Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

Please note I will use Japanese honorifics and titles throughout this story.


Raining Pebbles

-Arc of the Ram-

Akane doesn't know if her greatest weapon is her make-up brush or her kunai, but as part of the Land of Earth nobility perhaps it can be both.


Perhaps if Akane was an actual three year old child it would have been easy to let the anger she was feeling dissipate and to leave it to the adults to handle the events that were unfolding. The situation should have been to complex for a child to understand. Except Akane is not three years old, and can easily realize she's been fooled by the teacher she had come to enjoy learning from most. If this was her previous life she would have let her fists clench and eyes narrow - because if you didn't show it you were a pushover, easily taken advantage of. Here in this new world, in her new role, she could only blink steadily. She reigns in the emotions as her mother does, keeps her voice as steady as Uncle Iemitsu, and face impassive like Aunt Setsuna.

What use was it getting furious, when grandfather Toyotomi would handle everything simply?

The loud bang resonates throughout the room as the previous Maruyama Head's palm slaps the table, "What is this nonsense! Remove your weapons this instant!"

No one moves, and the nobles can see the fury building in their patriarch as his eyebrows become drawn and lips thin.

As usual it is up to Sunako to do damage control, before Toyotomi begins to execute people left and right for disobeying a command.

Akane couldn't help the sharp intake of breath as she watched her mother's smooth hand grab the kunai's blade resting against her throat. Before small beads of red could appear on snow white skin, the man instantaneously dropped his hold on the weapon as the woman began to pull. Sunako lets a smile grace her features, before she wordlessly drops the weapon onto the floor. Power move is all that Akane can think. Despite the ninja's show they were still unwilling to actually harm the Maruyamas, they were still afraid of them and their power. So with all the grace the young girl can muster she stands tall, takes the older woman's hand in her own, and steadily walks to grandfather Toyotomi's waiting side.

As they fall into seiza, Aunt Setsuna beckons the samurai over. With a disgusted grunt the sword is sheathed, the towering men stand next to the Maruyamas and across the shinobi who all sit across the room.

Uncle Iemitsu is the first to speak, "Mitsuka, you are all dismissed. Have everyone retire to the kitchens."

"Yes, my lord."

The salt and pepper haired woman's eyes never leave Manaka as the servants shuffle out of the room quickly in single file. Her lips tug down as the bobbed haired teacher does not budge. The frowning only ceases when Uncle Iemitsu states, "Manaka will stay, she is a kunochi after all."

The sliding of rice paper doors and a heavy stare is the only response he receives as the older woman makes her exit.

As if talking about the weather Sunako asks, "Manaka, continue. What were you about to say?"

For someone who had brazenly announced that the young miss had cast an illusion on the leader of the Iwa ninja, she had become eerily silent. The 3 year old girl wonders if this was what Manaka actually was like - blank hazel eyes and voice devoid of emotion. It makes her wonder how the woman had been able to so passionately admonish the young girl, driven hazel eyes pushing Akane to do her best. Perhaps it was all a fa├žade - it seemed like ninja were as deceitful as the elderly Maruyama always preached.

The koto is placed on the floor, and with a nod from the Tsuchikage, Manaka debriefs the room, "My name is Manaka - I am a chunin who serves Iwagakure. Due to my background as a medical kunoichi, I was tasked with monitoring Akane-sama who had begun showing promising skills that would serve our village well. Due to the restrictions Lord Maruyama placed on us ninja I was off active duty and was sent to access the young miss's potential and development."

The two cousins share a look, it is the minuscule eyebrow raise that reassures the young miss that he is just as confused as she is.

One look at the three siblings however, shows Akane that perhaps the children are the only confused people in the room. As if speaking nonchalantly about the weather her Uncle asks, "You decided to infiltrate our household then, Onoki?"

"Really!?" Manaka shouts incredulously. "That is not what's important!"

