Actions

Work Header

Konohagakure School for Gifted Children

Chapter Text

Sasuke had never thought about dying.

Well, that wasn’t completely true. He had thought about dying when he had come home to find his entire family slaughtered at his brother's feet, when he had thought for a split second that he would be next. He had thought about dying when an older, stronger mutant had jumped him and left him bloodied and broken in an alley after taking the meager belongings clutched in his eight-year-old hands. He had thought about dying when the images that the Tsukuyomi had ripped into his eyes seemed like too much, when he thought the shadows would eat him alive.

So, correction, Sasuke had never been this close to actually dying.

The room was fuzzy and spinning like a top, the white walls marred by the black spots in his vision growing ever bigger. The fluorescent lights were blinding and the smell of antiseptic and blood burned his nose. People were shouting all around.

“I can’t treat him!” insisted a doctor from both very close and very far away.

“Why not? You’re a doctor! Do something!” a familiar voice cried back.

“Let me rephrase that,” the doctor said, suddenly exceedingly calm. “I won’t treat him.”

“What?!” demanded several voices at once, maybe it was just an echo.

Every stab wound seared like a brand. His breaths came in laboured pants. He was going to die.

“The dirty mutant deserves to die. It’s unnatural. His kind is going to make everyone sick or kill us before we have the chance,” the woman hissed, disgust dripping from every word.

Here was a sudden streak of pink in the corner of his eye but he found that he didn’t have the strength to turn and look.

“Tusande is on her way! Get her out! I need morphine, a syringe driver-” The medical orders went on, making less and less sense with each passing second.

A new voice entered the quarrel, “we need a mutant blood transfusion- we don’t have- no, he needs it-”

Everything was fading in and out sporadically like waves in a tempest. Quiet, loud, quiet, loud. It almost felt like he was crying. Was he going to die looking like a fool?

“Use mine!” the familiar voice shouted.

He hadn’t noticed that most of his body had gone numb but he felt the tube slide into his arm with startling clarity. The veins in his arm were on fire. Was that him screaming? Blood pounded in his ears and behind his eyes.

Everything went red before it went black.

Chapter Text

-Sasuke-

  Sasuke slowly crawled back into consciousness, memories came flooding back and his minimal energy with them. He assessed his body and was surprised to find it feeling normal, if not a little stiff. 

  Even more surprisingly, his eyes were pulsing with chakra. He didn’t feel like he had the energy to sit up straight let alone use his abilities. Strange.

  He cracked his eyes open and the light poured in, turning everything white before he got in focus. 

  He gasped minutely, a tiny intake of breath.

  His parents were sitting at the edge of the bed, looking down on him with blank expressions.

  He squeezed his eyes shut. He thought he was over this. Sasuke had been eleven the last time the hallucinations were this bad.

  Breathe. They’re not real.

  He set his jaw and opened his eyes. Uchihas don’t hide from their problems. They stared at him with something akin to understanding on their faces and unlike the versions of his parents that had haunted him for the latter half of his childhood, their faces were complete with eyes and their clothes weren’t stained with blood. Almost real.

  But no, real people weren’t translucent.

  “Leave,” he hissed. They didn’t move. “Leave!” he said again.

  The fake mother reached for his hand and he flinched back, hard. He scrambled to the far edge of the gurney he had been placed on, his legs tangling in the sheets and hair falling into his face. 

  His vision swam and he glanced around, the rips of darkness reached for him, stretching out skeletal arms. The world flickered from regular to drenched in red, from normal to a nightmare.

  You’re not real. “You’re not real,” he said aloud, scrabbling up the weak dregs of his confidence. 

  He glared for a few long seconds before the figures faded, finally leaving him alone. Or so he thought.

  “Sasuke?” someone asked. 

  He felt something latch onto his arm and reflexively jerked back. How much of the blood around him was real? It didn’t let go. He was dead. 

  How had he not thought of it sooner? It made so much sense. Of course his parents would visit him in death. 

  “Sasuke!” He found himself with an armful of blond idiot. He blinked.

  So, not dead then?

