Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure Academy
For most students of the Konohagakure Academy, getting up before dawn seemed like something that was a unnecessary thing.
The building was situated at the heartbeat of the town, alongside two streams that ran into the riverbed that supplied much of the town’s infrastructure. If a student were to step outside they could see Hokage Rock if they turned their head one way and the rice fields adjoined with plum trees if they turned it another. For Fukushu of the Namikaze Clan, she didn’t think of it all too much, it was sights she had seen for her whole life and unlike some of the other students in the academy she did not aspire to be the next great Hokage or even aspire to explore the great world. She aspired to respect her purpose and namesake; to destroy the man who had taken her father in the great shinobi war that preceded the current era of peace and cooperation. A goal that her mother had tasked her to complete.
Though, in recent seasons Fukushu had felt a surge of doubt fill her gut. Her rivalry with a number of her classmates had led to results that her mother felt were less than agreeable. Her mother’s respect and approval were the most important things in the world. So it was with that in mind that Fukushu had set out to outwork and outpace everyone in her shinobi class. She was certain, optimistic, and confident that she had succeeded in that aspiration despite knowing that the likes of Uchiha Tensai and Senju Enma would be not far behind. However, she believed her ancestors had anointed the day with their favor. The morning had announced itself with a rainstorm that overtook the dawn, something she had perceived as a good omen acknowledging Fukushu’s prowess with elemental ninjutsu of the very chakra nature she possessed. As far as her perspective went, it was a good day.
As the appearance of her instructor moved to the front of the class, Fukushu’s eyes widened in anticipation.
“The time has come.”
The voice of Hatake Toshiro filled the room filled with eager-minded shinobi as they patiently awaited their instructor's final determination and assignment to their new instructors, seasoned jonin whom had earned the responsibility to instruct them in the art of ninjutsu in a more practical manner.
“I’m proud of every single one of you and hope that you’ll take the lessons you learned in this classroom in earnest. In a few moments, I will call three jonin into this classroom and call each of you one-by-one to their side. Before I do that, I wish to acknowledge one student in particular for their devotion and hard work. For the rest of you it should serve as a measure of inspiration.”
As the silver-haired man moved from the front of the class with parchment in his hand, Fukushu found her excitement getting the best of her and springing to her feet. However, it was not her name that her teacher called in either case. As Toshiro called out the name the purple-haired girl's smile dropped almost immediately. Her blood went cold and her mind began to become overwhelmed by a silent rage. Because, of course, the name that her sensei acknowledged would have to be the name of all names she did not want to hear.
Because of course it would be Tensai who had stolen her time to be acknowledged in front of everyone.
As everyone's eyes moved to the Uchiha prodigy she could feel the rage overcome her, but before she could openly protest the class were welcomed by the sound of footsteps as two jonin stepped into the room. It appeared her sensei was as takenback as she was. After all, there was supposed to be three of them.
Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure Academy
Students are usually expected to listen to their sensei, especially during what is essentially a farewell speech in which said sensei finally allows his students their first step into the world of shinobi. Had it been any other day, Kimura just might have, but on the day of her gradation the Inuzuka girl was seen focused on her notebook with not a single apparent notion that she was listening to a single steel grey word Toshiro-sensei was saying.
Her face nearly covered entirely by her little logbook, furious scribbling could be heard from behind the pages while her signature partner, Guremaru, released a lazy, chocolate brown yawn from his rightful place atop her head.
The reason for her frantic pace? The one who was called to stand, Tensai-kun, her friend who started sporting a new look since an unknown time before the Academy opened its doors that morning, his eyes covered by the locks of his hair which he usually kept out of the way.
At first, the conspiracist almost immediately jumped to the conclusion that someone had used the Transformation Jutsu to take his place, but her usual early morning tackle as a greeting shot that idea down when the disguise didn't break upon impact.
The speed of which he pulled away from her afterward however, which was noticeably quicker than usual, drew Kimura to the theory that he maybe he was rigged with an explosive seal by a foreign nin and he didn't want anyone getting hurt. A quick sniff with a chakra enhanced nose crossed that notion as well, along with the other speculation that a foreign nin was using practical effects for a disguise rather than a jutsu.
His crisp autumn maple voice cemented the thought that whatever was different wasn't because of any identity switcheroo, yet none of the other theories that began to crowd her head matched up either. Despite only a few hours passing between her seeing Tensai that morning and the current state of affairs, the pages of Kimura's notebook were covered with so many scribbles, flowcharts, and crossed connections that it started to look more like an investigation pin-board than a study notebook.
She thanked the kami for keeping everyone else relatively the same, aside from their usual ongoing problems that she had to check on like Ria-chan keeping up her facade as an "academy student" and Inokikue-kun's ever escalating attempts of shirking the duties of a shinobi in his strange, backwards manner. Had anyone else gained any notable changes, she might not have had enough of an attention span to give everyone the usual greetings she used as a surface level identity check.
The bothered girl's musings were cut short as the door to the classroom opened, drawing her eyes from the paper and ink to survey the two figures that entered.
The first to step forward carried herself with a great deal of confidence, the flak jacket she wore indicating she was at least chunin rank as chestnut brown eyes swept across Kimura's classmates with visible disappointment. Long brown locks spilled down the adult's back, divided by a staff longer than she was tall, and the signature Konoha ninja headband sat snuggly around her right forearm. The woman's scarlet tone echoed the emotions that seemed to play across her face as the ninja pinned Toshiro-sensei with a less-than-enthusiastic stare.
"Really? This is the gaggle of brats we're dealing with? Hatake-san, please tell me you're pulling my fucking tail and that this is just some first year class you took over for shits and giggles."
A hand was exasperatedly gestured to the direction of the class as the woman's pure red words were a direct insult to all the academy students as a collective waste of time. While she wasn't one to raise her voice in anger, Kimura's cheeks puffed with indignation at the blanket statement. Her friends and everyone else always tried their best to succeed in class, so to hear someone who hadn't even introduced herself just wave off their efforts within ten seconds of entering the room was more than a little frustrating to her.
"And with this fucking Uchiha as one of my fellow sensei to boot? Dear kami, I can only imagine how much of a dumbass mistake the last sucker must be thinking this job is. They didn't even try to show their face to this shit show!" The brunette then turned her attention away from the class to the woman who walked in with her, arms crossed and obviously unhappy with her current company.
Beneath the desk, Kimura crossed her fingers. She hoped that this person out of whoever was available wasn't assigned to be her new sensei. The Inuzuka could already imagine what sort of things she could unearth gathering info on a person with such a personality, and she didn't want anything to do with someone as unfriendly as another person she actively disliked.
