Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto nor The Gamer. I own nothing, really.

Cover Art: Kissuli.

Chapter 76

Eiji sat in silence. He wasn't alone though, next to him laid Tsuchigumo, curled up around him and resting her head on his right. His hand rested in between her multiple eyes, lazily scratching at her soft fur. She would occasionally softly bark/growl something at him as she leaned against his touch. He took it as just her version of unintelligible mumble.

Leaving the training ground turned playground had been a good idea, he decided. The sight of the village from over the Hokage Rock was just beautiful. Besides, he was 99% sure that Tsuchigumo was harmless… Or as harmless as a superpowered kid could be. Honestly, she was so well behaved that he was hesitant to even call her a kid. She had that innocence to her though and most things confused her, since she hadn't experienced… well, most of everything, really. So, he would make that count.

"Are you sure, Eiji?" Hachi asked. Or, at least, Eiji was sure it was Hachi. He was starting to differentiate them even with just their voices. He wasn't sure if it was a conscious change they'd made themselves or if they were just that different already. It could go either way, and the boy didn't feel like asking them.

He simply nodded, even through the pang of hesitance that twisted his insides. He couldn't afford to doubt his decision. If he did, he risked changing his mind and never doing it.

"We don't think you are ready, Eiji," Hachi replied instantly. The boy would have sworn there was honest concern in his voice. That couldn't be though, could it?

Eiji didn't say anything though. He felt fine. Better than that, really. Tsuchigumo, much as he wanted to be angry at her for the damage she had done to his mindscape before, had been a blessing in disguise. She was just so… her. Always there when he felt even remotely bad, offering company and comfort that he didn't realize he needed.

If not for her, he wouldn't have been nearly as ready for what he wanted to do.

"Your Mindscape, it's not completely repaired, Eiji," Kage continued from somewhere a little more to the right of where Hachi was. "Don't you see how different it is? It's not what it was before, or so Hachi and I think." So, his guess had been right, huh?

As for what they were telling him…

He knew that already. His hand, the one not petting Tsuchigumo, ran its fingers over the stone beneath them. It was much too smooth for the rock it was supposed to be made of. He could almost stare at the sun in the fake sky of his Mindscape with how dim it was compared to the real thing.

He was just so… tired.

He wanted to stop. He was almost eager to go to the outside world and hunt down Akatsuki. Deal with all of them and finally be able to rest. He felt like he'd been sprinting for the entirety of his years in the Elemental Nations. Was it too much to ask for a moment of rest? A moment where there wasn't some training to be done or measure to be taken?

He felt like he was on his last legs.

Eiji couldn't stop though, not yet. There were enemies out there, threatening his new world, threatening his family and his friends. Once they were dealt with, he'd finally get some peace and calm. He just needed to go on for a little longer.

Tsuchigumo growled lightly.

"You need to be at your best, Eiji," Hachi said, his voice feeling like a drill on the side of the boy's head. "We know you are tired, but you need to repair the damage completely," He urged him. Tsuchigumo let out a low, whimpering sound full of guilt.

Eiji closed his eyes tightly, as if that would stop their voices from reaching him.

"You can rest, Eiji," Kage tried this time from his other side. "Take the time to recover completely. You can ease up on the training. You can do whatever you want. But this is your mind, Eiji. You need to bring it back to what it was."

The boy took a deep breath in and then exhaled.

Would he be able to stop though? Once he started moving again, would he be able to pause and rest like right now? Would he be able to forget what was coming, what he had to do? Resting… it was easier said than done, when a single mistake could doom the world and everyone in it.

Tsuchigumo let out a whiny sound as she pressed herself against him.

That was an idea… but…

He blinked.

Could he do that?

'Why not?' Eiji thought to himself. 'Why not do it and see what happens. I can't go on like this.'

Kage and Hachi might think they were telling him something new, something he didn't know. He knew all that already though. He just… What could he even do? Except… there was an alternative, one that was more and more appealing as time passed. Could he do it though? Did he dare?

He found that, yes, he could and did.