Releasing like word vomit, the Manaka that the raven haired girl is familiar with is back. Screeching and wild, with a glint in her eye the woman states, "Akane-sama is merely 3 years old and was able to place a genjutsu on us all, the smell of the cherry blossoms, the warmth of the sun, and the sounds of robins. Look where we are right now! In this room in the evening when winter is approaching, yet we could experience all of that?"

She is met by silence as Aunt Setsuna continues to look with disinterest out the window, Uncle Iemitsu and Sunako sending the inquisitive glance at her as if she was spouting nonsense. It is only when her eyes rest on the previous lord - the only one to continue showing rage that she asks, "Are you just going to deny what happened?"

"It's because of you that she has learned this. Because of you she has learned to," he spat, "create illusions."

It is as if they are the only two in the room as they continue to shout, "Akane-sama was born with it, she has tremendous talent - it would have been a waste to let it rot because you refused to acknowledge her lineage!"

"Exactly and her lineage is as a Maruyama. She is delicate, innocent, and fragile. Not some ninja!"

"Except she can also cast illusions. She is proficient, she is gifted!"

"My granddaughter would have never been able to do something so monstrous unless it was because of your wicked teachings!"

Akane cannot comprehend how the other adults in the room merely stare at the ping pong of words, the faces of the inhabitants carefully blank.

"Well this wicked teaching could be used for Iwagakure - for the Land of the Earth! She has the natural aptitude for it - I simply helped her cultivate her talent, that would have been wasted in this household!"

"Absolute nonsense!"

"Two years ago." As usual it is Sunako who stuns both parties, as she gives the kunoichi a slight nod before continuing, "I noticed it two years ago, and during that first instance Manaka was there as well. Akane can control chakra just as they can."

Akane knows that Toyotomi is attempting not to yell - to not let his rage take over and be directed towards his eldest child. It is the refusal to look at his daughter, the firm gaze he holds towards the family plaque high above their heads at the end of the hall.

Unity

Maruyamas have strength in family - and they will not be weak, will not show the dissonances in front of others.

We will all prosper together or all go down as one.

With Toyotomi's rage quelled, Manaka continues to speak her mind. "Her chakra control is phenomenal. Kill me if you must, but the fact is you can't change her parentage as much as you try. She is a bonafide kunoichi"

"Kunoichi? She can't possibly mean..." It is Uncle Yasuno's turn to look disgusted at the insinuation, he turns towards his wife who continues to look out the window. Frown marring his face at his in-laws lack of reaction.

"Of course she can do it, she is my granddaughter as well."

The two cousins are unsure of what is more horrifying - Onoki's declaration or the sound that emanates from Aunt Setsuna. The amused huff is the closest to a laugh the two cousins have ever heard from their Aunt. Her red lips quirk as she slides her eyes from the window to Onoki's companions, "Oh no, please continue. It's just absolutely remarkable you have the gall to say that. It was Sunako nee-sama who had raised her, clothed her, taught her to live properly. What did you and your family ever do?"

The loud guffaws that make Akane's skin crawl is back as Kitsuchi's dry amusement matches Aunt Setsuna's. "If your family hadn't sent my brother out of Iwagakure and just acknowledged him than perhaps he would have been here right now teaching her the shinobi way - your sister also wouldn't have been so infamous!"

"Brother? What brother? I believe on your family registry, you are the only child of the Tsuchikage." She challenged.

Kitsuchi's silent wife grabs a hold of the shaking man's hand, before it is pushed off. The ninja barely let's out a warning before the secrets spill from his mouth. "You think having your damned samurai in here will stop me from speaking the truth? You made it taboo to even have his name mentioned, erased from books, taken off the record, yet in this situation you refuse to allow him to come back? When we are facing Konohagakure? When Kumogakure looms around our borders?"

The burly man switches targets as he stares into the impassive eyes of Uncle Iemitsu, "Are you not the Minister of War? I believe you see the value just as we do."

