The First Brush
Someone was here. Didn't know who, didn't know why, but someone was in my room. This person had to be good, they had bypassed my security. Either a bloodline user or a Seals master. Either way, it did not make sense for someone to search me out, I was not a ninja. I opened my eyes slowly, looking carefully around me. It was dark, so I could not see. I could not enhance my eye sight because I had a special 'condition' that made it incredibly difficult for me to push chakra through my skin. It wasn't a chakra blockage, where one could not use chakra at all. The disease I had simply made it painful or even cause me to bleed, when I try to push chakra through my skin. It wasn't common but not unheard of, many people's chakra pores didn't fully open, making difficult or impossible to use chakra outside the body.
My rented room was small so it was easy to spot the intruder. He was well built, a headband on his forehead. A Ninja, that was not good. There was something large resting against the wall, it was cylinder shaped, a scroll perhaps. The man had a mane of hair, but it was too dark to see what color. The intruder was sitting down, waiting for me to completely wake up, though he probably knew that since my heart was palpitating out of control.
"I do not mean you harm, I merely wanted to talk." The man lit a candle next to him, with a spark of chakra.
I sat up fully, eyes widening as I saw the face`. The white hair, headband that said Oil, the weathered face and make up. Jiraiya of the Sannin, the Toad Sage.
"Y-you are Jiraiya?" I chocked out. He looked exactly like in the manga, the manga which I almost believed to be an imaginary vision, something I made up when I was young. It was easy, to ignore it, to try and keep my sanity. How on earth would I see visions of events that never happened in my world, live a life that seemed to contain this world. The people who raised me, had helped me come to terms with this new life. But I could not ignore my past life, no more so than I could ignore the person in front of me.
"Ah, so you've heard of me? It is good see that the famous writer, Toki Nakamaru" Jiraiya grinned largely, his teeth glinted from the candle light. He, surprisingly, looked harmless, but I knew that could change in a second. But I swallowed and calmed my nerves. He was not here to attack me, he was not here for information. I had nothing to do with any Shinobi. Hell, I've only passed through the main hidden villages four times in my life, this life.
I give a small smile, indeed I've heard of him, but not just his exploits of a ninja. "I am envious, as a fellow writer, that your stories are taking readers by storm. The Adventures of the Icha Icha are spread wide." We share a chuckle.
"Thank you, it is a relatively fun series to write." Then the older man sobered. "I, however, am not here to write books. I am here for something else."
My blood froze. Impossible, no one could know about my other talents. To everyone else, they thought I was some civilian who could not use chakra. Worthless in any capacity as a shinobi. That was true. But, that did not mean I could use it internally. I grew up and visited many monasteries across the fire nation. Travel was easier for a civilian, if one followed the well traveled routes. I visited many monasteries and trained in this various places in the past 6 years. I had left the Thunder Monsatary when I was 12.
Jiraiya leaned back. "It took me awhile to figure it out, but I figured out you were the Tabinin. I saw your handy work on Kumo's Jinchuuriki. Didn't find a match until, you visited Iwagakure to fix up their Jinchuuriki's seal."
I wince and curse under my breath. I had heard the seal was malfunctioning so I went to go fix it. The Head, Onoki was not supposed to tell anyone since only the Five tails, Han, and the Head saw me. In my travels, I picked up sealing from the monasteries. Monasteries were actually considered the equal to a College for the sealing arts. Many tried to study there but were rejected, either not being good enough or not having enough dedication. I grew up there and had studied them relentlessly.
In this world, there were probably only six, maybe seven, who were truly considered and regarded as sealing masters, I was one of them.
And being the Tabinin. Wanderer. Huh, I guess it fits. I walked around between the countries. Exploring. Never staying anywhere, avoiding Hidden villages if it all possible. But still attracted to seals, complex seals, the Jinchuuriki seals.
"I must admit though" Jiraiya continued on, looking at me with a glint in his eye. "I didn't expect you to look like me" He chuckled. "not many people have white hair, even fewer with red eyes, unless you are an Uchiha."
I shrugged. Being an Albino was not the weirdest thing that happened to me.
I looked back up at the Shinobi. "So, what do you want with me?" I pause, thinking about what the man had said. "You obviously don't want to talk about my novels." Novels I had written about my previous life. It was ironic to think that in my earlier life this was fiction, a comic, and now I was writing fiction about what was once reality to me. I honestly did not know where I ended up in the Naruto time zone. Years were not exactly documented very well. I knew the Shinobi Third war had ended but that was some time ago, when I was still studying at different temples, and starting to 'see the sights'.
Jiraiya simply clasped his hands. "A curse seal." he said simply.
I froze. Curse seal. Sasuke. Orochimaru. Oh god. This was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to happen. I wandered for a reason. I never went close to Konoha for a reason. I wanted to stay as far away from the plot as humanly possible. It was why I never gave my name to anyone. They simply gave me one. Never staying in one place for very long, sending messages to my publishers when I had a book finished but never giving a return date. Hell, I avoided Shinobi like the plague. I only worked with Shinobi only if it had to do with Jinchuuriki.
Now helping Jinchuuriki may seem counter productive, in avoiding the aggravating and overbearing eyes of Shinobi. But I felt pity, and gratitude, towards the Jinchuuriki. For holding such immense power in themselves, all the while being hated for it. I helped them briefly, but disappeared as soon as I had gotten the chance.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. This life was either a gift or a curse, I did not know. I had used it well, using my 'head start' as a means to start studying. Not being able to use Chakra, outside my body was something was entirely grateful for, I would not be inducted into any Shinobi Corps because I was ineligible. I wanted a peaceful life. Wandering, meeting new people, trying new food, and having no responsibilities, being free. This life starkly contrasted the lifestyle of my previous one, and I loved this free life. I would have to say no. I did not want to get involved in world ending battles and horrible villains.
I opened my eyes. Jiraiya had been patiently waiting for me. "No."
I didn't want to be some random person who showed up and fixed everyone's problems. I didn't want to get involved in things that were way above me.
Jiraiya didn't even blink. He had expected the answer. His eyes held no amusement, his mouth in a thin line. He wasn't hostile, no he was resigned.
"Why?" The older shinobi asked. He, of course, was an information gatherer. A spymaster always wanted more information.
"I am called Tabinin for a reason. And I hate Shinobi" I spoke quietly, looking up at the ceiling.
Jiraiya raised an eyebrow at the latter declaration. "You hate Shinobi? Isn't that a bit harsh, Toki-kun."
I scoff. After, all the orphans I've seen, the ruins I've walked through. "I've seen what Shinobi can cause. And I have no intention of settling down."
I cross my arms, affirming my stance. No way in hell, would I go to Konoha. Not if Sasuke had been bitten. That meant tangling with Orochimaru. And personally, I would like to live this second life to the fullest.
"You could always come for a brief time, not settle down. I am not asking you to join Konoha. Just help a girl."
Wait, Girl? My eyes widened. Curse seal on a girl? Small, so that meant young. That meant. Oh god it was Anko. I closed my eyes in pain. A girl in pain, it brought up memories I didn't want to remember. I failed too many times. But wasn't this the reason I started learning seals in the first place, to make a difference? Hell, if I even went, it could change the plot. I could cause the Shinobi War to start earlier for all I know. But.
She laid there, oxygen mask on. I looked at her. Stared at her. This was my testament. Of all my failures. Of all my ignorance. The machine flickered. Slow beeps accompanied the soft breathing. I closed my eyes, water falling. Best case scenario she would never walk again, or, the more likely case, death. Because of me.
"Who put it on her and how old is she?" I whispered, trying to stave of the memory. Jiraiya, who must have noticed my pause and sudden change, ignored the change in mood.
"She's eighteen. The curse seal was put on her when she was Twelve. By Orochimaru"
'Same age as me' I thought idly. She must be in pain. Probably trying to resist the urges of the Curse seal. Kami, it must be horrible for her. I could just go and take a look. It wouldn't hurt. I, probably, couldn't do anything if Jiraiya couldn't. I continued to mull it over. And if nothing happened, the plot would still stay the same.
"I will-" I pause, standing up. Shaking my head, I sighed, looking at Jiraiya 'I have to. I have the power to change something, someone is in pain, I can stop it.' With more resolution, I stood straight. "I will need free room and board, A large place to work, preferably under ground. Full tools for examination, And the ability to simply walk out the door if I feel I cannot do anything. I will need your and the Hokage's approval." Jiraiya nodded. My demands were not taxing and also expected for work.