  The hospital room was small with one window and a few chairs, a tv was mounted on the wall and was playing some muted gameshow. A pink-haired nurse watched the scene unfold with an expression somewhere between worry and curiosity. There was no blood.

  Naruto backed up enough to inspect him, bright blue eyes taking in every aspect of his face and body. Sasuke was too stunned to do anything but sit there, limp. He took in one eye then the other, shrugged, moved on to the next thing.

  “Man,” the boy said, once he had satisfied himself and sat back down. “I thought you lost it there for a sec. By the way, you look like shit.”

  What the fuck was going on?

  “Uh, Sasuke?” Naruto repeated after he gave no retort.

  “Shut up” he scowled. “I’m trying to think.”

  So, of course, Naruto did the complete opposite and started to recount the story of how he ended up hallucinating in a hospital.

  “You remember fighting that insane puppet guy? Of course you do. So yeah we were going at it and I was obviously doing all the work while you slacked off but I was getting a bit tired, right? Like, seriously, there were so many goddamn puppets. Those things were creepy as fuck. So Kurama’s all like ‘Come on, kit. Just let me out, I’ll take care of it.’ But you remember the last time I let him, ‘take care of it’ and like, I don’t want to get us banned from another state so I’m like ‘No, dude. Like, do you think I’m stupid?’ So, I’m dealing with him and I look over and the puppets are all swarming you. But I think the guy noticed how young we were so he ran off. I got you to the hospital and now here we are.” 

  Sasuke was left scowling and rubbing his temples, and found that he already knew all of this. Naruto was fixing him with a very pointed and deliberate look when the nurse spoke.

  Her voice was very soft and thoughtful compared to Naruto’s, “Where did you say you found that guy again?”

  The blond looked over his shoulder at her, pasting on his dopey-ist grin. “We were just walking down the road and he attacked us! I don’t know what he wanted!” he lied.

  Maybe he was smarter than he gave him credit for. On second thought, it was probably the fox telling him what to do.

  Naruto had just knowingly or not, told me the story that he had fed to the doctors so that Sasuke could match it with his when they eventually interrogated him on it. And, quite commendably, he had left out any of the bits that could get them incarcerated.

  He carefully read my hospital bracelet. Ukito Sasuke, born February twelfth. He could work with that.

  The nurse gave him a once over with her unbearably green eyes and nodded, “I’m going to get Dr. Tsunade. She wants to talk to you as soon as possible.”

  They were left alone.

  “We need to get out of here,” they said at the same time.

  “Great minds think alike!” Naruto beamed as he started to unplug cords from the wall.

  One by one, the machines surrounding him went dark and silent and Sasuke started to pull the needles and wires from himself. Naruto tossed him a pair of scrubs still in the plastic wrapping and pointed to the washroom.

  He stripped quickly once inside, he was covered in gauze wraps and bandages. Peeking underneath one around his torso, he saw that the place where just the night before he had been nearly draining himself of blood out of was sealed up with almost no scarring. He glanced up at himself in the mirror, confusion written plainly on his face, but he froze before he could finish pulling the starchy shirt on.

  “What the hell is going on?”

  His left eye was purple . Not a bruise, the whole eye itself was purple . Six black rings circled the pupil in a strange imitation of his ability, Sharingan his parents had called it. The other eye was black like usual when he wasn’t using his ability.

  “Naruto!” he bellowed before ripping open the door, shirt still only half proper. 

  The blond was already there, smile fading a little upon seeing his expression.

  “Why didn’t you mention this?” he demanded quietly, pointing to the eye.

  “I thought I was normal!” 

  “Normal?”

  “We’ve only known each other for a little while-”

  “It’s been a year,”

  “You’re not very talkative!” he insisted, splaying out his hands as if to prove his innocence.

  This definitely wasn’t normal. Was he sick?

  Their time was up. The main door swung open and an exceptionally tall and busty doctor strolled in.

  “Boys,” she greeted, smiling down on them menacingly. “It’s good to see you up and moving around Sasuke but could you please return to the bed so I can ask you some questions?”

