Chapter 2 – Shimura Danzo
It was early the next morning, and the atmosphere felt disproportionately happy when contrasted with the black stone of the memorial. Kakashi stood there timing the magnitude of his lateness by the position of the sun, and occasionally glancing towards a name carved onto the surface of the cenotaph.
"Rin, exactly that amount of time has passed. He's back," he paused, and looked down at the wet grass below his feet. "It's starting, and I haven't even figured out what I'm supposed to do. I don't know if I'll be in the right place at the right time. I don't know if he'll think to listen, in the state he is. I don't know if he'll even think twice. But you don't need to worry, because I'll keep that promise."
He saw her smile in his mind.
When the former Sandaime Hokage heard a knock on his door, he opened it to see his student standing there, biting her lip in worry. She was no longer wearing her Hokage robes. They had been folded neatly into Sakura's pack.
"Ah, Tsunade. What brings you here so early? I thought you had a mission?" He stepped aside to let her into the place and closed the sliding door behind her. "Tea will be ready in a few minutes."
She settled down in one of the chairs by the breakfast table, looking out at the wide window that had its curtains spread open. Outside was a distant view of the back of the academy, where the children would play during their break and after classes. It was a typical house for an old man. But she didn't have time for small talk, she had an important issue to discuss. Her brow was furrowed when she turned back.
"I'm not here for tea. My mission starts in ten minutes."
"Oh?" He placed the walking stick he'd taken to using by the table, and sat down in a chair opposite to her.
"I'm here for advice."
He raised an eyebrow in surprise. Even though he'd been willing to offer her aid, she'd never once come to seek him out in the month that she'd been Hokage, instead stubbornly deciding to figure it all out by herself. "That certainly is strange. Where's the headstrong Tsunade who wanted to do everything on her own?"
"This is different," she told him, frowning, "I wouldn't risk Konoha for my pride, and you're the only one who can advise me on this."
"Alright then," he drummed his fingers on the table. "What would you like advice on?"
"Danzo." She spat the name out as if it was poisonous.
He frowned, "he's been giving you trouble?"
"Not exactly," Tsunade said in an irritated tone. "He's been doing nothing, actually. Your old teammates are easy enough to put up with, but I expected him to be more troublesome. But for some reason, he's barely spoken during all of our meetings, and I remember you complaining that he was pretty vocal. But now…" She muttered under her breath, "it was one of the conditions for them allowing me to go."
"What was?" Hiruzen didn't completely understand. Shimura Danzo was a little rough around the edges, but he had long been a trusted friend. He'd known the man since childhood, and though it wasn't exactly friendship that they had, they understood each other to a certain extent.
"He's going to take over while I'm away," she clarified. "That Homura was the one who suggested it, and it was so…sudden. I was certain that he was going to offer to assume the position himself; he was on the verge of saying it. But suddenly he proposed that Danzo take it. I couldn't say anything during the meeting, but I'm suspicious of him. You see, I've discovered certain…activities of his."
"Ah, Root," Hiruzen nodded. "I ordered it disbanded years ago, but I'm aware he still keeps it. It's difficult to persuade him otherwise, I've tried."
Tsunade turned to glance at him worriedly, "it's inhumane, what he's doing. But I'm fully aware that it's not easily reversible. I've been doing all I can to lower the recruitment."
She had. Only five days ago, a member of her trusted anbu guard had delivered information that Danzo was planning on approaching a young member of the Inuzuka clan whose inborn sense of smell rivaled that of his ninken companion. She'd ordered the little boy to be specially trained and admitted to an apprenticeship in order to spare him the fate of Danzo's rule. It was hard, keeping such a wide span over the village. To everyone in the tower – even to Shizune – she was as irresponsible as the Yondaime had once been, fooling around and skipping her paperwork. But this was a task she'd taken on with an iron hand, because she would not allow the lives of her shinobi to be made use of.
