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

Cover Art: Kissuli.

Chapter 78

"Ah, I missed this."

"I hate you," Eiji grumbled through his teeth. "Shouldn't you tell him something about bothering patients?" He asked Tsunade, who was smirking as she leaned against a wall.

"I distinctly remember you saying that you were fine and that you wanted to play," The woman mercilessly picked the hole in his complaint. "Besides, he's the Hokage, I couldn't possibly tell him what to do," She added, as if they hadn't all known it was a lie.

"I hate you all," Eiji groaned, leaning back against his pillow. Agreeing to play Shogi with Hiruzen had been a bad idea, he realized. Not only because he'd gotten absolutely destroyed by the old man, but also because just moving the pieces sent waves of pain through his arm. He really should have said no...

However, it wasn't like he had many options. Anything that he wanted to do that didn't involve staring at the ceiling would be met with pain. He'd just have to power through it, he guessed.

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

'At least there's an upside,' He thought as he quickly dismissed the screen. Each level made things that bit more bearable. There also wasn't a day where the Skill didn't grow at least by one level, which was very good. Sadly, Eiji reckoned that the skill would be far from maxed by the time that he received a new seal. If one was possible, that is. He still didn't know what he would do if that wasn't within the Toad Sage's capabilities.

He closed his eye, taking a deep breath in.

"Eiji?" He heard Hiruzen ask, obviously picking up on the shift in his mood instantly. A half-smile tugged at the boy's lips. The old man was entirely too perceptive for his own good.

"Is this a suicidal mission, Hiruzen?" He asked bluntly. The thought had appeared in his mind not so long ago and it had refused to leave. Opening his eye, he was just in time to see the old man's expression. He looked like he'd been sucker punched, but Eiji kept silent. "Am I being sent there because you think I've been compromised?" He continued.

It was a valid decision if so, he supposed. Even with Inoichi's check up, he knew enough about how the Yamanaka techniques worked to know that it wouldn't be that easy to prove that he was alright and still himself. Sadly, it was more likely for everyone to believe that either the Cursed Seal or the Chakra Beast had affected him in some way than to believe a thirteen year old Genin was fine after all that.

"No, Eiji, it's not and I don't believe you are," The man said, staring straight into the boy's sole visible eye. Eiji could only look right back at him, trying to find any sign of deception. Not that he thought he was good enough to pick up such a thing from the Hokage.

In the end, he could only sigh.

"I'm gonna need a team," He said then, changing the topic entirely. Hiruzen grimaced, either because of what that meant or what the new conversation would be about, Eiji didn't know. He suspected that it was a bit of both though.

"Indeed," The Hokage agreed, looking tired and old.

"I can't count on Konoha to have a good team though."

"That is correct," The old man nodded, as if it pained him to admit as much.

"I have a plan to solve that issue," Eiji informed him. "You and Iwa are gonna hate it though."

"Yes, Hachi hinted at it back when I informed him," Hiruzen said then, deflating a bit. "I had hoped you wouldn't agree with him."

"Would you prefer I try to do this alone?" Eiji asked with a raised eyebrow. "I hate this plan as much as you do, but it's the only way I see myself coming back here alive if what I've heard is true."

"It won't be easy," The old man replied, but Eiji could see that he had already given up arguing.

"When are things ever easy?" The boy shot back before sighing. Looking back at the Hokage, he saw the man tense up. Hiruzen had good reason too, because there was one more thing that he wanted to speak about and it wasn't easy either. "One more thing."

"Yes?" Hiruzen asked, and Eiji would swear there was trepidation in his tone.

"Are you my "mystery benefactor"? Because if you aren't, I'd like you to set up a meeting," The boy said, almost forcing the words out of his mouth before he could regret his decision. Oddly, he didn't feel like taking his words back though.

"I see," The Hokage mused, face unreadable for a moment. "That can be arranged, but may I ask why?"