"I will also need complete anonymity, No one is to know my skill set, nor my identity as Tabinin. "
Jiraiya scratched his head. "It can be done. No time to waste! Let's go."
I blink, "What? Now?!" I just woke up not a few minutes ago. It was still early in the mourning. I wanted my sleep!
Jiraiya smiled, his mouth grinning wide. "This was a detour I used. I have a book signing in Konoha in about 4 days. If we hurry, We can make it in three."
I opened my mouth to say that I had to pack, an excuse to stop the shinobi, but the fellow seals master simply held up 3 scrolls, my Portable home, as I liked to call it. I closed my mouth, and glare at the older man. I did not like people touching my stuff. Jiraiya simply blurred out my eye sight and I felt a yank on the back of my neck, as I was pulled along.
"Dammit I Haven't even checked out of the roooo-" I started to yell but the rushing wind around me, covered my scream of indignation.
"Oh come on, it wasn't that bad. It was certainly faster. If you had walked, we would only be half way here." The bastard, idiot, asshole, old geezer, frog loving, buffoon chuckled next to me. He carried me like a sack of wheat, for three days. Three days.
It was me bouncing up and down, while piggy backing. All I had for entertainment was picking Jiraiya's brain for seals and storylines.
I didn't even bother responding before walking past the Toad sage and towards the gates of Konoha. Jiriaya, had probably sent a Toad ahead, because Two Anbu were waiting for us at the front gates. I noticed, curiously, that one was male and one was female, and were wearing a Lion and Crow mask, respectively.
"Jiraiya-sama" One of them spoke. Nodding towards the older nin, in a sign of respect.
Smiling joyfully at the two Anbu, Jiraiya patted me on the shoulder. "He's with me. Is little Anko, at the tower?"
The female Anbu nodded, silently, staring at me. 'Probably trying to dissect me and see if i'm a threat.' It was another thing that irritated me about Shinobi. Always paranoid. But I guess, relenting in my head, that they had to be in their line of work.
I look away from the two anbu and looked ahead. Out of all the villages I've been to, I had to admit, the Hokage Mountain was a great sight. It reminded me of Mount Rushmore, but Super powered beings instead of Presidents.
"Well come on kid, no time to be wasting." Jiraiya loudly declared as he clasped a hand on me again. My gut squelched in fear.
I turn to Jiraiya, my eyes wide with fear. "Oh hell no. We are not going that way. We are going to waaaaaaaa-" And once again, I felt my stomach spin and my eyes squeeze shut as I was being pulled by Jiraiya at insane speeds towards the Hokage tower. Dear Kami, how did Ninjas stand moving this fast.
As slow down, I tumble gracefully, to the ground. That bastard was going to pay. I was going to find his book signing and slap the biggest Water Condensing seal I could make inside the store.
"Whoops. Sorry about that kid. Didn't meant to drop you like that, forgot you weren't a shinobi." I simply tried to burn a hole in his head through sheer force of will. I'd like to say he would starting to feel pain because he looked away immediately.
I get up and pat myself down, didn't want to look horrible in front of company. Jiraiya, without a word, walked forwards towards the Tower.
Being as we were going to be working, I didn't bother wearing any formal clothes. I has a simple white T-shirt. I wore comfortable brown sweats. While they were not fashionable in any sense, they were necessary. Sealing required a lot of movement and I had learned, through many annoyances, that tight clothing really burn your skin. I had long white, straight hair. I didn't bother cutting it, because I was terrible at fashion. Instead, I simply tied it up in a short pony tail to keep it out of my eyes and cut it to shoulder length when it got too long. I didn't bother putting on my glasses to cover my red eyes. Being an Ablino only added to the differences between my two lives. I was lucky, however to have chakra in my system, because it stopped some of the negative effects of being an albino out.
One weird thing about chakra, was that it actually covered for weaknesses in the body. It was like the universal band aid for illness. People transferred it, in a converted fashion, to heal wounds. Even, Healing seals were just a stable way of doing what Shinobi did already with regular hand seals, transfer adjusted chakra. Weaving chakra into new skin, allowing more cells to reproduce. The theories on chakra were numerous, I had heard some interesting theories, but nothing substantial on it's true nature.
Entering the main lobby was interesting, to say the least. It was a large circular room with an information desk to the left and stairs on the right. There were several doors in front labeled, Mission Assignment, Debriefing and Payment. There were even rows of chair for people in Que. It looked more like a DMV than an actual Mission assignment center.
Following Jiraiya, while looking around with some curiosity, I noted that we were going down. Probably where the larger rooms where kept.
We went down several flight of stairs, the two Anbu, from earlier, were following behind me, not speaking. Jiraiya, on the other hand, was talking, quite loudly, about the plot of his next book. I could feel the anger radiating from the female Anbu behind me. Though I felt some embarrassment, because he was discussing with me about the merits of his plot.
"Now, I was thinking that Inoue could sneak up on the two, while they're going at it and join in."
I cough, a bit flushed. Mumbling out. "Sounds interesting. But why would she be up there."
Jiraiya was about to answer, but the male Anbu coughed once and pointed towards a door up ahead.
"And here we are!" Jiraiya declared, stopping in front of steel door. There was a large window next to it for viewing in. Without pause, Jiraiya walked in.
I whistled in appreciation, the older seals master had put out all stops for this one. The room was large enough to fit 40 people, easily. The walls were covered with Sealing Paper. Normally, one didn't need sealing paper to do sealing, but Sealing paper were derived from Chakra enhanced trees. They conducted Chakra through them far better than normal ground. Better conduction meant better flow and less chakra needed.
I walked in, the two Anbu Closing the door behind us. It was only till I was inside did I notice that there were two others in the room.
I bowed my head in respect. One could not mistake the Robes and Symbol on the Hat. He looked like how I had seen him. Pipe and all. "It is an Honor Hokage-sama."
As, I looked up, I notice the Hokage regard me with an intense look. Not the grandfather look, that many Konoha Citizens were accustomed to. No, this was not a kind Grandfather figure standing before me, This was the leader of Hundreds of killers, a person who would crush me like a bug if I was a threat. It made me want to curl up into a small ball and hide. But, curling up into a ball wouldn't help anyone.
"You are the Tabinin? Jiraiya requested that I not know your name. How can I be sure you are, who you say you are?" He asked, taking out his pipe to talk clearly. Suspicion.
I nod. "If you need confirmation, I can simply show you my work."
"I can vouch for him Sensei. He's legit. Talked about his work along the way. Traded some ideas." Jiraiya intervened. I raised an eye brow at him. Sure, we talked about some sealing but we were mostly brainstorming with each other. Far out concepts like Elemental conversion seals or Bloodline Imitators. But we only talked about that for a few moments. We, actually, talked more about our work as Novelist instead of our work as Sealing Masters.
"What are you both perverts?!" A brash voice entered the conversation. I blinked in surprise. It was the first time I had actually noticed the person standing next to the Hokage, his presence was intimidating. She stood straight, looking at me with curiosity but took moments to continue glaring at Jiraiya. Wearing a burgundy T-shirt and khaki shorts. Her purple hair was tied up, just like in the manga.
I should feel insulted by the accusation but I felt it was kind of fitting that she would be so informal. The manga never really showed her character often, but it was interesting to see her in person. 'But' I noticed with a bit of dread and nervousness. 'There is still something that is similar'. I tilted my head to get a better look at the seemingly small Tattoo on her neck. The curse seal. Oh boy.
"Stop staring at me Pervert!" Anko growled.
What? I looked up in confusion. "I'm trying to take a look at the seal? You do know what I'm doing here right?"
She shrugged. "Hokage-sama wanted me here, so I'm here." She paused and unconsciously rubbed her elbow. "Why were you talking about the seal." she spat out. The purple haired girl must really hated that seal, understandable of course.
It seems that the Hokage didn't inform her of the details.
I sighed and scratched my head. "I'm here to take a look at the Curse seal." Really. You would think if someone called you to an underground room with sealing paper strewn everywhere, you would want to know why.
Anko froze, now regarding me with a different gaze. "You, a sealing master? Aren't you a bit young?" her eyes narrowed as she looked towards the Hokage.
The Hokage nodded to her. "It's true Anko-chan. We were looking for a way to counteract the Curse seal."
Anko crossed her arms. "But you already looked at it. If Hokage-sama couldn't help me, I doubt this kid could do anything else." Anko declared while looking at Jiraiya
I scoff. "You're the same age as me, Anko-chan."