Yakushi Residence, Konohagakure Daybreak, Present Day
As that chestnut-haired woman talked to their sensei, Kimura would hear a slight rustling and muttered cursing coming from behind them, only for a wooden training kunai to go flying past her shoulder and right towards the loud woman. The one responsible for this disturbance slammed their hand down next to the Inuzuka girl, fiery red locks matched only by the equally upset look in her burning crimson eyes as she pointed a finger at the woman. Tsume had been looking forward to this day for a long time, and she wasn't about to let some old lady make fun of all her hard work, even if she could end up being her sensei.
"Shut up and stop being rude, you wrinkly old hag!! Toshiro-sensei is speaking and besides, if you got a problem with our class you're free to take your giant butt and leave." Tsume stood up on the desk next to Kimura, already taking a combat stance as she seemed about ready to leap across the room at the woman. "If you still want to bad-talk my classmates, then I'll be sure to take you out right here, right now."
The young girl cemented her declaration by smashing her bandaged fists together, some wisps of smoke rising from between her fingers as she felt a familiar heat building up in her core. She didn't dare break eye contact with the old hag, however, wanting to make sure the woman knew she meant business.
"Apologize to Toshiro-sensei for being rude and wait for him to finish before you butt in again." She finished her chiding with an outstretched tongue, unaware that she was likely making the situation worse by making such a big scene over the whole thing. . . as well as the level of disrespect she was showing a superior officer, even if she wasn't *exactly* a genin yet. Not that it would've stopped her much.
Location: The Uchiha Clan Compound, Konohagakure, Morning
It couldn't have been past dawn when Tensai roused himself out of bed to the sound of rain and faint thunder. For the past week he'd been trapped within the grounds of the Uchiha Clan's compound, and he couldn't help but feel as if he were being treated as an embarrassment; he'd heard the whispers when he was brought before his estranged grandmother and head of the clan, Chiaki. A prodigy of Tensai's caliber blind at age twelve? Rather than speak of the loss of one of their own, the influential group of Uchiha elders spoke only of how Tensai's condition brought shame to the clan as a whole, and only the most ancient amongst them whispered of the Mangekyō. For such a legendary eye to appear in such a young specimen was a preposterous notion to most, but even the most skeptical of the Uchiha's council had grown eerily silent when Tensai recollected the black flames that filled his last line of sight.
Tensai was shaken out of his thoughts when his appointed servant entered his chambers and almost immediately made to grab him as if he would fall over at any moment. He had only gotten up to go to the bathroom, apparently Akemi was sent especially early. Tensai inquired as such as his maid, or rather babysitter, began the process of bathing and clothing him, all he got for a response was some hackneyed speech about his "big day" and how he needed to look his best. Tensai certainly didn't feel comfortable with the new development of having a stranger clothe him, he supposed no child would, but no amount of stubborn outcry and attempts to do it himself would dissuade the woman from doing her job. In that she reminded him of his mother. After some time of standing still and obeying any order to raise an arm or other such trivialities of getting dressed, Tensai allowed himself a sarcastic "How do I look?" he didn't know what possessed him to ask such a meaningless question, perhaps he hadn't entirely lost his sense of humor, no matter how hard he tried to mask it.
"Like a proud scion of the Uchiha clan." the boy couldn't tell if his companion was sincere or joking, but whatever semblance of a smirk he felt on his face disappeared at that moment. Of course, that's all he was to his fellow Uchiha now, a trophy to be paraded around. Truthfully he wasn't even sure why his clanmates were allowing him to go through with remaining a shinobi, the prospect of transplantation was raised during his initial questioning, but he had almost hysterically refused, the technology of surgery was still a recent development of the shinobi world, and he had no desire to become the first case of a ninja getting his eyes ripped out of his head.
The rest of Tensai's monotonous preparation went by in relative silence, he had his breakfast of eggs over rice and within minutes, he was handed a parasol. He heard his newfound companion slide open the front door and reach for his hand. He pulled back from the physical contact and presumably pouted, judging by the audible sigh that he was met with.
"I'm supposed to escort you to the-"
"I've been going to the Academy for six years. I know how to get there."
A short argument ensued, mostly with Akemi pointing out that Tensai didn't know how to get there from the clan's compound and that the roads would be wet from the rain and so on, but Tensai refused to relent from his position, insisting that if he was supposed to be a shinobi he'd have to learn how to navigate without a personal chaperone. Seeing how he wasn't going to see reason, Akemi gave the young Uchiha what was quickly becoming a trademark sigh and moved away from the doorway, bowing her head as Tensai made his way out of the home with enough confidence to immediately lose his footing when stepping off the slightly elevated platform, though he caught himself and made a mental note to feel for railings whenever he came across a stairway.
Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure Academy, Present
Even though he couldn't see her, Tensai could feel Fukushu's eyes glaring a hole in the back of his head when their sensei addressed the class and singled him out. If it hadn't been for the timely arrival of a pair of Jonin, she would've no doubt spewed some harsh insult his way. In that sense, Tensai was thankful for the momentary chaos that prevented him from having to get up and address the rest of the class. That was, until Toshiro-sensei had gotten everything under control and everything had gone silent again. Their teacher didn't need to repeat himself for Tensai to begin rising from his seat. A million thoughts ran through his head at once. What was he going to say? Who was going to be on his team? Was he going to end up being taught by the aunt who seemed to ignore his entire existence?
For the latter questions, Tensai could only pray for anyone but Fukushu and that he would be spared the fate of being tutored by his mother's sister. He didn't know which would be worse.
Before he could find something to say however, another knock came at the classroom door, and a voice Tensai had never heard before came from the other side.
Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure Academy
I’m not too late, am I?
Fukushu rolled her eyes as the third jonin-ranked shinobi stepped into the room, as nonchalant as he was late as he was he struck Fukushu’s eyes immediately. Unlike the other two, Fukushu couldn’t quite place his face. She had never seen it before.
While Konoha was a large village with many clans. From the lowly Hatake to the gregarious Senju, each leaf of the great tree was important to the village’s prosperity and Fukushu made sure to become aware of as many leaves as she could. She supposed it was an excess to catalog faces and names in the back of her mind, but how was she to aspire to be the best if she didn’t overachieve or overexert? To be the greatest shinobi of her generation was a task her mother had given her for years. Even with Tensai outright stealing the day from her, she found her curiosity distracting her.
“You're just in time, actually.” Her sensei commented to the brown-haired man as he lumbered into the room, a warm smile upon his face. “Stand next to Sarutobi-san and we will get this underway.”
The silver-haired Hatake cleared his throat.