"Because you'll have your hands full trying to make my plan for a team fly," Eiji admitted, letting out a breath through his lips as he tried to organize his thoughts. "That's not the only plan I have though and I'll use everything I have at my disposal for this."

"Admirable," Hiruzen offered with a nod, but otherwise remained silent. From his robes, he took out his pipe and Tsunade, reading the mood quite well, said nothing as he lit it up and took a drag from it. "I'll make it happen."

"Thank you, old man," Eiji replied. "... This sucks."

"Indeed," The Hokage readily agreed as they both fell into a silence that was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. It just was and it continued to be, only broken by a single, brief statement.

"Also… I'd like to set up a will."

That seemed to double Hiruzen's age, if the way he looked was anything to go by. Ultimately, the man simply nodded.

[}-o-{]

'So many plans, so little time,' Eiji thought to himself as he continued reading over the medical books. The good thing was that the technique he wanted to create was possible. The bad thing was that he was still trapped inside a hospital without even the benefit of visitors.

"Definitely doable," He heard Kage mumble inside his head. The Orochimaru Shard had been decided to be the one that would help him with Jutsus. Hachi, for his part, would be the one helping with Fuinjutsu once he started getting his hands on those texts.

They had found that reading "out loud" towards his mindscape worked quite well. The Shards would then note down everything he said for later use, which not only would help them study alongside him, but would also mean that he had a literal library inside his mind. That could come in handy in a number of situations. He really needed to get his hands on more books though.

"How are things with Tsuchi?" He asked Hachi, who had taken over the babysitting duties since the others were busy.

"She's enjoying hunting the deers very much," His creation reported, sounding amused. "That feature you put in though, the one about learning how to move and such, it's proving to have interesting effects. They get better and better at running away from Tsuchigumo. Which is actually really good, it'll keep her entertained for longer. She really likes a challenge."

"Well, I'm glad she's enjoying herself," Eiji replied before focusing back on what he was doing.

"Also, you should know that Tsuchigumo likes music," Hachi added then, sounding entirely too amused to be a normal report. He was up to something. "You should have seen how happy she was when Kage played something for her."

"Oh?" Eiji couldn't help but smile. That sounded like a nice, peaceful setting. Which was also funny, since it involved Orochimaru. He also joined Hachi, all but laughing as he heard Kage grumbling in the background. "Maybe I should learn to play an instrument," The boy thought then.

The game would make it almos a trivial thing. 'Why didn't I think of that sooner?'

"That's all, you can go back to studying," Hachi said then, clearly proud of his "work".

"I'm gonna get you back, Hachi, just you wait…" Kage said then, sounding very threatening indeed. It was a picture that was immediately destroyed by the mental image of him playing some song to the oversized puppy. That on top of other rather amusing memories that Eiji now had about both Orochimaru Shards. "I still think World Ender is entirely too dramatic a name for this technique," The man added then, as if trying to shift the target of everyone's mockery.

"I mean, have you seen some of the other techniques people make and their names? If the technique is highly ranked, you can bet the name will be dramatic," Eiji defended his choice. Besides, since people in this world weren't going around shouting the technique's name, he could use whatever he wanted to label his originals. "Besides, it is pretty strong. This'll definitely be S rank… Or A rank, at least."

"Or a Kinjutsu, with how much chakra this thing is gonna siphon," Kage pointed out. "You are lucky you have Tsuchi, otherwise you'd never be able to effectively use this in a battle."

"I know, I know," Eiji said dismissively. After all, he was well aware. However, what was the point of having a Chakra Beast on his side if he didn't use it to his advantage. It sounded worse than it was though, it wasn't like he only cared for Tsuch- "Wait a moment… Did you call her Tsuchi?"

"He did," Hachi ratted out immediately.

"Shut up and get back to studying already," Kage shouted over the other two's laughs.

"Don't mind me then, I'll just keep laughing over here," Hachi said in between chuckles.