Anko glared at me and opened her mouth to yell but the older Shinobi placed a hand on her shoulder. "Enough. Jiriaya and Tabinin will look over your seal to see what we can do. Please listen to them. I will be watching outside."
The girl seemed to relax, albeit forcibly, at this. She nodded towards the Hokage. "Yes, Hokage-sama."
With that, the Hokage walked outside, leaving only the three of us in the room. I looked towards Jiraiya, wanting to see if he wanted to take the lead, but Jiraiya winked at me. Great, now if something happens it'll be my fault. I let out a sigh and turned towards Anko.
"Sit down and face away from me. I need to see the full seal."
Anko, while glaring at me, complied. I placed my left hand on my Right shoulder and unsealed my Seal kit.
"Unrestricted Storage seal applied on the skin? A bit dangerous?" Jiraiaya questioned. One of the reasons why Storage seals were not usually applied to the skin, commonly, was that Chakra pores were constantly pumping chakra. It was how Shinobi had such a high tolerance of pain and restistance. Their bodies were creating a small shield for them, just below the surface of their skin.
This charka running around the skin meant that a storage seal could activate at any time making it practically worthless. It was like a bag that kept spitting out anything you put in it. There were complicated storage seals, called restricted seals, that used double layers of isolation. These could be applied to your skins, but took quite a few lines to create. Those, however, could usually only contain chakra or non-physical things.
I give a small smile as I unfurled the bundle. "I can't use chakra outside of my body, properly. An Epidermis Chakra disease." In other words, My chakra couldn't be used through the pores of my skin without serious pain. Activating a sealing structure on my body was fine, because I could use internally to activate it.
Jiraiya eyes widened at the new information, but didn't comment further.
And now finally, I got to look at the Fabled Curse seal closely. I had read about it so much in the manga, online, everywhere but it actually looked quite unimpressive at first. But I knew it must be a complicated piece of work, if the Hokage was not able to undo it.
"Alrighty" I whispered to myself, placing my hands around the seal on Anko's neck. I pushed chakra into my hands. I felt her shiver at the chakra but she stayed still. Pushing chakra was a simple way of testing the Activation call of a Seal. A call was simply what made the seal start, like turning flicking a switch to turn on the lights.
Activation calls of most seals worked on either Triggers or Thresholds. Triggers could be activated at any time, and were used either for Storage seals or Explosives. They responded to chakra by pushing in chakra, like pressing a button.
Thresholds were the more complex versions. These were timers, the barriers and even Summoning. Thresholds relied on the building up of chakra and at a certain point the chakra could be activated. Similar Most practitioners of seals used Triggers, the better ones used Thresholds, but the true sealing masters, used something else entirely and were not even listed in books or scrolls.
I waited for some feedback of the chakra. If it was a Trigger activation type it, I would feel the charka being sucked into the seal. If it was a Threshold, it would push back, as it didn't want outside chakra.
A pull against my charka. 'Ok, a trigger.' It's not what I had theorized but it did fit some holes.
A push back, my chakra being rejected. 'A multi-call activation that's more believable.' I nodded to myself. Orochimaru was a genius, it would be conceivable that he came up with or figured out a multi-call seal.
Just before it completely pushed out my chakra, another piece of my chakra was pulled once again and then flattened. My blood ran cold. My eyes widened.
"Son of a bitch" I muttered under my breath. "Who the hell did he rip this off from?" I asked Jiraiya as I felt a pulse under my hands.
Jiriaya blinked. "What?" He asked, not understanding the question. I elaborated. "This is a Loop Activation. A poorly implemented one at that." Another pulse rippled through my hands.
The repeated loops were definitely a sign of a Loop Activation call. This was the third and hardest Activation call for a seal. Every iteration of what a seal is supposed to do is termed a version. A version of going through the function of a seal once. Once you go through one version of a seal, it is over and completed with and cannot be recalled since a new version must be started. A Loop Activation involved calling a new version of the seal before the first one ended. And the first Version could not end till the second one ended, creating a barrier between the ending of the previous seal. In a sense, it would never end, continuously calling new versions until one had stacks and stacks of versions. Ultimately, it was an almost impossible seal to break. I knew these seals because I had applied them for specific functions.
The Jinchuuriki seals required Loop Activation. It was no wonder why the Hokage could not break the seal. There were more villages in the Elemental countries than there were active loop seals. One for each of the Jinchuuriki, and probably less than a dozen outside of that. They were usually taught only to the highest of Seal Practitioners by other high seal practitioners, basically from person to person.
Jiraiya rubbed his chin. Also, wanting to know how Orochimaru got his hands on a Loop seal.
"He could have gotten it on his own." Jiraiya mused to himself. Judging by the his voice, Jiraiya didn't seem convinced though.
I shook my head. "There is no way. First off, This loop seal's pulse is a derivation of a Jinchuuriki seal. And its an old version too, judging by the pulse timing." The loop would start at different times, a sign of an older version of the loop seal. No one, who could use Loop seals properly, would even think to use Loop seals with such a variance, it caused periods of massive chakra surges in Jinchuuriki. 'It's probably the reason why so many people died' I thought to myself. Anko was one of ten people to actually live.
Dammit, Genius or not, Orochimaru was an idiot for using things above his knowledge.
"Secondly," I continued. "This seal ends the earlier version." I give a small smile as I declared. It was easy to feel this. The sudden flattening in chakra was a clear sign that a version had ended. That meant this seal could be terminated.
Jiraiya smirked. "That idiot really didn't understand Loop seals."
I nod as I looked back at the seal. It would've been much harder if it didn't end.
"We need to expand it, Make sure that there isn't any fail safe. Wouldn't be surprised." Jiraiya continued. "We should also-"
"How long are you going to keep your hands on me?" Anko growled. Speaking up for the first time since she sat down.
I had been touching her the entire time. I lifted my hand immediately, and felt my face flush. Oh man, I hadn't even realized. I was so into analyzing the seal. Wow, that is embarrassing. Jiraiya giggled on the side. I gave him a glare for all I was worth. I turned back to Anko, and noticed she was also glaring at the Sennin. I give a small chuckle. Anko's wrath turned towards me but I quickly moved onto to the next subject. The next part would get touchy.
"We're going to need to take off your clothes." I dropped the news and waited for the reaction.
There was a pause.
"Why?" The female shinobi asked, quietly. Her Pupil-less brown eyes stared into my red ones.
I blinked. I had expected her to blow up and punch me in the face. This was certainly different. Pushing the thoughts aside I clasped my hands. "The seal will expand, when we open it up to examine it. It will spread across your skin, so we need to see it properly."
Anko nodded looking away for a moment. I could see her face redden. I politely looked away as well. "Can you do something about this."
I turn back to face her.
"I-I just want this gone. I don't want to be attached to him any longer. Can you destroy this seal?" her voice quiet. I met her eyes. This was not the girl who had called me a pervert, that had yelled at me for touching her. This was the girl underneath all the layers of anger, brashness and everything else she used to deflect. I realized, for the first time, that she had idolized Orochimaru and been burnt for it. She really didn't know who to trust.
"We did everything we could. I am sorry." The doctor spoke quietly. I couldn't see him. I only looked at her. She would never walk again.
"You tried. Most people wouldn't have bothered to try. But you did something incredible. Don't blame yourself."
"I could have done more." I spoke quietly.
The doctor placed a hand on my shoulder. "We are human. We do what we can. Take care of her"
"I will." I promised.
It was grueling work. As soon as Anko had taken off her clothes, keeping her undergarments on, we expanded the seal. Having the sealing paper on the ground helped, as the seal easily transitioned from her body to the paper. While some of the seal was still on her body, most of it was on the paper.
We examined every inch of it. There were Anbu, on the ceiling, documenting every single part of the seal. Apparently, this was the first time they had fully expanded the seal. Normally, to edit a seal, you would simply call the parts you needed and it would expand out for you.
The final form of the seal was more of a packaged form. Jiraiya informed me that the Hokage only called on the activation part of the seal, to try and stop it. This was probably the reason why the Hokage didn't know how to destroy the Curse seal. He had probably only seen a Loop Activation for a seal, three or four times and never had the time to truly understand it. Even Jiraiya worked with Loop seals as a long distance relationship.
But, Jiraiya was part of the Sannin for a reason. I explained to him the key points and he easily picked it up. For the next Two weeks, we worked on the seal. I had a bed set up outside the Underground room so I could maximize the time. My promise, my desire to help her, drove me to get this done.