"How dare you," before the Maruyama Head can respond the same angry voice is back. Grandfather Toyotomi's anger is redirected at the thought of Akane's father, "it is better for him to be out there in the wild where he belongs."

Akane can sense the way her mother shifts, the same melancholic face she makes when she stares out the window at night is present. It is clear that the older woman will not come to her lover's defense as Toyotomi continues his tirade. "The farther away he is from my daughter and granddaughter the better. After all it is because of you and your godforsaken family she was kidnapped!"

Onoki glares back as he remarks, "We protected her."

"No, you made her a target, you made our family a target." Aunt Setsuna uncharacteristically raises her voice, "Don't think that we don't know it was you who tried to make her play in front of the Daimyo, she would have been labeled a traitor! She could have died! Is that what her so called flesh and blood would want?"

Akane blinks - want to ask, needs to inquire what this means. It is Tetsuya that reads her mind as he asks out loud, "kidnapped?"

Aunt Emiko who still wishes to shield the children reaches for both toddlers, "Come Akane, Tetsuya. It's time for you two to retire for the day."

The young girl stamps down her questions as she looks at Sunako's reassuring smile. "Go my sweet, we will take care of things here."

The calm is a contrast compared to the bellowing of her shinobi uncle, "She needs to learn the dangers that are out there, especially during this time - we are in the beginnings of war!"

She is rushed out as a flurry of exchanges fly between her two grandfathers.

"She is a Maruyama and that she will stay."

"I wonder how the Daimyo would react if he knew his grand-niece had the ability to become a shinobi?"

"Get out or else I will assure you that, Akane will be the only grandchild you will ever have." At this Kitsuchi growls as his arm stretch's across his wife's large belly.

These are the last words Akane hears before she is ushered out of the room, Onoki's gaze swivels to hers as she leaves.

There is no love in his gaze.


Dear Father,

I have been told that you are a ninja, I cannot say that I am surprised. It makes sense now why grandfather hates them, I had always thought it was because he thought they were beneath him. Is that why you and mother met by the Stone Monument? Perhaps you had been looking at the Will of Stone as Han does.

Han is a friend that I have made, I suppose another reason why my new acquaintance has not been mentioned to grandfather is because he is a ninja.

I understand that you are a ninja, your father and brother are ninja as well.

However does that mean I should be one too? They claim I have the ability, but I am not so sure. I do not remember the memories Manaka claims to have, but mother says she remembers them clearly. Perhaps I was too young to remember.

Am I expected to follow in your footsteps?

What should I do?

I do not want to be a ninja.

I hope you are not disappointed, but I hope you do not fault me in wishing to stay by mother's side in your stead.

I hope you stay safe in the war and are able to return one day.

With much love,

Maruyama, Akane


As Akane stares around the room, she realizes that her mother and her siblings had possibly planned for the confrontation with the Tsuchikage. As per usual with the Maruyama siblings, there is an utter calmness in the room as they slowly sip on their tea around the table. The spouses of Sunako's siblings are not present, Aunt Emiko's lively presence is not there to break the tension and Uncle Yasuno's domineering personality is not there to make her feel uncomfortable.

"Akane, would you like to know?"

She wonders if this too is a secret, only for Maruyama ears.

The toddler's eyes never leave her mother's brown orbs. The ever present gentle smile, tinged with sadness stretches across Sunako's face.

One night is not enough time for Akane to process her shinobi roots. The young girl wonders however if it is truly needed, after all - what does it matter? The star crossed lovers of Aunt Emiko's tale, her ninja father and noble mother, do not change the truths that Aunt Setsuna have stated. It was the Maruyama name that she has been brought up with - she was Sunako's daughter, she was Toyotomi's granddaughter.

"Only if you believe I must, mother."

If Sunako wanted to reveal the secrets about Akane's father, then she would let her. Let her mother do anything, to alleviate her heavy heart.

