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 second chapter.
"Some men just want to watch the world burn."
"What happened to Batman?" Tsunade asked. She squatted down in front of me, her warm brown eyes colored with concern.
I just shook my head, looking mournfully down at my bat. He was ripped open, stuffing coming out and his left eye was missing. Tsunade made a tsking sound as she gently lifted the creature from my hands. "Don't worry, little sapling, I'll have him fixed up in no time. One of the perks about being a medic is being an awfully good sewer."
I smiled shyly at her. Then, hesitantly, I reached forward and kissed her cheek. "I love you, Nee-chan."
Tsunade's eyes widened, and she blushed. She smiled back at me, and then kissed the top of my head. "I love you, too, Imouto."
. . .
After school, I told Kakashi I had to head home early for some private training with Kushina. So Kakashi and I told each other we would see each other tomorrow, and we went our separate ways. Kushina would be out on a week-long mission starting tomorrow, so she wanted to teach more about fūinjutsu and give me some practice materials before she left.
Hopping across the rooftops, when I neared home, I was stopped by an ANBU kunoichi.
She appeared in front of me, kneeling down. Her voice came out distorted through her mask and she spoke in a monotone voice. "Danzō-sama requests your audience tomorrow night."
My eyes narrowed minutely. Before I could give her a response, she vanished.
"Madara will want to hear about this," I thought, feeling a chill settle in the pit of my stomach.
It had been a little over a month since I had started sleeping there. Kushina never noticed my absence, for which I was thankful for. I was also starting to feel better - stronger. It was a good thing Madara had caught me before the sleep deprivation left more permanent marks on my psyche. I was lucky that the damage was repairable, and even more so that Madara did not seem overly bothered by my foolish mistake. It was already rather shameful that I had been so poor of mind, I actually believed what I was doing was okay.
Kakashi and I had continued our training under Minato without any hindrance under that month. We both felt ready for the academy exam, as did Minato and Kushina.
I lingered a moment or two longer than necessary on the rooftop, uncertain of where this new development would take me.
I knew that the Hokage had been putting together a training regime for me to develop my Wood-Style. I figured he would not offer the regime for me until after I had graduated, but perhaps he had simply entrusted such to Danzō? In this time period, Sarutobi trusted Danzō.
The thought of Danzō supervising my training was a... discomforting one. He was a paranoid, power-hungry man. If I trained for a long period of time under him... he would undoubtedly know something was off about me. My cover would be in danger.
Besides, I didn't need training in the Wood-Style. Madara would teach me everything I needed to know, and then some.
So, I ignored the unsettled feeling I had in my gut, and I continued my journey to home.
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
"I see," was all Madara said when I informed him of the development.
I was done training with him that night, and I was dressed out in my pajamas. A blanket was wrapped around the both of us, as the cave had gotten chillier seeing how winter approached. I was curled up at his side, my knees pulled up to me so my chin rested on top of them.
"What would you like me to do, Madara-sama?"
Madara did not look me, but rather, his eyes remained locked on the orange-leafed tree that wrapped around his throne. "Danzō is an issue that will be resolved at a later date. We cannot interfere with him too much, as you are not strong enough - politically nor physically - to dance with him. It would be best to limit your contact with him as much as possible. With that in mind, it would appear strange if you did not accept his invitation."
"I believe he will want to train me."
At that, Madara's eyes narrowed a fraction. "Most likely. You will need to decline his offer."
"Very well," I said.
"Be polite about it, though, but be firm," Madara went on. "It would be best not to make enemies of him, but I do not want you near him any more than necessary. Before you leave tomorrow morning, take a portion of Zetsu with you. It's time I added my own supervision to him."
That's right, I thought, Zetsu's spore abilities allow Madara to track whomsoever they are attached to, as well as record whatever they 'see'. Although, I am uncertain to how that ability will work while they are still in their spore form. No matter...
"Yes, Madara-sama," I said.
"Kushina will be gone tomorrow for a week, yes?"
"Then you may stay here for the week if you choose," Madara responded. "We need to make sure you catch up on your lost sleep. When is the graduation exam?"
