"It's enough to indulge and to be selfish but true happiness is really when you start giving back."

~ Adrian Grenier

Mizuki had no idea where he would go from here.

He had a plan. A brilliant plan.

(Become a chunin, gain a good reputation with successful missions, become a beloved academy teacher, become a jounin, become a beloved jounin instructor, retire at a respectable age and become a council member. Nothing crazy. He wasn't aiming for Hokage or anything like that. Just some respect, some influence.)

That wonderful, brilliant plan was going up in flames.

With a huff, he plopped himself down on the swing and stared at his hands. He examined the calluses and the scars. These were the hands of a shinobi. The hands of someone who had worked hard all his life to achieve his goals.

(Now all that hard work was ruined.)

He covered his face with a long groan.

"It wasn't my fucking fault." He muttered. "If I hadn't done it then the mission could have been compromised. Why are they acting like such self-righteous assholes?"

(So what if the injury wasn't that serious. It would have complicated the mission and hindered its success. He had to look good if he was going to get that Jounin promotion, he couldn't let anything get in the way. The man wasn't even that good of a shinobi anyway. He didn't even bother remember his name.)

Now, because of that, the Academy had refused to hire him.

"I scored the highest on that test I should have gotten that job. I've been an exemplary shinobi. They shouldn't be looking down their noses like I was some bug. They should be grateful that I even wanted to work with snot nose brats." He growled. "I didn't submit myself to the TI department for them to continue to drag me through the mud. Ongoing investigation my ass, they were probably just jealous of me."

(His mind kept stuttering back to his arrest after he submitted his report. At that moment he knew his plan was going to have some unexpected complications, but he never thought...he never thought it would completely ruin everything.)

He could still feel the phantom pains from that interrogation and had woken up the last three nights in a cold sweat from the nightmarish memories. The people TI department were truly a different breed of shinobi.

(He shouldn't have had to go through that. He was a good shinobi. He had a perfect record.)

Mizuki raised his head and glared balefully at the academy.

He had spent years perfecting his plan. Years now wasted because of this nonsense.

(We're shinobi, not saints. What did they even care? Did they not condemn that Hatake guys years back for trying to rescue his teammates over the mission? What happened to that attitude. Was this village really so fickle? All he wanted was a little respect. Was that such a bad thing?)

"Hey! You're in my spot!"

His head snapped up, ready to give the child a piece of his mind for interrupting his thoughts before he froze as he took in the boys appearance. Blond hair, bright blue eyes.

(The demon child.)

Words died on the tip of his tongue and he was left staring wide-eyed at the child. He watched as annoyance shifted slowly to uncertainty with a hint of defensive frustration.

(He found it rather odd that the demon's face was so open, but he didn't think much of it. He was always good at reading people's expressions.)

"Whatcha just staring for? Huh? I told you, you're in my spot!"

"Has anyone ever told you to respect adults." Mizuki snapped without thinking.

(Shit. So much for his image.)

He shrugged it off silently, it was just the demon child after all. He had no one to tell about Mizuki's slip. In fact, if it was so bad a guarding its expression then it probably wouldn't even realize it was a slip at all.

The demon brat scowled at him and folded its arms across its chest. "No, don't have any parents to tell me, you know. Besides I'm going to be the Hokage so I don't have to be polite to no one."

Mizuki raised in eyebrow and glanced over the tiny demon. It didn't even look old enough to start at the academy yet. Maybe five or six. It was absolutely filthy and covered in bruises and nicks.

"You as Hokage?"

(Perhaps he shouldn't continue to be so candid while still in public, but his image was already being dragged through the mud so who the fuck cared anymore? He plan was ruined already.)

The tiny thing bristled at the doubt in Mizuki's voice and puffed out its chest.

"Yeah! I am and when I do everyone is goin' to respect me and stop lookin' down on me!"

Mizuki paused and looked over the child again. Bold of the demon to share its plan so openly, but perhaps it wasn't as intelligent as he had first assumed.

(Respect...he could understand that…)

What am I doing? Like usual I have no idea. I guess in a way this was spurred on by a comment in one of the earlier chapters of Broken Reflection. Someone made the comment that Mizuki is always the bad guy or something like that, and I guess this idea was just sort-of lingering in the back of my mind ever since. (And in typical me fashion it took literal years to actually put on paper. )

Don't get me wrong though, he is still a terrible person (which ironically is kind-of fun to write) and definitely an unreliable narrator, but even he is not immune to the Naruto effect. No one can escape. (Also no one deserved whatever nonsense that tiger(?) form was. No even this asshole.)

(Also, also I'm playing fast and loose with the canon timeline here so yeah...be forewarned.)