She can feel the older woman's hands meet her own. The oldest Maruyama admonishes softly, "My sweet, you need to tell me your opinion once in a while."

"I am Maruyama, Akane. Opinion or not that will not change, no matter what I hear."

Uncle Iemitsu's sigh can be heard from across the table.

"Too filial this one."

The black haired child can see from her peripherals the proud smile on Aunt Setsuna's face. The woman nods in approval before speaking, the cold sarcasm from yesterday's events no longer present. "Akane you deserve to know about your," however the sneer is back from the day before as she finishes, "other heritage."

Sunako speaks of her lover more openly than ever as she begins, "Your father is a ninja - just as Onoki-san said. For now I can tell you a small piece of your story, and as you grow older I will continue to share the rest. It is a long story."

"Even longer than Mitsuka-sensei's lessons?"

She watches as the gentle chuckle drains the tension from her mother's frame. The girl smiles sweetly despite her inner thoughts. In all honesty Akane wanted to get it all over now - but if Sunako was only ready to tell a sliver, than so be it. She nods and remains silent as she follows along with Sunako's tale.

"He is one of the strongest shinobi in the village, and he is Onoki-san's first born son. As your Aunt Emiko likes to regale, I met him at the Will of Stone monument. Long ago I had a disagreement with your grandfather, my father." At this her mother pauses and it takes some restraint for Akane to not quirk her brow at the way Aunt Setsuna looks out the window with downturned lips.

"It was strange - I confided with him about my troubles. Perhaps because he did not grow with the same ideals we had, he brought perspective. We became each other's sounding boards, and he is where I believe you get your level headedness. Oh, and your shyness. Both of you are shy like sheep, utterly adorable." At the memory, a delighted smile momentarily replaces Sunako's melancholic face.

This time Akane's head does turn as a strangled noise makes its way out of her uncle's throat, before he colors a beet red. After he composes himself he mutters, "only you would think that man and adorable belong in the same sentence."

The youngest Maruyama sibling can only nod in agreement. For the first time Aunt Setsuna looks flummoxed as she stares at her sister in disbelief, "love is certainly blind."

Akane would have to admit her mother's statement was questionable. She cannot imagine anybody related to Onoki and Kitsuchi to be regarded as cute. She likened Kitsuchi to a grizzly bear with his large build, square face, and serious demeanor. If her father looked anything like his brother., well...

She is forever thankful she has her mother's looks and not whatever physical genes Onoki's bloodline carries.

Blatantly ignoring the shocked looks Sunako continues, "Your father is a very special man."

"You're special too, mother."

"A different type of special my sweet. But you are correct - because I was so special and your father was so special - it meant that you were even more precious. You had the strength of your father and your lineage from me. Because of that people wanted to take you away from us."

Her mother had summarized the kidnapping incident that had occurred two years ago. Many events had transpired during the month long trip from the Land of Earth to the Maruyama villa in the Land of Hot Springs. Sunako had gone to look through her childhood summer home, to find a picture she wished to gift Aunt Setsuna during her wedding to Uncle Yasuno.

Akane had been a few months old and had begun to show signs of accidental chakra manipulation during the trip. Contrary to popular opinion - that Sunako had been abandoned by her lover, the young girl's shinobi father and his student Manaka had stayed by Sunako's side frequently. Manaka who would be able to help with Sunako's motion sickness and Akane's father as a bodyguard. During their rest stops he had shown infant Akane the same chakra control tricks as his brother - in an attempt to amuse her with her favorite sparkly marbles and collection of pebbles.

No one had expected that when the noblewoman declared play time was over and it was time to resume their journey, that Akane would smack her chubby palm on all her trinkets, only to have them stick to her skin when she lifted her hand up- defying all concepts of gravity. She had been rushed into the caravan, and even the two shinobi had a hard time wresting off the toys that were practically glued onto her appendages. The three adults had spent the rest of the trip hiding the infant's abilities unsure of how to proceed with the revelation.