  The boys in question returned to the bed with an air of defeat and Tsunade smirked as she followed them. She got them situated on the bed and pulled up a chair for herself before waving for the pink-haired nurse to do the same.

  “I’m Dr. Tsunade, I don't think we’ve formally met. I have some quick questions for you Sasuke, before we get into business. First off, how are you feeling?”

  “Fine.” he gritted out, staring over her shoulder at the door like maybe it would help him escape.

  “Good. Sakura and myself did most of the work on you so there shouldn’t be any complications or things we missed. All the major injuries are sealed, some of the minor ones are sutured and will dissolve within two weeks.” She glanced down at her clipboard. “Next, just some basic paperwork. Age?”

  “Seventeen.”

  “Date of birth?” 

  “February 12.”

  “Emergency contact?”

  “Not applicable.”

  “Pardon me?” she asked, pen pausing a millimeter over the page.

  “I don’t have an emergency contact.”

  “Who do you live with?”

  Naruto shot him a wary look but kept his mouth shut for once and continued to pick idly at the bedsheets.

  Sasuke met her eye with his best disinterested look, “I’m living abroad at the moment.”

  “So, you’re a runaway.” 

  He said nothing.

  “Hey, hey, hey,” Naruto butted in. “We are just experiencing life before settling down, you know? Seeing the world.”

  “Are you registered under the Mutant Control Act?”

  “Of c-”

  “No,” Sasuke interrupted. 

  “Right,” Naruto filled in. “Yeah, no. We were traveling before our abilities cropped up so we just never got it done.”

  The doctor hummed disbelievingly as she reshuffled her papers and clipped them back in. She immediately started filling in information.

  “I’ve put down all of the personal information you’ve both told me which should be enough,” she said after a long silence, filled only by her scribbling. “What are your mutations?” she asked.

  Sasuke looked to Naruto whose eyes flashed vaguely red, then down to his legs, unconsciously noticing that the scrubs matched the sheets. Something weak , he thought, Gamma maybe Beta-D or C at most.  

  “I can see other people's mutant energy.” The two women stared back at him with blank faces. “Like, a bubble around them with a unique colour and composition.”

  “Is that what the eye does?” the pink-haired girl asked, leaning forwards.

  He scowled. “Hn.”

  “What colour am I?” she asked, unprofessionally, a smile spreading over her face.

  Activating the Sharingan was out of the question. It would raise their suspicions and took more energy than he had right now. Instead, he shut his right eye and forced his attention into his newly acquired purple one. He could see a faint haze around her, green like her eyes and soft like waves on a beach, nothing compared to the strength at which he'd see it with his real ability. A glance at Naruto revealed that he could see the usual battle going on between the flaming red and cool blue of his opposing energies, red constantly trying to break free of the barrier with ropey tongues of fire. Weird. What else could he do? Would this one fade like the Sharingan did when he wasn’t feeding it energy? The purple wasn't exactly inconspicuous.

  “Green,” he said, and the girl looked slightly put out.

  “And you?” Doctor Tsunade asked, pointing her pen at Naruto.

  “My colo- oh. I’m like, fast and strong.”

  Sasuke internally berated the idiot. Fast and strong? That could stretch anywhere from Beta-D to somewhere in the Alphas.

  “How fast and strong?”

  “Not worth the energy at all,” he responded, leaning back and ruffling his hair lazily. “Like, it’s just above average and it’s super temperamental. It won’t work on Wednesdays, I don’t know why. And like, one time, I was holding this rock and it just stopped working and I dropped it on my foot. Broke like two of my toes, it sucked.”

  At least his stories were believable, though his strength had failed him because he called the fox a useless bag of fleas. He had complained and limped around for a week because the fox wouldn’t heal him.

  The woman hummed again and resumed scribbling.

  “Okay, I have you down under Beta-C and Beta-B. You should be punished more severely for waiting so long to get registered but I said that you didn’t have the resources and that you came willingly so the only thing you have to do is go to Konoha until you’re eighteen.”

  “Konoha?” Naruto asked, his volume rising in confusion.

