Title: Kitsune no Tsuki
Author: Silver Dragonfly
Fandom: Naruto x Sailor Moon
Genre: General, Drama, Alternate Universe
Warnings: Canon Character Death, Canon Level Violence
Summary: During peace talks hosted by Konohagakure between The Golden Kingdom and The Silver Moon Kingdom, Namikaze Minato fell in love. Nine months later his children were born, and due to the politics, logistics, and the secrecy of their relationship, the newborn twins were separated. One each remained with each parent. Twelve years later, the estranged twins are meeting for the first time.
Anko frowned as she watched the genin she was overseeing go through their training exercises. Most of them were doing very well and she was pleased with their progress. One however… she flicked senbon and smirked at the startled yelp that soon followed. “All right you brats. Call it a day, get some rest. Meet up at the Dango shop tomorrow morning before training. Blue and Pinky, this includes you. Let the hospital staff know you will be unavailable tomorrow.”
There was a chorus of affirmatives. “Greenie, stay behind.”
She watched as the genin all glanced at each other and gave the brunette she had nicknamed Greenie sympathetic looks before moving to leave the area.
Anko waited until they had all left and then motioned for the remaining kunoichi wannabe to come sit before her.
“Care to tell me what has you distracted? You have distracted ever since the invasion.” Anko demanded of the girl meeting her emerald gaze. The brunette slumped and looked away and mumbled something in response. Anko blinked. Whatever she had been expecting she didn’t think it was anything like what she heard. “Did you just say the trees were crying?”
The brunette ponytail bobbed in confirmation. Anko sighed as she considered the girls words.
Makoto fidgeted as she waited for Anko to scold her for her distraction. She was surprised when instead another question was asked.
“When did it start?”
Makoto met looked up to her sensei and then thought about it. “I never used to hear the trees around Konoha, I could sense them easily enough though. The trees that surround the village are special, and they know it, but they never spoke to me before… the Invasion. After that their cries begging to be restored… for broken limbs to be cared for… for the gaps to be filled… I hear it both awake and sleep.”
“Do you hear all plants or just some?”
Makoto considered the question for a moment. “Some. All the greater trees surrounding Konoha have a voice, and some of the younger as well. Oh, and then the plants in the garden at home. I could hear some of the plants in the Forest of Death as well. They were very… bloodthirsty.”
Anko laughed. “Well, that suits that forest just fine. Now, I don’t think I need to tell you how big of a problem letting this affect you so strongly is. You split your attention to things like this in a fight and you will be dead.”
Makoto hung her head, she knew it was true, but the trees were so loud—
“Start coming up with ideas on how to control this listening ability, talk back to them and tell them shut up if you have to. I have a couple ideas but will need to follow up on a few things first. Get some sleep Greenie, you look like you need it.”
Anko watched the genin walk off and shook her head. She knew that a good chunk of the old wood had been damaged by the large summon battle during the invasion. Beyond that she hadn’t given it much thought, though perhaps she should have. The old wood had been grown by the Shodaime Hokage himself, those trees were not normal. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you looked at it, there was almost no one who could actually fix the old wood. She imagined the only one who could, was being kept busy on other missions. She considered what she knew of Kino Makoto’s affinity for nature and then nodded. She would have to visit the office and requisition the appropriate D-rank missions and added manpower. Would be a good large team exercise, that and would let the other Jounin tethered to sensei duties help ease the mission backlog.
Makoto considered the questions and her sensei’s advice, or orders, as she headed home. Then she did what she always did when she had a problem to solve. She baked. Baking had always helped put her mind at ease, since the very first batch of chocolate chip cookies she had ever made. That her baking often seemed to help improve the mood of the other girls as well was an added bonus. With that thought she felt a pang of homesickness and memories of training, study sessions and nights of laughter and smiles. She missed those times, all too often the girls were separated and working on their own advancements rather than spending time together as a group. They would need to remedy that, and what better way than over a plate of warm cookies? Makoto smiled at the thought.
However, Usagi was not in Konoha to share in tonight’s batch, and she needed to come up with some sort of solution to her current problem if she wanted to be in one piece when the blonde girl returned. She shifted her thoughts to her current problem once more. The trees surrounding Konoha were old, but not the oldest that she had ever seen, but they were strong in a way that reminded her of the Heart Wood on Jupiter. It had been a long time since she had visited the heart wood and the druids that tended it. She remembered the feelings the trees of the Heart Wood had brought up in her since before she could remember. The druids had told her the trees communicated with them, let them know where broken branches needed to be cut away or where bugs tried to nest, or disease tried to take root.
Makoto straightened suddenly; the trees communicated with them. The druids were called to serve the Heart Forest, had she been called and never known it? None of her family served the Heart Wood as a druid, she was sure of that. There was no way for her to return to the Heart Wood now, but perhaps she hadn’t really been called to the Heart Wood of Jupiter…
She looked out the kitchen window which faced the direction the crying trees around Konoha stood. Perhaps she had been called by Konoha’s Heart Wood. She glanced down at her cookie dough and the waiting cookie sheet. Her decision made she quickly covered the bowl and slid it into the fridge. She left a quick note for Ami and then headed back out.
Anko smirked as she watched the group of genin slowly gather at the designated meeting spot. She raised an eyebrow as she spotted Greenie coming from the direction of the old wood rather than her apartment with the other girls but refrained from commenting. She surveyed the bunch, her own trio of budding kunoichi, Kakashi’s two brats, the second generation Ino-Shika-Cho, and Kurenai’s little trackers. She smirked and then tossed a scroll at Goldie. “All right. You lot are all here for a group mission. The specifics are in that scroll. Goldie is captain for this little exercise. Shadow boy there is her second. You may use whatever abilities and skills at your disposable to complete the job. You will continue on this job until it complete. If you have to camp out because it’s not done. So be it. I will not be around to clean up your snotty messes. All jounin are required to take missions outside the village. I have been neglecting that duty as have some of your own sensei to look after you. It’s time to cut the lead lines. When you are finished Goldie will be responsible for compiling a report.”
She waited several heartbeats then gave them all a feral grin. “Try not to kill yourselves.” and then vanished in a familiar swirl of leaves.
“Troublesome…” Shikamaru mumbled as Minako began opening the scroll.
“Restoration of the areas damaged by oversized snakes and toads.” She read off the scroll. The rest of the genin looked surprised.
“Is that what happened to that area just north of the arena?” Hinata asked gently.
“Considering the nature of the damage in that region it is logical.” Shino answered.
“How are we supposed to fix all that!” Ino whined. “It’s not like we can make tree’s grow overnight!”
At this Minako grinned and looked towards Makoto. “Actually… we just might. Come on let’s go survey what we have to work with.”
It didn’t take too long for the group of genin to organize and set to work. Large footprints and marks on the ground left by the overly large summons were soon filled in; Chouji’s abilities to enlarge parts of his body making the work go faster. Deadfall and rubbish were soon collected and was being burned under Rei ‘s watchful gaze. Ino and Sakura directed several of the others as they determined what landscaping was needed and where holes for replacement plants were needed. Hinata helped Makoto as she gathered saplings and cuttings from the nearby trees and set them in the waiting holes where Ami would give them a bit of water.
It was late afternoon by the time that most of the initial work was done and the entire group had gathered to eat a late lunch that one of the girls had gone to retrieve earlier.
“All right, any of you guys able to transfer chakra to another?” Minako then asked.
Hinata and Shino both gave affirmatives though the others seemed a bit surprised by the question. “Good, you two will help Rei, Ami and I supply Makoto with a boost then.” Minako soon herded the named group into position with Makoto at the center of a semi-circle like formation. “Whenever you are ready Mako-chan.” Minako then advised.
Makoto nodded and rested her palms flat on the ground on either side of where she sat. She felt Minako and the others all rest hands on her shoulders and back. Then she reached deep within herself for the spark of green that she had come to recognize as her affinity with plants and nature. She guided that spark, offering it in turn to all the new trees they had set into place throughout the day. She encouraged them to take it, to grow large and strong. She also offered it to the older trees that had been damaged but not fallen. She felt a rush of energy from those around her, and then again from the forest beyond their immediate area. She let out a gasp in surprise.
“What is it?” Rei asked gently from her left.
“The other trees, they are helping! Konoha has a Heart Wood!” Makoto exclaimed softly and then let the power she had been gathering and guiding go. The energy left her in a rush, but she felt it flow into the places she had shown it. She sensed further sources joining with what she offered from the surrounding forest and slowly as she felt her own strength falter separated herself from the net that had been created.
There were sounds of awe, surprise, and delight from the genin around her as the little saplings that had been no more than twigs suddenly seemed to swell upward and reach new branches out toward the sky.
Shikamaru stared in awe, “Mokuton…”
“No, It’s not that.” Ami stated.
“How did she…” Sakura breathed.
“I have a special affinity with plants. These trees that surround Konoha are special, I wouldn’t have been able to do this so easily if they had not helped on their own.” Makoto explained.
Sasuke studied the brunette girl and the other girls that lived in Naruto’s building. Did they all have such talents?
“Makoto-chan!” Ino scolded. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner! You have to come to my parent’s shop tomorrow!”