Sunako had confided in her other noble companion, her mother, the honorable and late Hanae Maruyama, about her plans. They would tell Toyotomi of the news upon returning to Iwagakure, let him know and call a meeting with the Tsuchikage to discuss what path Akane should follow. At the time the Maruyama lord didn't have the most positive view of shinobi, still considering them as rogues, but he hadn't begun despising them yet. Perhaps Sunako and Hanae thought, Akane's new found abilities could make their ties between the Land of Earth and Iwagakure stronger than ever.

Unfortunately, it took one ambush from unidentifiable mercenaries for the plan to go up in flames. Within days of their departure, from the Land of Hot Springs into the unclaimed strip of land connecting the Lane of Earth and Land of Fire, Akane was snatched away from her grandmother's hold and poison had entered Hanae's veins. Manaka had worked tirelessly on preserving the woman's life, as Akane's father had chased after her and the assailants. It had only taken a few hours before Onoki's older son had returned with his unscathed daughter in his bloody arms.

They found momentary refuge in the Village Hidden in the Waterfalls, as Manaka and the med-nin of Takigakure scrambled to find a cure for the mysterious poison.

It was there, that upon arriving Maruyama, Toyotomi watched as a white sheet was draped over his wife's face.

It was there, that one of the servants accompanying Hanae whispered into the nobleman's ears, that a cry of revenge against Akane's father had been screamed before a poisoned needle sank into the woman's arm.

It was there, that Lord Maruyama asked his older brother the Daimyo to exile his daughter's lover, never to step foot in Iwagakure again as for a variety of reasons he couldn't outright kill the Tsuchikage's son. Sunako had pleaded with her father to spare her lover's student as well. Toyotomi's oldest child had claimed that Manaka had managed to pump enough anesthesia into her mother's body to make her passing painless. All other accompanying shinobi were not so lucky - and had been executed for failure in completing their mission of protection.

After Hanae's passing, the oldest Maruyama daughter would keep her child cradled to her heart as her father and Daimyo would publicly degrade the shinobi. Calling the eerie blue and green glow of hands unnatural - monstrous. Sunako kept her lips sealed about Akane's abilities, asking Manaka to do the same in exchange for saving her life. Only when Onoki came thundering down the Maruyama's estate's gates with the young kunochi in tow, did she tell her brother of his niece's skills. Iemitsu had become the acting Maruyama head after their mother's death - their father unfit to make sound decisions regarding the welfare of Iwagakure and the Land of Earth as rage continued to color his thoughts.

Uncle Iemitsu had made a deal with Onoki. If Akane's abilities continued to grow, they would reveal the truth to Toyotomi and she would be given the option to choose her path freely. Toyotomi's children would support Akane if she decided to become a kunoichi, but if she wanted to remain a civilian Onoki would have to leave her be. Manaka was allowed to be stationed as Akane's teacher to assess her talent. If Onoki were to tell their lord father before they were ready, than they would exile his second son as well, leaving him no other descendants in Iwa. The intention was for Akane to at least reach a double digit in age before the deal was brought up again, unfortunately for the Maruyama siblings the unprecedented war with the Land of the Leaves began the following year, leading to their current predicament.

Sunako began to wrap up her tale, "Akane you must remember that your grandfather loved your grandmother immensely. Your grandfather has continued to mourn her and he wasn't ready to hear about any of this yesterday. He loves you just as much, so never question that."

But the young girl did question it - felt her heart ache as her grandfather had refused to look at her that morning during breakfast.

The woman in a child's body wants to ask many other questions. Did the mercenaries know she was Onoki's granddaughter? Was that why she had been kidnapped? What was the point of taking an infant? For ransom? For revenge? If it had been revenge against her father, than why hadn't he been the one who was attacked? Why had it been grandmother? Who else had known this secret?