  “Mmhmm,” she said, signing something. “Konohagakure School for Gifted Youngsters, KSGY, Konoha, whatever you want to call it. It’s a boarding school for mutants. You’ll get a standard education and learn to fully control your mutations. Me and Sakura here are on our way there at the end of the week when I’m done here.”

  “You’re going to school there?” Naruto asked the girl, curiosity and a fair bit of hope in his voice.

  “Yep,” the girl said. So she wasn’t a nurse… maybe. “My parents don't want me to use my abilities. I think they're scared of me so I’m staying there with Tsunade as my mentor until I can live by myself.”

  “Scared of you? What’s your ability?”

  “Just healing, but my cells do this thing where they heal muscles that don’t need to be healed so I get these bouts of crazy strength. I’m working on getting it under control though.”

  “Sick!” the blond shouted.

  “Yep, Beta-A.” She crossed her arms and smiled smugly.

   Pathetic .

  “Why are you going?” he asked Tsunade.

  She scoffed. “I’m done here on Friday because they don’t like me using my abilities even when it can save someone’s life. They say it's against their policies. And the Headmaster of the school offered me a teaching position so I figured it was time for a change.”

  “You’re a healer too?” he asked, but Sasuke was already too lost in thought to hear the response.

  A school for mutants. Interesting. Until they were eighteen? No chance. But a few months under a good teacher could definitely do some good. Self-teaching and mimicry only work for so long and to get to Itachi he needed to be great. Not to mention that pesky mutation he’d picked up from the busker in London that he kept accidentally lighting stuff on fire with, that needed work. But they also had a good lead right now. It had led them to one of the Akatsuki, had it not? Itachi was within grasp. What if the trail went dead? He needed to get to him. On the other hand, it wouldn’t do him much good if he got there and died within the first five minutes. He was good, not Itachi good.

  “-suke? Sasuke!” 

  He jerked up and looked around to find that the room was empty save for him and Naruto.

  The boy’s face was set. “We’re going to the school,” he stated.

  Sasuke only nodded.

 

Chapter Text

-Naruto-

  My name is Uzumaki Naruto, though right now I’m going by Namikaze Naruto. Two Ns, cool, I know. It makes me sound like a superhero in disguise.

  But I’m not a superhero in disguise. I’m probably closer to a fugitive.

  I should explain what I mean.

  My life went something like this: I lived in an orphanage because my parents had been mutants. The government insisted that they didn’t have a problem with mutants and while many didn’t believe them, I did. They didn’t have a problem with normal mutants; they had a problem with the loud ones, the ones who fought for what they wanted. 

   So in this orphanage, we were told stories of kids who got sick and turned into beasts and I would always say “Not me!” and the nuns would respond “No, not you, Naruto.” 

  Until one day, it was me.

  I woke up with three whisker marks on each of my cheeks and pointy canines and a demon in my head.

  They took me to a special doctor and he said, “No, he’s not a demon, Sister Magdalene. He’s just reached this stage in his development. Some kids have brown hair, some have blue eyes, and some are mutants. It’s just the way he is.” But I knew that this wasn’t true because mutants were monsters. He was just trying to make me feel better.

  Doctor after doctor said there was nothing they could do so the nuns called in the priest. He drew seals on me but they did nothing; the demon still spoke in my ear and turned me into a monster when I got mad. 

  Next step was to throw me out.

  I lived by myself on the streets from nine to twelve before meeting Jiraya. He was a cool man that taught me everything I know about everything and kept me safe. He was like my mentor, teaching me how to control the demon and my abilities.

  Eventually, Jiraiya couldn’t keep me safe though. He was killed trying to protect me.

  I kind of blew up after that, they couldn’t get me in the collar until I’d passed out from exhaustion and by that point, they had decided that even though I was only fourteen, I was going to the worst part of big boy jail.

  The Ice Box wasn’t actually cold at all, quite the contrary. The one I was sent to was usually insufferably hot; the concrete cell I was in wasn’t very well ventilated. 