"Don't you have to look after Tsuchigumo?" Kage grumbled through his teeth.

"I mean, she is laughing too," The other Orochimaru Shard commented. "I don't think she gets why though, I think she's just laughing because I am."

'Precious,' Eiji thought to himself. Out loud, however… "Don't corrupt her too much, yeah?"

"No promises."

"I hate you both."

Then, Eiji sighed and officially ended his "break" as it were. He had a technique to work on, after all. Besides, Tsunade liked to drop by and ask random questions about what he was reading. It seemed like she was testing him to see if he was worth teaching. That was fine for him. With her help, the technique he wanted to make would be done even faster, which was good. He didn't know how long he had until he had to set out, but he couldn't be finished with what he wanted soon enough.

After all, after working out the technique, he'd have to work on leveling it up and that would take a while. Then again, with Tsuchigumo's help, he'd be able to spam without a care in the world, which was one of the biggest limiting factors when training a Jutsu. That and some other things he was working on/planning would make the process even faster.

'Not fast enough though,' He thought. Granted, nothing could be fast enough to prepare for Akatsuki. He'd just have to do his best and hope for the best.

"God bless you, Tsuchigumo. Without you this would be a nightmare," He voiced in his mind blowing air out of his lungs. He got stressed just thinking about that situation, honestly. After all, without a bullshit bloodline limit or a bijuu, let alone being the ninja Jesus, what chances did he have? Even with the Gamer System, there was only so much he could do.

It said something about the Naruto world's balancing, really.

There was no use complaining about that though. It was what it was.

Thus, Eiji basked in the happy feeling that Tsuchigumo sent his way and relaxed his shoulders before diving back into his work.

As he'd said, lots to do and little time.

[}-o-{]

'So, this finally happened, huh?' Eiji thought as the figure walked through the door. 'Kind of anticlimactic, I guess.'

He didn't know what he had expected for his first meeting with Danzo Shimura, but it was certainly not him just walking in like an everyday thing. It also seemed anticlimactic because of how… fragile the man looked. Of course, Eiji knew that wasn't true, but still, the picture he had of the man was much more imposing than what he was seeing.

Danzo walked with a cane, one that Eiji was aware of, but he hadn't expected him to actually rely on it as heavily as he did. He looked withered by the years, each step seeming to take an herculean effort. 'That's some impressive deception,' Eiji mused to himself. The boy liked to think that he would have seen through it even without foreknowledge. After all, this was the man that had been grooming him from the shadows, sending him on unofficial and less than good missions. He could look however he wanted, but the man was dangerous regardless. Even more so, with what Eiji knew of him.

"Nice to finally meet you, sir," He greeted politely, earning a smile from the man. He would have been worried about revealing how much he knew, but it was an easy guess, really. After all, when the man had walked in, he'd been followed by two agents like the one that had left things at his house. Spamming Genjutsu Dissipation had been a pain and a half, but a necessary one.

"Indeed. It's a pleasure, Eiji Satou," Danzo Shimura replied, his eye shining with… something. The boy couldn't help but draw a parallel there, with both their right eyes covered in bandages. "I'm Danzo Shimura. I was told that you wanted to talk with me?"

"I did," Eiji agreed with a slight nod. 'God, I hate feeling so… useless,' He complained internally before shaking those thoughts away. It wasn't the time, that was for sure. "I wanted to thank you for everything that you've done for me."

"Think nothing of it," The man waved off instantly. "Just doing my best to help the next generation grow, for the good of Konoha."

It was the kind of thing Eiji expected to hear, yes. Actually, he'd been sure that's what the man was going to say, or something along those lines. What he hadn't seen coming was believing what he said. He'd prepared himself to take everything with a grain of salt. After all, he knew that this man was much more than simply someone that had helped him grow.

However… He'd been confronted with several Alternative Universe instances that had nothing to do with changes that he'd made. What if this Danzo wasn't as bad as the one he knew? Everything seemed to match, yes, but that could be something else, right?

