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

Cover Art: Kissuli.

Chapter 77

Eiji's first meeting with Tsunade was… Not what he'd expected.

Instead, she had thrown so many questions at him as she could manage without him missing something because she was going too fast. It didn't help that he'd had to turn off Iron Will. It had done its job and offered him some calm while he took the System's screens and such, but he couldn't very well act like Tailed Beast chakra poisoning was something he could shrug off.

On second thought, maybe he should have seen that coming when dealing with a medic in the condition he was in.

After that came Hiruzen and Jiraiya. The first of which Eiji would admit he wasn't too thrilled to meet. Fortunately, the old man wasn't insulted, even apologizing for being unable to keep him out of this situation. Eiji appreciated the sentiment, but that didn't really help.

"Eiji," Hachi warned him and he let out a breath, half wanting to calm himself and half exasperated. Tsuchigumo was young though, so it was understandable that she had a hard time keeping her calm. Especially if she was influenced by his emotions.

'Here's hoping that'll pass soon enough,' He thought tiredly. He liked Tsuchigumo, he really did, but this was probably one of the worst times to have to watch how he felt. 'Thank God for Hachi and Kage. Who knows how things would go if they weren't there to warn me?'

Leaning back against the pillow, he thought back to his chat with the Hokage and the Toad Sannin.

Annoyingly, he'd been told that he wouldn't be able to meet with anyone from the group, not even Naruto, and they wouldn't even know that he was safe until he was considered actually safe to be around. Understandable, of course, since he was more of a ticking bomb than a Jinchuriki, what with how he had a Chakra Beast inside him but without the proper seal. It was still annoying, especially at a time when he could really use some friendly faces.

That wasn't even considering that they probably weren't sure he was really Eiji himself.

Thus, he was by himself.

He debated whether to go back to the Mindscape or not. On the one hand, he could just do that and enjoy the company of Tsuchigumo and the Orochimaru Shards. It would probably be for the best, he supposed.

On the other hand, he could just stay out after so long out of commission. It was… a strange experience. That was as best as he could describe it. The Mindscape was, obviously, very different from reality. Even though he'd done his best to avoid abusing his absolute control of his mind while he had to stay there, it was something that he knew he could do anyway and that was enough to skewer his sense of reality, he supposed. That, most of all, was why he was reluctant to go back just yet.

"I'm surprised that you decided to stay awake," He heard then. Eiji turned his head through the pain to see Tsunade standing against the doorframe to his room. "I'm guessing that your mind trick helps against the pain, so why not do that?"

"I'm all powerful in there," He replied, not seeing any trouble with that and also because he was eager to talk about anything. Maybe that would distract him a little. "While that's nice for shorts periods of time-"

"It messes you up in longer doses," She finished for him. Eiji nodded with a grimace. "Hm…" She hummed then, looking at him with a slight frown. He was just about to ask what was the matter when she spoke again. "I saw Orochimaru not so long ago," She admitted and he blinked at the sudden topic change. "I feel like I should thank you. He's really terrified of whatever it was that you did to him."

"Used his worst fear against him," Eiji replied, not really in the mood to correct her. It had been Hachi, not him. Also, that gave him an opening for something that he wanted to talk about with Tsunade rather nicely. "Speaking of thanks, I could use some help with something."

"Oh?" She raised an eyebrow at him while her lips tugged up into a slight half-smile. "Straightforward, are you?"

"I don't have the time to waste beating around the bush, honestly," He replied with a grimace.

"So I've heard," Tsunade nodded, walking inside the room and picking up the medical clipboard at the end of the bed and checking something. Eiji was half curious about the stuff noted in there ever since he saw one of the nurses tending to him write something. It felt like giving an oral exam and seeing your teacher note down something, honestly. "What is it you want, anyway?" She asked after a moment of silence.

"Medical training," He answered.