The three of us quickly fell into routine. Anko would come in the morning with food. I would eat with her and then Jiraiya would come in. We would sit down and work till night, eating only snacks to keep us going. During this time, I would like to say I got to know Anko, or, more like, got to argue with her.
"What seriously? You don't like Akashi?" I exclaimed in surprise as I examined the Chakra conversion part of the seal. Huh, it looked like it went through multiple filters, interesting.
"Akashi was a snob most of the time. And his only good points where that he helped out with, what was it called, the Charity Organization." Anko yelled back.
Anko, who had been sitting still for quite a while grew bored of it. So, as a novelist, I lent her a couple of my books so she could read. She was quite the critic, a very annoying and loud critic.
I rolled my eyes. "That's the point. He's supposed to change in the future."
Anko scoffed. "Well if that's what you wanted why don't you make him a girl and have him switch genders."
I palm my face and shake my head. Jiraiya laughed next to me. He never gave her any of his books because she'd murder him if the erotic writer tried.
Anko turned the page on the book she was reading. "Hey, what's a Car again?" She asked me. I sighed and began to explain.
"Look the Transfer goes here. And that buffer goes there. This makes this activate. Allowing this to move here." I stressed as I jabbed the board with my finger. My patience was running thin as I tried to explain to Jiraiya what I had found, again.
Maybe this was why seals masters couldn't work together, we couldn't share ideas for the life of us. I sighed as I rubbed my hand through my white hair and sat down. Grasping the my cup of tea from my stand. It was late at night and I needed to continue working on the problem. It had been several days of constant work. I hadn't bothered going outside, my mind was still wrapped around the seal.
It was like the ink lines would swirl around in my mind. Taking shape of seals. I would just start thinking about it.
Jiraiya let out his own sigh and took a sip of his bottle. I glared at him for bringing it here, in a work place. Jiraiya shrugged and continued to drink his sake.
"Want a sip?" He asked as he raised the bottle for me to take.
I shook my head. " I don't really drink. Hate the taste"
Jiraiya shrugged, again, at my denial and continued to look at the board. "It still seems redundant. Like it was copied just to fufill the function."
I rolled my eyes. "We've already discussed how Orochimaru likes to rip off other people's works. Applying them takes intelligence yes, but he obviously didn't go in depth as to why the Chakra buffer is placed at the beginning in stead of the end." I took a sip of tea.
"Which causes the build up." Jiraiya continued. "Which makes some, a percent really, chakra become corrupted and burnt. Creating a cancer in the chakra."
I nod. I had followed the line of chakra to this point. This is where the seal went haywire. It would burst to multiple sections, calling multiple seals at once. Efficient really. Made the seal extremely fast, allowing it to stabalize and spread all at the same time. But the seals that the Curse seal was calling weren't properly fixed. The amounts of chakra going in and out weren't balanced. It was like trying to fill a cup with a hose. Some water is going to fall out and miss.
It would be a problem for the holder of the seal, but Orochimaru obviously didn't care about that.A pit filled my stomach as a I thougth about it. An angry red pit, that made me want to slap a series of explosives seals on the snake bastard's face and watch the fireworks.
We sat in relative silence, still staring at the seal."Hey Dinner." A loud voice broke our silence. I looked over and saw Anko holding three bentos. I nod in thanks, and took the bento and opened it. "Nice, Chicken." I crowed as I saw some of my favorite food. It was really hard to get chicken in Kumo, had to import it. Even then, the monks in the temple really didn't like me eating meat in the temples.
Anko plopped down the available chair and opened up her own bento. "Guess i'm the gopher and the subject."
I snorted at her complaint. "Thanks Anko." Verbalizing my thanks.
Anko rolled her eyes and dug in.
I looked back the seal and kept running the ink lines in my head. There had to be a way to solve it.
"So you are Konoha's new consultant." A voice came from behind me. I jolted, 'Damn ninja' I thought to myself, while turning to face my visitor. I was going over some notes, while Anko and Jiraiya were getting some food. I declined to go out with them, not out of being anti-social or socially inept, but because the less people who knew about me the better.
This, however, seemed to be irrelevant, because one of the people, I was trying not to attract the attention of, was right in front of me.
'Danzo' I thought with some fear. The guy was a Konoha fanatic. I wouldn't be surprised if he ha Konoha tatoo on his arm or something. Ok, bad time to make a joke in front of a guy who would kill you in a second. I tried to think of something to stop myself from laughing. Dead people. No, not good enough. Some boring lectures. Oh, I know a lecture on Oncology. Man, those were boring-
'Focus dammit. Danzo, Super loyal Konoha nin in front of you.'
Danzo, who had been standing there patiently, regarded me. He probably thinks I'm crazy or very scared.
"You are?" I ask politely.
"My name is Danzo. I am a simple adviser with interests in Konoha's future."
I smile. Oh shit. Was this the part where he tells me to join Konoha or die. Or just die. "I am a Civilian who is simply helping Jiraiya-sama with a problem."
Danzo gives a small smile. He obviously wants to see if I know that he knows and that he wants me to know, that I know he knows. Wow, that is some next level intimidation.
"Would a civilian simply, work on seals of the highest level."
I raise an eyebrow. "Would a simple adviser know about workings that the Hokage assured me were classified." Ha. Got you now.
Danzo eye, if possible, narrowed. "You are the Tabinin." He said. Now taking off all the masks and pretenses, or would it be bandages in his case.
I give him a blank look. "And you are?"
Danzo, giving me a smug smile, moved closer. "I am a man simply wanting to know your intentions in Konoha."
Oh thank god. No threats of Abduction or murder. Though this did not make me feel better of the sitaution. "To find a way to destroy the curse seal. But you seem to already know classified information that should only be privy to the Hokage."
Nodding his head, the older man backs off, satisfied with my answer. "Is there a way I can presaude you to extend your consultancy with Konoha."
I close my eyes. Not on your life. "No. This is a one time deal with Jiraiya. I came on his behalf out of my respect." 'And my duty to not fail again.'
Danzo did not seem to like that answer. He opened his mouth to speak again but Kami must be looking out for me. "We brought back food. Hope you like Ramen." Jiraiya said quite loudly. Obviously, interrupting the scene and warning Danzo.
Danzo, not acknowledging Jiraiya's presence, nodded to me and turned and walked away. As Jiraiya and Danzo passed, I saw a flicker of lips and glaring eyes. Jiraiya turned his eyes to me and winked.
"Got yourself a fan?"
I snort. Danzo a fan. He's already in bed with Konoha. "More like Stalker, Let's eat."
I pushed that meeting out of my mind.
I laughed hard as I pounded the floor.
"A-and then." Jiraiya wheezed out as he continued his story. "And then the stupid idiot, decided it would be a good idea to sing. So-" Jiraiya let out a roaring laugh. "he goes and rips off his own shirt."
Another wave of laughter hit me and Anko as we both imagined Orochimaru, the scary and evil shinobi, ripping his shirt off to sing.
I let my roaring laugh die to a chuckle, as I picked up my chop sticks and started munching on my noodles. Take out from a Wok Style Noodle place. Jiraiya had brought it over, after he had been debriefing the Hokage.
He, the Hokage that was, was impressed we had gotten some progress. Mapping out the curse seal. Finding areas to break and isolate. Identifying locations of charka conversion. And even tracing the web of calls. It was frustrating to track a single part of the seal this complex. One part, one function to change this chakra into this flow had been used for hundreds of different things. This is all in good design, the less seals you need the more efficient it was. But not having the blueprints made it a nightmare to figure out anything.
It led to some stressful nights. So, Jiraiya had decided to start telling funny and embarrassing stories about his old teammate. Calling the 'Class S super bastard, with a stick so large up his ass its-'. What he described Orochimaru as was quite long and hilarious. Even Anko laughed at it.
"So got any stories?" Jiraiya looked at me. A small smirk on his face.
I shrugged. "eh. My travels are mostly boring walking around, talking to people."
Anko scoffed. "Come on. Someone like you has to have one of those great adventures stories right?"
I thought about it. Remembering a time in Kumo, my birthplace. I smiled slightly. "Well, there was a time where I was dragged to drop the biggest paint bomb I could make." I remembered it clearly. Being dragged by the ear, without my consent obviously, to go prank people. I didn't even want to prank, but my friend sure did. Apparently they taken my friend's toy and that deserved revenge.
Anko smiled. "spill!"
It was only on the 27th day did I find something horrifying. I was examining one of the more obscure parts of the seal. It was a storage seal with a container. I had tracked it down because this Storage Seal was actually ending the previous versions, which seemed totally crazy to me. Storing a Version of the seal?
