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Twisted Fate

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The Mori Clan.

 

At one point in time they'd been powerful, commanding, dominant. Extremely so. With Council seats in Konohagakure and the Daimyo's court. A few had become formidable shinobi. Shinobi that protected the Land of Fire from enemies and brought dread onto anyone that dared oppose them.

 

They'd had a Kekkei Genkai, a strong affiliation with lightning chakra, unbeatable chakra control. Three generations of strong bloodlines. Three generations of powerful shinobi with enviable powers... Two branches, the shinobi branch and the civilian branch.

 

Power and wealth.

 

Then the shinobi branch fell. All Mori shinobi had been killed in action during the Third War.

 

They had been targeted and destroyed by their enemies.

 

Now…

 

Now the Mori Clan were little more than a wealthy civilian clan living near the border of Fire and Lightning, though a few of the clan members still had formidable connections with powerful people.

 

Just after the Third War had ended, they had packed up and moved outside Konohagakure walls to their secondary estate(leaving the Konohagakure compound empty), isolating themselves. They were jealous, jealous of the Clans that still had power, still had strength.

 

Not one Clan child had become a shinobi since just before the Third War. Not one had shown the true power of their bloodline. Low chakra or not a lot of usable chakra ran through every newborn baby, and after the war, there wasn't much of a chance of strong bloodlines, of their power. With every failure, the clan rotted. Scorn was thrown at the younger generation from the elders as their greed to be acknowledged as a powerful clan once again clouded their view.

 

Instead of flourishing with talent, the clan was dying out. The youngest member was six, with no one born after him. Seven years separated Matsuri Mori from his closest cousin, Takashi Mori. sixteen years separated Matsuri from his older sister, Masako Mori.

 

Matsuri had been a surprise to his family. An unwanted one. From day one, it was not his mother that had taken care of him, that duty fell to his older sister. He was kept away from sight, already regulated to the weak side of the family without much thought by his father and mother. And so, even at the young age of six, Matsuri did his best to hide his very presence from his family. From his clan. From everyone, except for one person.

 

"Matsu-chan!" A voice whispered and Matsuri's eyes popped open wide. After a quick glance around him, Matsuri sat up and blinked sleepily at his sister, Masako, whom knelt next to his bed, the light still kept off.

 

"Nee-chan? What is it...?" Matsuri mumbled, trying to hold back a yawn, but failing. He took a quick peek out of the window and noticed that the sun hadn't even risen yet.

 

"Today's my wedding, remember Matsu-chan? I want to spend some time with my baby Matsu-chan. We won't be able to spend much time together after today." Masako smiled gently down at him, tousling his long, soft hair. A teasing glint entered her green eyes and Matsuri pouted, knowing he wasn't going to like it. "Do you want me to cut your hair? It's really long and you look like a girl."

 

"Nee-chan!" Matsuri humphed in indignation while crossing his arms across his chest. The action did nothing to remove the mischievous smile from Masako's face. "I like my hair long! You like it too! You would cry if it got cut!"

 

Masako chuckled, and wrapped her arms around Matsuri's small body. He immediately returned the hug, loving the feeling of arms around him. "I know, I know. You know I love teasing you Matsuri. I couldn't help myself."

 

There was a comfortable silence for a few minutes. "Nee-chan... Do you have to get married?" Matsuri mumbled, his arms tightening around her shoulders. She was going to leave him, he hated that…

 

"I do, Matsuri. Don't worry though, we'll still be able to see each other every once in awhile. I'm only going to be moving to the other side of the compound."

 

"Nee-chan! That's still far! " Matsuri whined with another pout. The tears threatened to escape, but he kept it together for her. She was leaving, and he didn’t want her to, but he knew she would be happy.

 

Masako giggled, running her hand through his hair. Sky blue hair, on the lighter side. His shade of hair color was unique in the Mori Clan. Everyone had the darker shade of blue. Everyone but Matsuri. That had made him a target of disgust. The color variation said that the Mori blood wasn't strong. Wasn't pure. But Masako loved it.

 

Matsuri huffed outwardly at her, but on the inside he loved when his nee-chan played with his hair. It was soothing, and very comforting. "It's not going to be the same…"

 

"Hmm?" Masako asked as she wrapped her arms around Matsuri, hugging him to her chest.

 

"It's not going to be the same…" Matsuri said again, biting his lip to hold back his tears. "You're the only one that talks to me, nee-chan… "

 

Masako sighed sadly. "I know Matsu-chan… I wish I could take you with me. You know that, right?"

 

Matsuri nodded. "Nee-chan…" The blue haired boy bit his lip again, a habit that Masako had tried to get to stop but had given up on since nothing she did helped.

 

"Yes, Matsu-chan?"

 

"You know you're my most precious person…" Matsuri said, pulling back to look into her eyes.

 

For some reason, the smile that was on her face looked sad. A look of regret. "I know, Matsu-chan. Someday though, you will have another precious person, you know?"

 

"I will? Who?" Matsuri asked with a frown.

 

"I don't know who, but you will. One day you will find more precious people. You know what you do when you do find them?"

 

Matsuri blinked at her. "What?"

 

"You protect them." Masako answered, tilting his head up with her finger. "One day you will come across people that you will want to protect with all of your heart. And they'll do the same for you."

 

"You think so…?" It came out a little hesitantly. Masturi doubted that he would, but if his sister said he would, he believed her. She would never lie to him. If he did, it definitely wouldn’t be here. Though he was a kid, he knew he wouldn’t be staying.

 

Masako gave Matsuri a knowing look and suddenly he got the feeling that she knew his plans all along, maybe even about his other secrets as well. "Yes, I do. I know you will."

 

The blue haired boy pulled away with a small from. He suddenly wanted an answer and he got a feeling that his sister might tell him something. "Why don't they like me?"

 

Masako sighed sadly, taking his small hands between hers. "Matsu, I can't tell you. One day, I will. You'll know everything. But there's something you should know now. It's not anything that you did, not one bit. You're an innocent child, and it's not your fault that things turned out like this. If anything, it's mine..." The last bit she whispered, not expecting Matsuri to hear her but he did.

 

"Why is it your fault..?" Matsuri asked confused.

 

His sister stilled, not expecting that, her green eyes catching Matsuri's gaze. Words slowly left her lips, tears gathering on the corner of her eyes and Matsuri immediately regretted asking her that. "Because of my action... my choices..." She broke eye contact, her head bowed, hands still holding Matsuri's.

 

"No, it's not your fault either, nee-chan!" Matsuri stated, not wanting her to cry. His sister was his everything, she shouldn't blame herself.

 

She looked up, smiling through her tears. "It is my fault, someday you'll know it to be the truth..."

 

Matsuri couldn't take it, he threw himself at her, hugging her tightly. "Never, nee-chan. It'll never be your fault."

 

The boy felt his sister kiss the top of his head, hugging him back. After a few moments of silence, she spoke, her voice cheerful. "I'm having Mimi-chan leave you some dango so you can eat it after the ceremony."

 

"Dango?" Matsuri asked, already feeling his mouth water. Dango was his favorite thing to eat. It was even better when it was his sister that made it.

 

A giggle escaped her lips, once again pulling away from the hug. The previous conversation already gone from Matsuri's mind. Masako knew very well how to get Matsuri to forget. "Yes, dango. Make sure not to eat it all at once, you'll get sick if you do."

 

"Masako?" A voice called, the door opening shortly after.

 

Matsuri stiffened slightly, letting go of his sister's hand. He turned his face down, and made sure that his sister blocked their mother's view of him.

 

"Yes, Okaa-san?" Masako got up, and waited with her head tilted demurely down.

 

"Ah, good. You're up. We have a few preparations to do. Come, it's going to take all morning."

 

"Hai, Okaa-san." Masako said and followed their mother out of the door. She shot Matsuri an apologetic look that their mother couldn't see just before the door snapped shut. Matsuri was alone in the darkness of his room once more.

 

A sad sigh escaped Matsuri's lips. It had been like that recently. He'd be left alone for hours and hours on end. Ever since his sister had been promised to the second son of the Clan Head, his life had turned even more isolated than before.

 

Early on, when he was two to four years old, he'd tried getting attention. It didn't turn out well, and he'd learned quickly to avoid bringing attention to himself. Anything he ever did was frowned upon. Anything.

 

Because of that, he'd stopped trying to show off whatever he could do or learned how to do. All it would do was get him in trouble, no matter what it was.

 

Matsuri shook his head and pushed himself to his feet. Falling asleep again was out of the question, he was wide awake now and it would be unlikely that he'd be able to drift off. With that in mind, the six year old turned on his light and pulled out a scroll that he'd taken from the secret section of the Mori library.

 

One good thing about being shunned was nobody saw when you took things you shouldn't. The Clan tried hard to ignore the anomaly that was Matsuri, and in doing so, he was basically invisible to them.

 

Matsuri had uncovered that early on and he'd gone exploring. He'd found plenty of interesting things during those explorations of the compound, the surrounding village and forest. Most of those treasures were scrolls. He'd quickly enlisted his sister to help him learn how to read. She never saw those scrolls he had found, he didn't want her to take them away or tell his parents so he kept them hidden until he was proficient enough to understand the words written on the old paper and to read them himself.

 

It was highly unlikely that anyone would notice them gone. The scroll had been hidden behind traps and illusions that no one seemed to see but him. A few times, he'd had to send a flare of blue chakra into the trap so that he'd be able to grab the scrolls. He'd been lucky enough to find an old book that described chakra and chakra traps on the bookshelf. It had been hidden behind a couple of other book. A thick layer of dust had collected over it, telling Matsuri that it had been back there for a very long while.

 

After reading it, it had told him everything that he needed to know as a beginning user of chakra. When he'd found those special traps, they'd immediately made sense and he knew what he had to do. That didn't mean he had gotten it at the first try. Gathering chakra in his hand had been hard, and it had taken a good few months to get past those traps and retrieve the scrolls, but he had persisted.

 

This particular scroll had been hidden in the floorboards of the back of the library along with three chakra traps and two trigger release traps that had taken Matsuri three hours to disable- not accounting for bathroom or snack breaks.

 

Since the elders never talked about their past to those deemed 'weak', Matsuri didn't know that if he'd told them he could use chakra, that he wouldn't be ignored anymore. But because he didn't know, he hide the information. As far as he knew, the whole clan could use chakra and he wasn't special because he could.

 

First, Matsuri made sure that both his door and window were locked and the blinds drawn tight before he opened the scroll. He hadn't taken a look at it yet since it had been too risky because of everyone running around in preparation for the marriage ceremony. They had been cleaning every room and walking around all the grounds, picking up trash and making sure nothing was out of place. Now, in the early morning, everyone was busy getting themselves ready for the ceremony and would be unlikely to disturb him just yet. He was always the last one the servants saw to unless his nee-chan got to him. Today there would be no help from his nee-chan though so it was safe enough to take a peek.

 

The Mori Clan Kekkei Genkai

 

Those words made Matsuri's eyes widen in surprise. He didn't know that their family had a Kekkei Genkai. He found a book on Kekkei Genkai's a few months before. Most of the words were difficult to read but he'd gotten the jist that Kekkei Genkai's were special and usually ran through Shinobi Clan families. Eager to learn more, Matsuri quickly read through the scroll, skipping over the words he didn't quite understand yet. His eyes growing wide with every sentence that he skimmed through. He knew he wouldn't have enough time to read it all properly but he wanted to know what it said.



The Kekkei Genkai only appears in individuals of the Mori clan with a strong affiliation with Lightning Chakra.

...

The first stage is defensive, and usually appears only when the Genkai user is in great danger.

...

Lightning Shield...

...

The second stage was almost like an outward explosion of that shield….

 

That actually sounded pretty dangerous… Maybe wouldn't try just yet…



A sudden noise outside his door had Matsuri scrambling to hide the scroll in his hidden space, before diving into his futon and pretending to be asleep.

 

It would have been perfect, except he forgot to turn off his light.

 

Footsteps could be heard, and they stopped briefly outside his door before moving on. It had been his father. Matsuri could always tell who was nearby. It felt like it was his father so it was his father. He'd never been wrong yet and Matsuri was pretty sure it was their chakra that he could sense.

 

Matsuri let go of the breath he was holding as his father walked farther and farther away. Feeling his muscles relax a bit. He never liked catching the attention of his parents. Whenever that happened they only scorned him and called him useless. He didn't know what he'd done so wrong to earn their animosity, their hate.

 

It hurt… knowing that they disliked him that much.

 

Then he frowned as something caught his attention... He could sense something on the other side of the compound. It was chakra... He recognized it from when he used chakra to open the traps and when his family moved around. He'd never before sensed another's chakra like that though... Every one he ever had come across had smaller chakra then that…

 

A knock on his door startled Matsuri and brought his attention away from the weird chakra. The door slid open and Mimi, one of the servants that never ignored him walked in. "Matsuri-sama, it's time to prepare for the ceremony."

 

"Hai, I'll be fine by myself, Mimi-chan." Matsuri said as he headed over to grab the robes she was holding out to him.

 

She nodded her head, already used to the fact that Matsuri didn't like anybody touching him except for his sister. "If you need any help with putting it on, I'll be right outside. Breakfast will not be served. Instead there will be a luncheon after the ceremony and I'll leave Lady Masako's request on the desk after you leave for the ceremony."

 

Matsuri nodded once to show that he'd heard and turned to leave his ceremony robes on his futon. He headed over to his bathroom, and slipped the hair band that kept his long hair together at the back of his neck off. Then he stripped himself of his sleeping clothes, stepped into the tub and began to wash himself, taking his time. If his parents found anything wrong with his appearance they were sure to discipline him.

 

Plus he didn't feel like ruining his nee-chan's day. Even if she was being taken away from him, he knew she was happy with the engagement. She'd told him so multiple times. At first he'd thought it was to reassure him, but soon he found that nee-chan really did care for Kou-san. The way she looked at him made that really clear to Matsuri.

 

He sighed sadly, knowing that even though she promised to still see him regularly, it wouldn't happen that often. Like their parents, Kou tended to ignore him and to make sure he wouldn't get angry, nee-chan would limit her contact with Matsuri. Even at six years old, Matsuri knew it. He was at the bottom of the totem pole. That position was unlikely to change any time soon, if ever.

 

After sufficient time had passed, Matsuri rinsed himself off, and wrapped a grey robe around his small body. Then he grabbed a fluffy towel and dried his long hair as best as he could while walking back to his room. He somehow managed to get there without tripping over the end of the robe. That was a first that he hadn't tumbled head first into the floor. Maybe it was a sign that the day wouldn't be too bad after all.

 

Thinking back on that, he wished he hadn't thought that, maybe then things wouldn't have happened the way the did.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

The path leading towards the ceremony location was riddled with people, both servants and Clan members. Matsuri made sure to stay out of their way, if not, one or more would run into him by the time he would make it to the seating area. Just then, someone pushed past the six year old, making him stumble to find his balance. Matsuri threw a small glare at the retreating back before going on his way again. He was early it seemed. Only a few Clan members were seated on the over stuffed pillows that littered the area in front of the stage.

Matsuri quickly made his way up to the front row. He didn't sit in the middle though. Instead, Matsuri trudged over to the outskirts of the front row. His parents would be near the middle but he knew that he'd be told to move if he tried getting any closer, they'd probably just sneer at him the whole time. At least this way he wouldn't be extremely miserable while being there.

Soon after that, the rest of the clan arrived and the ceremony began.

The ceremony was formal. It was stuffy and long with a lot of words that Matsuri didn't really hear since all he could think about was that he would no longer be able to see his sister every single day. He was trying hard not to let the tears fall, but even so, his vision rippled with unshed tears. Biting his lip seemed to help, so Matsuri did that every time he felt them begin to overflow.

That was when he noticed that his sister was looking at him. When he'd first seen her sitting there with Kou, he'd hardly recognised her with all of her make-up and kimono, but her eyes were the same. Those eyes had softened and her red lips twitched into a small smile for him.

Just for him. She then turned back to the priest.

And just like that, Matsuri's relaxed a little. She would always be thinking about him even if she didn't see him. That's all he needed.

What seemed like an eternity later, the ceremony finally concluded and the majority of the Mori Clan dispersed to the seating area for lunch and to celebrate.

Matsuri caught his sister's eyes once more, and he made sure to smile for her before she turned to Kou.

It was a beautiful ceremony. One that MAtsuri was sure he would never forget.
oOoOoOoOoO

Matsuri faded into the shadows of a bush as he watched Kou lead his nee-chan to the head table that they would be occupying. Matsuri himself didn't want to go, he would be regulated to the most isolated table and snubbed by the rest of the clan for the rest of the day. It was a given. Maybe if he were still naive about things, he would have gone, but not now. He'd learned his lesson long ago.

Instead, Matsuri turned towards the direction of his house and started walking. He made sure that if he spotted anyone, that he would hide behind something so that he wouldn't be seen. Once in his room, Matsuri reached up to his hair and let his long, blue hair loose. It fell in waves, a few strands knotted together. He took his brush off of his desk and quickly brushed out his hair, before gathering it up again and placing it in a low pony tail. The ones that were a bit shorter and couldn't be confined with the rest, framed his face.

That done, Matsuri shed the robe and replaced it with loose, dark grey pants that were tapered near the bottom. A semi tight, black shirt with long sleeves, followed. The shirt was also tapered at the wrists so the sleeve ends wouldn't interfere with movement of his fingers. That done, he took out a sealing scroll(he'd bought it secretly from a trader when he'd snuck into the market area), and put all the Clan scrolls he'd found in it before placing the sealing scroll into his pouch. He made sure to tie the pouch securely to his hips. It wouldn't do for him to lose it, and he couldn't really leave them behind. If he left his room for long, he always took the scrolls with him because his father liked searching his room for inappropriate objects. Matsuri never knew what he meant by that so just in case it happened, Matsuri kept the scrolls with him. He didn't want to loose them to his father. If he ever found out about them, he'd probably be punished.

Spotting the plate that held his dango, Matsuri reached for it and took one othe the yummy treats. Taking a bite, Matsuri hummed in satisfaction before swallowing his mouthful. The sweet taste always made him smile. Dango was also his sisters favorite treat. It reminded him of her.
He'd take a couple with him as a snack.

After a quick scan for his favorite boots-they were flexible so they were easy to run and climb in- and his bow- Matsuri left his room and headed for the wall just behind their house. His family lived on the outskirts of the compound, near the forest that surrounded the village. It was one of the farthest houses from the compound center and nobody would see him climb over the wall.

A quick look around the yard showed that it was empty. It would be safe for him to leave without being spotted. He darted to the wall and made his way to the tree that was growing against the wall.

The little boy still remember the first time he'd done this. It had been scary, climbing the tree in the middle of the night. He'd thought that his heart would burst out of his chest when he'd slipped more than once that night. And when he'd gone over the wall, he'd fallen flat on his face. Not the best experience in the world, but it had made him determined to get better. And he had. Now, he never got scared when almost slipping. He trusted himself to be able to land on his feet.

Matsuri scrambled up the small tree, his fingers slipping every little while when his grip wasn't secure enough. Once he was on the highest branch, he jumped the few feet to the wall. After a few second of trying to find his balance, he dropped to the other side without falling flat on his face. After making sure that his bow and arrows had stayed in place on his back, Matsuri took off. He jogged away from the wall and went a ways into the dense trees where he knew that nobody else would go.

It was surprisingly quiet in the forest that day and it made Matsuri frown in puzzlement as he made his way over roots and around boulders. Usually there were birds and squirrels all over the place either watching him or darting away for cover. There was nothing of that sort.
He shrugged and kept walking. It was probably the noise from the compound making the animals skittish and scarce.

After ten minutes going full speed through the forest, Matsuri finally made it to his secret spot and swiftly strung his bow. Shooting at random targets would be a good way to keep his mind off of things. He still had to concentrate hard to hit the bullseye. Someday he'd be able to do it at a glance but until then, practice would get him on the right track.

Matsuri reached for an arrow and took aim for the target at the very top of the tree twenty meters in front of him. He had other targets already placed all over the clearing but he hadn't been able to hit the dead center of that particular one yet.

After taking a slow breath, Matsuri pulled his arm back. He made sure that the arrow and string were held firmly in his fingers. After a quick correction of his aim, Matsuri let the arrow fly. The boy tracked it with his eyes as the arrow flew straight at the tree. It struck the top of the trunk, three inches away from where he was aiming.

Matsuri frowned as he brought his arms down, eyes darting from the arrow to his target. He was closer than before but it still wasn't dead center. With a huff, Matsuri picked up another arrow. He aimed and let the string slip from between his fingers.

The arrow slammed into the target. This one was closer to the middle but still a little off. Matsuri turned to his next target, feeling content with his progress on that target. The next one was farther away and in between two trees. He grabbed an arrow, brought his bow up, aimed, pulled his arm back, and let go. The arrow hit dead center. Matsuri couldn't help but let a grin slip onto his face.

He was getting better. When he got eight dead center out of ten, he'd move onto something else. He knew that his clan used to have shinobi(though he didn't know why there weren't any right then), maybe he'd try shuriken or kunai.

Or maybe he could try a sword, though he doubted he could learn it without a teacher or someone to show him the basics. No one in his Clan would do it and he hadn't heard or someone that knew sword skills in the small village…

Matsuri sighed as he picked up another arrow. He already knew that he wasn't going to stay in the compound. When he was older, he was going to disappear. The only one he would regret leaving behind would be his nee-chan. But she'd probably already have her own family to worry about by then... She'd miss him and he'd miss her but he couldn't stay in that place. Maybe he would stay longer if she was there... but…

"She's leaving, so stop thinking of what if's..." Matsuri muttered, then he gritted his teeth as he locked on another target.

Someday he'd be able to leave and find his own precious person, and he would never look back.

OoOoOoOoOoOOoOoOo

Climbing over the wall towards the compound was harder than climbing towards the forest. There weren't any trees next to the wall for one. The first time Matsuri had gone over, it had taken him a bit of searching to spot anything. Luckily, he'd found an area where there were holes big enough to place his fingers and toes in and scramble up. They were small, so no adult would be able to use them. Whom-ever kept the wall fixed up must not think that they were a problem just yet.

Matsuri headed to the spot- after taking a minute to eat his second to last dango. When he got there, everything was quiet. The animals were still spooked it seemed. He quickly found the six small holes, each about two feet apart from each other. The one closest to the ground was just above his stomach. The boy took a running start, jumping so that he could stick his toes of one foot into the hole. At the same time, his right hand was placed flat on the wall while his left reached for the third hole. The hard part done, Matsuri scaled the wall nimbly. When he got to the top, he straddled it, and took a break as he cast his gaze over the compound. Surprisingly, there was absolutely no movement. It wasn't dark yet and no lights were on but the sun would be setting soon so there should be at least some movement to light the lanterns surrounding the compound.

"That's weird..." Matsuri mumbled, frowning. Quickly, he jumped down from the wall and sprinted in the direction of the celebration area. When he got there, he stopped cold in his tracks.
Red stained the white table cloth. Splashes of the crimson color were splotched in every direction that he looked at.

Blood.

Matsuri felt his own blood run cold. As he glanced from one area to another, trying to make sense of anything he saw, Matsuri noticed something odd.

There was blood in the middle of the area. It was in a circle with triangle in the middle.

That was when he recognized that the shapes on the ground were the bodies. Dead bodies littered the area. Matsuri knew they were dead because there was no way that anyone would be alive with holes in their chests.

He vaguely registered his mother and father a couple of yards away from him.

Why hadn't they run? Where was his..."Nee-chan!" Matsuri gasped out loud, he felt his heart constrict. After looking around, he noticed that she wasn't there. Maybe she had gotten away? He took off in the direction of her new house. On the way there, Matsuri could see more blood circles and bodies. He only stopped long enough to see if any of them were his nee-chan. None were. Maybe she had gotten away?

His heart was in his throat, and Matsuri pushed himself to run faster. He could feel the pounding in his ears, and the way his breath left his lungs. By the time he spotted her kimono, Matsuri's breathing was ragged and harsh.

"Nee-chan!" She was face down on the ground, just in front of the few steps to her new house. Another body lay a few feet away, but Matsuri only had eyes for his sister.

Matsuri saw her head snap up and a look of horror cross her face. "No! Run! Matsuri, run!"

Matsuri stumbled to a halt, eyes widening as she cried out, a stain of red spreading from her chest. He saw her mouth the word 'run' one more time before her eyes drifted shut.

"Nee-chan!" Matsuri cried in horror. He ran, but he didn't run away, he couldn't do that. Instead, he ran towards her. "Nee-chan!" Dropping to his knees, Matsuri reached out to touch her face. Her face bloody, and she wasn't moving. Sobs escaped Matsuri's throat. "Wake up! Nee-chan!"

"Ah, what have we here? I thought I got all of you." A voice from Matsuri's left said in amusement. "Jashin will be pleased with one more."

Matsuri's head snapped to the left, his eyes wide, tears running down his face. His hand was still touching his sister's still warm face.

"Young, aren't you? Hmm, that's good." The man smirked, and all Matsuri could see were his teeth. He was smiling. Why was he smiling?

"You monster!" Matsuri cried out. "Wh-why? Nee-chan..."

"Nothing personal kid." The man's grin turned crazy. Matsuri was glad that he couldn't see the rest of his face.

With one last glance at Masako, Matsuri ran. Maybe if he lead the man away, someone would come and help her.

"You can run, kid, but you can't hide!"

Even if it was useless, he had to try. He had to. Masako was his precious person, his only precious person. He had to protect her any way he could.

Matsuri darted back the way he came, his legs pumping, taking him as far and fast as he possibly could go.

Never once did he think that he'd gotten away though. Every little while, Matsuri heard the monster chuckle. It made the hairs on the back of his neck stick for breath, Matsuri darted behind the Clan Temple and felt something connect with his shoulder, knocking him to the hard ground.

Another voice, gruffer than the first spoke. "Found you."

"Hey, no fair! I found her first, she's mine!" The one from earlier appeared at that moment, and Matsuri tried to crawl away but the second man stepped on his back and pushed down, pinning the small boy to the ground.

"Finder's keepers. Beside's, you got that last bitch."

Matsuri grunted in pain as the foot pushed down harder, making it hard to breath. His hair tie had disappeared during the pursuit and his long blue hair was tangled and streaked with blood.

His sister's blood.

"She was too old. This one though..." Matsuri could hear the smirk in his voice and he couldn't help but tremble in pain as the man pushed down again. He could feel the tears gathering in his eyes and trailing down his face. "This one will make Jashin happy."

His sister…

"Beside's other one is dead and I found this one first."

Dead.

Dead..

Dead...!

Nee-chan…

Matsuri screamed out in anger.

His chakra exploded.

He screamed again, this time in pain. Matsuri's world turned black.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

"What the hell is that!?"

"An explosion? Is it them?"

"Let's go."

Four figures disappeared through the trees while the other six erased any signs of their presence before following behind.

A/N: Reviews? xD

Chapter Text

Chapter 3:

Slowly, Matsuri opened his eyes and pushed himself up by his elbows. He noticed something surrounding him. It crackled and shifted as Matsuri moved. It made his skin feel tingly. The way it danced around made Matsuri think of lightning when it flashed through the sky.

Then he saw that the men were still there, but one of them, the one that had his foot on Matsuri's back, had been thrown into the side of the temple and was slowly getting up with a curse. The other had back up a few steps, but his gaze was locked onto Matsuri.

Matsuri pushed himself to his knees and studied the men. He’d never seen anyone like them before. They were probably missing-nin. His sister(his heart panged at the thought of her) had told her how he had to be careful not to insult anyone in case the person was one. But she’d also said that there were some that didn’t care and hurt people anyway.

The one getting up from being knocked down had no shirt, just dark grey pants with bandages wrapped around the ankles. Matsuri could see a pendant hanging from his neck with that same symbol that he'd seen earlier on the ground in blood. He long grey hair that was slicked back and reached to just below his collarbone. His eyes were a weird purple, a color that Matsuri immediately hated and would hate for the rest of his life. A forehead protector was tied to his neck. Matsuri could see three diagonal lines on it with a slash cutting through them. The weapon he had was a scythe with three blades. That man was a shinobi, a missing-nin.

The other was dressed in black, with only his black eyes showing above the mask on his face. A big knife hung by his hip. He didn't have a forehead protector but Matsuri was sure that he was a missing-nin too. He had to be.

Just then, the lighting shield that had been surrounding Matsuri flickered, and disappeared.

The two exchanged looks, and broke into feral grins. The chuckles made Matsuri fall back from them in fear. "This will be fun. The bitch will make Jashin very pleased."

"Did you taste her blood?"

"Not yet." They took out two kunai each and leapt at Matsuri.

Matsuri cried out, and closed his eyes, expecting the pain to hit him.

Nothing happened. At least not to him.

What sounded like thunder shattered through his ears and when Matsuri's eyes snapped open, he saw both the men flying back and slamming into the ground a dozen yards away from him.

"Son of a bitch." The silver haired one snarled, the look on his face turning angry.

