Around the time spring rolled around again, our class started to incorporate sparring. They'd been switching up the physical training for a while now, having us practice kicks and punches and several kata, but this was the first time they actually pitted us against each other. I was fine with it, since I had been sparring (and getting my ass kicked most of the time) with Itachi and Shisui since the new year started. Really, all the kids from the clans were fine with it, having started at home already. The civilian kids were a bit more apprehensive, despite this being (in my opinion) nothing more than glorified schoolyard brawls. I mean, we didn't have the tools to do much damage to each other yet; at worst there would be black eyes and broken noses.

That morning, I stopped by Kushina's house to pick up my bento. She answered the door, looking a bit harried.

"Hey, Kushina-san." I gave a small wave. "You don't look so good."

"Tomoe-kun . . . yes, Naruto caught the flu. I've been up all night. If this keeps up, I'll have to take him to the hospital." She was nervous, which was understandable. She was a first time mother, and Naruto was a rambunctious baby. "I'm sorry, I couldn't make you lunch . . ."

"Oh, that's fine!" I said hastily. "I'll mooch off Itachi. His mom makes great lunches."

At that, she smiled. "Yes, Mikoto is a wonderful cook. While I have you, I heard Minato mentioning that you were going to start sparring in class today. You much be excited."

"For sure." I lied.

Something seemed to be bothering her. She fidgeted, her hand taping on the door.

"Did he say something else?" I tilted my head.

"Oh, not at all . . ." Yeah, he did. "You'll be late. Hurry along, Tomoe-kun."

"Sure thing!"

I jumped over the rail to bypass the short staircase and ran to school. Not because I was late, but because I had made a habit of running practically everywhere. Occasionally when I had time I would take the long way around, passing over houses and fences and stuff, trying to go as fast as possible and using chakra to cling to surfaces and boost myself up. Ever heard of parkour? Yeah, ninja style.

I got to school in a jiffy and made my way to the classroom. I sat at my usual spot in the back, slinging my messenger bag down and jamming my hands into my hoodie. It was a new acquisition, a birthday gift from Kushina; dark gray and baggy. My red hair popped out against it, as it was now down to my shoulders; I saw no need to cut it, since my identity as a boy was firmly established. I tied it back in a short ponytail for convenience. Other than that, I still wore my usual short black pants and ninja sandals, only I'd added a kunai holster. It had gotten me a couple of snickers in the class, but I'd ignored them with slight annoyance. The point was to get used to having one. During kunai and shuriken practice, I didn't just throw. I also practiced drawing. What good would a projectile do you if you couldn't get it out in time? Such simple logic didn't seem to make sense to the kids in the class.

My status as persona non grata had gotten worse. Now, I got dirty looks, whispers, mean giggles, from the girls mostly; once, I'd gotten tripped in the hallway. The culprit had gotten lost in the crowd before I could punch his lights out. Kids were mean. Not that I was really making an effort to integrate; my plan was to get out of here as fast as possible.

Itachi and Shisui hadn't arrived yet, so I closed my eyes, put my feet up on the desk, and leaned back. I recited kanji to myself, and ran through the history of the leaf as I knew it; I had a catalogue of every fact from the show in my mind palace, and visited it regularly to make sure my knowledge didn't fade. It was the best way of remembering large quantities of information, such I had done in my previous life with all my poisons, formulas, chemical structures, synthesis methods, antidotes, anatomy knowledge . . . there was a whole bunch of stuff I had to memorize, on top of all that I already knew, so method of loci it was.

"To-mo-e!" I heard Shisui call in a sing-song voice.

"Hey, Shisui," I waved lazily as he sat down next to me. "What's up?"

"I'm so excited for the sparring! Who do you think we'll get to fight?"

"Don't know." I said. "I'm pretty sure it's random."

"I've only ever fought you and Itachi. I wonder how I'll do against the others . . ."

"Knowing you, absolutely fine . . ." I mumbled under my breath. Those guys could be brutal sometimes. Once he had gotten me to stop slapping him during the fight (I maintain that is a valid move to stun an opponent), Shisui showed no mercy. He'd given me more bruises than I could count. And Itachi was fast. Yeah, I doubted anyone in the class would really stand a chance against them.

"What was that?" he asked innocently.

"Never mind . . ." I sighed and leaned forward, getting my feet off the desk. "I want to practice the clone jutsu this weekend. You up for it?"