I remember Orochimaru actually coming out of the seal, but that felt more like a transpiration seal than an actual store. What would he store anyways? His chakra?
'OK. Storage of Chakra.' I traced my finger over the lines. 'Storage of physical objects with a bound seal. So this contains the body?' I rub my chin in confusion. I felt the hairs on my chin brush against my palm. I probably needed to shave. 'So if this contains the body which Orochimaru uses, how does he get his consciousness to this seal? I know he comes out of the curse seal. I followed the seal's reference to a secondary storage seal.
'So when the Loop ends, it checks to see if this storage is filled. What is in here?' I took out a piece of paper and laid it across the seal signifying storage. There was something in here but it was strange. Normally, the seal will state what is in here. If it was water, then it would write the Kanji water. The user usually labeled it themselves, as to remember what the seal was containing. This on the other hand, was only part of the Kanji, as if what ever was being sealed in here was incomplete. Which was even more strange because even if someone stored half a body, the seal would still say body, unless the user wanted to be more specific.
I wrote a seal for reveal. It was quite simple really. Simply, integrate the paper with the storage seal and write show. It would allow me to see what was in there, without changing the seal.
I bit my finger, allowing chakra to seep into the blood and placed it on my new seal. I watched as the chakra glowed blue and the ink rearrange itself. Blood, besides chakra induced Ink in certain circumstances, was probably the best tool of Sealing. It could be arranged into sealing structures on the fly and almost instantaneously if the user was good enough. Shinobi who used Summons like dogs or toads used Hand Seals as a way of shortcut the actual Seal matrix. One could summon without Hand Seals and purely use Written seals, but that was inconvenient in battle, unless they used blood. But this was rare because not many understood Summoning structures through and through.
As the ink rearranged itself, I moved my hand away to look at it properly. The blood in my face rushed away. My heart started beating faster. 'No. No No no no.' Oh Kami. I knew Orochimaru was a messed up son of a bitch but this was taking it to the next level. This was beyond what I had thought a mad man was capable was. I was naïve.
"Jiraiya." I whispered out. My voice suddenly dry, hoarse from the discovery. Anko and Jiraiya looked over, noting my sudden change in disposition.
"What is it?" He asked, walking over, his brush still in his hands. I looked at him and swallowed. "He put part of his soul in here. It's an imprint."
The soul wasn't something you just tore off easily. It literally was your life force. The monks in the temple used to tell me that the soul was its own entity. I would know, since my own soul moved from one body to the next. But to actually rip part of it, to actually take everything you are and rip it. The levels of messed up was so bad, it made me want to throw up.
"W-wait, so that bastard's soul is inside of me."
I nod slowly. I felt wave of nausea came over me. "It's why you feel pain at times. The seal. The Soul. It tries to imprint itself, take over the body." I close my eyes. "If we don't remove it, it will either force you out of your body or corrupt you to the point where you do not know who you are anymore. Either way, it'll kill you."
How did Anko even handle it in the Manga? She had it for years? Was it because Orochimaru died that her eventual insanity was staved off?
I looked at Anko. Her face, like mine, was pale. She looked scared, hell I was scared for her. "C-can you remove it?"
Taking another gander at the seal, the storage system, was relatively simple. Jiraiya, who had been examining the seal while I was talking with Anko, threw out an idea. "We could isolate the seal, break it's connection. If this is causing the loop to end, then it's effectively the off switch."
I snort, if only it was that simple. I point towards a series of lines that lead me to this seal. "It's a buffer. The damn idiot did it wrong. Even if we did break it off, the seal would just keep trying to end the previous version. It'll check to see if it can store the version and end but it won't be able to. It'll build up and blow." I spat out bitterly. I tried to run the logic through my head. A loop that tried to end the previous version by storing it into the secondary Storage Seal. Kami, I never thought I'd say that. It would continue to build up incorrectly. If we removed the storage it would have no where to put the current version. So it would move onto the next one, while trying to end the previous one. It would continue on, adding more and more versions, until the seal exploded from the sheer build up of processes.
I run my hand through my hair. "This." I look at the seal. Just thinking about the possibilities made my head hurt. "This is going to take awhile. Let's just brainstorm for now. But at least we know what to break."
Jiraiya nodded as he placed his hands on his hips. "Dammit, I knew he'd gone over the deep edge but this..."
We both were silent. But it did not last long.
"Hey. Stop moping you two. I'm the one with the damn Snake bastard in my neck." The purple haired kunouchi growled. I looked at her, bemused.
"We should get a snack and just start talking about this. There's nothing we can really test without seriously thinking this over." I declared, already heading out of the room. My two 'friends', if I could call them that, followed me.
A week passed by and nothing. I splashed water in my face, to wake myself up. I gripped the sides of the sink and sighed. I had been up for the last 48 hours, trying something. Thinking of some way to break that horrible, repulsive seal. I looked up at the mirror.
White hair and red eyes stared back at me. I froze for a moment. It still surprised me sometimes, to have a different face stare back at me. I was so used to brown eyes and black hair. This body's chin was thin, cheek bones angular. My current hair was straight, instead of curly, and my bangs actually framed my face, instead of being swept to the side. I kept my hair in a pony tail, when I was working. I could pass for Jiraiya's relative, but I had a smaller face, thinner chin and higher cheekbones.
I wore different clothes too. When I wasn't wearing my work clothes, a random t-shirt and my comfy brown sweat pants, I usually wore a short-sleeved t-shirt, a brown hood jacket, and dark gray cargo pants.
Everything was different. I stared at my reflection. I was different. I couldn't help anyone back then. I had the ability now. I wasn't useless. I would be able to save her. I would be able to do something meaningful, instead of coming up short.
"Why do you wander?"
What? I looked over, away from the wall of Papers and scribbles, towards what the papers and scribbles were about. "What did you say?" I queried.
The Kunouchi rolled her eyes. "Why do you wander? Why are you the Tabinin? Hidden villages would kill for your skills. And plus you've helped other villages right?"
I shake my head. Why I didn't want to be under a militaristic army, that assassinated as basic job description? "I'm not a shinobi." I replied simply. My answer to everything related to fighting in general. I'm not cut out for it.
"So?" She prodded. "Your skill set is rarer than a good Dango shop."
I snorted in amusement but Anko ignored it.
"And you still lend your services to every village? Do you not like the villages? Shinobi? Or do you like being all mysterious, as the Wanderer" Anko sarcastically drawled out. I bit down a bit of annoyance. I didn't like being mysterious, I simply don't like attention. What was wrong with that?
I laid my head in my palms and looked forward, staring at the wall but not really trying to decipher the damn seal. Why did I help the Jinchuuriki? Pity came to mind. Gratitude, as well. But mostly.
"Because I can." I replied. I looked back and was not surprised by Anko's look of incredulity. "I have an ability to help people, why not do it?"
Anko blinked, a look on her face hinted at her trying to recall something. "So you're like that character in your book. The Samaritan." Anko let the word roll of her tongue awkwardly.
I give a small smile. The Samaritan, one of my favorite characters. I shake my head. "The Samaritan was unselfish. I am very selfish. I like my peaceful life, Free from trouble, Shinobi, hidden villages, Kages. But I cannot help but help a person in front of me if they need it. I don't go out of my way to help people."
Anko scrunched her face as if she didn't believe me. "Than why help the villages?"
I shrugged. "Like I said, If they're not in front of me, I don't help. I only helped the villages if I was passing through."
"Than what about this?" She asked in a quiet voice.
I stiffened, closing my eyes. "This is." I swallowed. "This is a one time thing." I turned to Anko and gave her a jovial smile. "Jiraiya didn't give me much of a choice, dragging me all across the nation either."
Anko chuckled at that. We shared a companionable silence, as she returned back to one of my newer novels, and I to the seals on the wall. I had to admit though. This Anko, this Anko in real life, was so different from what I had imagined. The loud voice, crazy actions, and psychopathic attitude were deflections, masking her true self. A defense mechanisms against her reputation of being Orochimaru's student, against being judged. I clasped my hands behind my head, and leaned back.
Deflections one of the many things to escape the truth, the bitter truth. Wait. Deflection. Reflection. Moving it. Could it be possible to move the termination, to the end? To be able to move the Secondary storage so that it stores the newest version instead of the previous one. So it would end the newest one first, then the previous one.
