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16 December 2005 @ 02:17 pm
[Fic] "The Guardian in Spite of Herself" chapter 2 -- Naruto  
Here we go. Chapter 2 of "Guardian." It's still a bit shorter than my ideal chapter length, but that's just where the chapter ended, and there wasn't much I could do to argue with the story.

This is the sequel to "The Way of the Apartment Manager," which can be found in clean draft here on ff.net, or in rough draft with comments here on my livejournal. It also has fanart, which can be found here.

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The Guardian in Spite of Herself: Chapter 2
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"This," Itachi said, his voice echoing through Naga's bruised mind, "is the world of the grasping moon. Here, reality is what I say it is. For interfering, you will stay here and be dismembered by katana for three days."

The first sword stabbed into her shoulder and dragged downward, tearing muscles from tendon and bone. Naga closed her eyes -- her false eyes. This was genjutsu. The pain wasn't real, no matter how much her nerves tried to tell her it was. This dark, echoing place didn't feel quite like the private hells Yukiko made during training, but the mind-fogging confusion was the same, and Itachi had given it away. 'Reality is what I say it is,' he said -- that was genjutsu, fooling the mind.

"Kai," Naga whispered, testing. A sword pierced her gut, and she bit back a scream. Right. She couldn't crack the illusion. She still wasn't going to break; she was shinobi, and she was stronger than that. She set her mind on one thing -- this isn't real -- and repeated the dispelling over and over, hour after hour, until nothing was left but pain, Itachi's dispassionate regard, and fear for Tsukime left to face him without a partner, until only the hoarse refrain of 'kaikaikaikaikai' held her together.

Light scorched her eyes.

Naga fell to the ground, limp and shaking, her mind telling her body it was hacked into sashimi. "No," she said, as dry grass crunched in the distance. "Genjutsu." She could collapse later. She shoved herself up, propped on her hands, and looked for her partner.

Tsukime was leading Itachi away in a giant spiral, bleeding from sword-cuts on her arms and legs, and not looking at his eyes. Itachi feinted, and she stumbled, her slashed legwarmer catching under her sandal. She rolled as she fell; Itachi reversed his swing and sliced down like lightning. Tsukime twisted -- the short sword glanced across her arm instead of her throat -- and scrambled up at the last moment. Fresh blood ran down past her elbow. She flung a kunai at Itachi's face, and retreated.

Naga cursed and tried to move her legs. She had to reach her pack. Tsukime was playing for time -- Naga knew that weird, defensive variation on drunken fighting, designed to fool even a mastered Sharingan -- but Itachi was toying with her. Naga could see it. Tsukime could see it too. Tsukime could see her, and was shifting her retreat into a line, keeping Itachi's focus away from Naga.

Her legs shook, her elbows collapsed, and Naga crashed back to the ground. Fuck. There was nothing wrong with her, she knew that, but she couldn't move. She couldn't support her own weight, couldn't force her legs to work. Her partner was counting on her and she was going to fail. Her tongue curled out as she hissed in frustrated rage.

Then she felt like kicking herself.

Quickly, she shot her arms across the open ground and into the tassel grass. That didn't need the joints that refused to work. She could do that in her sleep. She opened her pack by touch, trying to keep her fingers from shaking or turning into limp curls of flesh. Where was it? She never went anywhere without-- ah. There.

Naga pulled in her arms and fumbled with the string around the scroll. She could slice it with a kunai, but she didn't think she could twist her body enough to reach her thigh holster. She stilled her shaking long enough to find the right loop of the knot, and pulled. The scroll rolled open on the ground.

To her left, Tsukime screamed.

Naga bit her thumb open, slashed blood across her signature, and slammed the scroll and her bleeding hand against the earth. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" She closed her eyes. Kami, let her call reach the right bird!

Mist and smoke washed over her, and a deep voice cleared its throat. "Attack or fly?"

Naga let out her breath in relief and curled into a ball as best she could, clutching the scroll. "Fly, Kuroba-sama. Save Tsukime." A huge, scaly foot closed around her, and then, with an abrupt jerk and backdraft, she was airborne. Wind blurred her eyes -- something sharp whistled past her and sliced into her calf, but she was past caring. She couldn't really feel her damn leg anyway, couldn't feel anything more than jelly and relief. They were safe. The Uchiha never learned to summon, thought it was beneath them. No way Itachi could catch them now.

"The straw-hair girl is missing half a leg," the raven croaked dryly. "If you want her to reach Konoha alive, you might want to do something."

"Fuck." Naga looked across to Kuroba's other foot; Tsukime's other wounds were shallow, but her right leg... Naga swallowed. Two inches past her knee, Tsukime's leg stopped. Blood fell through the air in uneven streams. "Fuck," she said again for good measure.