The brunette laughed and promised Ino she would and with that the girls all settled into gossip leaving the boys of the group to shake their heads and sigh.
“Well, I suppose I better write up that report.” Minako then stated with a long sigh.
“Such are the duties of the leader.” Shino stated.
“Shikamaru! You can help!” Minako then stated with a grin.
“Troublesome…” Shikamaru groaned causing the others to chuckle.
“Is it time for Dinner?” Chouji then asked.
“Why don’t we all go to eat, and we can help Minako-san with her report?” Hinata offered quietly.
“Food sounds good to me!” Kiba commented with an agreeing bark from Akamaru.
“You need to wash up Kiba!” Sakura then chided. “You and Akamaru have been digging in the dirt all day and I think half of it is on you.”
Kiba groaned but agreed. Sasuke smirked but said nothing, glad for once Sakura’s mothering was focused on someone else.
The group sorted themselves out shortly and agreed to meet up for Barbeque and the writing of their report.
Makoto glanced over her shoulder back at the tree covered field and smiled. She’d have to thank Anko for this assignment when she saw her next. She could probably find a good dango recipe to try. She smiled and turned forward as she realized she had found pieces of her home once more.
“Gaki! I told you not to call me that!?” The older blonde woman snarled at the blonde boy now rubbing his head and frowning.
“But you’re a— “
“Finish that sentence and you will be flying back to Konoha Gaki.” The woman warned.
Naruto scowled but said nothing more.
Usagi watched as her brother kept sneaking sidelong glances at the woman. She sensed eyes watching her and glanced at Itachi and gave him a soft smile. She refused to let her own feelings interfere with the budding relationship between Tsunade and her twin. Naruto deserved this chance. She could already tell there was going to be a special bond between the blonde woman they had been sent to find and Naruto. He didn’t need her intruding in on that over some misplaced feelings of envy and loss. She wished for a moment though, that she could have had such lighthearted relationships with others when she had been on the moon.
For as long as she could remember she had always been Serenity, or Princess Serenity, or even just The Princess. Very few had known her as simply Usagi, and even those who had, still had to treat her as Serenity more often than not. She could barely remember the times she had been able to just run up to her mother when she wanted to talk without causing some social scandal or interrupted meeting. Luna had put a stop to that eventually though, and she wondered idly if her mother had missed her interruptions as much as she had missed causing them. She would likely never know now…
“Jiraiya if you do not stop peeking at my cleavage, I can still arrange a flight to Konoha for you as well.” Tsunade stated icily without turning her head to face the white-haired man.
Jiraiya opened his mouth to reply but got a fist implanted into the side of his face before he could utter a sound.
“Ha! Take that Ero-Sennin!” Naruto cheered as his sensei rubbed the side of his jaw.
Usagi smiled and watched as the drama continued to unfold between the two sannin and Naruto. She still wasn’t really sure what she thought of Jiraiya. Her first meeting with the older man had made her cautious, but his relationship to Naruto made her want to be close to him as well. She had not had a father, uncle, or even grandfather figure in her life on the moon. She was still getting used to having a brother, and now she had Itachi posing as an older brother, but Jiraiya was Naruto’s godfather. Naruto’s godfather that is, not hers. She had never had godparents at all, and she didn’t quite understand the concept entirely, but she thought it meant that Jiraiya had been close enough to their father that their father had wanted him to be an important part of his son’s life. She was startled as Itachi brushed his hand on her shoulder. She glanced to him with a questioning expression.
“Your lip will start bleeding if you chew on it much harder imouto.” He stated and Usagi felt herself flushing as she realized what she had been doing. “What is bothering you?” He then asked.
Usagi considered her answer and then noted that nearly everyone was listening, even if they were pretending not to. “It’s nothing really.” She answered after a moment, “Just a little homesick I guess.”
Itachi studied her for a long moment then nodded once and focused once more on the road ahead. Those who had also been listening, choosing to let it be rather then inquire further.
Usagi sighed inwardly in relief as she noticed Naruto seemed to have remained oblivious as he was busy arguing with his godfather. She felt Luna land on her shoulder and settle herself. Apparently, she had decided that it was time to ride with her rather than Yukina.
Before she could question her guardian however, the entire group came to a sudden halt as Tsunade abruptly turned off the road onto a forest trail.
“Tsunade-sama— “Shizune began but was cut off.
“It’s time I got some answers. Everyone besides you and I seem to understand what home the girl meant. If I’m going back to Konoha to take the hat I refuse to not know everything about the group, I am traveling with. Jiraiya there is a grove off this trail, you remember it?”
Jiraiya smirked. “Of course, Hokage-sama.” He answered then yelped as she flung a rock at him.
“Answers Jiraiya, none of your games.” Tsunade responded then turned to her apprentice. “Shizune.”
“Of Course, Tsunade-sama.” The dark-haired young woman responded and then brushed one of her fingers along one of the beads of the necklace the pet pig she carried wore. “We are secure.” She then answered.
Jiraiya moved over and crouched down to study the beads startling both pig and apprentice in the process. “That’s a nice bit of seal work Tsunade.”
The blonde woman scoffed, “What did you think I depended on you for all of it? The uses of seals in the medical field is in high demand, Shizune was actually the one to create that necklace. She’s made a good study of fujinjutsu in the medical field.”
The dark haired woman flushed at the attention her sensei’s teammate suddenly gave her.
“Now start talking Jiraiya and quit ogling my apprentice.” Tsunade demanded as the group continued along the trail.
Jiraiya sighed. “Too be honest Hime, it’s not really my story to tell. I didn’t even know the half of it ‘til recently myself.”
Tsunade looked at him in surprise then turned back to the blonde girl with a thoughtful gaze. “She is not the daughter of Kushina, yet that is the only woman your old student was close to. There is no questioning the Gaki’s father, its written all over him, but I find myself very skeptic about him having any blood siblings, particularly the older one.” Tsunade stated after a moment.
“Ah, his story is different from the twins, and I’ll explain it afterwards. These two are twins though, no doubt about it.” Jiraiya replied.
Usagi and Naruto turned towards each other and smiled. Naruto then grinned widely and Usagi nodded. “I will explain then if that would be acceptable Tsunade-sama?” Usagi then offered tentatively.
“Let’s hear it then. I’d really rather not spend the night in the woods.”
Usagi considered how and where to begin.
“Well?!” Tsunade demanded.
“Sorry Tsunade-sama, I’m not quite sure where to start…”
“How about at the beginning?” The older blonde woman suggested with an arched eyebrow.
Usagi frowned a moment as there were several ways to interpret the beginning, but she supposed she’d stick to her own tale. “Naruto and I were separated at birth. I would remain with my mother Selenity, as the Moon Kingdom is a matriarchal kingdom, Naruto would go with our father Minato. In this way, even though circumstances would not allow our parents to be together, they would each have a piece of the other in their children.”
“You are telling me that your mother is Queen Selenity and that you are the secret children of her and Namikaze Minato, Konoha’s Yondaime Hokage?!” Tsunade asked her eyes wide, her tone portraying her skepticism.
“Quite the shocker isn’t it Hime?” Jiraiya offered. “Minato even had me fooled.”
Usagi decided to ignore the interruption and continued. “For many years I did not even know I had a twin brother, but I knew Naruto regardless as we often met in our dreams. Then disaster struck in our kingdom. There was an uprising, and the royal palace was invaded. I do not know what has happened to our mother, but Rin-neean came and led myself and my guardians to escape. We would seek sanctuary with my father. It was not until we arrived in Konoha that we learned that he had been gone since the very night he brought Naruto home with him. Since then, we have been living as genin of Konoha, and will continue to live with Konoha as our home. Someday though, I plan to take back my home from those who invaded it, but first I have to save all the Bijuu and help Naruto-nii reach his dream.” She then finished with a smile.
Tsunade stared at the girl with a blank expression then turned to look at Jiraiya who looked uneasy. “This is somehow your fault.” She stated flatly.
It was then that Luna spoke up. “Serenity! What kind of explanation is that! This woman is to be the new Hokage, you cannot give her such a sloppy report and leave it at that. Honestly! Did you learn nothing in your studies?!”
Usagi cringed. The Lunar Guardian gave her charge a stern glare and then turned to address Tsunade directly.
“Lady Tsunade, I apologize for Serenity’s poor report. I am Luna, former advisor of Queen Selenity of the White Moon and current Guardian of Princess Serenity. What she has told you is true despite the lack of details. I shall attempt to clarify.”
Tsunade glanced from feline to girl and back. “Go on.”
“Nearly 14 years ago Konohagakure hosted the meetings between the Royal(??) Earth Kingdom and the Silver Alliance as preparations were being made to bring Earth into the Silver Alliance once more as she once was several millennia in the past. The negotiations went very well, and it was during them that Queen Selenity met and worked closely with Namikaze Minato. The meetings ended officially but the two met several times yet after that secretly. I believe they would have eventually made their budding relationship more public, however Shadows had appeared.”
“Shadows?” Tsunade inquired her tone disbelieving.