"Within the month, Madara-sama."
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
"You know you can always talk to Minato if you need anything," Kushina said, bending down and kissing my cheek. "It's just a week. I'll be back before you know it, dattebane!"
I kissed her cheek in return, smiling. "I'll be okay, Nee-chan. Do you have everything?"
Kushina straightened up, strands of her fiery hair coming loose from her ponytail. She gave me a grin, her eyes sparkling. With one hand, she patted a singular scroll strapped to her waist. "Don't be silly, of course I have everything. Now you be good while I'm gone."
"I know," Kushina replied, turning and opening the front door. "Oh! Good morning, Kakashi-kun."
I blinked in surprise, hurrying over to Kushina's side and peering from behind her to find Kakashi at our front door. His hands were shoved in his pocket and he looked up at Kushina.
"Good morning, Kushina-san. Are you going on a mission?"
Kushina nodded her head. "Mn. I'm leaving now, actually. Take care of my Naa-chan, okay?"
"Okay," Kakashi agreed, causing Kushina to beam and give me a wink before she left. I raised an incredulous eyebrow at Kakashi.
"Is something wrong?" I asked.
"No. I was just wondering if you wanted to skip school today."
Both of my eyebrows shot up as I stared at Kakashi in surprise. I had never expected such behavior from Kakashi. The boy was so anal about the rules and punctuality (perhaps not as much so as he would be) that thinking he would do something as petulant as skipping school was... impossible. At least, that's what I had perceived, but clearly...
"What brought this on?"
Kakashi shrugged. "They aren't going to teach us anything new. I'd rather spend my time more productively. You aren't discounted for absent days, so long as you pass the exam and we're both ready to pass."
Ah. That makes sense... There's nothing that Kakashi hates more than wasting time. If he perceives the academy to be a waste of his time, he won't think twice about the rules in regards to it.
Smiling, I said, "Alright. Let me grab my lunch - "
"Save it," Kakashi dismissed. "You can have it for dinner tonight. I'll buy lunch for us."
"Okay," I agreed readily. While Kushina had made all my meals for the week, I'm certain the extra meal wouldn't hurt. Quickly, I grabbed my sandals - and my backpack - and slipped them on, before shutting the front door behind me, keeping it unlocked. What good was a locked door in a shinobi village? Besides, I still had plenty of Zetsu spores lying around to inform me if anyone unsavory entered the place. "What do you want to train in today?"
Kakashi turned away from me, walking down the steps, choosing not to respond for a couple moments. With ease, I caught up to him and started to walk by his side. "Tou-san's returning home tomorrow, and he promised to train me in the tanto, so no weapon training today. We've got the basic three down (Clones, Transformation, and Substitution) and we know how to tree-walk. I was thinking we could either begin working with elemental ninjutsu or water-walking."
"I actually already know how to water-walk," I confessed, "although I haven't been able to properly spar while water-walking."
Kakashi gave me an annoyed look. "You're actually ahead of me on something? Unbelievable."
"Oh, shut up." I rolled my eyes and bumped his shoulder with mine. "You have no right to talk, Summoner-san."
"Still can't find a contract you like, huh?" Kakashi said, sounding smug. "Or maybe it's more like... still can't find a contract that likes you."
Flushing, I turned my nose up in the air and stubbornly looked away. "Hmph! Why don't we utilize elemental ninjutsu? It's been awhile since I've trained with my Mokuton."
Kakashi nodded his head. "Okay. Let's go to training grounds sixteen, then. I already know I have a lightning nature and I brought a couple scrolls that have some basic lightning techniques. I couldn't find any Mokuton, though..."
"That's okay," I said. "I actually have something of the sorts..."
More like notes Madara gave me to look over and practice before we really begin the training with my Wood-Style. I have limited control over it (not counting my clones) - only being able to produce trees and move those around a bit, really, but the notes should have an example beginner's technique I can try. I highly doubt Madara will complain if I get a head-start on training.