"Hachi, Kage," He called softly, almost in a whisper, for the first time breaking his silence.

"Yes?" Both of them replied and Eiji almost smiled.

"I need you to keep an eye on me," He told them, his eyes firmly on the horizon of his Mindscape. It was a beautiful sight… could he make it even more so? "Tell me if you think I need to stop, yeah?"

Silence followed that.

They knew what that really meant, he was sure. He was trusting them. He needed to, really. He was so tired of always being wary of everyone. Even with his friends, he had to keep a mask over his face more often than not.

Hachi and Kage though, they knew everything about him. They were the only ones that could boast such a claim. 'It's kind of funny. Of all the people that I could have told my secrets, Shards of Orochimaru weren't the ones I thought I would go for,' He mused to himself.

Maybe it was time to stop jumping at shadows. He needed allies in this mess he was part of now. He couldn't afford to keep everyone at arms length. Thus… he would take a leap of faith.

Some would say that he should be trusting someone else with such a thing. Maybe his friends, his teacher, those were the ones that had always told him to take it easy, right? They had always been looking out for him, surely they could be trusted with that, right?...

Except that no, they couldn't.

They didn't know what was at stake yet. They might have an idea, but they weren't even close to the truth. Kage and Hachi did though. They knew everything he did. They knew what was to come and they could more accurately keep him at his best to be prepared for it.

"Of course, Eiji," He heard Hachi reply.

"Anything you need," Kage added.

This time, he did smile.

"So… I guess I gotta make this place presentable, huh?" Eiji mused, his eyes turning critical as he gazed over his Mindscape.

[}-o-{]

"You know, Eiji, when we told you to rest, this wasn't what we had in mind."

"Shut up and pick up four cards already, will you?"

"But why can't I throw another draw four on top of that one?!"

Someone snickered at that.

"I'm gonna get you back for this, Hachi, just you wait."

[}-o-{]

"What are the chances that Samehada would react positively to me?" Eiji asked, waving his hand in a lazy gesture as the wall to his side gained a whole new level of texture and color. It was like when in a game, the graphics are loading slowly. First it looks terrible and all of a sudden it looks much better. Or, at least, it was if he remembered that right at least.

"Not likely, but worth a try," Kage replied, sitting over the edge of a nearby building.

"Then again," Hachi continued. "If you get the chance to do that, you probably don't need it anymore."

Eiji paused at that before nodding, conceding the point.

"Speaking of, I wonder what Itachi thinks of how Sasuke's life has gone," The boy mused out loud. "Or if he even knows how it's gone at all."

"I would bet he does know," Hachi replied. "And I'd think he would be happy. This seems like a much better alternative compared to how it went in what you saw."

"I would be surprised if he didn't thank you or something along those lines," Kage added.

'Sometimes I wonder if they are being overly friendly on purpose or if they really are like that now,' Eiji thought to himself then. 'Maybe both?' He wasn't complaining though. He rather liked having them like that. The boy wondered though, if that's what it felt like for his friends. After all, that was the role he played for everyone else. The supportive friend, at the very least.

He'd never realized that he needed support too. Until now that is.

[}-o-{]

"A Chakra Beast, something that is feared in all Nations. A force of nature that is basically unstoppable except for a very small number of people," Kage muttered next to Eiji as the boy held back his laughter. "And how are we entertaining it?"

Then the dam broke and Eiji cackled to the heavens.

Meanwhile, some distance away stood Hachi, wearing an expression very similar to that of his doppleganger, a mix between disbelief, awkwardness and disgust. It was an ugly sight, but Eiji had never seen something so humorous before, he was sure. Or maybe it was just the fact that he was seeing an Orochimaru look alike playing fetch with an eight-legged eight-eyed wolf.

Either or, really.

"Oh come on, tell me you don't like playing with her," The boy demanded of the Orochimaru Shade. "Tsuchigumo is a sweetheart, honestly. You can't not like spending time with her."

"This is silly," Kage said.

"That's not what I was talking about though," Eiji countered with a shit eating grin.