I could feel my heart racing as I tried to calculate the possibilities, run through the logic. 'Moving the end would require storing the attributes of the previous version into the newer one, or building on top of the previous version. So make the seal build off the of the original?' I stood up
Anko, who had noticed my change in posture, stared at me. It was not the first time I've done this, but usually it meant progress. And progress was something I chased after relentlessly. I walked towards the sealing room thinking over the steps carefully. Either we set the versions equal to each other and have the Seal store it both, ending the loop or we have it move to the end, ending the loop as well and just clean up the previous version. Either way, the seal gets killed and we can remove it.'
I grinned to myself, nodding my head as I thought of the necessary Sealing structures.
"You found something?" Jiraiya growled.
I jolted in surprise and looked around me. I was standing in the middle of the Sealing room. Whoa, when did I get here? I scratched my head sheepishly. "Uh, how long have I been standing here?"
Jiraiya gave a hearty laugh, while Anko, who was leaning against a bare patch of wall shook her head.
"You've been muttering to yourself for a couple minutes now." I blushed in embarrassment but quickly sobered.
"Move the Storage seal to store the newer version."
The other Seal master raised an eyebrow. "End the loop manually? We're talking a lot of chakra there. And even if we do, there might be left over corruption."
I shrugged. "Not enough to do anything. Since it won't have any function it'll just sit there. We can pull it out with Manual storage seals."
Jiraiya nodded, eyes glazed as he thought about it. "Or Get an Abrume to suck it out. Either way, we're going to need a couple people to provide chakra. And at least a team of Anbu?"
Anbu? Why would we need Anbu? This was difficult manipulation, yes but...
I winced and rubbed my face in resignation. I felt as if a ton of bricks fell on me. "There's a fail safe."
Of course, there had to be. Someone has paranoid and insane as Orochimaru needed to have a fail safe for everything.
"yep, A summoning most likely for a snake. We're going to have to kill it once we start tampering with the seal."
I nod and pulled out a sheet of paper, unsealing my kit and started to draw up possible sealing structures. 'Change Tiger to Dragon and Make this Boar. I need to make sure that the base variables stay the same or it won't-'
"What are you doing?"
I looked up, seeing that Jiraiya had left, Anko had approached me. She looked confused at what we were saying, it wasn't surprising as to non-sealing practitioners it was basically a different language.
Excitement bubbled in my chest, I couldn't help but grin. "We're going to make the seal to end."
Anko blinked, processing the words. I waited while her eyes started to widen with realization. I looked away, back to my work. This time, she would be alright.
Now lets just hope that snake is too big
"DOWN" one of the Anbu cried out, as a 30 foot figure crushed the wall behind him. I cursed under my breath and rolled to the side. Someone up there must love me. Keeping my head down and body near Anko, I unrolled the scroll that Jiraiya and I had been working on for the past week.
'I knew the snake was probably big but this is Ridiculous.' The snake had crushed through two rooms already and a 3 Teams where sent out to deal with it. The Hokage, himself, was leading the assault. They had managed to force the snake to a lower floor, where the rooms were lined with steel, so it would do less damage.
We had anticipated the snake doing some damage so we had written the solution on a separate scroll.
'I'm a Seals master, not a shinobi.' I thought to myself, furiously as I weaved my way towards Anko. 'This is a damn war zone.' Technically, this was an underground chamber but it was the thought of mortal danger that counted.
"Don't worry Anko. Hokage-sama and the Anbu will take care of the snake. And we'll get this off of you." I unfurled the scroll and placed it on her neck. Anko did not reply. She was biting down on a spare scroll, her face scrunched in pain. Tears were coming down her eyes, I forced myself not to look. Not to freeze up. I had a job to do.
I placed my hands on the seal, forcing chakra through them. My hand prickled in protest.
"Grrk" I felt some parts of my hands start to bleed, unused to chakra being forced through the pores. It didn't matter. This had to be done. I had to save her. I can do this.
I forced chakra into the paper. The seal had to make a connection with Anko's chakra. Like putting creating a tattoo, to really make it permanent you needed to force it in.
The Seal seeped into Anko's skin. 'Finally'. My hands dropped in relief, shoulders sagged in exhaustion. I watched as Ink furled around Anko's neck like snakes, biting each other. The Ink started to condense, slowly eating itself, ending the previous versions.
And then, Anko became very still.
'no something is wrong.' A quiet voice in my head called.
She dropped to the floor, face down. She wasn't moving, not even twitching. She wasn't breathing.
My hands moved on their own. Checking her airway. She wasn't breathing. CPR immediately. Push air into her lungs. Decompression it. Keep the heart going.
No. Why. Don't die. Please don't die.
Push air in. Hand on chest, Press down.
Live. Please. I don't want to fail again.
Push air in. Chest falls. Tears falls.
"You know you've been sitting here for the last week. This isn't going to help her." The idiot said.
I glare at him halfheartedly. He was right, the logical side of my brain said, but he was still an idiot. "Someone should be here if she wakes up."
He ran a hand through his white hair. "The doctors will be here. The Anbu will be here. I don't think she'd be mad if you weren't for the very first few seconds."
"And I don't deserve to rest." I murmured. My failures once again. Bared out in front of me. If Jiraiya heard me, he didn't comment. So I spoke louder. "I should have known that there was as secondary fail safe on the seal. It was so obvious."
A sharp pain erupted on the back of my head. I growled as I glared at Jiraiya, rubbing the back of my head from the slap. He looked at me sternly.
"You just broke one of the hardest seals ever made, and your telling me your disappointed?" Jiraiya waved out to the window. "there are probably on Seven people, in all the Hidden villages that could understand what you just did. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, you did good kid."
I didn't respond, and turned back to look at the scar on Anko's neck. A scar yes, but no more ink.
The Sennin merely sighed in resignation and walked out.
"How long was I out?"
A surge of energy rippled through my body. As I looked up in shock and hope. The eighteen year old girl stared at me, tired but breathing, still breathing.
I gave her a weak smile. "About 10 days."
She looked at me carefully. Crap, I must look like shit, at least I showered. Well. It was more like Jiraiya grabbing me, again, and throwing me into the shower, while locking the door. But hey it still counts! Afterward, he dropped some snacks off and left me to my peace.
I was knocked out of my thoughts when I heard a loud growl. I looked down at my stomach, but realized it wasn't mine. I gave the kunouchi a shit eating grin. She glared at me, her face turning redder by the second. I opened up the plastic bag that Jiraiya had dropped off for me.
"Want some dango?" I pulled out a box.
Anko's face scrunched up. What? I thought she liked dango. She did in the manga.
"What don't like it?" I asked, confused by this.
For a moment Anko looked like she was going to say yes, but stopped. She leaned back and sighed. "Sure. Thanks."
I opened the box and she grabbed a stick quickly, shoving it down quickly.
"mmph, mpph" Anko tried to speak, but, for obvious reasons, she couldn't speak.
Raising an eyebrow at this, I waited for her to finish.
After wiping off syrup residue, she touched her neck, gently. "Did." She swallowed. "Did it?"
I nod. A moment passed, and I noticed her eyes. I looked away. Anko turned towards the window, silent as well.
"Thank you." She said, a couple minutes later.
A warmth blossomed in my chest. Thank you. It's... it's been a while since I heard that. Mostly when I worked on the Jinchuuriki, it was in secret. The jinchuuriki were knocked out, only the Kages saw me. And even then, they just nodded once, gave me pay, and set me on my way. It was nice. And I felt lighter.
"What are you going to do know?" She prodded.
Running a hand through my hair, I leaned back and sagged in the chair. "Probably head out. Explore Konoha. Haven't gone out at all since I got here-"
Anko's mouth dropped wide open. I blinked in surprise. Was it that shocking that I was a recluse?
"You didn't go out at all. You said I was knocked out for 10 days. Did you stay in the Kage tower the whole entire time?"
Really. I was worried for her. She was my responsibility, affected by my work, I had to make sure she was ok. I merely shrugged.
"I can't believe it. Ten days. Ten days of just sitting around."
I scoffed. "It's not like I really would have freedom. I am a foreigner."
Anko simply waved her hand, dismissing my statement. "Konoha is policed really well. Merchants get access to a lot of areas."
Well that wasn't true. Merchants did get access to a lot of areas but for people like me. I was a high priority target, to be watched and shadowed. Being a seals master was one thing. Being a seals master who had helped other villages was something else entirely.
"Well, I wouldn't know any good places. And I'd probably get lost."
"che. Never took you for a pansy." Anko teased.