"Sure. Oh, yeah, Itachi won't be here today."

I looked up, surprised. "Is something wrong?"

"Kinda. Sasuke caught the flu, so he's helping Mikoto-san."

"Huh. Be careful. That flu might be going around. I know someone who's down with it too."

"Sure thing. But hey, Tomoe," he turned around, folding one leg over on the bench and leaning forward. He lowered his voice. "I heard some girls saying some nasty things about you. I told them to cut it out . . ."

"Don't bother." I cut him off.

"But Tomoe . . ." he said almost plaintively. I sighed.

"Look, it's not like it's the whole class. It's only some civilian kids mouthing off."

"You knew?"

"Duh, I'm not stupid. It doesn't bother me, so let it go. There's nothing you can do about it."

His mouth twisted. He didn't like this one bit. Shisui was a sweet kid, and wanted to help, but really, there wasn't much he could do. I was actually a bit surprised he'd brought it up now, since this had been going on for months. Maybe it was because of Itachi's absence. That time when I'd gotten tripped in the hallway, Shisui had rushed to help me, but Itachi had held him back, letting me pick myself up on my own. He knew I didn't need the help. Shisui was a lot more soft-hearted; he may not hold back in practice, but I could tell he wanted to stand up for me. I didn't know whether he thought I wasn't tough enough to handle it, or he just couldn't stand seeing his friend get into trouble and do nothing.

While that was a noble sentiment, it was unneeded. I was perfectly capable of standing up on my own and brushing aside whatever mean-spirited acts came my way. Itachi knew this somehow. Even if Shisui realized, it wouldn't stop him from trying to protect me. I didn't hate that, in a way.

Seeing his expression, I reached out and poked him on the forehead. I smiled. "Thanks for sticking up for me."

He blushed, and turned away. "It's not like I can just sit by and let them talk trash about you." he mumbled. "I'll stop, if you really want me to."

"That'd be best. I want to concentrate on my training. I don't have energy to waste on listening to those people."

"I get it." he nodded. "But if you ever need backup, I'm ready to rock!" he said with a wide grin.

The class was so excited over this afternoon that it was a waste trying to teach them anything. Too bad, because we were covering some interesting material on chakra.

At lunch, I stayed in the classroom reading while Shisui went out to play. He tried to coax me out, but I wouldn't budge. I never played during lunch hour. That was time better spent learning from my books; today, I was reading about traps.

After a while, I put my book down and looked around the empty classroom. I sighed. I wished Itachi was here. He seemed to prefer reading quietly with me instead of running around playing tag and hide-and-seek. He was always good company, bringing some books from home he thought I'd enjoy, telling me how to read a kanji I didn't know . . .

Yeah, it was actually kinda boring by myself.

I fidgeted. I got up and looked out the window at the fenced-in playground. They were playing Kagome Kagome; Shisui was the kid in the middle, the others circling around him with joined hands. I leaned my elbow on the ledge and sung along under my breath.

"Kagome kagome, the bird inside the basket, when, oh when will it come out? In the night of dawn, the crane and turtle slipped. Who is the one standing right behind?"

When the song was over they stopped. I couldn't hear as Shisui guessed who the one behind him was. He got it right, and sprang up, joining the others, and the one behind him took his place in the center.

I watched the game for a bit, tapping out the song's rhythm. It was catchy. Not that I had any idea what the lyrics meant.

That afternoon, we all gathered in the courtyard for sparring. Daikoku-sensei gave us a rundown of the rules (no foul play, no using chakra – taijutsu only), demonstrated the Seal of Confrontation we were to use before starting (basically a one-hand version of the Tiger hand sign), and the Seal of Reconciliation we made with our partner after finishing (by interlocking the fingers used to make the Seal of Confrontation). I vaguely remembered something about Naruto and Sasuke doing it in the story.

Next to me, Shisui was practically bouncing. I put my hand on his shoulder and forced him to stick to planet earth. Any more of that and I would get jittery.

The first ones to go were two civilian kids, looking rather nervous. They made the seal and took their stances, hesitating a bit. They looked rather uncertain. That was to be expected, I suppose, but it didn't make for a very good show. Finally, they went at it, one of them throwing the first punch.