“Yes, Lady Tsunade, Shadows is the common term used when discussing dark forces trying to subvert the powers of light in our Universe. They take many forms and are never banished completely as they are the attempts of an ancient enemy to return to power. Queen Selenity feared that the people of Earth were not ready for that type of battle just yet, as the kingdoms of Earth and Gaia, the very spirit of this world had suffered greatly in the past and were only now beginning to recover. She felt it best to silence all contact rather than lead the Shadows to Earth. It was soon after she learned she was pregnant. When she learned she was carrying twins and that one would be male, she sent work to Minato and began to make arrangements. We had thought all went according to plan and that the Shadows had been deflected from taking interest in Earth. Naruto and my brother Konshu, Naruto’s Guardian, returned to Konoha with Minato and all further contact was silenced.”
“It was not until the Shadows struck at the heart of the White Moon that everything changed. Nohara Rin, the kunoichi Minato had left to guard and teach his daughter on the moon, led Serenity, her Inner Guard, me and one other Lunar Guardian to Sanctuary in Konoha as the palace was overtaken. It was then that we learned what happened to Serenity’s father. So, we have adapted, and now function as citizens and shinobi of Konoha. One day, when Serenity has come of age, she will likely return to the White Moon as she has said and see what has become of our past home. As for her comment about the Bijuu, there is much we have been learning and more yet to be learned. However, it seems there are connections between the Silver Alliance and the tailed beasts, between the White Moon and Kyubbi in particular.”
Before Tsunade could really respond Yukina then spoke up.
“That is where I come in, actually. I am Yukina, daughter of the matriarch of the Tsuki Kitsune clan of the White Moon. The Kyuubi, as you know him was and is my eldest brother and heir of our clan. He came to this world centuries ago to act as a Guardian, but something went wrong, and we lost contact as the other members of the Silver Alliance also lost contact with their own chosen champions. We had heard nothing of our lost kinsmen until recently, when I detected his power on this world once more. I volunteered and came looking for my brother and found Naruto. Serenity recognized me and offered me a pact to prevent bloodshed. I accepted. She is now my sister as much as Naruto is her brother and I will remain here with her and Naruto. I have not yet learned the full story of what led my brother to his current state, but it is my hope that with Serenity we will be able to restore him and perhaps the other champions to their true form and intended purpose.”
“So, are you nine-tailed like your brother?” Tsunade then asked half expecting the woman to transform with nine tails lashing.
“No Lady Tsunade, I have five tails currently.” Yukina responded.
“Five… well then.” Tsunade stated flatly, obviously a bit overwhelmed at the moment. She closed her eyes and massaged her temple. “I need a drink.”
Jiraiya suddenly grinned, “So that makes you a fox!” he then declared and waggled his eyebrows at Yukina suggestively.
Yukina only smiled, “The proper term is Kitsune old man, but I would prefer to be addressed by name. You wouldn’t want to upset my big brother by slighting his favorite sister now, would you?”
Jiraiya suddenly paled and sputtered an apology, then got punched by Tsunade.
“Honestly Jiraiya, your perverted habits are going to get you killed. Can you not be serious for even 10 minutes?” She admonished.
“But what a way to go~.” Was the muffled reply from the Jiraiya shaped heap at the base of the tree he had collided with?
Tsunade scoffed but focused her attention on the blonde twins sitting before her. Hidden royalty from another world under her nose, as if worrying about becoming Hokage wasn’t bad enough. Just what was she supposed to do with them, Naruto at least had been raised in Konoha his entire life, but she couldn’t expect his sister to embrace the shinobi life—
“Tsunade.” Jiraiya said her name with no embellishments and his tone was serious. She turned to meet his gaze and noticed the smirk when she did. “You are forgetting who their father is.”
She glared at him, just because they had grown up together gave him no right. Then she realized what he had said and turned her gaze to the twins again. He was right. Royalty or not, they were also a legacy of Konoha.
“Fine. We’ll get the details sorted out regarding all of that later. Now what about you!” she then stated pointing to the supposed older brother of the twins. That one she was sure was falsity, there was no way for it to be otherwise knowing what she now knew.
“Ah, that tale is more for my telling.” Jiraiya intervened. “This one is close to home though Tsunade. The Gaki and his sister know most of it and it does involve them some as well, but you must decide first if you want all of us here to know the whole tale or not.”
Tsunade sighed, of course her old teammate would complicate matters further. She really did need that drink.
“Before you make such a decision Tsunade-sama,” the older teen spoke, “I have sworn an oath to Usagi-san, and I owe her a great debt. Yukina-san is blood bound to Usagi-san, there is nothing I will hide from them at this point. Too much is at stake, and I will do everything for Konoha and its Legacy.”
Tsunade arched a brow at his statement. His wording was too precise to not have the double meaning behind it. She surveyed those in the clearing. It went without saying that secrets were a large part of shinobi livelihood, but information was crucial. Lack of information lead to unnecessary deaths, however there was also a certain freedom in ignorance. Shizune, she trusted and would be her primary aide and already kept many of Tsunade’s secrets. From what Jiraiya had hinted at, the Uzumaki twins were already neck deep in this one and it was centered around the man now masquerading as their older brother. The only true unknown of the group then was the silver haired woman…fox… what the hell should she call her anyways, but the mystery Uzumaki had just provided her with the security she needed. Yukina was bound to Usagi, and he had all but flat out said she would learn of the details anyways. She turned her brown gaze to Jiraiya once more.
“Tell me everything.”
Jiraiya nodded and began to speak.
“As you know and our history tells us, Uchiha Madara was able to summon and control the Kyuubi no Kitsune. That is fact and legend.” and Jiraiya began to tell his tale.
“Then twelve years ago the Kyuubi reappeared practically on top of Konoha’s gates and terror filled the village. Namikaze Minato, our Yondaime Hokage managed to defeat and seal the Kyuubi into Uzumaki Naruto, his son. The crisis was ended, but the terror left its mark even more than the actual bloodshed and casualties. The village feared a return of the fox but there were no answers as to what had caused it to appear in the first place. Without answers, fear led to speculation and irrational paranoia. Over the next few months and year’s fault began to be placed on the Uchiha clan for the Kyuubi’s appearance despite the lack of evidence.”
“I don’t remember learning about this at the academy…” Naruto mumbled.
“You probably didn’t.” Jiraiya answered.
“I remember something about the battle between the Shodaime Hokage and Madara from the history courses Sandaime-sama had me and the other girls take shortly after we became genin. But there wasn’t much detail.” Usagi mentioned in consideration.
“And that’s the truth of it. No one really knows the details, and any who did know the details of that battle are long gone.” Jiraiya stated. “That lack of information combined with the village’s fear was a recipe waiting for disaster and it was only a matter of time. Naruto was protected by the Sandaime’s law, and as much as the villagers hated, he was still only a child. The Uchiha however were not so protected, and their clan has a history of tension with the village.” Jiraiya continued shifting the focus of the story away from the Kyuubi and onto the Uchiha.
“Ever since Uchiha Madara’s falling out with the Shodaime, the clan has had to face prejudice in the village. The Shodaime did what he could to alleviate this. His decision to give the Uchiha clan the task of organizing the police force in the village helped, but it was only a beginning. Tensions remained for decades, and it wasn’t until the Third Shinobi War followed by the appointment of the Yondaime Hokage that it began to improve further. The loss of the Yondaime undid all of that and more. Tensions rose and the village as a whole began to isolate and pull away from interactions with the Uchiha clan, despite their prestige and history of serving the village. For seven years things festered, further driving wedges between the Uchiha clan and Konoha as a whole. The situation continued to deteriorate, and I know for a fact the council and Hokage feared civil war with the Uchiha Clan. Then disaster happened. In a single night the Uchiha clan was killed save for two. The one responsible for the massacre, Uchiha Itachi, heir of the clan and an Anbu Captain at age 13 and Uchiha Sasuke age 7, Itachi’s younger brother.”
Tsunade frowned, she knew most of this and considering the lack of interruptions so did most of the others, so why was Jiraiya being so long winded about it.
“The one piece of information that the Hokage and council never knew however, was why Itachi did it. We now have that answer.” Jiraiya met his old teammates gaze and smirked at her expression. “Tsunade let me properly introduce you to Uchiha Itachi.”
Tsunade’s head turned quickly to focus on the supposed older Uzumaki, and her gaze narrowed as she studied him with this new information. The disguise was subtle but now that she knew what to look for, she could see the signs of an Uchiha heritage hiding underneath. She blinked in surprise though as the boy rose and then kneeled before her, head bowed. “It is an honor to meet you and continue serving Konoha Hokage-sama.”
“Continue serving Konoha?” Tsunade responded skepticism laced through her voice. “How can you possibly…” then she trailed off her eyes losing focus as certain dots connected, she turned her gaze to Jiraiya a few moments later. “Danzo.” She stated flatly.
Jiraiya nodded. “Shimura Danzo issued a black ops order to Itachi to kill the Uchiha Elder Council. It is unlikely that we will ever find hard evidence of such an order save for what is in Itachi’s memory. A memory that was altered and hidden until Usagi revealed it.”
Tsunade’s eyes opened wide, and she glanced at the fidgeting blonde girl.
“I was only trying to protect Sasuke— “she began to answer the unspoken question.
“You did protect Sasuke.” Itachi interrupted as he shifted into a sitting position, “and freed me from a very subtle and strong genjutsu.”