I rolled my eyes. 'Don't fall for it. It's bait. It's bait dammit'
Anko pushed more. "What, gonna let little o'l me walk right over you. You like to be ordered around? Is the great Tabinin a little pussy-"
I snort. "Call me Toki."
Anko blinked. "What?"
"My name is Toki." Why did I give her my name? I didn't want anyone to know. Oh well, it felt. It felt right to give her my name.
"Toki." Anko tried out the word. She smirked at me. "What is this some kind of super secret code name? I thought you liked being the Tabinin."
"I see you're awake Anko-chan."
Anko, who was about to continue teasing me, straightened in her bed. "Hokage-sama" She said immediately.
I stood up, in respect, to greet the Hokage. Jiraiya was standing behind the Hokage and gave me a toothy grin and an exaggerated wink. The Hokage nodded towards me, I nodded back, and moved to Anko.
"Are you well Anko? The doctors informed me you recently woke up."
The former Snake Apprentice nodded. "Yes, I am fine Hokage-sama."
Sarutobi gave a her a grandfatherly smile and held out a scarf. "Please where this Anko-chan. Even though we have a method of removing the seal, we should not give our enemies reason to come after us."
I felt a pit of dread filling in my stomach. Shit. Then the Hokage turned towards me, hands behind his back.
"Tabinin" So he didn't know my name yet. "Thank you for unsealing the Curse seal."
I nod. "My pleasure." 'Dammit. I should have left when I had the chance.' I was right when I thought I would be a high priority target. Konoha would never let me go now. Now that I had the knowledge of the curse seal. The knowledge of how to destroy it as well.
My senior regarded me for a while. "You have a choice. I will not lie to you. There are many forces." 'Danzo' I thought idly to myself. "that would want you to stay. But I made a deal with you. You upheld your end. I will uphold mine."
I nod, a flood of relief filled me. I mentally scolded myself. 'Of course he would uphold his deal, this was Sarutobi, he's not going to stab someone in the back. Not after I helped him.' Even though the Hokage was a Shinobi, people I wanted nothing to do with, he was still the role model with Naruto looked up to. I always wondered where the blonde hero got his role model of unyielding strength, both morally and mentally, from. "I will leave then." I understood what he was saying. I had to get out now. If I didn't, I would either be captured by different internal forces or something of that sort.
"Hey, I'll walk you out." Anko spoke quickly. The newly freed Anko quickly slid out of bed. I raised an eyebrow at her declaration and looked at her attire. Anko, who had been immediately admitted the hospital after her heart stopping, was in the regular patient attire, the paper gown.
For a moment, there was an awkward moment between the four of us, well except for Jiraiya who was giggling. Anko, realizing her mistake, flushed red and mumbled about finding her clothes.
The Hokage, bless him, simply pointed at the closet to the side, next to a restroom. Anko quickly opened it and gathered her clothes. I watched her dive into the restroom and slam the door. Turning back to the older men, I let out a resigned sigh.
What? Oh, he still does not know my name. "Toki, Hokage-sama. Call me Toki."
Sarutobi looked thoughtful for a moment. "The same Toki that wrote New York? The book Anko was reading?"
I nodded. Using names from my old life helped making my world, my old world, come alive.
Satisfied in knowing my name, he continued. "Would you be willing to stay?"
Stay? I looked out at the window. Looking out onto Konoha, The Konoha. I had heard about it from many of the other villages, travelers, and monks. Peaceful, they said, for a Shinobi village. Safe, others said from outside dangers.
But I knew. I knew what would happen. The invasion. The battles. The danger. I knew that this place would be flattened, destroyed. Hell, the whole world would be at the brink. I was not responsible for handling that mess. I am not a Shinobi.
I am a civilian. But I cannot help but think.
'I want to make a difference.' that small voice in my head whispered.
In my old life. I worked from 8 to 5. Followed a routine. Didn't break from it, although had the occasional vacation. What did I gain out of it? Tiredness? Retirement? I wasn't known for anything. I wasn't admired, adored, just boring. And I liked it that way.
But, I always looked at the stars, the famous, the brilliant, the celebrities and wonder. 'What if?'
I turned back to the Hokage, ready with my answer. "Maybe."
I did not say anything more, as Anko stepped out of the bathroom, rubbing her neck.
"You sure you should be up, you did just wake up."
Anko paused, opening her mouth to speak but stopped for a moment. She scratched the back of her head and grinned giving her the appearance of an embarrassed kid. "I just feel, better. As if I've taken a nice bath. So, yea, I feel fine."
I nod, not commenting on it. The affects of the curse seal were obvious, the effects after it would be like taking of weights or constraints after a very long time. You just felt lighter.
We walked out, the civilian way. Didn't even stop to check out. Anko said the doctors would probably have to keep checking her vitals after, so why bother.
"Hate hospitals or something?" I inquired.
Anko shrugged. "All Shinobi do. We hate being constrained, immobile. Feels like being a prisoner or something."
I shook my head. 'Hospitals are supposed to help you.' I continue walking, looking around me. When I had first come, I didn't really get a good look at Konoha. Jiraiya, the idiot, had dragged me quickly to the Hokage tower. I didn't get to see the Konoha. And I had to admit, it was damn impressive. It was around dinnertime that Anko had woken up, and the street lights were in full effect.
Kids were running around the street, with parents, both shinobi and civilian alike, chasing after them. It was nice, what I had imagined. In Kumo and Iwa, there was a divide between the Civilian and Shinobi sectors. Suna didn't have enough room to separate its structure. I didn't bother going to Mizu, there was no point. But most of all, it looked happy. In Iwa, the brief time I worked there, there was a heavyness in the air. The village knew what it was, a military base, a stage for Shinobi to work on. But here, it felt more like a city than anything else.
If I did not see the headbands on some people, I would not notice that they were Shinobi. I kept walking through, observing the interesting sights, smelling the nice food, but kept walking. This was not my place, not my home.
But it could be.
I shook my head of the thoughts, and kept following Anko. She was leading me in a purple t-shirt and black jacket, and her old Khaki shorts. I, who had been prepared to leave, was wearing my traveling clothes, My coat, with several scrolls sown into the insides, a white t-shirt, though it was stained with some ink, and gray pants. My hood was up, didn't want to attract any attention with white hair. I just hopped no one noticed my eyes, wouldn't want to explain them.
"What are you doing here. Get out of here you cursed shit." At the word cursed, I felt Anko bristle. I turned towards the voice, to see who would be such an idiot as to insult a shinobi but froze. The obviously overweight, middle-aged man was yelling at small kid. The man was drunk, judging by his tipsiness, but that made him all the more dangerous to the kid.
The kid said something back, but it was too quiet to hear from this distance. Anko, who had heard the insult as well, was looking at the scene with a bit of annoyance, I noted. Was this a common occurrence?
The man continued to yell. "Get out of here, no one wants your filth." OK that was it.
I walked up to the man to give him a peace of my mind. Anko, noticing my movement, shadowed me.
"Hey asshole." I shoved the man in the side. Not too hard, but definitely enough to knock the drunk man on his ass.
The man spluttered, turning to glare at me. "Hey, what the fuck are you doing?"
I raise an eye brow at him, and shoved a thumb to where the kid was, not giving the kid a good look because of my hood. "Why are you being a prick? You're drunk, just go home."
The man glared at me and was about to speak but Anko moved forward, flashing her headband on her waist. 'At least there are some benefits that comes with being a Shinobi, I wonder if healthcare is there too?' Wow, I must be tired, my thoughts were drifting.
The man got up and left quietly, people whispered around me but I shoved the thoughts away.
I turned to look at the kid and my blood froze.
"U-um, thanks Mister. My name is Uzumaki Naruto, Believe it" The blonde exclaimed.
'Kami, Whoever I screwed over in my previous life, tell them I'm sorry.' I thought to myself, groaning mentally.
"Heya kid. Name's … Toki. Nice Ta' meet ya." I spoke casually, controlling my voice. I bent down and held out my hand. Naruto stared at it for a moment, unsure of what to do. I felt a pang of pity and a slow bubble of anger at the social ostracize this kid must have faced to not know how to shake a hand.
"Shake it kid, It's how I greet people." I spoke quietly. Naruto nodded quickly and grabbed the hand and shook it up and down with great vigor. I laughed quietly.
Naruto pulled his hand back and blushed in embarrassment, looking down. His feet shuffled beneath him, obviously nervous.
"What are you doing out here by yourself?" I asked. He was young, younger than I expected. Anko was eighteen, so obviously Naruto had to be younger, but I thought he would be at least 10 by now. This kid looked only to be 6, maybe 7 years old.