The other grunted in agreement, eyes locking onto Matsuri. As they both got ready to attack again, they froze, tilting their heads to the side.

"Damn, they found us." The one in black clicked his tongue before turning away from Matsuri.
The other stayed a second longer. "I'll find you and finish you, just like the rest of them." The man smirked, before he too disappeared.

Matsuri stayed frozen, not believing that the were gone. After a few seconds, he got shakily to his feet. His back twinged in pain from being pushed into the ground earlier. His eyes darted back and forth.

Nothing.

"Nee-chan..." Matsuri muttered, feeling the strength returning to his legs. He ran back to where he'd left her. He blocked everything around him except for thoughts of his sister. She had to be alive, she had to.

As he got within view of her house, his heart stopped. The spot that she'd been in was empty, except for the pool of blood. Almost like he was walking in a dream, Matsuri made his way to the steps and fell to his knees. He wasn't even aware of the tears that were silently making their way down his cheeks.

Reaching out, Matsuri's hand hovered of the blood…

Was it all a dream? Some horrible nightmare? Would he wake up crying in a few second? Would his sister show up in his room, still alive? Still breathing?

Matsuri didn't register the sound behind him. He wanted to wake up, he wanted to wake up and see his sister. He would wake up, it had to be a nightmare…

It just had to be…

"Kami..."

"There's a kid! She's alive!"

Matsuri's muscles tensed as he was finally conscious of the presence behind him. He whirled, eyes wide, and promptly fell on his butt.

Next to the puddle of blood.

Matsuri forgot about the people as he lifted a shaky hand that was covered in blood. It was still warm.

He felt his head swarming in circles and could feel the urge to throw up the contents of his stomach.

That was when someone crouched down in front of him. "Hey."

Matsuri looked away from his bloody hand and into the eye of the person in front of him. He had a mask covering the lower part of his face, almost like the man from earlier. This one's mask was blue, with his forehead protector covering one of his eyes. Matsuri's green and silver eyes noticed the symbol on it was of the Leaf. His Clan's old home village. There weren't any slashes going through it. He wasn't a missing-nin.

The man knew that Matsuri was studying him so he kept still, and made sure not to let off any threatening auras. He wanted to distract him from what had happened.

"What's your name?"

Matsuri stared wordlessly for a moment. The man didn't feel threatening. "M-matsuri Mo-mori..."

"Matsuri-chan, huh? How old are you?" The man asked gently, soothingly. Matsuri could feel calming chakra exuding from the man. It was making him forget about the blood, about the bodies.

"Six..." Matsuri blinked sleepily. He was feeling detached from reality like he was walking through fog.

"Let's go for a walk, alright?" The man extended his hand, but waited for Matsuri to take it.

"But my nee-chan..." Matsuri murmured while reaching shakily for the man's hand.

The man paused for a second, the sad look passed before Matsuri could register it. "Don't worry, we'll find her. What does she look like?"

Matsuri let the man pull him up so that he was standing. "Like me. She just got married..." He turned and pointed at the body that he'd ignored before. "To Kou-san."

The hand that held his tightened for a second, before the man started walking away. "My name is Kakashi, Matsuri-chan."

"Nice to meet you, Kakashi-san. You are a shinobi?" Matsuri blinked up at him feeling the fuzziness surround him. He let it.

The man smiled, Matsuri could tell by the way his eye closed and the tug on the cloth around his lips. "Yes I am."

"From Konoha." Matsuri stated. "My family used to be from there... but we moved a long time ago."

"Maa, the Mori Clan." Kakashi said, nodding his head as he left the rest of the shinobi to look for survivors.

Matsuri looked to the dirt in front of him. "Everyone's dead."

Kakashi's hand flinched in Matsuri's before the grip tightened again. "You don't know that, Matsuri-chan."

"Their chakra's gone." Matsuri stated simply. He'd felt it when he'd gone past all the bodies. The only one he'd sensed had been his sisters. But her's was gone too.

It was slowly sinking in that it wasn't a dream.

Wasn't a nightmare.

The fog made it easier to stay detached. He wouldn't be able to stay like that forever, but for the moment- he was grateful.

Kakashi was studying him intensly. "You can sense chakra?"

With a nod, Matsuri replied. "Yes. Everyone had chakra earlier. Now there's nothing. Those two men had a lot of chakra. You have chakra, they have chakra." Matsuri stated about the shinobi sweeping through the compound. He then tilted his head to the side in puzzlement. "But you're making it smaller... How do you do that?"

"Maybe you'll learn someday." Kakashi replied. Someone walked up to him and shook his head slightly before walking on.

Matsuri saw the movement but didn't comment. Instead he kept walking. He came across his broken bow, laying in the middle of the path. He must have lost it when he'd been running from the missing-nin…

He stopped, let go of Kakashi's hand, and gently bent to picked the bow up. It had been a gift from his sister for his birthday the year before. She had told him to take care of it. He had, until that day.

A sniffle escaped as Matsuri clutched the shattered bow to his chest.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Much of what happened next was a blur to him. Nothing really registered except that he was going to be taken somewhere away from his home.

Matsuri traveled back to Konoha with Kakashi and one other shinobi that didn't really talk much to him. The rest had gone back to tracking down the two missing-nin. Matsuri had asked who they were but Kakashi hadn't answered him. Matsuri didn't think that man knew who they were either.

During their journey, Matsuri mostly kept silent, though tears would leak down his face whenever thoughts of his sister grew too strong.

Since he wasn't really fast enough, Kakashi carried him on his back most of the way there.

During one of their breaks, Matsuri asked Kakashi a few questions.

"Why are you taking me to Konoha?" The six year old ask after taking a drink from his canteen.
Both shinobi froze, before Kakashi answered. "Normally, we wouldn't but I'm sorry to say that even the village..."

"Them too...?" Matsuri muttered, dropping his gaze. There had been people there that had talked to him. They were gone too... "Is there another reason why you're taking me there..?"

Kakashi eye smiled at him. "You know, you're very perceptive for a six year old Matsuri-chan. You're parent's must have been proud of how smart you are."

Matsuri froze. He didn't speak to Kakashi for the rest of the break except to tell them he was going to the stream. Matsuri left to take a quick rinse in the cool water just out of sight. He'd been able to wash the blood out of his blue hair just before they'd left but hadn't really been able to feel clean. And he doubted he would until Matsuri got a proper bath.

When he got back, Kakashi noticed that Matsuri seemed hurt but decided not to ask about it.

Not long after that, they resumed their journey.

The trio arrived at the gates of Konoha just before sunset. Kakashi dropped Matsuri gently down to the floor before leading him to the gate guards.

"Hey, Kakashi, we weren't expecting you so soon." One of the people said as he spotted the group of three heading towards them.

"Yeah." Kakashi said taking out an orange book from his pouch. "We came across some trouble."

The two men nodded. That was when they noticed the kid hiding behind Kakashi's leg. "Who's this little beauty?"

Matsuri frowned but didn't comment. Why was everyone calling him a girl? He didn’t look that much like a girl...

"Matsuri-chan." Kakashi replied. "She's going to go meet the Hokage."

That was a surprise to Matsuri. He blinked at Kakashi. "I am?"

Kakashi kneeled down to Matsuri's level. "Yup. He'll be very interested in meeting you."

Matsuri blinked again. "Oh..."

The man grabbed Matsuri's hand and with a wave to the two men at the gates disappeared.

"He forgot to show his papers again..."

"I have them." The man that hadn't talked much during the trip brought a packet out and showed them to the two gatekeepers.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri gasped as they appeared in an office. The world spun for a second and he would have fallen if Kakashi hadn't grabbed his shoulders.

"Kakashi, what a surprise." A voice from in front of them said and Matsuri's eyes widened in surprise as he saw the figure. It was an old man with white robes and a hat that had something written on it.

"Hokage-sama." Kakashi nodded.

The Hokage looked at Matsuri and smiled. "Well, hello there."

Matsuri didn't know what to do. He'd heard of the Hokage but he'd never thought he'd meet him. The six year old eyes widened even more. "Ah, hello." He finally managed to whisper out shyly. The old man didn't seem to mind though.

"Blue hair... Mori Clan...?" The Hokage glanced up at Kakashi who nodded. "What brings you here, young one."

"Uh... I don't know...? Somebody came and killed my... um... K-kakashi-san just brought me and said you'd be interested to meet me..." Matsuri could feel the tears well up as his sister crossed his mind again.

"It's alright, Matsuri. You don't have to talk about them. You're here because you can sense chakra." Kakashi patted Matsuri's head.

The fogginess appeared again and Matsuri relaxed with a nod.

"You can sense chakra?" The Hokage leaned over to take a better look at Matsuri.
The six year old nodded his head again, feeling little groggily.

"What is it that you wish to do, Kakashi?" The Hokage turned to the silver haired man with a small smile.

Kakashi ducked his head a little sheepishly. "Well, I think it'd be good if she went to the Academy. She can sense chakra. When she's older she would be an asset to Konoha. She's from the Mori Clan, since she can sense chakra, maybe she'll develop her Clan's Kekkei Genkai."

The Hokage nodded slowly, eyes flickering to look at Matsuri. A gentle smile appeared on his face. "How about that, Matsuri-chan? Would you like to become a strong ninja?"

Matsuri blinked. And blinked again.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

The child had been taken to the hospital for a quick check up, but Kakashi hadn't left with her.

"Report?" Sarutobi asked his face turning grim as Kakashi straightened up.

"We were tracking two strong chakra signatures when we came across the Mori compound. Everyone was killed except for Matsuri-chan. The two chakra signals left as soon as we got close. The village next to the compound was also hit. There was no survivors."

"They escaped?"
A nod. "The rest of the team went after."

Sarutobi gave a sad sigh. "Poor child. She saw it happen?"

"I don't know. She saw the aftermath but I've been keeping her mind fogged so she wouldn't break down. I think we should have Inoichi talk to her... He's good with kids... and he'll be able to see if she saw anything that we could use..."

The old man nodded in agreement. "I'll send for him."

A/N: Thank you so much for reading! Please let me know what you think!

Chapter Text

Note: I'm not exactly sure what age everyone goes to the academy, so for this, I'll make it around age 5-6-ish. On another note, I haven't gotten very far into Naruto Shippuden, so if canon is what you want, this probably isn't for you.

Chapter 4:

The check-up at the hospital went relatively quickly. Matsuri didn't even get a scratch on him(the medical ninja on the team had healed the few bumps and bruises already) but he supposed they were just trying to make sure he hadn't hid anything from them from the journey or something like that. It didn't matter to him what they did but all it was was a bunch of questions that he answered with a nod or shake of his head. The people didn't seem too concerned about him, not that Matsuri would have opened his mouth to get their attention if he had been slightly hurt.

"Alright, you're going to be staying here for a few days. Someone should be on their way to talk to you a bit later. If you need anything before then, just let one of us know. Oh! Are you hungry?" At the shake of his head she went on. "I'll bring a tray for you to nibble on when you are." The lady assured Matsuri with a kind smile before leaving him alone in the hospital room. He was glad she was gone, being around all those strangers was starting to get tiring. The six year old went to a corner of the room and slid down the wall, hugging his knees close.

The fogginess was going away, and he felt like being alone. Matsuri could see the look on his sister's face, could see the blood…

He unbuckled his pouch and took out the one picture he'd managed to stuff in there before being taken away from the compound. It was one of his nee-san from a few months before. He'd taken it from the wall in the sitting room. It had been his favorite picture of her. The smile was barely there but Matsuri could see the sparkle in her eyes from holding herself back.

His vision grew watery and when he blinked, tears ran down his face. "Nee-chan..." Matsuri couldn't hold his tears back anymore. He sobbed into his knees, making sure that nobody would hear him. He didn't need or want another round of complete strangers hovering over him.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

It had been a few day since Matsuri had gotten to Konoha, and they had been extremely painful. People had constantly been around him and he'd had to go to several meeting with the Hokage to fill out forms and get registered for the Academy. It had been a nightmare of strangers with kind, and sympathetic faces that Matsuri couldn't look at. Supposedly, they had found a place where he could call his own. He had the family compound but that was too big and since he was by himself, it made no sense opening it. It would also bring back memories that Matsuri would rather not face just yet. Sure, it was a different compound but he'd seen pictures of it. The Clan had build both compounds almost exactly the same. Maybe when he was older he'd go there.

Matsuri stared blankly down at his hands when someone opened the door to his temporary room. The noise made the boy look up a bit in surprise.

"Hello, there!" A man with pale blond hair walked into the room. Second's later, a girl, about Matsuri's age walked in after. She, like the man, had pale blond hair. Matsuri had seen the man before of course, but not the girl.

The man had been visiting him every day since he'd gotten there, talking to him(even when Matsuri never said a word), and even holding him when he'd finally broken down and cried in front of him.

Matsuri's wide eyes narrowed slightly as he silently watched the duo head closer towards where he was sitting on his temporary bed.

"Matsuri-chan, this little one is my daughter, Ino." The man gave a kind smile to Matsuri as he sat down at one of the chairs.

The girl looked from the other empty seat to the bed before huffing and jumping onto the bed, sitting close to Matsuri. "I like your hair! It's blue! And long!"

Matsuri blinked at her before ducking his head slightly, making his hair fall over his shoulder and it obscured part of his face.

"Aww, you're shy? Not another one!" Ino grinned good naturedly at him. "You and Sakura-chan are going to love each other! But at least Sakura-chan is coming out of her shell!"

The older man, Inoichi, chuckled and ruffled his daughter's hair slightly before turning back to Matsuri. He ignored the annoyed 'Daaaaddddyyy!' the the smaller blond almost screamed out.

"The Hokage already told you about your living situation and allowance, correct?"

Matsuri watched them interact, feeling slightly jealous about their close bond. After a few seconds, he nodded his head at Inoichi's question.

"The housekeeper's responsibilities and that you will be starting at the Academy tomorrow?"

Again, Matsuri nodded and pushed himself off of the bed. His feet landed on the floor with a slap.

Inoichi chuckled. "Alright, we'll be on our way then. I'll show you where the Academy is and we'll work our way through the market and to your building so you remember the route. We need to stop by the clothing store to get you a few outfits though. And if you want, I can pick you up with Ino tomorrow so you won't get lost on your first day."

"It's okay..." Matsuri muttered quietly, head still down.

Inoichi's eyes widened slightly. That was the first time Matsuri had talked in front of him. He smiled slightly. "As you wish."

Ino hopped down from the bed after fixing her hair. "Let's go! I'll help you pick out a cute outfit! Do you like purple?! We'll see if there's a purple one!" The girl took Matsuri's hand and dragged him out of the room, a chuckling Inoichi following behind.

In next to no time, Matsuri was signed out of the Hospital and he was dragged down the street by a very energetic blond.

"That's the Academy! You're lucky, today was a no class day, otherwise I wouldn't have met you yet! Don't worry about Ame or any of her bully friends! They know not to mess with Ino Yamanaka!"

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

The door closed behind the two blonds and Matsuri sagged with relief. Who knew that shopping was such a hassle? He'd never gone with anyone before, even his nee-san had been too busy to go with him. The only thing they'd ever bought together was the sweets from the vendors and that was about it.

Matsuri glanced around the small apartment, trying to take it all in. It was his new place. He was all alone. The six year old shook his head roughly and grabbed the bags full of clothing that they had purchased. He went to the bed and upended the bags, emptying them. The pile of clothing showed flashes of red, gray, black, and white. After digging a bit, Matsuri picked up the things that Ino had picked and frowned. It was a purple dress with Sakura flowers all around. It was short but there was supposed to a pair of black shorts that went with it... Or at least that's what Ino had babbled when she'd thrown the bag at him. He'd given Inoichi a pleading look but he hadn't seemed to notice it.

Why had she bought him a dress though? The boy shook his head and out it at the back of the closet before turning to the rest of his clothes and purchases.

He pondered on why Inoichi had been surprised about all the pants and shirts. It seemed he had expected Matsuri to get something different. The blue haired boy shook his head again and put the rest of his clothes in the closet, making sure to leave his sleeping clothes on the bed.

Once he was done with putting his new things away, Matsuri took off his pouch and searched through it. The only thing he took out was the picture of his sister. He placed it in a frame and put it on his bedside table.

That was when he decided that he was going to take a bath and he would take his time with it. He went to the bathroom took a quick look around. It was nothing special. Just a sink, toilet, and a bath tube that he could easily fit in.

Matsuri turned on the water and made sure it was warm. He plugged the hole so that it wouldn't drain and went to the kitchen to make some tea while the tub filled.

After jumping onto the countertop, he searched the top cupboards to see what he would find. Inoichi said that they had already bought everything beforehand and put it away, but Matsuri wanted to know exactly what he had. The cabinets were full of cans and things that could be made in a short amount of time. Ramen was one of things that kept appearing with every opened drawer. Not that Matsuri minded, he liked ramen well enough and it was pretty easy to make. Matsuri kept searching and eventually found some tea leaves just as the water was done.

He let them sit in a mug with the hot water and returned to the bathroom. It would be cool enough to drink when he was done with his bath.

The tub was half full, and he deemed it high enough so Matsuri shut off the water. Quickly, he took off his clothes and lowered himself into the warm liquid. He submerged his head and stayed under the water, eyes closed. Matsuri could hear his heart beats after ten seconds of holding his breath. He could feel how his hair drifted over his face. When he couldn't hold his breath any longer, Matsuri pushed himself up and took a deep breath before settling down again. This time he kept his face above the water, grey eyes looking up at the ceiling.

He would become a shinobi. He would become strong. He didn't ever want to feel helpless again. His thoughts drifted to his nee-chan.

Not ever again.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

The next day dawned and Matsuri woke up with a start. His heart was pounding and he could feel the sweat on his body. He lay in bed, trying to calm down his wild breathing.

It had been the dream. The one dream that he kept having ever since that day. Every time he closed his eyes, it was all he could see. His sister. Blood. Those eyes. It had been worse, he could see every single detail. The blood that had flowed down from his sisters wounds...
Matsuri shuddered and got up from the bed. He cleaned his face and arms with a wet towel, trying to will away the images. He didn't want to see it. Not again.

After a quick bite to eat, Matsuri changed into black pants and his dark grey shirt. When that was done, he contemplated whether to leave his hair down or in a ponytail, the six year old opted to leave it for the moment. If it started to bug him later on in the day, he'd put it in a low pony tail.

That decision made, Matsuri put on his pouch. He looked in the mirror and saw that his hair had gotten a bit longer. It now reached the middle of his back. For a minute, Matsuri second guessed on the hair band. A shrug later, and he headed out the door. He closed and made sure to lock it.

"Hi!"

The sudden yell from next to him had Matsuri jumping in surprise and shock. He hadn't expected to be talked to or yelled at so early in the morning when he was still waking up.

"I haven't seen you before, did you just move in?!"

Matsuri turned and noticed a boy about his age, grinning at him. For some reason, it didn't surprise him that he had blond hair, though it wasn't as pale as Ino and Inoichi's hair. He had six whisker marks on his cheeks, three on either side, and blue eyes.

Orange. The boy was covered in an orange jumpsuit with a bit of blue here and there. Obviously, orange was a favorite color.

"Um, yeah..." Matsuri blinked at Naruto who didn't seem to mind that he wasn't speaking much.

"Awesome! Where are you going?"

Matsuri stared at Naruto for a moment before answering quietly. "The Academy..."

"Really? Sweet! We can go together!" The blond exclaimed happily. "I haven't seen you before, whose class are you in?"

Matsuri frowned as he tried to remember who the Hokage had told him would be his teacher. "Iruka...?"

"Ha! That mean's you're in class with me! Come on, let's go! You don't want to be late, Iruka-sensei likes to yell!" The blond giggled. He reached over to grab Matsuri's hand and towed him along behind him, much like Ino had done the day before. He chattered and didn't even wait for Matsuri to reply. As he was dragged through the market, Matsuri noticed that people were sending mean glares at the blond. He frowned slightly.

The more people they passed, the more Matsuri saw the glares. It reminded him of his clan... Of how they used to treat him.

Matsuri narrowed his eyes at anyone who sent the blond an evil look. He knew the blond noticed the looks people gave him because the hand holding onto his would tense slightly.
Finally, the blond let go of him when they came into view of the building that Ino-chan had showed Matsuri the other day. "Here we are! Oh! I'm Naruto Uzumaki! I'm going to be the future Hokage! Believe it!" The finally named Naruto gave Matsuri a peace sign and he couldn't keep the way his lip twitched slightly.

"Matsuri Mori..." He replied quietly, trying to stop the giggle that was bubbling up.

For some reason Naruto blushed bright red before his arms went behind his head and he grinned at Matsuri. "Come on, follow me Matsuri-chan!"

Matsuri opened his mouth to correct him but closed it as Naruto walked away. With a shrug, the blue haired boy followed behind, making sure not to loose him in the throng of little bodies that crowded the Academy grounds and hallways. It was weird being around so many children his age, it was something he wasn’t used to. They didn’t seem to know about personal space.

"Iruka-sensei!"

Matsuri jumped in surprise as the boy in front of him cried out as they walked through a door. Cautiously, Matsuri followed. The room was half full already. There was about ten kids, two girls and the rest boys, not counting Naruto and him.

"Morning, Naruto-kun. How are you?" A young man, he looked like he was about Matsuri's sister's age, grinned down at the blond. He had a scar across his nose that Matsuri couldn't help but stare at. He wondered how he'd gotten it, but then it hit him. Iruka-sensei was a shinobi, of course he would have scars.

"I'm great! I met Matsuri-chan, your new student!" Naruto turned around and motioned for Matsuri to get closer.

Iruka's eyes turned to Matsuri and smiled. "Hello, Matsuri-chan. I've been waiting for you. Thank you for showing Matsuri-chan around, Naruto-kun. That was really nice of you. Now go sit down. Wait here with me for a moment Matsuri-chan, and I'll introduce you to the class after the last few stragglers get through the door."

Matsuri just nodded, not wanting to talk. Even though Iruka-sensei seemed nice, he still didn't feel like talking to him. At least not yet. It was all so new to Matsuri.

Seconds later, the bell rang and Matsuri turned to look over the class again. It appeared to have doubled in size from the last time he'd taken noticed.

 

"Good morning, everyone! Now, I'd like for you to pay attention. You have a new classmate."

The chattering took a while to quiet down. Matsuri zoned out a bit, eyes drifting from one kid to another. A pink haired girl caught his attention first. Then he noticed pale blond hair next to the pink. After a closer look, he saw that it was Ino. They were both looking over at the boy sitting in front of them. Matsuri studied the boy for a moment. Raven hair, black eyes, pale skin. He really needed to get out in the sun more, Matsuri concluded, eyes leaving and going down the row.

Still, nobody listened to Iruka until the sensei decided to yell. It snapped Matsuri's attention back and he watched in fascination as Iruka-sensei's head seemed to swell. He could see the way his new sensei's chakra flared out. He must have been using a jutsu.

"I said listen up!" Iruka-sensei yelled. This time everyone quieted down and turned their attention to the front room. It seemed that they finally saw Matsuri standing at the front next to Iruka. "Thank you. Alright, as I was saying. You have a new classmate. This is Matsuri Mori." Iruka pushed Matsuri slightly so that he was more in front of him than behind. "If there's any questions don't be afraid to ask for help Matsuri-chan. Now, the only seat that's open is the one next to... Sasuke-kun."

Matsuri noticed the way a few of the girls bristled and shoot him death glares. He raised an eyebrow in confusion but shrugged. "Sasuke-kun?"

"Sasuke-kun, please raise your hand." The boy that the pink haired girl and Ino-chan had been staring at, reluctantly raised his hand. "Go ahead Matsuri-chan."

Matsuri nodded and walked over to the desk. Once again, he could feel the glares from most of the girls. Naruto-kun was glaring too but not and Matsuri. He was glaring at Sasuke. Matsuri raised his eyebrow at the blond who blushed. A grin soon appeared and he waved at Matsuri. He couldn't help the twitching that came to his lips at that look. The blue haired boy waved back and then turned away from Naruto, and locked his attention on Iruka.

The morning passed by in a flood of words. Konoha's history was something that Matsuri never really learned about. He supposed he would have done it eventually but his parent's hadn't taught his anything. Mostly it was about the Mori Clan and how they came to be, so everything that Iruka talked about was new to Matsuri. He soaked it all up like a sponge. His nee-chan used to comment on how Matsuri was a fast learner, so he knew he'd be caught up with everyone soon.

"Lunch time, don't be late!" Iruka called.

Everyone got up except for Matsuri. He watched as groups formed and made their way towards the door.

"Want to eat lunch with me, Matsuri-chan?"

Matsuri turned around and found Naruto standing there, hands behind his head, and a huge grin on his face.

"No fair! I was going to invite Matsuri-chan to join us!" Another familiar voice complained and Matsuri glanced over and saw Ino with the pink haired girl next to her.

Matsuri couldn't help but blink in surprise, he looked from the left to the right as the two blonds argued with each other. The pink haired girl stood behind Ino-chan, almost hiding herself from sight.

"Anyway, why didn't you wear the purple outfit I got you?!" Ino-chan gushed as she looked Matsuri up and down.

"Um..." Matsuri frowned a bit. "I don't wear dresses... I don't like purple..."

"What! Why? You'd look so cute in it! It would go with your hair!" Ino exclaimed her eyes shining.
Matsuri blinked at her a bit confusedly. "But I'm not a gi-"

"And you're so lucky that you got to sit next to Sasuke-kun! Did you guys talk?!" Ino cut him off before Matsuri could finish.

Her enthusiasm left him blinking, more than a bit bewildered. His head was spinning with all of her yelling. "No..."

"What! Why not?!"

"Why would I...?"

"Because he'd the cutest boy in school!" Ino practically screamed. The pink haired girl was nodding her head in agreement with Ino's words.

"Okay...?" Matsuri was a bit confused as to why it would matter to him whether or not Sasuke was the cutest boy in school.

Ino looked at him, wide eyes. With a groan and eye roll, she took both his and the pink haired girl's hand and dragged them out of the classroom. "Let's just go to lunch!"

Matsuri sent a look over at Naruto who was also looking as confused as Matsuri felt.
Is this how all girls acted? Scary…

"Let's go find a spot next to Sasuke-kun!"

The pink haired girl nodded shyly in agreement.

"I'm coming with you guys! Matsuri-chan is my friend too!" Naruto exclaimed, following closely behind.

Ino frowned before nodding her head in acceptance. "Fine."

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri sat on the grass next to Naruto as they both watched the two girls(well Ino), yell at another group of girls.

"Sasuke-kun is mine!"

"No! He's mine!"

"He'd never want you!"
"No, he'd never want you!"

"..." Matsuri couldn't believe his eyes. And ears.

"Ino-chan and Sakura-chan sure can yell." Naruto stated, eyes wide as the pink haired girl finally joined in on the yelling.

"Sakura-chan?"

"Oh! Sakura-chan's the one with pink hair." Naruto grinned, his face turning a little red.

"Ah." Matsuri nodded.

A/N: Thank you for reading! Also thank you for all the favs follows and reviews! Hope you find this interesting!

Chapter Text

Chapter 5:

After lunch things were pretty hectic, or at least Matsuri thought so. Nobody else seemed to think anything was odd with the screaming and shouting arguments, so he just kept his confusion to himself. Maybe it was the routine here, and Matsuri would get used to it soon.

He sat back down at his shared desk with Sasuke. Matsuri noticed that the boy tensed as soon as he sat down, almost like he was expecting Matsuri to do something. He raised an eyebrow at Sasuke who saw it. After a few moments, Matsuri shrugged and turned back to look to the front. He wondered why Ino-chan and the rest of the girls fought over the raven haired boy. It made no sense to him, but then again, he wasn't a girl so it made sense that he didn't understand their thinking. His sister had showed him that. One minute she'd be happy and the next... Let's just say he never got on her bad side if he could help it.

The thought of his nee-chan made him sad. He could feel the tears begin to well up. He really missed her. Matsuri bit his lip and willed the tears back. He would cry but he wasn't going to do it there, not in front of people he didn’t even really know.

"Alright, settle down!" This time the class got quiet quicker than they had at the beginning of the day. "We'll be going to the Academy training grounds. You'll be practicing a few of the Katas and taijutsu moves that you learned last week. Make sure you stay in your assigned groups! We don’t need any more injuries."

There was a few groans, but mostly enthusiastic chatter as everyone got up from their seats and headed out the door. After a few deep breaths, Matsuri followed, his face blank again.

"Ne, Matsuri-chan! Have you ever done katas?" A bright voice chattered happily, bringing Matsuri out of his dark thoughts and towards the boy that never seemed to stop smiling.

"No." Matsuri shook his head.

Naruto grinned happily at Matsuri. "I'll teach you!"

"Cha, right! You don't know how to do them right Naruto! How are you going to teach Matsuri-chan how to do them if you can't do them either!" Ino giggled from ahead of them.

"Hey! I can so do them right!" Naruto shot back with a pout.