She never figured out where she found the strength to shove her arm through the howling wind of Kuroba's flight and clamp her hand on Tsukime's leg. She knew precisely two fire jutsu -- the little curl of flame that all Leaf-nin learned to light campfires, and a white-hot glove of fire that Kakashi had taught her during her chuunin exam. She used the second jutsu on her partner.

Blood boiled against Naga's fingers, and Tsukime's skin cracked and bubbled under her grip. She caught a faint whiff of roasting meat, and offered silent thanks for the wind that tore the smell away. After ten seconds, she dropped the jutsu and slowly, slowly pulled her arm back in, shrinking tendons and slotting segmented bones back into a more human configuration. She wasn't a medic-nin, didn't know how much blood Tsukime had lost or how much the burn might shock her partner's system. She'd done the best she could.

Naga drew a deep breath. One more thing. "Hospital roof," she shouted at Kuroba. The raven croaked his agreement.

Naga let go. This time she welcomed the darkness.

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The apartment was only one room, a bathroom, and a closet, but that was all right. Sasuke didn't need anything more. He cooked the instant ramen the woman left for him, used the towel she lent him, and slept on borrowed sheets. The next morning, he went home to fill another two suitcases with clothes, linens, and some of his father's weapons.

The woman caught him as he walked through the ground floor hallway. "You're too late for the academy," she said, "and the Hokage said you're excused from lessons this week. Where are you going?"

"Home," he said.

She leaned against the doorway of her office. "Picking up clothes and stuff? That makes sense -- hang on a minute and I'll come with you."

He didn't want her to come with him. He didn't need people watching him and asking how he felt. Why couldn't anybody see that? Sasuke walked out of the building and down the street, and had almost reached the corner when the woman loped up from behind.

"Nice try, but you have to be a lot sneakier than that if you want to fool me," she said, and stuffed her hands into her jacket.

Sasuke clenched his hands. If he couldn't even hide from this woman, how was he supposed to get strong enough to kill Itachi? She had on a forehead-protector, but she was dressed like a civilian and she ran an apartment building. She couldn't be a good shinobi.

He walked faster. She kept up.

They passed the academy on their way across town. His class was outside in one of the practice fields, hurling kunai at painted targets. Iruka-sensei watched from the side, calling out advice and dodging stray knives. Sasuke felt the thin calluses on his fingers, the beginning of a true shinobi's hands, and turned away. He wanted a kunai to plunge into Itachi's eye. He wanted to be back in time, staying after lessons to practice his aim. He wanted to be further back, watching Itachi dance in midair, guiding knives to impossible targets.

His fingers dug into his palms again.

Finally they reached the Uchiha district, and Sasuke paused at the mouth of the street. Just a week ago, his great-uncle was sitting on a bench outside his grocery store, dozing in the summer sun. His mother's cousin Eriko was arranging kimono outside her dress shop. Other people, more distant relatives, were walking through the streets, laughing, drinking lemonade, eating ice cream in huge bites before it melted in the heat.

The street was clean; someone had washed the blood from the walls and the pavement, and swept up the reddish mud. One window was broken, and an awning was torn and flapping in the breeze. The police should have fixed that. They never let the district look shabby; it reflected badly on the organization. His cousin Raijiro told him that last year when Sasuke had watched the police sweeping broken glass from the street and nailing flowerboxes back onto a windowsill.

"Which way to your house?" the woman asked. Her voice sounded too loud, since the only street noises were behind them. In front there was nothing but the wind rustling through leaves and over roofs, scattered chirps and calls from bird to bird, and the soft creaking of wood as buildings settled.

Sasuke closed his eyes, trying to find the place he'd fallen into after Itachi left. It was cold there, but it was calm and clear and it let him think without wasting time on crying. Then he forced his hands open, to keep his fingers from cramping, and walked home.

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There was something wrong about the boy's self-possession, Yukiko thought as she followed him through the Uchiha district. He shouldn't be nearly this calm, not in the place where his entire family was murdered less than a week ago. He should have cried, or screamed, or refused to come back here. There should have been some reaction, something more than just a long, frozen moment and a barely audible hitch in his breathing.

She shadowed him, two paces back, ready to step in if he collapsed or went nuts. But Sasuke walked steadily through the empty streets until he reached a large house on the edge of an open, grassy park with a large pond in its center. The Uchiha crest, a red and white fan, was painted on the courtyard wall. Sasuke stopped for a moment and stared at the symbol.

Yukiko followed his gaze and noticed a kunai stuck into the fan, as if thrown there in target practice. She looked back to the boy, who had clenched his hands again. He seemed so calm she almost didn't notice the trickle of blood seeping from between his fingers.

Not good. But at least it was a reaction.

"Hey," she said, stepping forward and lightly touching his left hand. "Let me bandage that."

Sasuke opened his mouth, and then clamped it shut. He uncurled his fingers, slowly, and let Yukiko examine his hands. She hissed between her teeth -- the boy had gouged his nails into his skin over and over, enough so his palms were a mess of partially scabbed furrows. How on earth did he keep from wincing at the pain?

