Disclaimer: The beautiful story of Naruto belongs to Kishimoto, as do all his characters. Naasica is the only character that belongs to me.
Warning: All warnings were addressed at the bottom of the first chapter.
"Some men just want to watch the world burn."
"Check," Grandmother said, smiling coyly. I huffed at her, my cheeks puffing out and turning red in embarrassment. Grandmother giggled, her long wrinkly fingers stretching out and patting my cheek affectionately.
I looked back down at the board, my bottom lip sticking out as I fumed in thoughtful silence. It was annoying that she had managed to corner me so easily. I had played chess frequently in my past life, and rarely lost. Shogi wasn't so different from chess - it was just another form of chess with slightly changed rules.
When an idea came to me, I moved my pieces accordingly.
Several minutes of silence passed by before I could triumphantly smirk. I moved my final piece into place and smirked at her. "Checkmate."
Grandmother gave a quiet gasp before she giggled again. "I see. Good job, Naa-chan."
. . .
"I'll have more free time now," Kushina said, sitting down next to me on the couch. We had just finished dinner and were now preparing to watch a movie together and eat desert. "I'll be able to help you with your training."
"Really?" I asked, glancing at her.
Kushina's eyes sparkled with excitement. "Aa!"
At her bright smile and warm eyes, I felt a pang in my chest and for an instant she wasn't Kushina. Grandmother…?
I blinked and the illusion was gone. I forced a smile on my face. "Please take care of me."
Kushina wrapped an arm around me and brought me closer to her. She kissed the top of my head. "Same to you, little sapling."
My hands curled into fists.
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
"Happy birthday," I said, smiling brightly. Kakashi glanced up at me and his eyes widened when I set a neatly wrapped box on his desk. He carefully took the box in his hands.
"Thanks," Kakashi said. With ease, he undid the bow and the wrapping. He opened the box and peered inside. "This is…"
Kakashi pulled out the tanto, his eyes wide. He held it in his hands, weighing and balancing it. "This is a high qualitytanto. This must have cost you a fortune…"
Didn't even put a dent into it, actually.
I shrugged, sitting down next to him. "You're my first friend, Kakashi-kun. I just wanted to get you something that could be of use to you."
Kakashi shifted in his seat, still staring at the tanto.
"I remember you said that Sakumo-san used a tanto, and I know how much you want to be like him," I said slyly.
Kakashi just shrugged, running a finger along the sharp edge. "... Thank you."
I smiled at him. "Mn."
"Class, it's time to begin."
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
I caught the fist in my right hand, gripping it tightly and allowing the momentum of her punch to continue forward. I twisted with the punch, allowing her to come closer to me and then I snapped out my left hand and nailed her square in the jaw. She rolled with the punch, and the force of the blow was enough that I had to release my hold on her fist.
Uchiha Aya fell back on the mat, landing on her back. She gave a cough as the air was knocked out of her lunges and she struggled to catch her breath. However, before she could get back up, I was on her in an instant. I sat on her, prepared to dig my elbow in her throat.
"Enough," Momo said sharply. "Winner is Senju Naasica."
I got off Aya and stood up. Remembering my manners, I held out my hand to her. She glared at my hand for a moment before she reluctantly took it. Morphing her expression back into cool indifference, she extended her index and middle finger and hooked it around my own.
"Thank you for the spar," we said together.
Momo gave us an approving look. "Good. In another month, I'll allow Ninjutsu and Genjutsu to be used in the spars, but so far you both are doing quite well with just Taijutsu. You all are, actually. Excellent work, ladies."
The girls exchanged excited glances, while I continued to look after Momo.
"There will be special kunoichi classes available for you to attend after school. If any of you are interested in signing up, please talk to me after class. Now let's go check on the boys, hmm?"
On Fridays the upperclassmen took part in a tournament style spar day. We fought with one another to receive class rankings, but the tournaments were gender specific. There was one other class of upper classmen that consisted of fifteen students and on Fridays the two classes would merge and split off, dependant on genders. For the moment, I held the highest ranking and I was dead-set on never letting it go. Aya, the Uchiha girl, was dead-set on taking that rank from me.