I'll spare you the details of the battle, mostly because I wasn't paying attention and couldn't give you a blow by blow even if you wanted me to. The next battle was between a member of the Hyuuga clan (looked like the kid, Kazan, I think his name was, who I had played hide and seek with) and a civilian kid. I could tell this was going to be brutal when Kazan took his gentle fist stance. It was nowhere near the level I'd seen performed by Neji and Hinata in the show, but the essence was there. The other guy never had a good chance to begin with, though it was interesting to see how Kazan used his speed to practically dance around his opponent, hitting quickly and withdrawing just as fast. It was so mesmerizing, I couldn't help but want to dance a couple of steps myself.

That battle ended, and Shisui's began. He was up against Shin, the light haired, blue-eyed kid who'd been reticent to play hide and seek. He looked sullen as always.

Shisui grinned and made the seal without skipping a beat. "Let's have a fun match!"

"Hm." Shin grunted in reply. He made the seal, and quickly took his stance. Something was burning in his eyes, some kind of determination that made his lips go thin and his eyebrows crease.

"Start!" said Daikoku-sensei.

Shin immediately charged at Shisui and threw a punch. I mentally face-palmed. Shisui grabbed his arm and flipped him over. He landed on his back with a painful sounding slam. Shisui backed away, letting Shin get up; the kid was furious and his ears were red with embarrassment.

The rest of the battle went much the same way. Shin would yell and charge, punching or kicking with all his might, and end up on the ground either because Shisui dodged and his own momentum made him lose balance, or because Shisui was able to grab and flip him. My friend wasn't having much fun. He looked rather sad as he parried Shin's efforts. I don't think this was the kind of battle he had in mind when he pictured sparring with his classmates.

When it was over, the Seal of Reconciliation was made, with great reluctance on Shin's part, and Shisui went back to me.

"You won. Nice." I said.

"Yeah . . ." he brooded a bit.

I taped him on the shoulder. "I'll spar with you this weekend, if you want." I offered.

"Thanks. It's not that I didn't enjoy this battle, it's just . . ."

"You expected more?"

He flushed. It wasn't very nice of me to point it out, but it was true. You couldn't spend your whole life surrounded by talented shinobi, with a best (and frankly only) friend who was as much of a genius as you, and not come out with some skewed perspective on how the world worked. I think Shisui had been expecting the other kids to be, you know, good. Able to fight properly with him. That might have been the case if he'd been put up against another kid from a clan, but a civilian, sparring for the first time in his life? No way.

This was very disappointing for Shisui, and it showed on his face. I wondered how Itachi would have handled it. Would he have held back and tried to coax some better moves out of his opponents, like he sometimes did with me? Or would he have gone out full strength and ended it quickly?

As I pondered that, another match was on the way. I didn't pay attention, but stayed with Shisui, trying to cheer him up. He was getting quite depressed; I wanted to smack him on the head for it, because it didn't suit him at all.

"Shisui, hey, Shisui," I poked and prodded his arm. "Hum . . . Have you gotten any further with the Fireball Jutsu yet?"

"I can spit out a bit of fire," he said. "I don't have enough chakra to do more, though . . ."

"Eeeh? That's so?" I shifted my weight from foot to foot. "And how about the Teleportation Jutsu? You haven't done that in a while, what gives?" I actually was rather glad about that. He'd started appearing out of nowhere just to startle me. If I was any older he would have given me a heart attack.

"Itachi told me to cut it out . . . he said I was being a nuisance, bothering you all the time."

'Shit, he's depressed again!' "I don't mind! Not at all!" I laughed, my lips twitching. "It's good for me, actually, I need to learn to pay attention, y'know?"

". . . Are you serious?"

I nodded earnestly. "Dead serious. So serious I could die!" 'And I probably will. From a heart attack.'

I probably shouldn't have said that, because he suddenly grinned, threw his arm around my shoulder, and ground his fist on the top of my head. "You're the best, Tomoe-chan!"

"Oy!" I flushed. "Don't add '-chan' to my name! What do you I am, a girl?"

"It sounds good. 'Cause you have a girly name." He grinned harder.

"I forbid you from calling me that. Call me that again and I will not hesitate to start slapping you again!"

He fake shuddered. "Yikes. I'm just terrified, To-mo-e-chan!"

"Knock it off!"

"Next, Inuzuka Hana versus Himura Tomoe." Daikoku-sensei announced. He looked my way. "Come up to the front."