By that time they had made it to the training grounds and Matsuri was looking back and forth between the two blonds as they continued to argue with each other.

"Matsuri-chan!" Iruka-sensei called out, stopping the bickering. Matsuri walked over to him a little hesitantly. "You will be going with Mizuki-sensei. He'll teach you the Academy katas first. I've been told you've never had any training before?"

Matsuri shook his head in the negative. "No, sensei."

Iruka nodded thoughtfully before motioning over to the other sensei that Matsuri had seen in the classroom just after lunch. He seemed nice enough, but for some reason the smile on his face seemed a bit fake to Matsuri. It was the same smile his parents had when Matsuri was anywhere near them.

"Matsuri-chan, this is Mizuki sensei."

Matsuri bowed his head politely and followed as he was lead to a space away from his other classmates.

"Matsuri-chan was it? First you'll need to do some stretches to warm up your muscles. I want you to..."

Matsuri focused on the instructions, making sure to follow them to the letter. By the time he was done, his body felt sore and sweat was running down his face. Even breathing had become a bit difficult.

"Great job, Matsuri-chan. You're a quick learner. You'll catch up with the rest of the Kunoichi in no time!" With that, Mizuki sensei left, leaving a slightly dumbfounded Matsuri staring at his back. He reached back and tied his hair into a low pony tail. Matsuri probably should have done it earlier but it had slipped his mind.

"Matsuri-chan come here!" Ino-chan's called him over to the group of students that had already gotten done with their katas and were now on the ground. Some were stretching, and others were just pretending to. Others looked like they were half asleep.

He walked over a bit hesitantly. The only ones he knew were Ino and Sakura. He could technically say that he knew Sasuke too since they sat next to each other but he hadn't really spoken to the boy.

"Matsuri-chan! Let me introduce you to everyone!" Ino grinned happily as she pulled him to stand in front of the group. First she pointed to a boy that was slumped on the floor, practically asleep. "That lazy bag of bones is Shikamaru Nara."

The kid opened one eye to glare at the blond before turning to Matsuri and giving him a nod.

 

"The one with the chips is Chouji Akimichi."

A chubby boy raised his hand and waved, before reaching into the bag to get a few chips.
Matsuri nodded to them politely, not knowing what he should do. He was feeling a bit over whelmed in all honesty. He hadn't been in a group this big of kids in... Ever.

"The one with the glasses is Shino Aburame." Ino continued, either not noticing his nervousness or ignoring it.

"It is a pleasure to meet you." The boy said, and Matsuri bowed his head slightly.

"That's Kiba Inuzuka." Ino pointed to a kid with red triangles under his eyes.

"Yo, Matsuri-chan!"

"You know Sakura and Sasuke-kun already." Ino glared playfully at Matsuri who just looked back at her. "And this is Hinata Hyuuga."

"H-hello Matsuri-san." A quiet voice stuttered, and Matsuri felt himself smile at the shy girl looking at him from under her eyelashes.

"Nice to meet you all." Matsuri's smile wobbled slightly. He hadn't really had any friends. The only person he'd ever had at all had been his sister. Even the village kids were older than him and tended to either bully or ignore him.

"The others are bullies so I'm not going to bother with them." Ino whispered to Matsuri with a scowl at the direction of a group of girls.

"Where's Naruto-kun, though?" Matsuri wondered, scanning the rest of the training ground.

"He's a troublemaker, probably going to pull a prank or something!" Ino dismissed the question with a wave of her hand. "Anyway, it's almost time to leave. Do you want to go to my house with Sakura-chan, Hinata-chan and me?"

Matsuri shook his head slightly. "I'm kinda tired, another time."

Ino contemplated for a moment before nodding her head. "Next time then! I want to see that dress!"

"Bu-"

"See ya later!" The girl ran away, pulling Sakura and Hinata by the hands behind her. "Bye, my Sasuke-kun!"

Matsuri stared wide eyed after them. "She's nuts."

For some reason, that made the guys snort before nodding in agreement.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

For the next few months, time seemed to fly for Matsuri. He'd finally gotten used to his schedule and he mentally thanked his sister for teaching him how to read. Some of his fellow classmates still had trouble with it so he didn't feel so bad about not being at the head of the pack in that area. Not that he was the head of the pack in any area just yet. If anything, he was somewhere just below the middle. That was, until Iruka had found him testing out the Academy's practice bow and arrows. Iruka had scolded and praised him at the same time when he'd found him. Something about not telling Iruka earlier and hiding a useful skill. Then he'd found himself to be smack dab in the middle.

During those months, the group that Ino had introduced him to seemed to open up to him. Even Sasuke no longer squirmed away from him whenever he was close by. Maybe it was because he didn't like new people and Sasuke was finally getting used to him? It didn't really matter to Matsuri either way, he didn't speak that much to anyone though Ino tried her hardest to get him 'out of the shy shell', or something like that. It wasn't that he wanted to close himself off from everyone... he just didn't know how to interact with them. He always felt awkward, like he didn't belong in a way. They all seemed to have formed their group and he was the... intruder. The outsider. It wasn't that they made him feel that way on purpose, it was just how he felt around them. Even with Naruto.

It was on one of those days where they hadn't left the room all day, except lunch, when the group surrounded him slightly. The sudden attention made him feel a bit nervous about it.

"How are you liking the Academy, Matsuri-chan?" Ino asked a sparkle in her eyes.

"Great." Matsuri replied, eyes darting from one to another feeling a bit more uncomfortable with the situation.

"Why haven't you worn that purple dress? You promised me!" Ino exclaimed with a pout.

"Because I'm no- Wait. When did I promise you that?" Matsuri frowned at the blond haired girl.

Sasuke suddenly interrupted Ino before she could reply. "Aren't you guys supposed to go to Kunoichi classes?"

"What? Oh! I completely forgot!" With that Ino, Sakura and Hinata hurried away.

The rest of the group turned to look at Matsuri who was still sitting there, mouth slightly open and a look of indignation on his face.

Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you going with them?"

Matsuri blinked at him. "Wha? Why should I?"

"Because you're a girl?" Kiba chuckled as Matsuri's eyes widened even more.

Matsuri gaped, at them. And suddenly, all those Matsuri-chans and dress wearing comments made sense. "But I'm not a girl!" He was indignant.

For a moment, there was silence and Matsuri thought they would apologise for their mistake, be horribly embarrassed for assuming it.

Instead, they all burst out into hysterical laughter, leaving him stunned.

"Haahaa! Good one!" Both Naruto and Kiba howled with laughter, faces turning red from the lack of oxygen.

"Very funny, Matsuri-chan!" Chouji giggled through his full mouth of chips.

"Troublesome girl." Shikamaru sighed, though he looked amused.

"That is a good joke, Matsuri-chan." Shino pushed his dark tinted glassed up.

"That's stupid. You don't think we'd fall for that." Sasuke stated with a roll of his eyes.
"But-!" Matsuri tried to get the words out but he was interrupted.

"Ah, Matsuri-chan! There you are! I forgot to add you to the Kunoichi classes. Follow me, you've already missed a few more then you should have." Iruka-sensei had walked into the room.

"But!" Matsuri tried again. Iruka-sensei had to believe him! He wasn't joking! "I'm not a girl though!"

First there was silence, then, there was laughter from the boys. "She said it again!"

"I'm sorry Matsuri-chan, you can't get out of Kunoichi classes just because you don't want to go to them." Iruka-sensei scolded gently, taking his hand and leading him away from the group of giggling six year old boys.

"But-!"

Chapter Text

:Flashback:

"Matsuri-chan!" Ino cried happily as she spotted him being dragged to her by a still berating Iruka-sensei. "Finally! I've been telling Kana-sensei that she was missing someone for weeks!"

Iruka-sensei looked sheepishly at the woman with light brown hair and warm brown eyes that had walked up as Ino said that. "That was my fault. I forgot to register Matsuri-chan here for your classes. I had the paperwork but forgot to turn it in, it was buried in my table drawer."

Kana-sensei grinned at her fellow teacher. "Don't worry about it Iruka, it happens to the best of us." She turned her grin into a smile as she looked at the still semi- shell shocked Matsuri. "Hello, my name is Kimi Kana, but you can call me Kana-sensei. You must be Matsuri-chan, I've been hearing a lot about you from Ino-chan here."

"Hello, Kana-sensei. It's a pl-pleasure to meet you." Matsuri automatically greeted, the manners beaten into him by his nee-chan flashing to life.

The two sensei's began talking to each other and Matsuri turned to Ino. "Ino, I'm not a girl, I'm a boy."

"Matsuri-chan." The warning note in Iruka's voice made him jump. Matsuri thought he was too busy with Kana-sensei to listen. "I already told you that you can't get out of your Kunoichi classes just because you don't want to take them."

Matsuri grimaced as they went back to talking to each other. Ino's giggle made him turn his attention back to her.

"Don't worry Matsuri-chan! Kunoichi classes are always amazing!" She grabbed his hand and tugged him over to the group of girls that had been watching him. Some were older, some around his age and others looked in between. Matsuri could already feel the dread rush through him as more than a few glared at him.

He was doomed.

:End Flashback:

Matsuri just couldn't believe what was happening! He'd been there a few months and yet people thought he was fibbing when he was actually telling the truth! Weeks went by and any time he tried to say he wasn't a girl, everyone thought he was joking! When had he ever lied? Or told a joke for that matter?! What on Kami's green earth had he done to deserve this?

Unless…

It was because he couldn't protect his nee-chan... Didn't protect her... Just let her die without doing anything to stop those mining-nin... Was too slow... To weak... Maybe if he had told someone... had been suspicious of the chakra he'd felt... Maybe...

The blue haired boy started panicking. He was panicking, and no one was there to stop it. No one to hold him, to calm him... to reassure him.

Only his sister had ever done that for him.

And she was dead.

"It was all my fault!" Matsuri moaned, tears streaming down his face. It was like this whenever he was alone. He broke down, and he broke down hard.

During the day, he had distractions, people, things to do... but when he was alone... When he was alone, it all flooded back…

"No!" Matsuri pushed himself up, and at the same time, pushed away the sadness, the loathing, the anger. He pushed it down, down, and locked it behind a metal door. He couldn't break down, not again. What he had to do was get stronger. Stronger than anyone else, it didn't matter what people thought about him. If they wanted to believe he was a girl, then he would let them. He didn't have time to argue on irrelevant things. It wasn't like it mattered. If they didn't believe him now, then in the future they would. Instead of worrying over that, he would learn more useful techniques, had learned some in fact.

The first week in Kunoichi classes he'd learned the names of flowers. That whole month after, he'd sat in despair at how knowing the names of flowers and plants could ever help him with becoming a strong shinobi. Then he had learned how a few flowers and plants were very useful. For about three weeks, Kana-sensei had been teaching them about the deadly kind. What they looked like. Where they could be found. What they could do to the human body. How to make a poison mixture from mixing a few of the toxic ones together and coating their weapons with them.

Matsuri found it incredibly interesting how some made you not able to lie, others only affected the muscles, and some could kill with just a scratch. With that knowledge, he dove head first into studying anything that he could about it during his free time. He learned so much, and yet he still had a tabletop full of scrolls that he hadn't read yet.

About a few months after that (they'd begun to learn about infiltration during that time), Kana-sensei had gone back to flowers as a test and told the girls and Matsuri that they had to do something that they'd learned.

Most of the girls had just done a few flower arrangements but Matsuri had gone down a different route.

The blue haired boy had taken creative liberty and had made one extremely potent poison by mixing a muscle relaxant plant, a hilussanagent and he'd added a snake venom that dissolved organs just to see what his sensei would say. From what he had read, it would have killed someone slowly and painfully.

By the look on his sensei's face, she hadn't been expecting it and had been somewhat disturbed that he'd known about venoms already. Matsuri hadn't bothered to elaborate that she had been the one to give him the idea when she had briefly explained that some shinobi used venom from snakes and other venomous animals instead of plants.

All he'd done was go to the library and borrow books on animals with venoms and another book with poisonous plants and that was where his research had began. There was another pile of scrolls on his bedside table of venoms that he had yet to read as well as the ones on his kitchen table.

A week after making a few of his own mixtures with the few supplies that he had been able to obtain, Matsuri had even started to learn about how to use senbon needles. They were the best way to deliver doses of poison to enemies since they punctured skin easily and most ninja ignored small wounds from them. Matsuri had even made the connection that if he could ever actually control the second stage of his Kekkei genkai, he could send a few to give the enemy small shocks to get them to think all they had was electricity to distract from other attacks and ignore the one with nothing to make them think he'd just run out of chakra.

With determination, Matsuri grabbed his brand new set of senbon that he'd purchased from one of the seedier weapons shops (that he didn't want to enter ever again, he'd purchased the venom at the same place) and left his small apartment. It was early, still a few hours until he had to go to the academy. He'd go to a training field and practice with the senbon until he had to leave for the Academy. Matsuri needed to become stronger, he couldn't be weak ever again. And he was going to take advantage of every opportunity that he could to get stronger. Since he couldn't sleep, it was be the perfect time to practice.

Matsuri got dressed and quickly left his apartment. He made sure to be as quiet as possible so that he wouldn't inadvertently wake someone up. One thing that he'd learned from having Naruto as a neighbor was that he was an extremely light sleeper. The few times that he'd gotten home late from training or the library, Naruto had heard him and popped his sleepy eyed face out of his door to watch Matsuri walk by. Most of the time, the blond would ask him if he was alright before going back into his apartment to sleep, or so that was what Matsuri figured he did.
When he got for enough away from the blonds apartment, Matsuri ran. The streets were empty and there were only a few people walking around at that hour. Most of them were probably shinobi returning from missions. A few watched him as he ran by them but nobody stopped him. He guessed that he was pretty recognizable by now.

Once Matsuri made it to his destination, he scanned the area for any chakra signatures. There were more than a couple but all of them were a good distance away and the few that were close were more then likey animals. Matsuri knew that there were probably some that he couldn't sense but they wouldn't bother him unless he was doing something incredibly stupid.
He would know since it had already happened before…

Anyway, that was in the past and he wasn't going to ever try that again. Having masked ninjas appear out of nowhere to stop you was a creepy and somewhat scary experience. He didn't need that.

With a nod to himself, Matsuri closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. His eyes snapped open, locking on the practice dummy on the other side of the clearing. He held his weapon in his hand, and aimed.

Needless to say, what happened next was a complete and utter disaster. Thankfully, it didn't warrant a visit from the masked shinobi.

Though Matsuri was sure that he heard a few not so quiet snickers coming from the tree tops that surrounded his chosen training ground. He tried so hard not to pout.

 

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

Matsuri couldn't hold back a moan of despair. He'd left the training grounds as soon as it had been close to the time that the academy would start. Training had been incredibly depressing, and somewhat embarrassing. Not once had he hit his target! Not one time! Sure he had just begun training with senbon, but he should have been able to hit one part of the dummy at least once!

Yet he didn't. Not even a scratch! Not a tear! Nothing!

Not only that. He'd even lost a couple of his senbon needles! It wasn't fair! They were still shiney new!

"Stupid, stupid, stupid!" Matsuri muttered in time with the thumbs as he banged his head on his desk. He had been too eager to use them. Should have remembered how his first few tries with his archery had been when he'd first gone off by himself. "I probably need to go to the library and find another scroll." Another thunk followed that brilliant assessment of his poor planning skills. He was always eager to try something, especially if it interested him. When that happened, he would rush through studying whatever he wanted to learn and just did it. With spectacular failures as his end results.

"Matsuri-chan, what's wrong?"

The blue haired boy's head shot up, face turning red as he saw that at least half of his class had walked in while he'd been berating himself. "Um no-nothing!" A push of little bodies made their way through the door and thankfully, Ino left Matsuri so that she could sit at her desk as the sensei closed the door.

"Alright, today we'll be working on the twelve basic hand seals."

"But that's so boring! Nothing happens!" Naruto piped up from the other side of the room.

"I've explained it before, Naruto. You need to have these memorised. Ninja's use hand seals all the time. It's useful and they help you mold your chakra. For now you just have to practice them until you can do them without thinking about it. Next year you'll be using chakra." Iruka scolded before placing a stack of paper at the front desks. "Take one and pass the rest back, please. Now, without looking at the paper, who can tell me the twelve basic hand seals?"

Immediately, Sakura's hand shot up into the air, a smile on her face.

"Yes, Sakura-chan?" Iruka called when no one else volunteered.

The pink haired girl's face suddenly turned red when she realized what she'd gotten herself into. After a gentle nudge from Ino, the girl took a breath and began. Her voice grew a bit steadier with each word. "B-bird, Bo-boar, D-dog, Dragon, O-ox, Tiger, Snake, Rat, Horse, Monkey, H-hare, and Ram."

"Good job, Sakura-chan!" Iruka grinned at Sakura. "Alright, who can do the hand signs without looking at the paper?"

Meanwhile, Matsuri wasn't paying attention. His head was on the desk contemplating on what he'd done wrong with his practice earlier. Should he have thrown harder? Would that have stopped the twirl and spinning? Maybe he should have stood a bit closer to start off?

"Matsuri-chan!"

"Ah! What!? I'm here! Yes?" Matsuri shot up, back ramrod straight.

A few of the kids giggled and snickered. Matsuri could feel his face go from fine to red in less than three seconds.

Iruka-sensei just looked at Matsuri. "Well?"

"Well...?" Matsuri cleared his throat. He really wished he knew a technique that would let him sink straight through the floor.

"Show your fellow classmates all of the basic twelve hand signs." The majority of the girls in class snickered while the boys looked on in amusement.

Matsuri blinked, stood and turned to face the rest of the class. "Oh! That's easy." He ran through the signs, hands held out so people could see. He named each one and made sure to hold the sign for a few seconds before going to the next.

Once done, Matsuri went back to his seat next to Sasuke who was looking at him in surprise.
"What?" Matsuri huffed, crossing his arms across his chest and slouching down in his seat.

"I thought you weren't paying attention?" Sasuke sounded amused, but that was probably Matsuri’s imagination.

Matsuri raised an eyebrow at him. He’d already read through a scroll with the basic hand signs, and had memorized them months ago. Not that he’d told anyone, he had yet to manage to do anything with them.

Finally, Iruka had woken up from his surprise. "Good job, Matsuri-chan! Alright, everyone look at your paper and memorize the first hand sign and try to copy the way it's shown on the paper. I'll walk around and correct anyone that's having trouble."

The blue haired boy blinked at his seat mate. "No, you're right. I wasn't paying attention. But I study a lot, so I already knew the hand seals." In fact, he'd studied and practiced with them almost religiously since a week into the Academy. He knew they were important and didn't want to be one of the last ones to learn it so he'd checked out a scroll from the library. At first, he'd been extremely sloppy. His fingers had not cooperated with him at all. It had gotten better every time he practiced, though he still had to pause to think.

"Ah..." Sasuke nodded. His eyes suddenly widened and he turned away from Matsuri. From then on, the Uchiha ignored him.

Matsuri raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment. Instead, he reached into his kunai pouch and searched for one of the scrolls he'd borrowed from the library. Since he'd shown the hand seals perfectly, he thought Iruka-sensei wouldn't mind if he wasn't following his orders.

Plus, it wasn't like the things he was reading were useless... Yes, he probably shouldn't have skimmed through it that first time... but you live and learn... Even if you have to have that lesson constantly thrown at you.

Senbon

Senbon are metal needles with a point at both ends…

Duh.

Medical ninja often use them because of their knowledge with human anatomy...

At that, Matsuri frowned. Would it be useful...? He was going to use poisons, and the senbons only needed to scratch the skin... But then, it would be idiotic of him not to know the lethal areas and how to kill someone with one senbon... What if he lost his poisons and didn't have enough time to make more?

Rarely are they lethal, unless the wielder hits a vital spot. Accuracy is a must for…

...Well, if that wasn't a reminder of earlier... He was going to learn it! No way was he going to be the idiot that doesn't know how to use his choice of weapon well!

Senbon wielders often poison the tips of the needles…

Another duh. Matsuri squinted, trying to keep himself from skimming through the scroll. It wouldn't help. That had been extremely apparent. No short cuts.

His eyes skipped a few lines involuntarily. With a snap, he went back to before he skipped.

...Most beginners start by throwing kunai and shuriken to get used to the motion of throwing...
...Use palm to hold needle in place...
...path to control direction...
...while throwing, use your whole body weight…

Inwardly, Matsuri groaned. Even throwing kunai and shuriken was a hassle for him. Maybe he should start there before doing anything else... Unless he found someone to teach him how to throw senbon…

But who would?

Nobody, that's who. Maybe Iruka-sensei would in a few months/years. But he didn't want to wait that long.

Matsuri sighed and rolled up the scroll before stuffing it back into his pouch. They were supposed to practice their kunai throwing skills later that day. He'd make sure to pay extra close attention to Mitsuki-sensei. Maybe he would ask him, even if he didn't like him. The guy gave him the heebie jeebies.

A quick glance out the window showed that it was still a long way away from that though so instead, he took out another scroll and a blank piece of paper and started writing a few of the venomous animals that he wanted to get a hold of. He also wrote a few of the more dangerous plants. He doubted that he'd be able to purchase anything(no seedie store again, nope!), but he didn't want to forget, and didn't feel up to going to the library every time he ran out of something and needed to remember what it was when he could finally buy them…

Would a henge work? Maybe if he learned that then he wouldn't have to wait that long.

Matsuri groaned, and hit his head on his desk again. Why was he doing this to himself again?

A picture of his nee-chan flashed through his mind.

That was why.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

"Make sure to meet with Mizuki-sensei after lunch at the Academy training grounds! You will be learning how to throw properly."

Matsuri jumped up from his seat and flew through the doors before the words were finished. He didn't feel like socializing that day. Sure, he talked, but it was more out of being polite than anything. Being rude wasn't something his sister had taught him. She would be disappointed. She probably already was. If anything she would have wanted him to make friends with his fellow classmates…

He would. Did even. She would be happy for him, she really would. Even if he didn't speak much.

Once Matsuri made it outside, he climbed the tree and hid there. The blue haired boy made sure that he wouldn't fall as he leaned against the trunk and stared up at the blue sky. A few tiny birds fluttered around before taking off. His grey eyes followed them as the disappeared into another tree on the other side of the field.

"Matsuri-chan! Where'd you go?!"

Matsuri's eyes flickered down and saw the two blonds in his class scream his name.

"You scared her away!" Ino suddenly shouted at Naruto who gaped at her.

"What the heck are you talking about?! If anything, YOU scared her away!" Naruto finally yelled back, crossing his arms across his chest. "You're scaring her with all that 'You don't wear the dress!' nagging! Have you ever asked her if she even likes dresses? Some girls don't like them, ya know!"

"Chea right! All girls love dresses! Even if they don't show it! Besides, don't you want to see her in a dress?! They're perfect for her!"

Naruto sputtered, face turning red.

After contemplating for a moment, Matsuri sighed in defeat and jumped down from the tree. He landed next to the screaming pair of banshee's. "Hey, guys. What's with all the screaming?"

"Matsuri-chan!" Ino exclaimed happily, pushing her fellow blond loudmouth away. Matsuri shot him an apologetic look before Ino grabbed his hand and dragged him away without much trouble. Not that Matsuri would have resisted. It was better to resign himself to his fate then fight against it. "Come on! We need to go plan!"

"Plan?" Matsuri asked, puzzled. "Plan what?"

"Sasuke-kun's ambu-I mean- confession party!" Ino exclaimed happily as they made their way to a gathered group of girls. For once, instead of chasing Sasuke, every single one of his admirers(stalkers) were there. "And help with showing him our love! Maybe he can finally choose me!" Ino squealed happily but only into his ear so the other girls couldn't hear. If they did, it would start a riot, he was sure.

"You know... you're only six..." Matsuri grumbled with a grimace. He stopped walking and looked around at the group. "Confession party..? ..So... you're all confessing to him(again)... but... why am I here...?"

"Because, Matsuri-chan! You sit next to him! He talks to you the most. You have to get him to follow you so we can ambu-I mean surprise him!" Ame, another girl from their class said with a smirk. "And since you don't like him, you're perfect! Less competition! And you can get him alone! He won't leave his group of friends if we ask him to wait with us!" She semi complained and everyone muttered agreements. "All you have to do is keep him a bit longer after school today!"

"Am I allowed to say no?"

"Nope!"

"Aah..."

"I know you'll do it for me, Matsuri-chan! You're my best friend, aren't you?" Ino made puppy dog eyes at him.

Matsuri glanced away with a groan. "Fine..." He would sneak away when they wouldn't be paying attention. Hopefully, that would be soon.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

"Poor bastard..." Matsuri whispered as he snuck away from the homicidal group of females. "They're freaking crazy... I should probably warn him..."

Just then, the bell rang and instead of heading towards the classroom, Matsuri went to the training grounds that they were supposed to meet Mizuki-sensei in. Already, there was a group of kids waiting, along with their instructor, Mizuki-sensei.

Matsuri spotted Sasuke standing with the quiet Shino, and lazy (lying on the ground)Shikamaru. So far, the only girl there was Hinata and she wasn't obsessed with Sasuke like the other girls were. Now would be a good time to warn the Uchiha.

He walked over to the group and stopped next to the group of dark haired boys. "Sasuke-kun, I need to tell you something." All three turned to look at Matsuri, eyebrows raised, Sasuke's with a growing amount of horror.

"Sorry, Matsuri-chan, I need to go! I gotta go talk to sensei about something!" With that, he fled, leaving a bewildered Matsuri behind.

Matsuri heard the Uchiha say something about 'Not another one!' before getting far away and not in the direction of Mizuki.

"You finally decided to follow in the footsteps of the rest of them and become troublesome?" Shikamaru sighed as he pushed himself up from his prone position on the dirt.

"Huh?" Matsuri frowned.

"You have finally fallen in love with Sasuke Uchiha like most of the girls our age, yes?" Shino stated, light flashing off his dark tinted glasses as he tilted his face down.

Matsuri couldn't help but snort at that. To think, he’d wanted to help the boy out. Next time he’d help just because of it. "Of course not! I just wanted to warn him not to go anywhere alone today."

Shikamaru looked interested. "Warn him? Why?"

Just then they all heard a piercing scream(Sasuke), followed by high pitched giggling and fighting.

"It doesn't matter anymore." Matsuri shook his head. "I tried." With a shrug, he waved and walked away, towards Mizuki-sensei whom was ignoring the screaming.

"Matsuri-chan, do you need anything?" He asked in what was supposed to be a kind voice. Matsuri could tell that it was fake, but he ignored it.

"Mizuki-sensei... Can you teach me how to properly throw kunai and shuriken? I want to start practicing..." Matsuri tried to widen his eyes, and made himself look small and cute. It worked for the rest of the girls, so he wasn't going to not use it. If it would get him what he wanted, he wasn't going to have any qualms about using it.

"Of course, Matsuri-chan. Come over here, and I'll start you off with..."

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Different POV:

It was time to leave and Sasuke had somehow managed to get away from his ambushers. His clothes and hair were a mess, but he'd gotten away at least. Shino and Shikamaru walked with him towards the front of the Academy.

"Matsuri-chan was trying to warn you." Shino stated as they watched the blue haired girl that they were talking about, walk ahead of them. They noticed that she didn't stop with any of the parents, or teenagers waiting for kids. Instead, she just kept walking. Though she did reach into her ever present pouch and pulled out a scroll. She seemed to have no trouble walking and reading at the same time.

That was something they had all noticed about her. Where ever she was, Matsuri-chan always had a scroll with her. And if she wouldn't get into trouble for it, she would be reading it.

"Hn. It would have been helpful to know about it..." Sasuke muttered, trying hard not to pout.

Shikamaru nodded, choosing not to add anything else since it was unnecessary.

"I wonder where she's going." Shino said and the other two nodded.

Just then, Naruto ran by them. "Matsuri-chan! Wait! I'll walk home with you!"

They watched the blond catch up to Matsuri whom didn't seem startled by Naruto's presence.

"Sorry about earlier." The trio heard Matsuri say as she put her scroll away. "Ino wanted me for a stupid ambush."

Naruto laughed. "It's alright, Matsuri-chan! I heard they got the teme good!"

"I tried to warn him." Matsuri sighed. "They're scary, Naruto."

"Who is?"

"Girls." Matsuri shuddered and Naruto grinned.

"Just be glad that you'll never have to deal with them like that! Ne, Matsuri-chan! You went to the training ground this morning, right?"

"I'm sorry, did I wake you?"

"Don't worry about it! I wasn't sleepy anyways!" Naruto grinned down at the shorter girl. "But I wanted to know if you wanted to go train with me before I go to visit jiji?"

After that the two went into a different direction and the three boys couldn't hear any more.

"..."

"..."

"..."

"They live together?"

"They aren't related... Are they?"

"No, Naruto is an orphan."

"..."

"I'll ask Ino." Shikamaru stated.

All three boys were slightly flushed as they found their parents and/or brother.

"Otouto."