Humph. If I lost the title to some stuck-up, Madara would never let me live it down. I'd hate to think what kind of punishment he would concoct…
I shuddered, a trickle of fear curling inside my stomach.
We reached the end of the last match of the boys when we arrived. It was just in time to see Kakashi meticulously take down an older, unimportant boy. The girls squealed and cooed, while my eyes narrowed. Kakashi was panting heavily when the instructor called the match.
Momo beamed at all the students. "Now that that's done, my class, with me."
The group of girls broke apart, along with the guys. Kakashi came to my side and I pulled out a handerkeich, wordlessly handing it to him. He took it, and wiped the sweat off his brow, bunching it in his hands and not giving it back. I knew he would take it home, wash it, and return it to me tomorrow. Kakashi bumped his shoulder into mine, and I gave him a faintly amused look. His eyes danced with teasing mockery.
"Did you win?" Kakashi asked.
"Of course I did," I said. I could feel two eyes burning into the back of my head, and I deigned to look back at the Uchiha girl who was glowering at me with absolute loathing. A smile curled its way on my lips for a brief moment before I turned my back to her and ignored her. She was unimportant. She would die, anyway, so I had no reason to bother myself with her. So long as she continued to lose to me, she was insignificant.
Kakashi nodded at this, and we walked back to class together.
As we walked, though, Kakashi leaned a bit closer to me to whisper, "Are you sleeping okay?"
"Just stayed up a bit too late studying," I lied with ease.
Kakashi pulled back, looking mildly concerned, but didn't press for more.
Time passed on and soon enough, we were dismissed for the day. As per usual, Kakashi and I left together and went to our usual training grounds where Minato met us. Minato gave us a boyish smile.
"How was school?" Minato asked.
"Boring," we said in perfect synch. We glanced at each other, sharing looks of knowing amusement.
Kakashi shrugged. "I think I might just take the graduation test in the winter. I know enough to graduate - and afterwards, you'd become my full-time sensei, wouldn't you?"
Minato gave a slow nod. "That's true. Because you graduated without the rest of your classmates, you would be put into an individual squad, and I'm certain the Hokage would allow me to lead that squad. What about you, Naasica-hime?"
"I'll take the test and try my best," I said, then resisted the urge to yawn. Minato gave me a grin.
"I'm not surprised. I bet I could get you both under my team."
"That would be awesome!" I exclaimed, forcing a big smile on my face. Kakashi nodded his head in agreement.
Kakashi turned to Minato. "Sensei, what are we doing today?"
Minato gave a thoughtful hum. "In order to graduate, you need to have mastered transformation, clones, and substitution. You both have your transformation and clones down, but you could both use some work on the substitution. Today, let's work on that."
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
I looked up at Kushina, smiling warmly at her. "It's good to be back. Kakashi and I are going to take the exams in the winter - we're hoping to graduate."
Kushina blinked in surprise at that, but gave a nod. "Okay. I'll do what I can to support you! Although, I have to confess, you're graduating far earlier than what I had planned… Hmm. Tell you what, tonight, let's start fūinjutsu. When you graduate, I'll begin teaching you about your heritage, along with the accompanying moves."
"Why not?" Kushina asked, shrugging. "I can give you the run down tonight, pick up the supplies tomorrow and we can really get into it then. I've noticed how you really like to take notes, so why don't you grab a notebook and pen?"
Not needing any more prompting, I hurried away and grabbed the materials. When I returned, Kushina had sat down at the kitchen table, and motioned for me to sit across from her. I sat down and pulled the notebook out, preparing for notes. Kushina giggled at my actions, and leaned across the table.
"The Uzumaki Clan were renowned specialists in fūinjutsu; it's in our genes. My mother often described it as an innate understanding - and when we move to the hands-on material, you'll understand. There aren't many notes you can take, as it's mostly just instinct and common sense. I can tell you a few things, though, that I had to learn the hard way. One: the seal becomes unstable when you place an odd-numbered seal on top of an even numbered seal and vice-versa. Two: the bigger the seal, the more important the shape becomes. For smaller seals (fire-tags, storage scrolls), the shape and design of the seal doesn't influence the purpose very much. However, for larger seals (an example being summoning contracts), the shape of the seal and symmetry effects how effective the seal works."
