Chapter Two - Double Vision & Snippets from Little Eyes
14 BK - Grandmother's office, Summi Okiya
She looks at the old woman and frowns in confusion. Sometimes she is different... sometimes they are all different. She looks at her own hands and her frown deepens. Her hands are moving again... in that strange way that they move without moving.
They look bigger, but they are where her hands should be. They're holding a brush, not too unlike the one grandmother has, and making colors like the sunset that Suzu see's from the window in the evenings. The illusion is orange and purple and as much as she wants to watch she can't help but glance back and forth to see if the grandmother notices it as well. She doesn't though, she never pays any mind to Suzu's moving hands. Are they really moving?
She reaches for the grandmother's paintbrush and once again her hands are hers. She tries to hold it in the same way, but these hands.. her other hands.. are much smaller. It's hard to hold things, but she keeps trying. She wants to make the colors with the little hands too. She runs the brush back and forth across the grandmothers desk but the only lines it makes are black, thick, drippy, and nothing at all like the sunset colors. It's upsetting. Now she wishes she had the other hands back.
"Waaan", she screams. Grandmother needs to know that these are the wrong hands, she can make the other come back can't she?
As always grandmother just pats her backs softly and murmurs words that Suzu doesn't understand. She knows some... she knows she is Suzu-chan and the woman is grandmother, but some people call her Shinju-sa... sa something. It always sounds a little different, sometimes with an nnn and sometimes with an mmmaa. There are also some good demanding words, a sound like hun will bring food and a dir sound will have someone clean her when she gets yucky... when she gets bored regular screaming will work just fine.
She doesn't just have to make sounds though. When she tilts her head, they make happy noises. When she smiles they'll pick her up and if she frowns they give her sweet water. Rolling over sets them off on a round of loud noises they with their hands, she tries to make these too but the sound is much quieter.
Grandmother pats her softly but doesn't bring the hands back. A louder demand for them brings only the inevitable wrapping. If ever she refuses to be soothed they will always wrap her tightly till she feels she cannot move at all. It's a strangely calming feeling, somehow conflicting.. a part of her wants to scream louder, to be released.. but the general consensus is always sleep.
14 BK - An Undisclosed Location - Ame
He chews thoughtfully on the cap of his pen and shifts pages around the small desk, it's been awhile since he last had any inspiration and it's showing in the quality of his writing. Looking out the window though it seems to be worthwhile. Yahiko and Nagato are rolling in the rain and mud in what they might describe as training with sweet Konan looking on in frustration. All three remind him of days long past, his own three-way deadlock with Tsunade and Orochimaru, he wonders what his old teammates are up to now.
It's long since time he should have returned. What are Hanzo's "Legendary Sannin" if there are only two? Do they miss him? Is anyone drawing Orochi out of his dark labs into the midst of the people he protects? Is Tsunade still sunken into her depression? Does Sensei wonder where he is? Perhaps Tsunade would have made excuses for him.. but in his heart he knows that he abandoned his duty. He's been six months missing in action. By now Sensei should have sent the ANBU after him... the old man has a soft spot for him... but he has too many of Konoha's secrets kept captive in his mind to be allowed so much freedom.
His mind wanders and he thinks back to a long night in Sugi with the stunning Umeki, the soft satin of her skin silkier than any Kimono covering it and the sweet honey dripping from her mouth. His shifts again to the pages and he writes a line and then two before pausing again. The geisha were always well informed, the information he had gleaned from her about the Katabami gold mine had been figurative gold. The conflict with Suna at the mines had been quick and decisive, Hatake had once again led his troops to a perfect victory. The Suna puppeteers hadn't stood a chance against the White Fang and his Hounds of War.
Thoughts of Hatake sniffing out the enemy in the mines has the ink flowing for a few more paragraphs. The protagonist begins take shape, formed of half remembered moments and memories of legends, in these pages he takes on the dedication to his ideals and commitment to serve that the White Fang was famous for. Naruto is everything that Jiraiya wishes he was... everything he lacks... and everything he hopes for the next generation. Everything he hopes for Yahiko and Nagato and even little Konan, everything he wants in his own students, his own children.
His mind still focused on an ideal he never reached, a surety of himself and his purpose, he impulsively he grabs a blank page and writes a quick note. It's hastily scrawled, the scribbles are near unintelligible and the wording poorly coded, but it will serve it's purpose. He rolls it into a scroll and sealing it with a smear of blood, he slams his left hand down and shoves into the mouth of a surprised toad before he changes his mind.