"Shut up, Eiji."

[}-o-{]

"You two are absolutely out of your fucking minds," Eiji exclaimed, unable to believe what he had just heard. He didn't even deign the other two with a look, simply continuing with the repairs of his mindscape.

"I mean, true, we are in your mind, thus out of ours," Kage pointed out from where he was sitting against a tree in one of Konoha's parks.

"I think it's definitely doable," Hachi decided to defend his argument, completely cutting off the bickering that would have started right there. "Danzo has been grooming you and not to be one of his Root ninja. He wants more from you, Eiji. I think you can pull that string enough to get what you want."

"The Hokage-"

"Sarutobi is right up there too. I would almost say that you could pull the same thing with him too. You will, actually, if you are still planning to do what we talked about," His creation argued and Eiji wondered if it wouldn't have been better to take away his capability to do so too when he made him.

"It's not the same."

"Isn't it?" Both of them asked at the same time with a raised eyebrow.

The boy turned to look at them, eye twitching at their smug expressions. They clearly thought they had won that debate. Oh, but they were forgetting his secret weapon. The ultimate counter to any and all arguments.

"Tsuchigumo, attack."

"What-?"

"No, get away from me!"

"Kage, you traitor!"

"Never again!"

[}-o-{]

"This is beautiful and all that," Kage commented, looking at Eiji's new creation with the driest look the boy had ever seen on him. "But was there a point to this?"

"Well, my unappreciative and slightly creepy friend," He started replying, ignoring the "Hey!" in the background. "This… is yet another measure against anything that attacks my mindscape."

"This" being the statue he'd put where previously had stood the cube containing the purple flame of the Cursed Seal. With that thing disappearing as Tsuchigumo was born, the space had become vacant. Thus, Eiji had filled that void with a sculpture of Tsuchigumo's currently chosen form and the two Orochimaru constructs.

"If we ever have another Tsuchigumo incident," The wolf creature herself letting out an apologetic whimper at that. "These three will activate as automatons that will, in our slightly canine friend's case, do their best to stop said attacker," He took the opportunity to reassure Tsuchigumo with a pat on her head. "While the other, much less impressive two," Once again, he soldiered through the protests of the peanut gallery. "Will make sure that the mindscape returns to its original shape."

"Why let us have the power to repair the mindscape too if you'll have these two for that?" Kage asked, raising an unimpressed, slightly insulted eyebrow.

"Because they aren't people. They won't be as good at what they do. On the other hand, you two don't know perfectly how my mindscape is built, so you won't be 100% accurate with your reconstructions," Eiji explained with a sigh.

"So, we do the major repairs and they do the details," Hachi concluded, giving the statues another, more contemplative look. "Smart. I also bet they'll alert you if they activate, right?" He added with a sly smirk.

"Exactly," Eiji admitted unapologetically. He might trust them now, but there was no harm in having a backup plan just in case, right?

At that moment, he noticed that Tsuchigumo was eyeing her statue up and down and circling around it. Her head tilted from side to side, as if she couldn't make sense of it. Was she confused because they weren't real? He supposed it was a possibility.

Then she stomped on the ground and he understood.

Tsuchigumo didn't get why it was necessary for there to be another her. After all, she would take care of anything like her that tried to do what she'd done. There was even a great deal of guilty and apologetic feelings shoved in there, for good measure. Poor thing thought Eiji was replacing her, or worse, that he didn't trust her.

Thus, the boy stood there for a long second, processing what had just been delivered straight to his mind.

"It's just in case you need help, girl," Was the option he decided to go for. "Never know when something stronger than you could appear, right?" He very much doubted something that strong would manifest in his mind, unless one of the Tailed Beast was thrown in his Mindscape, but he very much doubted that would happen. Still, he wasn't about to tell her that it was a safety measure in case she went berserk again. It was even more of a paranoid decision on his part, considering that he trusted Tsuchigumo more than he did the other two.

Which was partly why he had made the statues, actually. How attached he felt to Tsuchigumo made him nervous. He was worried something was affecting his mind and he was even more worried that it would affect him further.