“Itachi, if you could please explain from the start of your encounter with Sasuke.” Jiraiya suggested.
“Of course, Jiraiya-san, however, to properly explain I will also have to speak of Akatsuki.” Itachi stated.
Jiraiya frowned but gave his agreement.
“It was not long after I left Konoha five years ago that I was recruited into an organization called Akatsuki. I was eventually, assigned a partner, Hoshigaki Kisame, formerly of Mizugakure and the Seven Swordsmen. The task we were assigned was to evaluate and capture the host of the nine tailed fox.”
“The task you were assigned was to capture a jinchuuriki?” Tsunade asked, surprise in her voice.
“Yes Tsunade-sama. We tracked Naruto, Usagi and Jiraiya as they left Konoha and planned a diversion to distract Jiraiya while we sought the boy. It was during our meeting of Naruto that Sasuke arrived challenging me as I had set him up to do the night, I left Konoha. Ruled by his rage he posed little threat, so I aimed to drive him to be stronger. I ensnared Sasuke in Tsukiyomi, a genjutsu ability of the Sharingan that cannot be countered save by another Sharingan of equal or superior strength. That is when the unexpected happened. It was not Sasuke alone in the mindscape of the genjutsu, but Usagi appeared as well. Unlike Sasuke she was not trapped by the rules I had set in the illusion. As I had years ago, I made Sasuke watch again the memory of the night of the Uchiha Massacre. She interfered when the memory version of myself tried to use Tsukiyomi on the young Sasuke in the memory. The jutsu backlashed through me and it was then my memories that began to be revealed. If that was all it had been, it would have been damaging enough. However, the memories began to shatter and replay differently with each round until at last there was the nothing left to shatter. What was left is what I believe to be unaltered true memory.”
Tsunade shifted her gaze from Itachi to Usagi. “We will have to discuss exactly what happened and what you did at a later time Usagi.” She then turned back to Itachi, “Please continue.”
“Danzo did indeed issue the order to kill the Elder Council, but not the entire clan. I followed that order, and it was after that mission was completed that I met another Uchiha in the compound. While I killed the Elders, he slaughtered the clan. I do not know the true identity of the person as he wore an orange face mask, but a mangekyo sharingan eye held my own gaze from the single eye hole on the mask. I was snared before I even knew what had happened, believing I had in fact killed the clan and set the stage to traumatize Sasuke. I believe it was this individual who truly wished me to drive Sasuke to such anger and hatred which would then make him easier to manipulate later on.”
“While this information is important, it does not explain your motives Itachi.” Tsunade stated an edge of steel in her voice.
“I am loyal to Konoha and will always do what is required of me to protect Konoha’s Future.” Itachi responded without hesitating.
Tsunade arched a brow; the answer was too practiced. “There’s something more, if you want my trust, tell me everything Itachi.”
The young man opened his mouth and the hesitated. He closed his eyes as he seemed to consider his next words carefully. “I care greatly for my little brother Tsunade-sama. I do not want to see his future stained by the shadows of our clan’s past. My brother showed care for Usagi-san over even his hatred and anger at me. When I started traveling with Jiraiya and the Uzumaki genin, I wished to understand why. She has already saved my brother from himself, for that alone I would have owed Usagi-san a great debt. She has managed to somehow redeem us from our shadows and will forever be our light in the darkness. “
“And if you ever had to choose between Uzumaki Usagi and Konohagakure?” Tsunade questioned.
Several others around the clearing held their breath, eyes widened slightly at the question.
Itachi hung his head low, “I cannot honestly say at this moment, for it could be that choosing Usagi would in turn save Konoha as well, something deep within me tells me this would be true.”
Tsunade remained silent for several long moments, not sure if she liked his answer or not. She glanced at Naruto who seemed annoyed for some reason and sighed. She really had no right to judge, as she may very well have the same issue with Naruto.
“Thank you for your honesty. Well, Jiraiya, the facts are on the table, you must have a plan since he is walking around in that disguise.” She then shifted the focus of discussion away from the past and onto the future. “And do not tell me you actually want him to pose as their older brother!” She then snapped. Honestly, had the pervert even considered how conspicuous that would be to those who really knew who Naruto’s father was, if not his mother?
Jiraiya hesitated then rubbed the back of his head, “Well I suppose now that I think about it, that probably wouldn’t be best. I’d imagine Shikaku and Danzo out of everyone who knew Minato personally probably know or at the very least suspect who the Gaki’s father is. He could be a half sibling… but that would still be highly unlikely… cousin it is then. The real trick will be keeping Danzo from getting too interested in either him or Usagi for that matter. I don’t think the old war hawk has met her personally yet and it might be best to keep it that way.”
Tsunade considered what she knew her brow furrowed as she considered all the possibilities. “It might not be completely avoidable… but I agree. Her talent in medic ninjutsu will be excuse enough to keep her under my watch. I won’t know what else we can do about Itachi as well until I take office and get a full scope of our current status.”
“So that’s settled then. Until Danzo is dealt with, Uchiha Itachi will be declared deceased. Uzumaki Haachi and Minamino Yukina will arrive in Konoha seeking Uzumaki Usagi. The cover story on file for Usagi and her friends will easily accommodate them. Both of you pay close attention,” Jiraiya then stated turning to the two he had just named. “Uzumaki Usagi and the four other genin she arrived in Konoha with under the guardianship of Nohara Rin are refugees from a small country just outside of the borders of the Elemental Nations. Usagi’s mother ran a boarding school for girls of nobility from both some elemental countries as well as many of the other kingdoms of Terra. The school was destroyed by a rogue mercenary company.”
“The Elemental Nations are separate from the Kingdoms of Terra?” Yukina asked surprised.
“That is correct. Itachi, you will have to help her get current on some of the local customs and history. You two were away from the school on a regular trading trip to negotiate supplies and visit families interested in sending girls to the school. When you learned of what happened, you thought at first that both Usagi and her mother were killed and so did not coming looking for her immediately. However, once you found out that only her mother had ever been found, you knew she may have escaped here to Konoha.”
“If I may add to this Jiraiya-san,” Luna interrupted. “I should write a letter of introduction to Konshu for them. This will have the added bonus setting up my identity as Konshu’s sister living in the Terran Kingdoms. I will at some point need an identity for my human form, this will set the groundwork for it.”
“That’s a good idea.” Jiraiya agreed.
“Won’t it be suspicious if we arrive in Konoha with you?” Yukina then asked.
“I’ve thought about that, but it’s easy enough to say we met up on the road, you two will have already known Usagi previously. So, she would have been able to verify your identity. Besides Itachi, you are still leashed with her until Hime says otherwise.” Jiraiya answered not really worried about that aspect of their story.
Tsunade blinked. “Leashed… Jiraiya what are you talking about?”
“I couldn’t risk all of this being a trick by Akatsuki. I gave Itachi conditions if he was travel with us. His chakra and sharingan are currently sealed. He also has a seal binding him to Usagi-chan. He cannot be more than 20 yards away from her or it will get very painful very fast.” Jiraiya explained. “Though the seal binding him with her seems to have had some strange side effects when combined with all the healing she has been doing.”
“Jiraiya-san is correct.” Itachi offered. “Even if the leash as he so put it were removed, I believe I would still be bound to her in a fashion… it is not an unwelcome bond.”
Tsunade remained silent as she studied the disguised young man and then she smirked. Usagi really had been doing an excellent job on his healing. She wondered idly if the girl even realized she had been healing far more than physical injuries. “We’ll leave it on for now then with some adjustments. Jiraiya you should modify the distance and remove the kill switch on it. Day to day activities in Konoha will require at least a 100-yard allowance and I don’t want Usagi accidentally killing him or drawing unnecessary attention by causing him unexpected pain.”
“I can take care of that now.” Jiraiya assured and then moved to sit next to Itachi. Itachi offered his wrist without complaint and let the man get to work.
“Good, once you are done, we will head back to the road. I want to make the next town before dark.” Tsunade stated.
Naruto watched silently as the older shinobi studied the seal on Itachi’s wrist and made small adjustments. He noticed Usagi rubbing her own wrist and frowned. What had Jiraiya meant that Itachi was bound to Usagi? Did that mean Naruto’s own bond with her was being replaced? Did Usagi want it? He felt his heart ache and clenched his fists. Usagi was HIS sister not Itachi’s! Why did they have to pretend Sasuke’s older brother was their family! What if he tried to kill them– Usagi suddenly turned to him, her eyes wide and their gazes met. Naruto broke the gaze turning away, feeling embarrassed yet still upset. He turned back suddenly when he felt Usagi’s hands around one of his own.
“Naruto-nii, don’t be upset. Nothing can replace our bond; you are my twin brother. No one can take that or replace it.” Usagi said softly sensing his upset through the bond they had always shared. “Itachi-san cannot kill me. I promise.”
Naruto glared out of the corner of his eye at the older Uchiha and then turned back to his sister his expression softening. “You are the only sister I have Usa— “
She smiled at him, understanding. “And I will always be here.” She answered and reached forward to tap on his chest over his heart. Naruto blushed but returned her smile.
Tsunade smiled at the pair then stood. “Well then now that that is settled. Let’s get back to road. I have no intention of camping out.”