'Does it even matter right now?' Eiji thought to himself.

"I'm sure there was more you wanted to say, however," Danzo continued, tilting his head as if urging the boy to talk about what had brought all this on.

"I'm assuming that you basically know everything," Eiji started. "Thus, you know I need all the help I can get."

"And I also know that you are going to set up a team for yourself. I have to say, your choices are… bold, to say the least," The older man commented, which the boy found incredibly ironic, considering some of the things he suspected the other had done.

"Fortune favors the bold," Eiji replied with a grin that might as well have been a grimace. "And I'll need all the luck I can get."

"Indeed."

"Regardless… I need to have as many things going for me as possible," He continued, deciding to get to the point of the meeting. He wouldn't have wanted to test Danzo's, of all people, patience. "Thus, this meeting. The Hokage will help make my team idea happen, or so I've been told. I'd like to know if there's anything you can offer me, Shimura-sama."

"Rather straightforward, aren't you?" Danzo pointed out and Eiji had a hard time reading what he thought regarding that.

"I am. I don't have the time to beat around the bush. I don't even know how much time I have at all. Considering what I know, I need to prepare as much as possible in the time I have," Eiji explained, doing his best to not show how nervous he was. "Besides… This is all for the good of Konoha."

After throwing that last bit in, the boy waited patiently and observed Danzo as closely as possible. Was the older man in agreement with all this? Was he against the mission? Eiji wouldn't put it past him. After all, helping Iwa wasn't very much his style. The Head of Root was more about destroying enemies than helping allies. And considering that the Stone was more in the first category than the later, Eiji wasn't sure where Danzo was standing in all this.

"Indeed, it is," The old man agreed. Too quickly, in the boy's opinion. His sole visible eye almost narrowed at how fast Danzo replied and how he had done so.

'What is his angle? Is he going to plant someone in my team that will screw things up? Sabotage Iwa? Is he the one that messed up with Anko so she couldn't come?' Questions piled up inside Eiji's mind and he had few answers or even guesses. It was frustrating, to say the least. 'Then again, maybe he considered Akatsuki more of an enemy than Iwa, just now? Everyone is on equal grounds in terms of Jinchuriki's, except Kumo that is.'

"I wonder if I would have agreed some time ago," The man said out loud, although he seemed to be speaking more to himself than to Eiji. For a moment, the boy wondered if similar questions as the one he made himself were running through the man's mind. "Regardless, I've been trying a different approach as of late. Let's see how well that works, shall we, Eiji?"

He didn't answer that, but the man seemed to need no such thing.

"I'll see what I can do," Danzo said then, standing straighter as he prepared to leave. "Don't disappoint me, Eiji."

With that rather concerning piece said, the man moved towards the door. He didn't step outside though, before saying one last thing.

"And call me Danzo," He called over his shoulder, as Eiji's eye widened. "No need for formalities, not when you are to be my successor."

'Now, who's the straightforward one, huh?' Eiji thought wryly as the door closed.

That had not been how Eiji expected his first meeting with Danzo to go.

[}-o-{]

Being in the hospital was driving him mad. He only had two things to do while there. Studying and going into the Mindscape. Now, he loved Tsuchigumo and he got along with Hachi and Kage just fine, but the Mindscape wasn't a place to be in for extended periods of time, he'd found. Thus, it limited his options to just studying. Now, maybe he would have been fine with that before, but now that he was trying to relax a little it wasn't so good.

He couldn't even use his techniques for entertainment or anything, since his chakra pathways were all sorts of messed up and doing that would flare up the pain in his body. What he wouldn't have given to be able to use living thread and do something with ninja wire. It would have been much better than being on that bed and staring at the ceiling.

It also gave him flashbacks of before dying that he was not fond of in the least.

