Chapter Seven: Little Girls, Big Weapon Dreams
There was something heartbreaking about love. About love the way the Uchiha felt it. They loved so strongly that it could be their undoing.
Mikoto had always found it tragic.
Obito had to go to work and as the matriarch of the Uchiha it was one of her duties to care for Madara during the day. She busied herself with boiling the deep fried tofu she needed to blanche for his favorite dish, while keeping him in her line of sight. As old as he was, he still had bursts when he would be agile and move with such grace that he would wander away from his caretaker and then be found collapsed on the ground by any clan member that found him.
The former clan head had the strangest luck. He was believed to be dead long ago but was found by Obito during the war or rather Madara had found Obito and healed him. At that point, Madara had already lost his mental faculties and when Obito was healed enough he brought the raving elder back home to Konoha.
Hidden away in the Uchiha district, none of the villagers were to know of his existence. No one knew what sort of complications it would have brought if anyone knew they had someone as old as he was still living in the Uchiha district. Fugaku would not listen to those that wanted to euthanize the old man, choosing instead to have Obito, who had a history of tending to the needs of the elderly, care for him until his death.
It was also Obito’s fault that Madara survived the first false alarm. Instead of letting him die peacefully, Obito had panicked and had his best friend Nohara Rin resuscitate him. It was a strike against him but it wasn’t as bad as having given his eye to an outsider, Hatake Kakashi. It seemed his squad mates were learning too many Uchiha secrets.
Over time Madara had calmed down but it was quite clear that he didn’t always understand what time period he was in. It was made worse when Mikoto would bring Sasuke along with her on the days she had to watch over the both of him. Madara’s eyes would cloud over and he would call him Izuna, forgetting that his younger brother was dead.
“Where is Izuna?” Mikoto heard him ask over the bubbling of the tofu.
“He’s out training, Madara-sama.” When they were alone she never had the heart to remind him that his brother was dead and who he believed was his brother was actually her youngest son.
“He’s getting so tall,” Madara sighed. “And strong. But he says the oddest things sometimes. ‘Rookie of the year’. Such an odd boy.”
Mikoto lightly pressed the abura-age until they were dry and stuffed them with rice. When she deemed them ready to eat she plated them and brought them to the chabudai Madara was seated at.
Madara chewed slowly on his inarizushi, staring at Mikoto. His left eye ran over her facial features, the right blindly following, before settling back on his plate of food.
“That boy…isn’t Izuna, is he?”
“No, Madara-sama,” Mikoto replied sadly. “He’s my son Sasuke.”
Mikoto pretended she couldn’t see the tear roll down Madara’s cheek.
Sasuke’s eye twitched as Naruto’s arm wrapped itself around his neck. The idiot was screaming his head off as he cheered at his fortune at being placed in the same team.
Despite his low scores, there was probably no one else Sasuke would have wanted on his team. Well, except for…
A giggle caught Sasuke’s attention. Sakura had originally been sitting next to him until Naruto pushed her aside to get to him. She was listed first as being part of Team Seven and although she had sighed in defeat when Naruto’s name had been announced, she seemed to have quickly gotten over her disappointment and was now beaming at the both of them.
“I should have known I wouldn’t be able to escape these two,” Ino grumbled from behind them. On her right Shikamaru was snoozing away and on her left Choji was busy munching on a bag of potato chips. “This lazy bum is always sleeping!”
“Well, he was up late watching his dad and mine playing shogi.”
“I bet Auntie Yoshino came storming into the shop looking for them.”
“Yep.” Sakura nodded. “I gave her a discount on her tea to try and calm her down.”
“Hey! Why don’t I ever get a discount?” Naruto complained.
Sasuke was used to feeling as though there were a wall between him and his classmates. His family lived on the outer rim of the village and it felt as if he were missing out, that there was this disconnect between him and everyone else who saw each other a lot more often than he did.
He knew Naruto and Shikamaru were friends. And obviously, Naruto would make trips to the Haruno’s shop whenever he could just to bother Sakura. Considering how Shikamaru always griped about girls he never could have pictured Sakura being friends with him.
It did sound like it was actually their fathers that were friends but it was still uncomfortable knowing that his only two real friends at the Academy had parts of their lives that he didn’t know about.
“Sakura-chan, we should go get lunch,” Naruto suggested while waggling his eyebrows, “now that we’re teammates and all.”
Sasuke narrowed his eyes at Naruto. It would be just like him to use any opportunity he could to try and get a date. Something heavy dropped in Sasuke’s stomach when Sakura clapped her hands together excitedly.
“That’s a great idea! We won’t be meeting our jonin instructors until after lunch block so we should all go and have lunch together.”
“All of us?” Naruto asked in disbelief.
He should probably take the hint already. Sasuke rolled his eyes as Naruto hung his head. She’s been pretty blunt when it comes to her disinterest.
“How about it Sasuke-kun?”
Ignoring Naruto mouthing “No”, Sasuke gave her a sharp nod in agreement. Naruto screwed up his face in one of his ugly pouts. His lips pursed as his cheeks puffed out, stretching the whisker pattern lines on his face. Sasuke’s mother always found it funny yet endearing how Naruto looked more like a fox than his jinchuuriki mother.