"I hope you aren't asking to be the medic of whatever poor little group you manage to gather to go with you," She voiced, voice tinting with anger and eyes narrowed. "Because if so-"

"It's not for that, I promise," Eiji interrupted, not in the mood to withstand that accusation, especially when it was false. "But I'd like to expand on what I learned in the Academy and here at the hospital. That, and I have some technique ideas that I could apply some medical jutsu knowledge to."

"Oh, I had heard about that too," Tsunade nodded. "A jutsu tinkerer, are you? Dangerous hobby, that one."

Eiji idly wondered who she had heard that from. There were several options and all of them sounded rather interesting. Especially since Tsunade was unlikely to have asked much about him, he assumed. So, that would mean that whoever told her had probably done so out of their own initiative. Naruto, probably.

"It's worked out well for me so far," Eiji replied plainly. He would have shrugged too, but he really didn't feel like moving much. Speaking was enough, thank you very much.

"Well, you are out of luck, kid. I already have a student," Said Tsunade.

"Ok then."

The quick response got her blinking and tilting her head. She looked at him, seemingly highly confused. 'Did she expect me to whine and complain? What would be the point?'

"So, you give up that easily? You didn't seem the type," She pointed out and Eiji almost laughed.

"Give up? Hell no. I'll just have to look for books to learn by myself. A teacher like you would have been nice, but I made the Genjutsu that traumatized Orochimaru almost by myself. I think I can make a medical technique just fine, it'll just take me longer," He explained with his lips tugging up in a proud smirk. He wasn't even lying, really.

"Ha," The woman barked out a laugh at that. "Yes, I suppose that would be your response." Silence returned to the room once more, but it didn't last long. "Naruto never shuts up about you."

Eiji smiled sadly at that. 'How long has it been since I saw my brothers and sisters?'

"How is he doing?" He asked then.

"Working in his seals without stopping, that explains a lot about him, really," Tsunade explained, looking out the window as if remembering something in particular. Before he could ask anything, she continued. "He's working with Jiraiya on the seal you'll need."

Did that mean that Naruto knew what was up with him? What would the blond think? Eiji supposed Naruto would just take that as another sign that they were destined to be brothers or something silly like that. The boy liked exaggerating everything, after all.

"I'll have someone drop some Iryojutsu books for you to read. Just so you are not too bored," Tsunade said then, before leaving without waiting for a response.

'Interesting,' Eiji thought as he looked at the door closing behind her.

[}-o-{]

[Tsunade]

What a terrifying child that was.

Tsunade couldn't help but leave and stand on the other side of the door for a long moment. Her sensei hadn't said anything about the boy himself reminding him of Orochimaru. He had, however, shared his view that he resembled her great uncle Tobirama. She wouldn't know about that, since she didn't have many memories of the man. She could, however, very easily see her old teammate in Eiji Satou.

Was that something to worry about?

Unlikely, she thought. After all, lots of people were similar to someone else, but that didn't mean they were the same. Naruto was similar to… Nawaki, but that didn't mean he was the same. Eiji Satou might be similar to Orochimaru, but her ex-teammate would have never been as friendly or caring as Naruto described his "brother".

Having seen the boy smile at the mere mention of the blonde, she was inclined to believe the Uzumaki's words, at least a little.

Then, Tsunade's thoughts turned towards something else. Her decision to see if she would teach this boy her art. She wasn't one to be convinced easily, but she owed Naruto. Not only had the boy broken through her fear-stricken self and gotten her to help Shizune survive her wounds, but the blonde had also managed, somehow, to break through her grieving state.

It was almost like a veil had been pulled from in front of her face. She could see so much better all of a sudden. Tsunade would, sometimes, wonder what Dan and Nawaki would think of the woman she had turned into after their deaths.

She shook her head.

Tsunade forced her thoughts back on track as she started walking down the hall of the hospital. Eiji Satou had made quite the impression on her, she would admit, even before he had even woken up. Not only because of what she had heard from Naruto, but also because of what she had seen of his deeds.