“Before me are Sarutobi Matsuoka, Uchiha Shinatobe, and Kagetsu Kitanai. I served with them in the Great Shinobi World War. The late Hokage, in his infinite wisdom, requested their service to the academy going forward. They will replace me as your acting instructor.”
Fukushu rose a brow at the mention of the brown-haired shinobi’s name. Kitanai. She had heard the name before, though her mother had nothing but criticism when he was brought up by others. She didn’t know enough about him to make a judgement, but given he was late for his own assignment she didn’t perceive much in way of positivity. She hoped she wouldn’t have to deal with such a lazy ne’er-do-well. The highly spirited Sarutobi or the silent Uchiha would have been preferable to him. Fukushu didn’t like any of the three options, however. This was not the assortment of jonin-sensei she was expecting.
She took a light breath momentarily as she looked over the three of them more closely. Soon afterward, her sensei began calling out a list of names and directing them to the left, center, or right. To whom they were assigned.
The first assortment of names lacked any sort of order, but what struck her as odd beyond the new face among the jonin was that her sensei chose to not send Tensai first despite lauding him in front of the class for his “efforts”. Fukushu looked down at the back of Tensai’s head, staring like she was about to shoot lightning from her eyes. She, of course, knew why Tensai was probably not getting called until last place. Not that it helped her situation any better.
She had overheard her mother talking to another ANBU agent about the predicament. She knew what had happened to him, or at least, knew the important part. The effect, but not the cause. In time she knew she would overcome him, though she pitied the fools that ended up babysitting him due to his newfound ailment. When her name was called next, Fukushu moved from her place in the queue. Before she reached her place in the center she spoke a quick few words as she passed by Tensai.
She could feel her sensei’s wary eyes upon her as she said her piece before she moved to Shinatobe’s side, her arms crossed as she did so.
By the end of the assigning of academy students, the composition didn’t lack much sense to Fukushu at face value. But processing what the Hokage, Jonin-Commander, and her Sensei determined wasn’t something she was going to be able to do despite her thinking all the very much otherwise. However, before she could attempt to theorize about why teams were the way they were, her thoughts stopped dead when the last two genin were assigned.
Her former best friend to Kitanai's team and Tensai to Shinatobe's team.
She turned to face her sensei with a raised brow, mouth half-open. However, for some reason, Fukushu could not formulate any words. Her confusion was all she had.
Please let me get one of the hot teachers, please let me get one of the hot teachers, PLEASE let me get one of the hot teachers...!
Of course the only thing that would suddenly get Kiku's attention would be seeing that two out of the three potential future team leaders were beauties. Not that he knew who they were. Or their names. Did they mention their names yet? The possibility of getting any teacher that wasn't as boring as Hatake-sensei hadn't crossed his mind, but this was probably the highlight of his day. Having a pretty teacher would definitely help him focus, or so he thought.
Turning himself from the window to the front of the room at some kind of attempt to look like he was paying attention, Kiku managed to catch wind of the brunette immediately dismissing the class. Hah, her and his dad would get along just fine, the two could get to know one another by making up a list of what they didn't like about other people. He had to hold back a snicker as the thought crossed his mind, although he was in bigger trouble than he thought when Tsume jumped up. She didn't seem too happy to be dismissed, expressing herself openly--and Kiku had put a hand over his mouth to try to hide the giant grin he had. Welp, that was one way to make a first impression.
Oh well, that was her problem, not his.
At the very least Kiku was fully paying attention now, chin in hand. Apparently the three up front already knew Hatake-sensei, and something about serving in the war? Admittedly, he was a little more interested in the team assignments, his free hand impatiently tapping the desk. If he was lucky, he'd have some cute teammates, but he didn't think he'd get his way. Once the names were passed out, however, it looked like at the very least he'd have a friend on his side, even if there was the tiniest hesitance at having to be under Lady Critical's future guidance. But even with that, there was no hiding his giant smile, his eagerness apparent as his neck practically snapped in her direction. Throwing her an excited thumbs up as his name was called, he practically rushed to stand next to her.
"Look at that, look at that, we ended up on the same team!" He managed to keep it to a whisper, straightening up.
Veterans at its finest, the Leaf Jonin are so stacked and for sure security cannot be questioned as well as their availability in nurturing chicks to become fine eagles. Ria critically examined the Jonin based on her father, Kazuma's stories and of all the Jonin, Sarutobi Matsuoka was the one that piqued her interest, having recalled that she was her father's teammate and rival, the chances of joining her squad must be more than fate. She breathed heavily and examined her surroundings, younger... no... younger and better, despite repeating a year it pained Ria the thought of aging, especially this batch showed promising fruits and to her, she paled in comparison.
"Look at that, look at that, we ended up on the same team!"
She was startled on what she heard from Kiku (whisper or not) and it snapped her back to reality "Same team? You better not be kidding me." Ria is seated next to the golden haired Yamanaka Inokikue, the fragments of her soul, shattered to pieces. Perhaps it was just an assumption from Ria but who knows? The will of Rikudo is divine and if fate permit then so shall it be. She was in no position to demand who her teammates should be since the logic is without question; there are no accidents, the team that ought to be destined will need to sharpen each other. Ria breathed heavily again as though anxiety was perplexing her. At the back of her mind called quits but her spirit remained vibrant, she wanted to make her father proud after all and surpass a certain midget. Nothing matters in the situation she's in right now, what mattered more is what lies ahead.
Which of these Jonin would be Ria's master? The gut feeling seemed to good to be true.
Ria expressed perplexity as the thought of the future cannot yet be seen by her eyes hence fear knocked on her heart. The very image in her mind right now is a young boy of her age whose eyes are dyed in red, the appearance of the boy is covered in silhouette while Ria is naked and wrapped under his chains.
“You aren’t good enough to be the progeny of the Uchiha Clan. You aren’t good enough to be anything, especially not my competition. If you want, you can serve me when I am declared heir.”
"Oi Kiku. What just happened? Are the teams announced? I-I don't care. Hmph! Whether we're in the same team or not.. I-I don't care! As long as you don't touch other girls then we're good. I mean... suppose we're in the same team...we got each other's backs yeah? You better keep your hormones to yourself or else I have no choice but to shoulder it all! I-I mean we're now ninjas and everything of course people die when they are killed so we better have each other's backs like aren't you even listening? ... If we happen to be in the same team, at least don't get too distracted by girls! ブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツブツ ブツ ブツ ブツ" Ria was panting from her rapid barrage of muttered words and started getting panic attacks to the point of yelling it all on Kiku.
It's clear as a day that she was busy spacing out in deep thought about the future and her shortcomings than being indulged in class.
Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure, Morning
Fortune had never favored Hatake Shunpei, but against all odds, he was going to become a shinobi of Konohagakure.
It was not that he was a bad student. Far from it. But despite his efforts, he was not a good student, either. He was, however, the last student--the last in theory, in training, and in general competence as a shinobi. This was no exaggeration, either; he had seen the results scroll (no doubt planted by his uncle and sensei, Hatake Toshirou, to guilt him into improving) yesterday with his own two eyes.
(It was working, by the way.)
The genin-to-be was worried he would be held back like Uchiha Ria, but it turned out that was not the case. He would be graduating quite literally surrounded by all his best friends... Sort of. One of them, Hyuga Mitsuko, was in her favorite corner seat in the back despite being invited to sit with the rest of them up front. It was a shame she had rejected their offer, but he understood. His mom always told him not to force people against their will. He knew she was up here in spirit.
Next to him was Inuzuka Kimura, writing in her journal with her trademark eagerness. Shunpei peered at what she was so fervently inscribing into her journal. It was in some strange, illegible code, but based on the scrambled array of diagrams, it seemed to have something to do with his household. A new trap formation maybe?
She flipped a page. This time she was writing about Tensai's hairstyle. Although he couldn’t really understand the content (but he could make a decent guess), her writing movements were soothing, and the sound of turning pages and charcoal on paper left the feeling of static running along his scalp. He only stopped watching once Uncle Toshirou manned the podium and drew everyone’s attention to the front for his big farewell speech--and the announcement of the class’s top ninja, whose identity came as no surprise to Shunpei.
After all, who knew Uchiha Tensai better than Shunpei himself?
He looked past Kimura (which wasn’t difficult at all, considering the height difference) to the other end of their table, where the prodigy himself sat. Tensai looked more distant than ever. Not once--not during the announcement, not during the chaos, not during the resulting silence--did he express any joy over this announcement. He just sat there, thinking the thoughts of one who had just been blinded and orphaned
Although Shunpei had been spared the finer details of the incident, his mother had filled him in on the broad strokes after returning from Uchiha compound one day in a terrible state. Apparently his mother had tried, and failed, to invoke her right as Aunt Narumi’s appointed guardian to take Tensai into their family. It seemed the will of the clan trumped even the will of the dead.
Shunpei couldn’t imagine the kind of pain he’d been going through, all alone in that clan compound (they wouldn’t even let him in when he’d tried), but seeing his best friend like this was troubling and frankly depressing. And the silence was deafening as Uncle Toshirou waited for Tensai to do or say something to kill time while waiting for the third sensei.
The young Hatake began rising in his seat as well, fully prepared to do something stupid and senseless (as usual) to take the attention off Tensai and the awkward silence, but fortunately he didn’t have to. In that moment, a convenient interruption occurred: the arrival of the last sensei, a dirty-looking man with a bearing not unlike that of a Hatake shinobi.
Now that all of them were accounted for, Uncle Toshirou introduced the three jonin. The dirty one was named, fittingly enough, Kagetsu Kitanai; the disapproving, well-muscled brunette was Sarutobi Matsuoka; and Tensai’s aunt was, in fact, Tensai’s aunt Shinatobe, eyeing the class like a crow would eye carrion.
Of course, with introductions out of the way, Uncle Toshirou began assigning teams, which was as exciting as it was nerve-wracking. Especially as it became very evident Shunpei's name was not showing up any time soon.
The first team to gather all its members--Sarutobi Matsuoka’s--was an eclectic bunch. As far as Shunpei could tell, their formation lacked an obvious specialty. He didn’t know anything about the sensei, but Enma, Inokikue, and Ria didn’t have any obvious commonalities in their three skill-sets, especially taking into account things like kekkei genkai and hiden.
In Shunpei’s mind, they were either going for a generalism or nepotism. Inokiku under a Sarutobi was as close to an InoShikaCho formation as you were going to get in a class without any Nara or Akimichi, and the Sarutobi clan were historically linked with the Senju. Why Ria had been placed there and not with her aunt was beyond him. Maybe it was supposed to use the Senju-Uchiha rivalry to create additional motivation, or maybe it was just rich folk looking out for other rich folk.
By Shunpei's reckoning, Inokikue certainly seemed pleased with his state of affairs (despite being on the only team with another guy), but Ria was less so. Was she that displeased about not being assigned to an Uchiha, or had something happened between her and Inokiku? She was kind of glowering at him and muttering strange things.
The second team to assemble the brunt of its members was Kimura and Fukushu’s team, the one lead by Tensai’s aunt. Though it had not been completed, there was no doubt the remaining member was Tensai himself. He had gone from clan outcast to clan treasure in something like two weeks. Shunpei would eat his bonsai if the Uchiha clan would let anyone else teach “their” prodigy, especially now that he was blind.
Now if it weren’t for Fukushu being assigned to that sensei, there would have been a real solid chance Shunpei could have been with his closest friends. They could have totally been a thing, like InoShikaCho, except they would be TenShuKimu and they would be 100x cooler. But maybe in another life. Unfortunately, it would be all TenFuKimu all the way down.
Shunpei’s prediction was proven correct when he was assigned to Kagetsu Kitanai.
“Oof,” Shunpei winced. Seeing something coming didn’t mean it made the secondhand cringe any less painful. They really did just put Fukushu and Tensai on the same team--underneath Tensai’s aunt, even! If he could switch with the poor guy, Shunpei would have, but even he knew full well the Hokage doesn’t take complaints from kids like him. At least Tensai had Kimura to keep him sane.
The second-to-last student took the long, inconvenient way around the table, which conveniently let him pass by Tensai.
“Reckon that means you’re on her team, huh?” Shunpei took Tensai by the hand and gently pulled him out of the seat. To everyone else (except maybe the jonin, those-in-the-know, and the exceptionally perceptive students) it was just some brotherly, if awkwardly executed, gesture. Considering they were normally inseparable, this wasn't nearly as weird as it ought to have been.
Tensai only made two faces in response: one of confusion, and one of realization. Given the circumstances, Shunpei didn't expect Tensai to be super talkative, but Shunpei could talk enough for the both of them.
Once Tensai was upright, Shunpei threw his arm over his shoulder and grinned. “Ya know, I think this gettin' split thing just means they couldn’t handle all of us at once,” he half-whispered, leading him down the steps, “But hey, at least ya got Kimura. That's a plus.”
After hitting level ground, Shunpei pulled his arm back and faced Tensai head on. “Looks like this is where we part,” he said, scratching the back of his head.