Her former sensei smiled in approval, "good. It's not easy to deal with something like that. He can be a handful sometimes, I'm aware."
There was silence between them, punctuated by the chirps of morning birds that came in through the open window. Minutes were passing quickly until the time she would have to meet with the Raikage.
"Should I go?" She finally burst out. "Is it really safe to leave Konoha in his hands for two weeks – or even a month, if things don't go well? I have a bad feeling about this, sensei. I will fulfill your request, but isn't there a less dangerous way to go about this?"
He gave her a warm smile. "Don't be so worried, Tsunade. Danzo is ultimately loyal to Konoha and he'll never do anything to damage it too much, I know him well. Besides, there are many capable shinobi here, and a former Hokage has more power than a temporary one. You can defeat him in battle if he ever goes so far, though I doubt he will."
She nodded, "I've told my personal anbu guard to take orders only from Shizune while I'm away, but they are only three people, and the rest will follow him…" She sighed. "Never mind. I'm being paranoid."
Hiruzen gave her an amused look. "That's a good quality in a Hokage. Now, shouldn't you be starting on your mission?"
Tsunade rubbed her chin in consideration. "Actually, I'll stay for tea; the next week will probably prove to be troublesome. Kakashi will be late anyway, and Sakura's long grown used to waiting for her mentors."
"Has she?" He chuckled. "That poor student of yours…"
Tea took up another half an hour. They talked about things like her sensei's idea of becoming a teacher at the academy, since he'd always loved children and had no idea how to go about a retired life any other way. She inputted her own laughs about Gai's latest attempted escape from the hospital, and how Shizune had dragged him back. Once or twice, Jiraiya's name came up. But they only talked about the positive things when it came to him. No matter how much of an honorable death he'd died, no sensei wanted to outlive their student.
By the time their cups were empty and she left, Konoha's morning had settled down and the bell of morning academy classes reached the small house. She saw Kakashi strolling down the streets of Konoha, orange book in one hand, and came to walk beside him. He gave her a small wave.
"So, I'm as late as the Copy-Nin," she remarked. "This is new."
"Maa, and I thought I'd left my student in good hands," Kakashi chuckled, putting the book back into his pocket. He saw the way her eyes averted from it, and knew that it wasn't because of its content.
"Hmm. Well, I wouldn't give her up for anything. Her birthday was last week. Do you know she can legally buy sake now?"
Kakashi didn't. He didn't think that was very good news for Konoha either.
They saw the gates of the village, and the small figure slumped with her back to it and her arms around her knees. The two guards Izumo and Kotetsu were watching her warily from inside their small cabin. She seemed to be quietly seething. That didn't look good.
"Kakashi." Tsunade's voice held a tinge of command, and he stopped. "Listen, there is someone who does not approve of this meeting, and this person has the influence to cause trouble. Be wary."
He nodded sharply. He was always wary. The stiffness in his shoulders had been ever present for the past month and he doubted it would ever go away.
Sakura looked furious when they arrived. She sat up, brushed off her red vest, and proceeded to glare at them. "Shishou! Kakashi-sensei! You're both over an hour late!"
"I was talking with Hiruzen-sensei about Jiraiya."
"I was visiting an old teammate of mine."
At that, she faltered. They felt slightly bad for guilt-tripping her, but it was comical how quickly she changed once she heard the names. Naruto was right; she could be a real sap sometimes.
"Um, ok," Sakura squeaked, clutching the strap of her travel bag. "That's … that's fine. I understand."
Kakashi smiled at her sudden hesitance, "well, I hope you're ready. Acting as a personal guard for the Hokage isn't the type of mission that a new jonin usually gets."
At that, she grinned, "well, I've been improving, Kakashi-sensei. Maybe I'll get the chance to show you soon. Let's go, then." She swung on the pack that contained Tsunade's and her things, and set out ahead of them, waving to the two chunin at the gates as she went.