Orochimaru snarled silently as he went through the necessary exercises to familiarize himself with the body he now inhabited. He hissed as he considered the missed opportunities of the last few months and the multiple setbacks from those misses. He still did not believe it had all turned so foul, the only positive of the whole mess was the death of the old monkey Sarutobi. He smirked as there was an inaudible snap and everything settled into place. He straightened a predatory gleam in his eyes.
The grey-haired youth kneeled at Orochimaru’s side in an instant and began speaking. “Tsunade was last reported seen traveling with Jiraiya and his group back towards Konoha. Reports from within the village hint that she is to be Godaime.”
Orochimaru glared. “That is obvious. You better have more for me after all the recent disappointments.”
“Of course, Orochimaru-sama. It has taken some time, but I have finally confirmed that the blonde girl we saw arrive while dealing with your old teammates is the same one that was caring for Sasuke-kun at the time his curse seal was removed. All medical files related to Sasuke-kun have become highly classified, but I was able to uncover that the girl, Uzumaki Usagi, seems to have a natural talent in healing. Rumors around the medical staff is that it is not like normal medical ninjutsu but are unclear if it is a bloodline ability or not. There are tales being told of her healing almost being something of a purification process. If this is true, it is likely that she was able to purge the foreign chakra from the cursed seal on Sasuke.” Kabuto waited.
Orochimaru’s eyes glinted. “A healing bloodline… were you able to confirm anything about her identity?”
“Much like Naruto-kun’s medical files, hers have been sealed by the Sandaime. No one without a Hokage’s authorization can view them. Interesting enough, Nohara Rin, former student of Namikaze and teammate of Hatake resurfaced at the same time she arrived in the village. Considering the associations, it is likely that they are both in fact children of Namikaze and may in fact be twins. They both have exhibited certain characteristics of the Uzumaki clan but are missing other dominant traits at the same time.”
Orochimaru snorted. “It’s very curious that she was kept hidden. It is very unlikely their mother was anyone other than Kushina, and yet as you say everything does not quite match up. Track Jiraiya’s involvement with her. If she is in fact blood of his student, he will not ignore her even if she is not his apprentice. Keep up our intelligence operations in Konoha and Fire country but shift everything else away from there.”
“About Sasuke-kun Orochirmaru-sama,” Kabuto began, then paused waiting for confirmation to continue. Orochimaru glanced at him and arched a brew.
“It seems there was a run in with Itachi.”
Orochimaru smirked. “Perhaps Sasuke will come looking for us after all.”
“Of course, Orochimaru-sama.” Kabuto replied, the low lighting glinting off his glasses and making them almost glow for a moment as he adjusted them on his nose.
“Speaking of Itachi-san, it seems we have a vacancy once again Orochimaru-san. Perhaps you would like to rethink leaving us as you did?” An even toned voice stated.
Orochimaru’s eyes narrowed, and he sneered. “And what makes you think I have any such interest.” The snake stated flatly. “Oh, let’s just say we know that the former host of the nine-tailed fox was not pregnant when the Kyuubi was released that night.”
Orochimaru arched an eyebrow and thing chuckled. “All right, you have my interest… for now.”
A small bird made of paper flew through the air and landed on the head of the still kneeling Kabuto. “We’ll be in touch then soon.” The voice then stated before the one it belonged to vanished.
Orochimaru continued to chuckle as left the room and entered a corridor. “Not Kushina-chan then after all. The father is him of course, but the mother… so very interesting indeed.”
Sasuke paused mid motion and then flinched as he dodged the kunai thrown at him.
“Sasuke-kun! Are you all, right?!” Sakura called out.
Sasuke looked away towards the far-off gates of Konoha. “Ah, I’m fine.” He answered after a moment. Then smirked, “They’re back.” Will he be with them?
“Naruto and Usagi-chan?” Sakura asked in surprise. “How do you…”
“I just know.” Sasuke answered her question quickly not wanting to explain details.
Sakura studied him silently for a moment but then shrugged. He and Naruto had always seemed to understand each other on some other level. “Well, they will probably have to check in at the tower. Want to go meet them?” She asked.
“I’ll go tell the others and meet up with you there then!” Sakura called out and then jogged off.
Sasuke watched her go, although he suspected the other girls would know Usagi was back already. He stood there for a few moments considering how he would deal with their arrival, and the likely hood that his elder brother was likely with them. How would he react to seeing him again now?
He tucked his hands in his pockets and headed for the path that led out of the training grounds. He really couldn’t predict how he would react with everything that had been revealed and those revelations had occupied his mind frequently as of late. Did he still blame his brother? Could he continue to hate the only blood relation he had left when it was so apparent that he had been setup?
He considered these feelings further as he strolled through the village, largely ignoring the calls of greeting that often flickered his way as he often did. He felt warmth spread through him and he knew he was getting close to the twins, a smirk spread across his lips as he spotted familiar shades of blonde. Before he could call out a greeting though he spotted the additional member of their group and voices carried through the crowd.
“I guess you will be staying with us then Haachi-niisan.” Naruto stated as he walked with his hands resting on the back of his head, fingers linked.
Sasuke froze. Haachii-niisan… niisan… His mind went blank as connections were made in an instant. Itachi was here. Itachi was acting as their older brother. Itachi was going to take them away from him just like before… his fists clenched and released as he struggled through the riptide of emotion, he sensed the moment two sets of nearly identical blue eyes locked on him. He ignored one and met Naruto’s fully as rage filled him tinting everything red and the sound of his blood rushing filling his ears. His fists clenched and he hardly even noticed the feel of blood dripping over his fingers. He tried to let it go and failed, and so he ran.
Naruto stood frozen for several heartbeats as the reality of what had just happened washed through him. Sasuke had heard him call Itachi niisan, it didn’t matter that the man was in a disguise, Sasuke would have guessed who he was. Sasuke had known his brother would be traveling with them. His brother… the feelings of unease and discomfort that he had first experienced when Jiraiya had produced Itachi’s disguise came rushing back. Sasuke was … Sasuke was… Shit. With that final thought Naruto shifted into motion, chasing after his raven-haired teammate. He had to fix this.
Sandaled feet flew over the ground, barely touching before pressing off again with well-practiced ease as the blonde boy took off after his teammate. Soon his path left the streets and moved to the roofs, avoiding civilians and other shinobi alike. He barely noticed though so focused on the distant back of his teammate. Sasuke was fast, had always been fast, but Naruto knew he could catch him eventually. He barely took notice as they left behind the streets of the village and crossed into the terrain of training grounds and still Sasuke did not stop. They crossed the wall, startled shinobi yelling at him as they passed. Naruto ignored them, they did not matter right now and still Sasuke ran.
And suddenly they stopped.
Naruto stared at the back of his friend… his brother. Always so proud, so stubborn so, so… Sasuke, he noticed then there was something missing. Sasuke who had always been so very proud of his heritage… of his clan, the fan symbol was missing from that space between his tense shoulders.
“Sasuke…” Naruto whispered and watched as his friends’ hands clenched and unclenched, blood dripping.
Then they were in motion and Naruto found himself instinctively dodging fists, thrusts, kicks. The two weaved around each other as Naruto struggled to keep pace with the sudden flurry. A punch connected with his gut, and he hunched over wheezing, another with his back and he grunted as he hit his knees. Sasuke stood over him panting, his eyes shadowed by his hair and forehead protector.
“Damn it Sasuke…” Naruto choked out. “Would you just let me…”
Sasuke kicked and Naruto found himself rolling with the motion to land on his feet, his intense blue gaze rising to meet that of his teammates. This was stupid. Fine, if the Teme wanted to fight so badly. Naruto let loose a growl and rushed back in, this time not just dodging as limbs began to blur in motion once more.
Usagi winced as the wave of emotions from both Sasuke and Naruto washed through her. Her blue eyes watched as both disappeared quickly through the crowds.
“Do you wish to go after them?” Haachi asked at her side, even he could sense something of what she was feeling though it was faint.
Usagi remained silent and continued to stare after the two genin. Then spoke softly. “No. Naruto needs to work this out with Sasuke on his own.”
Itachi was surprised. From the time he had met the blonde girl she seemed unable to resist interfering when it came to her brother. Didn’t Sasuke need her help as well? Itachi knew his brother was scarred, and it was really all tied to him, this sudden meeting, even if he was in disguise could not be a good thing.
Usagi began to walk forward once more, taking Itachi’s hand in hers and gave him a soft smile. “Even before I came to Konoha Naruto-nii was close to Sasuke. They are closer than most would ever realize, especially since they became genin teammates. They need to mend this on their own and any interference on my part would only interfere with that. In some ways I’m jealous of Sasuke…” she trailed off.
“Naruto!” Usagi called out it in greeting as she ran up to the blonde boy who sat staring out at the sea of Serenity. “It’s been a little while since we’ve met like this! You started at the academy recently, right?”
The blonde-haired boy turned to great the silver haired girl. “Usa-chan! Yeah… though the kids aren’t really any different than before… except well… there is one.”
Usagi settled in next to her friend on the shoreline, she knew how much he struggled with making friends, though she didn’t really understand why. “Well one good friend is worth way more than a hundred fakes.” She offered.