“Guess I'll see ya 'round,” Shunpei said. He had almost reached out for a fist bump back then--a bad move to execute with a secretly blind kid who could hit better than you, for sure. Instead, he gave Tensai a single, powerful pat on the shoulder, as if it were the head of a majestic lion or the neck of a horse, “If ya ever need a hand, ya know where to go.”
With that final exchange, Shunpei and Tensai parted ways and headed to their respective teams.
The team led by Kagetsu Kitanai wasn’t nearly as much of a powder keg as Uchiha Shinatobe’s. As far as Shunpei knew, there shouldn’t be any Fukushu-Tensai-level conflicts. After all, his teammates were Yakushi Tsume and...
“Ah! Would ya look at that: we’re on the same team,” Shunpei greeted Mitsuko, “Ain’t that great, Honey Bun?”
Why she had insisted on being addressed in such a way was beyond him, but he wasn’t so impolite as to deny such a request. Perhaps she would grow out of it now that they were debuting as proper shinobi.
“Ah! Right! Where’re my manners?” Shunpei exclaimed, the tips of his ears taking on an embarrassed pink tint. He turned to properly face his team.
Now that he was up close, Shunpei was able to get a better read on the man. His sensei didn’t seem nearly imposing as his height and build might have suggested--and what a build he had! There was no doubt this guy knew his stuff when it came to taijutsu, which made sense considering the team composition. Were they planning on developing Shunpei's taijutsu skills as well, or was there something else?
Still, the most significant thing about the man was not in his form. It was in his eyes. Shunpei decided that they were like his mom’s: bright and world-weary. Compared to the other senseis’ eyes, the difference was like the sun and the moon.
“Kitanai-sensei!” Shunpei bowed deeply. “I’m Hatake Shunpei. Hope we can all work well together!”
Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure Academy
Tensai had hardly been paying attention to his surroundings until he'd felt the sudden grasp of his shoulder by Shunpei. It only dawned on him midway through their descent to the front of the class that the two of them were placed on separate teams. He couldn't even take solace in the fact that Kimura was coming with him due to just who Shunpei was being replaced by. Tensai didn't know what was worse; that one of his best friends was on another team, leaving him with Fukushu of all people, or that he was leaving the tutelage of Shunpei's uncle for the aunt that hated him.
For now, it was all he could do to take his place next to his teammates. Even with the classroom full of students and Jonin alike, Shinatobe's presence stood out from the rest. Not knowing where he was supposed to face, Tensai simply turned around when he reached the group and peered his nonexistent gaze around the classroom one last time. While his aunt was already more than aware of his predicament, he didn't relish the thought of what he had to do once they were removed from everyone else. It wasn't going to be easy telling his teammates about his blindness, but they had to know if they were going to be working together from then on.
He could only pray that Fukushu wouldn't laugh in his face.
Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure Academy
Matsuoka Sarutobi was in a bad mood.
This wasn’t a massive revelation in the slightest, as the woman infamously nicknamed the “Gorilla Princess” was usually in an unfriendly and hostile state of mind. In this case, however, it was much more than the front it usually was, to the point that she was contemplating the idea of dropping her assignment entirely and willingly taking the unavoidable demotion that would come with it.
She wasn’t thrilled in the slightest about her fellow sensei. Shinatobe Uchiha was someone with a similar temperament as herself, and though some might have said that would’ve made them capable of creating a bond on some level, Matsuoka didn’t think it was possible with this woman in particular.
The Uchiha have always held a stick up their asses, and she wasn’t going to go through the trouble of pulling it out to make the bitch any less annoying to deal with. The fact that her jab apparently didn’t even deign a response was somewhat disappointing as well.
On top of that, nearly every student in the classroom lacked what was necessary to be taught under her. When she asked Toshiro Hatake-san if the room she walked into was the wrong class, she had a slight hope that it was. None of them had any sense of presence, and while that was fine and dandy for a ninja, it was a likely signal that she was going to have to teach whichever kids she was assigned from the ground up.
The only bright spot in the class was a spunky redhead who immediately stood up for her classmates and attempted a retaliation. A flimsy wooden kunai thrown in her direction that she caught with a single hand, but it was enough to alleviate a bit of the cloud that brewed within her. Matsuoka wasn’t quite sure who that girl was, but she liked her. Hopefully, the kid would be one of the students assigned to her.
A wide, shit-eating grin spread across her face, but before she could ‘helpfully’ remind the student of the consequences of insubordination, the door to the classroom creaked open. When she turned to see who exactly was the poor bastard that would take up the mantle as the third sensei, her smile dropped.
A million thoughts rushed through her head at that moment, fists clenched and unclenched with a dry mouth and sweaty palms, eyes widened as various emotions racked her core. All of that within a single second, but the woman quickly regained control of herself and turned back to the class, nonchalant with a slightly disgusted expression on the surface even as a mini-version of herself began to cheer and rain confetti within her mind.
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Eventually, Hatake-san called the class to order, and began to rattle off the names of students under their respective sensei. To the Sarutobi’s dismay, the redhead who was apparently named Tsume Yakushi wasn’t placed under her tutelage, but instead was sent to learn with the scruffy pansy that happened to walk into the classroom. She’ll make sure to catch the man with a few choice words after all these introductions were over. Only to rag on him for getting the student she wanted, of course.
For the moment, however, she got saddled with what was possibly the least enviable team available. A Yamanaka, who Matsuoka noticed had been failing at stealthily leering at herself and the other female sensei ever since they walked in through the doors, a Uchiha, who wasn’t doing herself any favors by mouthing off like a pre-school child in front of her potential sensei, and a Senju, who the woman couldn’t tell what was up with him, but she was certain that the fact that she didn’t see anything on the surface meant he was probably useless.
Before the black-haired member of her possible future team could embarrass the brunette any further, a heavy hand fell atop the young girl’s head, harder than rock as the fingers dug into her scalp and turned the Uchiha away from the blonde she was harassing to face the narrowed eyes of her sensei. “Hey, brat. Why don’t you close your mouth for a while and shut the fuck up, okay? Good girl.”
Intentionally making her voice as condescending as possible, Matsuoka let go of the girl’s head and pat her like one would a dog that didn’t understand simple instructions before turning her attention to the three students in front of her as a whole. “Training Ground 13. Fifteen minutes. Don’t be late, maggots.”