"So that's all it takes?" One of them whistled. "A sob story, and she turns into a pushover?"
"The secret of Haruno Sakura, unveiled," the other commented. "Well, good luck with your meeting, Godaime-sama."
"Thanks," Tsunade mentally browsed through the records she'd memorized, and felt a tinge of satisfaction when she managed to recognize them. "Izumo. Kotetsu."
"Ino, Shikamaru, Yamato-senpai, we'll rest here," Naruto called behind him. Almost immediately, the three members of his team dropped to the ground. Yamato busied himself finding a clearing to sit in while the other two followed.
Ame was still a day's travel away. They'd left early that morning after Shikamaru and dragged Ino and her beauty sleep right out of bed, and had made three hours of travel. Around them was the lush Hi no Kuni forest, which had yet to transition into the swampland outside Amegakure. They were soon settled on a bank by the river they followed, digging into their packs for ration bars.
After she'd carefully eaten half a bar – complaining about calories the entire time – Ino leaned forward to look at Naruto with interest. "So? How'd it happen?"
Naruto peered back. "How'd what happen?" He asked with his mouth full of food.
She wrinkled her nose. "How'd you fail three missions? I mean, even you can't be that bad. Tsunade-sama went so easy on you. And Shikamaru here thinks you're actually pretty strong."
"He is," Shikamaru muttered under his breath.
Yamato looked on silently. The Nara boy had been eyeing their taichou through the entire trip, as if he'd already sensed that something was wrong. He was perceptive, it was true, but if he was as good as their Hokage had said, he would also pose problems.
Naruto scratched his head sheepishly, "um … it wasn't exactly my fault … it was kind of my teammates' faul-"
"So you're gonna blame everything on Forehead?" Ino rubbed her hands in glee. "This I'd like to hear!"
"No," he sighed, "Sakura-chan was just part of it. It was bad luck, really." He crossed his legs over the rough grass. "The first mission went pretty smoothly in the beginning. Some rogue-nin had stolen a small bejeweled statue belonging to the daimyo and we were supposed to get it back."
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow, "a typical A-rank. You couldn't find the statue?"
"No. We actually infiltrated the rogue-nin base and found the statue," he explained. "On the way back to Konoha, Sakura-chan and Sasuke got into an argument about something really silly. Really silly. And they get really serious about their arguments, you know."
Yamato nodded, knowing. A furious Haruno and a sadistic Uchiha made a formidable pair. They'd hold each other's backs expertly when it came to battle and they were good friends on a typical day, but sometimes …
"So Sakura-chan kind of … threw the statue at him. And he refused to catch it. So it broke. And the client refused to pay us," he finished.
For a moment, there was just stunned silence. Then Ino burst out into laughter, and even Shikamaru was trying not to snicker. Yamato leaned back against his log. He'd heard the story before.
She took a while to calm down, and wiped tears from her eyes, "that," she stated, "is hilarious. Forehead even gets mad at Sasuke-kun?"
"Yeah. But he actually gets mad more often." Sasuke's anger was a strange anger. He didn't have the type of red-in-the-face fury that Sakura and Naruto had, but he'd suddenly turn all sharp-worded and narrow-eyed and he became a pain to put up with. The sadism he'd inherited from Anko played its part as well.
They were a slightly dysfunctional team, now that he thought of it. Sai's persistent lack of a personality and his dependence on his books tinged everything with his very own personal touch of awkward. Sakura's split personality almost made up for Sai's lack of one, with the way she turned so quickly from kind to furious. Sasuke's utter stubbornness was infuriating, along with his meteor-sized ego. Naruto stubbornly refused to acknowledge his own faults.
But there was a reason they functioned so well together in battle. Sai studied whatever books he had for hours no matter how little they helped, all for the purpose of being a better friend to them. Sakura would tear their enemies apart barehanded before letting any of them die. Sasuke's stubbornness was ingrained in the loyalty he held towards them, and they couldn't accept one without the other. Naruto wouldn't give up Team Seven for all the powerful shinobi in the five countries.