She pulled a tube of ointment from her jacket and dabbed it onto his hands. Then she drew a kunai and sliced the bottoms of her pants to make bandages -- this would've been a lot easier if she'd been wearing her chuunin vest, but that seemed to confuse or intimidate her tenants, so she had to make do without. She wrapped the dark cotton around his hands and tucked the ends underneath the loops. "There. That should hold until we get back to the building."

The boy nodded.

"You know," Yukiko said, trying to keep her voice light, "you can use the yard behind the building for practice. If you have to hurt something, it's better not to hurt yourself."

"What do you know?" Sasuke finally came to life, glaring at her like she was trying to kill him.

"You're not the only person in Konoha who's lost family," Yukiko snapped before she could think. Then she hid a wince and tried to soften that. "Of course, nobody's lost a whole clan before, and I don't think any clans turned on themselves like this, but still..." She trailed off. That wasn't going to help anything.

The boy closed his eyes for a long moment, and when he opened them again, he'd found his way back to that eerie, dead calm. "I'm going to pack my things," he said, and started into the house.

Yukiko cursed under her breath and followed him again.

He found two travel packs in a closet under the stairs, laid them on his bed, and proceeded to fill them with clothes, towels, sheets, toothpaste, weapons, canned food, and other necessary things. That was fine; Yukiko approved of using what he already owned instead of wasting money on buying replacements. But he didn't pack any pictures, or the battered teddy bear she saw lying beside his bed. He didn't pack any of the obviously much-read books. He didn't pack any toys. That worried her.

Sasuke was only eight years old, just a few months older than Naruto. He was too young to be this controlled, this serious. Naruto had described the Uchiha in his class as stuck-up and quiet, but he admitted that the other boy had a good sense of humor and said that he was always running places instead of walking. Even his parents' death shouldn't have changed Sasuke this much.

As he gathered his things, Yukiko pulled them out of the packs, folded them properly, and stowed them in a more organized fashion. When he protested, she shrugged. "It will save time," she told him, "and if you watch what I'm doing, you'll learn how to pack better for next time." He scowled, but continued to toss things onto his bed.

When they finished, Yukiko shut the bags and swung the heavier one onto her shoulders. If she'd judged correctly, the other should be just light enough for the boy to lift; as she watched, he hoisted it, staggered for a moment under its weight, and then headed for the stairs. He didn't look back as they left the house.

The silence of the Uchiha district seemed to wrap around them as they walked -- Yukiko found herself imagining it as a huge animal, roused from sleep and curious about the intruders -- and she was grateful when they left the empty houses and the noise of daytime Konoha returned to normal levels. As they crossed town, Sasuke's expression lost some of its unnatural stillness and slid toward sullen determination. He shifted his hands on the pack straps, trying to keep the canvas from biting into his palms.

That was better. If she had anything to say about it -- which Yukiko presumed she did, now -- Sasuke wouldn't be going back to the Uchiha district anytime soon. It was obviously no good for him, and that edged stillness couldn't be healthy.

"Hey," she said as she unlocked the front door of her building, "come to my office before you drag that upstairs. I want to bandage your hands properly."

The boy followed silently. He dropped his pack just inside her door, and looked around. Yukiko waved him toward the chairs against the side wall, in front of her desk. Then she unlocked a file cabinet drawer and pulled out the first aid kit. It was fully stocked; she was never sure just what sort of trouble Naruto might get himself into, and it was best to be prepared.

She was nearly finished wrapping Sasuke's hands when her office door slammed open and an orange whirlwind swept in. "Hey, hey, Yukiko-neechan! Guess what! We had target practice today, and Iruka-sensei says I did third-best in the class! And just now, Shinnin and Sakura-chan and I saw a huge crow -- like the ones Naga summons -- fly over the town to the hospital, and it looked like it was carrying something! Do you think it was Naga? And--"

Naruto paused to draw a breath, and noticed Sasuke. "Hey! That's the bastard from my class -- he's been out all week! What's he doing here, Yukiko-neechan?"

Yukiko wasn't listening. Her hands wrapped the bandage and mechanically tucked away the loose ends while thoughts raced through her mind. A giant raven, carrying something to the hospital. Naga. Naga's partner Uchiha Tsukime. Naga out on a mission, with Tsukime. Uchiha Itachi, killing his clan. Itachi, Tsukime, Naga, raven, hospital...

"Sasuke lives here now, kid," she said absently, "across the hall from your room. I have to go to the hospital -- don't kill each other while I'm gone. If you have to fight, take it outside. Be good and I'll take you out for ramen tonight."

She grabbed her chuunin vest from its hook on the wall, and ran.

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The first thing she thought when she woke was bright. The second was pain. The third was Tsukime. Naga blinked, ran a quick visual check to make sure she was in the Konoha hospital and not in the hands of an unknown enemy, coughed, and tried to ask that one out loud.