“Hatake-san, if that’s it, I’m out of here.” Not waiting for a response, the soured mood that tinged her voice was apparent in the Sarutobi’s expression as she flashed through the hand signs for Body Flicker, holding the second-to-last sign for a moment to convey her disappointment to the former teacher of her three brats before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
Alas it was finally the day Enma would be able to attend the graduation ceremony and receive his headband. He could picture it now, the warmth of his ninja class behind him, his sensei to guide him up to the stage for a handshake and a well deserved headband, and then the assignment into his very own group. Who would he be paired with? Maybe an Uchiha or with Fukushu, who knew but whatever the case was he would make the best of it. The vision was so surreal in his mind as if he could almost reach out and grab it. That was until he heard an abrupt knocking that pulled him out of his dreamscape. A chill of fear struck through his spine realizing he was late to his own graduation, a bad look on someone who is generally on top of everything. If it wasn’t for Midori he would have stayed in his blissfully ignorant coma.
Sprouting out of the ground like a newly planted seed, Enma rushed to gather his things before exiting his estate. Running for what felt like hours finally brought him to the academy where he calmly collected himself before rushing into the room. The scene itself seemed pretty hectic with some air of tension he must have missed. Had he been there, he probably would have tried to smooth things over for clear sailing. It appeared Tensai had won recognition for his hard work. Enma was proud of his teammate even if it meant he wasn’t the one being recognized although Fukushu appeared to feel the exact opposite. Enma made his way to his group eyeing both Ria and Inokiku over. Their leader would he Sarutobi sensei, a mixed bag of very powerful and influential names in one team. The team dynamic would be interesting to watch develop between the four of them.
And yet despite this Ria had succumbed to a catatonic state and muttering something to herself over and over. Enma sensed something was about to go awry and quickly intercepted. Instead of Ria’s dome being split in two, his sensei would find her hand falling and gripping onto his own instead bearing the pain and insults for her instead. After she left with her instructions on where to me he rested his hand on her shoulder hoping to send his relaxing energy over her like a wave. “Are you okay Ria-chan? I’m looking forward to working with you so please treat me well” he said with a smile.
Konoha Academy, Konohagakure Daybreak, Present Day
Tsume gaze didn't break from the loud jonin at first, still upset and aching to show this hag what she thought of people trying to bully others while she was around. However, as soon as she caught sight of the familiar figure, the woman was completely forgotten as the girl went ramrod straight in her posture, quickly sinking into her chair next to Kimura. Crimson eyes burrowed into Kitanai as fingers drummed fiercely against her desk. It wasn't until she felt the sharp sting of pain and the acrid smell of burnt wood that she realized that she was burning holes into her desk as small tips of her focused at her fingertips. Taking a few breathes to calm herself down, Tsume waited in quiet expectation, eyes filled with curiosity, excitement, and eager anticipation as she waited for Toshirou-sensei to finally get around to calling out names.
Part of her dreaded at first that she was making some kind of mistake, as Kitanai hadn't mentioned that he was coming over in any of the letters he'd sent over, but once his name had been officially called out, it took all of Tsume's discipline and restraint not to leap over her chair and give him a great big hug. When it was revealed that she was going to be on his team however, all pretense of control was instantly dropped.
A crimson blur blazed across the classroom, hopping from desk to desk until Kitanai found himself in a full-on bear hug as Tsume crashed into his chest.
"KITANAI-SAN!!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!?!?! WHEN DID YOU BECOME A JONIN SENSEI?!!?! DID YOU ASK SPECIFICALLY TO BE MY TEACHER?!?! *Does this have to do with any secret ninja business?*" As the onslaught of questions that accompanied the flying tackle that Tsume gave her father rolled out of the small girl, she'd quickly shimmy her body around him until she was hanging from his neck over the back of his shoulder, eyes turning over to her new teammates. "Ohohohohohoh, before that, uh, let me introduce ya to these two. They're Shunichi and Mitsuko-chan. They're both kinda quiet, but nice. . *tho I think Shunichi needs to toughen up a little, but that's just between you me.*"
That last part of her impromptu intro for her teammates was whispered(poorly) into Kitanai's as she hung their, feet kicking idly in the air behind him as she shifted to cling even tighter to the man.
This situation, from top to bottom, was nothing less than bullshit of a magnitude worthy of Kumogakure. To become a sensei was the work of the washed up; of has-beens too far past their prime, like the village's aging old guard, or of those too crippled or craven to take the fight to the enemy, like the Hatake responsible for this year's whelps. It was not a role befitting some in the prime of their life and the zenith of their power like one Uchiha Shinatobe, who stood in among her "peers" radiating a cold, scornful aura of disdain for those unfortunate enough to share space with her. It was a typical posture, not for she, who oft ran on the hotter side of the emotional spectrum, but one many of her clan's elitists donned when forced to tolerate with their lessers.
It was fitting, therefore, that she emulated them. For there was no willingness on her part to take up this post. Her time was better spent, accruing the glory, fame, and fortune befitting one of her station. But the world had seen fit to deny her the comfortable stability of mission-by-mission living when her sister met with an early grave half a world away. Even in exile, Narumi had done as she always had; stolen attention that might have otherwise belonged to Shinatobe. In earlier years, that sad fact had weighed heavy on her. In years more recent, it had been a relief. Cruel as fate was, it was only after she had made peace with its absence that it would deliver her that so craved spotlight. There was no mistaking it, the timing of this assignment coinciding with her sister's funeral marked the indignity to be a work of the Uchiha clan's matriarch.
'Seems I'm finally important enough to keep safe.'
She seethed, for it was only in the raucous tempest of her internal rage that her sharp tongue was kept in check. She had no affection for the Nth born daughter of a middling clan like the Sarutobi, and that contempt ensured she had as little patience for the back talk of one.
The late arrival of the final sensei did little to soften her hateful ruminations. Indeed, she paid only a minimal amount of attention to the prattling of the white-haired Chunin responsible for raising these brats to whatever competence they possessed. A scoff, aimed at the assertion that the late Hokage made these decisions himself, was all his speech mustered from her. An old man's hand may have signed the documents, but it wasn't he who had conceived this disgrace upon her. When the students were divvied up like so much livestock, she at least deigned to gaze the way of those placed under her tutelage. One, with a head of familiar lavender hair, muttered a few words to another student before assuming her position beside the Uchiha. Another, to her chagrin, seemed to be a common mutt. As if she were some peasant-pup sitter. At least that one wasn't causing a fuss like some of her fellows were.
It would have done Shinatobe well to pay attention to those who had sat in silence. It would have made the realization as to the identity of her team's final student less piercing. When her own name was called just before Uchiha Tensai's, her eyes snapped from where they had drifted, surveying the chaos that was her brother's spawn, and landed instead upon the scion of her departed sister. Confusion may have seized the tongue of at least one of heiress' students, but her nephew's presence on her squad—and the rage it caused to well up within her—was more than sufficient to spur Shinatobe into speech.
