Chapter 8

A/N: So, I have finally gotten around to working on that outline, as for my other stories, I have lost the notebook that those outlines were on in the move and so I will have to remember and recreate them. I'll be moving again to another apartment at the end of the month. I have the basics for what will happen in the next few chapters. So, enjoy. I have gotten inspiration from Shadenight123's The Boy in the Team. I highly recommend it. It's a fic where instead of Sakura Haruno on team 7 there is Shinku Haruno, an average baker's son whose family wanted a girl. And yes, it is complete.

Just saying anything I write is a work of fiction. I do not own any of the characters besides my OC's and I do not own any quotes I put in here from any story I have read/watched etc. Just thought I would put that bit in here as a short reminder of the one I left in the first chapter.

Clarification, I bumped Itachi's age up to match Keiko. I wanted her to show up when Kakashi was Chunin. Kakashi graduated at 5 and became Chunin at 6. I realize that there is a huge plot hole where Obito and Rin didn't graduate until later so How could he have taken the Chunin exam with them the first time if he was already a Chunin when they graduated and they are supposed to be the same age and such. Well, in my fic, Obito and Rin are older. Kakashi entered the academy early, graduated shortly after entering, the only thing that would make that work was if Obito and Rin and their classmates were at around the age they graduated (Which was 9 years old) when Kakashi graduated. About half a year after he graduates and is apprenticed to Minato, then Obito and Rin graduate. Half a year after that, then they all take the Chunin exams. So Obito and Rin are "Rookies" which is basically why they fail the first time around. This is the only way I can think of to fill that plot hole. So Kakashi is 7 when Keiko shows up. Since she has just turned four, Kakashi's birthday and Jounin promotion are coming up and therefore the mission at Kannabi bridge. Of course, this will happen over a span of two or three chapters because a lot goes on in the coming chapters.

BTW: I finally drew Keiko. I've set that drawing as the cover image for the story. Of course, it's when she's older. But we will get there in the plot eventually.


"Okay… well, back to the subject at hand then. What was her response? She's still very young. I can't think of a response that would be too surprising."

""Onii-san, I am under no illusion that the life of a shinobi is a glorious one. Great shinobi are praised for their skill in the shinobi arts. When their skill was not gathered for praise, but for survival. To fail in training when on the path of the shinobi is to accept death and then blame others for your failure, despite the fact that you were the cause of your own failure. One mistake and your life could end. We are tasked with the choice between the few and the many. Life or death. Kill or be killed. Mercy or torture. Choosing to slack off when you have such heavy choices, to disregard all of the work that was put into the village to stop war and bring peace, is to spit on Hashirama-samas' grave. So I will train. And I will survive. And I will take care of my precious people, because I cannot sit on my hands when I know that my friends are out there fighting for a better life of peace.""

"…Seems like the epitome of what Hokage-sama calls "the will of fire…"

"I'm still not sure why she pushes herself so far though. She isn't even in the Academy yet and she trains as if the world will end tomorrow."

The thing about randomly showing up in a place that as far as I was concerned, completely fictional. Is that I would never be able to fully trust anyone. I would need to put on a face. I doubt I will ever find anyone to confide in and a lot of the things I know I will have to find. Trust is a difficult thing. Especially if there are those that put their trust in you when all you do is lie. Whether it's trusting the right people, or trusting the right people to do the wrong thing, the only thing I will be able to rely on here is myself. I could try to change a future that may or may not be set, or I could accept that I can do nothing and live out my days knowing I will probably end up completely dead.

Since I have come here, I may have foolishly let my fear of what may happen dictate my actions. If I am going to do what it is that is necessary, I'm going to have to change a few things. The threats I face are ones that are much larger than anything I could have come across in my previous life.

"The greatest weapon anyone can use against us is our own mind… by preying on the doubts and uncertainties that already lurk there. Are we true to ourselves, or do we live for the expectations of others? And if we are truly honest… can we ever truly be loved? Can we find the courage to release out deepest secrets? Or, in the end, are we all unknowable? Even to ourselves?"

Thinking about this reminds me of some of the main issues I need to tackle. Akatsuki is one that I might not have to deal with for a few years, but Danzo is here and very much at work. The fear of oblivion is something Danzo seems to hold onto like a particularly bad vice. His fear of being forgotten history and his need for absolute control is one of the things that helped Nagato become Pain. Unfortunately, this has already come to pass… Akatsuki is something I can't work on so Danzo will have to be it. I may just have to attempt to join Root before he gets his wrinkly claws into Itachi.