"Your partner is being treated, Naga-san," a medic-nin said as he leaned over her and shone a blinding, senbon-thin beam of light into her eyes. "Your pupils contract normally. That's good; you don't have a concussion. We worried, when you didn't wake up."

Naga latched onto the important part. "Tsukime's alive?"

The medic-nin nodded. "For the moment. It's a miracle she didn't die of shock or blood-loss before you arrived here, and there are complications from the burn, but you chose right when you cauterized her leg."

"Thank the kami." Naga twisted so she was lying on her side, and propped herself up with her elbow; she still felt wobbly and weak, but this time her body answered when she tried to move. "When can I see her?"

"Not for at least another day," the medic-nin said. "Now that you're awake, I'll fetch Heika-san from Intelligence, so you can explain what happened to you and your partner." He slipped out of the small, white room before Naga could protest.

Ten seconds later, the door opened just enough to let in a patch of air that shimmered like a heat mirage. Naga smiled. "Hey, Yukiko."

Yukiko dropped the genjutsu and leaned against the door. "Hey. It's about time you woke up -- I've been waiting for two hours. Hospital food is terrible and your parents were driving me crazy." She looked harried, Naga thought, and she'd put her blue jacket on over her chuunin vest, which she never did. Something else had to be wrong besides Naga's injury; shinobi didn't get this upset over simple mission injuries.

"Should've thought ahead and brought a snack," Naga said. "Okay. You look like hell. Something's up, something big. What's going on?"

Yukiko sighed. "Huh. I should know better than to try slipping things past other ninja." She shook her head. "It's not for me to say. Wait until Heika-san gets here -- he'll explain everything."

"Right," Naga said skeptically, but she propped herself up against the headboard of her bed and waited in silence.

After a minute, the door opened again and Kinomi Heika, the special jounin head of Intelligence, walked in with a handful of papers. He frowned slightly at Yukiko, but she stared back until he sighed and gestured as if tossing the argument aside. Then he turned to Naga, who flinched under his hard, black eyes.

"Six days ago, Uchiha Itachi murdered all members of the Uchiha clan who were then in Konoha, with the exception of his younger brother, Sasuke," he said brusquely. "We've been unable to contact the Uchiha who were out on missions, and we assumed he'd eliminated them as well. Your arrival with Uchiha Tsukime throws that assumption into question. Report."

Naga gulped; Heika wasn't quite as scary as Morino Ibiki, who ran Interrogations, but he was scary enough. "Seven days ago we were in Hidden Grass," she said, "and Tsukime got a private message. It said there was clan trouble in Konoha, and told her to ditch her mission, hide, and wait for a clan member to come explain things. I read the message and followed her. We waited on the border between Grass and Fire -- late afternoon yesterday, Itachi found us.

"There's something wrong with his eyes -- the Sharingan's shaped wrong, like blades instead of commas. He asked why I was with Tsukime, said it was wasteful, and put me under genjutsu." Naga frowned. "It wasn't normal genjutsu. I can break genjutsu -- Yukiko helps me practice -- but I couldn't break this. Three days, subjective time, getting dismembered by swords." She shivered at the memory, and continued. "It has psychosomatic effects. I could barely move when it let up.

"It didn't touch my bloodline limit, though, and I grabbed my summoning scroll and called Kuroba-sama. He snatched Tsukime and came here. She'd been playing for time, but Itachi would've killed her in a minute or two. I cauterized her leg, and passed out. That's all."

Yukiko and Heika were both frowning. "Uchiha Sasuke reported that his brother had activated an unknown fourth level of the Sharingan bloodline limit, but we weren't sure whether to believe that," Heika said thoughtfully, tapping his papers against his free hand. "Apparently he was telling the truth."

Yukiko raked a hand through her hair, touching her forehead protector in passing. "That's not the important thing, Heika-san," she said. "Itachi hasn't killed all the Uchiha -- he just sent the ones on missions into hiding. If we reach them first..."

"Yes," Heika said slowly, "yes, we'll do that. I'll have the mission records checked first thing. And we'll send another team to your campsite, Naga, and track him from there." A chilly smile spread across his round face. "We had no idea which way Itachi went when he left the village, but now we know where he's been and we have some idea where he's going. Good job." He nodded crisply to Naga and left, shutting the door with a solid click.

"So," Naga said, "why are you involved in this? Assassination's not your thing."

Yukiko grinned wryly and shrugged. "True, but apparently taking in troubled orphans is. Sarutobi Hokage-sama dumped Sasuke into my hands a couple days ago, and I figure the more of his family we can find alive, the better for both him and me. Besides, I hate seeing friends in this place."

"Thanks," Naga said awkwardly. Then the first part hit her. "Wait, you're taking care of that bastard's little brother?"

"Yeah."

"Does he have that 'I'm ten times better than you' attitude?"

"Yeah, that too."