Shisui let me go and followed me as I made my way to the battle area. He wanted a good view, I assumed. I was a bit nervous, because I'd only ever fought Itachi and Shisui, and they were probably going easy on me. But at the same time, I was able to calm down. I'd faced worse situations. I wasn't about to be intimidated over this.

I faced Hana, my hands deep in my pockets. She frowned slightly at me. We . . . weren't on good terms, let's put it that way. Suddenly, she cracked her knuckles and gave me a fangy grin.

"I've been waiting for this, Himura."

Well that was new. Nobody addressed me by my last name. "Huh, sure. I haven't, not really . . ."

"I'm going to teach you a lesson about thinking you're so superior. You better be ready!"

Was that what they all thought? That I looked down on them? Well, I guess I did . . . but they were kids, it's not like I could help it. Let's see . . . not speaking to anyone, being generally antisocial, not participating in games, hanging out exclusively with the best students in class . . . yeah, you could interpret that as me thinking I was above their company. I'd never looked at it that way before.

"Interesting." I muttered, speaking genuinely, tapping my cheek. "So that's your problem with me. Uh-hum. Fascinating."

She frowned harder. "Are you doing this or not?"

"Yeah, sure." I shrugged and took both hands out of my pockets, letting them fall loosely at my sides. I spread my legs a bit, scraping my feet in the dirt, getting a good balance and a good grip on the ground. I shifted my weight to the balls of my feet, and made the Seal of Confrontation.

I smirked. "Ready when you are."

She also took her stance and made the seal. Daikoku-sensei looked at each of us in turn.


Hana immediately attacked. I blocked her punch with my forearm. Sadly, she was more experienced than Shin was and didn't allow her momentum to carry her past me. Before I had time to counterattack, she swept her foot, tripping me. I rolled away and quickly got back on my feet, crouching low to the ground.

When she aimed another punch I dodged and twisted, getting in close to her body and elbowing her in the stomach. She gasped and coughed. I quickly disengaged and tried to move backwards to get some distance in between us for a better shot, but she didn't let me. She recovered sooner than I expected and kicked me squarely in the stomach.

I fell back, breathing hard. Blow to the stomach always hurt like friggin hell. I gritted my teeth and stood up. Hana ground her feet into the dirt, waiting for me to make a move. She wiped a line of spit from the side of her mouth.

What followed next was a series of blows and blocks and dodges. She punched me in the throat. I gave her a black eye. We actually fought, not half-heartedly either, and neither of us could get ahead of the other. We were evenly matched.

What was maddening was that I felt that I could beat her. I felt as if I could move faster, hit stronger, block better; it wasn't because this body felt strange, because since my training had started I had grown far more at home with it . . . maybe it was because I hadn't had any lunch. There was this lingering frustration that I could do better, that if I pushed myself a little harder I could beat her. I didn't know where that feeling came from, but it made me rush, and my movements turned sloppy.

I mistimed a dodge. Hana sent me flying with a kick. Daikoku-sensei was about to stop the match, I could tell. Like hell I was going to let it end here. Like freaking hell.

I grasped at my chakra, almost unconsciously. Just a little bit more . . .

It hit me suddenly.

I could see.

There was a thin network of blue running through Hana's body . . . through everyone's bodies, thicker in the teacher. I recognized it as the chakra network. Not only that, I had seen something like that before . . .

Kakashi jerked his hand out of my chest, blood flying all around like red petals in the wind. He reached out to me, but I just smiled. Our gazes connected and I silently pleaded for him to listen to me. It was odd, even though my vision was blurred, I thought I saw something blue flowing in his body, like fire in his veins.

I stood, shocked, looking at my hands. The blue fire, chakra, was in me too. What the hell was this?

I drew my gaze upward to Hana. She was staring at me with an open mouth, too shocked to move. I turned my eyes to Shisui in the crowd. The look on his face was pure astonishment and disbelief.

"Stop here!" Daikoku-sensei called out. He rushed to me and knelt down. "Tomoe-kun, what's wrong?"

I was back to staring at my hands. " . . . I can see chakra." I said in a small voice.

"How? You aren't an Uchiha." he shook his head. "Tomoe-kun, deactivate it. The match is over."

Over? But we hadn't finished. And what did he mean, I wasn't an Uchiha? Of course I wasn't. My last name was Himura, what did the Uchiha have to do with anything?