"So?" Shikamaru added, "what about the second mission you failed? Did they get into another argument?"
"No, that was when Sasuke decided to test a certain ability of his Sharingan. While we were on our recon mission. It gave our location away and we had to run."
The black flames of Amaterasu had alerted everyone with a good scope to their position. Naruto was happy for him, he honestly was. And Sasuke had seemed so pleased with himself after finally figuring out how to use it. But maybe he could have waited until they were not on an A-ranked mission. Or in the middle of a forest. They'd run all the way back to Konoha with their tails between their legs and Tsunade had been furious.
At Naruto. Because he was the mission leader.
Yamato winced, "you really had a lot of bad luck, didn't you?"
"Maybe Godaime-sama should stop sending them on Retrieval and Recon missions," Shikamaru suggested. "She should give them a search-and-destroy mission, since open fighting seems to be one of the few things that Team Seven's actually good at."
"Oi! That was uncalled for!" Naruto protested. Team Seven functioned well all around … whenever Kakashi was with them. Somehow, their sensei lowered the collateral damage by leagues. One sorrowful look would make Sakura calm down, and he had a strange sort of understanding with Sasuke that few others could develop.
"-But this should go well," Shikamaru went on. "No Sasuke to annoy the hell out of us, and no Sakura to yell our ears off."
"And no Sai to check out …" Ino added dejectedly, crossing her arms.
"We don't want to know about that, Ino," her teammate said calmly. "We really don't."
Yamato gave them both amused looks, and then stood up. They were scheduled to be in Ame by the end of the day, and that was a good ten hours of low-speed travel. Seeing his nod, Naruto stood up as well. "Alright," he instructed. "Break's over. We'll go for another four hours before lunch."
Ino groaned about twigs in her hair and Shikamaru muttered about how troublesome it was, but they both stood up to heed their taicho's words.
They set off at a decent speed. It was risky to travel too fast on rogue-nin land, since they had to be prepared to stop and defend against attacks. Naruto took the back in their formation while Ino and Shikamaru went up front. After fifteen minutes, he noticed that Yamato, who was directly behind the other two, was slowing down, breaking formation slightly by indicating that he wanted to speak.
Naruto sped up slightly, settling on the same branch as the older man. They synchronized their speeds until they could talk. From far ahead, Shikamaru threw an interested glance over his shoulder but made no move to interrupt them.
"Yamato-senpai?" He asked.
"I wanted to ask you something," Yamato whispered. "It's about the mission, and Konan." His voice was low.
"What is it?" Naruto frowned.
"I'm confused, and it's suspicious. Has Tsunade-sama told you anything about why she's asked for this mission? And why you're here to lead it specifically?" The unanswered question rang clear: does this have to do with what happened last month?
Naruto nodded, "Tsunade baa-chan doesn't know what it is, but she has suspicions too. She just told me to be careful."
"Konan was an Akatsuki member, wasn't she?" Yamato asked. "What if she's drawing us in? According to your timings, the future seal-activator should have returned by now. That means there is another Obito in the present world."
The Obito that had returned would have no recollection of anything that had happened since he'd activated the seal, but that alone would make him formidable. He still had the power of the Jinchuuriki he'd captured, along with whoever had managed to survive within the Akatsuki.
But he wouldn't have Konan. Konan was loyal only to Nagato, and she wouldn't think twice to remain loyal to the side he'd chosen at the very end.
Naruto shook his head. "In my time, Konan nee-chan was probably killed by him. She stood against him just like Nagato did. She'd never join Obito."
"Then … why?"
"I don't know," he said with a hint of grimness. "But I won't let anything happen to my team, Yamato-senpai. If Obito arrives, Kurama and I will fight him off ourselves."