"Aniki!" Sasuke ran up to his brother with a smile. "You're home! Can you train with me?"

"I will for a short while." The older Uchiha poked Sasuke's forehead before walking away with Sasuke latched onto the bottom of his shirt.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7:

The sounds of flying objects hitting wood and bouncing off could be heard throughout the small clearing. Two children stood at the middle, and both seemed to be working on their throwing skills.

One of the mini-people was hitting the target more often than not, but the other…

"Naruto-kun... who taught you to throw?" Matsuri asked hesitantly as he flipped his long hair over his shoulder to get it out of the way. The blue haired shinobi-in-training had lost his hair tie somewhere along the way to the abandoned training ground and didn't have an extra.

Matsuri had stumbled across the overrun training ground a few weeks before and he didn't see anything wrong with sharing his training spot with his blond friend. Especially not after coming across him on his own training expedition. Seeing how lonely Naruto had seemed, Matsuri hadn’t had the heart to leave him by himself. Besides, Matsuri found himself enjoying Naruto’s company.

Grey eyes watched the blond intently as the boy threw his practice kuni at the tree stump. He watched as all five of the kunai flip end over end, before hitting the trunk flat end first, bounce off and fall to the ground with a loud clang.

"Aww man!" Naruto pouted before going to the fallen weapons and picking them up. "What do you mean? You were there! It was Mizuki-sensei!"

Matsuri pondered that as he watched the way Naruto positioned himself again. Instead of joining the blond in the practice, he kept his attention on Naruto. Again, Naruto aimed for the trunk and let his kunai fly. And just like before, they bounced off.

Naruto harrumphed and stalked over to the fallen weapons. He snatched them up and went back to his previous spot before starting over again. The results were the exact same, or worse.

The blond didn't notice that Matsuri wasn't practicing with him until he stopped him at his fifth try. "Hold up, Naruto-kun. That stance is all wrong, and you're not throwing it right. Here..." Matsuri positioned Naruto's feet and hands in a more effective way before standing back and examining the pose. "Okay, now try it."

Naruto stared wide eyed at him for a moment before turning back to the trunk. This time, a few of the kunai hit the target the right way, even though they fell out again. "Yes! I did it!" The blond jumped up in excitement. "Thank you, Matsuri-chan!"

Matsuri smiled, watching as Naruto gathered his scattered kunai and go for another round. Twice as many hit the target and one stayed lodged in it as well. "That's much better. Okay, let's try to see how many we can hit."

"Eh? Like a contest?" Naruto scrunched up his face in thought before a grin split his face. He obviously liked the idea.

Matsuri nodded his head with a small smile. He always liked competing. Naruto was a fast learner and it wasn't like he had an unfair advantage over the blond. "We don't have to hit the area in the circle -we're not good enough for that yet- anywhere on the trunk is fine. Get ready... In three..." Naruto fell in line next to Matsuri and glued his eyes onto the target. Matsuri could see out of the corner of his eye that the blond was excited. "Two... One!"

Both kids threw their weapons as hard as they could.

"Aww!" Naruto whined mournfully as three of his five bounced off.

Matsuri couldn't help but smirk just a little as four of his five hit the target. "Let's keep practicing. It's not that late yet. Let's try to get five out of five before you have to go meet the Hokage."

Naruto nodded his head in agreement. "Just wait Matsuri-chan! I'll beat you this time!" The blond declared with an excited yell.

Matsuri chuckled. "You can try, Naruto-kun!"

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

Three hours of non-stop throwing later, whimpers could be heard as two small figures lay on the hard packed ground of the training field.

"Matsuri-channnnn, my arms hurt." Even without looking, Matsuri could hear the pout on Naruto's face.

"Mine too."

"Let's stop."

"Agreed." Matsuri rotated his shoulders a bit before turning to look at the blond. "You want to do this again?"

"Sure! Just not every day..." Naruto grumbled as he pushed himself up from the ground. "I don't think I can survive if we do this every day..."
Matsuri couldn't help but giggle. "Don't worry, I think twice a week should be enough. When we're older, we'll do more."

Naruto nodded his head in agreement. He didn't look tired anymore and Matsuri watched in amazement as he hopped to his feet with hardly a wince. "I've got to go meet jiji! I'll see you later, Matsuri-chan!"

Matsuri waved and as soon as Naruto was out of his sight, he flopped back onto his back, arms spread wide as he gazed up at the sky. So far, it was still blue, but Matsuri could already tell that it was starting to darken slightly.

He spent five more minutes on the ground, before finally pushing himself up and onto his feet. Matsuri wouldn't have done that much either. It was only because his stomach made itself known, that he even had enough willpower to get that far. He shakily made his way back to his empty apartment. He had a few cups of ramen, that would be enough to hold him over, or at least to appease the growling monster that his stomach had become.

The next day, he would receive the money for food and clothes. He wouldn't have to pay rent because Inoichi-san had already explained that it was drawn directly out of the account automatically, along with the electricity bill. What was left was his to spend on food and anything he needed. He'd immediately split the money between food and savings that first month. He didn't need clothes yet so that hadn't been even a thought in his mind. The savings was how he'd bought his Senbon needles and luckily he still had a lot left, but food had been a bit more trouble. It seemed like he was eating more. At first he had been disgruntled but then they'd had a class explaining that shinobi and kunoichi spent more energy than normal civilians. Therefore, more food was needed to sustain the amount of energy they needed. Now he knew that he needed a lot more protein than ramen could afford. Sure it was cheap, but even he knew it wasn't healthy, even if he did exercise a lot of the time.

It hadn't registered at the time, but after the shock hard worn off some, Matsuri had been somewhat stunned that he was living alone. Even if he did get somewhat of a babysitter every few days. The woman would walk in unannounced and ask him how he was. Mostly he was ignored though and after a quick check around the apartment, she would leave without a word. She never helped with food or anything of that like. Matsuri didn't even know her name. It was odd but Matsuri had gotten used to it after the first few times. Tomorrow was the day she was supposed to check in on him but Matsuri wasn't going to be there. He had food to buy.

"How am I gonna do this...?" Matsuri muttered to himself as he slowly walked towards the apartment. He was still a fair ways away and he wasn't going to start running any time soon. He didn't know how Naruto could do it but he wasn't Naruto. His muscles hurt. A lot.

"Matsuri-chan!"

Matsuri stopped, more than a bit surprised at being called, and looked in the direction that he'd heard the voice coming from. He spotted Sasuke along with an older looking Sasuke. He didn't look old enough to be Sasuke's father so either he was an older brother or maybe a cousin... Sasuke waved and Matsuri had to raise an eyebrow at that. Sasuke never called him like that... "Hello, Sasuke-kun. What can I do for you..?"

Matsuri didn't notice the blush that crept slightly across Sasuke's cheeks, but someone else did.
"Hello..." Sasuke started but his train of thought left him for a minute.

Matsuri smiled at him, his head tilted slightly to the side as he waited for whatever Sasuke was going to tell him. His eyes darted up to the older Uchiha every once in awhile. He seemed to be studying Matsuri and was giving an amused look at the semi-stuttering Sasuke every so often.

"Um, I was..." Sasuke rambled, mind finally latching onto the conversation that he'd had with Shino and Shikamaru. "I'm sorry I ran away earlier... Shikamaru and Shino told me that you were going to warn me about..."

"Oh." Matsuri nodded his head, interrupting him. "Don't worry about it. I know that you're used to girls confessing to you at every corner and it's logical that that's where your mind went. I'm sorry, I probably should have phrased it a different way so that you wouldn't get the wrong idea."

"Hn, don't apologise." Sasuke replied, seemingly to find his usual self again. "What are you doing out so late by yourself? Weren't you with Naruto...?"

"Yes, we went to practice together but he had to go meet with someone." Matsuri stated, eyes flickering up to the other Uchiha again.

That time, Sasuke saw the glance and flushed. "Ah. I'm sorry, Matsuri-chan, this is my older brother Itachi Uchiha. Aniki, this is one of my classmates, Matsuri-chan..."

Itachi seemed even more amused by Sasuke stuttering. "Hello. It's a pleasure to meet you, Matsuri...?"

"Mori." Matsuri bowed his head slightly.

Itachi nodded with a small smile, eyes flickering between Sasuke and Matsuri.

"Where are you going?" Sasuke asked suddenly, only to look a bit shocked at his outburst a second later.

"Home." Was Matsuri's simple reply.

"Would you like us to escort you? It's pretty late and a little lady like you shouldn't be walking alone." Itachi inquired with a bit of amusement.

Matsuri made a face at the 'little lady' part but let it go. He'd learned his lesson. No one believed him. At least not yet. "Don't worry, I'm at the other end of the village. Isn't the Uchiha compound over here?" Matsuri smiled. "I'll be fine."

"No, no, no. We insist, right otouto?" Itachi nudged Sasuke who gave him a frown.

Again, Matsuri waved them away. "It's fine, I'll probably see Naruto on the way and we'll walk home together."

"You live with Naruto?" Sasuke blurted out, his face turning red as Itachi raised an eyebrow.

"Huh?" Matsuri looked at Sasuke confusedly. "Live with Naruto? No, I don't live with him. We're neighbors."

"Oh..." Sasuke blushed and decided to hide behind Itachi since he'd embarrassed himself enough already.

"Anyway, I need to go. I'll see you later, Sasuke-kun. It was a pleasure meeting you, Itachi-san." Matsuri bowed again before heading off again. He really wanted to get home now and he didn't need creepy, stalker-like older brothers following him.

Meanwhile Itachi was hiding a smirk. "So otouto... I take it that Matsuri-chan is your girlfriend..?"

"What?! No!" Sasuke cried out, his face flaming red.

"Hn. I'm going to tell mother."

"Don't you dare!"

"So she is your girlfriend?"

"Ah! No!" Sasuke gasped in shock.

“You aren’t a very good liar, otouto.”

“Anikiiiii!!!!”

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

The next day, Matsuri made his way out of the bank with his month's allowance and headed to the market district a few blocks down the road. Since he wouldn't be able to carry everything all at once, he would have to take more than one trip. It would be a hassle, but it had to be done if he wanted to eat.

With that in mind, Matsuri wandered down the booths and got to work. After about ten minutes, his hands were full of bags. With a sigh, he turned back towards his apartment.

"Hey, Matsuri-chan!"

Once again, Matsuri was surprised at the fact that someone was calling him. It felt like a repeat of the other day. He turned his head and saw a grinning Kiba walking over, an older woman that looked like him not far behind.

"Kiba-kun." Matsuri nodded to him and turned to the woman behind him and bowed his head in greeting.

"This is my sister, Hana. Hana, this is Matsuri-chan. What are you doing, Matsuri-chan?" Kiba eyes the bags in his hands as Hana waved to Matsuri with a grin. "Shopping?"

Matsuri nodded his head. "Yes, I have more things to buy but I need to drop these off at my place first."

That was when Hana got a gleam in her eyes that Matsuri didn't quite understand. "That would make you take more than one trip, right?"

"Yes, Hana-san. I probably need to do five trips total and this is my first trip." Matsuri replied politely.

The smirk grew on Hana's face. "Perfect! Why doesn't Kiba help you carry them? That would mean less trips for you, wouldn't it?"

"Oh, no. That would be to much trouble!" Matsuri shook his head, not wanting to bug them with his groceries.

"No trouble at all, kid! Right Kiba?"

"I don't mind! I was just going to meet a couple of the guys at the park. We can get a couple of them to help too!" Kiba said excitedly.

"Nonononono! It's fine, really! And it helps me work out too a bit." Matsuri began frantically shaking his head as Kiba grabbed his bags and took off to the park. He had little choice left but to follow in order to not loose Naruto's personality twin and a fifth of his food for the month. "I-I said it was fine! Kibaaaaa!"

Neither kid noticed the chuckling Hana watching them. She left, ready to tell her mother about Kiba's cute little kid crush.

"Hey guys!" Kiba shouted as he slid to a stop at the park in front of what seemed like half of their classmates.

Matsuri managed to finally catch up to his classmate. He was breathing heavily and Matsuri made a mental note to do a bit more endurance training in the future. "Kiba-kun, it's alright! You don't have to go through the trou-"

"It's not trouble at all, Matsuri-chan!" Kiba interrupted before turning to the boys that had walked over. "Matsuri-chan need's help with carrying groceries, you guys up for it?"

"No! It's fine! Really!" Matsuri insisted, trying to grab the bags in Kiba's hands, somehow failing to snatch them away…

"Nope!" Kiba giggled, holding them away from Matsuri's reach.

"Troublesome." Shikamaru sighed but got up from his cloud watching position on the grass. "I'll help."

"I shall help as well." Shino stated, pushing up his dark tinted glasses. "With us to help, your chore shall get done in a much shorter time."

"I can help too." Chouji said through a mouthful of chips.

"Stop saying no, and accept the help already!" Kiba scolded gently before breaking out into a wide grin. "Which way first?"

For a second, Matsuri debated whether turning down the help again, before he sighed in defeat. "If you're sure your parents won't mind... Alright. I need to get a few canned things and milk from the store... and fruits from the stalls..."

"Say no more! Onward!" Kiba set off and it took a few seconds to notice that nobody was following him just yet. "What's up?"

"Troublesome. We need to tell my dad where we're going." Shikamaru clarified for the Inuzuka, as he pointed behind his shoulder. "He's watching us, give me a second."

The group of boys watched the Nara as he walked to where an older version of him stood with another man that looked like an older version of Chouji. They saw the man nod to whatever Shikamaru told him.

"He want's us back as soon as we get done. Troublesome." Shikamaru grunted as he tucked his hands into his front pockets and slouched his shoulders a bit when he was near them. "Now we can go."

"Onward!" Kiba yelled, leading them once again. This time everyone followed after the energetic boy out of the park.

Just then they saw another one of their classmates. "Sasuke!" Kiba cried out happily. "Here, hold this!" And he handed the Uchiha one of the bags that he'd been holding.

"What's this?" Sasuke frowned at the bag and looked at the group that he and his aniki had come across.

"It's Matsuri-chan's. We're helping her carry her groceries." Shino said.

"Wanna help?" Shikamaru asked. Even if Sasuke said no, they would probably drag him along anyway.

"Go ahead, otouto. I need to do a few things." With that, Itachi disappeared.

"Let's go, then...?" Matsuri said, taking the lead this time. He wondered how many more of their classmates that they would end up finding.

"Why doesn't your mom help you, Matsuri-chan?" Chouji asked out of the blue.

It shocked Matsuri slightly. He never talked about his past with his schoolmates. Only Ino and Naruto knew that he even lived alone(and maybe Sasuke), and none of them knew more than that though. Matsuri doubted that Inoichi ever told Ino exactly what had happened to Matsuri.
Matsuri turned his face towards the chubby boy, the sad smile apparent. "My parents are dead. My mother never really took care of me... It was mostly my sister and a few of the servants... but right now, I live alone so if I don't do it, it wouldn't get done."

There was a bit of a stunned silence where none of the boys knew what to say for a few seconds before Kiba spoke up. "Well, whenever you need any help, just ask us! We'll help you!"

The other's nodded their heads in agreement and Matsuri couldn't help but feel a bit happy that he had friends like them. "Thanks, you guys are the best."

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

"It's like a mother duck with her babies..."

None of the kids knew it, but they were being trailed by a group of parents and older siblings that were following the procession of children.

"It's too adorable." Hana gushed as she eyed the six year olds.

"She's already got them under her thumb..." Shikaku observed.

"And she doesn't even know it!"

"Isn't six too young to get a crush?" Shisui Uchiha whispered to a smirking Itachi. Just like Sasuke had a strong resemblance to Itachi, Itachi had a strong resemblance to Shisui. Like any member of the Uchiha Clan, pale skin, black hair and eyes was prevalent. Itachi's hair was longer than Shisui's though.

"Sure. But when have you ever seen Sasuke not push away a girl before?"

The older teenager shrugged to himself. He couldn't believe the group in front of him, and he thought they were shinobi. He snorted softly to himself. Well if they didn't notice that Matsuri wasn't a 'she' then he wasn't going to tell them. They'd figure it out sooner or later.

He patted his side where his pouch was to make sure he hadn't lost them. He'd stop by soon and drop them off. They were too new to stay lost.

Chapter Text

Note: Thank you everyone for reading! I'm so happy that people are enjoying this! This chapter ended up being long! I hope you guys enjoy it!

Chapter 8:

Summer merged into fall and vaguely, Matsuri registered his birthday was quickly closing in. Not that he told anyone about it. To him, it was just another day.

Like on any other morning, Matsuri got up just before the sun crested the horizon and got dressed. He quickly left the building. He was pretty sure that his stealth skills had gotten better and he probably hadn't woken up his blond neighbor... Probably. There was something about Naruto that made him an expert at knowing when Matsuri left.

To be honest, it was starting to get a bit annoying.

With a shake of his head, Matsuri took off at a light jog towards his training ground. On the way there he slowed as he spotted the green blur that kept yelling about youth or something like that. That first time that Matsuri had caught sight of the guy, he had been walking on his hands. Kakashi had also been with him at the time with a book stuck to his face.

At first, Matsuri had wanted to greet the silver haired man because he hadn't seen a glimpse of him in the six months Matsuri had been in Konoha. After a few seconds of studying them though, Matsuri had changed his mind. For all he knew, Kakashi had already forgotten about him.

As Matsuri watched the green blur pass him, it suddenly stopped and the blur became a man.
A man with a bowl haircut and the thickest eyebrows that Matsuri had ever seen in his life.
After a few seconds, Matsuri blinked in surprise. He hadn't gotten a good look at the man those other times and he was a bit taken aback when said man locked eyes on him. The second their eyes met, the man grinned at Matsuri and gave him a thumbs up. Even though it was dark, the man's teeth glinted brightly, almost blinding Matsuri.

"Why, hello there! What is a youthful young flower such as yourself doing out so early in the morning?!"

"Maa, Gai, quit scaring her."

Matsuri instantly recognized that voice.

"My hip, young rival! You are mistaken! I would never scare one of Konoha's blossoming flowers!" The now named Gai gave Matsuri the good guy pose. "I was just asking why she would be up so early! And at such a young age!"

"Hello, Matsuri-chan." Kakashi said, ignoring Gai and Matsuri could tell by the way his one visible eyes closed, that he was smiling at him. "It's good to see you up and about. How have you been?"

"Kakashi-sama, good morning. It's a pleasure seeing you. I've been doing well. My Academy training is really interesting and I've made a few friends." Matsuri bowed his head politely before smiling up at the man. "I don't think I told you this, but I'm really grateful that you found me when you did."

"Maa, don't worry about it Matsuri-chan."

Just then they both tuned into Gai's ramblings. He had tears in his eyes and was grinning wildly at Kakashi. Matsuri was half glad he missed whatever he had been saying.

"Ah, yes. I don't think I've introduced you two, have I?" Kakashi said and Matsuri could detect the faint hint of amusement in Kakashi's voice. "Matsuri-chan, this is Maito Gai. Gai, this is Matsuri Mori."

"Pleasure to meet you, Gai-sama." Matsuri bowed.

"No need to be so formal, Matsuri-chan! The pleasure is all mine! Kakashi has told me about you, most youthful flower!" Once again, Gai blessed Matsuri with his good guy pose.

"Maa, Masuri-chan, what are you doing up so early? The Academy doesn't start for another two hours, right?" Kakashi ruffled Matsuri's hair.

Matsuri tried shaking off Kakashi's hand and gave up with a huff when it didn't budge an inch. "Training. I've been practicing my throwing."

"The Flames of Youth burn Brightly in you, Matsuri-chan!" Gai yelled happily. "In Honor of your most Youthful! Display, I shall run around the Village two-hundred times! If I can not do that, I will do-!" The still yelling Gai ran off, leaving a slightly overwhelmed Matsuri, and a chuckling Kakashi, behind.

"Maa, you get used to it. Have a good day, Matsuri chan." Kakashi gave him a wave and pulled out an orange colored book as he walked away.

Matsuri shook his head slightly with a smile before turning back to his destination. Nobody stopped him again and he made it to the training ground in five minutes. When he got there, Matsuri could have sworn that he had heard someone chuckling as he made his way there. He hadn't seen anyone but Matsuri was sure that they were there.

Feeling particularly childish at that moment, Matsuri stuck out his tongue.

The low chuckling doubled and Matsuri couldn't help but smirk. He was right! Someone was watching him! Not the regular guys either.

Suspicions confirmed, Matsuri got to work. He began his warm ups. one-hundred sit ups, push ups, and lounges. After that, he took out his kunai and began to throw them at his target.

He'd decided that until his throwing skills were excellent, he wasn't going to use his senbon so that he wouldn’t loose them so fast. Matsuri didn't want to risk losing any more of them any time soon, since they weren’t really cheap to say the least. And his skills had improved. Nine out of ten kunai hit the target and one or two of those nine actually hit the bull's eye. That might not seem like great odds but considering how it had started, he was doing pretty great.

After half an hour of that, Matsuri took out one of the three scrolls inside his kunai pouch and unsealed his new bow and arrows. It wasn't the one that his sister had given him, sadly, but it was still a good -if not great- one. He'd asked around about places that fixed bows but his odds hadn't been good. One day it would be fixed, even if to was years before that happened.
Matsuri strung the bow with deft hands. In less than a minute, it was ready and pointing in the direction of the target.

There was something calming about the motions of shooting a bow. It was also satisfying seeing the arrows clustered tightly together in the bull's eye, after the constant missed kunai.

Swiftly, Matsuri turned and shot at one of the hanging target that he'd placed in a few of the tree's in the clearing. He wasn't worried about hitting anyone. If the masked men couldn't dodge an arrow from a kid that they were watching... Well, they didn't deserve to be shinobi.

For the rest of the half hour, Matsuri alternated his target shots. Unlike with his kunai and shuriken, all his arrows made it to their designated spots. Once his quiver was empty, Matsuri sealed his bow away and walked around the clearing to get all his arrows back. They weren't expensive but why waste perfectly usable arrows by leaving them behind? He had plenty of time left to get to the Academy either way.

After he plucked the last arrow from its target, Matsuri swept a critical eye over the area. Nothing caught his eye, and with a nod of satisfaction, headed off to the Academy.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

A groan escaped Matsuri's throat as he sat up. His head throbbed in pain. It seemed that he'd woken up with a slight headache. Another groan escaped him but he was still gonna get up, because no matter what, he was going to use every possible opportunity to train and get stronger. Even if he was in pain.
Matsuri got up and got quickly got dressed. He made his way to the door but something on his kitchen table glinted slightly, catching his attention. When he got to it, he saw three senbon needles. His lost senbon needles. "Wha-?" Matsuri picked them up and inspected them. "How?"
After looking at them for a few minutes, Matsuri smiled. "Thank you." With that he left out the door. Matsuri knew it was that one masked shinobi. He'd since learned that they were called ANBU. The ANBU that always seemed to look after him was the one that had left them there. Matsuri was sure of it, and he was thankful.

Around ten minutes later, Matsuri made it to his training grounds and began his warm ups. When that was done, he reached into his pouch. The first thing his fingertips felt were the senbon. After a second of hesitation, Matsuri brought them out and studied them. He really wanted to practice with them, but his aim was still abysmal. And he didn't want to loose any again. The ANBU was nice enough to help him this time, but that didn't mean he would go out of his way to do it again…

Matsuri sighed sadly, and started to place the senbon back into his pouch when someone appeared in front of him, scaring the living daylights out of him.

"I'll teach you."

Matsuri couldn't help but blink in surprise up at the teen in front of him. He had black, messy hair and obsidian eyes. He looked kinda like Itachi, minus the weird lines down his face and the shorter hair cut.

"You'll teach me?" Matsuri couldn't keep the surprise and doubt out of his voice.

The teen boy gave Matsuri a smile and a nod.

"Why?" Matsuri couldn't believe that a total stranger would do something like that for him.

Like Kakashi had earlier, the teen ruffled Matsuri's long locks, making them a semi tangled mess. "Because, I want to. And besides, my cousin has a chibi him, I should have one too!"

"But I don't have black hair or eyes.." Matsuri tried to duck out of the way. Even though this teen was younger than Kakashi, he still couldn't move from under the hand. "I'm guessing you're talking about Itachi and Sasuke Uchiha...?"

"Details, details." The teen waved away the hair color problem away. "And that's an affirmative! The names Shisui Uchiha! And you are Matsuri-kun! My new mini me!"

"I don't remember agreeing to this... Or telling you my name... Wait. You can tell I'm a boy?!" Matsuri stared up at Shisui, eyes shining, liking Shisui more than anyone else at that moment.

 

Shisui chuckled and squatted down so that he was eye level with the seven year old. "Of course! It's pretty obvious. People only look skin deep though."

Matsuri pondered that for a moment, before nodding in understanding and agreement.

"Atta boy. You can get people to underestimate you this way. I'd suggest that you keep the illusion up for as long as you can."

At that, Matsuri couldn't help but pout. "I'm not going to wear dresses!"

Shisui chuckled at the indignant look on Matsuri's face. "Don't worry, you don't have to wear them if you don't want to."

Matsuri sighed in relief.

Shisui grinned before looking pointedly at the senbon needles in Matsuri's hand. "Now I want you to..."

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri walked into the classroom with a small grin on his face. Finally he'd been able to get a hang of throwing the senbon correctly. Unlike the kunai, he managed to hit some part of the target every time. It had been exciting to see how much better he was with them. Shisui had even complimented him on his choice of weapons, saying that most people didn’t think they were effective enough and underestimated their use immensely.

That had made him blush happily, more than he could possibly admit.

"Oh? What's this? Does Matsuri-chan have a boyfriend that I don't know about?"
And just like that, it went out in indignation and a dumbfounded look at the blond. "What?! I do not!"

Ino grinned evilly as she eyed Matsuri closely. "You do, don't you? Don't lie! You've got a glow about you!"

"What?! We're seven! Seven! I do NOT have a boyfriend! I'm happy because I finally figured out something that I have been working on for a few months!" Matsuri sputtered hotly, not able to believe his ears. It was like her not believing he was a boy all over again!

"Mhm, I believe you!" Ino said with a wink before skipping away.

Of course, a certain someone had heard the whole thing and repeated it. Loudly. "Eh! You have a boyfriend, Matsuri-chan?"

"I do not!" Matsuri practically screamed, face burning in mortification.

Naruto didn't believe him, it seemed. "Who is it?"

"I don't have one!"

"Naruto, quit it. Before you break her." Shikamaru stated from the other side of the room.

Matsuri was about to turn to thank him when the Nara continued. "If she doesn't want to say who her boyfriend is, then she doesn't have to tell us."

"I don't have one!" Matsuri wailed, wishing he could bash his head in, or wake up and find out it had all been a dream.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri walked dejectedly out of the Academy. He was going to go train, maybe that would help. It would help with letting him forget about the day. Ino and her stupid assumptions, now his whole class thought he had a boyfriend! What the heck is the matter with them?!

"Matsuri!"

The blue haired boy snapped his head up in surprise as he saw Shisui waving at him from next to perplexed Itachi and Sasuke. Matsuri nimbly made his way over to the group of Uchiha feeling slightly apprehensive. "Hello Shisui-san, Itachi-san, Sasuke-kun."

"I was wondering, Matsuri, if you wanted to have another round of training?" Shisui grinned while ruffling Matsuri's hair, making the boy pout up at him. "I'm going to be leaving for a mission and I wanted to show you something that you can practice while I'm gone. If you're as smart as I know you are, you'll have it down by the time I get back."

"I didn't know that you knew Shisui..." Sasuke semi questioned as he glanced from Shisui to Matsuri and back again.

"An older Sasuke? Wow Matsuri-chan! I didn't know you liked older boys!" Ino popped out behind Matsuri. He would of jumped in surprise, but Shisui's hand kept him firmly planted on the ground.

"Wha-?!" Matsuri sputtered. "Ino! We're seven! And I would never, ever, ever, EVER! Have a boyfriend!"

Ino rolled her eyes playfully before turning to Sasuke who at the moment looked like a fish out of water. "See you tomorrow, Sasuke-kun!"

"She's funny." Shisui commented when Ino left, making Matsuri glare up at him. "Oh, come on, you've got to admit, she has some funny ideas."

Matsuri crossed his arms across his chest.

"Oh, no pouting mini me!" Shisui patted Matsuri's head, grin widening even more.

"Mini me?" Itachi questioned with a raised eyebrow.

"Yup! You have your own and now I have one too!" Shisui chuckled happily. "See you two later!” With that, Matsuri felt his stomach lurch. One second they were in front of the Academy and the next, they were at the training ground.

"Alright! Let's get star-" Shisui stopped as Matsuri stumbled away from the Uchiha and emptied his lunch at the side of the clearing. "Ops... I probably shouldn't have done that..."

Matsuri turned his head to glare balefully at the sheepish looking teen.

"Sorry, sorry!" Shisui said with a chuckle. A chuckle!