"With that said," Eiji clapped. "Make sure these two behave themselves, will you?" He asked the wolf creature. "And if they are mean, feel free to do your thing, girl," At that, he received a series of enthusiastic barks.

"I think I liked you better when you were a brooding workaholic," Kage grumbled to himself.

"Well, too late," Eiji shot back with a wide grin.

"Honestly, it's good to see you in a better mood, Eiji," Hachi commented with a smile that really didn't do him any favors. Orochimaru just wasn't meant to smile for anything that didn't spell someone's pain.

Eiji knew his mood had gone through a sudden, drastic change though. And while it added to a pile of worries he had on the back of his mind, he wasn't too concerned. There were several explanations for that, after all. For one, it could be that he didn't feel so alone in his quest to save the world and the people he cared about. For another, it could be his connection to Tsuchigumo, filling him with innocent happiness.

It could also be both, he supposed. Or it could be a number of other reasons.

He tried not to think about it too much though. He was content with how things were at the moment, after all. They reminded him of calmer times, back when he'd just appeared in this world. Brought back memories of a promise he'd made to himself.

'Live life to the fullest, wasn't it?' Eiji thought, his expression showing a slightly regretful smile as he patted Tsuchigumo's head. 'I haven't been following my own nindo, apparently.'

"Eiji?" Hachi called, snapping him from his thoughts.

"I'm ok, just… remembering something," He explained vaguely. "Guess I have you two to thank for that, really. I shouldn't have forgotten," He told the two Orochimaru constructs, earning a whine from the wolf creature that all but tackled him in protest. "You three, sorry."

"And what would that be?" Kage asked.

"That I have to enjoy my new life," Eiji answered with a widening grin. "Remind me to visit the vet, will you, guys? Gotta check on all those troublemakers. God knows how they'll be driving Hana mad on top of all that happened."

"Sure thing," Kage agreed with a roll of his eyes.

"Careful, someone might get jealous," Hachi pointed out and, sure enough, Tsuchigumo was staring right at him with her best pout. 'Didn't even know she could pout,' Eiji thought.

"Don't worry, girl. I'll visit everyday," He reassured her with a scratch that dissipated any annoyance she might have had. "Well, it's time."

"Good luck, Eiji."

[}-o-{]

'Iron Will,' He activated immediately after waking up. His body still burned due to the Tailed Beast chakra poisoning, it seemed.

"I'm Eiji," He announced, even though it should be obvious. If their theory was right and his eyes only changed when he was possessed. If his eyes permanently changed, that would suck.

There was the sound of clothes moving and then, silence. Eiji didn't dwell on that much, he'd already known there were guards around him at all times. No, what he focused on was the screens in front of his only open eye.

'God, I missed the Game,' Eiji thought to himself.

[Tailed Beast Chakra Resistance has gone up a level.]

That screen was repeated so many times that he didn't feel like bothering checking them out. He'd read the Skill description once he was done with everything else. Which might take a little while, considering the number of screens.

[Quest Complete: Survive The Crush

Rewards:

+ 5 to all Stats.

+ Perk: Mettle of Man]

'Five levels doesn't sound like much, but considering the level I'm at… That right there is months of work, at the least,' Eiji thought to himself. 'That Perk though…'

[Mettle of Man

The user's stats increase by 10% when facing a foe with higher stats than them.

The user's stats increase by 10% when facing more than 3 foes at once. (Clones do not count for the effect)]

'Not bad,' Eiji mused as he looked at his new Perk. Could certainly change the outcome of a battle if the stats were close enough for that to push him over his opponent. The more than three foes was annoying though, since Akatsuki traveled in pairs. 'Do puppets or clay constructs count? Kakuzu's hearts?' At least it would activate if they were stronger, which would likely be the case.

[New Title Acquired: The Weaver]

'What?'

[The Weaver

Increases stats when fighting alongside members of the Spider Clan by 15%.

Increases stats when fighting with Nuibari by 20%.

Increases the effects of Bloodlust when using threads by 25%.]