"Shishou," Sakura began sternly, "tell me the truth, are we stopping here just so you can buy sake now that no one knows who you are?" She crossed her arms over her chest.
After a morning of quiet but swift travel, they had arrived in the post town of Suikazura, slightly northeast of Hi no Kuni. It was an empty place, with only the occasional civilian milling about. But down the main street, there were cheery voices emanating from inside the shops and restaurants, speaking in dialects that seemed to be a mix of those from Hi and Kaminari.
In their lack of shinobi gear, the three of them blended easily into the background of the post town. Kakashi had grudgingly donned a blue scarf wrapped around the lower half of his face to hide his mask, and a strip of cloth to replace his hitai-ite over his eye. Although the owner of the yakitori place they were sitting in seem to consider him more than a little suspicious.
Tsunade waved a hand, "of course not. I've been here with Yugito before, their sake is like water, its not worth it. I'm just here because I'm hungry, and I can't survive on ration bars like you two. Back when I was a jonin we had actual rice crackers to take with us. There have been budget cuts since then."
The small place was nearly empty, except for a young couple sitting at a table a distance away, and the owner, who was standing behind the desk counting coins. It was doubtful that their food would arrive anytime soon, with the pace the servers were working at.
"More importantly," her tone lowered slightly. "I have to inform you about two things, Kakashi. And I'm quite sure you're already aware of the first."
He nodded, "someone is following us."
There was silence at the table, before Sakura burst out in harsh whisper. "What!? But … I didn't sense anyone!"
"Well, our tail hides his tracks well," Tsunade told her. "but Kakashi is a tracker-type and he can catch something even at this level."
She frowned, "but you're not a tracker-type at all, shishou!"
"I'm the Hokage," Tsunade waved a hand dismissively. Her eyes darkened when she turned back to the other jonin. "Have you managed to sense who this is?"
Kakashi shook his head. "He was keeping a considerable distance, it was all I could do to figure out that he was there. From that distance, he wouldn't be able to sense us at all. I suspect he's watching us either from the sky or from underground."
"Could it be a Hyuuga?" Sakura spoke up, shooting glanced outside the windows of the small yakitori place. "Shishou doesn't yet have the full support of their clan, does she?"
"She doesn't, but it's probably not," he replied. "Even the best Hyuuga can only see a certain distance with their Byakugan, and this person is tailing from much farther. Even Pakkun wouldn't be able to sniff his identify, although summoning him would alert our tracker that we know he's there."
"Will this person try to attack us?"
"Unlikely," Tsunade said. "If his tracking abilities are this high, then he's probably not much of a fighter. I suspect maybe a special jonin with a specialization in tracking, or an anbu operative. I wouldn't put it past my my council members to send someone to spy on me."
Kakashi nodded, "that sounds right. I'll continue to keep an eye on this person and alert you if he poses any danger." His eye narrowed, "what is the second thing you were going to tell me?"
Tsunade sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Konan wanted you on that mission that I sent Naruto on. I refused, but the decision has been plaguing me."
Sakura frowned, "the one from the leader of Ame? Why would Ame need Kakashi-sensei?"
Across from her, Kakashi raised an eyebrow. "Tsunade-sama, wouldn't something like that be more … important?"
"Yes, yes it would be," she said. "But Sakura is right, there's no reason to explain why she needs you. I didn't have anything to persuade the council with, and I'd already played my hand in getting Naruto his mission and getting myself permission to leave Konoha, even with such a small guard."
"I don't get it," Sakura looked from her sensei to her shishou. "What are you talking about, shishou? Why is sending Kakashi-sensei to Ame more important?"
The two of them gave her a considering look, but Tsunade finally looked to Kakashi to make the decision of whether she would be told. The first thought that sprung to Kakashi's mind was no. This was Naruto's decision, and only Naruto could make it.