"Why?" I asked.
Kushina considered the question. "... Because it's all about balance. For each seal, you need a perfect balance of everything. The perfect amount of ink. The perfect amount of chakra. The perfect amount of anchor. Everything has to balance each other out exactly. The more symmetric the seal, the better balanced. Using a more symmetric shape - such as a circle or square - creates a more stable balance. Sometimes, though, the seal will be too big or too complex to make such a shape and you have to improvise. I've made a convoluted summoning seal that had eight triangles sticking out of a circle, simply because I needed the room."
I frowned at that, recalling some of the seals I had seen before, while writing down what Kushina had said. "... Is there a way to compress the seal? Like make it smaller?"
Kushina gave me a cocky grin. "Well, yeah, but that's pretty advanced stuff. We'll get it later. Okay, lastly, number three: don't ever use your blood as ink."
I blinked. "What?"
"It ruins everything," Kushina said seriously. "Because blood is so unbalanced. Just, trust me on this. Don't ever try it unless it's an absolute emergency and you're trying to make an explosion. An uncontrolled, erratic, stupidly big explosion."
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
I laid in my bed, staring up at the ceiling. My body was tired, dead tired, from Madara's training routine. An occasional shudder wracked through me, but my mind was running a thousand miles per minute. I wasn't able to close my eyes, because whenever I did, I shuddered violently.
This was the third night consecutively I would be unable to catch even a hint of sleep.
I rubbed my eyes tiredly, turning restlessly over in my bed and staring out the window.
Don't close your eyes, an eerily familiar voice whispered to me. You can't trust them. You can't let your guard down.
I buried my head under the pillow.
You're just tired, I told myself. Sleep deprived.
Even if I told myself that, the fit of paranoia would not leave me.
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
The following morning, I stared at myself in the mirror. The dark bags under my eyes were stark against my fine, pale skin. My eyes trailed down to the drawer, before I opened it and pulled out various make-up that Kushina kept around. She didn't use them often, so she wouldn't notice if someone else used them.
With a practiced hand, I began to dab the make-up over the bags. Within minutes, the bags were virtually gone.
I stared at myself in the mirror, squinting at the reflection.
How much longer do I have to wear this mask?
I took a couple more moments to stare at my reflection - silently marveling at how well this cover-up had concealed the bags, far better than any other make-up in my past life. It seemed to be made of different materials, as well - perhaps the chakra that thrived in this world affected the basic minerals? Or maybe it was just a different process. I would imagine that kunoichi and shinobi had to be able to effectively disguise themselves without chakra, so the demand for well-working tools that required no chakra was probably high.
At least higher than my past life's world.
When I was done with my muses, I left the bathroom and headed out into the kitchen. Kushina had left earlier than I did, so I merely grabbed some rice balls and headed out the door.
At a lackadaisical pace, I traversed down the relatively empty street. It was still early in the morning, so very few people were out and about. I walked for a handful of minutes before Kakashi met up with me, walking beside me.
"Morning," I greeted.
Kakashi peered at me, then gave me something of a smile that still resembled a smirk through his mask. "You look better. Get lots of sleep?"
A chill ran down my spine and fit of anxiety slammed hard into me, leaving my hands clenching and relaxing as I fought not to show my emotions. "Almost too much, actually. Is it really that noticeable?"
Kakashi shoved his hands in his pockets, turning away from me and continuing the walk down to the academy. "Yeah. You look better."
You can't trust them, I heard the voice from last night whisper. They know you're lying. You're going to die again.
I forced my hands to relax as I caught up with him and bumped my shoulder with his. He glanced at me, his eyes gleaming with bemusement. "What? Did I not look good before?"
He abruptly looked away from me, sticking his nose up in the air. "No. You looked like a walking corpse."
"Ouch," I whined, feigning hurt. As we continued to walk down the street, my anxiety slowly died away.
But I couldn't shake that paranoid feeling.