There were too many holes that her mother was unwilling to fill.

The youngest Maruyama however keeps her inquiries to herself, and continued to smile and nod quietly.

Uncle Iemitsu shakes his head and scoffs. "That Onoki, quite an opportunist. He knows we won't exile Kitsuchi with the war going on."

At this his younger sister frowns, "you're too soft brother. He thinks he has won - exile the wife of his son instead."

"There is a reason women should stay out of political affairs, you should not question the Minister of War."

Unlike his wife who would simply tamp down her anger and smile gently at the comment, the young raven haired sister retorts, "this is more than about your politics, it is also about family. If you had involved me earlier this wouldn't have happened. I still believe it was foolish you let that kunoichi near Akane for so long."

"Setsuna." There is finality in the way Sunako speaks as she states, "decisions have been made for a reason."

Then there's the hard gleam of steel in Uncle Iemitsu's eyes - the same one that Grandfather Toyotomi has, as he notes, "Besides, nothing to fear little sister. No one hurts a Maruyama and gets away with it."


Perhaps she should ask if Reo and Han have any other hobbies outside of their duties as ninjas, as it seems that she always finds them around the Will of Stone monument whenever she ventures off Maruyama grounds. She openly frowns at the older blue eyed man as she muses, "The amusing thing is that I thought you were my father."

"Me?" Reo asks, before placing his hand over his heart and swaying, "Oh wouldn't that have been an honor! To be the lover of such a beauty."

The jounin had finally been able to reveal that Akane's father had taught him alongside Manaka. Reo had not been privy to the S-class secret of Akane's birth, but it had been obvious to him that she was his teacher's offspring. He had been an accidental witness to some intimate moments, and had seen the way Sunako had defended his teacher from ill rumors. He was also well aware his instructor had been a guard for Sunako on the mission that sparked his exile.

So when the puzzling order to forget the existence of Onoki's first born son was given, it barely fazed the inhabitants of the Village Hidden in the Stones. If the populace of Iwa truly wanted to put the pieces together, the truth was clear. But you didn't question any orders given by the Tsuchikage or the Daimyo, no matter how ridiculous they were - you never did, unless you wanted to die.

However that didn't mean Reo couldn't watch over his teacher's legacy, he had simply been less obvious about it compared to others. If one of the Sunako's servants happened to bump into him and drop a note, he'd simply pocket it. If he happened to exchange said note at one of the tea houses near the border with a burly man then so be it. If he happened to meet the occasional Maruyama servant in alleys and drop off gifts meant for the richest little girl in Iwa that was okay too.

He technically wasn't breaking any rules after all.

"You ask perceptive questions," Akane thinks there must be some inside joke as he smirks at her. "Unfortunately little miss, it's still taboo to talk about him."

The girl nods, absorbing the information before she moves on. She mimics her pre-teen companion, as she stares at the Will of Stone. Carefully she reveals, "They want me to become a shinobi like you two."

Han had been quiet throughout the duration of her chat with Reo. He is direct, as always, as he asks, "Will you become a shinobi?"

"I don't know what it means to be one."

What did being a shinobi mean? What did it mean to be a soldier for your country? She had never quite understood it in her past-life, and even less so in her current one. Akane knew she would die for family, but would she be willing to go in the frontlines of a battlefield? Would she be willing to kill someone if she had to?

"Why did you two become a shinobi?"

Reo's facial expression doesn't falter - never seems to falter as the ever present smile is on his face, just like her mother.

"Little one, why do you think?"

Han is always the give away of the two - the way he shifts, eyes settling on the Will of Stone once more.

"I apologize, I didn't think..."

Akane starts to believe it is very possible that all the information has scrambled her brain. Makes her forget the very obvious culture that surrounds her guards. How could she forget - this is the village Hidden in the Stones. There is no such thing as a choice, when you're born within the confines of the village's walls. What would it be like to grow up learning that you were disposable for your country? That your fate was to die for your people.