Guilt immediately follows. He has a responsibility here, he may not have personally orphaned these children but he must have left so many others in his wake, to leave wouldn't be right. His duty to Konoha came first though... and when torn between the two he knows he's taken the easy route. Perhaps the old man will have a little mercy on a few orphans? What's could three more children possibly cost Konoha?
14BK - A rather large closet, Summi Okiya, the Bordertown of Sugi
Umeki watches the small child sleep, her chest rises and falls with each soft puff of air. In another life she thinks that she would hold her in her arms and sing her to sleep. That she would wrap her in silk and she would grow up dancing under the starlight. She feels in every bone of her body, an painful longing to hold this small creature that has so enraptured her. Her heart aches with desire.
The small cot is nestled behind the doors of the Grandmother's closet, as hidden as anything can be in this house. The child is too small to notice, to wonder why she's so discretely tucked away.. why she has no mother. No mother.. the thought alone is like a hot blade melting through her chest.
Umeki remembers her own mother well, a self-sacrificing woman who in life and death had served her family and her nation. She had raised Chiasu with the same ideals, an all encompassing determination to succeed and the same desire to prove her worth. And it's thoughts of her mother that make her step back... to remember that she has her own dream and her own purpose... precious people she has to protect. She can protect this child as well. This precious infant will be safest far away from her mother.
She runs her hands across her abdomen, feeling the fading stretch marks, and thinks that despite the pain she will do this again. She will stand dignified and honorable, her commitment to her duty will protect her sisters and her old friends in Konoha. Her service will protect the next generation, this child included.
She flees the scene of her distress and takes comfort in the familiar process of preparing herself for society. Applying a thick coating of herbal remedied and tight bandages across her chest and abdomen, time will heal the scars but she'll do her best to speed it up, she tries to forget motherhood and focus on the present role she must play.
14 BK - The Ninja Academy of Konohagakure
There is only one swing on the Academy grounds. Minato has considered that it's to encourage students to train their skills during break times... but most often he just feels that it's sad.. because if there is only one swing.. then you must swing alone. He's never sat here before... but being here alone on this seat gently swaying... he sees the appeal. It's a good place to be alone.
He graduated today. No longer an academy student... but not quite yet a genin. His assigned team isn't so bad, Sarutobi Sanosuke and Uchiha Miwa. Sano is a bit shy he thinks, he's never seen him doing poorly though, always somewhere in the middle of the class. Miwa isn't so bad either, for a girl she's pretty great, she once blew a fireball at that Inuzuka loudmouth. No they're not that bad at all.. they kind of have him a bit hopeful for the future. He's already daydreaming of what an amazing combination they'll be. In his mind they're an assault team built for the frontlines of the war, they'll blaze trails and be legendary like the White Fang... he can't quite picture how they'll do it... but he knows they will.
What he's trying so hard not to focus on, the most awful thing to ever happen... is not having a jonin sensei. They will soon though, he tells himself with an astonishing amount of confidence for a child on the brink of tears. The Hokage himself had come to talk to them, quite a few of them.. half of their graduating class really. They were all very skilled and they would do just fine in the Genin Corps... but if they wanted to wait there were going to be jonin cycling back from the front lines and they would be assigned to the graduating students as they were able.
They hadn't decided yet what they should do. Between Sano's stony silence and Miwa's angered tears all Minato could convince anyone of was the need to meet again tomorrow. Minato already knew what his decision was though, he would wait... he could already see it in his mind. When the White Fang was back he would ask him himself.
14BK - Karesanui or a Rock Garden, Summi Okiya
Suzu leans forward and reaches out but the little arms aren't long enough and she can't reach anything. Her long arms are reaching everything though, she sees them moving the stones and cutting the green fingers off the trees. Do the trees cry when you cut off the green fingers? Suzu knows she cried when her fingers were hurt in the wicker of the bassinet.
"We Wy?" She tries to ask, intent on an answer. Sometimes even when Honoka or Granny doesn't understand her Big Voice will tell her.