"That cunt." She hissed, just under her breath, as her onyx orbs bore a hole he could not see through Tensai's chest, as if she meant to look through him to glare at the shadowy hand that had seen fit to tether him to her.
Uchiha Ria Academy-->On the way to the Training Grounds
Kindness... what's that?
The Senju boy showed no trace of prejudice nor hold any disdain towards the "incompetent-talented-Kunoichi of the Uchiha". She felt his hand at her shoulder and somehow his vibrant energy encouraged Ria, outside of her limited social circle nobody else has shown kindness towards her and for a moment little did Ria know she teared a bit. Recharged from the boy's energy, Ria smiled back at him and drew herself really up close as her face meets his face; eye to eye.
Ria couldn't express the feelings pent-up within.
Enma may not be the most attractive guy out there but if her clan weren't forbidding such thing, Ria definitely got intrigued and caught up in the moment, perhaps it was just growth or something she had yet to see? Ria began to realize that she's in a stage of adolescence like how her peers are at that age too yet as a Shinobi Ria couldn't stomach about killing her emotions properly yet. It was at this moment that Ria remembered upon Make Out Tactics Chapter 3: Molon Labe; how to know if someone likes you. She quickly discarded the thought and withdrew from her close contact.
She nodded her head indicating that she was fine and suddenly her temperament changed.
"WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU TWO WAITING FOR! I'M GONNA BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF THAT OLD GORILLA! YOU TWO COVER ME WHILE I SETTLE SOME PERSONAL GRUDGE!!!" She quickly chase after Matsuoka. Upon her thoughts, if it weren't for Enma, Ria's face would have been defiled. That lesbo idiot. I'm beginning to understand why Dad calls her a gorilla. Ria started ranting about their Sensei along the way who would have taken her virginity if not for Enma.
It may seemed prejudice but Ria didn't like Matsuoka at first hand.
Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure Academy
Hatake-san, if that’s it, I’m out of here.
The sound of smoke snapped Fukushu out of her stupor as one of the jonin—not hers—decided to give orders and leave the room of mostly able-bodied shinobi.
She was still processing what the late Hokage and her sensei had hoisted upon her. Her animosity and rivalry with Tensai was well known of and for her to be placed with him, with the greater shinobi knowing of his condition, was something that was inconceivable to her mind. It was almost like she had given a punishment. She could only imagine her mother’s comments of disapproval now. About how Tensai, a blind and incapable shinobi had beaten her in class rankings; about how she doubted she could live up to her purpose.
Fukushu curled her hands into fists as her former sensei spoke once again.
“If any of you need any guidance, my door is always open. Good luck.”
Fukushu scowled at Toshiro-sensei's comments. Wishing her luck when he and the dead monkey bastard had doomed her to be joined with Tensai? The nerve of them. The nerve of him elevating Tensai when he couldn't even walk without aid. Was she expected to hold his hand and help him through his pain? What about her pain? What about what she deserved? Fukushu supposed it was fitting. The powers that be never cared about what she deserved nor did they acknowledge what she did well. She was just a measure to judge Tensai by and to keep reminding her, at the end of the day she could never be recognized as long as an Uchiha, Senju, or Sarutobi stood in front of her. She was sure that had Tensai been looked over Enma would have been placed as the best upcoming shinobi in their class. Fukushu was nothing and this was entirely their way of reminding her to stay in her place.
Her eyes moved to Tensai, her brows narrowed. He couldn't see her expression, but by her words he would feel her disdain sooner rather than later.
“Tch.” The sound escaped her mouth as she looked to her supposed new sensei. “What's next, Shinatobe-sensei?”
There was a long list of swears the Uchiha could have rattled off under her breath to express her frustration, but she opted to swallow them down, no matter how painful it was to do so. It wouldn't do to make herself look weak in front of her charges, and the subject of her ire was too far away to hear them in the first place. That was for the better. It would give her time to compose herself before the inevitable confrontation that would arise from this convenient alignment of fate. Instead, her daze was interrupted by the voice of one of her students. The Namikaze, whom appeared to look expectantly at Shinatobe. Rightfully so, she supposed. She was their leader from this point onward, and at least one of the other sensei had departed in a poof of smoke.
"Introductory exercise. We're going to the training ranges on the village's outskirts." The heiress declared, her gaze moving from Fukushu toward Tensai. She grimaced once her eyes arrived upon him. Unlike her, he couldn't do much gazing any more, and she doubted he would be of any use in the coming trials. Why the academy—spurred on by her mother no little doubt—had allowed him to graduate at all was beyond her. It wasn't even a matter of her own biases toward him. Unable to even navigate their compound by his lonesome, it was a cruelty to force his continued participation, prodigious talent or not.
But it was a cruelty that she had been selected to prop up, and so she had little choice. Unlike her ignoble peer, the raven-haired Jonin turned away from her pupils and made way for the exit at a leisurely pace, content to lead them personally rather than disappear on them so soon after becoming acquainted.
"One of you lead him." She called behind her after a brief pause, sure the two girls would settle the matter without much trouble, before she disappeared out the doorway and made for their destination.
Kiku watched as Ria went off on him, his smile plastered on his face as he watched her delve into...something. He should have been used to it by now, but sometimes when she caught him off guard, he wasn't entirely sure how to respond. His default response was usually to laugh, but his face felt almost frozen as the gears in his head slowly turned. Maybe she was mad at him. Oh man, did she catch him looking at their future sensei? Probably, he wasn't exactly subtle about it. But there was nothing wrong with looking, right? Ria disagreed.
Finally, their sensei graced them with her first few words, Kiku supressing a chuckle, though he deflated slightly as she decided to walk off. Well, if she wanted them to go in fifteen minutes, they could have walked together. But maybe it was a blessing in disguise, and he cleared his throat as he looked over at their third.
"Ah...Senju, right? Nice to meet you--" He paused as Ria exploded, and he quickly closed his mouth. Welp, good to know he wasn't the only one not entirely thrilled with their sensei. "Oi, Ria! Riiiaaa! Wait up!" He called, tapping Enma's shoulder as he broke into a jog to keep up with the Uchiha.
Location: The Classroom of Hatake Toshiro, Konohagakure Academy
For the most part, Kitanai was content to suffer through the disdainful glares he received from his fellow Jonin upon his arrival. It was becoming a rather familiar sight in the past week or so that he'd been in the village. To say that his sudden promotion by the newly elevated Hokage had ruffled some feathers was an understatement to say the least. Granted, Shinatobe and Matsuoka had been glaring at him since they were children. Not unlike the way one of the students was staring kunai into the back of one of her classmate's skulls. Something that was only exasperated when Toshiro announced the team formations. He didn't have much time to ponder to himself about the interpersonal relations of a pair of twelve year olds for long, however.