If Matsuri hadn't started heaving again, he would have cussed him out.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri let out a tired sigh as he finally opened the door to his apartment. His body ached, but even though he was sore, it had been a good day. Besides the whole classroom thing. And the shunshin thing.

Matsuri couldn't deny the genuine smile from appearing on his face.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo-One Year Later-OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

"Matsuri-chan!" Ino called out as soon as she walked into the classroom and spotted her blue haired friend.

"Hmm?" Matsuri looked up from his scroll. During the past year, he'd grown a bit. Not by much, but he was still taller than he used to be. Sadly enough, everyone else in his class was still taller then him. Even the girls. That had been a huge disappointment to him and a mini slap to the face. Like, what did a boy have to do to stop being seen as a girl?! "Yes, Ino-chan?"

The girl rushed over to him and slapped her hands on the table making a loud 'smack' noise throughout the room and halting any and all the other conversations. "You've been here a year and a half and you haven't told us when your birthday is!"

Matsuri blinked in surprise at that. He glanced up at the ceiling and mentally added up the months. Again, he blinked as he found out that she was correct. One birthday had already come and gone and his eighth one was closing in. "Huh..." Matsuri mussed with a slight shake of his head before turning back to his friend. "It's next week."

"Eh?!" Ino screeched. "Why didn't you tell me this earlier?!"

Matsuri shrugged while holding in a wince at the loud pitch. "Why would knowing when my birthday was matter?" From what he could remember, his nee-chan was the only one that had ever recognized his birthday. She would wake him up super early in the morning and have breakfast with him. There would be a few of his favorite things to eat and dango as the desert. Then she would give him a gift before she had to go to their parents and do whatever it is she had to do for the day.

That last year she had given him the bow and the year before that it had been a set of books. That was when she'd started teaching him to read and he had been obsessed with reading(he still was but that was neither here nor there). He didn't really remember the birthdays before that.

Sure, he knew birthdays were special and whenever one of his friends birthdays came up, he would give them a present and show up to celebrate. There had been Sasuke's birthday for example. Matsuri had been invited over along with Shikamaru, Chouji, Naruto, Shino, and Kiba. Of course, he hadn't known it was just them until he'd gone over with Naruto and seen the group of boys standing in the living room with the adults standing around. The overwhelming presence of Uchiha was a shock but then again it wasn't because it was the Clan heads son's birthday, but still. Matsuri could practically feel the chill that the older pricks were giving them, and the parents whom had accompanied their sons into the Uchiha compound.

"Happy birthday, Sasuke-kun." Matsuri decided to ignore the not so subtle hostility and instead focused on Sasuke who had a pained look on his face. To maybe take his mind off of the bad vibes, Matsuri handed him the box wrapped in dark blue and silver paper. "Open it."

Sasuke's eyes brightened slightly. He looked over his shoulder and towards a woman that had his same blue-black hair color. The woman -probably his mother- nodded her head with a bright smile.

Eagerly, Sasuke ripped open the paper, took off the top of the box and peered inside. A pouch could be seen. Sasuke looked up at Matsuri about to say his thanks when he saw Matsuri motion again towards the bag. With a raised eyebrow, Sasuke took the pouch and immediately noticed the weight. There was something inside.

With even more excitement, Sasuke opened the pouch and stared inside wide-eyed.
The rest of the boys clattered around and stared enviously as Sasuke reached in and took out a few well made shuriken. "Wow Matsuri-chan! These are amazing! Thank you!"

Matsuri grinned happily as he watched Sasuke examine the three shuriken that he'd taken out. It looked like he'd gotten the right gift after all. He had been undecided on what would be appropriate but he'd ended up going along with his gut.

"Ka-san!" Sasuke turned to his mother, eyes alight with happiness. "May we go out to the backyard?"

"Yes, Sasuke. Itachi and Shisui will go with you though." Sasuke's mother motioned to the older teens who had been standing back from the group and keeping a close watch. "They'll help you if you need it."

Sasuke nodded eagerly and quickly grabbed Matsuri's hand and physically dragged him out of the room with the other boys trailing behind. They had all stayed out there practicing with Sasuke's new weapons. The birthday boy had let everyone take a shot at the target with them. By the time that they'd gone trudging back inside, most of the Uchiha had left. The atmosphere had been immensely lightened and the group of boys had had more than enough fun after that.

Also, there had been Naruto's birthday. He could remember it well. The boy had been surprisingly silent throughout the school day. Instead of being his loud boisterous self, he'd been... silent... almost like he was scared.

Matsuri had kept a close watch on him from the start of the day. He'd seen the way the blond had avoided large populated areas.

Finally, during lunch, Matsuri had cornered him and asked(demanded) what was wrong. After a while, Naruto had finally caved and said that it was his birthday that day. He'd also said that the civilians were always extra horrible to him on that day. Matsuri had been pretty sure that Naruto had hid something from him.

Despite that, or more like because of it, Matsuri had stuck to Naruto like a burr for that whole day. Since he hadn't been able to get a gift for him, Matsuri had treated Naruto to ramen. As much as he could eat ramen.

It probably would have been cheaper to get him a gift the next day instead of the ramen.
Oh well, you live and you learn.

Besides, it really had been worth it... seeing the happiness and excitement on Naruto's face, it had made Matsuri so happy. That boy didn't deserve pain. A person as energetic and so full of life, didn't deserve the pain that people threw on him. For no real reason that Matsuri could see. Maybe there was, but a child couldn't have done anything... anything to deserve that amount of hate.

That thought never extended to himself though. Without his nee-chan there, his birthday was just another day. Still, surprisingly enough, last year he'd found his lost senbon on his kitchen table on his birthday. It was probably a coincidence that they'd been left on that day since nobody knew when he was born (except for maybe the people that had read those papers he'd filled out) but it had reminded him of how his sister would surprise him.
It had been... nice.

With that in mind, Matsuri zoomed back into Ino's conversation once again. He hadn't caught most of what she had said, but tuning in, he could make a few deductions.

"-your place is too small to have it there. I'll ask my father if we can have it at our place or even at one of Chouji's clans restaurants. My father is good friends with Chouji's. I'm sure they wouldn't mind! Oh! You need to wear that purple dress! You haven't grown an inch so it should still fit you!"

And just like that, Matsuri felt his world shatter once again. He was so sure that he'd grown a little…

"Oh! Or me, Sakura and Hinata can take you shopping and pick out something special as your gift! Like a kimono! I can't wait! This is going to be so much fun!" Ino gushed and took off to talk to Sakura and Hinata.

Matsuri, on the other couldn't stop gaping, already feeling the horror settle in. What had his life come to?

Maybe he could disappear for a week?

Wouldn't that be reasonable?

What if he made himself sick?

Yeah, that's what he was going to do. He was going to make himself sick and miss school for that whole week. Or die. That would also work. No way in hell was he going to wear a dress.
No, no, no, no. Nope. Nuh uh.

Just then Naruto walked by him and noticed the shocked look on Matsuri's face. "Are you alright?"

"Nope."

"What happened?"

"Kill me."

"Whaaaaat!? Why?!"

"Please?"

"No!"

"..." Matsuri pouted. "Please?"

"I said no!" Naruto went from defiant to horrified. "Wait! Don't cry! No! Don't..."

Matsuri gave an extra wobble of his lips just to make it extra real.

"Naruto! What did you do?!"

"I didn't do anything!"

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri wanted to sink deep down into the floor and just disappear.

"You l-look so p-pretty, Matsuri-san!" Hinata smiled shyly as she studied the Kimono that Matsuri had on. At least he had been right in the fact that he had grown. Take that Ino!

Matsuri didn't say a word, he just studied himself in the mirror. His hair had been put up in an elaborate bun with his bangs framing the sides of his face and few sakura flowers near the bun.
The kimono was a lighter shade of blue then his hair was and the obi was the same color as the flowers in his hair. The flower pattern over the majority of the kimono were different shades of blue. Overall, a girl would love it.

Matsuri wasn't a girl, therefore he was dead inside. Though he was pretty sure that if his nee-chan could see him now, she would go nuts over it. She had always said that she wanted to dress him up in a kimono.

If Shisui saw him, he was going to laugh his ass off…

Matsuri sighed softly and with more than a little dejection.

"I agree, Hinata-chan! You look amazing!" Ino seconded and walked around Matsuri to make sure everything was in place. Like Matsuri, the other three girls were also in kimonos. They had all had a vote. Either all of them would wear dresses or they would wear kimono's. Matsuri hadn't voted because his suggestion of regular clothes had been shot down almost immediately.

Instead of going to Ino's house or one of the Akimichi restaurants, Matsuri had managed to get Ino to agree to going to one of the many festivals that was happening that week. Most of their friends had been ecstatic to find out that it was Matsuri's birthday and had announced that they would be seeing them at the festival.

Shortly after that, Ino led the procession of girls and one boy(dressed as a girl) out onto the street and down to the meeting place.

"Happy birthday, Matsuri-chan!" A chorus of boys voices could be heard and the blush didn't leave Matsuri's face for the rest of that afternoon. He couldn't even count on his fingers how many people complimented him and told him 'Aww, you look so cute!'. It was a fun day(that he couldn't deny), but he wished the cute compliments hadn't been mentioned.

At all.

"Aww, Matsuri! You look so adorable!" Matsuri could see how hard Shisui was holding back his laughter. "The perfect princess!" And there went the dam. Shisui clutched his stomach as he laughed his ass off.

"I am going to kill you."

"Alright, but first, pictures!" Shisui pulled out a camera.

"No! Don't you dare!"

Flash.

"I'm really going to kill you."

Flash. Flash. Flash.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri took a deep breath, and forced his chakra from his stomach to his hands. He wasn't sure if he was doing that right, but it felt right so he was going to go with it. If he messed up, Matsuri was sure that the ANBU(Shisui) that was keeping an eye on him would interfere. He'd done it ever since he'd came to Konoha, so he doubted that the behavior would change any time soon. Besides, he was Shisui's mini me. If Shisui was off duty, he would appear without the mask and if he was, he would appear with it on.

Shisui still hadn't appeared to help but Matsuri wasn't really surprised. Recently, the Shisui's chakra signature had been around less and less even though he was around about every other week or so. The only way Matsuri knew about it was because every once in awhile, Shisui would flare his chakra. For the past two months, he had been around a bit less so he probably didn't know how long Matsuri had been struggling with it.

A few months prior to this, they had begun to learn how to mold chakra for jutsu during Iruka-sensei's lesson and so far, Matsuri had failed at it. There was a couple of times that he felt like it was going to work but when he'd released the chakra, it had dissipated. He might have been a natural at sniffing out chakra signatures and making keys with it to open traps, but his jutsu success was disastrous.

And that was putting it nicely.

But Matsuri wasn't about to give up. Like with his senbon training, it just took practice. Or maybe a different way of looking at it with or without another person's help.

Besides, he wanted to make Shisui proud. He'd grown close to the Uchiha, he was almost like a brother.

Again, Matsuri took a deep breath and in quick succession made three handsigns. Dog-boar-ram. "Henge no jutsu!"

A puff of smoke surrounded the now eight year old. When it cleared, his hair color was changed. "Did it work?" Matsuri wondered and looked down. He spotted the black hair immediately. "Yes!"
He headed over to the stream and looked down. Instead of his silver eyes, they were black. "I did it!"

Now he had to see if he could change his height…

"Matsuri!"

Matsuri turned to look at Shisui who had appeared with his usual shunshin. "Shisui! I did it!"
The teen grinned as he studied Matsuri's new appearance. "You did. Great job, Matsuri!" He patted the younger boy's head, making the henge disappear as Matsuri lost his concentration. "How about we go out to eat? My treat."

"Really?" Matsuri asked surprised. He studied Shisui for a moment. There was... something off about him.

"Really." Shisui smiled and it almost seemed... sad. "Let's go."

Chapter Text

Chapter 9 Part One: Day with Shisui

Matsuri followed behind Shisui, keeping just a few steps behind the teen. It was... odd seeing a usually energetic and cheerful Shisui so quiet. The blue haired boy studied him for a few seconds before running forward slightly and taking the teens hand. He tugged a now slightly amused Shisui to the dango place he had discovered with the help of Itachi and Sasuke a few weeks before.

Shisui rolled his eyes when they went into the shop. "You and Itachi with your dango, I swear..." Shisui chuckled. They made their way to an empty table.

"Is everything alright?" Matsuri asked hesitantly as they sat down.

Shisui smiled but Matsuri could still detect a bit of... something in his eyes. "I'm fine, mini me. I just got back from a mission and I'm a little tired is all. Anyway, enough about me, how is your training going?"

The change of subject was so swift that the younger boy almost had whiplash, but Matsuri allowed the 'off limit' topic to drop. "It's going alright. Shisui-nii..." Matsuri faltered and with a blush looked down at the table top not noticing the way Shisui started in surprise and pleasure. "Sorry, that just slipped out.. Um, I was wondering... Remember how you told me how I should keep people thinking that I'm a girl?"

Matsuri bit his lip nervously as he kept his gaze locked on the table in front of him. He hadn't known why that had slipped out, it had just felt so natural to say that. It was probably because Shisui really felt like a brother. The teen was practically a younger and male version of his nee-chan… with cool ninja skills added.

"Yes, I remember." Shisui said, his tone of voice encouraging that Matsuri should continue talking.

"Um... well... I-I just want to know if it really is an advantage? Do kunoichi really get underestimated a lot?" Matsuri wondered, a slight frown on his face. Sure, Ino and Sakura weren't really taking training seriously but Hinata was. Even though the shy Hyuuga hated sparring, she did have better skills then all the other girls and some of the boys as well...
Ino and Sakura were in need of some sense being knocked into them to start taking things seriously again... but that didn't mean the they were necessarily weak... Just that their priorities weren't were they were supposed to be. Hopefully their slowly increasing hostility towards each other over Sasuke would stop. So far it was just a word here and there but the words were becoming less playful and slightly more... hurtful. It could escalate even more but Matsuri hoped that it wouldn't. Those two were best friends. Losing a best friend over a boy was... stupid.

Shisui nodded his head but turned to the waiter that had finally walked over to their table to take their orders. "Kukicha tea, please. Also, two orders of dango."

The waitress nodded her head and went off to the kitchen to get the orders. The place wasn't full but it wasn't empty either so it would take a little while for their things to get there.

"Kunoichi..." Shisui paused, before leaning over to Matsuri. "Are some of the best ninja out there. While most of them have low chakra reserves -though the Uzumaki women hav-had loads of it-, they also have better control because of it. Think of it like this, instead of wasting extra chakra because there is plenty and don't worry about how much more they use, they use the exact amount needed and no more. That helps keep reserves relatively full. Also, they are experts in subterfuge and are often sent to infiltrate possible enemy areas. While most shinobi know that kunoichi are dangerous, most tend to forget that bit of information when confronted with a woman. I've told you how looks can be deceiving, right?"

Matsuri nodded, eyes wide and hanging on to every word that left Shisui's mouth. Though he hadn't really told him yet why it was a good idea to keep playing along with being a girl.

"Well, often enemies think that a kunoichi is weak because she looks small and fragile. They would be dismissed as weak or non threatening. Maybe even assume that she was a civilian because the kunoichi was suppressing her chakra signature to imitate the levels of civilian women. While shinobi do the same thing, they get more scrutiny. See where I'm going with this?"

Matsuri nodded slowly. "I get it... I get how that would be useful... I get all that. But why should I hide it from my fellow comrades?"

That was were Shisui grinned broadly, his earlier mood completely gone. "What better way to get everyone back then to one day show up as the cool guy you are? Crush all your crushes fantasies and steal all the women because of your good looks?"

Matsuri would have face vaulted if not for the return of the harried looking waitress. She dropped off the tea and dango before hurrying away again to clean a table that had held a bunch of messy children a few moments before.

"Don't you think that would be the best? One day look like a girl and the next, bam! Tall, dark and handsome! Well, in your case, tall, pale, and handsome!" Shisui chuckled evilly. "I can just imagine the look on Sasuke's face! If I'm not there to see it, take a picture, please! That moment has to be immortalized until the end of time!"

"So... a prank?" Matsuri finally said, his shoulders slumping slightly. Then he actually thought about it. It was the perfect revenge for all the grief he'd had and was going to still get for a few more years -if he went along with this plan. "But soon I'll be start looking more like a boy, right? Growth Spurts and facial features? I can't really hide all that." Matsuri crossed his arms across his chest. He was ignoring the dango for the moment which could have been construed as the beginning of the end of the world. He never ignored dango.

Never.

"Why do you think that I've been trying to get you to start getting henge right?" Shisui grinned happily, taking a sip of the tea.

Matsuri huffed again. "I'll think about it. But it's not going to last, you know. People are going to find out about it eventually. Without me having to tell them, especially when puberty hits. If I start stinking like you usually do, they'll find out right there and then!" Finally, Matsuri turned his attention to his plate of dango, and stuffed one into his mouth.

The sound of indignant sputtering, choking and coughing made him incredibly pleased with himself. Take that!

"Hey! I do not stink!" Shisui growled out, narrowing his eyes at Matsuri.
Maturi rolled his eyes, but didn't comment since he'd stuffed another ball of dango into his mouth.

"I don't!"

"How about this, we ask someone. If they say you don't, I'll apologise, but if I'm right..." Matsuri pondered that for a moment. "Then you have to teach me how to do the shunshin."

Shisui locked eyes with an amused Matsuri. "That's a D rank jutsu, you know."

Matsuri raised an eyebrow.

This time, it was Shisui's turn to cross his arms around his chest.

He stared.

And stared.

And stared.

Finally, he huffed. "Fine." And immediately felt like a little kid and not the ANBU shinobi that he was…

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

"Itachi, do I stink?"

"Yes."

"See, I tol-wait, what?! I do not!"

"Matsuri-chan, how are you?"

"I'm doing well, Itachi-san." Matsuri smiled up at the teen. "If you excuse us, Shisui needs to cough up my prize."

"I do not stink! You paid him to say that!"

"If you wish to not stink anymore, then I suggest a bath, Shisui." Itachi stated with amusement.

Shisui grumbled and glared, before placing a hand on Matsuri's shoulder.

"Shisui-kun!"

All three boys turned to look over to the voice. It was Sasuke and Itachi's mother walking over to them with a smile on her face. "Want to come over for dinner? Oh, hello there Matsuri-chan! I didn't see you there!" The woman smiled down at Matsuri who blushed and stuttered a hello.

"Sorry, Mikoto-san, I promised to teach something to Matsuri. Maybe next time?" Shisui said with a ready smile.

"Busy aren't you?" Mikoto grinned and looked down at Matsuri. "Next time, why don't you two come over for dinner then? I'm sure Sasuke would love having you there."

Matsuri couldn't keep the blush from appearing on his face as he nodded his head shyly.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

"You have a crush on Mikoto-san." Shisui stated with an evil grin as they appeared in the training ground.

"What?! No I don't!" Matsuri gasped in surprise at the accusation that came way out of left field.

"Yes you do, that blush you had said it all!" Shisui teased and ruffled Matsuri's hair.

Matsuri just shook his head and plopped down on the ground. Shisui did the same with a chuckle.

"Alright, I want you to promise me that you won't practice this by yourself. It's extremely dangerous and I don't want you to get hurt because of it." He waited for Matsuri to agree before continuing. "For the shunshin you use the tiger seal." Shisui placed his hand up. "Now, a shunshin lets you travel at high speed to your destination. The reason why I'm so fast is because I have my sharingan." At this, he activated his eyes for a second so Matsuri could see them. "With the help of my eyes, I'm able to see everything perfectly. You won't be able to have my advantage, Matsuri. Therefore you will be extra careful when you do start practicing this. You can sense chakra?"

Matsuri nodded even though he didn't need to since Shisui already knew the answer to the question.

"Watch' closely." Shisui said and Matsuri studied how the chakra gathered in the tiger seal. Seconds later, Shisui disappeared and reappeared to Matsuri's side. "Did you get that?"

Matsuri frowned as he thought about it and slowly nodded.

"For today, just gather the chakra alright? It'll probably take years for you to do it right. Not because of anything you're doing wrong, it just the fact that you don't really have that much control over yourself yet." Shisui frowned for a moment. "You haven't learned the kawarimi yet at the Academy, right?"

Matsuri shook his head in the negative and placed his hand in the tiger seal.

"Well, it's not really that same thing, but it'll help you get started. And I think its safer then the shunshin." Shisui muttered. "You can do it by yourself too. Okay! That settles it!"

Shisui sat down again. "Kawarimi uses tiger, boar, ox, dog and snake. Watch."

Again, Matsuri kept his eyes locked on Shisui's hand seals. In less then a second, Shisui had replaced himself with a log.

"That one's much easier. When you get that down, then you can start practicing the shunshin when I'm with you." The last bit he added with a stern look at Matsuri.

An hour later and Matsuri was on the ground sweating like crazy. The Kawarimi was harder than he thought…

Shisui's chuckle made Matsuri look over to the teen whom had stayed with him, and helping whenever Matsuri asked for it. "A bit more difficult than the henge, huh?"

Matsuri pouted and sat up so that he could look at Shisui. "A bit. I'll get it down." The blue haired boy promised with determination.

"I know you will." Shisui stated. "You're a smart kid. You'll become one hell of a shinobi."

Matsuri blushed at that, feeling oh so incredibly happy that someone actually thought so much of him. Like his sister used to.

"What happened to her?"

At that, Matsuri realized that he had said part of that outloud. Normally he would have ignored the question. But with Shisui…

"You never talk about your family. I know something happened to them but you never talk about them... You don't have to tell me if you don't want to." Shisui said, eyes never leaving Matsuri's.

The blue haired boy glanced down for a second. People knew that his family was dead. They didn't know how many of them or how it happened. The Hokage had told him that nobody would know about it except the shinobi that had found him and Inoichi. He had said that he wished that he would talk to Inoichi about it but that he didn't have to.

But really, he hadn't.

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"What happened to her? " Shisui heard himself say. "You never talk about your family. I know something happened to them but you never talk about them... You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

"You know how the Mori Clan left Konoha, right?" Matsuri started, his arms around his knees as he thought back to his past.

Shisui nodded, shuffling a little closer and keeping his eyes locked on Matsuri's sad face.

"Well, they left because they were jealous idiots." Matsuri stated simply, not even noticing the way Shisui seemed shocked that he would talk like that about his Clan. "They wanted our Clan to have shinobi again. But for a long time, nobody was born with the ability to wield chakra. Instead of bringing new people in to marry, they kept marrying each other. Elders chose who was marrying whom. Nothing changed for years. Slowly, less and less children were born. I was the youngest one. I was ignored because I was a late baby to my parents. The Elders thought that I was nothing but a weak kid. Nobody cared, not even my mother or father. The only one that ever showed that they loved me... My sister. Her name was Masako. She would look after me, she would play with me, she was there when I needed a hug... Masako was my world. She was more of a mother then my actual mother was."

Shisui couldn't really believe what he was hearing. Matsuri had been neglected? It now made sense why he never talked about anyone but his sister. Even then, he seemed guarded on what he was saying.

"That day was the day my sister was getting married to the Clan heads son. Masako was leaving." Matsuri said, his voice sounding extremely sad. "But she still talked to me before she had to go to get ready. She told me that one day I would find people that would care for me like I would care for them. My mother got there and she had to go. I didn't see her again until the ceremony. She looked so happy... But after the ceremony, I left the compound. I-I didn't want to be around them..." Matsuri hung his head a little. "When I got back... there was blood everywhere and almost everyone was dead."

Shisui was a bit shocked at that. He didn't think it had been a happy experience, but at the same time... Finding his family dead... That thought brought unease. Not just because of what Matsuri had been through... but also because of what his own Clan…

"I se-searched for Masako." Matsuri continued with a shaky voice. "I found her. She wasn't d-dead yet." No one knew that he'd found her. No one knew that part, he'd never spoken a word about it to anyone, ever.

Suddenly, Matsuri felt arms wrap around him. "You don't have to tell me more. I'm sorry I asked you..."

Matsuri shook his head, tears falling down his face as he finally let go in front of someone. Someone he trusted. "I never told anyone th-that. I-I found her an-and she told m-me to r-run. But h-he got there. I-I lead h-him away a-and another one c-came. Th-they were g-going to k-kill me too. They a-almost did... but all I worr-worried about w-was nee-chan."

Shisui held the shaking body. He regretted asking Matsuri about it even more now. Never, not in all the time that he'd known Matsuri, had the boy broken down like this…

And it clicked in Shisui's mind. Matsuri had said he'd never told anyone this. All the poor kid had been doing was bottling up his emotions. He'd probably cried by himself but that didn't really help because he was alone…

At that thought, Shisui tightened his hold on Matsuri slightly.

After what seemed like hours later, though Shisui doubted it was hours, Matsuri pulled away. His sobs had turned to sniffles and then to hiccups. Matsuri looked up at Shisui, before leaning his head forward until his head was on Shisui's arm.

As gently as he could, Shisui stood up. He made sure not to shift Matsuri around too much before he body flickered to Matsuri's apartment. The Uchiha quickly made his way into the small apartment and placed Matsuri on his bed. The silver eyes closed and Shisui knew that Matsuri wasn't going to wake up until morning. After tucking the blanket around Matsuri's tiny frame, Shisui padded away as quietly as he could. Shisui debated for a bit, before plopping down on the couch. He didn't feel like going home just yet... Besides, it had been a long day. And he didn't want to leave Matsuri alone.

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Matsuri blearily opened his eyes and glanced at his clock. It was still early but also, it was later than he normally would wake up. His eyes ached badly, and Matsuri knew that they were probably still red. But even though he felt achey, his heart felt... lighter. No he wasn't over it, but he no longer felt alone.

Just then, a smell drifted into his nose. Matsuri sniffed, and his mouth started watering. Something good was being cooked in his kitchen... but who..?

"Fucking ow!"

Matsuri snickered. With that voice, it could only be one person. He pushed the blankets off of him and made his way to the kitchen and the still cursing Shisui. He peeked over the corner and spotted the teen standing over the stove, a scowl on his face as he tried to save whatever he had there from being burned beyond recognition.

Who knew that Shisui couldn't cook? "Damn, why don't I have a camera?"

Chapter Text

Note: I finally made a cover photo! It's not the best sadly. I think my older version of Matsuri looks way better. I'll change it to that whenever he finally reveals himself but if you want to check it out, it's on my deviantArt. Same name as here ( it never changes) Shinan7.

Chapter 9 Part Two:

Matsuri peeked over the corner and giggled slightly as Shisui cussed again. The Uchiha didn't seem to notice the eight year old just yet, and continued trying to do something with the pan. Matsuri wasn’t sure what, but it probably wasn't with anything edible in it.

The blue haired boy made his was over and peered around Shisui to see what he had been making.

Everything was burnt and black. Matsuri couldn't help but raise any eyebrow. "You suck, Shisui-nii."

Shisui yelped in surprise, promptly dropping the wooden spoon that he'd been holding. "Marsuri! What do you expect?! Your freaking stove sucks!"

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever you say." Matsuri stuck out his tongue. "Just heat up some water for ramen." Instead of waiting for the teen, Matsuri placed the kettle on the stove and took the pot that Shisui had used and dumped the contents into to thrash can. "What were you trying to even make?"

Shisui blushed slightly in embarrassment. "..." He mumbled something but Matsuri couldn’t tell what it was.

Matsuri giggled and went back to his room to find something to wear. He didn't feel like taking a shower, but with all the training he had done the day before…

A sigh of resignation left Matsuri's lips as as he came to his decision. He went through his closet and took out some black pants and a grey shirt, and headed into the bathroom. "I'll be right back! Try not to burn the water!"

"Hey!" The indignant cry from Shisui was well worth it. "I'm not an idiot!"

The snicker left Matsuri's mouth as he closed the door behind him.

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"What's that...?" Matsuri asked as he spotted something behind Shisui's back after he finished slurping the noodles.

 

"Well, I found this and thought if you start wearing it now, people would get used to not seeing your face?" Shisui pondered that for a moment, before tossing a light cloth at Matsuri.
The boy caught it with one hand, and raised an eyebrow. "A... mask...?"

Shisui nodded enthusiastically. "That way you only have to do the henge when you're older. If you don't like having a mask, we can try something else... like a high collared shirt or maybe a scarf...?" Shisui trailed off in thought as he thought about it a bit more.

Matsuri finished his ramen and went to the bathroom to see how he would look with it on. As it went over his head and covered the bottom part of his face, Matsuri had to admit that it really did hide his features a bit more... The only thing you really saw were his grey eyes…

"Here, let's try this." Shisui said as he walked in behind Matsuri and studied him for a second. He finger combed Matsuri's blue locks and made a very high pony tail. He tied it with an emerald colored strip of cloth. A few of the shorter strands of hair went on either side of his face, framing his eyes.

Again, Matsuri studied himself in the mirror, trying to gauge his appearance. Normally, he liked having his hair down... but this didn't look half bad.

At that thought, Matsuri knew that he had finally fully accepted Shisui's prank to keep people thinking that he was a girl... Sigh.