“Yeah…” Naruto answered, lost in thoughts.
“Tell me about him?” She asked.
“He’s in my class… and was really just like the others, but something happened to his family recently. He’s lonely now, though he thinks he hides it, and angry.”
“You know what to do then.” Usagi answered. She knew deep down that whatever hurt it was this boy was feeling Naruto would know how to heal. He had helped heal her own after all.
“Thanks, Usa, besides you I think he’s my first real friend.”
“I’m glad. So, do you want to play?” She then asked and got up giggling quickly followed by the blonde.
“Bonds of family forged even without blood can be just as strong as those of blood.” Usagi finished as her focus came back to the present.
Itachi remained silent as he considered her words, but still felt uneasy. “Sasuke is…”
“I know,” She interrupted. “But Naruto is more like me than you realize. He has the ability to heal Sasuke. Naruto’s gift is both more subtle and direct than my own and I doubt either he or the ones he affects even realize it is happening.”
Itachi arched an eyebrow in surprise. Perhaps he owed his gratitude to both Uzumaki twins and not just Usagi.
“Don’t tell him though,” Usagi then added. “I think he would end up stopping it if it he was actively aware of it happening.” She explained.
Itachi nodded his understanding.
“Come on, I’ll show you where we live and then I need to head to the hospital to meet up with Rin-neesan and Tsunade-sama as she asked.” With that said the blonde girl began guiding her older companion, glancing off in the direction her brother and his teammate had vanished for only a moment before focusing her attention on the path before her.
Fire flared and wisps of displaced air filled the clearing as the two young teens clashed with ninjutsu and taijutsu alike, the sounds of blows being exchanged rebounding around them. A hiss of sparks and an explosion filled the air forcing the two to separate and regroup, both breathing heavily.
“You called him Nii-san!” Sasuke hissed in rage, hurt hiding underneath.
“It’s Ero-Sennin fault! I didn’t like it either, but I had no choice. You think I wanted him to be around my sister!” Naruto snapped back.
“Don’t try to blame someone else! You know!” Sasuke snarled back. Blue sparks crackling to life in his palm.
“…not a dream, more of an ambition, to kill a certain man…”
Naruto responded with a blue swirl of chakra forming in his own palm, clone at his side. “I Know! But You should also know— “
…overwhelming rage at the sight of his teammate… his brother laying still, body covered in senbon. Red swirling chakra flowing all around him, “I’ll kill you…” Naruto hissed as his gaze rose to meet that of the ice using boy hiding in the mirror like sheets of ice.
“Shut up!” Sasuke snarled and rushed forward.
Naruto moved only a fraction of an instant after rushing to meet his teammate… his brother… and then he slowed his hands falling limp to his sides as he slowed to a stop. “You are my brother Sasuke…” he said softly blue eyes meeting red.
A dark-haired boy sat at the edge of the river, staring out over slowly moving water. Behind him on top of the ridge that edged the bank, a blonde boy looked on, a big grin on his face. The blonde boy moved to take a step forward, then stopped as he saw the edge of a smirk on the other boy’s face. The blonde nodded and then rested his hands on the back of his head and wandered off content that the understanding that they weren’t alone had been made.
Tension broke. The sounds of chirping birds faded, and Sasuke’s fist connected with Naruto’s jaw causing the blonde’s face to turn to the side but nothing more.
“He won’t kill me… or Usa-nee.” Naruto said softly then chuckled as he turned to face Sasuke. “He can’t. Ero-Sennin had him sealed and bound to Usa-nee like a puppy on a leash. Can you imagine how annoying that was? He practically doted on her… and she’s my sister damn it.”
Sasuke blinked, the sharingan fading from his eyes. “He doted on her…”
“Yeah… asshole seems to think he owes it to her for whatever it is she did to help you. The guy is weirdly protective… who said he could protect Usagi anyways.” He then grumbled.
Sasuke blinked again, then found himself beginning to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and collapsed onto the ground. His older brother, the man he had hated for so long… trailing after Usagi like an anxious puppy…
“Uzumaki Haachii, my elder cousin will now be staying with us here in Konoha. He and another refugee from my sister’s old home traveled back with us after we met up with them while looking for Tsunade-baa-chan.” Naruto then offered in explanation.
Sasuke looked at him incredulously. “Uzumaki… cousin. You’re joking.”
“Nope. Told you it was stupid Ero-Sennin fault.” Naruto responded as he flopped down on the ground next to Sasuke. “Usa’s got him wrapped around her little finger though.”
Sasuke snorted but knowing what he did of the blonde-haired girl didn’t really find it that unbelievable.
“Ne Sasuke, just what do you do with a sister anyways?” Naruto then asked casually.
“Dobe.” Sasuke responded in exasperation.
“Right… you never had a sister either.” Naruto responded and sighed.
Sasuke rolled his eyes but found himself smiling anyways. “How is it, your family just keeps getting weirder?” he then added not really expecting an answer, he should have known better.
“Cause we are all adopted, duh. That means you too Sasuke. You are an adopted Uzumaki!” Naruto then declared snickering at the idea.
“Shut up! Why would I even want to… idiot.” Sasuke growled as he glanced at the laughing blonde.
“Hey Sasuke… You’ll help me look after Usa-nee right?”
“Do you even have to ask?” Sasuke answered exasperated.
Naruto did not answer but grinned. Then his stomach rumbled. “Ah! Ramen! I forgot! Sasuke come on! I haven’t had Ichiraku’s in over a month!” and with that the Blonde was on his feet and shortly pulling his dark-haired teammate to his.
“Why do I put up with this…” Sasuke muttered but settled into an easy lope beside the blonde who just continued to grin like an idiot beside him. Yet, he could not deny the warm feeling that had spread throughout his chest and how at ease he felt… for the first time in a long time.
One dark gray eye slowly blinked open and then blinked again as the room slowly come back into focus.
“Good morning, Sleeping Beauty.” A female voice said in amusement.
Kakashi blinked as he struggled to focus, he knew that voice. Rin….
He opened his mouth to speak, a bit relieved to feel the familiar weight of his mask across his lips.
“You’ve been in a coma for three weeks. Usagi-chan actually did most of your healing under Tsunade-sama’s guidance. Do you remember what happened?”
“Naruto?” He questioned softly; his voice parched.
“Is fine. He, Usagi-chan, Jiraiya-sama, Tsunade-sama and a few others all returned to the village yesterday. You haven’t answered my question Kakashi.”
Kakashi shifted his head so he could see the face of his old teammate and found himself smiling under his mask. She had been worried about him, he could see it in the dark circles under her eyes and stress lines on her brow and around the edges of her mouth.
“Ah, I remember; Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame.”
“Good. Tsunade-sama will be here in a few hours to debrief you and discuss a few things along with Jiraiya-sama. I would tell you to stay in bed and not push yourself, but I know you will disobey regardless. If you can find the strength to take a shower and change, a clean set of your sleepwear and mask is waiting in the bathroom here. I’ll be back in an hour or so with some food.” She finished making a few notes down on a clipboard before hanging it back on a waiting peg on the wall beside the door.
“Rin…” he said softly. She turned to face him arching an eyebrow in question. “Thank you.” He finished and she flushed then nodded to him and slipped out the door a small smile gracing her lips.
“So, it’s decided then?” Jiraiya inquired as he watched Tsunade stare out the windows of the Hokage office overlooking the village.
“Three years… to separate them for that long Jiraiya… they haven’t even had a year together here now.” Tsunade argued still not really happy about the thought of Jiraiya leaving with the blonde boy who had begun to heal her old heart and bring her back home.
Jiraiya sighed. “I told you already Hime, that is the amount of time we likely have before Akatsuki truly begins to move. And with the loss of Itachi, that may not even hold true. He has to be ready.”
“And what about Usagi!” Tsunade then snapped, her ire rising. “From all you have told me, they will have no qualms against using her against him. If she cannot defend herself than she will be a weakness and liability Naruto cannot afford. You still have not given me any plans for that.”
Jiraiya frowned. “You could take her under wing…”
“I’ll be running the village Jiraiya, and the hospital… and I don’t think I can really teach her much. Her ability in healing is something that will grow with practice, and textbook knowledge will help that… She does not have the instinctual control for any other of my techniques. I had thought to start her on fujinjutsu perhaps, but that will not be enough alone.”
“Haachi has started tutoring her, apprentice her to him.” Jiraiya then suggested.
“And what of Sasuke?” Tsunade snapped back.
“Kakashi has already started more formal training with him.” Jiraiya stated back. “Assign her to Team seven in Naruto’s place. Add Haachi as an alternate sensei. He can then offer instruction to both without being so suspicious.”
“And of the third member of Kakashi’s team?” Tsunade asked?
Jiraiya frowned, he didn’t really know enough about the pink haired girl. “She’s already taking extra lessons at the hospital and with Anko isn’t she?”
Tsunade rolled her eyes. Leave it to her old teammate to be so detailed with his godchildren and flippant about the rest. “I will be apprenticing her if she asks for it. Rin has already suggested such. Shizune will probably start a formal apprenticeship with the blue haired one, Ami.”
Jiraiya blinked in surprise. “Full apprenticeship?”