"Sensei!" Shisui was at my side in a flash. He put his hand on my arm. "Tomoe, why do you have the Sharingan? Why? Hey, Tomoe!"

I couldn't stop staring at my hands. Sharingan. Is that what this was? No, that couldn't be right. Only the Uchiha had the Sharingan. I most certainly was not an Uchiha. There had to be some kind of confusion here.

Shisui frowned at me, then looked up. "Sensei, can I take him to the nurse's office? I'll look after him."

The teacher nodded. "This is something for the Uchiha clan to deal with. I'll send word to the compound."

"Tomoe, come on, let's go." He nudged me a bit and I mindlessly followed. As I passed Hana, she looked at me, rooted in place, as if she couldn't believe what she was seeing.

Shisui took me to the nurse's office, and made me sit down on a bed. He sat opposite me, and crossed his arms.

". . . This is really surprising. Weird, really weird. There aren't supposed to be any Sharingan users outside the clan."

"You keep saying Sharingan," I finally spoke. "But that can't be it."

"Hum . . . oh, there." He hopped off the bed and came back with a small mirror that had been lying on the nurse's desk. "Look." He handed it to me.

I stared at my reflection. My eyes, once coal black, were now red, with a distinct pupil; on the left, there was one tomoe, and on the right, two. There was no doubt about it.

An immature Sharingan.

I had to accept it. Confronted with visual evidence, there was no way around it. My first thought was that I must have awakened it back when I had jumped in front of Kakashi's Chidori and consigned myself to my own death. If I remembered correctly, the Sharingan was awakened by great emotional stress, or difficult circumstances. Had that incident affected me that much? I suppose committing suicide qualified as 'emotional stress,' but I wouldn't have expected it to really have an effect on me. I mean, this was me. Spider Thread. Y'know, assassin, heartless and all that jazz?

"You look really shocked." Shisui pointed out.

"No, ya think?" I snapped.

"You mentioned you didn't know who your father was. He must have been an Uchiha." He nodded to himself.

"Well, obviously." I said drily.

He hesitated. "I . . . I think you need to come back to the compound with me. The clan is being informed, and . . . I don't know, I just think it'd be better if you talked to somebody there."

I needed someone to help me get a grip on this. I suppose activating and deactivating it after consciously using it for the first time should come naturally, but really, I had no idea how to make go the hell away.

It was unnerving, seeing chakra like this. And every time Shisui so much as twitched, I felt a jolt go through me as I saw what he was about to do. It was like every detail was sharper than usual, and jumped out at the same time. It was distracting. My head was starting to hurt, and I was getting nauseous from the focus of my vision shifting all the time.

I pressed my palms against my eyes, leaning forward on my elbows. Shisui was by my side in a flash.

"Tomoe, what's wrong."

"Let's go. To the compound."

"Okay, but can you really walk there?"

"No choice. I have to go."


"I can't deactivate it."

I heard his breath hitch. He put a hand on my arm and guided me up. "I'll get you there. You can count on me! Everything's going to be a-okay."

His efforts to cheer me up were a bit clumsy, but appreciated.

Shisui led me out of the Academy and through the street, keeping a hand on my arm as I still had my hands pressed against my eyes. I felt like if I tried to take in all the new visual stimuli, I might throw up.

We walked for a while, and finally must have arrived at the Uchiha district because the noise of the crowds faded and we took a lot of turns. Shisui knocked at a door and after a short interval I heard footsteps coming from inside and the door slid open.

"Shisui, Tomoe," Itachi said, surprised. "Shouldn't you be in class? You shouldn't skip."

"'Tachi, is your dad home?" Shisui asked.

"No, he's out on patrol. Why? Tomoe, what's wrong?"

Shisui tugged on my hoodie. "Show him, Tomoe."

"Don't wanna. I'll puke." I grumbled. Even with my eyes closed this was painful.

"Just for a bit!" he tugged harder.

"Tomoe?" Itachi sounded confused.

"Itachi? Who is it?" I heard a second set of footsteps and Mikoto's voice. "Shisui? Tomoe? What are you doing here at this time of day?"

"Hello, Mikoto-san. You see, Tomoe has . . . come on, show 'em." His tugs got more insistent.