"And he's in the same building as you and that utter brat?" When Yukiko nodded, Naga tipped back her head and laughed.

"It's not that funny," Yukiko protested. Naga kept laughing. Yukiko stepped forward and raised her hand, but she stopped and fell back before actually flicking Naga's shoulder. "Oh, fine. I'm going to get your mother and then we'll see who laughs."

Naga ignored her. Tsukime was alive, she was home, and they had a plan to get the bastard who'd nearly killed her partner. Under the circumstances, life was good.

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End of Chapter Two

Back to chapter 1

Continue to chapter 3

Read the clean version here on ff.net

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As always, please comment. The two things I'm worried most about with this story are point-of-view (in other words, the narrative 'voice' for each POV character) and pacing. If anything strikes you as being off, for whatever reason, please tell me!
 
 
Current Mood: draineddrained
 
 
 
Mercurial Georgia (G.S.Y.H.): Bloomgsyh on December 16th, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC)
First of all
YES, you updated! Hope you are feeling better now.

Now to read the fic.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...: red floweredenfalling on December 16th, 2005 08:13 pm (UTC)
Re: First of all
Still not what I'd call healthy, but yes, I'm definitely feeling better. :-)
valles_ufvalles_uf on December 16th, 2005 07:58 pm (UTC)
New Guardian! Kyaa! Ureshiii!

*koffkoff* Er, sorry about that. I've been watching fansubs, and what I hear always warps what I say.

Anyway, I think your reading of Sasuke's reaction feels exactly right, and I just about cheered out loud when Naga pulled her rescue off. Konoha has a lot more resources than a single psychopath does, and now that they know what's up I think there's a good chance that they'll be able to rescue anyone who Itachi hadn't gotten to by the time Naga woke up - they can be in a lot of places at once, and Itachi can only move so fast.

Having any relations surviving, even if Tsukime was the last one on Skunk-boy's itinerary, is going to make a massive difference in the development of Sasuke's character. Not neccessarily his goals, mind, or his dedication to them (since the Rabbit's ninja career is effectively over no matter what happens), but certainly how he approaches them and his emotional health in general. Between that and Yukiko's commonsensical way of drawing him into a new family - even if an entirely adoptive one - I'm going to be truly fascinated to see where all this ends up.

Good job!

Ja, -n
(Mai-HiME rocks, if you're wondering.)
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on December 16th, 2005 08:19 pm (UTC)
Mai-HiME? *is curious*

I wavered back and forth over Tsukime's survival, because a death early on would do a lot toward establishing Itachi as a credible villain, but I eventually decided to save her for a plot point later on. Which has now been moved mostly to the Iruka sidestory, more's the pity. *grump* When stories change as you write them, it's good because that means they're alive, but it is so annoying.

Writing Sasuke at this stage is like pulling teeth, because he's in transition. He hasn't yet established the boundaries and habits we know in canon, nor has he completely shed his pre-disaster persona. And he's eight, which adds another layer of complication -- writing kids is hard, especially kids under, say, 10 or 11-ish. I can reconstruct my own thought processes back to about age 7, and fill in the rest from observation (I teach 6-7 year olds on Sundays), but younger than that is a different world. And even 6-10 is tricky.

Anyway, Sasuke is not going to end up in the same place he was in canon. That much I can promise you.
(no subject) - valles_uf on December 16th, 2005 08:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Mercurial Georgia (G.S.Y.H.): Bloomgsyh on December 16th, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC)
First paragraph: I think using the Mangekyo Tsukiyomi name would be better, by now most fans should be familiar with it, as least that's how the scanlations I read did it, they used that name, and when the jutsu was first introduced, they added notes of what it means in the margins.

//Tsukime twisted -- the ninja-to glanced across her arm instead of her throat// Ninja-tool? Though you might want to look up a type of sword you want Itachi to use instead, he was carrying one in the flashback, something like a katana (is it?) but shorter because they are ninjas and needed to carry it on their backs. Hmmm, see wikipedia's article on Ninja, wikipedia does have errors on it because it's a wiki, so a little google after wards especially from about.com sources would help. The name of the sword plus a little description of what it looks like through the action.

Very interesting developments indeed, the butterfly effect is playing out very well. I’m guessing had Yukiko never lived, Naga would have never made Chuunin because nobody wanted to be on her team, and there would have been nobody with the capability to help Uchiha Tsukime then, eh? I feel really bad about what happened to Tsukime’s leg, but they are ninjas after all, and bad things will happen as well as good things, and hey, she’s alive. I really like the part with the bird summoning, it was already in the prequel, so it didn’t feel contrived.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...: red floweredenfalling on December 16th, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC)
I am under the impression that the shorter sword is called either a shinobigatana or a ninja-to. I use the second because it's shorter. Mind you, I could very well be wrong. I will check on that.