Reo's jovial tone breaks her out of her spiraling thought process as he laughs and throws his arms around Han's shoulder. "Haha, I obviously became a shinobi to learn how to climb up cliffs and walk on water!"

She can't bring herself to laugh at his attempt to cheer her up. It is only when Han gives her a knowing look and pat on the head that she settles down, "Do what you think is best." For you goes unsaid.


"Wouldn't it be amazing?"

The child stares at her cousin in question as he lets his smile beam. Her mother had never said that she couldn't tell Tetsuya - she of course had left out a few details, like the fact grandfather Toyotomi had executed 8 ninja in his quest for vengeance. The black haired girl had condensed enough details in a way for the future lord to understand the factors that had played into last night's events.

As usual Tetsuya only focuses on the aspect about becoming a ninja.

"We could be a duo - we could make Iwagakure more powerful than ever! You can become the Tsuchikage and I will become Maruyama Head, together we can continue to bring honor to the Maruyama name."

She almost wants to laugh - Tetsuya's childish beams, with his strong dimples never fail to make the small giggles erupt from her body. It is a wonder if her cousin is aware of the gravity of the situation, or is secretly just as clever at hiding his knowledge as Akane does.

"You really think so?"

"I know so Nene, and think of it this way - if you have to run away from the Ministry of Education's son, you can do that disappearing trick!"

She tilts her head as she echoes, "Disappearing trick?"

"Like when the ninja go," he breathes deeply before exclaiming, "FWOOSH" and ducks quickly under the nearby bush in their courtyard.

This time she can't stop as the laughter boils over, and tears spring to her eyes.

"Stop this instant!"

They turn to each other, and the familiarity delights her as they both exclaim, "Oh, no it's Mitsuka-sensei!"


Akane had mulled over the idea in her head - over and over again. To be a shinobi, or not to be a shinobi?

If she were to continue her life as Akane the noble, she wouldn't have to worry about the dangers of the world. The most involvement she would have with shinobi was talking to her occasional escorts and continuing her conversations with Han and Reo. Life would resume its intended course - she would grow to be a young lady, married off and visit her family on the holidays.

Small fingers trace over the pebbles in her lap. True to her mother's recollection, Akane did have a set of marbles and pebbles stashed in her room. The surface is smooth, and the girl thinks of the way Manaka asks her to focus her thoughts - to push a metaphorical energy into her fingertips. Except, now she knows it isn't metaphorical, not when she now stares at the pebbles suspended in the air - attached to chakra laced fingertips. An empty laugh escapes her, she doesn't know why she can't remember such serious events.

Such exhilarating abilities.

However it's easy to stamp down this feeling just as easily as it is to put a smile on her face to please her family.

It is without question that she can, but can't help but remember Onoki's drilled stare, the one that terrifies her ever so slightly. Who is to say the Tsuchikage would not hold the knowledge of her supposed abilities over her family's head? Then what would the Daimyo think? Would it be as Aunt Emiko fears - the young girl and her mother kicked to the curb? Then it would be her fault, the terrible fate her mother's enemies delight in spreading behind closed doors - they would come true.

If she were to become a shinobi she could list off quite a few people that would be happy. Tetsuya would be over the moon. Mother despite her neutral stance - Akane can tell is not truly in the middle. The connection to her shinobi father seems to thrill Sunako, perhaps because she misses him so and can see his traits in her daughter.

Did it even matter what she wanted?

So she decided, she would simply humor them.

She will do whatever it takes to keep the peace.


AN: Akane's father is not Reo and he is definitely not Han, not sure why peeps keep thinking that.

Timeline for reference

Han is born 14 years prior to Nauto's birth.

Akane is born 7 years prior to Naruto's birth.

Third Shinobi War begins 4 years prior to Naruto's birth so Akane is currently 3 years old in this chapter and Han is 10 years old.