'Pretty good…' Eiji thought, processing this new title too. He was unsure of where it came from, but he was sure to learn about it soon enough, he supposed. If not, he would just be happy with the extra help. 'Now, I have things to do here.'

[New Perk Acquired: Disciple of the Sage]

'What the actual fuck?!' Eiji exclaimed in his head. He'd expected a few screens, what with all the shitshow that had been going on back before he went into his little vacation of sorts. He hadn't, however, expected this many new things. He'd seen the Quest a mile away, and he'd thought he would see several Skills level up, but all these new things? Where the fuck were they coming from?

However, what shocked him the most was the name of the new Perk.

Surely it didn't mean…

[Disciple of the Sage

Increases Chakra Point gain for every Chakra level by 50%.

Increases Chakra Point regeneration by 100% every 10 levels.

Improves the rate at which Senjutsu levels up by 25%.

Increases the efficiency of Senjutsu by 10%.]

'Oh. My. God,' He thought, slowly as his brain tried and failed to reboot and process what was happening. 'This… isn't what I think it is, right? No fucking way…'

[Skill Lost: Cursed Seal: First Stage]

[Skill Lost: Cursed Seal: Second Stage]

'... I take back that thing about missing you, Game,' Eiji grumbled internally. He took a second to mourn all the time he'd spend maxing out those two skills. All that time and pain… 'Goddamnit.' He'd honestly expected something like that to happen. No way the Cursed Seal would survive whatever the fuck had ended up creating Tsuchigumo. It didn't make it easier to accept that his hard work had been thrown out the window.

He took a deep breath in.

'I'm almost afraid to call for it… Status?'

[Eiji Satou

Main Title: Wielder of Nuibari

Secondary Title: Contractor of the Spider Clan

Energy Points: 1040/1040

Chakra Points: 1300/1300

Strength: 52

Dexterity: 56

Constitution: 52

Chakra: 52

Chakra control: A]

'Ok…' He thought numbly. 'Ok this is… This is great and all but… Damn…'

It was great, yes, but a corner of Eiji's mind couldn't help but wonder if it was enough. It was more than he'd expected but less than what he'd hoped for. Would that be enough to face Akatsuki and survive, let alone win? Because everything hanged on this now. If it wasn't enough…

"Relax, Eiji," He heard, and he was sure that it was Hachi. "Tsuchigumo is getting restless," At that, Eiji focused and did her best to calm himself. It would be fine. He had plans, he had allies and he had knowledge. It would be fine. "Better," Hachi informed him and he sighed.

"Be sure to tell me if something happens over there," He projected to his mind.

"Sure," Someone responded, this time his guess was Kage. He was the one that always sounded like he had better stuff to do. Hachi would have just dutifully accepted the order. Not that they differed in efficiency or anything but the attitude was different.

"Give Kage some love, would you, Tsuchi?"

"Gah, how the fuck-?"

"Good guess, Eiji."

"I'm just that good."

He took a deep breath in, his lip twitching up.

There was no use worrying now. He would do his best and that would have to be enough. Living in fear wouldn't do anything for him except make things worse than they already were. The last thing he needed was to make a mistake due to paranoia or stress. No, he needed to keep his calm.

He needed to follow his nindo.

Live life to the fullest.

What was the point of a second life if he didn't, right?

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

Well, this chapter actually came really easy to me. It's got me a little worried about how it'll be received, but I like it, so whatever. I hope you guys like it just as much as I do, or more, feel free to like it more too.

Also, finally a chapter that's all Eiji after a while. I hope you guys are happy, many people complained for a while about not getting enough of him. I'm fairly sure those times have come to an end, so you can stop. Please.

I hope you liked the chapter.

As always, if you can't wait until next week for next chapter, there's up to three new chapters in my Pa tre on:

P a treon . com (slash) AdrianKing

Discord Link: discord .gg/UTDransjJZ

Random Question: Do you play videogames? What's the last one you've played? I've been playing a whole lot of Loop Odyssey lately, it's pretty good.

See you.