As for Tsukiyomi... eh. I go back and forth on the advisability of using Japanese terms in English fanfiction. I usually stick with English, unless the English translation sounds massively weird or awkward to me, or unless it's a term that doesn't translate properly, as with things like -san, -sama, etc. In this case, "the world of the grasping moon" has a portentious ring that I like. Also, I try to write clearly enough so that someone who has no background familiarity with Naruto could understand my story; I don't always succeed, but that does inform some of my word choices. (And I just flat-out don't know Japanese, and I'd rather avoid inadvertent gramatical weirdness.)

Naga might or might not have made chuunin, but she certainly wouldn't have had as much experience with genjutsu, and very likely would not have been paired with Tsukime. I was very happy I'd put the raven summoning in "Apartment Manager," so I could use it here without it being too much of a deus ex machina. :-)
(no subject) - valles_uf on December 16th, 2005 09:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valles_uf on December 16th, 2005 09:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 16th, 2005 09:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 16th, 2005 09:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valles_uf on December 16th, 2005 09:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 16th, 2005 11:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valles_uf on December 17th, 2005 03:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
Dark: Fanfictio horrorsdarksideofstorm on December 16th, 2005 11:28 pm (UTC)
*loves on you*

You nailed Sasuke, the stillness competing with that natural grief/anger/confusion and the thing with his hands, all lovely stuff. It made me smile how he simply writes Yukiko off as 'that woman' who is obviously no use to him and should thus be ignored *chuckles* poor guy's in for a few hard lessons in that respect. And Yukiko's reactions to him also felt perfect.

One minor question; in the manga, when Kakashi fought Itachi it took Tsunade to bring him out of the resulting coma, but Naga was only out for a few hours. I'm obviously missing some reasoning here *is sheepish* but would you mind explaining anyway?

Anyway, lovely second chapter, I greatly look forward to the next ^__^
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on December 16th, 2005 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad Sasuke worked for you; he's been a real pain to write. *pets him, carefully, so as not to get her hand bitten off* He will get a number of shocks to his worldview in the next several chapters.

As for Tsukiyomi and its resulting coma and paralysis, my theory has two pieces:

1) Itachi is not yet completely used to Mangekyou Sharingan, and thus his illusions and their psychosomatic effects aren't quite as strong as they are in the canon timeperiod.

2) Kakashi simply isn't used to fighting his way out of genjutsu; he's used to relying on his Sharingan to break through any illusions. Naga, on the other hand, has just spent a year or two practicing against a genjutsu specialist with nothing to rely on but her own willpower. Her experience lends itself to recovering from Tsukiyomi. Kakashi's doesn't.

Alternatively, one could say that Itachi didn't hit Naga as hard as he hit Kakashi, since he didn't consider her much of a threat... but while Itachi strikes me as overconfident, he doesn't strike me as stupid.

Hmm. I should probably stick that in an author's note when I post this on ff.net. Thanks for pointing that out!
red wolf: typewriterredwolf on December 17th, 2005 02:33 am (UTC)
Liked the pacing and flow of the story. Sasuke's part seems a little drawn out, but it does suit the situation. Curious to see if Yukiko's apartment is in one piece when she returns.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...: red floweredenfalling on December 17th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC)
Do you mean his POV section, or the entire time spent in the Uchiha district (since a good portion of that is from Yukiko's POV)? It felt a little slow while I was writing it, but I'm not sure what to change.
(no subject) - redwolf on December 18th, 2005 05:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
Jennie: naruto/ the end of all innocencekarit on December 17th, 2005 05:28 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. I really wasn't expecting Tsukime to survive. I was already mourning her at the end of the first chapter. I've never been so glad to be wrong before! Well, not that I remember.

I really liked the fight/escape scene. It didn't seem contrived, and it was really detailed. Very honest and true to the original series. Plus, the escape opens so many more paths for Sasuke and gives the fic an even greater element of uncertainty. It's hard to tell which way you're going to go with this, and that's good because predictable isn't interesting. It wouldn't necessarily be predictable if Tsukime had been killed, but it wouldn't have been shocking.

It's a weird series when fans are surprised when someone lives. *g* But Naruto is like that!

Oh, and with all the excitement of Yukiko realized what had happened with Naga and rushing over to the hospital, I just realized that she left Naruto and Sasuke together in that room. That can only lead to disaster! I love disaster.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on December 17th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC)
As I said to valles_uf, I wavered back and forth over killing Tsukime, but eventually decided to let her live, for plot reasons that shall become apparent later on. :-)

Actually, I've already written the Sasuke-and-Naruto scene that starts chapter 3. It was weird -- I just sat down and bang, there it was, in ten minutes tops. *shakes head* I think it's Naruto. Very often, once he opens his mouth, the scene loosens up and starts flowing.
(no subject) - karit on December 17th, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 18th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Pilukita on December 17th, 2005 05:39 am (UTC)
I'm sorry but I'm about to render a few lines useless.