"Aww! Look at my cute wittle nee-chan!" Shisui teased, holding back more than a few chuckles at the look that Matsuri shot him. "You know Kakashi is going to love you."

At that, Matsuri tilted his head to the side in thought. "...Because of the mask?"

"Yup! But you're my mini-me! Always remember that!" Shisui walked out of the room and checked the time. There was still a lot of time until Matsuri had to go to the Academy. "Let's go find you a new outfit though... One that's a bit more..."

"Not girly!" Matsuri crossed his arms across his chest. "I'm NOT wearing a dress!"

About thirty minutes later, Matsuri was muttering under his breath and shooting Shisui death glares as he walked out of a clothing store with one of his new outfits on. It was long, hitting his upper thigh. The material was a white chinese style shirt with long sleeves that flared at the ends. They hid his hands well, and Matsuri grudgingly admitted that it would be useful in hiding what hand seals he was using... He would remember that for when he was older, except for maybe slightly less flared sleeves... His pants weren't that bad either, they were dark grey, almost black, and stopped at mid calf. He had taken off the mask for now, but his hair was still up in the high pony tail that Shisui had put it in.

The overall outfit... was definitely girlier…

"Hey! A mask with a heart on one side! It would look so cute! And it fits your eye color!"

Matsuri twitched.

"Oh! And this!"

Suddenly, Matsuri stiffened and Shisui sprayed him with something. A lavender- vanilla- mixture- of obnoustiously strong perfume. The smell wafted up around him, and Matsuri couldn't help but gag. Quickly, Matsuri yanked on the silver mask with the blue -dare he say it?- heart on the left side... The silver color matched the clasps on his shirt and his eyes... At least he wasn't coughing anymore…

"There! Though, you probably wouldn't have had to worry about smell until puberty..." Shisui thought about it for a second, before shrugging. "Eh, whatever. What time is it? If we have time, let's drop off this bag at your place, if not..."

Matsuri shrugged as he strapped his ever present pouch around his waist, underneath the shirt. He'd noticed most -if not all- shinobi put the pouch part on their back, but he'd liked having his on his front hip. It was easier for the classroom... Maybe when he was a genin he would have two. One -his favorite- and another one at his back. He had to admit that it was definitely easier to reach back for weapons... Especially if he was on the move…

Absently, Matsuri took out an empty storage scroll and motioned for Shisui to hand over the bags. With a poof, everything disappeared as Matsuri sent a bit of chakra into it. He then rolled up the scroll and tucked it into his pouch.

That was when he noticed that Shisui was watching him with a small smile. Matsuri quirked his eyebrow a bit in a silent question.

Shisui shook his head and glanced up at the sky. "It's probably time then... Let's go! I want to show you off to my cousins!" Shisui placed his hand on Matsuri's arm.

"Wait! We can-!" Matsuri felt like his stomach was left behind. He dropped to his knees as soon as they appeared in front of the Academy. "Walk!" He finished with a curse.

"Nah, to slow." Shisui grinned and walked ahead while Matsuri took deep breath to calm his nausea. "If you're going to learn how to shunshin, you better not do that during a battle."

"Shut up!" Matsuri pouted -though he wasn't sure that Shisui would notice it- as he jogged to catch up with the Uchiha.

Obviously, the teen had spotted his two cousins because he had a huge grin on his face. "Sasuke, Itachi!"

The two turned and as Matsuri finally caught up to Shisui's side, he noticed the way Sasuke's jaw dropped. He chose to ignore the look on Itachi's face. It was just... so wrong. Who knew an Uchiha as strict as Itachi could have that amused look? Sure, around Sasuke he wasn't as uptight but Matsuri wasn't Sasuke.

Matsuri paused slightly as Sasuke eyed him in surprise. "What is it...?"

Sasuke blinked and then seemed to shake himself. "You look different."

"Uh.. yeah.." Matsuri had to glare up at Shisui who was having a hard time keeping a straight face. That time, Matsuri knew that Shisui noticed because he barely held back a chuckle.

"Go on you two, or you're gonna be late! I'll catch you after the Academy, Matsuri!" Shisui pushed the two boys towards the doors and waved happily when Matsuri scowled back at him.
They made their way quickly to the room, and Matsuri made sure to keep his head down. He just felt so awkward! The clothes weren't overly girly, at least he could thank Kami for that. If they had been pink - or Kami forbid, purple!- he would have thrown a fit. And Shisui would have regretted having Matsuri after him.

Ino spotted him immediately, and he winced as she squealed happily. "Matsuri-chan! Wow! You look cute!"

"What's with the mask?"

"What the heck is that?!" Kiba grimaced, covering his nose with his hands. "Gawd, that's strong!"

Matsuri just sank deeper into his seat. His face was hot, luckily, most of the redness was covered by the silver mask.

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Matsuri sighed as he sat outside in the sun. It was a nice feeling the way the warmth hit him. Even through all his clothes, he could feel it. It made his slightly drowsy the longer that he stayed immobile.

He had decided to stay on his own during lunch. Everyone had seemed so interested in talking to him that Matsuri had gotten sort of spooked. It was just way too much attention. The boy shook his head with a slight smile on his lips. After a few more moments, Matsuri reached into his pouch and pulled out one of his research scrolls. This one was on the theory of how a shinobi and kunoichi was better off with a specialty and having passing knowledge of something else. It was something that Matsuri didn't really understand. He felt like the more he knew, the better off he would be. But that was him. He knew that some shinobi excelled with one thing, like Gai-san, Kakashi's friend. He never did anything other than taijutsu. He could if he wanted to but he didn't.

Matsuri figured if it worked for him, then all the better. Though Matsuri doubted that he would ever go that route. Then it got him thinking. He had been focussing on throwing weapons, and that was kind of specialty. If he was only focused on that, he would be vulnerable when someone got in close to him…

At that thought made Matsuri frown and he placed the scroll back into his pouch and took out another one, along with a pencil.

Matsuri pondered that for a moment before writing something down, in order of least to most.

Mid Range Skills:

Ninjutsu/Genjutsu Skills: Henge

Short Range Skills: Academy Taijutsu, Kunai

Long Range Skills: Bow, Senbon, Kunai, Shuriken

After looking at it for a good ten minutes, Matsuri grimaced. It was bad. Like really bad. It wasn't even funny.

"I'm not half decent with kawarimi and shunshin is not even... And I can't put my shield because I haven't been able to use it since..." Matsuri muttered to himself, feeling a slight pang in his chest at the reminder of that day.

He swallowed harshly before continuing to mutter to himself. "Hmmm... I'll keep working on the ninjutsu and hopefully I'll have better control when I keep practicing... Wonder if I can learn any close range weapons...? Sword..? Tanto...? Should look into it... I'll ask Shisui-nii...Hope he doesn't mind?”

Suddenly, Matsuri stiffened. He turned his head slightly at the chakra signature that he felt appear suddenly behind him. He was sure there had been something there. But nothing met his eyes. Matsuri pushed himself to his feet, while trying to get his senses to work with him. The signature moved to the left and Matsuri kept his eyes locked on it. And yet, he couldn't see it!
It didn't feel familiar either.

With growing uncertainty, Matsuri retreated. He made sure to keep facing whatever direction the signature was coming from, though he seriously doubted that he could do anything to protect himself.

He didn't feel safe... It was almost like back then, back when those vile creatures had killed his sister... Had tried to kill him…

Just as suddenly as the chakra appeared, it left.

Why?

Who?

"Ne, Matsuri-chan! Can you hear me? Matsuri-chan!"

Matsuri was jolted out of his panic and dread. His eyes flickered around him, spotting his friends surrounding him. He somehow hadn't noticed them, being too focused on finding the danger. Instinctively, he'd assessed the non threat of his friends and ignored them to keep looking for that signature.

Once, he focused on their faces, he saw that most, if not all, had concerned looks.
Naruto was the one that looked the most distressed. "Matsuri-chan? What's wrong? What happened?"

"... I-I..." Matsuri hesitated. He didn't want his friends to be targeted if Matsuri told them. He didn't want them to come to their -whoever it was- attention. The sharp spike of chakra made Matsuri stumble back and into Shikamaru. He felt like he'd been stabbed.

"Wha-" Shikamaru steadied Matsuri, and he felt the way she was shaking. "What's the matter?"

"I- I don't feel too good..." Matsuri groaned, his face was clammy and the way his mask felt was uncomfortably sticky... He just wanted to get out of view, out of the area... Away from that. Matsuri couldn't keep his eyes from going from the spot he'd felt that spike of chakra. It was gone again, but Matsuri knew that he was still there. Still watching.

"Matsuri-chan!" Just then, Iruka came running out of the Academy, with Kiba just behind his heels.

He wasn't sure if he should feel like this, but Matsuri felt safer. Not as safe as say... if Shisui had been there, but definitely safer than when it was just himself.

His shaking did not go away, and neither did his clammy skin. He didn’t feel even remotely safe for a while after.
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As soon as Matsuri walked out of the Academy, he saw Shisui's unruly hair and immediately threw himself at the teenager. He latched onto the Uchiha's side and buried his face into his shirt.

"Huh? What's wrong Matsuri?" Shisui asked, sounding worried to Matsuri's ears.

Matsuri just held on tighter.

Chapter Text

Sorry it took a bit!

Chapter 10 Part 1:

Matsuri didn't tell Shisui why he'd been so upset. So for the next few weeks, Shisui tried, on multiple occasions, to get Matsuri to spill. Nothing worked.

It helped that the watcher, whomever it was, had stopped somewhat. There wasn't the feeling of constant eyes on him anymore. It had only stopped for the past few days, but already, Matsuri couldn't help but feel a bit more at ease.

"Matsuri, what do you want to do today?"

Matsuri frowned a bit as he thought about that question. That was the first time he'd seen Shisui in a week and he wanted it to be something good. Shisui didn't have to hang out with him during his free time and Matsuri was extremely grateful that he did. "Training?"

Shisui chuckled, giving Matsuri a wink and a wide grin. "You got a one track mind, huh, mini-me." He ignored Matsuri's sputtered denial and looked up at the sky as they walked down the street and towards their usual training spot. "How about a bit of battle simulations?"

That made Matsuri perk up a bit. "Battle simulations? How are we going to do that...?"

"I got an idea. But first, promise me that you will not be trying this out on your own." Shisui gave Matsuri the look and the blue haired boy ducked his head, face turning just a tad bit red. Matsuri had gone against Shisui's advice and tried to shinshun on his own a week before.

Needless to say, Shisui had been furious and the trip to the hospital had been mortifying. Not that that would stop Matsuri for that long…

But it this case, Matsuri figured it was best to agree with Shisui so that the mother hen wouldn't cluck disapprovingly at him.

What Shisui didn't know, wouldn't hurt him.

"Ah, Shisui-san... Pleasure seeing you today."

Matsuri didn't recognize that voice, but by the way Shisui's hand tightened slightly on Matsuri's shoulder, it made the younger boy realize that the guy was trouble. Matsuri hated trouble.

"Danzo-sama, a pleasure seeing you as well. I was not expecting to see you today." Shisui said politely, but Matsuri could read the distaste beneath those words.

Discreetly, Matsuri looked up at the man from behind his bangs. He looked pretty old from what Matsuri could tell. One of his eyes was covered in bandages, and the boy figured he'd lost an eye during a battle. From all the wounds, he must have been a shinobi when he was younger. He also had a leg injury that likely didn't heal because he had a cane with him.

Matsuri studied him for a second more, before looking at Shisui out of the corner of his eyes. To anyone that didn't know him very well, Shisui would seem very relaxed and carefree. To Matsuri, he looked anything but that. Not to mention that his grip hadn't loosened even one bit.

"Yes, it seemed like a lovely day to go on a... stroll." The man's eyes cut down to Matsuri for a split second before meeting Shisui's again. "And who might this be?"

Matsuri somehow felt that the man already had plenty of information on him. The one eye that he could see was calculating and cold. He had obviously been working on his image. From what Shisui had been teaching him, Matsuri could tell that this Danzo had made himself look extremely non threatening, enough to make people underestimate him. It was what Matsuri had been doing with his own image. Have them underestimate you so you could stab them in the back. Or at least have them in a chokehold so you could get information before disposing of them.

Danzo looked like he'd done plenty of that.

The air between them noticeably tensed, and Matsuri found himself moving slightly behind Shisui.

"This is Matsuri Mori, I'm sure you've heard of her." Shisui said, eyes like steel as they stared at the older man.
"Indeed. One of the more promising Kunoichi." Danzo smirked, eyeing Matsuri again.
"Pleased to meet you, Danzo-sama..." Matsuri intoned, trying to seem clueless and shy about the encounter. It wouldn't do to have the man look to deeply into him. He just wanted off of the man's radar as soon as possible. Even if he hadn't gotten these vibes from Shisui, Matsuri would have still been weary of the man. He usually was a good judge of character, and he hadn't been wrong yet.

"I'm sorry, we can't stay any longer Danzo-sama." Shisui bowed his head slightly, keeping his guard up. Matsuri followed his example and they both walked away.

"I'll be sure to keep my eyes on you, Matsuri Mori."

As soon as they were far enough away, Shisui took a look around, before he body-flickered them away.

Soon they were at the training grounds, though not their secluded one. This training ground had what looked like an obstacle course.

Shisui knelt down, and faced Matsuri. He had a stony expression, though Matsuri knew it wasn't aimed at him. "Matsuri, if he ever comes close to you or offers you something... Please, please, do not accept." Shisui's eyes locked onto Matsuri's light grey ones. He was serious, and he looked so... grim.

Matsuri nodded his head, eyes never leaving Shisui so he knew the Matsuri wasn't going to take this lightly.

Not when Shisui was this... scared.

Scared for Matsuri.

Shisui nodded and managed a grin, dispelling the seriousness of the situation for the moment. He reached out and patted him the top of his head, making Matsuri stick his tongue out at the action. "Alright, you wanted training, right?"

Matsuri scrambled to his feet and waited for Shisui to make his own way up from the ground.

"So, I was thinking about giving you a challenge." Shisui walked over to the training ground and pointed to it. "Now, this is more than a bit dangerous. You will be moving through the obstacles. Now, while you're doing that, you need to watch out for traps. Some will have explosive tags, others will throw kunai or shuriken at you, and lastly, I will be shooting random fireballs at you. Make sure you avoid those."

Matsuri gaped at him -not that Shisui could see-, eyes wide. "You're trying to kill me."

Shisui let out a snort of laughter. "No, I'm not. I'm training you so that when someone comes along that is trying to kill you, you come out alive. Now, this is the easiest of the courses. You will not be moving to the next level until you can dodge everything and finish it in under five minutes."

Matsuri walked over to where Shisui pointed to and stretched slightly. Even though he had just gotten out of the Academy training grounds, his muscles had stiffened slightly. He didn't want to get a cramp halfway through. That would be embarrassing.

The Uchiha moved away, forming a seal with his hands. "Okay, get ready. On three. One... Two... Three!"

Matsuri ran into the training field and immediately stepped to the left without stopping, to avoid a shuriken coming straight for his face. He moved left to right as more weapons came flying at him from different angles.

If this was the easiest course, he'd hate to try the harder ones!

Sweat dripped down from his forehead as Matsuri pushed himself off the ground, and away from the hole that appeared beneath his feet. Suddenly, a fireball erupted from the forgotten Shisui.

"Shit!" Matsuri cried, barely dodging that. He could feel the heat searing through his clothes, luckily it hadn't made anything catch fire.

"Language!" Shisui chuckled, eyes mischievous.

Matsuri cursed again, making Shisui mock gasp.

Hours later, Matsuri lay on his back on the ground. He was exhausted, but it wasn't discouraging in the least. It was satisfying the way his muscles ached. It showed that he was working hard, and he was. Whenever his muscles didn't ache after a workout, he knew that he hadn't pushed himself as hard as he could. He wanted to get stronger, better. Not stay at the same level. That wouldn't do anyone any good.

"Great job, Matsuri." Shisui grinned, eyes fading back to their normal black. He had used his Sharingan for the last half of the training since it had intensified a bit more from the start. "And you finally got that kawarimi down. Still a little shaky, but practice will help with that."

"I've always wondered, but doesn't that hurt?" Matsuri asked curiously from his possession on the floor.

"My eyes?" Shisui plopped himself down next to one of his favorite people. "If I use them too much, they do, but not this time."

Matsuri nodded and closed his own eyes for a moment. "I wish I had a more useful Kekkei Genkai..." He muttered to himself, not noticing that Shisui had heard.

"You can use yours?" Shisui asked more than a bit surprised. He knew that the Mori clan had a Kekkei Genkai. This was the first time he'd heard anything about it concerning Matsuri though.

Sitting up, Matsuri nodded. "Once... on that day. I haven't been able to use it since though. The scroll says it only manifests if you're in a life threatening situation. I'm sure if one were fast enough, they could get past it though." Matsuri shrugged, picking on the loose thread on one of his sleeves as he seemed to look at nothing. "It if hadn't popped up then, I would be dead. Seemed to surprise those missing-nin."

Shisui nodded, studying Matsuri, before pushing himself up. "Alright, that's it for the day. Let's go get something to eat, yeah?"

Matsuri pushed himself to his feet and dutifully followed after Shisui. "Dango!"

"Not again!" Shisui growled playfully. "Remember, it's my turn to choose!"

Matsuri pouted.

"That doesn't work on me!"

Matsuri did his kicked puppy dog look.

Shisui opened his mouth, paused, then grimaced. "...Damn it!'

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Shisui had to hold back the tears. He couldn't break down. No... He still had something left to do.

He just hoped that Matsuri wouldn't hate him…

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Numb.

That's what he felt like.

Numb.

Why couldn't it be a dream? A nightmare? Why did it have to happen? Why did it have to happen?

Again and again!

The person he cared about the most... Once again...

Once again... ripped away!

Matsuri had stopped listening to Itachi, had stopped hearing the words coming out of his mouth.
Had already stopped seeing Itachi in front him. Instead, all Matsuri saw was another Uchiha. Short, unruly hair. A grin peeking out at Matsuri whenever nobody was around.

The way he reached out and ruffled Matsuri's hair whenever it wasn't in a high pony tail, and the way he patted his head when it was.

Vaguely, Matsuri felt the tears slipping down from the corners of his eyes and down his face until they disappeared into the material of his mask.

The image he saw wavered, and instead of Shisui Uchiha -his Shisui-nii-, he saw Itachi Uchiha. He looked sad, the pain in his eyes just as powerful as the pain that Matsuri felt. Though he lied about the way that Shisui died, Matsuri didn't hold it against him.

Yes, he knew it was a lie. Shisui wouldn't have killed himself just because of any little thing. No. If he didn't kill himself, it had to do with something he was protecting. Shisui was strong, and if he felt it was in the best interest to kill himself for the village... then he would do it.

Even though Matsuri knew that if he could have helped it, Shisui wouldn't have gone.. He still felt so hurt. Was there really no way other than to kill himself? Who was the enemy?
Shisui was powerful, very powerful. He wasn't powerful enough...?

"Matsuri-chan...?" Itachi had been silently watching the blue haired girl for a while now. He'd stopped talking as soon as he'd noticed that she wasn't paying attention. Now, he could clearly see the tears gathering in her eyes.

Hearing Itachi speak made the floodgates open. Matsuri crumpled to the floor, sobs escaping harshly from his lips.

Again.

It had happened again.

Through the pain filled fog, Matsuri felt Itachi kneel beside him and place a hand on his shoulder. Matsuri turned to him and buried his face into Itachi's chest. He hadn't meant to, but he couldn't help himself.

The Uchiha seemed to freeze for a moment, before wrapping his arms around the girl and rocked her gently as she sobbed. Tears fell down his own face as he grieved for his cousin, something that he wouldn't be allowed to do again in the future.

After what seemed like hours later, Matsuri pushed himself gently away and rubbed at his eyes, giving Itachi enough time to wipe his own sign of tears away without them being noticed.

Matsuri didn't ask any questions, he felt... drained. He sat on his heels, sniffling every once in awhile as memories floated through his mind.

He would never be able to see Shisui again... Never again... Just like Masako…

Dead.

"Matsuri..." Itachi said, making Matsuri look up at him. "Shisui... Shisui told me to give this to you... He wanted you to have it."

Matsuri reached out and took the box that Itachi held out for him. It was locked tight, from what he could see. It looked like a seal was on the lock.

"He said to tell you that you know where the key is, just got to look." Itachi whispered, eyes sadly staring at him. "I need to go, but just know that Sasuke... and I will be there for you."

Itachi got up and with one last glance back at the still kneeling Matsuri, left the small apartment.
Matsuri hugged the box to his chest. He knew where to look, know exactly where he would find the key. It was just, he couldn't move... Not just yet.

Not just yet...

OoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri stood between Sasuke and Itachi, in front of a grave. His grave.

Not many of the Uchiha clan had appeared at the funeral. To them, Shisui's death had been disgraceful.

Others would have been disgusted by their behavior.

Not Matsuri. To him, they were unworthy of Shisui. They would have only been a disrespect to Shisui's memory.

His knees buckled, and Matsuri sat, eyes never leaving the tombstone in front of him. Shisui would only have this place. Since he didn't 'die for the village', he would never have his name on the Memorial Stone.

It was sickening to think that no one would ever know why he died. Matsuri didn't know either, but he wanted to correct that. Someday...

Someday.

Matsuri felt someone place their hand on his shoulder, since they didn't need to kneel, he knew that it was Sasuke. He leaned against him, letting the tears fall from his eyes, face bowed.

A while later, Matsuri managed to push himself up. He walked away from the grave with one last mournful glance at Shisui, before making his unsteady way out of the cemetery.

"Do you want us to walk you home...?" Sasuke's voice was unsteady, and made Matsuri jump.

He had thought that they'd left already.

"No... I'm going to walk around for a bit..." Matsuri replied softly, head turned towards the training ground.

"If you're sure..." Sasuke said, obviously not liking the idea of leaving Matsuri alone.

Matsuri nodded. He didn't want to be around anyone. Plus, he had to get the key. It was time that he saw what Shisui gave him. He would treasure it until he himself was dead and gone.

The two brothers watched as Matsuri walked away.

"Will she be alright?" Sasuke asked his brother, eyes locked on the lonely figure.

Itachi too watched Matsuri until she disappeared from his sight. "She'll be sad for a long time.

Just be there for her, and she'll be alright."

Sasuke nodded and they both made their way back home. Sasuke didn't notice the grim look on Itachi's face the closer they got.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

The training ground was empty, not that Matsuri expected to find anyone else there. It really was the least used, except for him, Naruto and Shisui...

Now...
Now it would only be him and Naruto.

Never again would Shisui watch over him from the cover of the trees, or help him with his training.

Slowly, and with growing sadness, Matsuri walked over to Shisui's favorite hiding spot. After studying it, Matsuri began to climb. After several minutes, he finally made it to Shisui's branch.

He sat down on it and closed his eyes, imagining that Shisui was there with him still. That he was spying on him... that mask covering his face. Matsuri wondered why they bothered with that since they never had their hair covered.

If someone knew what to look for, they could easily figure it out.

A watery chuckle escaped. The memory of saying that to Shisui, and seeing his stunned face had been one of the better ones.

The laughter died. Matsuri opened his eyes, and looked to the left. There was a hole, cleverly hidden by some leaves and tree bark. Matsuri reached in and pulled out a key, with a thin silver chain looped through it and around a piece of paper. He unwrapped the letter, then held the key at eye level. Matsuri let it swing back and forth before slipping it over his head and tucking it under his shirt.

He stared down at the piece of paper for a long moment, before opening it with trembling fingers.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10 Part Two:

Matsuri,

I just wanted to let you know that I'll always be there for you, even if you can't see me.
I consider you my little brother. I've always wanted one and I got one when I met you. I'm sorry that I'm leaving you. I never wanted this for you, you know. I hoped that it wouldn't come to this, but I... I tried, and it didn't work... I'm sorry.
There's things you can't know, and it's not that I don't trust you with it. You're very intelligent, and people have had their eyes on you. If I told you...
I just don't want anything happening to my mini me. You're too special to me.
Eventually, I know that you'll find out everything. You're curious and adventurous. Plus you're sneaky enough to look for it, but can you please wait? Wait until you're at least a chuunin?
Remember everything I taught you, it will help you be stronger. Not that you aren't already. You surprise me, Matsuri. Not in a bad way either. Keep doing your best, you'll reach your goals before you know it.
Remember what I told you about that man. Don't fall into his lies, alright? The Hokage has his eyes on you because you're Naruto's friend so you're under a bit of protection as long as you don't willingly agree to anything he says.
I hope you don't hate me. I'll see you on the other side, just make sure it's a long time away. Don't want you here too early.
Take care of Itachi and Sasuke for me. They're both idiots, you know.
Your Nii-san,
Shisui Uchiha
P.S. Don't lose the key, and don't tell anyone about what you find.

 

Matsuri read through the letter a few more time, feeling the tears spilling down his face with every line.

"I could never hate you, Shisui-nii... Never." Matsuri murmured. After several minutes, Matsuri carefully folded the paper and placed it in his pouch. He would always keep it with him.

Matsuri stood up and wiped the signs of tears off his face. Then, he jumped off the tree branch and made his way back home. It was getting late and even though he wasn't planning on going to the Academy the next day, he felt dead tired.

He wasn't sure if he was ready to open Shisui's box just yet either. Reading the letter had taken all of his strength... and he wasn't sure how well he would hold up after opening it.

And yet... At the same time, Matsuri wanted to open it. He wanted to because it was Shisui's gift to him. His last gift.

"Matsuri-chan, I wasn't expecting to see you out today."

Matsuri stiffened, but made himself jump in surprise as he looked up at the man that appeared from nowhere. Even being as distraught as he was, Shisui had taught him to always be aware of his surroundings. Danzo was definitely downplaying his abilities. Matsuri held back the fear and instead pushed forward his sadness. It would help hid the distrust he felt for this man. He was sure that he had something to do with Shisui's death, he was positive of it. "Ah, Danzo-sama, I-I didn't see you there..." Matsuri said with a sniff. "I was just on m-my way from h-his funeral and needed s-some time alone. I-is there anything you n-needed?"

"No, I was just wondering how you were doing, Matsuri-chan? I know Shisui was very fond of you. You must be devastated. If you ever need anything, feel free to come to me. I trained Shisui personally, and we were close. He was like a son to me." Danzo said, giving Matsuri a fake smile.

"Thank you, Danzo-sama. I-I'll be sure to remember." Matsuri bowed his head slightly so that Danzo wouldn't be able to see the look in his eyes. "I-I should head home... Thank you again, Danzo-sama." Matsuri bowed again and walked away, making sure to keep his posture drooped instead of tense.

"I'll be waiting."

Matsuri pretended that he hadn't heard that last bit and made his way back to his apartment. The closer he got, the more he had to hold himself back from looking for whomever was watching him.

A relieved sigh left Matsuri's lips as he finally caught sight of his apartment complex. Quickly, the blue haired boy made his way up the stairs and hustled into his apartment.

The run in with Danzo had shaken him quite a bit, and he only let himself start trembling once he was in the safety of his four walls. Matsuri reached up to grip the key hanging around his neck. The smooth metal dug into his flesh as his grip tightened. Slowly, Matsuri slid down to the floor, his strength finally leaving him.

Hours later, Matsuri wiped the signs of tears from his face and pushed himself up from the floor. He had no idea what he would do with anything that had happened. His life had been one big tragedy after another. No, he might not feel anything for his parents or clan, but the two people that he had grown so close to and loved with all of his heart, were gone. His sister and now, Shisui.

He didn't know how, but he would continue to get stronger for them.

The key was still gripped tightly into his hand, and Matsuri made his decision. He pulled the chain up and over his head, and headed over to where he'd hidden the box. With trembling fingers, Matsuri slipped it out into the open and knelt in front of it. He took a deep breath, and placed the key into the lock, turning it slightly. The *click* seemed to resound around him, and Matsuri bit his lip slightly, his nervous habit returning.

Before opening the lid, Matsuri cast his senses out slightly, making sure that indeed, no one was around. There wasn't anyone except for the ANBU surrounding the complex, and they weren’t really near Matsuri.

Relaxing slightly, Matsuri turned his attention back to the box and flipped the lid open, eyes widening slightly at what he saw inside.

On top, there was a brand new kunai pouch. Gingerly, Matsuri reached for it and pulled it out, studying it closely. He had to blink a few times as his vision grew wavy from the tears that threatened to spill over.

He remembered telling Shisui that he was planning on getting a new one so that he could have his weapons in that instead of with his scroll pouch. Shisui must have gotten it soon after he'd told him that…

Matsuri opened the pouch, noticing that it was too heavy to not have something else inside. He was right. Inside there was more senbon and shuriken. Over the year his supply had gone down from a few lost ones. These... these would never be lost. Matsuri would treasure them for the rest of his life. Like the bow that his sister had given him. It had been broken, but it was still with him.