Before the name had even left Toshiro's lips, Kitanai found himself practically assaulted with questions by the last of his three Genin students, to say nothing of the fact he now found himself with a child hanging from his neck.
"Well, I got into town about a week ago. Got promoted too. Who knew your former teammate becoming Hokage came with perks? As for being your teacher, I wanted to keep it a surprise."
Kitanai maintained a smile on his face for Tsume's sake. It was no accident that the village's new leader had placed him in charge of a four man cell, nor was it a mistake that Tsume happened to be one of its members. If Tsugumi had to anchor him to Konoha with a squad of his own, she made sure he wasn't going to be able to say no. She was always clever that way. Nevertheless, he had two other Genin to care for, even if they weren't there for the express purpose of guilting him into staying.
With a gentle hand, Kitanai removed Tsume from around his body while the only other male on his team introduced himself. On instinct Kitanai gave a slight bow in response. From what he recalled, Shunpei was Toshiro's nephew. If he was anything like his uncle, it'd be easy enough to get along. Though the man himself had openly admitted to Shunpei's slightly pedestrian performance. No matter. They'd said the same about Kitanai when he was a student. He had no doubt Shunpei would prove them wrong.
Lest he forget, Kitanai bowed again, this time to the only student who'd remained silent through the whole ordeal. Why Tusugmi would put a member of the Hyuga Clan's branch family under him was anyone's guess. More importantly, something about Hyuga Mitsuko seemed oddly familiar to him that he couldn't place his hand on. Maybe it was just the pale white eyes reminding him of his own youth, but knowing one Hyuga Mitsuko was the only member of her class that showed any acumen in medical ninjutsu both excited him and made him uneasy. He had no idea whether he'd prove a good instructor in the art, but he knew for sure that the Hyuga clan elder likely would've preferred anyone else to do the job.
Before he knew it, the rest of the teams had disembarked from the classroom and Kitanai's was the only squad left lingering. Both of his peers had wandered off to the training grounds with their students. For his own, Kitanai had something slightly different in mind. Something he spent about thirty seconds of dead silence coming up with while his Genin stared at him with anticipation. Being a sensei was going to take some getting used to.
"Well, I figure we should probably get out of here before someone comes around and tells us to shoo."
Kitanai moved for the door and waved his hand for his Genin to follow.
"I'm starving, we'll have to stop at a food stall on our way to the hospital."
For many, the day of academy graduation was a time of excitement. A rite of passage, when one passed from a mere child to a proud member of the village's military, able to represent their clan's interests and honor those who came before. It was a time to say goodbye to the regimented studies of old, to meet new comrades, and to forge boldly ahead to a hopeful future. For Mitsuko, this sanguine feeling could not be more foreign. She felt no optimism, only a clawing uncertainty in her gut, a fear born of a change in scenery she had only just begun to become secure in. The academy was a source of some comfort away from home, where she could—in a rare act of rebellion—relax some of the poise and discipline expected of her station, and savor small moments of happiness in the form of childish fun. Fun that so many of her school mates seemed so ready to throw away in favor of an encroaching adulthood.
Who knew what lay ahead of her? She had only so many acquaintances who tolerated her for however long they dare, and now she was left to drift in uncertainty, whether she would be bereft of them and made to interact more intimately with a small squad of individuals chosen at seemingly random. What of her instructor? Toshiro-sensei had shown her kindness in the way of overlooking her presence. She had worked diligently to maintain that invisibility, never excelling too far in fields she could, and never falling too far behind in fields she struggled with. She had remained in the middle of the pack, unexceptional, another face in the crowd, a member of a class who nobody had reason to ever single out or notice. It fit her, as a member of the branch family, and she took solace in that comfortable anonymity that allowed her only to seek attention on her own terms. Now she could not hide among the herd, and now she would be at the mercy of a sensei personally invested in her growth. She didn't like that. Father was a hard enough master, she did not need another.
It was the young Hyūga's way to withdraw into herself when her nerves became frazzled by the world, and so she sat, alone in her back seat, barraged by an internal cacophony of her own making as the names of her squad mates were called one by one. She might not have even responded, had it not been for Shunpei's voice finding her ear. He was, perhaps, the closest thing to a 'friend' she had in class. He had been kind to her from their first meeting, and respectful of her boundaries for as long as she could recall. Most of those she was acquainted with had come into her sphere of influence by virtue of the Hatake boy, who lacked not for friends himself. It was little surprise, therefore, that she had attuned herself to picking his voice out of a crowd.
And his voice delivered to her a strange message. Honey... bun? What did that even mean? Some kind of nickname? A snack? Mother never let her have sweets, so she was not well versed in honey, or buns for that matter. Did he mean to imply she was sweet? Her cheeks flushed at that thought. Honey was sweet, yes, but why include the bun? She had heard others refer to their rears as 'buns' before. Did... had he meant to say her bottom was sweet? She flushed even darker with indignity at that conclusion. Kuniochi or not, she was not ready for that level of adulthood.
Shaking her head as if it would somehow banish the thoughts from her head, she instead focused on what he had said before that. The same team?... Teams! Yes, teams. She had gotten so into her head that she had missed the announcement. A small mercy, it seemed, as the Gods had blessed her with enough luck to share a squad with Shunpei. It was the best possible outcome for her, for she could at least use him for comfort in the coming trials. Trials that would be quite taxing, she came to muse, as the short girl stood from her seat and followed Shunpei to their appointed sensei. Their fellow Genin, Yakushi-san, had always been loud and bombastic, and for those reasons she proved a natural antithesis to Mitsuko. A wide berth had always been given as a result.
The Jonin did not lessen her apprehension. He seemed rather... odd, for how she had imagined the village's premier leaders. He was rather scruffy, lacking in the carefully maintained posture of a noble born scion that she was intimately acquainted with. The subtle slouch made him seem less the giant of a man he was by comparison to one of her own slight stature, something that may have made him more approachable to others, but all the more alien to her. She was used the pristine, stern faced members of her own kin, not one who was so at ease.
Her feelings mattered little. To allow ones emotions to interfere with ones duty was unacceptable. She had already been too indulgent today. When her sensei bowed to her after lingering a touch in his gaze, she returned the gesture, but deeper and with the immaculate precision of one who had rehearsed the gesture too many times to count. "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Kagetsu-sensei. I am Hyūga Mitsuko."
By the time she straightened, her new teacher had gestured for them to leave, and while the mention of a hospital intrigued her, she dared not to speak out of turn. Instead, she submitted herself to following after him, but only once her team mates had also chosen to do so.