Tsunade smirked. “Ah. Her control is even better than mine at that age… though her reserves are lacking.”
Jiraiya’s lips curved into smirk to match his teammates and then he sighed once more. “Fine then. Send her to me in 18 months; we’ll make rendezvous arrangements as we get closer to the time. I’ll take her on for 6 months as long as you get her started with a good foundation in fujinjutsu. I’ll speak to Haachi about her training beyond that.”
Tsunade nodded knowing that was the best she was likely to get. Besides having a young teenage girl alone with Jiraiya for three years really wasn’t fair to the girl anyways. “Fine. Give Naruto at least a week before you drag him off.”
“That’s fine. I have a few leads I should follow up on first regardless. I’ll take care of that and come back to pick him up.” Jiraiya stated and then rose to his feet and headed towards the open window to slip out.
“Oh, and Hime, the hat suits you.” Jiraiya stated with a leer then was gone.
Tsunade growled but knew she was blushing regardless. Honestly, she should be used to his antics. She sighed and turned to her desk to find a bottle of sake and begin drawing up the necessary paperwork.
Yukina walked through the streets of Konoha studying the village and the people in it. The village really was surprisingly well established and bustling for a supposed ‘hidden’ village, but then she mused: if it really was hidden, they’d have a hard time getting clients. The culture of the shinobi system this area of the Earth had developed was unique to say the least. They were mercenaries, yet not. They served as the hands of the various ruling families when called upon, and yet they were separate from the courts and entire ruling family social structure. They were both a part, and yet separate from the five elemental nations. If anything, the two structures of shinobi and feudal daimyos were symbiotic, neither independent nor fully dependent of each other.
It was not unlike her brother’s situation with his host. She mourned for the loss of her brother’s freedom, and yet he was content and perhaps even happy. This more than anything had surprised her when Usagi and Naruto, as promised, had arranged for her to talk to her brother in person; well, as much in person as was now possible.
It had been a bit jarring at first, as Yukina had found herself in her kitsune form surrounded by vaguely familiar settings. She recognized it for the palace gardens of the moon kingdom but did not understand why it was this setting at first. Then Usagi had approached her, and she had found herself facing not just Usagi, but Serenity, and she found herself quickly approaching the girl before she had realized she had wanted to. The child of Selene had hugged her tightly, and Yukina wished she had been able to meet the girl before she had watched her home be destroyed. She was not given time to dwell on this, however, as Naruto soon appeared beside her, and the scenery melted away to a dark and leaky tunnel.
Naruto smiled at her and then turned and tilted his head in a gesture indicating they were to travel down the tunnel.
“The seal is this way.” He had offered in explanation.
Yukina found herself amazed again: as they walked, their surrounding changed. Not as abruptly as they had the first time from the Lunar guardians to their current location, but it was still profound and neither Naruto or Usagi seemed to pay it any mind. She watched carefully as dark and worn brickwork lightened to white-gray solid stone and in some places intricate silver markings had appeared etched in the smooth stonework. They had soon come to a stone archway surrounded on either side by smooth gray stonework that then faded into black brickwork. Usagi and Naruto had both glanced her way before they entered, and she hesitated only a moment before following.
Yukina felt herself freeze in motion as she took in the large cage, its door sealed with a single slip of paper.
Naruto glanced from the cage to Yukina and then took Usagi’s hand and tugged her towards another archway in the back of the room. “We’ll leave you here to talk.”
Yukina had said nothing as she stood there and felt tears form in her eyes.
“Do not cry Yukina-chan.” A familiar voice rumbled and soon a large head covered in reddish fur yet flecked with silver appeared and then settled above two paws, the tips of several tails flickering along the side.
“How can I not?” She replied after a moment and then moved forward to press her nosed through the bars as he leaned forward, touching his nose to hers before settling backward again. Yukina withdrew and then settled herself, her own tails curling around to cover her paws.
“It is not as bad as it seems.” He replied. “And it is better than it was.”
“Kurama-niisama…” She whispered the thought of her brother caged like this causing her heart to ache. “What happened?” She finally asked in a soft near whisper.
Kurama sighed, knowing this question had been coming and not looking forward to it.
“From the moment the Guardians were sent here to Gaia’s realm to help guard her during her regrowth, darkness has worked to find hold. At first, it was nothing out of the ordinary, what you would expect to find in such a world that had been so ravaged by chaos and was only beginning to recover. Then it found its hold and it hid itself well. We had just begun to hunt for the source of a blight that been spreading when they struck.”
“They?” Yukina asked.
“Sorcerers. They used dark spells and managed to ensnare me, but that was only the beginning. The source of power they used for their spells… they used everything foul you could imagine: blood sacrifices of children, emotions fueled by rage, lust, greed, fear, and all of it filled with pain. I did not realize the true danger as they poured spells over me until it was too late. They were not using the dark energies they gathered and created just to power their spells; no, they were channeling it into me and from me into the other eight Guardians. They found a way to take the bonds that had been the Guardians strength and corrupted it.”
Yukina’s eyes went wide. “They corrupted the bond… if they did that, then…”
“Yes, it could have spread into the entire clan through me as well, and from there possibly to the Lunarians. Knowing this, I severed my connection to the clan.” Kurama replied, finishing her thought, and stating what she had already begun to suspect.
Tears dripped down her nose. “You have suffered so…”
Kurama shook his head. “We should have found the cult of dark sorcery before they gained enough strength to do what they did. In that, I and the other guardians failed in our duty. Once the darkness took root, it spread, and it was not long before the cult that had entrapped me found and caught the other eight. We had become little more than raging beasts, driven, and controlled by the darkness that ate us from within. They bound us together into one and set us loose to destroy.”
He paused there, taking time to gather his thoughts and Yukina could see that the memories pained him. She waited patiently and, several long moments later, he began again. “Gaia did what she could, but without Lunarian aide to reverse the dark corruption, she could only bind and seal us. It was our saving grace that brought the man known as the Sage of Six Paths here to Gaia. It was only much later that I recognized him for what he was, a Lunarian, but not of any royal line. He did what he could and managed to separate us into nine once more and then sealed us to minimize the damage we could do. Since that time, we have been sealed and resealed into vessels both living and not as the people of Gaia and the Elemental Nations have sought to contain the danger we represent. I did not truly regain my identity until the night Namikaze Minato sealed me into his infant son.”
Yukina blinked back tears and rubbed a paw up along the side of her nose. He had been through so much, and the clan had been so angry with the Lunarians for so long. It was a wonder darkness had not spread farther sooner, and the clan would have been at fault, in part. They were bound closely with the Lunarian people through their ties to the royal line. Just as it was the Lunarian blood that flowed through Naruto that now saved Kurama, it was the new bond she had formed with Usagi that would save her clan from further darkness. “We have been fools.” She stated in a hissed whisper.
“The Clan has distanced itself from the Lunarians ever since you cut your ties with us. We wanted to find out what had happened, but the Queen refused to allow it because of the laws put into place to allow Gaia to heal and regrow without external influence.”
Kurama sighed, he had almost expected this. He had not given his family back on the Moon much thought until Yukina had suddenly arrived, and since then he had thought about it a great deal. “I was afraid something like that had happened. It explains much about Usagi’s rash actions with you, though I’m equally surprised you responded as you did. Although, I suppose she is Naruto’s sister… so it shouldn’t have surprised me, as much.”
Yukina refused to comment on it, her bond with the Lunarian Princess was not something she would regret.
“Kurama-nii…” she began, her voice soft once more. “Will we be able to…”
“Nothing will ever be the same as it was, Yukina-chan.” Kurama answered, cutting her off before she could give full voice to her question. “But it is not the end, and I… have grown to respect my host, even if he is a stubborn idiot.” Kurama stated, wry amusement and fondness in his tone.
Yukina found herself relaxing and smiling at his words. It would not be the same, but it was not the end, and there was hope.
Hope. The children of Selene brought that with them wherever they went. She had heard old stories of such before, but she had never witnessed it as she had now. She glanced up to the Cliffside and the faces carved on its surface, resting the longest on the fourth, for now she would simply have to do all she could to support them.
Konshu rose as he heard the tapping at the nearby window and moved to unlock and slide it open. This would not be the first time he had shinobi visit who preferred windows over doorways as a point of entry. It seemed to be one of those odd character quirks they all seemed to develop.
“Konshu-san, good to see you.” The Toad sage offered as he slipped through the now open window.
“Jiraiya-san. Naruto is out with his team at the moment.” Konshu offered and moved back towards his seat and the waiting cup of tea. “Would you like some tea?”
“Ah, that’s all right. Wanted to let him know we’d be leaving at first light tomorrow.” Jiraiya stated.
“I’ll see to it that we are at the gates on time.” Konshu then offered and continued to pull out a second cup.
“We?” Jiraiya asked a trace of annoyance in his voice.
“Ah. I have made arrangements so that I may accompany you and Naruto.” Konshu offered. “Please sit, the tea is fresh.”
Jiraiya sighed but moved to take a seat. “Now I know you are technically the boy’s guardian, but I’ve already cleared this with Tsunade.”