  I spent a long time in there. I met Gaara when he told me to stop banging my head off the massive steel door that never opened. He was in the cell beside me and though we had to yell to hear each other, it was better than being alone in the dark all day every day.

  Eventually, the door did open. The collar fell off and Kurama burst back to life.

  On the other side were flashing alarm lights and a siren that made my sensitive ears nearly bleed. There was also a boy with glowing red eyes and a jumpsuit covered in blood that wasn’t his own. He was the one who let us out. 

  That was the first time I got to see the glass cells and cafeteria. It was an experience.

  I also saw Gaara for the first time.

  “You’re not very impressive are you?” the dark-haired boy had said.

  “Yeah,” I added. “You’re short.”

  Gaara pounced on me because I was closer.

  Not a good idea to fight a bloodthirsty mutant who can control sand in the middle of a desert, just saying. We nearly tore down the building in the process. We’ve been friends ever since.

  I asked Sasuke once we were outside, “Where are you headed?”

  And he said, “I’m hunting my brother.”

  And now we’re here.

  Where’s here?

  20 miles out of Julas and twelve hours from our last meal, on our way to Konohagakure School for Gifted Youngsters- such as ourselves- accompanied by a doctor whose version of ‘letting loose’ was acquiring or possibly stoking the flames of a drinking problem and a pink-haired girl who for sure, one hundred percent, definitely has a crush on me. Totally.

  Good times all around, am I right?

  We’re slothing along at a snail’s pace, Tsunade stumbling this way and that and Sakura just trying to keep her upright. Me and Sasuke honestly aren’t doing much better. 

  I had started to think that Sasuke wasn’t afraid of anything. He would rush into fights with only the hope that he was strong enough to come out alive and usually he was. But that illusion fell apart when we traveled with others. While everyone slept he would toss and turn before inevitably getting up and pacing around then returning to his sleeping bag over and over and over. It kept me awake, and now his few fleeting moments of sleep were punctuated by little whimpers and soft cries that would never break free when he was awake. It reminded me of the first couple of months we were traveling together, when he told me that his Sharingan was fresh again and not cooperating. I understood that, when I had gotten out it was like everything I had accomplished with Kurama was wiped away. He was constantly at the front of my mind pushing and pushing and pushing to get out like he used to do when I was nine.

 We were both exhausted and it seemed so much harder to put one foot in front of the other when we were so close. Summer was at its peak and we could feel it in the dry heat and long days. I was dripping with sweat and could practically feel Kurama panting. My backpack dug into my shoulders mercilessly, feeling like it was full of rocks.

  “I’m heading in. Sakura, you stay here with the brats. Keep an eye on ‘em,” Tsunade said, jerking her thumb to a nearby gas station.

  “Yes, ma’am,” Sakura nodded.

  On the second day, Tsunade had deemed us a “flight risk” which I didn’t understand because if we didn’t want to go to this school, we would already be gone.

   But we don’t want to go to this school, Kurama growled inside my head.

   You don’t want to go to the school, I corrected. And last time I checked, this was my body first so you have to deal with it.

  The gas station was old and every available surface was either rusted or covered in dirt, mostly both. The sign read Smith Family Pumps with a picture of a car that might have been nice in the 80s.

  “You know,” I started. “One time I was traveling around and the group thought that we should maybe try settling down so I got a job at a place exactly like this! It had a slushie machine that always dripped on the floor and like rats and shit. It was nasty-” I looked over to Sasuke who was leaning on a pump. He inclined his head ever so slightly towards the store then flicked his eyes to Sakura. I shrugged the shoulder out of her sight and he nodded. “And let me tell you!” I said, walking towards the girl and spreading my arms with emphasis. “The people in that town hated us! One lady told me that I was a spawn of Satan, believe it or not. So one night we wake up in the house we’re renting-” Sasuke had slipped away without her noticing- “and there are people with torches and pitchforks outside our windows, legitamately ready to burn down the house!-”

  “Wow,” Sakura deadpanned, cutting off the story. “Say, Sasuke?” She looked over to find his place empty.

  I laughed nervously when she turned her glare on me. “Oops.”