I relented. I removed my hands from my eyes and slowly opened them. I got a quick flash of Itachi's wide eyes and hand that was just getting ready to reach out to me (his arm twitched) before another wave of nausea come over me and I quickly pressed my hands back.

"I can't deactivate it." I said, my voice husky. There was silence for a moment, then I was ushered into the house.

"Come in, come in!" Mikoto said. "It'll be fine. Itachi, get me some water and a cloth, if you would. Shisui, come in too."

She led me, her hands protectively around my shoulders, and sat me down in a room. "You'll be fine, Tomoe. This is a wonderful thing, you know. Not every Uchiha can awaken the Sharingan. It might be a little much for you right now, but we'll teach you how to use it. We'll take care of you. "

"Okaa-sama," Itachi walked in.

"Ah, thank you. Here, lie down." She pushed me gently back and laid a wet cloth on my forehead, so that it also covered my eyes. "Rest. Shisui, how did this happen?"

"We're doing sparring at the Academy. He was fighting the Inuzuka girl, and then . . . bam. Sharingan." I could imagine him trying to mime it with his hands, and smirked slightly.

"Okaa-sama, what does this mean?" Itachi demanded. "Is this why we were asked to look out for him? You must have known about this."

Mikoto sighed, and smoothed my hair back. "Your father had a suspicion about Tomoe, that has now been proven right. There was a possibility that he wasn't the one . . . but now I see, there's no mistaking it." she mumbled under her breath. "He is that child."

"What child?" Itachi asked. "Otou-sama said Tomoe's heritage was special. Is this what he meant?"

"In part, yes. I'm sorry, Itachi, but I cannot tell you any more than that. For now. When you're older, you'll understand."

"Okaa-sama!" Itachi protested. He was getting awfully upset. Maybe he wasn't used to being treated like a child.

"Mikoto-san . . ." I spoke up. "Were you friends with my mother? With Tomoko?"

"Yes, I was." she answered softly.

"Who was my father?"

She fell silent. Her hands withdrew. The other two also waited for an answer that never came.

"Is he still alive?"

". . . No. I'm sorry."

"Do I have any other family?"

"Your mother had a twin sister, Himura Tomomi. She defected along with Orochimaru. There is no one else on your father's side. We are your family." She finished strongly.

I think I slept a bit after that. I was confused, but one thing I knew was that Tomoko's action made more sense. I had Uchiha blood. That was why, when she was watching me grow up and I advanced quickly in terms of motor and communication skills, she was impressed but not surprised. That was why she had put that seal on me, to prevent my Sharingan from being accidentally awakened.

Christ, even my name was a throwback to my heritage. 'Tomoe' was the name for a large comma, which made up the Sharingan's design.

When I woke up, there were angry voices coming from the front of the house. I sat up and removed the cloth from my eyes. My vision had gone back to normal on its own, maybe because I had gone to sleep. The room was dark, and no one was there. I wandered over to where the voices were coming from.

Fugaku was arguing with someone. I peered over the corner and recognized Kakashi, standing in the entryway.

" . . . an Uchiha." I caught the last bit of Fugaku's sentence.

"I have orders to retrieve him. He is not part of your clan."

"The Sharingan is proof. The boy is one of us. Tell the Hokage we will be taking care of him. Our clan affairs are our own!"

"Tomoe is from the Himura clan. Unless you can provide proof of his father's identity, his mother's wishes take precedence."

"You ought to know full well we cannot do that!"

"Then hand him over!"

"I refuse. The Uchiha clan will take care of our own. This is no business of the Hokage's!"

"This is kidnapping!"

"I have to ask you to leave," Fugaku said coldly.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked back to see Itachi. He frowned. "You look scared. What's wrong?"

Did I really? I motioned to the entryway, and he looked quickly. The argument wasn't over. Kakashi wasn't backing down. Itachi sighed.

"What do you want to do?" he asked quietly.

I bit my lip. Everybody was treating me like a kid, like a helpless child who couldn't decide what to do on her own. Who did these people think they were? Deciding everything for me. I was starting to get angry.

"I'm leaving," I said. "I have no doubt the Hokage will work something out with the clan. For now, I'm staying away."

Itachi nodded. "Will we still train together?"

"Of course. I'm going to have to stop by the compound anyway. I need to learn how to use these, y'know." I tapped between my eyes. "I don't get most of what's going on, but there's no use getting worked up about it."