The Sharingan is a doujutsu that cast genjutsu, they talked about it with the old Sand lady when they meet Itachi. While I don't think a fellow Konoha chuunin level ninja would know how to fight a Uchiha effectively, but I think Naga'll know the differance between a regular genjutsu and a doujutsu. If that make sense at all.
valles_uf: Night owlvalles_uf on December 17th, 2005 07:03 am (UTC)
Hmm. I can see why you'd think that they'd be different, but I disagree.

WARNING: All of the following is my own speculation, not established canon.

See, the way I figure the hypnotic aspect of the Sharingan works starts with my theory on the Byakugan (you'll remember that the two are known to be related). Which essentially says that it has absolutely nothing to do with vision, per se, but rather allows its owner to perceive chakra (thereby seeing the tenketsu and inner coils system), and emit small amounts of same to bounce off of their environment and return back. In short, the 'zoom' and 'area coverage' aspects of the Byakugan are basically chakra sonar, like a bat or dolphin.

The proto-Uchiha developed out of the Hyuuga when some clever light noticed that genjutsu...

oh. Oh, my. I just figured out what determines whether a jutsu is ninjutsu or genjutsu.

A ninjutsu, no matter what its ultimate effect, sends chakra out to manipulate the inanimate world around it. A genjutsu, again without regard to its ultimate effect, sends chakra out to manipulate another living chakra system.

...anyway. Casting a genjutsu doesn't take that much more energy than the Byakugan was dealing with anywho, it just means that it has to be handled differently. (*pikupiku* Another brainstorm - Mangekyou Sharingan as function which allows the Sharingan to expand its targets beyond other living things? Discuss.) Having a specialized organ capable of projecting genjutsu would greatly increase a shinobi's speed, subtlety, and overall effectiveness, since they can just use it, rather than having to contort their entire chakra system to create a genjutsu, the way doing it with seals requires, so there's an obvious motivation for developing it.

The human brain and optic nerves are not built to handle the amount of sensory information the Byakugan throws at its users - this suggests that either most of the problem learning to use the thing is filtering the data rather than actually expanding its function, or, the modifications made to the Hyuuga eye extend deeper than just the cornea. If the second, then that additional 'processing power' available to process sensory input, when applied to a normal field of view, would let an Uchiha examine everything around them in the kind of detail that would take most people hours to cover even a few square feet. (possible argument for this is the way Neji was able to examine Hinata closely enough to pick up her 'tells' he'd have spent years learning - IIRC, he didn't have his Byakugan on yet)

I've heard fanfics suggest that the jutsu learned through the Sharingan are 'stored' in it, and can't be accessed when it's inactive, but I can't recall any sort of canon support for that theory. If the data being processed never goes higher in the brain than the optic nerve, then it might indeed be that way, but I think it's more likely that they're just able to 'look' at what their opponent is doing so intensely that the second or so the jutsu takes is like hours of study. Naturally, being able to examine the world and pick up its fine details would also go a long way towards breaking genjutsu centered around the visual sense, since even the best genjutsu user would miss some kind of fine detail in their presentation.

The appearance of the perceptive function after the genjutsu bit had been engineered into their eyes might or might not have been deliberate, probably depending on which version of the 'learning' function you use.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I think that the Sharingan is just using an extraordinary mechanism to create a perfectly ordinary genjutsu.

Ja, -n
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 17th, 2005 06:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - valles_uf on December 17th, 2005 06:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edenfalling on December 17th, 2005 06:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
acechan on December 18th, 2005 06:47 pm (UTC)
Sorry for waiting so long to comment, but I've been busy lately and wanted to make sure I'd have the time to sit down and think about things properly. Great chapter, as always. There were only two bits that threw me off: the "world of the grasping moon" bit, since I've never seen Tsukiyomi translated (though that's totally a style thing, and it's not like anyone who's seen the series can't figure it out anyways); and the scene where Naruto comes in and Yukiko leaves, which seems kinda abrupt somehow. Maybe it's because I can hear Naruto talking, but I can't see him, so to speak. I also can't help wondering what sort of wierd looks he and Sasuke are giving each other, but I assume the next part will cover that.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on December 18th, 2005 06:52 pm (UTC)
Now that I look at it, you're right. Naruto isn't described at all in that scene, except that I called him 'orange.' Bad author, no biscuit! *thwaps self upside the head*

The obvious reason is that it's Yukiko's POV and she already knows what he looks like. The non-obvious reason is that I suck at description and almost always have to go back over scenes after I've written them, just to stick in some sensory details. I don't see a graceful way to include description here, so he's going to stay unvisualized. *sigh* He does get a quick 'snapshot' description at the start of chapter 3, though!
rianaxrianax on December 19th, 2005 04:19 pm (UTC)
God, I adore this. You write such wonderful orginal characters I wish you were the script writer for the new filler Naruto espisodes, maybe then we wouldn't recieve such utter junk.