Jiraiya and her had gone to pay a visit to their ex-teammate. Why? Even they wouldn't be able to answer that, but they had. Maybe it was to see what had become of someone that had fought side by side with them, or maybe it was just out of respect for the man Orochimaru had been before turning into a monster.

What had received them was, however, nothing like what they had expected. The man had been subdued, something that they never thought would be a word that could be associated with Orochimaru. He'd barely responded to their questions, barely acknowledged their presence at all.

Something he'd said had stuck with her thought.

"Never underestimate Eiji Satou," He'd told them, just as they were leaving his cell.

Indeed, she could see where that came from. The boy seemed to be a monster in the making, even more so than the three of them had ever managed to be.

So, maybe she wanted to teach him something because she owed him for what he did for Naruto? Maybe she wanted to be part of the legend that no doubt his life was going to be? Or maybe it was something else entirely. She didn't know.

Strangely though, she didn't care much for that. She felt like she wouldn't regret her decision and that was a rare thing in itself. Thus, Tsunade resolved not to think about it too much.

Now though, she had to wonder.

What did Eiji Satou have in mind? What technique did he have in mind now? She'd heard much about him, not only from Naruto but also her own sensei. It was difficult to guess though. After all, the boy's first two techniques were more utility based, then came a Genjutsu that had managed to terrify Orochimaru and then an A and S Rank offensive jutsu. Did he want to add another thing to the list and simply make a medical technique?

That sounded too… normal. Too easy a conclusion. Was it something else?

'Interesting,' She thought as she continued her way through the hospital.

[}-o-{]

[Eiji Satou]

"No offense, Inoichi, but I really don't want to deal with you anymore," The boy tiredly grumbled.

"I know," The man replied with a wry smile. "Few do." Then, he sighed. "I'm told you've restored your Mindscape and added more than a few new things. I have to check all that over."

For a long moment, Eiji stared at the Yamanaka. He was really, really tempted to just tell them to go bother someone else. He'd proved that he was more than capable of keeping his mind safe. However, he couldn't see that really helping his case.

He let out a long breath.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" He asked, resigned.

To his credit, the man gave him an apologetic look. Eiji wondered how honest that was though. Was he really just following orders from the higher ups? Or was this him being paranoid about his daughter's friend? Maybe both?

He didn't have much time to ponder on those questions because, soon enough, he was pulled inside his Mindscape by Inoichi. Just like he'd asked, both Kage and Hachi stood on each side of Tsuchigumo, who was looking at the new arrival with a tilted head. That is, until her eyes fell on Eiji, then she seemed to positively shake in her place.

"Hey girl, how's it going?" He asked warmly as he approached her slowly and planted a hand between her eyes. At that, she replied with a bark and he was sure she would have smiled if she could. "I missed you too, but I told you I would be busy for a bit."

That was met with a grumbling whine as she looked off to the side. Both Hachi and Kage rolled their eyes at her childish behavior, like they usually did. Eiji, meanwhile, rolled his eyes at them.

"Ok, so, Inoichi, these are Hachi, Kage and Tsuchigumo," He introduced, turning back to the regular guest of his Mindscape, signaling each of the residents with a wave of his hand. "Say hi, Tsuchi," He added, with a slight smirk that only grew when the eight-legged wolf yipped something at the man. A man that seemed unable to decide how to respond to the welcoming that had received him. "So, about that check up?"

That question seemed to snap Inoichi out of it, his eyes narrowing as he examined the three residents. Residents that didn't take well to the scrutiny. Hachi and Kage simply rolled their eyes once more. Tsuchigumo, however, started growling instantly.

"None of that," Eiji chided lightly as he continued scratching at the chakra beast's head. "Behave yourself and we can see about playing some more before I go back out, yeah?" That, and some calm projection, seemed to get her to relax a little, even if she continued glaring at the man.

"Let's put it like this," Kage said, earning himself a look from Eiji. "You know where I was before all these. Do you really think I want to go back there?"

"I've been told that. Doesn't mean I'm suddenly going to trust you," Inoichi shot back instantly.