Within a few minutes of hopping across roof-tops, we reached our destination. It was a wide area, surrounded by other training grounds and boxed off from the village. I could see several shinobi in the distance, utilizing the other training grounds. Kakashi sat down on the grass, pulling out a scroll from his pack and unrolling it in front of him. I sat right behind him, pressing my back against his, before mimicking his actions.
I unrolled my scroll until I saw the first technique. Mokuton: Sashiki no Jutsu (Wood-Style: Cutting Technique). According to this, I could manipulate the wood into a sharp object - something I had done before in my escape from the slavers) and use it as a sword. Not only that though, I could activate my wood remotely to explode into splinters; in short, I could make a bomb, and have it rain wood spikes onto my opponents.
A brutal technique, but undoubtedly useful.
And so, I slammed my left hand into the ground, feeling my chakra shift and change. I could feel the transition from skin to wood and some ways away from us, the wood resurfaced. A wooden spike stuck out from the ground, and I retracted my hand, leaving the spike. I did this several more times, creating many spikes across the training grounds - but still keeping distance from Kakashi and myself. So long as I channeled minimal chakra into the technique while attempting it, the force behind the explosion would be weak and the spikes wouldn't get too far.
Behind me, I could hear the cackle of electricity.
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
Tired and frustrated, we both called it a day when we saw the sun beginning to set. Neither of us had advanced very far in our training that day - controlling the wood from a distance was surprisingly harder than I assumed. It felt like I was trying to will a rock to start flying with just my mind. It felt impossible.
Yet at the same time, I knew I could do it, because Madara knew I could do it. He expected me to eventually learn this technique, and I would be damned if I let that expectation fall.
Still, it was daunting to realize I wasn't able to manipulate a single spike that day.
Much to my displeasure though, I was not able to properly work out my frustrations because on my way home, an ANBU stopped me.
"Oh, yes, I almost forgot," I muttered dryly. "Danzō wants to see me, doesn't he? Do you need to blindfold me or something?"
"Nothing of the sorts, Senju-hime," the ANBU responded. "I am only here to escort you. If you wish, I can carry you."
I shrugged, lifting my arms up. "Sure. Have it."
It's easier if you touch me to spread the Zetsu spores.
Deftly, the ANBU swooped me up in his - her? - arms. We moved too quickly for me to follow, and all too soon I found myself being set down in a plush cushion, sitting across from none other than Danzō.
Remembering my manners, I tucked my legs underneath me and straightened my back. I did not allow my eyes to wander around the room - that would be rude - but I could see through the corners of my eyes that it was a tidy room. The decor gave it the impression that it was a warm place, but the atmosphere felt clinical. The room felt un-lived in.
"Danzō-sama," I said, dipping my head down politely. "It is a pleasure to meet you. Might I inquire what this meeting is for?"
"Naasica-hime," Danzō greeted, "would you care for some tea?"
"Thank you, but no, I would rather not keep this too long," I responded, smiling and feigning sheepish embarrassment. "I'm certain I must stink after training all day, and I have to confess a bath sounds absolutely wonderful right now."
Danzō gave a small, fake, chuckle. "I understand. I called you here at the request of my dear friend, Hiruzen. He informed me that you have the Mokuton and requested that I trained you."
I nodded my head, accepting this. "I thank you for your offer, Danzō-sama, but I must decline. I already have a sensei that I quite like training under, and I have plenty of scrolls and notes to learn from."
"I was not aware that Konoha had such notes."
"Konoha does not," I agreed, "but my Grandmother did."
"Mito-hime knew about your nature?"
"Not in her life, no, but she told myself and Tsunadenee-chan where to find such scrolls should anyone in our family need them," I lied smoothly. "They're quite detailed and I have already started training with them. Unless you have firsthand knowledge of the Mokuton, I doubt you could provide much more help, Danzō-sama."
Danzō did not reply for several moments. Instead, he took a couple sips of his steaming tea. "I see. Nonetheless, I must insist on this, as well as seeing these scrolls. I am certain they could benefit Konoha."