  All of the following ranting and pacing was for nothing though because a few minutes later, Sasuke was back with an armful of snacks. 

  Sakura started to lecture him about listening to Tsunade but she shut up real quick when he glared at her. I wish I could do that.

  His usual poisonous looks were a lot more potent with this new eye, it stood out. The purple was vibrant against his pale skin and the dark circles under his eyes made him seem almost skeletal. It's weird but I would never tell him that because I’m pretty sure he’s self-conscious about it.

  He tossed me a bag of chips without a word and I happily ripped into it. Barbeque was my favorite.

  He took a seat beside me on the dusty pavement and unwrapped one of those healthy granola bars that no one actually likes, except for him apparently.

  Sakura came to stand in front of us, crossing her arms irritably. 

  “Who’s Kurama?” she asked with fake disinterest.

  I choked on a chip and pounded on my chest to dislodge it. Sasuke looked on in disgust.

  “Someone we met briefly in the last town,” he said, reading the ingredients on the back of the granola wrapper.

  “What did you mean when you said ‘let him out’, Naruto?”

  “I think you misheard.”

  “Yeah, I said ‘let me at him’,” I added.

  She glowered and stomped her sandaled foot before flattening out her sundress. “I know that you two are lying. There’s something going on and I’m going to find out. You’re not who you say you are.”

  “If you want to get to know more about me you can just ask!” I offered but she just turned and stormed away.

  Tsunade came out a few minutes later looking more put together and generally sober than she had since we left the hospital four days ago. Her long blonde hair was combed and her makeup had been reapplied, she had also changed into a fresh set of clothes despite not having a bag to have gotten them from.

  She eyed the snacks but didn’t mention them. “A half-hour and we should be there, I want everyone to be on their best behavior. You are not abusing their hospitality by being little shits to each other or anyone else we meet there. Got it?” She clapped her hands. “Let’s go.”

   And so we did.

   Soon enough the barren countryside gave way to slightly greener countryside and the occasional mansion, it stopped smelling so much like manure and more like fresh-cut grass.

  A sign came into focus down the road, Konohagakure School for Gifted Youngsters est. 2001 was written underneath a stylized leaf logo.

  There was a long drive and at the end, the biggest mansion yet. A castle really. 

  A grin stretched my face and I looked beside me to see Sasuke’s eyebrow raise. 

  Are you seeing this? I asked.

  Of course.

  As we neared the front door, I saw a little cactus in one of the windows. 

  I nudged Sasuke with my elbow, “Look,” I said, pointing. “It’s you... Get it? ‘Cause you’re a prick?”

  “Fuck off,” he hissed.

  “Boys!” Tsunade chastised, smacking them both over the head. “Language!”

  “You’re one to talk,” I mumbled, earning myself another smack.

  She easily stepped past us once we made it to the front steps and gave the door a few solid raps with the knocker.

  Shuffling and muted voices could be heard from inside, some faint arguing cropped up. I tried to peek through the windows on either side but the stained glass was frosted.

   “It’s your turn to get the door!” A girl shouted from somewhere inside.

  “No, it’s Shika’s,” a boy responded.

  “Not a chance,” someone said.

  “Get it!” the girl screeched.

  “It was the church people last time. That gives me two passes!” the boy insisted.

  “Jesus, fine!”

  The door swung open and a girl stood on the threshold, platinum blonde ponytail pulled over her shoulder and big blue eyes crinkled at the corners from the size of her fake smile. Most notably, she was dressed only in a white furlined dressing gown like from an old murder mystery, despite it being almost sunset.

  “Welcome to Konohagakure School for the Gifted. How can I help you?”

  Tsunade stared down at her, brow crinkling. “Could we speak to Mr. Umino, please?”

  “For sure. One minute.” The door was promptly slammed in our faces.

  Once the shock factor wore off, I looked from Sasuke who was as stone-faced as ever to Sakura who had her chin jutted out boorishly.

  “I don’t think I like her very much,” she said through clenched teeth.

  The girl had seemed nice enough to me, straight to the point. Kind of like Sasuke.