He smiled. "It's hard to believe we're from the same clan. If anything, I would have guessed you to be descended from the Uzumaki."

"How'd you figure?"

"Your hair. The shade of red is a bit different, though."

"Must be a coincidence." I said.

"Yes. But still, I never expected . . ."

"Neither did I. So, Saturday, ten o'clock, the usual place?"

"Yes. Thank you."

"No problem. See 'ya."

I waved and dashed out into the hallway, pumping chakra into my legs to up my speed. I flew past the arguing adults and onto the street.

"Tomoe!" Kakashi gasped. "What are you . . ."

I raced across the street, up the low wall using chakra to cling, and knelt on top. I grinned down at them.

"I'm off!" I saluted. "Sorry, but I've got homework to do. Fugaku-san, please tell Mikoto-san thanks for taking care of me. Bye!"

"Wait!" Fugaku said.

I laughed and ran along the top of the wall, spotting the exit. Doing it this was so much easier than twisting and turning through the streets. Suddenly Shisui flipped himself over onto the wall and ran next to me.

"Tomoe! Fugaku-san's really angry!"

"I'll bet he is!" I laughed.

"He's wondering when you managed to learn how to walk on walls. I don't think Itachi told him we were training you!"

"What did he think we were doing on those weekends?"

"Don't know. Playing?"

"Well we were, sort of. Ah, this feels nice!" There was a quick breeze blowing past, threading through my hair and clothes. I sped up.

I arrived at the entrance of the compound. I jumped down from the wall and looked up at Shisui. "I'll see you this weekend. Ask Itachi for the time and place."

"Sure thing. You'll be back, right? To learn how to control the Sharingan?"

"Yeah. You haven't seen the last of Himura Tomoe!"

The Hokage did eventually reach a resolution with the Uchiha clan, after several rounds of negotiations and arguing I took no part in. I credit the fact that it all went smoothly to Minato being good at this sort of thing; he smoothed things over in less than a week.

For now, I was to remain in the village's custody, which I was grateful for because I wanted to start turning that spare room in my apartment into a lab. I was however required to report to the compound twice a week for training. The person in charge of me was a middle-aged Uchiha jounin named Uchiha Yashiro, a member of the Konoha Police Force that Fugaku held in high esteem. He had ash-gray hair, squinted eyes, and was very stern. I didn't like him very much, but he got the job done.

Over several months, I trained extensively with ninja tools, learned taijutsu (properly, no just sparring with the boys), how to not get sick when taking in the sensory overload of the Sharingan and concentrate enough to have minimal predictive abilities, how to differentiate chakra, and how to recognize genjutsu. While the number of tomoe in my eyes didn't increase, I was moderately proficient with it. I didn't like using it much, though, because it tended to give me a headache and I did not believe my teacher's assurances that I would get used to it eventually.

Some stuff I would have learned at the Academy, other stuff was much more specific to the Uchiha clan. For example, I had to endure long lectures on clan loyalty, and how great the clan was, and how the clan was so integral to the village, and how proud I should be to be one of them, and on and on and on. I resisted the urge to tell Yashiro-sensei that my name was Himura and I was only doing this because Kakashi threatened to tell Minato I wanted to skip, who would tell Kushina, who would . . . let's not get into that. Let's just say Kushina could be seriously scary when she wanted to.

I continued attending the Academy, though now the stares were worse. I had the Sharingan without actually being part of the Uchiha clan. That was novel enough to attract attention. I did eventually get a rematch with Hana, which I won. Take that, dog-girl. Though I did get a concussion in the process . . .

I continued hanging out with Itachi and Shisui; in fact, we were closer than ever. Since I was at the compound more often and Yashiro-sensei found them useful to help practice, we got together pretty often on top of our regular weekend meetings. Don't underestimate the difference height and weight can make when your opponent is an adult; it can make it hard to spar properly.

What made a vast difference in my development was having what was essentially a private tutor. My skills grew quickly, along with Itachi's and Shisui's. While I couldn't beat the former, I had a fifty-fifty win to lose ratio with the latter, and a fairly intense rivalry going on. My next goal was learning the Fireball Jutsu. They could both do it, but Yashiro-sensei wouldn't show me how until I graduated and they seemed to take a malign pleasure in demonstrating it in front of me without actually telling me how it was done.