"Trying to get food."
'Oh you've got to be shitting me.' I thought to myself. He was trying to get food. The Hokage's Legacy. The Hero of this world. The kid who, after all the shit thrown at him, took it all and showed everyone up. This kid. Trying to get food because no one would give it to him.
Naruto looked at me, afraid. 'Shit, didn't control myself.' I took a deep breath. "How about we get some food. I'm heading out of town but its a bit late. Wanna grab a bite?"
The Jinchuuriki gave me a big smile and nodded. "Yea, Let's go to Ichiruka's Ramen, Its the best. Believe it."
The future hero grabbed my hand and dragged me along. Anko, walking beside me, gave a small smile. "You sure you're not the Samaritan?"
I give her an annoyed look. "Yea, pretty sure Anko. Just." I looked down at the kid, who was happily oblivious of our conversation. "Just, wanted to do something."
I looked forward, not wanting to see her reaction. She didn't comment.
We sat down, and ordered. The owner, Ichiruka, was quite happy to see me and Anko treating him out. I noted that Ayame was in the back, helping out.
"So, So, Toki-san are you a Shinobi?" Naruto asked. Eyes wide, and gleeful.
I shook my head. "Nah, I'm a..." I paused for a moment. Traveller. Seals master. Reincarnated Soul. "Novelist. I write books."
"A Novolast?" The boy tried to sound out the word. "Like a book?"
I chuckle. "Yea, A book. I write books."
"OH. That's cool too. I want to read but I-" Naruto flushed, looking down at his food "I can't read that well." He mumbled.
I felt another flash of anger, but controlled it. 'Should try and cheer the kid up.' I nudged Naruto a bit, leaning down and whispering, loudly. "You know who is a Shinobi?"
Naruto immediately lit up like a light bulb. "Who, who?" He tried to whisper but too excited.
I pointed at Anko, who had taken the seat next to me. "She's a super Shinobi. Really strong. You should go talk to her and see if she could teach you."
At this, the newly freed Anko glared at me with righteous fury. I simply deflected the Hellfire, brimstone, and lightening being sent in my general direction with a wink and cheeky smile. And a small angel saved me.
"Hey, hey, Lady. Are you really a Shinobi? You have the headband and all. I saw other shinobi wear them. Believe it." The ball of energy tugged on Anko's arm, determined for answers.
Anko, I wanted to pity her but couldn't help laugh at her, was a bit dumbfounded at what to do. Just released from something that had plagued her for years, was now being asked by the other resident cursed about being a shinobi.
"Umm, yea" She said awkwardly. "I'm a shinobi."
"Really. You must have been on awesome missions and stuff. Tell me. Tell me" he demanded. I watched in amusement. As Anko, who knew she was this shy, stumble to tell a story to the kid. It was a border patrol that had gone bad, and she and her team had to run away from Kumo nins.
This had to be recent. I had heard of skirmishes between the two, but nothing large yet. A lot of bad blood was in the air right now. I had avoided the roads between the two for quite a while.
We had finished eating and were about to leave, but we had a small problem.
"He fell asleep." I deadpanned as I looked at the sleeping Jinchuuriki.
"Well, he was up and down the whole entire time. Probably tired himself out." Anko reasoned.
I rubbed my face in resignation. I looked over to the two chefs, who looked at us amused. "Know where he lives?"
"I do." Anko cut in. I looked at her carefully, but did not comment. I hefted the kid on my back, and followed my purple haired companion. We walked for a couple minutes and reached the kid's door. Anko budged it open and turned on the light. The place was quite nice for a kid living on his own. The Hokage must have either bought it himself or given Naruto an allowance.
I walked into the side room, where I saw a bed, and gently dumped my luggage onto the bed. Making sure the kid was still sleeping, I dragged the sheets over him and walked out. Anko, who was looking around the kid's kitchen with efficiency, did not notice me. I closed the door quietly, alerting her to my presence and she looked at me, eyes not suspicious but troubled.
I looked at the couch, littered with old chip bags and kid books. I shuffled some aside and sat down, giving off a tired sigh. What a day. But, I could not help but think. Looking for food. Cursed shit. Trouble reading.
"No food in his kitchen I guess?" I asked. Anko, wondering the same thing, had looked through the kitchen. Sitting down next to me, she crossed her arms silent, but that was all I needed for a confirmation.
I rubbed my eyes tiredly. "Never imagined the Konoha's Jinchuuriki would be in this kind of situation."
There was a long silence. A very uneasy silence. 'Shit did I. Oh shit, I did.' I looked over to Anko. Her hand was in her jacket, gripping something. 'Kunai' I thought, but even so I was not even afraid, just tired. I had simply dropped the bomb that I knew Konoha's secret.
"H-how did you know?" Anko said carefully. Her eyes regarding me in new light. A dangerous glint in her eyes. I crossed my arms and leaned back against the coach. I sniffed and grimaced at the horrible smell. Man, Naruto really needed to clean out this coach.
"Simple." I started, looking up at the ceiling. " cursed shit? Ostracization? Also, the age. Probably 6 or 7, born near the time the Yondaime stopped the Kyuubi. Not only that" I turned to look at her. Both her hands were visible, at least that was a good sign but that didn't mean I was out of the woods. "You knew where he lived, but judging by your interactions he has never seen you. So. He's obviously been kept an eye on by Shinobi." I took a breath. "Finally, this apartment. Not the average thing you would give to an Orphan. Someone of importance. All that leads to Jinchuuriki."
"You know I could have killed you for revealing Konoha's secret." Anko whispered.
I shrug. Normally, I would have liked to tease her and say it was a 'calculated risk' but. "Just had a feeling you wouldn't. Don't think the Hokage would either. Still."
If I left now. I could walk out of Konoha. Danzo shouldn't be able to follow me. I could lie low in Iwa, last place they'll check for me. From there, head to either the Land of Hot Springs for a nice vacation. And then. Then just go back to exploring until the shit started to hit the fan.
I have trouble reading. Thank you mister.
I was driving down the road. Easy, does it, this mountain has some sharp curves. Tired. Been up since yesterday, had a bad sleep. Needed to get home. That car why is it turning in, does it not see me? I honk. Too late. No! I swerve. Crash. The car behind me slams into mine. We tumble down the mountain.
It's all my fault.
"I think." I said slowly. Maybe it was because I was tried, or I just had a crazy thought, but I couldn't help but think. 'What do I want in this life.'
"I think I'll stay for awhile. Konoha." I looked out the window. The stars were out, all shining brightly. I had lived in a city, in my previous life. It was hard to see the stars, all the pollution covering them up. "Maybe, as a consultant, once more. Probably, look at some of the barrier seals. Hell, even just set up shop as an author here." I continued. I paused, thinking about staying here as a writer. I chuckled, giving Anko a wry grin. "It'll probably make it easier on my editor, whose been collecting my cash for me. He's been going crazy trying to figure out where I'll be."
Anko, who seemed to relax on the inside, gave a small smile back. She was probably still tense from me figuring out the secret, but it was too late to do anything about that.
"So you found out."
Anko and I jolted. We turned towards the window and found Jiraiya leaning against it, staring at me with a calculated look. 'Damn ninjas.' I thought, feeling my heart beat rapidly. "Yea. Simple really."
Jiraiya nodded. Before giving off a long sigh. "You sure you want to live in Konoha? Being the Tabinin has benefits as well."
I nodded. Anonymity. Easier travel. Protection as a civilian. A free life. Things I would lose if I lived in Konoha. "Being the Tabinin would have to end someday. People like me. Like us. We get hit with choices. And what we choose can lead to a lot of things. Well, we just have to take that chance."War. Death. Destruction. Things that would happen in Konoha.
Jiraiya smiled at me. "You could've been a Shinobi."
I glare at him. "No." I growled. Anko shifted back at my vehemence but Jiraiya did not seemed surprise. "I am a civilian. Through and through." My voice returned to its normal tone.
Jiraiya moved from his spot and gave a wide smile. I suddenly had this chilling feeling in the back of my neck. "Well, if we're going to do this. We should get you papers and identification as soon as possible."
I blink. "Ok. Let's..."
Jiraiya began walking towards me. 'Oh hell no'
I cross my arms and glare. "We are walking. You are not going to carry me."
He continued forward.
"I am serious Jiraiya. I will find the biggest scroll and shove it up your-"
The Sennin of Toads grabbed the back of my collar.
"Jiraiya. I can WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-"
And that began my very UN-peaceful life in Konoha.
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