible thing about hating someone—about truly hating someone was… you had to love them first.

I did. I so, so did.

And I associated her with him and I loved him and hated him, so I loved her and hated her and the very thought that she—he—was hurt and scared and alone made my chest ache in the worse possible way and sent up this sort of fierce protectiveness.

"Don't look," I repeated, my hands rising up to the ram sign. I formed a single shadowclone who sat beside Tsunade, wrapping its arms around her.

The very thought—the very idea of him—of him ever being—

I hated him, though. But no one—no one else could hurt him, because—because…

He was still family.

I lost Grandfather. I lost my first family member and I just couldn't… wouldn't lose another one.

I stood, very pointedly, and defensively between Tsunade and Kabuto.

"I won't," I said, my voice holding an edge to it, "ever allow you to lay a finger on her."

Kabuto sneered. "And who might you be…?"

"Uzumaki Miwako, jinchūriki of Konoha," I said, rather blatantly. "Do you honestly think you can handle me?"

It was a bluff. I couldn't go four-tails yet, which was the least amount of tails required to hold off Orochimaru and handle Kabuto. But they didn't know that.

"How… interesting," Orochimaru chuckled. "Most jinchūriki I've met don't care to advertise their… status."

"You obviously haven't met Killer Bee, or Yagura," I replied.

"… Why are you here?"

Tsunade's soft voice, brought my attention to her.

She had lowered the cloth enough to peek over at me, her stance and eyes surprisingly vulnerable.

I stared at her eyes, my heart aching. I swallowed roughly, before turning away and making sure she couldn't see my pained expression. "Y-Y… I… I may not… I may not have really… I may not care about you… so much… but… but you are still a precious person to Grandfather. You are still a precious person, Tsunade-sama. And I… And you… you are still a Konoha kunoichi, and you are still Jiraiya-sensei's dear friend, and… and I… I will do everything in my power to make sure of your safety, Tsunade-sama."

"You idiot," She hissed. "You're too low-level, this guy…"

"It's my brother's dream to become the Hokage," I said, my hands clenching into fists. "I don't… I don't like Konoha, per say, but I love my brother more than anything. I want… I want to become the one to support him, to be the one who'll always have his back. That's the kind of person I want to be. And I can't… I can't be that person if I just… if I just allow a precious person to die or be hurt. No matter what. I will protect you."

I will protect him. No matter what.

Even if he doesn't like me… even if he doesn't really care… even if I can't forgive him… He will always be the first person I made a bond with. He will always be family.

Even if I hate him.

You have to love someone first before you hate them. And even when you hate them, you'll still love them…

I shifted my stance, not bothering to see Tsunade's reaction.

It didn't matter. I made up my mind.

I would protect her, or die trying.


I have wonderful new fanart - big thanks to Miyuusen and FearaNightmare. The links should be on profile or you can check out my (charredblossom16) dA favorites gallery.

Answer: Electric Angel from Vocaloid.

Question: What is the one memory you can't forget? A happy / good memory.

Reviews are love!

Preview:

"It's imperative that new Chūnin are made, as we had lost so much during the invasion, so they won't put it off any longer than necessary."