For lunch the three of them had wandered off of the Academy’s grounds toward the part of the village near the neighborhood Sakura lived in. It was a small area with as many shops as possible crammed into the location. As they walked through they noticed that the shop owners seemed to wear the same style of dress as Sakura and her mother.
“Shūshu,” Sakura approached a stall with steamed buns, “may I have two anpan?”
The man spoke to her in a harsh sounding foreign dialect Sasuke had never heard before. Sakura smiled sheepishly and shrugged and the man sighed before packing her three steamed buns and tweaking her nose fondly.
“And what can I get for you two?”
“Two meat buns and one vegetable each please,” Sasuke asked politely, pulling Naruto back by the collar when the latter stood on his toes to loom over the buns on the cart. Naruto seemed to have gotten over being upset that he was out voted on where to go to lunch and was looking for the plumpest buns.
“Vegetable?” Naruto wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Who are you? My mother?”
“Growing boys need vegetables.” The stall owner smacked Naruto over the head with a paper fan.
Although he was grumbling, Naruto pulled out his frog coin purse to pay for his share. The three of them thanked the stall owner and meandered the streets as they ate.
Sakura kept catching Sasuke’s eye and looking away, a slight pink tint on her cheeks. When Naruto announced that he needed to use the facilities, the two of them leaned against a shop’s wall to wait for him. After a few minutes of silence, Sakura broke it.
“He was just scolding me for using the native tongue.” Sakura pulled at her dress, rocking back and forth on her heels. “He’s an old friend of my grandfather’s on my mother’s side. He thinks it’s a shame that the younger generation doesn’t speak the homeland’s language.
Sakura dropped her dress to make air quotes. Her nose wrinkled as she said ‘homeland’.
“ I think he’s actually the only person that speaks it fluently anymore. It’s been decades since anyone has thought of anywhere but Konoha as home.”
She was babbling which usually meant she was nervous but Sasuke couldn’t help but smile softly. He may have felt left out earlier in the classroom but with Sakura it was like there were never any secrets. Her face told everything she was feeling and she never left him in the dark.
“Things are…different in this part of the village.” Sasuke looked around at all of the hustle and bustle of the people in their foreign attire.
“This is mainly a civilian district,” Sakura explained. “Very few shinobi come from this neighborhood. But there is one shop here that I love that’s not civilian.”
Sakura grabbed hold of his hand and pulled on it as she lead them down the street. Sasuke mused on how much smaller it was than his already despite him just entering puberty.
“You don’t have to pull.” He started to get embarrassed as they drew the attention of some middle aged women.
“Here it is!”
Sakura brought him to the window of a weapons shop. There were a variety of familiar tools on display and some that weren’t. Sasuke chuckled at the way Sakura’s eyes glittered when they landed on an oversized axe. She pressed her nose against the glass, hands on the window in yearning.
“They have the best explosive tags here because they’re made with this top quality powder, a trade good brought to Konoha a long time ago that was originally used for fireworks. There’s nowhere in the entire village that makes them as great as this place.”
“You know that axe is impractical right? It’s too heavy.”
Sakura scoffed and turned away from the window to glare at him.
“It wouldn’t be impractical in the hands of someone with the strength to carry it.”
Sakura turned her attention back to the window and her face fell. Inside was a slightly older girl with twin buns holding up the price tag for the axe. The brunette girl smiled sympathetically before turning back into the shop.
“Tamura-san said I can start a payment plan once we start getting paid for missions.” Sakura pulled away from the window with a heavy sigh. “He and his wife will make one custom just for me since I’m the only other kid from the neighborhood besides their daughter Tenten and her teammate that graduated from the Academy.”
The two of them jumped at the sound of Naruto’s voice.
“I can’t believe you two just left me!”
“Well, you took an awfully long time.” Sakura’s fists went to her hips as she confronted him. “Let’s go or we’re going to be late and I don’t want our sensei’s first impression of us to be bad.”
It turned out that they didn’t need to worry about being on time. It was already an hour and forty-five minutes after all of the other genin were picked up and Team Seven was still waiting for Hatake Kakashi.
“I thought Obito-nii was supposed to be the tardy one,” Naruto grumbled as he re-crossed his arms in front of his chest.
“Well it seems like my cousin has rubbed off on his old teammate.” Sasuke leaned back in his seat, tired of resting his mouth against his interlocked fingers.
“Did he just…forget us?” Sakura’s face was steadily getting redder the more frustrated she got. She had already snapped one of her pencils within the first hour they waited.“How irresponsible can he be?”
“I’m definitely spilling salt into his food the next time he comes over for dinner,” Naruto mutters.
“Wait, how well do you know this guy?” Sakura asked curiously.
“Enough to know that he’s never late to anything dad calls him for.”
The three of them snapped their attention to the open door, a man with spiky gray hair leaned against the entryway.
“Sorry I’m late. There was an old lady that needed my help with some bags and then━”
Sasuke’s head fall back and he groaned.
Not another Obito!