For his part, Eiji just sighed.

"Let me show you something, yeah?" The boy asked as he started walking down a street without waiting for an answer. He was immediately followed by the beast that was as tall as he was. A second later, both Orochimaru look alikes started walking behind them too. Inoichi, for his part, took a moment before he started moving.

"Eiji?" The man called then, when they eventually reached the statues.

"These are my safeguards, Inoichi," He started explaining. "Tsuchigumo's is supposed to fight anything that tries to destroy my Mindscape. The other two are there to make repairs. All of them activate automatically and they also warn me if they activate."

Once he was done, Eiji stood there, looking as the Yamanaka's expression turned very complicated. Then, the man looked around, not only at the people around but at the sights too. He seemed especially drawn to the birds that flew here and there.

"Those are there to catch anything that shouldn't be there. Not really disturbances or changes, since those are detected by the statues, but to look for things that are added to the Mindscape. Intruders, basically. For example, right now, that bird is reporting your presence," Eiji explained, pointing at a bird on a lamp post that was staring right at Inoichi at the end.

"There's wind. The sunlight is warm," Inoichi noted, sounding in awe of those details.

"When I repaired the Mindscape, I decided to make it better. Besides, I wanted to make it more comfortable," He offered before turning towards the residents of his Mindscape. "Speaking of, came up with any ideas?"

"Not at the moment," Hachi replied while Kage simply shrugged. Tsuchigumo though, stumped on the ground.

"For the last time, Tsuchi, I won't make copies of them for you to hunt," Eiji deadpanned at the wolf while signaling to the Orochimaru Shards, both of whom turned to look at the wolf indignantly. The beast herself, turned on her best argument, her puppy dog eyes. A surprisingly effective weapon, since she had eight of them. Contrary to what one would expect, that made it even more powerful instead of weird.

Eiji had long since become immune to that technique though.

"No. You have the deers, go play with those," Eiji chidded, rolling his eyes when Tsuchigumo exaggeratedly started walking towards the Playground, head low and tail between her legs. "Don't give me that! Honestly."

When Eiji turned back towards Inouchi, he found the Yamanaka Head staring at him with a very sympathetic expression.

"What?"

"Nothing. I wish you best of luck, Eiji."

"What?"

"Things will only get harder for you, I'm afraid."

"What are you talking about?!"

Then, the man simply patted the very confused boy's shoulder and continued his inspection.

[}-o-{]

"I come to your hospital room, brat, and I find you studying? Why am I not surprised?" Eiji's expression turned to a wide smile as he set down the books Tsunade had given him to study. There, in all her crazy glory, stood his sensei.

"Well, drawing gets boring after a while and the voices in my head are annoying," Eiji replied with a shrug. He wasn't even lying, especially with the last part. Hachi and Kage were being annoying about entertaining Tsuchigumo, grumbling about anything like teenagers being told to do their chores. Honestly, what was up with those two. It wasn't like he could cave to all of the Chakra Beast's whims, that would just spoil her.

"Well, then I'm here to say…" Eiji blinked as the woman trailed off and sighed. Then her shoulders sagged a little and she simply walked up to him. Anko was simply staring at him as a small smile formed on her lips. "I'm glad you are ok, Eiji."

"Wow, didn't know you had it in you to be nice," The student replied with a slight smirk that soon vanished. "It's good to see you."

"Enjoy it while it lasts. They won't let me smack you like I wanted to while you are here," Anko threatened, and the boy had no doubt that she was telling the full truth. "And at the rate you are going, I'm never gonna let you out of my sight. Honestly, Eiji, you get into the most dangerous shit when I leave you alone."

"I mean, I would try and defend myself, but what you said is essentially true," He admitted with a grimace. His life after graduating was really fucked up, he'd just realized. "It's about to get worse, sadly."