At first, he'd been skeptical of why his student had wanted to keep things silent from his other teammates, but the understanding had quickly caught up with him. It wasn't because he didn't trust them, or that he thought they would alienate him if they discovered his power. No, Sakura would only be too fascinated by the seal, and Sasuke would be more interested by the Kyuubi's cooperation. It was because he had wanted to start over with them, to make them think he was just another person they could be themselves around.
After all, discovering that a friend had known her six years longer than she had known him … it would be a strange thought, and probably not a pleasant one. Kakashi remembered the sense of hesitation, of confusion, of constantly reminding himself that the yellow-haired, twelve-year-old boy Sandaime-sama had instructed him to teach was actually a sage-level shinobi. It was disorienting, and it had taken time before he'd been able to act naturally around someone who seemed to know him without ever interacting with him.
"It's classified, Sakura," he told her, smiling under his scarf. "It has something to do with Obito, and we can't reveal anything at this time." That would do it.
Immediately after hearing the name, her sob-story-senses kicked in and she gave him a mournful look. The image of her sensei maskless wasn't something that would ever leave her mind. "Oh. Ok. I won't ask, then." The curiosity burned, but she held it down. When the server arrived with her plate, she concentrated on eating it slowly, pretending that she wasn't listening.
Tsunade turned back to him as her own plate was laid down in front of her, "I just wanted you to keep that in mind, because I've instructed Yamato to contact me immediately if anything happens. You may have to leave on short notice."
Kakashi nodded, and then paused. "But what about you, Tsunade-sama? You've already said that this mission has its risks and it would be unwise to leave the Hokage without a guard." He shot a look towards Sakura, "and I'm aware that she is a capable medic and can act as support for the two of us if we are attacked, but the laws you put out will prevent her from fighting, even if I'm away."
Sakura coughed discreetly.
The Godaime shrugged, "bah, who needs a guard? I'm the Hokage, I am my guard." Then she burst into a grin, "and on the unlikely chance that I'll need any help, our student here can fight."
From behind the edge of the apartment compound, Shimura Danzo stood waiting. His walking stick was leaned against the building, and the late noon light highlighted its every crack.
He waited for the Uchiha prodigy, the one who had recently taken to proving himself as antisocial as possible. The boy had been invited to every national event where the upper clans had been present, in an effort to urge him out and hopefully steer him towards more political leanings. Danzo had supported this – after all, the boy was a budding influential figure in the village, with his history and his growing abilities. Completing S-ranks at the age of sixteen wasn't something to be taken lightly.
But lately the root operatives who had been assigned to keep an eye on him had been reporting strange things about his whereabouts. Uchiha Sasuke had been spending time in the shinobi research libraries, a place he'd never taken to visiting before. And a lifetime of learning to develop suspicion had allowed Danzo to guess exactly what he was searching for.
He couldn't be allowed to find it. More importantly, there was …
He slipped further behind the brick when Sasuke came into view, walking towards his apartment with a basket of tomatoes in one hand. The boy stopped before his door and took out a key, but before he could open it a large cawing sound tore through the air. He watched as Sasuke turned sharply with slightly narrowed eyes, before relaxing at the sight of a large black bird which came to land on his arm.
It opened one eye, revealing its red iris. Danzo frowned when he saw it, he had tried to investigate it further but it never responded to anyone else but its Uchiha owner.
For a while Sasuke glared at it while it bit at his fingers, but he eventually sighed and reached into the bottom of the basket, drawing out another, smaller plastic bag. He slipped it open and pulled out a slice of raw meat, holding it out and allowing the crow to eat it from his hands. The look in his eyes gradually grew softer as he watched it. After a little while, he maneuvered the basket onto his arm and opened the apartment door with his other hand, taking the bird inside with him.
Danzo slipped back behind the building and flickered away.
After stopping in Sugi no Sato, it took until late evening to arrive in the lands around Ame. The four of them held their soaking wet travel cloaks above their heads to shield them from the rain as the village's gates opened.