“I am aware of that fact and there is not technically about it Jiraiya. As my sister Luna served as advisor to their mother and now guardian of Usagi, so I too held a position of importance and was then reassigned as guardian of Naruto. I have not been able to fulfill that duty as I should while here in Konoha as we, that is the Sandaime and myself, struggled to keep their heritage hidden. Your training trip offers an opportunity to remedy that.” Konshu went on to explain without giving the older shinobi much chance to argue.
Jiraiya was tempted to scoff at the man’s words. He was aware that he had become a leader of sorts within the reserve forces, and if rumor was true had done much to improve the organization of those forces. Yet what could he teach the boy that would help his godson against enemies like those of Akatsuki. “Explain.” He finally stated.
Konshu turned a cool gaze on the older looking man, just because Konshu did not appear that old did not mean he did not have the experience. “Your manners could use some work Jiraiya. Is it not the unspoken rule of the shinobi to look underneath the underneath? However, I will answer your questions. I served as general and chief commander of all the Lunarian forces for over several centuries before my lady asked me to guard her son. It is yet possible that the enemies Naruto and the others will face will not only be of the shinobi world. Naruto will need to be prepared. They all will.”
Jiraiya remained silent as he considered how to continue. He had managed to make a fool of himself, and he should have known better. “Forgive me my short sightedness,” Jiraiya offered and was relieved as the man across from him only nodded in acceptance. “Tsunade has cleared this as well then?”
“Of course. I will do what I can not to be a hindrance to your own methods of teaching Jiraiya-san.”
“Ah.” Jiraiya answered slightly unnerved. “You aren’t going to try to cut up my ankles like your sister…”
“Don’t worry Gaki, you’ll see them all again.” Jiraiya said with a soft smile as he watched his traveling partner stare at the ground in front of him. “They promised to write, and the toads won’t mind playing courier.”
The blonde boy sighed but raised his head. “Ah, it’s just… I don’t think I had realized how many people I have that I care about now.” The boy answered then looked skyward, his blue eyes lost in thought.
“Take care of yourself Naruto. I look forward to seeing just how much you’ll grow.” Iruka offered with a warm smile and a sudden hug. “We’ll go out for ramen when you get back, my treat.”
Naruto fought back the tears that threatened to well up at the unexpected emotion saying goodbye to his old chunnin instructor and older brother figure brought up. “I can’t wait sensei.” He finally answered with a smile.
Hinata had then cautiously stepped forward, some of the other girls nudging her forward from behind. She looked down and fidgeted but spoke softly and offered a small box tied shut with twine. “I made this up for you to take with Naruto-kun. It’s a basic first aid kit with more of the healing cream I made included. Please come back safely.”
“Hinata…” Naruto whispered awed. She looked up at his town and they both smiled seeming to forget those around them. “Thank you. You’ll write while I’m gone?”
“Of… Of Course, Usagi-chan already promised to send my letters with hers.” Hinata replied and then blushed suddenly.
Naruto stepped forward and gave her a hug. “Thank you, help look after my sister?” He then asked quietly and Hinata quickly nodded before he released her, and she stepped back.
“I’m not hopeless you know!” Usagi huffed from where she stood near Hinata.
“Only nearly.” Rei then chimed in and Usagi sent a heated glare at her friends now giggling behind her. She decided revenge would come later though and focused on her brother.
“I’ll see you soon Naruto-nii; besides nothing has prevented us from staying in touch before.” Usagi then offered and Naruto only grinned nodding.
Sasuke and Haachi stood just past Usagi with Sakura just after them.
“We’ll look after her, don’t worry.” Sasuke stated before Naruto could even ask. “I’ll be looking forward to a match when you get back Dobe. Don’t disappoint me.”
Naruto grinned, “You bet!”
“We’ll miss you Naruto.” Sakura offered, saying what she knew the other members of team seven wouldn’t.
“Thanks Sakura-chan. Look after Baa-chan for me too?”
“Gaki…” the older woman who approached at that moment growled.
“Well, that’s our que.” Jiraiya stated and without further fuss the group of three turned and headed out the gate.
“And so many young blossoms that will bloom while you are gone~~” Jiraiya added with a leer.
“Jiraiya-san, I can still adopt my sister’s habits if you prefer?” Konshu then spoke causing Jiraiya to immediately huff.
Naruto laughed and looked forward down the road. He couldn’t wait to come home again, but until then there was a lot to look forward to ahead of him. “Hey Ero-Sennin, what are you going to teach me?” He then asked bouncing on his feet as they walked.
Jiraiya snorted and Konshu only chuckled.
“Sakura-chan, you have an appointment with Tsunade-sama in 20 minutes at the tower. Could you give this to her when you see her?” Rin asked as she offered out a scroll tied and sealed closed.
Sakura blinked up in surprise from where she had been reviewing one of the many healer texts that filled the med-nin study room of the hospital. “Appointment with Hokage-sama?” she said in reply confused. “I didn’t request…”
“I did for you. It’s time you asked Sakura-chan.” Rin stated with a smile.
Sakura’s eyes went wide as she realized what Rin was talking about. She had made the comment about wondering what it would be like to be trained by Tsunade shortly after Naruto had left with Jiraiya but had not expected anything to come of it. “Rin-sensei, I couldn’t! I mean, I’m already learning under you and Kakashi-sensei, and Anko-sensei.”
“You won’t know unless you ask her Sakura-chan, and don’t worry about Sasuke, or Usagi for that matter. Their training is formally being taken care of by others and I am not the best teacher for you to reach your full potential. Tsunade-sama is. Now get going if you don’t want to be late.”
Sakura sat stunned for several moments before she seemed to fully accept the idea and then smiled in confidence. “Hai Rin-sensei, thank you.”
Rin only laughed and shooed her out of the study room.
Sakura’s mind was a whirl as she made the trip from the hospital to the Hokage tower. So many possibilities and ideas whirling together she hardly realized it when she had arrived and suddenly found herself knocking on the door to the Hokage’s study after the on duty chunnin had waved her through the waiting room.
A woman’s voice called for her to enter and she opened the door gently and slipped inside. “Hokage-sama, Rin-sensei asked me to deliver this to you.” Sakura began and then offered Tsunade the scroll. The woman accepted it with a smile.
“Ah good, this should be her curriculum for updated courses for the kunoichi. Too much of the courtesan training was forgotten after the second and third wars. It leaves an area of expertise much to empty.” She glanced up at the pink haired genin standing patiently. “Was there something else… Sakura?”
“Y. Yes Tsunade-sama. I. I wanted to ask if you would consider taking me as an apprentice.” Sakura finally asked carefully and bowed down immediately after, not daring to look up and see what reaction her inquiry had caused.
Tsunade smirked, “I wondered how long it would take you to ask. Rin-chan recommended you to me two weeks ago. Shizune seconded it shortly after. However, are you sure this is what you want Sakura? It will not be easy, and because of my own duties you will have to give up taking missions with team seven until I say otherwise.”
Sakura gulped but considered team seven, and the incredible strengths of her male teammates. If she didn’t do this… she would never keep up and be able to support them properly. “Yes Tsunade-sama. It is what I want.”
“Good. We’ll start tomorrow morning during my visit to the hospital. You will be there at 0600 sharp, find Shizune, she will give you your tasks each day. I will review your progress and assign new work as it is called for. You may continue your afternoon sessions with Anko’s team when they are not on a mission for now. Your chakra reserves need work.”
Sakura stood stunned. “I will be there Shishou,” she finally answered a bubble of excitement welling up inside.
“Well get going then. I have work to do!” Tsunade then scolded and the pink haired girl quickly exited.
Tsunade smiled and was glad she had found another reason to be happy about coming home.
Sasuke stared, unable to prevent the slight tensing across his back and shoulders as he watched Usagi walk up the far side of the bridge with ‘Uzumaki Haachi’ only a few paces behind her.
“Good morning, Sasuke-kun!” She greeted with a smile.
“Usa…” he responded unsure of how to respond.
“We received a message to meet with Team Seven here this morning.” She offered in way of explanation.
“Ah.” Sasuke replied and leaned back against the railing his arms crossed. His eyes followed the older ‘blonde’ however as he settled in to sit down on the bridge while Usagi hopped up to sit on the railing across from Sasuke.
“So, any guesses on how late Kakashi-sensei will be?” Usagi asked completely ignoring the tension between the two males.
Both Usagi and Sasuke blinked in surprise and turned to face the silver haired jounin perched on the rail beside Sasuke.
“I’ve come to let you know that for the foreseeable future you three are officially Team Seven. With Naruto being officially apprenticed to Jiraiya, and Sakura now to Tsunade we are down two members. Since Haachi-kun here is still … hmm how shall we put it… on Usagi-chan’s leash this was decided. Any objections? No? Good. I have to take care of a few missions myself so you three are to report to the tower for missions each morning and then continue training while I’m gone. Stay out of trouble!”
And with that said the scarecrow vanished in the familiar flurry of leaves.
“He wasn’t late…” Usagi whispered wide eyed.
Sasuke however looked from the spot his sensei had sat back to the blonde man sitting on the bridge and hung his head. How did he get into these messes?
“I will enjoy working with you Sasuke-kun.” The familiar voice spoke softly, and Sasuke’s gaze snapped upward and then suddenly it didn’t matter anymore as Usagi’s bright presence chased away the shadow. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.