"Wow, they really are just leaving you here by yourself, huh?" Asked a voice, snapping Eiji from his thoughts. Looking towards the door, he saw Shikaku leaning against the frame. Under his arm, he held a…

"You missed kicking my ass, huh?" Eiji asked back with a slight half-smile.

"I mean, Shikamaru has been really motivated as of yet, especially since they stopped letting any of them access your room. He hasn't been up to playing Shogi, sadly," The man answered with a shrug, sounding positively disinterested in what he was saying. Already walking in, he started setting the board without even asking if Eiji actually wanted to play.

To be fair though, he obviously did.

He'd take crushing defeats over boredom, that was for sure.

"How are they doing? I feel like asking the Hokage isn't as accurate as asking one of their parents, really," Eiji asked a few moves into the game.

"Eh, he likes Naruto a lot, so he should have a good idea," Shikaku replied with a shrug. "But Shikamaru has been working on creating a jutsu out of our Clan techniques."

"An original jutsu?" That was a surprise, for sure. Eiji would have expected something like that to be too much work for Shikamaru. Then again, he'd broken through that lazy attitude through the years a little bit. Maybe it wasn't so surprising.

"Everyone else is working hard too. They don't want to be left behind," The man mused. "They'll be disappointed, but at least they'll be in a better place than otherwise, I imagine."

"Sorry?"

"No need to apologize," Shikaku waved off instantly before his hand came down to make his move. "What you are doing is already doing wonders for Konoha, and by extension, them. On top of that, this is making sure that they are more prepared for what they could face. I'm grateful, actually."

"Just doing what I think it's best," Eiji replied slowly. He had a feeling that the man was going somewhere with his speech, but he was unsure of where exactly. The smirk he received told him that he was right.

"I'm here on behalf of the Nara, the Yamanaka and the Akimichi Clans. If you ever need anything, you just have to ask for it," The man said with a serious and official tone that Eiji had rarely got to hear from him. Never directed at him, that was for sure.

"... I put your children in danger during the Invasion," Eiji protested, his eyes locking on the board between them as he made a move, refusing to look up afterwards. That was actually something that had been coming up in his mind more and more as he felt the repercussions of the Crush in his body.

"Eiji, they would have been in danger regardless. What you've done for all of them through the years, the things they have achieved because of you? We'll never be able to repay you for that. You did everything you could to keep them safe, even sending them to battles like the ones they went through. You placed yourself alone against Killer B so that they would have a better chance… So, if you say we should be angry at you, I'm gonna hit you," Shikaku explained before sighing. "In short… just take the compliment."

"... Sure," Eiji replied with a wry smile. Then, he groaned. 'Damn, that was fast,' He thought, looking at the board. 'What I wouldn't give to win one match, man.'

"Want some help?" Hachi asked in his mind and he paused. Had he been thinking that out loud? "A little bit. Usually we can catch some stray thoughts if we are paying attention. Kage is roughhousing with Tsuchigumo again, by the way."

Meaning the beast had tackled him and forced him to play. Good on her.

"Sure, could use some help here," Eiji thought, a smirk forming in his face as he set up the board again.

"What's with that face?" Shikaku asked with narrowed eyes.

"I just asked for some help. How do you feel about a two on one, Shikaku?" The boy asked, grin still in place as he made the first move. It took but a split second for the Nara to realize what he was saying, his eyes widening. "Afraid you'll lose?"

At that, the eyes narrowed again.

"You are on."

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

I'm a bit… disappointed with the Danzo scene, but I also can't seem to be able to make it better. Sorry if you guys don't like it.

Before people start complaining, we shouldn't be in the hospital for long, but even if we do, I have plans to keep it a little more interesting than the Coma Arc was. Also, we are going back to more Eiji-centric times, so that should reassure some people too.

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: What do you think World Ender is? The name is probably gonna change… or not, it depends. (Wonder if anyone will get where that name came from too, now that I think about it.)

See you.