"This is terrible!" Ino complained, pulling the cloth tightly over her blond hair. "Were those textbooks serious when they said it never stops raining in this place?" Her cloak was doing absolutely nothing to prevent her from looking like a drowned rat. Nearby, Yamato sighed.
Naruto nodded cheerfully. "Yup! It's kind of cool when you think about it. I mean, where do the clouds get all their water from? There aren't any oceans nearby."
"I'm sure you can figure that out by yourself," she seethed. "We're in a damn marsh, idiot."
Shikamaru turned back to their taichou. "So, this is the first time this village has ever allowed foreign shinobi to enter, is it?"
"Yeah," Naruto told him, "ever since it became known as Amegakure. Before that only the civilians could get in, and only if they had a trade license." He glanced towards Yamato, who was clearly remembering worse days.
When the gates creaked open far enough for them to look through, they saw a group of Ame shinobi standing by the guardhouse inside, all wearing large hoods that kept the rain out of their eyes. At their head was a tall man with his Ame hitai-ite worn around his neck. He watched warily as they filtered through into the raining village.
Shikamaru went in first, with Ino beside him. "We're the shinobi team from Konoha, reporting for an aid mission that was ordered by your leader," he reported. "Do we get to come in?"
"We've been travelling for almost seven hours," Ino added. "So somewhere to sleep would be nice before we begin our mission."
The man nodded, "we've been instructed to receive you. There are rooms already prepared for you. Follow me, Konoha shinobi," he turned on his heel.
The four members of Team Naruto followed him carefully, ignoring the curious looks the rest of the guards were shooting them. Naruto frowned, and walked up until he was walking beside the man, "oji-san, where's Konan ... -san?"
The Ame shinobi gave him a searching look as they walked, "our Konan-sama cannot be expected to greet everyone who enters the village. She has other things to attend to. My comrades and I have only been instructed how on how you will be helping." He turned back to face them. "Those of you who can help in rebuilding will be given lead of some of our worker teams and blueprints of what needs to be built. The medic will be led to the hospital. You'll find that our iryounin-jutsu isn't as high-level as that of your own village, so the council has given you permission to propose any necessary changes. Now walk quickly. The rain is heavier in the night and you won't be of much use if you fall sick."
"That's all fine, but we need to speak with Konan-sama," Yamato added, joining them. "In her letter she … mentioned that she has something to tell us."
"Then she'll seek you out herself," the man replied stoically.
(For those of you who got the update yesterday and didn't see it up, sorry! I had to fix some minor things.)
So this chapter was originally a little bit longer, but I couldn't find a good place to end it so I cut it at this point.
Ok. So. Phew. It's been a while. Remember all those one-day updates? Yeah. Not happening anymore. I think I find the need to put more effort into studying than most people put into life.
Anyway, even without INK there to drag me in front of my laptop and instruct me to type (she's like my Inner Sakura) I'm still dedicated to writing. In fact, I didn't actually stop writing. I've been working on another Time Travel fic under my alternate pen name Riya3 (title: 'Kokuten'. Try it, maybe?), and I've been updating that quite loyally, actually. I've also been working on a parody called 'The Art of Shipping', in which I attempt to parody every Naruto ship in existence. Yes, really :P. I can do a lot of writing projects at once because I type at the speed in which most people talk. Sometimes at council meetings, I take minutes in full dialogue-form and not a single word goes untyped. I could probably be the receptionist of every CEO's dreams (-_-'').
And also, the last chapter didn't get a lot of feedback and I was wondering if I did something wrong. When a review count goes from twenty reviews in one day to twenty reviews in one month, a writer starts to wonder. My chapter-plan for Lightning Speed has twenty chapters so far, but there might be more or less depending on where I decide to cut chapters (you can never know until you actually write them). Plot-wise it's an epic, but chapter-wise, it will move very fast. I like fast pacing in these types of stories ^^