"You have no right to ask me that. They belong to the Senju," I said, feeling mildly insulted at his blunt request. Even if it was a blatant lie that they belonged to the Senju, Madara had given them to me. Not this warmonger. Besides, as far as I was concerned, Danzō was an enemy. He would have to be eliminated at one point or another, and I doubt he would go down so easily. If I gave him those scrolls, it would be giving him basic blueprints to half my moves.
"I have every right," Danzō said, "as you are a kunoichi of Konoha - "
"Not yet," I retorted. "I'm still an academy student, and therefore not a kunoichi. After I graduate, feel free to ask me that."
A thick tension ran through the air at my snappish response.
I know Madara told me to be polite, but there's just something about this man that grates me.
Danzō set his cup of tea down, his eyes narrowing into slits. "You will do well to hold your tongue to your superiors, hime."
My hands curled into fists, and a sharp anger pierced inside my stomach. Superior? Him? This disgusting, slimy, politician... was my superior? What a joke. The very thought of such sent a hot, blazing fire racing through me. I knew my cheeks wanted to turn red in anger, but I bit my tongue and kept my poker face.
Instead, I said, in a very cool, steely voice, "You requested my audience. You made your purpose known: you want to train me. I declined. Unless you have an ulterior motive for keeping me here, I will take my leave."
"I have not dismissed you yet."
"No. I dismissed myself," I said, standing up and heading towards the door.
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
I made several wood clones to the best of my ability when I exited the building. I sent them all scattered, knowing Danzō could only send a few of his operatives to follow me - if he chose to do so, that is. And when I was certain that I wasn't being followed, I melded into the nearest tree and headed straight for Madara.
With a stomp in my step, and a growl in my threat, I marched into the cave. "Unbelievable.'I have not dismissed you, yet.' Who does he think he is? I am not his tool! I do not belong to him, nor will I ever bow my head for him again!"
Madara gave me an amused look. "I take it your meeting went well?"
I huffed. "Please tell me we can kill him soon."
Madara smiled thinly. "Patience. Were you at least polite?"
I blushed, looking down and away in shame. "Um... I tried."
There was a sharp whack on the top of my head. I clutched it, wincing at the sting. Peering up, I saw Madara was glaring at me coldly. Shame burned inside of me, and I lowered my gaze. "I'm sorry."
"I know. Let this be a lesson to you. There will be people you detest, but you will need to control yourself. You cannot allow your emotions to control you. Physically, you are still young, so I know it will be difficult - even more so in adolescence - but that is not an excuse."
"Yes, Madara-sama. I'm sorry, Madara-sama."
"Apology accepted," Madara replied softly, his voice less cold.
Feeling chastised and sheepish, I lowered my hands and looked up at him. Then my eyes widened and I gasped.
"Your eye," I whispered, finding myself staring at a one-eyed Madara.
Madara's lips twitched. "I have given Nagato one of my eyes. He'll be able to awaken the Rinnegan just fine with one, and I also gave him another, spare, Uchiha eye I had found. With luck, he'll awaken the Rinnegan in that eye, as well. If not, it will remain dormant - he won't ever activate the Sharingan or its next two forms."
"Why did you give him just one?" I asked, uncertain.
Madara just gave me a dark smile. "Do not concern yourself with that. Now, it's time we started Taijutsu, or rather, it's time for you to learn a new fighting style. As you know, the academy teaches you the most basic form and a shinobi then develops their own style to better suit them. You have already begun this process, and I want you to continue it. However… I also want you to learn a second style. My style."
A thrill ran through me at that. "Won't someone recognize the style if I use it, though?"
"No," Madara said. "I've been dead for decades now. I doubt anyone old enough would be able to remember it. I use a very different style - different from the standard Uchiha Clan style. It's a form I made all on my own and is unique to myself. I have already shown you the basics in utilizing the weapons I would normally use, and now we will elaborate on that. After your basic routine, we will focus on this."
"Yes, Madara-sama," I said, feeling my lips curl into a smile.
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
Early the next morning, I knocked on Kakashi's door, eager for another day of training. Last night, I had told Madara I was beginning my Mokuton training. He had given me a few more tips in the first technique in response, and I was eager to try them out.
The sun wasn't even fully up, but Kakashi opened the door, dressed and ready to go.