Kakashi was worried about me, of course, and didn't like the deal Minato had made with the clan (if he'd had his way, I wouldn't have stepped on foot into that place ever again), but recent developments with Rin took most of his attention. Something about brainwaves, and possible recovery. He was told a really good medical ninja might be able to operate, but the only one that good was Tsunade, and no one knew where she was.

My sixth birthday passed by without a hitch. I got a new kunai set and holster from Kakashi and a rather pretty necklace with a red magatama on it from Kushina (for your information, she knew I was a girl). I didn't tell Itachi or Shisui about my birthday, so they didn't get me anything, like last year. Actually, although I knew it was sometime during the winter, I didn't know the actual date. Tomoko had never explicitly told me, and we didn't have a calendar back then. As a result, my gifts came on random days. Kushina invited me over for dinner sometime in January, and Kakashi stopped by in February. Itachi and Shisui asked, but I avoided the question.

Finally, after two years in the Academy, lots of training, some injuries, a close brush with death, a vital change to the plotline, and a forged friendship I did not want to let go of, I prepared to take the graduation exam.


-the method of loci is a memorization device you might be familiar with through shows like 'Sherlock.' Better known as the 'mind palace' it uses visualization as a way to more easily remember and sort through information. With the sheer amount of stuff Tomoe had to learn in her past life, I figured she must have some way to deal with it, and the method is loci is said to be very effective.

-'Kagome Kagome' is a Japanese children's game; one person is designated and sits in the middle with their eyes closed, while the rest of the players hold hands and circle around them, chanting the song. When it's over, the person in the middle has to guess who is standing behind them; if they're correct, the two switch places and the game continues. I took the lyrics from the Wikipedia page, with some minor adjustments I think make it flow better. I imagine no one would want to play this game with a member of the Hyuuga clan.

-magatama are comma ('tomoe') shaped beads that appeared in prehistoric Japan; they are prominent in Japanese culture and folklore.

I figured that suddenly activating the Sharingan would not be a pleasant experience. The human brain doesn't actually 'see' everything the eyes do. It focuses on certain details, ignores the rest, and has a tendency to fill in the blanks with what it thinks ought to be there. The brain cannot process everything going on in our field of vision, so it sorts out the information. There are tons of studies demonstrating how wacky our vision truly is, but the main point is that the Sharingan notices detail. A lot. That's pretty much how the prediction works, and that ability evolves as the user trains. Now, a more experienced, older shinobi would be used to paying attention to detail (that's a vital skill in the shinobi world), so their brain wouldn't have a hard time adjusting to the influx of information. Tomoe is still very young, and her poor little brain is unused to coping with it all. Hence, feeling sick.

The Uchiha clan is very protective of it's members; they are closely nit and really a community separate from Konoha. This fierce loyalty is evident in the series itself, so I can't imagine the clan wouldn't do anything in their power to take back one of their own, especially if the child has the Sharingan. In addition to blood ties, there's the sticky quagmire of the Uchiha's relations with the village. They've never been good, ever since the Second Hokage gave them charge of the Police Force and effectively isolated them from the center of power. The resentment that would come to a head with the planned coup d'etat didn't grow overnight, and the suspicion after the Kyuubi's attack was, in my opinion, more the straw that broke the camel's back than the cause itself. Given that, letting one of their own be raised as a pure Konoha shinobi, loyal to the village, and not an Uchiha shinobi, would be unthinkable. Adding on to that, if Tomoe was to have children without being part of the clan, there would be the risk of spreading the Sharingan, the Uchiha's prized dojutsu kekkei genkai outside the clan. Given how proud the Uchiha are, I doubt this would be a good outcome for them.

Those are reasons why Fugaku, as the head of the clan, would be adamant in bringing Tomoe into the clan. Well, there are other reasons, but those I'm reserving for later.

No, Tomoe's father isn't Fugaku. He's a member of the Uchiha clan, yes, but he's dead. That is all the information you'll get out of me.

This chapter has scenes with Shisui, though I've never been good at writing fluff. Does this count? A reviewer requested some, so I did my best. Itachi didn't appear much, however.

Next chapter, graduation exam! Finally! Will Tomoe actually pass? Who knows?

Questions, comments, praise, criticism, rants, complaints, requests, random thoughts, reactions to what happened? Leave a review!

Peace out.