How I will go about getting something like this done, I have no idea. Lies are the best when buried in truth, and saving the characters… no, people, that I have known of for years is going to take many lies. So far, I have mostly been acting as if a fairly-happy prodigy child would. To change this would cause too much suspicion and to suddenly change my view on the academy would cause even more. Because I didn't think about the consequences, just went along with what felt right, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I set myself up for failure. The only thing I can think of is to join and then finish the academy before Itachi. The only way to do this is to create a second face based off of my own personality. As Hamlet said to Ophelia, "God has given you one face, and you make yourself another." The battle between these two halves of identity, who we are and who we will pretend to be, is a task that will set me up to fail. Making a second persona will have to be based off of myself and not a false persona to best fit the situation. I never was a good liar, so making myself one is just something I will have to accept.

Brute force will never be as powerful as deception. You can hit a problem with your fists as much as you want, but using a silver tongue to twist that problem into your favor is something all who take such a path must be excellent at. Learning to stand up straight, to walk right, talk right, to do whatever it takes to finish what I started. I know it is going to be painful, but I have to leave my past where it is. The art of paltering or deception starts from a grain of truth. So far, I have been completely honest in how I feel in a lot of situations, so at least I haven't done too much damage. The first thing I will probably need though is a poker face. Which means I am going to start practicing in everyday settings. If questioned about it, I can just say that I am practicing "Being a better ninja" which is true. The mask will help a lot. For any formal settings, I may have to get a veil or something to use instead of a mask since it is more "feminine". Learning etiquette and acting as such will also help people to underestimate me more. My physical age is another thing that helps me in that manner.

Do you ever get that feeling? You know, the one where your chest feels tight, your trying and failing at not stuttering, and at any moment you expect the person in front of you to just bombard you with a lot of personal questions? That was how I first felt when I met Kushina Uzumaki. It wasn't awe. It wasn't even that much of a nervous feeling. It was downright terrifying. Her personality was such a loud one that I could almost feel her emotions saturating the air around her and the second she singled in on me I would be attacked by the pure fierceness of it. The only reason I hadn't hid behind Kakashi was because not only did I not know what was coming, but because of my mask. Oh kami, if one could love and rely on an inanimate object for the rest of their life it would be me. That mask was quickly becoming my safety blanket.

How we had gotten in this situation I will never know for sure. All I knew was that it seems Minato was avoiding the hell out of Kushina and, as a result, the first of his students to be spotted were her victims. Why did I have to go out with Kakashi today? What celestial being did I piss off enough to be with him when one of the loudest people I ever had the pleasure of meeting with advanced shinobi senses decided to verbally pounce on Minato's student? At least this is an excellent chance to test out that poker face.

"KAKASHI-KUNNNNNN!" A loud distressed feminine voice called out.

My brother immediately froze beside me. Wide eyes scanning the crowd. When we were BOTH scooped up by a blur of red with a very loud voice.

"Where is your sensei dattebane?! We were supposed to meet up ya know!"

The whole time she chattered Kakashi just stayed silent, and so I followed suit. Although being carried around like a sack of potatoes wasn't exactly a preferred method of travel.

"We can talk about it over ramen ya know, Mina-chan has been too nervous lately 'ttebane. And then he just disappears all of the sudden! If I didn't know better I would say that big pervert Jiraya-sama has got him spying on hot springs, but I already checked there, ya know? Wait a minute, who is the squirt I picked up Kakashi-kun? Did you decide to pick up one of those fan-girls? Jiraya-sama better not have sunk his perverted-ness in you 'ttebane! Where is Rin-chan and Obito-kun? I haven't seen them lately either! I'm going to start assuming everyone is avoiding me soon ya know! It's not polite I tell you!"

I don't think she even stopped to breath. Is it possible to hold a full conversation without the people you were chatting with getting a word in? Oh look, Ichiraku, wait a minute, did she just call me a fan-girl?

"Teuchi-san. Two beef and a chicken please! And a Miso for these two runts 'ttebane! I swear Kakashi-kun gets scrawnier every time I see him ya know! Kakashi, you need to eat more when you're training! You're a growing boy ya know? Who did you say this runt was again? Wait no, where did you say your sensei was? I can't believe he just keeps avoiding me like this!"