"Hey - "
Kakashi stepped out of the house, and slammed the door shut. "Let's go."
Startled by his sour mood - I knew he wasn't a morning person, but I definitely knew I hadn't woken him - I could only nod my head and follow behind him. He wasted no time in sprinting up to the roof and then leaping across the buildings. Still a little confused, I followed after him.
When we reached the training ground, Kakashi punched the nearest tree. It shook under his force and splintered. My heart jumped at the loud sound, and constricted immediately afterwards. Hesitantly, I moved towards him and stretched out a hand. I rested my hand on his shoulder, squeezing. "Kakashi? What happened?"
Kakashi gave a short, shaking my grip off and furiously shaking his head. "Don't worry about it. I just - Tou-san is - is an idiot. Can we just train?"
Sakumo Hatake, Kakashi's father, committed the act. He chose not to fulfill his mission, and instead saved his teammates. In doing so, he indirectly triggered the next Great War and becomes shunned by everyone... including Kakashi. Before Kakashi graduates the academy, he'll perform seppuku... leaving Kakashi to discover his body.
Sakumo probably told Kakashi what happened on his mission, and now Kakashi...
... will grow to hate him.
"Mn," I murmured, "yeah, we can. I won't pry."
Kakashi's shoulders sagged, his eyes trailing down. "Thank you..."
"... Do you want to stay at my place tonight?"
Kakashi's eyes widened and he looked up sharply at me.
I'm sure Madara won't mind if I'm a bit late. I can leave a clone with Kakashi, just like I did with Kushina.
"... Do you mean that?"
Kakashi fidgeted, suddenly looking shy. "... I don't know. But... maybe... we'll see."
"No rush to decide," I said softly. "I'm here for you, Kakashi. I'm not going anywhere."
(ง ⌣ ~ ⌣) ง
He said the word softly, like a whisper. His face was unreadable, and his tone conveyed no opinion. He was curious why I was late that night, but when I explained what had happened, he immediately switched to a neutral expression.
I didn't understand why I felt guilty, then, standing before him and fidgeting. Yet, I did. I felt like, in some way, I was betraying him: like allowing for Kakashi to stay with me was a betrayal of sorts; a line that should not have been crossed.
Did he think I was?
I didn't mean for that - not in the least bit.
"I can send him away," I offered quickly.
"I - I don't know," I confessed, "but I feel like you're upset... that I'm betraying you. I swear I don't mean to do that, I only wanted to help..."
Madara glanced away from me, his eyes trailing up to the full moon above us. We stood at the entrance of the cave, listening as the creatures of the night sing around us. "You feel like I'm upset, huh? That's interesting..."
Curious, I moved closer to him, trying to get a better read on his face. He seemed, oddly, nostalgic at that moment - like he was reminiscing in a past moment. That moment was gone, though, for he turned back to face me and cupped my cheek. His eye was dark with a steely glint to it - a gleam I could not recognize. His voice was firm and confident.
"You are not betraying me, Naasica. You will not betray me."
His words were final, and I lowered my gaze.
He was my superior - I knew that and acknowledged that. But, while that grated on my nerves with Danzō, I embraced it with him. I offered myself to him long ago, and I agreed to be his tool. In this world, everyone is a tool for someone. I resigned myself to being his weapon; an extension of him for the betterment of those I loved. Only he had the power, the knowledge, and the skill to truly fix this rotted world.
And only he could bring back Grandmother, and protect the others.
I would not betray him.
Lovely new fanart, links are FINALLY on profile, so big thanks to Nightmaremoon97, TheDarkLordCreator, Ahrolkah, Yosshiko, and Neunte (who also inspired a new trait, apparently).
Answer: Madara, Cheshire, Nagash
Question: What song describes your life? What's your 'theme song', so to speak?
Reviews are love!
Also, made a special little comic for this story. Link on profile (titled Sunshine - so you can just CTRL + F and type in Sunshine to find it), or you can check out my gallery (charredblossom16) on deviantart or tumblr (burntpetal16) or use this link (just take out the spacing):