  I tried to keep myself from fidgeting by surveying the lawn, watching squirrels jump between branches, listening to the birds hidden just out of sight. I liked it here. It was a stark contrast to the cities we usually occupied. Calm.

  The door swung open this time with much less theatrics to reveal a man somewhere around thirty, brown hair tied back in a short pony, tan skin, scar across his nose.

  “Mr. Umino, I assume,” Tsunade said, shaking the man’s hand.

  “Oh, Iruka’s fine,” he assured. “You’ve brought guests.”

  Several heads popped out from behind him, all taking in the sight of us. The blonde girl was among them, looking much less accommodating now that she was out of the spotlight.

  “That’s right. I’ve told you about Sakura. The bright one’s Naruto and the bratty one’s Sasuke. I worked on them at the hospital, they were unregistered,” she clarified.

  Iruka nodded before startling slightly. “Where are my manners? Please come in, make yourselves at home.”

  We followed Tsunade inside and the door was shut behind us. The front foyer was a huge thing of warm-toned wood and vases of flowers resting on side tables, comfortable even stuffed with people. A neat line of shoes ran along the right side under the coats hanging off hooks. It was blissfully cool and smelt of spaghetti sauce, the Kyuubi noted.

  I followed Sasuke and Sakura’s lead and removed my shoes while the adults talked, suddenly feeling like a child again.

  “Of course, of course,” Iruka said. “We’ll just get the paperwork filled out and get some rooms ready and that’ll be that. We can talk officially about your teaching schedule tomorrow. I’m sure you’ve had a long trip."

  I was halfway between complaining about more paperwork and mentioning that the doctor probably didn’t remember half the trip when I finally noticed the other people in the room.

  Obviously, I’d already been aware of them on a basic level, I could hear their breaths and heartbeat smell each of their scents and the traces of where they’d been recently so it’s not like I could just be oblivious to them, but I hadn’t actually looked yet.

  There were six of them. The blonde girl, wrinkling her nose at the dried sweat that had caked dirt onto my face. A massive boy with long spiky hair and swirls on his cheeks, eying the half-empty chip bag in my hand. He was easily a foot taller than me and twice as wide, but not intimidating in the slightest. A small girl, partially hidden behind Chip Boy, dwarfed by him and her oversized sweater. Dark hair, pale eyes creepily lacking pupils, and red cheeks. A boy beside her, holding a dog to his chest protectively. It licked one of his cheeks, leaving a trail of drool and making the red triangle on it look almost like paint. Another boy, this time in a green tracksuit. He had the strangest haircut I’d ever seen and was gazing at Sakura unabashedly. And lastly, a girl with twin buns and a very large kitchen knife.

  “How about you three come with me to my office and we can get this all done before dinner?” the man asked, hands clasped in front of him.

  “Okay,” Sakura said, just as I nodded and replied, “Sounds good.”

  Sasuke, as usual, said nothing.

  “Great,” Iruka beamed, ushering everyone out.

  His office was a similar design to the mudroom but with bookshelves and a big desk covered in neat piles of paper. He sat behind it in a big wheely chair and pulled some stapled packages of sheets out of a drawer.

  He asked us many of the same questions Tsunade had but with some additional ones about education level and proficiency with our abilities. They were easy to answer, he didn’t know me well enough to spot what Sasuke had dubbed my ‘Terrible Poker Face’ and on occasion the ‘No, It Definitely Wasn’t Me Face’. 

  “Why do you need to know our registered power level?” Sakura asked at the end and Iruka was signing the bottom of each page.

  He sighed, it was a tired, slightly sad sound. He gave us a small smile.

  “We’re not allowed to house anyone with a power level above Alpha-B without giving bi-weekly reports to the MCA and having them visit on the first of every month. They usually visit anyways, just due to the number of mutants we have here but they’re fairly lax about it and we don’t want to give them reason to come more often.”

  Sakura nodded, deep in thought.

  “Out to dinner, then?”

  We got to the dining room just as it was being served. Every spot at the long table set with nice china and gleaming cutlery. There were also three new boys.