The big voice is silent though and Honoka doesn't answer, she rarely does. Instead she performs her calming technique #1 and gently pats Suzu's tummy. It's a good feeling. Her hands move in slow circles and when Suzu watches she doesn't see herself. The long thing fingers of her big hands are running circles across a tummy a little bigger than hers. There are small hands with long lines coming out of them and her big bands clutch at them, at a little baby who isn't Suzu. Drops of water are spilling out from a sky she can't see, they scatter across the little baby's body. Is it rain or are the big eyes leaking? She can't tell.
Suzu is enamored. Her little mind roams over every piece of the picture, taking in every detail and committing it to her memory.
14BK - A Private Residence, the Uchiha Compound, Konohagakure
Miwa runs so fast her socked feet are sliding across the smooth floors of the training halls. She can feel the eyes of her busy cousins on her as she glides past open doorways, time is of the essence though and she can't waste any on explanations. She speeds up as she nears the finish line, slamming full speed into her favorite cousins wide frame. He doesn't so much as stumble, his unyielding bulk a tangible symbol of safety for her, and she sniffs her tears away onto his sweaty gi.
"Fugaku!" She whines, wanting to very much for him to make everything better.
"Miwa..." He sighs, and for a fifteen year old it's one hell of a sigh. Fugaku isn't like her other cousins, he's Kosuke-samas son and so he has to listen to her and he knows it.
"Fugaku.. Listen! Listen!" She insists, despite how attentive he already is. The capable young kunoichi, her hitae-ate proves she is one, already lost in the midst of childish mannerisms formed by years of an overindulging clan. "You have fix everything! I want to be a shinobi!"
His fingers flick her forehead lightly, a movement so fast her eyes didn't follow it. "No one can help you with that Miwa, you're just going to be a brat forever"
She clutches at the sleeves of his long blue cloak and trails after him even as he tries to escape. "I graduated today..."
He nods in acknowledgment. She was disappointed that he hadn't been there for her ceremony, but he had scores of cousins and showing favoritism was above him.
"The Hokage... he said there wasn't a jonin who could train our team..." She hesitates and chokes past something that's most definitely not tears. "He said we could join the genin corps.. or wait till a jonin is available, one coming back from the front lines."
He's stopped moving now. All his attention is focused on her and his whole body is tightened in anger, it wasn't an unexpected reaction. Miwa herself felt pretty similar, sometimes it seemed like the Uchiha fan was a giant target on her back.
The village had high expectations for her success but an equally high disdain for some perceived flaw in her character. She always felt... a bit left out... as if everyone was a bit distant, a bit colder and unapproachable. No one else seemed to have the burning passionate welcoming everything that her family had. That was going to stop though. She was going to have a jonin sensei and show the whole village that the Uchiha had more than earned their respect, she was going to show them her quiet desire to protect everyone.
"There is always a place on the Police Force for you." He offers with a serious gaze. "If the village doesn't want to provide for your training, they don't deserve to, our clan is more than capable."
"I want to wait... I don't want to join the Force until I'm already a jonin... I want to show everyone.. that the Konoha Military Police Force is an honorable duty, not.. not..." Her voice was near a whisper of nervousness now.
Fugaku was patient though. No matter how scary things were, no matter how afraid you were to speak.. Fugaku was a rock. He never let his anger get the best of him. His presence made her feel braver, able to say the things she can't possibly say to Kosuke-sama and her parents.
"I want to show we're not arrogant has-beens who couldn't make it... I know people think that.. but it's not true! I'll prove it myself!"
14BK - Summi Okiya
Suzu is aware that she's held tight against a woman, she's wrapped up close another body. She can hear a soft thudding echoing against her cheek. It's familiar and soothing. It brings confusing images to her mind's eye even as it soothes her.
She can see the big hands hammering down on a woman's chest, fast and deep and with a feeling of desperation. She sees something odd and red and pulsing, a long scribble of lines that make triangles and her big hands holding a silver disk to a man's chest. Her head hears a second beating, not the soft thudding on her cheek but one louder, with a rough static sound.
"Wha?" She sleepily asks. What is the noise? Why are there two?
A heart.. my heartbeat...
AN: Before anyone gets up in arms... I really struggled with putting together the timeline well. If this person is this old at this time and then does this at that time.. how does that make sense? In the end.. I pieced and changed and shifted and made the best of everything that I could. Welcome to an alternate universe... please expect and accept that there will be changes to the main timeline. This chapter and probably the next couple are going to try and piece together some of the background for a slightly altered Konoha.