When he said that, Anko's expression took a sharp turn towards guilt and anguish, which didn't make sense to him. What of what Eiji had said would make her feel like that? She was one of the people that he wanted to take with him on his mission, if he was allowed to. Was she not allowed? Did she know of the mission? Was it something else? Had something actually happened to someone in his gro-?

"About that… Eiji… I won't be able to go with you on your mission," She told him, sounding like it pained her greatly to admit as much. "I… wasn't told that taking off the Cursed Seal would leave me out of commission for some time. I won't be able to do much of anything for a while, I'm afraid. Longer than your recovery will take, or so I'm told."

Wow, that was saying something considering that-

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

'Yeah, that,' He thought wryly. 'Although, to be fair…'

[Tailed Beast Chakra Resistance – Lvl 25

Reduces the effects of tailed beast chakra by 25%.]

Eiji simply needed Jiraiya to change his seal to an actual Jinchuriki seal and everyone thought he would recover soon afterwards. The problem now was that Tsuchigumo's chakra was running through his body almost without restraint, which was the true problem. Tsunade had actually sounded quite baffled by the way his body withstood the energy. Then again, they didn't know he had a quickly growing skill helping on that front, especially since he'd changed his titles back to Prodigy and Aspiring Prodigy so that the skill would develop faster. He would have used Anko Mitarashi's Apprentice, but he wasn't sure that title still would have effect since it required him to be under her guidance.

All in all, his recovery really depended more on how fast the Toad Sannin would be able to make his new seal.

"I'm really sorry, Eiji," Anko apologized, but the boy's mind continued running, this time in a whole new direction.

'She wasn't told?' He noted from her earlier words. 'Why wouldn't they? They had to know that I would want her to go with me? Did they purposely sabotage that? Why?'

"Don't worry, Anko. I'll make it work. I always do," Eiji reassured. He might be good at getting into trouble, but he seemed to be good at getting out of it too. 'Although, the scars and all really don't help that argument,' He noted wryly.

"Do you have any idea of how dangerous your mission truly is?" The woman asked in disbelief.

"Believe me, Anko. I know perfectly well," Eiji replied with a smile that he hoped projected confidence. "I have a plan."

'If it's a good one, that's what I don't know,' He added in his mind as he saw his teacher sigh, half in relief and half in defeat.

"Yeah, that doesn't make me feel better, for some reason," She said, raising an unimpressed eyebrow. "You are good, Eiji, but I don't think you can do this with a bunch of Genin or Chunin that you don't know. Jounin and up are running themselves into the ground so that Konoha can be seen like it's alright after that shitshow. There's no back up for you in this village."

'Yeah, I know that,' Eiji thought with a grimace. That was the biggest part of the problem. Although, if he was honest with himself, he didn't know how good the help of ninjas of Konoha would have been. After all, it wasn't like he could trust them with the knowledge he had. Sooner or later he would slip and they would notice something odd. From there, they would think him a traitor either for Akatsuki or for some other nation. He couldn't afford that.

"It's fine, Anko. I really have a plan."

"How good would you say this plan is?"

"It'll work," He said, with more confidence than he felt.

"On a scale of one to ten, how much am I gonna hate this plan, Eiji?" She asked then, looking more resigned than anything.

"A ten, I'm pretty sure."

She sighed.

"Figured as much," She mumbled, massaging her forehead. "I don't want to hear it, do I?"

"Probably not."

"Sure, let's play something, shall we? I really could use a break."

"Tell me about it."

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

Well, I'm really enjoying writing Tsuchigumo and the Orochimaru Shards, they are fun.

Anyway, from here it'll be a few chapters to set things up while Eiji recovers and prepares for his mission of helping Iwa with Akatsuki. I hope you aren't too bothered with that. I'm actually kind of looking forward to this.

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: Don't think I've asked this before, but which is your favorite Sannin? Might be surprising but mine is Tsunade. Jiraiya's Super Pervert thing isn't something I liked and Pedomaru is kind of cool with the snakes and such but he's still a no. I also like healers and Tsunade's young appearance is hot.

See you.