I am so very happy that Tsukime survived; I always though the logicistics of Itachi killing /every/ member of the Uchihas that night were a skewed. Of a 200+ family, not counting the ones on assignment, there were no last minute slumber parties, sneak outs, runaways, or simply dilly dallying at the local sushi place that particular night?

I have always counted that if Sasuke at least a few surviving members of his clan, it would make all the different to his fate.


(And I wanted to give a kid a chance to play big brother ;)
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...: red floweredenfalling on December 19th, 2005 07:35 pm (UTC)
It is one of my minor missions in life to remind people that OCs are not necessarily bad, stupid, or terribly written. So far, it seems to be working! *makes victory sign*

When I started planning this story, I had no intention of letting any Uchiha clan members survive. Then I had to actually plot the logistics of Itachi's murder spree, and it made my head hurt, especially when I remembered that I'd paired Naga with an Uchiha. I came up with the idea of the clan messages, an ambush on Naga and Tsukime, and a lot of the plot flowed from there. I'm glad it rings true for you.

With some surviving family, Sasuke would probably still be obsessive about Itachi, but not, I think, to quite the dangerous degree that he is in canon. He would still have something left to protect, instead of seeing himself as having no bridges left to burn.
(no subject) - rianax on December 20th, 2005 03:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on December 19th, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC)
I love this (and,by extension, you)
Just generally, I'm curious about how Naruto is fitting in with the rest of Yukiko's family; are we going to get to see any of that in the future? I know Yukiko herself doesn't always get along with her uncle, and I'm also wondering if her nephew who looks after the apartment for her when she's gone ever warmed up to Naruto.

I'm so glad Tsukime lived! Not only do I like her as a character (and I'm pleased for Sasuke's mental health that he's not alone), but I'm relieved for Naga's sake. Naga might never have recovered from losing a partner who depended on her while she was helpless to stop it.

Does Tsukime have to give up being a ninja because she lost her leg? I mean, she's going to have to totally change her fighting style, but maybe she could learn/create a new style based on weilding crutches.
There are blind fighters, right? No reason not to have one-legged fighers, too. Or if she does give up being a ninja, maybe she'll go into business. If that happens, she could learn a lot from Yukiko.

The detail about Yukiko never wearing her blue coat over her chuunin vest was perfect.

I love Sasuke's attitude towards Yukiko. Has he even bothered to learn Yukiko's name? He's dismissing her because she doesn't have the kind of power he recognizes. Even if she was as bad a ninja as he currently thinks, she's got all kinds of business connections that could probably make things very uncomfortable for him if she chose. Not that she'll have to; it seems like Yukiko can lay the smack down with force of personality alone. I'm guessing Sasuke's in for a rude awakening from Yukiko, and probably Naruto, too.

The whole Uchiha clan seems to have that kind of blindess about power: Yukiko beat that Uchiha kid in the chuunin exam because he underestimated her, and Naga escaped from Itachi with Tsukime because Uchiha thought summoning was beneath them.

I can't wait to see what happens next.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...edenfalling on December 19th, 2005 07:42 pm (UTC)
Re: I love this (and,by extension, you)
Yusuke still doesn't like Naruto, and vice versa. His relations with Yukiko's other cousins, though... are either not important or will be revealed in due time. :-)

I toyed, as I said, with killing Tsukime -- it would have been interesting to see what that would have done to Naga -- but I saved her for plot reasons that shall become apparent in, mmm, maybe 5-10 chapters. (I am no good at estimating these things, since my chapters always grow on me when I write them. I like keeping my outlines loose so the story can breathe, but it does make for some irritation.)

Tsukime, if and when she wakes up -- she was injured pretty badly and is currently in a coma -- is certainly going to have to take a good long look at her options. And there are 'desk jobs' or the equivalent thereof that she could consider.

Sasuke was introduced to Yukiko by name, but he didn't pay attention. He is definitely going to get his worldview shaken up over the course of the story. (And yes, I think that worldview was something the whole Uchiha clan suffered from to some extent, which informed my characterization of Akaro in "Apartment Manager." The Uchiha seem to have a tendency toward tunnel vision of various types.)

I'm glad you're enjoying the story!
Re: I love this (and,by extension, you) - (Anonymous) on December 19th, 2005 10:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
gabriel_chaosgabriel_chaos on December 20th, 2005 08:12 pm (UTC)
O.O?! A new part?
Oh thank GOD!
I <3 you so damn much right now!
>.< I'd post some fanart for you, but unfortunately,
my blasted scanner= Broken. T_________T I fail at life so BAD.
Elizabeth Culmer, only a *little* bit crazy...: red floweredenfalling on December 20th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC)
Re: O.O?! A new part?
You already read my mind when you put the scroll into your picture of Naga. You completely and absolutely WIN at life! :-D
Re: O.O?! A new part? - gabriel_chaos on December 21st, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)