After closing the pouch, Matsuri placed it next to him, and looked into the box again. The bow immediately caught his eye. It was beautiful. Matsuri took it out, studying it even more carefully than he had the pouch. It was bigger than the one his sister had given him. Better for when he was an adult, but he had the strength for it now, Matsuri was sure. The craftsmanship was above anything Matsuri had ever seen.

Expertly, Matsuri strung the bow. Now there was a slight curve to it. Carefully, Matsuri practiced drawing the string back.

Like he'd suspected, it was made for a teen or grown up, but with practice, Matsuri could handle it. He was training to become a shinobi after all.

Matsuri glanced into the box, and spotted another breathtaking bow. This one was more curved than the first. Made for more power behind the draw. He took it out and strung it as well. It was slightly more difficult to pull back. It would take a lot of practice before it would be right in his hands.

Next, he took out a quiver full of arrows. Like the bows, they were expertly made. Sharp enough to pierce through a thin sheet of metal. Matsuri again had to stop to wipe his face.

"Shisui-nii..." Matsuri sat back, and had to close his eyes. Shisui must have known that he wouldn't be around to see Matsuri grow... These gifts were well thought out, for the far future... Now, more than ever, Matsuri wished that he have been strong enough to help Shisui...
Matsuri sniffed before opening his eyes, gaze falling back to the box. There was still a couple more things in there. Before he reached in, Matsuri unstring the bows. He would take them out to practice sometime soon.

The next thing that he took out was a book. It was called 'The Basics of Fuinjutsu'.
Matsuri raised an eyebrow at it. Shisui had said he'd wanted to teach Matsuri about it. It was useful enough even if all Matsuri ever did learn were the basics. Explosive tags were a shinobi staple. Or so Shisui had told him. In a couple of years, Matsuri would see how true that statement was. As for storage scrolls, Matsuri already knew how useful those were since he practically used them all the time.

There was two scrolls left. One small and a slightly bigger one. Matsuri took the smaller one out. It was a storage scroll and it had a note on it.

'Don't open until your birthday. I'm watching you! -Shisui'

Matsuri couldn't help but giggle a little. He got up and headed towards his bedside table and placed the scroll in the top drawer, before pushing a bit of his chakra into a seal hidden on the underside of the handle. The drawer seemed to disappear, making it look like a simple table. He thought about keeping it in his pouch with him, but decided that it would be too much temptation to open it ahead of time.

Once that was done, Matsuri went back to the box, plopping himself down.

Again, Matsuri reached in and took out the big scroll. At this, Matsuri raised an eyebrow. There was something extremely odd about it…

He opened it, and his eyes widened in shock.

It was a Summoning Contract.

Matsuri stared at it in disbelief. Shisui had left him a Summoning Contract.

The last line of the letter popped into his mind.

"Wait until you’re a genin. Don't tell anyone about what you find."

Matsuri sat back on his heels, more than a bit apprehensive about it. Shisui had taught him about them a couple of months back, but in all honesty, Matsuri never thought that he would have one. That Shisui would leave him something like this…

But he did.

Briefly, Matsuri scanned the contract. It was the Crow Summoning Contract. Further on, Matsuri read all the names of everyone that had signed. Every single one was an Uchiha.

The last two were names were familiar.

Shisui Uchiha

Itachi Uchiha

Matsuri's eyes locked onto Shisui's name, and the memory of Shisui talking about Summons ran through his head.

Shisui had told him that to sign a contract, you had to use blood. Name in blood and a fingerprint in blood. You didn't have to try to summon right away, Shisui had told him. Even if he wanted too, Matsuri didn't think he had enough Chakra to summon anything major. It wouldn't be a good idea anyway, not yet at least.

For a moment, Matsuri thought about waiting to sign his name.

Then he bit the corner of his thumb, spread the blood on his pointing finger. He paused, wrote his name and pressed his thumb print next to it at the bottom of the Contract.

OoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri lay spread eagle on his bed, mask pulled down from his face, hair feathered around his head.

By the sunlight that filtered through the window, it was about mid-afternoon. He hadn't had the strength to go to the Academy that day, even though it was two days after Shisui's funeral.
He hadn't eaten anything yet either. Matsuri knew he should, but he just didn't feel hungry. Or like moving.

Briefly, he thought about going out to train. The longer that he thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. After about ten minutes of laying in bed, Matsuri resolved to get up and get a bit of a work out. Just as he pushed himself into a sitting position, there was a knock on the door. It was soft, almost hesitant as if whoever it was wasn't sure if they should knock or not.

With that extra incentive, Matsuri swung out of his bed and made his way to the door, pulling his mask up along the way.

When he got to the door, he unlocked the deadbolt and peered through the crack.

"Hi, Matsuri-chan." Sasuke said quietly. Matsuri opened the door wider and studied his friend and fellow classmate.

Sasuke looked sad, even more than he had a couple of days before. And he seemed unsure, like he was expecting Matsuri to tell him to leave.

"Sasuke-kun, what can I do for you?" Matsuri asked, feeling a bit happy to see him. He hadn't known how isolated he'd made himself until just then. "Want to come in?"

Sasuke gave a hesitant smile, and walked in. Matsuri shut the door behind the other boy and lead him to the kitchen. "Want something to eat?"

Sasuke shook his head. He seemed a bit distracted to Matsuri.

"Are you alright, Sasuke-kun?"

For a while, Matsuri didn't think that he was going to get an answer. The silence wasn't awkward, just unsure. "It's just... my father... my mother and everyone is acting funny. Even Itachi-nii... Even before Shisui... Itachi's been away a lot..." Sasuke quieted a second before continuing. "I don't know what to do. I.. I know you miss Shisui, I miss him too... and I don't know what to do..."

Matsuri saw a few tears slip down Sasuke's face. On impulse, Matsuri went over to him and hugged him.

Sasuke started in surprise, before hesitantly hugging Matsuri back.

"It's okay, we'll figure it out." Matsuri stated, knowing that they would. If Sasuke was noticing these things, then it must be bad. The fact that Itachi was acting like Shisui had been... It was scary.

Sasuke nodded.

Suddenly, there was a loud banging at the door, making both Sasuke and Matsuri jump in surprise.

Matsuri shook his head as he went to open the door, already knowing who it was. The blond had been surprisingly quiet for the week, but it seemed he'd had enough of holding back.

"Hey, Matsuri-chan! I know you're sad, and I'm sorry! But I thought since I haven't seen you leave, that you would like something to eat! Oh! Teme! When did you get here?!" Naruto said, more than a bit hyperly. "I brought ramen! Ramen always makes everyone feel better!"

Matsuri couldn't help but giggle, trust Naruto to make everything brighter, even when you don't exactly feel like it.

Even Sasuke's mood was brought up slightly. "Dobe, did you bring tomatoes?"

"Eh?! Why would you want those?!" Naruto asked, extremely surprised.

"I have some in my fridge." Matsuri smiled and took out a couple of them, making sure to rinse them off, before putting them in front of Sasuke as Naruto distributed the ramen.

"Because they're good." Sasuke stated, taking a bite.

Naruto scrunched up his face, and stuck out his tongue. "Yuck."

Chapter Text

Note: Just as a reminder since it's been awhile since I first said it. I'm not sure how closely I am going to follow the timeline. I'm not even sure how I will write the scenes that are so commonly used in Naruto fics. Or whether I will use them(the Zabuza and Haku part is the exception, that, I know, will be written). I know how I want this fic to end. Everything in between is not set yet, so just a warning.

Chapter 11:

 

The alarm that went out that night had been startling, though not entirely surprising. At least Matsuri didn't think that it was. He'd seen Itachi a few days earlier, and just like with Shisui before him, Matsuri could tell that there was something big bothering the Uchiha. He hid it well, but from Matsuri's previous experience with Shisui and also Sasuke's worry about something that his clan wasn't telling him, it let him see the worry in his dark eyes.

It had been hard seeing Itachi smile, knowing that there was something hidden behind that twist of the lips.

So Matsuri wasn't entirely surprised that on that night, the alarm went off.

What did surprise him was the reason why, though he didn't know about it right away.

That very next morning, on his way back to the Academy, Matsuri saw something almost immediately. There was a distinct lack of Military Police walking around. The people who were out, were whispering or talking heatedly to each other. Some civilians also looked shocked, and a few looked to be in denial, from what Matsuri could make out.

It was at the Academy when he found out what had happened.

The first thing he noticed was that Sasuke wasn't at his desk. It was odd because he was always at his desk before Matsuri. Sasuke always got to the Academy early, especially if Itachi was home. It was the only time they had with each other that wasn't interrupted buy random missions.

The next thing that Matsuri saw was the way that the chuunin instructor, Iruka-sensei, looked highly disturbed and distressed.

When the bell rang, and Sasuke still hadn't arrived, Matsuri felt his gut drop, and dread fill every fibre of his being.

"Class, some of you might have already heard about this from your parents or older relatives, but we will announce it here for those of you who haven't heard. After that, you will be heading back home. Every available chuunin will be on a short term absence from the school for the next few days, and I am one of those." Here, Iruka stopped and took a breath before letting it out. "Late last night, Itachi Uchiha eradicated the Uchiha Clan. The only survivor of was your classmate, Sasuke Uchiha. He is alright, but won't be joining us for quite some time."

The class erupted into shocked chaos around Matsuri, while he froze in his seat, feeling completely hopeless. Sasuke must be devastated.

Suddenly, Matsuri felt someone take his hand. He jumped slightly in his seat and jerked his head up.

Naruto stood beside him, a troubled look on his face. "We'll go find him."

Matsuri's eyes widened slightly before narrowing. He nodded in agreement, and Matsuri felt Naruto squeeze his hand lightly before letting go.

Soon after that, Iruka dismissed the class, and kids scrambled over each other to leave the room behind.

Naruto and Matsuri stayed behind, waiting until the last form disappeared out the door, before standing up and making their way out the door.

Matsuri knew exactly where to go and find Sasuke.

OoOoOoOoOo

"But we're worried about him!" Naruto growled out the the nurse that sat behind the information desk at the Konoha Hospital.

The woman gave Naruto a nasty look, before wiping it off of her face. "I'm sorry, but Sasuke Uchiha is under watch and won't be allowed to have visitors for a few days. Now, if you could please leave, I have a lot of work to do."

That was the third day that Matsuri and Naruto had tried to go and see Sasuke, and just like before, they were stopped short of their goal.

"Why I outta!" Naruto growled out through clenched teeth as he moved away from the desk, Matsuri a few steps behind.

Matsuri bit his lip, and thought for a moment, eyes flashing from the nurse, to the door beyond her. He was tired of being turned away. He needed to see Sasuke, it wasn't good leaving him alone, without someone to be there with him.

ANBU didn't count. At least none of the ANBU around counted anymore.

Naruto was making his way to the door, when Matsuri reached forward and stopped him. "I got an idea."

Naruto's eyes brightened immediately, a mischievous smirk on his lips.

Ten minutes later, a balloon landed on the information desk. The nurse blinked down at it in surprise. When she reached over to grab it, it popped, sending bright green paint flying in several directions. Another dozen balloons landed around the room, each popping and sending out different colors of paint.

The room turned to chaos, with people yelling and screaming. The nurse tried calming everyone down, but to no avail as more balloons rolled around the room, popping at different times. Plastering every surface available with paint.

OoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri ran quickly through the hallways as another loud pop sounded from the hall behind them. Naruto chuckled happily from a few steps behind him. Hopefully, with all that ruckus in the waiting room, any guards would locate over there and leave the two children to head towards Sasuke.

"Say, Matsuri-chan? How do you know Sasuke's over here?" Naruto questioned as they dodged into the stairway, heading up three levels of stairs.

"I can sense his chakra." Matsuri stated again, ears straining as the stood behind the door to the hallway where Sasuke was.

"Really? Wow! That's amazing!" Naruto whispered in awe as they finally left the stairway and darted down the hall passed a couple dozen doors before Matsuri slid to a stop. Naruto almost barreled into him.

Matsuri sent him a look, before reaching over to touch the door handle.

"Maa, who do we have here?" A voice sounded, making Naruto jump in surprise, and Matsuri squeak, jerking his hand away from Sasuke's door.

They both turned and saw an ANBU standing behind them.

Naruto recovered, giving the ANBU a glare. Well, it was supposed to be a glare, it looked more like a pout to Matsuri. "We're here to see Sasuke! He's our friend, you can't just keep us away! He needs us!"

"Ah, a friend? Are you sure? Not a spy, are you?"

Matsuri couldn't exactly tell, but it seemed that the man was teasing them. That didn't sit well with Matsuri at all. "We're here to see Sasuke. Sasuke needs us! Now we're going to see him and you better not stop us!"

With that, Matsuri spun on his heel and opened the door. Ignoring the man behind them. Maybe that wasn't really smart, but Matsuri didn't care. Sasuke really needed them, they'd grown closer to each other since Shisui died and Matsuri wasn't about to abandon his friend.

The room was dark, but Matsuri could make out a small figure on the only bed in the room. The cover was pulled all the way up, and it looked like Sasuke was curled up into a ball.

Immediately, Matsuri rushed over to Sasuke and gently touched his shoulder. At least, Matsuri was pretty sure it was his shoulder.

The figure underneath the sheet tensed.

"Sasuke... it's us." Matsuri whispered, and Sasuke seemed to relax a little. "We're here for you. Both me and Naruto... Sorry we weren't here earlier. We had some... obstacles to go through."
And just like that, Sasuke burst up from the bed and buried his head into Matsuri's chest. His cries and few words were muffled. Matsuri felt the sting of tears in his own eyes, and wrapped his arms around Sasuke, gently rubbing circles on his back.

Naruto walked over and placed his hand on Sasuke's back.

The two stood there, comforting Sasuke with their presence. None of them noticed the ANBU watching them for a time, before shutting the door and leaning against the wall next it. He took out an orange book, and began to read, leaving the kids alone for a few hours.

OoOoOoOoOoOo Skip to Graduation Day OoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri sat up with a blink, and groan. After glancing at the clock on his bedside table, he jumped up and quickly got ready for the day. After making sure that he had everything and that his mask was in place, Matsuri left the bathroom and headed to his front door.

Over the last few years, he'd grown a bit more, but he was still pretty short. That had been a downer to Matsuri, but it only helped in his endower to trick his fellow classmates and friends for as long as possible. Shisui was probably rolling in his grave. Since him, no one else had seen Matsuri for what he really was. In a way, it was exasperating, but in another, Matsuri couldn't wait to rub it in their faces.

Some shinobi. Matsuri couldn’t help but think with a shake of his head.

About a year before, Matsuri had tried telling them that he wasn't a girl again.

Tried, being the word of the day.

Again, most of his friends had found it incredibly funny and had mimicked Matsuri for most of that day. Matsuri had finally reasoned that he would have to wait until he could actually prove what he was saying was true without getting naked. Or at least completely.

He was already doing quite a bit of training, and even though it wasn't much, he had muscles. They weren't even noticeable underneath his loose clothes, but at least it was a start. He probably wouldn't really show it until he was at least fifteen. That was Matsuri's date. He'd figured that if nobody had found out by then, he would shove it down their faces as a collective whole.

Matsuri locked his door behind him and turned left, towards his next door neighbors.

He knocked politely on the door but after a minute of no one opening it, Matsuri knocked again, this time a bit more loudly and forcefully. Pretty soon, instead of knocking, he was banging on the door. He didn't stop for a full three minutes, an entirely evil grin hidden behind his mask.
Shouting could now be heard from the inside, and Matsuri wisely stepped to the side as the door was wrenched open. Two bodies flew out, tumbling all over each other and falling to the floor with a few yelps, curses, grunts, and grumbles.

"If you two don't hurry up, we're gonna be late." Matsuri told the entangled duo, before jumping up to the railing behind him, and from there, hopping up to the next building. The blond and brunette cursed each other once more, before following Matsuri towards the Academy.

"That was so mean, Matsuri-chan!" Naruto groaned, rubbing his eyes as they walked through the halls, towards Iruka's classroom.

Sasuke nodded his head in agreement, a scowl on his face.

Matsuri snorted, rolling his eyes as he walked through the doorway. "I had to wake you guys up somehow. Besides, I didn't want to walk into one of you naked or something like that. What if you had finally confessed to each other, and were getting into some heavy kissing?"

He hurried away as both Naruto and Sasuke sputtered at his words, denying it all while trying to keep up. "Why do you always gotta say stuff like that, Matsuri-chan?!" Naruto wailed out, a disgruntled Sasuke nodding to Naruto's words.

Sasuke quickly scowled even more as a few of the girls in their class surrounded him, yelling and asking to sit next to him.

"Because it's fun seeing you guys so flustered." Matsuri couldn't help but chuckle as he sat down at his table. He smiled to the girl already sitting there quietly. "Good morning, Hinata-chan."

"G-good morning, Matsuri. How are y-you?" The girl blushed slightly and looked down at the table in front of her.

Matsuri couldn't help but chuckle. "I'm doing good, how are you feeling about the test?"

"I-I think I'm going t-to do w-well." She stuttered, glancing up at Matsuri through her bangs, before ducking her head and poking her two pointer fingers together, a nervous habit.

"Stop, Akamaru!" Kiba suddenly cried out, and Hinata looked up in surprise. Akamaru barreled into her. Since she wasn't expecting it, Hinata toppled to the side, straight onto Matsuri. The two landed in a jumble of limbs on the floor.

"Are you girls alright?" Kiba came over and helped Hinata up, while Naruto helped a blushing Matsuri. Not that anyone could tell he was blushing.

"I-I'm so s-sorry, Matsuri!" Hinata bowed, her face obviously red.

Matsuri waved it away, managing to stop blushing himself. "Don't worry about it, Hinata-chan. That was an accident, nothing to apologise for."

Hinata nodded, and sat again. She then pet Akamaru as he walked over to her and whinned. "It's okay, Akamaru. You didn't mean it."

Akamaru yipped and bounded back to Kiba, who placed him on his head.

"Alright, everyone settle down!" Iruka walked in and started yelling but no one was paying attention.

Matsuri sat back down and sighed.

Just then, Sasuke and Naruto started bickering with each other for some reason, though Matsuri thought he heard something about a seat.

Shikamaru told them to shut up, and pushed Naruto.

Matsuri along with Hinata stared, wide eyes, as the two boys locked lips.

"Gyahhh! Sasuke germs!"

"Get off of me, dobe!"

"You two do know, I wasn't serious... right?" Matsuri intoned, trying to hold back a snicker.

Both boys blushed, and protested. Vehemently protested.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri walked out of the room, his hitai-ate clenched tightly in his hand.

He had passed! Matsuri grinned under his mask and quickly made his way to the swing set. Sasuke and Naruto still had yet to finish, and he would happily wait for the two so that they could go celebrate.

Matsuri would vote for barbecue, but knowing Naruto, it would be a hard fight to win.

Since Sasuke and Naruto were practically at the end of the list, Matsuri waited for a long time. He was bored and sitting on the ground, with his legs against the tree trunk, when Sasuke finally made his way out of the Academy.

From the smug smirk on his pale face, he had passed.

Matsuri gave him an upside down, thumbs up and chuckled when Sasuke rolled his eyes at him.
Both waited, with Sasuke deciding to lean up against the tree trunk, and fold his arms across his chest.

Matsuri kept to the ground, feeling particularly silly, but not caring in the least.

Another five minutes passed, and more people got out of the Academy. A few of the parents sent looks over at Sasuke, and by association, Matsuri.

Finally, a blond head of head walked out of the doors. Both Sasuke and Matsuri got up, grins on their faces.

The look on Naruto's face stopped them cold.

He shook his head, and walked away. Matsuri tried to follow, but Sasuke's hand on his shoulder stopped him.

"Let him be, he'll find us when he's ready." Sasuke frowned, looking after the disappearing, orange clad figure.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12:

Matsuri paced back and forth, glancing at the clock on the table every few minutes. Even Sasuke was getting kinda antsy, though only people who knew the Uchiha well would be able to tell. His face was pinched, and instead of sitting relaxed, with a small smirk on his lips, Sasuke was sitting with his arms crossed. Every few minutes, the Uchiha would glance at the door, before staring holes onto the tabletop.

It was getting dark, and Naruto hadn't come back to his and Sasuke's apartment yet. There was definitely something wrong.

And with the Alarm going off a few hours before…

That was enough, Matsuri wasn't going to wait any longer headed straight for the door, not caring that the signal that all was clear hadn't sounded yet.

By the way that Sasuke got up from his seat, Matsuri knew that he was tired of waiting too and agreed with Matsuri's decision to ignore the rules of waiting for the all clear. Not when Naruto was still out there, possibly hurt and in danger.

Matsuri wrenched the door and plowed face first into Naruto orange clad chest.

"Woah, easy there, Matsuri-chan!" Naruto said, steadying Matsuri, and giving him a sheepish grin.

Matsuri's words of worry died on his lips as his eyes spotted the glint of metal on Naruto's forehead. Sasuke stopped next to him, and he too stared at the forehead protector that Naruto was proudly sporting. Matsuri could tell that his friend was holding back his excitement, waiting for them to say something about his hitai-ate.

Matsuri obliged. "Naruto! I thought you didn't..."

Naruto grinned weakly at that, hand going to his head a bit sheepishly. "Well, I sorta didn't. But I kind of passed a different test... Sorry, I'm not allowed to tell you about it... But, I'm a genin now!" Naruto stated happily, jumping from one foot to the other.

Sasuke and Matsuri shared a look, before a grin broke on Matsuri's face, not that the other two could see. "That's amazing, Naruto! Since we couldn't do it today, let's go out to celebrate tomorrow, after registration?"

"Yes! Ramen!"

"No, dobe. Not again."

"Shut up, Sasuke! Ramen is the food of the Gods!"

"We graduated too. We have a say so in what we eat too."

"Humph! Well, Matsuri-chan agrees with me, right Matsuri-chan?! Ramen, ramen, RAMEN!"

Matsuri shook his head fondly at them as the two other boys started wrestling each other.

Obviously, Naruto had a lot of energy left over from whatever he'd done.

He sort of felt bad for Sasuke.

But not bad enough to interfere.

Sasuke could take care of himself. He was Naruto's roommate after all. The Uchiha was used to Naruto's abundant amounts of energy.

Matsuri pretended not to notice Sasuke’s pleading looks.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri went back to his apartment, leaving Naruto passed out on the floor, and Sasuke on his way to getting there. For once, Naruto had been the first one out like a light, with Sasuke only awake enough to walk Matsuri to the door and lock it behind him.

Matsuri chuckled as he remembered the look on Naruto's face when he'd agreed with Sasuke instead of him about getting something other than ramen.

The betrayal on his blond friend's face had been priceless.

Still chuckling, Matsuri unlocked his door and went into his apartment. He'd left the light's off, so the space looked really dark. Since Matsuri wasn't sleepy yet, he turned on the light and walked over to favorite spot. It was a table, and on the table there were pictures.

Shisui was the one on most of them, along with the one of his sister that Matsuri had managed to keep.

At first, Matsuri hadn't had any of Shisui. Then, on Matsuri's birthday, he'd opened the storage scroll that Shisui had told him to open on that day. There had been a total of four items. One of them had been in a photo album, with most of the pictures being of Matsuri. Usually, the one that had taken the pictures had been Shisui. The few of Shisui, Matsuri had taken out and made a shrine of, along with the one picture of his sister.

The other three things had been a set of swords: a katana, a wakizashi, and a tanto. All had black sheaths and looked wicked when he'd looked at the blades. Since he didn't know who could teach him kenjutsu, Matsuri kept the swords above the shrine. Hopefully, now that he was a genin, Matsuri would be able to find a teacher.

"Hey, guys. Sorry I didn't come to tell you earlier. Was having a bit of a crisis... but everything's fine now." Matsuri pulled down his mask, and gazed sadly at the pictures. "I passed, and so did Sasuke and Naruto. You wouldn't believe how worried I was about Naruto, he didn't pass the test but he came home and said he took a different test that he did pass. Apparently, he can't tell us about it, so I'm guessing it had something to do with the alarm that went on today. But, now we're all genin."

For a few minutes, Matsuri stayed quiet, thinking, remembering, before focusing on the present again. "I... I hope you're both proud of me." Matsuri bowed his head, before pushing himself up and going to his room.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

The next few days passed incredibly fast. The trio went to celebrate, though a traumatised Naruto refused to eat the barbecue until Matsuri had promised to buy him three bowls of ramen on the way home.

After they had registered and taken their genin pictures for their folders, they'd gone off to train. That was the most the group had done during those days.

"Matsuri-channnnnn, no!" Naruto whined as he begrudgingly followed Matsuri down the street. An amused Sasuke trailing a few steps behind. "I don't want to! Seriously, why?!"

"I need a new outfit. You wanted to come." Matsuri glanced over his shoulder, amused at the pout that Naruto had on his face.

"Yeah, but that was before you said that we were going to look for clothes! I thought you were going to train or something!" Naruto groaned, and kicked at a rock, making it shoot down the road a bit.

Matsuri shrugged again, and couldn't keep the chuckle at bay. "You weren't listening to me then, because I told you exactly where I was going."

Naruto sputtered, his face turning red.

"Besides, you can get something new. Sasuke too." Matsuri stated, and walked into the store that Shisui had taken him too all those years ago. He didn't know what he was going to get yet, but he'd keep the theme of big sleeves. He liked being able to hide what hand seals he was using.

The store owner greeted them cheerfully, not even batting an eyelash at the blond troublemaker that had accompanied Matsuri. He was one of the few of the citizens that actually enjoyed talking to Naruto, that was why Matsuri came to this store more often than any other. Plus, he didn't jack up the prices on them like the others did.

"Why would I want anything? My jumpsuit is fine!" Naruto complained, though he scanned the racks of clothing.

"Hn, that thing is is old." Sasuke put in, also looking through a few pants.

Naruto shot the quietest member of their group a glare. "Not true! I got it just last year!"

Matsuri had to roll his eyes at that, but didn't reply as he searched for something different. He didn't want light colors, or even bright colors. He would stay with black pants, but he wanted something that wouldn't attract too much attention during missions. He doubted that they would be allowed out the gates anytime soon, but still. Now was a good time as any to get something that would work better than the white shirt he had now. Maybe a blue or dark grey color...
Just then, his eyes caught sight of something. It was dark blue with grey trimming. He pulled it out and studied it closely. It was sort of a simple, half kimono. It was tight, but also loose in the sleeves. It wasn't overly girly either, so Matsuri liked it.

When Matsuri tried it on, it hit a couple of inches above his thigh. The sleeves were longer than that and covered his hands. The obi was grey like the trimming. Overall, Matsuri liked it.
He took it off and grabbed a few more of that style, before going over to the tight shirts that kinda looked like turtle neck shirts. The neck part was longer and acted more as a mask. There was no way that it could fall or be pulled off. Not like the mask he had on right now. The teen grabbed a couple of those in different colors, before heading over to the counter.

"Found everything?" The owner asked with a grin as he tallied the purchases.

"Yes, thank you." Matsuri smiled up at the man, who nodded and told him the total. Happily, Matsuri handed over the money, and grabbed the bag that held his clothes with the other hand.

"Please, come again." The man waved and went back to sorting something behind the counter.

"Finally! Time to go eat!"

"Hn."

The cry from Naruto and grunt from Sasuke made Matsuri notice that he'd taken longer than he'd thought.

Opps... They weren't going to like his next stop. "Hair cut."

"What?!"

Sasuke just had a pained expression on his face.

"I told you what I was going to do..." Though, it shouldn't take too long... All he needed was to shorten his hair a tiny bit. Maybe by three or seven inches. It had grown really long and having hair that long would be troublesome. He did like having his hair up and in a ponytail, but he didn't want it to reach all the way down to his thigh. That was Ino's thing, not his. To his shoulder or a little below that was perfect for Matsuri.

"But-but I'm hungry! Matsuri-channnnn!"

Matsuri held back a sigh, though his eyebrow twitched slightly as Naruto continued to whine as he lead the way down the street.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

Matsuri sat at his desk, Naruto to his left, and Sasuke on his right. They had made it to the Academy early and they'd instantly regretted that decision.

Being the first ones there, they had to wait about twenty minutes before the next person trudged through the door.

"This is so boringggggg." Naruto moaning, tugging at his hair, not that it made any difference to its looks. It looked a spiky mess, and it stayed a spiky mess. Matsuri knew, he'd tried to comb it one time. Never again.

Matsuri inwardly groaned, and rolled his eyes from behind the scroll that he'd taken out of his front pouch, the one Shisui had given him.
It had begun.

"Matsuri-channnnn, whatcha reading? Why are you reading? Isn't that boring? What's it about?" Naruto tried to peer over Matsuri's shoulder, asking a new question as soon as he finished the one before.

"Shut up, dobe." Sasuke finally had enough, and threw a scrunched up piece of paper at Naruto, hitting him in the face.
Naruto, for the most part looked surprised. Then the disgruntlement began. "Sasuke! Why'd you do that for?! All I was doing was asking a question!"