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
My days and nights started to blur together. I seemed to be moving through them in an almost absent-minded way. Out of habit, I continued to smile and giggle. I teased, played and trained throughout the day, and at night, I laid in my bed… just waiting for the next session.
If my behavior was strange, no one noticed. I continued wearing the cover-up, and no one doubted my sleeping habits again. If anything, they thought I was improving - that I was… happier.
At least all... but one.
I stumbled to a stop in my running, my barefeet digging into the cold ground. Panting heavily, I turned my head in the direction of Madara's voice.
"How much sleep have you been getting?"
Caught off guard by his question, I could only stare blankly at him in response for several seconds. When my brain finally caught up to what he was asking, I mumbled out an answer. He approached me slowly, and I could see his eyes narrow at my response.
"Liar," Madara accused. "You can barely stand and the bags under your eyes convey many nights without any sleep."
I froze. Was it really that obvious? Kakashi and Kushina stopped pestering me about my sleep, and Minato seemed more relaxed. If they hadn't noticed it - how had Madara? Why did Madara see through me, when those that called me their friend, did not?
"You cannot hide anything from me," Madara whispered, standing directly in front of me. He reached out a pale hand and cupped my cheek, examining me with narrowed eyes. "While your skin can lie, your eyes cannot. Answer my question, Naasica. How many nights have you gone without sleep?"
"Several," I finally admitted.
"Why?" Madara demanded. "Sleep is essential. You are only hurting yourself and our plans by doing this."
"I can't sleep," I bit out. "That room - that place - it's suffocating."
It was true. How many nights now had I just laid in my bed, staring up at the ceiling; unable to close my eyes for fear of my mask being broken? I was supposed to be a child - a happy, sweet, shy girl who anyone could trust and turn to. I worked hard for my mask, and at night I heard whispers telling me that if I let my guard down for an instant, I would be found out. Sleeping was the ultimate form of relaxing my guard.
I was in enemy territory there. I could not sleep like that.
Madara seemed to be glaring at me. "You idiot. By feeding your delusions, your paranoia has only grown. You will not attend these training sessions until you are caught up."
"No, please," I blurted out, fear taking my heart. The very thought of not being able to stay here, of having to wear that mask all the time was too much. I didn't want to leave this place, truth be told. I wanted to remain here, in this odd hell hole, for as long as I could. I wanted to be in his presence, because somehow I felt stronger, more sure of myself by doing so. I wanted to stay in this darkness, hidden from the world.
This dark place was my heaven in this hell.
"Please," I whispered, shrinking under his sharp look. I squirmed, uncertain of how to convey how desperately I needed him to let me stay. How dearly I wanted him to say it was okay to continue on like I had been.
His hand fell away from me, and a calculating look came into his eyes. Then, as if realizing something, it was gone and replaced with a more thoughtful expression. "... You like it here."
I nodded my head, a sudden anxiousness gripping my heart and causing me to tense.
"... Your clones are very good," Madara suddenly said.
I looked up at him with wide eyes, teetering subtly.
"... When you are about to go to bed, you will make a clone and you will come here. We will train - but we will shorten our training time significantly… and then you will sleep here for the rest of the night. If you do not sleep, I will knock you out. We will do this until you are caught up and capable of sleeping in your own bed again," Madara said.
I froze, my breath caught. Then all at once, I sagged, a rush of relief pressing hard on me. I was shaking with relief and my eyes started to sting for some odd reason. Madara snorted at me and turned away. "... We are done with this lesson for tonight. Come here, Naasica. Sleep."
"Y-Yes, Madara-sama," I whispered, my voice watery.
It was the first night of peaceful sleep I had gotten in a long, long time.
Another update down~ Tomorrow shall be either Sasori or DB.
Just finished this one this morning, so beta hasn't had time to get to it.
Answer: Neko from K.
Question: If you could have any 3 characters from any piece of fiction be your slave (and happily be your slave, regardless of OoC-ness) for all eternity... who would they be?
More updates to come in celebration of not being a HS student anymore! Ahahaha~ Freeeeedommm~
Reviews are love!