Hesitantly I spoke up, "Shinobi-san… You haven't given Kakashi-nii the chance to speak yet…"

"Oh-ho, "Kakashi-nii" is it? You put her up to this Kakashi-kun? Do I have to punish you like I punish Mina-chan? Hmmm?"

"…Mah, you misunderstand Kushina-san… This is my adopted sister, Keiko. There has been gossip all over the villiage. I'm surprised you don't know. Imouto, this is Uzumaki Kushina, she is… a close friend? Of my sensei."

"Pleasure to meet you, Kushina-san." I said, giving her a small tilt of my head that was supposed to represent an informal bow.

"Ne, ne, polite little one isn't she Kakashi."

"She's really only started working on her manners recently. I think she figured out that the more she acted out the less seriously anyone would take her and with the village elders pressuring her to join the academy early…"

Well, that plan has seemed to backfire a bit… I suppose keeping it up wouldn't hurt though. They'll just think I'm cute. It's not like any one is overly suspicious of a kid. Unless that kid has already become a genin… I need to start working on increasing my reserves and try to make my body produce the chakra at a rate to match those reserves. Control exercises, flexing the chakra system, concentrating on the gates through meditation.

I still have a lot to do. And not too much longer to do it. While making preparations for Danzo, I also need to figure out what I need to do about Obito and Rin. While I am pretty sure Minato knows some Fuinjutsu, I doubt he knows about tailed beasts yet. I'm also pretty sure he doesn't have "The Yellow Flash" moniker attached to his name yet either. The best way to throw Obito off if Madara does get his hands on him is to make sure Rin survives is to somehow let Rin know that she doesn't have to go back to the village until the crappy seal placed on her is fixed.

At the moment, there are three Fuinjutsu users in the village. If she knows there is another option besides suicide-to stay a jinchuriki-then it might not be an issue. Akatsuki wouldn't go through with its plans because Madara will finally croak from old age, Obito would refuse to extract Isobu from Rin because it would kill her. The only issue would be Zetsu. Perhaps getting Kakashi to study Fuinjutsu along with me, maybe under Kushina. I might just be able to get him to know enough to fix the seal. Rin would then know that the problem would be solved and not commit assisted suicide via Chidori. Since Kakashi is a known veritable genius, it shouldn't take him too long to get to a point where he could fix or alter a damaged seal.

Now how would I go about convincing Kakashi to learn Fuinjutsu and Kushina to teach it…

"Keiko-chan? You've been awfully quite ya know? Something on your mind, hm?"

"Uhm, yes, Kushina-san… I was thinking about how I have been trying to learn Fuinjutsu, I wanna learn it with Kashi-nii. I've been trying to learn it by myself with books but it's hard to understand… And I figured since Kashi-nii is so smart he could help me. What do you think, Nii-san?"

"Mah mah, I'm not very good at fuinjutsu imouto… You might want to ask Kushina here."

"Eh? Why would I do that? You know fuinjutsu, Kushina-san?"

"Of course, 'ttebane. I'm an Uzumaki. I grew up writing fuinjutsu." She replied, incredulously.

"Ohhhh can I learn? Please?"

Kakashi looked at me skeptically. "Keiko, we'd have to ask tou-san about that since fuinjutsu is so volatile."

"Alright Kakashi-nii… Kushina-san, sorry I bothered you about it. If it's okay with you and my tou-san I would still like to learn it." Acting a bit downcast, I curled in on myself. A little bit of a guilt trip couldn't hurt the situation.

"You could be my own cute little student 'ttebane! Of course, if it's alright with your family, I will be willing to teach you. First, you're gonna have to go through some calligraphy lessons, but if you're still interested afterwards… This is gonna be so awesome ya know?! I already taught Minato-kun what he knows, and Jiriya-san works with us sometimes too. I haven't met anyone else that was very interested in it. Anywho, I have to go now. Things to do ya know? Just go with your Nii-san to his team training after you ask and Minato should lead you to me after. Ja ne!"

The exuberant red head was already speeding off, distracted by wherever her thoughts were taking her this time.

The ramen chef shook his head in disbelief. "I suppose I will have to add it to her tab. She's here so often she will probably be back before the day is out."

"Ah." I nodded. It wasn't that hard to believe. Who would have thought that a ramen stand had a tab? I suppose it's only for the most loyal of customers, but still… Odd.