"Hn, stop annoying her." Sasuke stated.

"I'm not annoying her, right Matsuri-chan?!"
Matsuri didn't get the chance to answer, because just then the classroom door opened. A stream of Academy graduates made their way to desks, staying close to people that they were familiar with.

Some of the ones that entered, Matsuri hadn't been in class with, or didn't interact with at all.

"Yo, why are you guys already here?" Kiba walked over to the trio, a wide grin on his face. Then his eyes landed on Naruto, and he did a double take. "Naruto? I thought you didn't pass?"

Naruto grinned at the Inuzuka and fiddled with his headband. "I did this other test and passed!"

Kiba grinned, smacking Naruto on the arm hard. "That's awesome, dude! Why didn't you tell me sooner?!"

Naruto chuckled sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. "Opps...?"

Kiba rolled his eyes, and turned to Matsuri. His eyes widened and his face turned slightly pink. "M-morning, Matsuri-chan! Hope that idiot didn't get on your nerves this whole week."

Matsuri dismissed the blush, and chuckled. "Not more than the usual."

"Heyyyy!" Naruto whined, and pouted.

Kiba laughed and went to sit down on the other side of Sasuke. The two loudmouths talked over Sasuke and Matsuri's head, and shouting out insults jokingly. Kiba shot looks at Matsuri every now and then, but no one noticed. Akamaru barked intermittently in between, getting laughs or blushes from Kiba and more whines from Naruto.

Just then, Sakura and Ino fought their way into the room, pushing each other and pulling hair.
"Sasuke-kun is mine!"

"No he's not, Billboard brow! Sasuke-kun is mine!"

Sasuke groaned quietly, and Matsuri sent him a sympathetic look.

Over the years, especially since turning eleven, all of the girls, except for a couple, had grown even worse with their obsessions. Sakura and Ino being two of them.

"Move!" Both shouted at Kiba. They didn't say anything to Matsuri, they'd learned long ago that Sasuke wouldn't stand for it.

Everyone could see how close the three had become. Though Matsuri would get ambushed if he went somewhere by himself. It was always either to get information on Sasuke or to threaten Matsuri not to fall for Sasuke. It never got past threats though. Matsuri was incredibly good at getting away from people. Almost as good as Naruto was. Though, Matsuri still couldn't manage to loose all ANBU that tailed them. Naruto, on the other hand, could slip away with incredible ease.

It was frustrating to say the least.

"Alright, everyone quiet down!" The voice of Iruka did nothing to tame the shouting match between the girls and Kiba.

"I said shut up!" Iruka yelled, and this time everyone quieted down, the girls grumbling and going to sit at the closest free seats they could get to.

"Alright, I'll be calling your names in groups of three. You will go on lunch, make sure to get to know your new teammates. Once lunch is over, you'll come back here and wait for your new sensei's to pick you up."

With that, Iruka began to call out names. Matsuri zoned out for the most part, until he heard familiar names.

"Naruto Uzumaki, Matsuri Mori, and Sasuke Uchiha. You are team seven." Iruka didn't say who their sensei would be, like he had for the other teams.

"Yesssss!" Naruto waved his hands up in the air happily.

Sasuke didn't say anything but he looked very pleased, if the smirk on his face was anything to go by.

Matsuri grinned, though Naruto could get annoying sometimes, and Sasuke could get pretty arrogant if not knocked down a peg, those two were still his best friends and it was good that they would continue to be so in their shinobi career.

Iruka made Naruto shut up, before continuing with the list.

When lunchtime came around, the three friends stayed in their seats. Matsuri reached into his pouch and took out a sealing scroll. He pumped a bit of chakra into it and three bento boxes appeared. He passed one to Sasuke and the other to Naruto.

"These look delicious, Matsuri-chan! Did you make them yourself?" Naruto broke apart his chopsticks and dug in.

Matsuri nodded as he broke his own chopsticks apart. "Yeah, I've been trying out some cooking book that I found. Some of the stuffs weird but it's all pretty good."

"Hn." Sasuke said as he stuffed a slice of tomato into his mouth.

Matsuri dug into his own food, the day had started out a bit hectic. But being in a team with Sasuke and Naruto... Well, he couldn't have asked for anything better.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"Why the hell is he so late?!" Naruto groaned in frustration. It had already been a couple of hours since Iruka had bailed on them. He hadn't even had the decency to tell them who their new sensei would be.

Matsuri sighed, feeling a bit irritated, though he didn't show it. Naruto was restless enough for all of them.

"That's it!" Naruto shouted, pushing himself out of his seat and stalking over to the chalk board.

Matsuri perked up a bit as he watched his friend gather chalk dust onto the eraser and very carefully, placed it above the door.

"This'll show him!" Naruto called, making sure that it wouldn't fall ahead of time, before heading back to them.

Sasuke rolled his eyes, but didn't comment on the prank. More often than not, Naruto's pranks worked even when it was logical that there would be no way in hell that they should.

If ANBU fell for them, than a jounin would be easy enough to catch off guard.

Lo and behold, as soon as Naruto sat down, the door was pushed open and a head popped in.
A silver head with a mask a lot like Matsuri's own.

As soon as it registered to Matsuri that it was Kakashi that was their sensei, the eraser fell on top of Kakashi's head, coating his silver hair in white dust.

Naruto burst into laughter while Sasuke gave the blond a smirk, and Matsuri stared in surprise.

"My first impression of you three: Childish." While Naruto sputtered and Sasuke looked affronted, Kakashi turned. "Meet me on the roof."

The three boys shared a look before making their way up the stairs and onto the roof. They saw Kakashi waiting for them, an orange book in his hand, so they sat in front of him and waited for their sensei to speak first.

Kakashi studied them for a moment as he put his book away, looking from Naruto, to Matsuri, and finally to Sasuke. To Matsuri, the man looked more amused than anything, though he wasn't completely sure about that. His eye might have stayed longer on Matsuri, but he could have just been imagining that.

"Alright, since we don't really know each other, introduce yourselves. Likes, dislikes, dreams, that sort of thing."

Matsuri looked over at Naruto, then at Sasuke, before turning back to Kakashi. "Um, can you go first so we know what to do?"

For a moment, Matsuri thought he saw amusement flash through his uncovered eye. "My name is Kakashi Hatake, my likes are none or your business, my dislikes are also none of your buisness and my dreams... well, you're too young to know my dreams." Kakashi giggled.

Matsuri's eyes widened slightly as he watched the man that had brought him to Konoha giggle like that. It was kinda creepy.

"So we basically know nothing about you! That's not fair!" Naruto grumbled, watching Kakashi through narrowed eyes.

"Yup, your turn, blondie." Kakashi turned to Naruto.

Naruto grumbled a bit more before opening his mouth. "My name is Naruto Uzumaki! I like ramen, plants, jiji, my friends, Matsuri-chan, and Sasuke, even though he 'hn's' too much! I dislike people that make fun of my friends or try to hurt them! My dream is to become the Hokage!"

"Mr. Broody, you next."

Sasuke shot Kakashi a dark look. "My name is Sasuke Uchiha. I like tomatoes, Matsuri-chan, the dobe, and training. My dislikes are people that don't know how to leave me alone, and sweet things. My dream is to know why my family was murdered." That response seemed to surprise Kakashi, and Matsuri filed that away for later.

"Alright, blue haired girl, you next." Kakashi said like he didn't know Matsuri's name already.

Matsuri gave him the stink eye, before straightening up. Since Kakashi was his team leader, he had to say it. If he didn't believe it... One day, they all would. "My name is Matsuri Mori. I like dango, archery, training, reading, nee-chan, Shisui-nii, Naruto, Sasuke, and my friends that I met at the Academy. I dislike people that hurt someone for no reason. My dream is to protect my precious people and to get everyone to listen to me when I say that I'm not a girl. Cuz, you know, I'm not a girl. I'm a boy."

At that last bit, all three of the others blinked at Matsuri in surprise.

Matsuri didn't hold his breath, instead he glanced around him. He hadn't really been to the roof before, it was a good place to get some sunlight.

Sasuke rolled his eyes and Naruto snorted back a giggle.

"Maa, we have a comedian on the team." Kakashi chuckled before turning serious. "Alright, tomorrow we're meeting up at training ground seven at six in the morning for your Survival Test. Don't eat breakfast, I will know if you do."

"Test?! But we already did the test!" Naruto cut in, looking agitated.

"This is a different test. It'll show me if you really are ready to become genin."

"But-but that's not fair!"

Kakashi didn't respond, just gave them a look before disappearing from sight.

"Well... that could have gone better..." Matsuri muttered, before taking Naruto and Sasuke's arms. Naruto needed ramen to calm down, and Sasuke needed to start moving before he fell into a depressive mood for the rest of the night. Eating a tomato or two should do it.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"I'm serious, Shino! She looked so cute in her new outfit! Ugh! Sasuke and Naruto are so lucky! Why couldn't they have put me on her team?!" Kiba groaned as he, Akamaru and Shino walked back to their compounds after dropping Hinata off at the Hyuuga compound.

Shino just tilted his head to the side and listened to Kiba whine some more, his own face a light pink.

OoOoOoOoOoOo

"That's no fair! Why does she get to be in the same team as Sasuke-kun?! I'm better than her!" Ino stalked in front of Shikamaru and Chouji as they walked back to their homes.

"Well, Sasuke was put with Naruto and Matsuri because he had the best score. Naruto had the lowest, and Matsuri-chan had the best score out of the girls." Shikamaru sighed, knowing that Ino wouldn't like his explanation. Girls were so troublesome.

He was right.

 

A/N: There it is! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!
I'm freaking out, but I hope I managed to keep it from showing in my writing, lol. Was having a 'Gah, I'm one year older!' crisis/freak out/panic attack sort of thing. Probably gonna be standard every time my birthday comes around... ugh. Though it is kinda funny that the time change happens on my birthday, don't think that's ever happened before. It has landed on Friday the 13th a bunch of times, but this one is sort of new.
Anyway, thank you for reading, and special thanks to all of my previous chapter's reviewers! Glad you liked the chapter: CynthiaDaPanda, Silvermane1, Neonarrow, lizy2000, MissJackson, Nekohana, and Radiant Celestial Aura! Loved all your reviews!

Chapter Text

Chapter 13:

The path was familiar, it was quiet and peaceful. Green grass, healthy trees, colorful flowers. Matsuri kept following the trail. It was so familiar... and yet... it was wrong. It seemed so wrong.
Suddenly, a crimson puddle caught his attention. His steps faltered for a moment, then her body came into view.

It was his sister surrounded in blood. Her body ripped apart, scattered on the ground.

Matsuri gasped, staggered back, and toppled over something that had unexpectedly appeared behind him.

Shisui, lying motionless at the bank of a river. Someone had ripped out his eyes, blood was running down his cheeks. His skin looked so pale, so lifeless.

A crow cawed in the distance.

Matsuri sat up with a pained gasp, his hair plastered to his face from the sweat. After a few moments of dry heaving, Matsuri tossed the blankets off of his legs and staggered to his feet. He waited a couple of seconds before making his way to the bathroom for a shower. He didn't think he would be able to get back to sleep after a dream like that. He never could.

After his quick and slightly cold rinse, Matsuri towel dried his hair as best as he could, then wrapped the towel around his waist before leaving the bathroom. Matsuri brushed his hair and tied it tightly into a high ponytail. He put on his new black pants and made sure that he had both of his pouches tied securely to his waist. He took his dark gray shirt that had the elongated neck and slipped it on, making sure that the bottom of his face was covered. Once that was done, Matsuri grabbed his blue chinese shirt, headband and walked towards the kitchen.

It was a few hours before the scheduled time that Kakashi had stated was their meetup time, so he didn't think that it would matter if he made something to keep his energy up. Kakashi hadn’t said what their test would be, but he doubted it would be anything written. Plus, based on how long they had waited to actually meet him(well, Matsuri already knew him, but whatever), their sensei would take at least two hours to show up. And that was being optimistic.

With that thought in mind, Matsuri began to make up a nice breakfast. After contemplating for a moment, he added enough for three portions. Once everything was finished, Matsuri walked out of his apartment and over to Naruto and Sasuke’s door. He couldn’t hear anything, so that meant the two hadn’t woken up just yet.

Matsuri grinned, quickly unlocked the door, not bothering to close it behind him. He made his way towards the bedroom that Sasuke and Naruto shared, and pushed open the semi closed door. The two boys had separate beds, but more often than not, they ended up in a heap on the floor in between the two beds. Usually, they would be fighting, wrestling or on the rare occasion, reading, and one would end up falling asleep, with the other not far behind.

Matsuri rolled his eyes, before stepping quickly to the middle of the room, where Naruto had his legs thrown over Sasuke, and Sasuke was cuddling one of Naruto’s arms. It was weird to think of Sasuke as a cuddler, but he was. Every time Matsuri forcefully woke the duo up, Sasuke had some body part of Naruto’s held close. When Matsuri had first teased his raven-haired friend about it, the Uchiha had vehemently denied it.

So, the next time he woke them up, Matsuri took a picture. Along with three more times after that, to rub it in good.

He hadn’t found a good time for it yet, but Matsuri couldn’t help the grin from spreading across his face. Sasuke would regret calling Matsuri crazy.

With that in mind, even though Sasuke wouldn’t fall, Matsuri grabbed the edge of the blanket that Sasuke was on top of and yanked it hard.

Sasuke woke up with a yell as he rolled on top of Naruto. Naruto woke up with his own startled cry, shoving Sasuke off, and looking around frantically. His arm darted under his pillow to grip at the hidden kunai he usually kept close by. Sasuke flew away from Naruto and landed half on his bed, hair standing up on end as he looked around the room.

“What the-!” Sasuke was cut off as Matsuri busted out laughing. Tears streaming down his face as he watched both their reactions.

“Matsuri-chan!” Naruto complained, still a little twitchy. “Why would you do that..?”

Matsuri chuckled once more, before turning around. “I’ve got food ready, hurry up or I won’t leave you anything.” He called over his shoulder.

“Wha-? But we aren’t supposed to eat!” Naruto cried, yet moved to get dressed, Sasuke following his lead. Though he still looked disgruntled about the way he had been woken up. “And you still didn’t say why-!”

OoOoOoOoOoOoOo

“He’s seriously going to take forever to get here…” Naruto huffed, kicking at the dirt, making a rock shoot into the trees.

“Told you.” Matsuri murmured as he read through one of his scrolls. He frowned a bit but didn’t continue talking to Naruto.

“Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….”
 
“Hnn.”

“Shut up, teme! I am not bugging her!” Sasuke smirked at that, making Naruto blush red. “I am not!”

“Let’s warm up, dobe.”

Naruto followed, still grumbling, but looking a bit sheepish back at Matsuri, in apology.

When they got far enough away, Naruto perked up. “You want me to teach you my jutsu?” Naruto whispered excitedly to Sasuke who’s eyes widened slightly in interest.

The hushed voices made Matsuri immediately curious about what was happening with the two other boys. They usually only did that when they thought Matsuri wouldn’t approve of whatever they were doing, not that Matsuri minded half the time… But the mention of Naruto’s jutsu instantly caught his attention. He’d heard of it, second hand from listening to the group of guys when they didn’t think he was close enough to hear. Naruto had described the way he’d knocked out the Hokage with just one glance, and Matsuri really wanted to learn it.

But if he got close to them, he knew that Naruto would stop showing Sasuke. So instead, Matsuri turned his head slightly, just enough to get them into view. Sadly, Naruto had his back to him, but at least Sasuke’s hands could easily be seen.

Matsuri watched how Sasuke copied Naruto, and noticed when the blond would shake his head at the handsign and explain it again. He could semi hear him, and it sounded like it was a variation of the henge jutsu, just using the ram seal. It would change you into a woman and knock out perverts with one glance.

“Maaaa, morning Team Seven.” A voice from just behind Matsuri said.

Matsuri jumped in surprise, he had been paying too much attention to Sasuke and Naruto that he hadn’t noticed the shinobi show up. At least he thought he got the jist of the jutsu. He’d practice it a bit soon.

“Kakashi-sensei! You’re late!” Naruto screamed, pointing at Kakashi. “Why do you tell us to get here early if you’re not gonna be here?!”

“Maa, well, I’m here now. Alright, I’ve got a timer here. You three will try to steal a bell. Whoever takes one before noon, passes my test.” Kakashi dangled two bells in one hand while setting a timer down on a rock.

“Eh? But sensei, there’s only two bells!” Naruto cried out. “Why’s there only two?”

“Because only two of you will pass.” Kakashi stated happily, taking out an orange book that Matsuri had seen him with before. “The other will be sent back to the academy.”

There was a beat of shocked silence from all three of them, before Naruto burst out. “What!? What do you mean only two of us will pass?! That’s not right!”

Sasuke grunted in agreement, face set in a slight scowl as he looked up at the shinobi that had been assigned to them.

Matsuri frowned, head tilted to the side as he watched Kakashi closely. Something about what he was saying just didn’t fit. Why be placed in teams of three, only to fight against each other?

“Maa, it’s a test to see who’s the best. Now, begin.”

The three disappeared in different directions. Once they were far away from the shinobi, they made their way towards each other. Naruto found Sasuke first before Matsui joined them. “This is not how I imagined it! Do we really have to fight against each other?”

Matsuri shook his head, looking grimly at the other two. “Something doesn't seem right about that. But let's attack him together. None of us will be able to take one of those bells alone.”

Sasuke and Naruto shared a look before nodding. Though Matsuri would loath to, he’d offer to go back to the academy. One more year wouldn’t hurt. But before that, they had to get the bells.

“Alright, I’ll get his attention first and try to get him to chase me. Naruto, Sasuke, go to the training ground and place a few traps. When I bring him back around, attack. Try to tire him out as much as possible. If you see an opening, take it. Sasuke, hide and see if you can get anything from him, if not, come in after Naruto manages to tie Kakashi up for a bit. Use anything you can think of. He’s a jounin, we won't be able to hurt him much, but maybe we’ll be able to overwhelm him. If I’m not knocked out or something, I’ll help you guys. I brought my senbon just in case, they're coated in a paralytic agent and it’ll slow him down if I get a hit in on him. I’ll try to get him while he’s after me, but I’m not so sure that it’ll work. I haven’t gotten one hundred percent with moving objects yet.” Matsuri said, eyes darting around as he tried to stretch his chakra senses a bit. “I think he’s coming, go!”

The two darted away, separating once more, and Matsuri slid three senbon out of his pouch, along with a kunai just as Kakashi appeared in front of him.

“Well, well, looks like the weakest was abandoned.” Kakashi grinned, or from Matsuri’s mask wearing experience, it was a grin. He was pretty sure.

Matsuri grunted a noncommittal answer and threw his kunai at Kakashi, forcing the man to dodge. With that, Matsuri took off full pelt through the trees. He needed to give Sasuke and Naruto some time to get the traps done. Hopefully, they would get more than a dozen set by the time Kakashi was finished with Matsuri.

“Oh Matsuri-channnn.” Kakashi suddenly appeared right in front of him, making Matsuri let out a squeak. Not that he would ever admit that. “Stop running and face me like a kunoichi.”

Matsuri didn’t even stop, just ducked the punch and body flickered to the other side of the woods. The look on Kakashi’s face would have made Shisui proud.

“When did she learn that…?” Kakashi muttered, before following, noticing that Matsuri was flickering her chakra… “What is she..?” A senbon suddenly flew at him from his left and Kakashi switched with a log.

“Damnit.” Matsuri cussed, and tried to suppress his chakra gain, body flickered away. “I really need to practice some more with moving targets…” Matsuri flickered his chakra, hoping that Kakashi would follow him again.

“Now, that wasn’t very nice, Matsuri-chan. You almost hit your favorite sensei.”

Matsuri just barely managed to dodge the hand coming up from the ground. Matsuri saw his chance, threw his second senbon. “Who said you were my favorite sensei?” Matsuri cursed when he didn’t see the senbon hit the arm. He jumped back, but another came up through the ground, grabbing Matsuri’s ankle. The hand tugged, and Matsuri found himself buried up to his neck in dirt.

“Maa, that’s so mean, Matsuri-chan.” Kakashi bent down, and patted the top of Matsuri’s head. “You seem nice and stuck now, stay put.”

Matsuri glared at the retreating back, before tugging out his hand furiously. But no matter how hard he struggled, he couldn’t budge. With some effort, Matsuri wiggled like crazy, trying to at least loosen up the dirt that was surrounding him. It did nothing. “This is freaking ridiculous!” Again, Matsuri tried. This time he focused on just pulling his arms out. After a few minutes, finally, Matsuri was able to pull up one of his arms.

For a second, Matsuri silently cheered. Then he got to work on pulling up his other arm. It took slightly longer, but finally he managed to get that one free as well. By that time, he was sweating like crazy, he just hoped Naruto and Sasuke were still okay.

At last, he managed to scrape his way out of the dirt, tearing his clothes, but that could be fixed later. As soon as he was free, Matsuri darted back to the training ground. Just as he burst through into the clearing, Naruto went flying up into the air. The blond splashed into the lake, scream cut off.

Matsuri scanned the area for Sasuke, noticing that his dark haired friend was passed out on the ground. Kakashi turned towards Matsuri then, orange book still in his hand. Matsuri gritted his teeth, and took out another kunai.

“Don’t let him get close to you Matsuri-chan!” Naruto called out from the lake as he dragged himself out. “Shadow clone jutsu!”

Matsuri nodded, and body flicked to Sasuke as a dozen Naruto’s poofed into existence and flew at Kakashi. “Keep him occupied Naruto!”

“Got it!” All of them shouted with a grin.

“Sasuke!” Matsuri leaned over him, and noticed that his eyes were open. Genjutsu. “Kai!”

Sasuke sat up with a gasp, eyes blinking like crazy. “Matsuri-chan..?”

“Yeah, Naruto need’s help.” Matsuri stood, Sasuke following. “Any ideas?”

Sasuke grunted, face twisted in a scowl as he took out a kunai. “He’s playing with us.”

“Yeah, he’s not even paying that much attention to us, he's reading that book.” Matsuri pouted a bit. That stung, but their power levels were that much lower. “I was gonna buy it, but Shisui stopped me. Said it was only a book for perverts.”

“Perverts?” Sasuke muttered, eyes sharpening in interest. “Strength won’t help. So how about…”

Matsuri watched Sasuke with interest and he called out to Naruto. “He’s a pervert, dobe! Get ready to grab the bells Matsuri-chan.”

“Well, yeah! If he stuck his-oh! Got it!” Naruto cried with a grin. Suddenly all of Naruto’s clones that hadn’t been popped yet surrounded Kakashi. “We’ve got you now! Sexy-!”

Matsuri body flickered to just behind Kakashi.

The timer beeped.

“Well, time’s up. You failed to get the bells.” Kakashi said, closing his book and looking at the three genin with interest.

Naruto fell on his face and the clones popped away. “No! I had you! I know I did!”

Sasuke and Matsuri walked over to the blond, standing on either side of him. Matsuri frowned a bit, analyzing the words that Kakashi had said. “We failed to get the bells… but we passed the test?”

Kakashi turned to him and nodded. “You did. The test never really was about the bells.”

Matsuri’s eyes widened.

“Huh? Wait! We passed!?” Naruto shot up from the ground, looking at Kakashi in disbelief. “We passed?!”

The shinobi chuckled. “Yes, you passed. The test was to see if you would work together.”

“You pit us against each other by saying there would only be two who passed.” Sasuke said, glaring slightly at Kakashi.

“Maa, don’t be so mad. I had to make sure that my team could work together. No use for a team that would leave one of their own behind. Those who abandon their comrades are even worse than scum. My team will never be scum.”

“Yeah! We passed! We passed!” Naruto jumped up, hand punching the air. He wasn’t even listening to what their sensei was saying. “We’re a team!”

Matsuri shared a grin with Sasuke as they watched Naruto make a fool of himself. “Who wants lunch? I made some bento boxes.”

“Huh, breakfast and lunch? Do you ever sleep Matsuri-chan?” Naruto asked, pausing his jumping to grin at his friend.

“Maa, I thought I said no breakfast?” Kakashi raised an eyebrow, taking out his book again as they settled on the rocks to eat.

Matsuri would have stuck his tongue out at Kakashi if his mask wasn’t in the way. “Well, since I wasn’t sure what the test would be about, I thought it was a good idea to make sure we had energy. Plus, I figured you would be late again so there wasn’t a point not to eat.”

Kakashi raised an eyebrow, and chuckled. “Well, at least I can count on you to think logically about everything.”

Matsuri took out the scroll where he’d sealed the four bento boxes and set it down in front of him. He sent a bit of chakra into the scroll and their lunch appeared. The two other boys didn't even wait, each snatched up one of the boxes and began to eat.

After they were done, Matsuri took out his scroll and began to read while the other two started to spar against each other with Kakashi sitting next to him and giving pointers to the two fighters.

Once they were done, Kakashi turned to Matsuri. “Alright, how about you and I spar, Matsuri-chan?”

Matsuri groaned, but got up to face his sensei. “This isn’t going to be very fair.”

“How about I only use taijutsu and you can use whatever you want.” Kakashi compromised, putting his book away, which was a sort of surprise to Matsuri.

“Go Matsuri-chan!” Naruto yelled. “Kick his ass!”

With a deep breath, Matsuri reached into his pouch and took out two kunai and slipped a few senbon under his wrist wrappings. Then he got in his stance, keeping his weight on his toes, so that he could move quickly.

There was no warning from Kakashi, not that Matsuri was expecting any. One second, the jounin was in front of Matsuri, and the next, he was behind him, getting ready to kick his face in. Matsuri dropped and twisted out of the way, throwing his own kick which made Kakashi back up a bit. With that, Matsuri flung two kunai at his sensei. He then slid one of his senbon out and let it fly. While Kakashi had deflected the kunai, the senbon managed to slice through his shoulder.

Matsuri took out some more kunai and hurled them, then darted in after them and threw a punch, and a few kicks, before spinning away again. They had all connected, but it hadn’t fazed the jounin one bit. Not that Masturi had expected otherwise, but damn, did it make him seem weak.

“Pay attention, Matsuri-chan.” Kakashi popped up behind Matsuri, making him curse in surprise as he fumbled to get away. He managed to just replace himself with a log that got cut in half seconds later.

“Kakashi-sensei! You said you would go easy!” Naruto could be heard, and right then, Matsuri wanted to curse the blond off. He really was going easy, and Matsuri could just barely keep up! Damn it!

After ten minutes of running, hitting and dodging, Matsuri was about make a last ditch effort when Naruto opened his big mouth again. “Ne, Matsuri-chan, you can do better than that!”

Sasuke smacked the back of Naruto’s head, but it was too late.

Matsuri sent a paper bomb straight at the blond. Sasuke darted, leaving Naruto to struggle to take off the paper bomb with no luck. It exploded, covering Naruto in black smoke.

“Sexy jutsu!” Matsuri called, making his hands into the ram seal. Not once did he think that he would mess up, he was too pissed to be anything but perfect. White smoke surrounded him, and then Kakashi gasped, before falling to the ground, blood puddling under his face.

“Matsuri-chan!” Sasuke gasped, eyes going wide.

“Don’t do that! Stop, no! I’m sorry! But never do that jutsu again, Matsuri-chan!” Naruto cried out, eyes going from Kakashi, to the scantily clad girl. Big silver eyes lustfully gazed at him, long lashes fluttering softly. Blue hair fell in waves around Matsuri’s naked shoulders, just barely covering her large, supple, bare breasts. Wisps of smoke curled around her stomach and thighs, leaving a window to the curves of her hips, waist, and butt. Legs that seemed to go on for a mile could be seen just through the smoky clouds.

“Why? Don’t I look good?” Matsuri pouted prettily, as he teasingly traced the curves of his own feminine naked body with his hands. His skin looked soft and inviting to touch. He turned to the side slightly and looked behind him. “Is my butt too big?” He said, pinching at the skin a little. The smoke was clearing a bit, revealing more of Matsuri’s figure.

Sasuke gasped, eyes going wide, and face turning the color of a tomato.

Naruto gaped, face just a red as Sasuke. “Gahhhh! Change back right now! Right now, damnit!”

OoOoOoOoOoOoO

“You're never allowed to use that jutsu ever again!”

Matsuri rolled his eyes as both Naruto and Sasuke followed him closely home. One on each side, as they both glared at anyone that even glanced in Matsuri’s direction. “Why not? You use it. All the time, don’t think that I’m that oblivious.”

Naruto sputtered, head shaking from side to side. “Yes, I can! Sasuke can! But you can’t!”

“Why?”

Neither Sasuke nor Naruto could answer that question. Their faces stayed red for the rest of the day, and for a while afterwards, they each would blush for no reason it seemed.

 

A/N: I can’t apologise enough for how long it’s taken me, but I am so so so sorry. I will try to update this as soon as possible, and it shouldn’t take so long next time. Thank you(many many thank you’s) to everyone that reviewed/followed/ and favorited. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!