  They all had dark hair and pale skin. One was slouched over, head in his arms, spiky ponytail jutting upwards into the air. The next was sitting ramrod straight, obviously related to the shy girl. And the last had his coat zipped all the way up to past his nose to hide his face, dark sunglasses doing the rest.

  The last three spots were all beside each other so I sat in the middle, Sasuke on my left and Sakura on my right.

  A man came out of the kitchen with a plate of garlic bread. He seemed to be about the same age as Iruka but his hair was already white, a mask was pulled up over his face suspiciously.

  “You’re new,” he drawled, setting down the plate before leaning in to stage whisper at us. “Just so you know, I can’t actually cook, I just like the apron so don’t ask me to make you anything. I can’t guarantee you’ll survive eating anything I had a hand in creating.”

  An exaggerated shudder went through the kids sitting around the table. 

  The apron in question was pink with frills on the bottom, cursive words reading Kiss the Chef on the chest.

  “Kakashi,” Iruka scolded, and the man pranced over to his spot beside him.

  “Thank you, Iruka,” the students chorused, not waiting for a response before digging into their meals.

  The man gave Tsunade a sheepish look, visually trying to excuse their manners (though they were better than any I had seen since the orphanage) before picking up his fork.

  The spaghetti was amazing. I hadn’t eaten a proper meal in what felt like years. Me and Sasuke couldn’t cook, not that we would have the opportunity to even if we could. Tsunade surely couldn’t and we didn’t have the spare cash to throw around going to restaurants every day. Cheap snacks and prepackaged sandwiches could only sustain someone for so long.

 By the end of my plate, I was certain that there was sauce spread all across my face and my stomach was bloated, I hadn't noticed how little I usually got to eat.

  Conversations had popped up all around the table but I was too stuffed to even talk. I might have overdone it just slightly. It was barely seven and I was exhausted, it felt like I could sleep forever and never be rested. I glanced over to see Sasuke staring up at the crystal chandelier with glazed eyes and a slightly sour expression, avoiding all chance of getting dragged into talking.

  “Maa- Lee, could you show Sasuke and Naruto to their rooms? And Ino, you’ve got Sakura? They can get the full tour tomorrow,” Kakashi said, resting his masked face in his hands.

  “For sure, Professor!” Bowl Cut bellowed, jumping up from his seat and nearly startling me out of mine. “I will prove my prowess in all aspects of youthful life!”

  “Um, do you need our help cleaning up?” Sakura asked, piling her plate on top of mine.

 I crossed my fingers internally and prayed that he would say no. Dishes was one part of normalcy that I didn’t miss.

  “No, no. Just get comfortable and we’ll have you on the chores list soon enough. Tonight it’s Tenten and Neji’s turn to do dishes,” Iruka said, massaging his temples and watching SpaceBuns and CreepyEyes share a scowl. Yes!

  I shared a look with Sasuke but neither of us moved. Sakura got up and followed Ino with crossed arms and a furrowed brow.

  “Well get going boys,” Tsunade ordered, threat creeping into her voice.

  Eventually, Sasuke shrugged and got up, leaving me no choice but to follow.

  The rest of the house was much of the same, and I tuned much of it out along with the boy’s constant blabbering. He went on and on about youthfulness and ensuring that we knew we could come down for board games if we wanted to. At least he was friendly.

  I tried to respond occasionally and smiled when he looked over but most efforts fell flat, he didn’t seem to notice or mind. 

  He dropped us off at our respective doors, one beside the other. “Remember! The bathroom is the door at the very end of the hall! Only closed if it is occupied!” he yelled enthusiastically, like this information was the most exciting thing in his life.

  Before I could respond, he had disappeared down the hall in a flash of green.

  Sasuke sighed and rubbed his eyes. “And I thought you were annoying,” he grumbled as he slouched into his room.

  I huffed and pushed open my own door revealing a fairly big room fitted with a bed, desk, wooden chair, and wardrobe.

  My bag fell to the floor and I collapsed into a boneless heap on the bed.


  The time on the clock was 1:32 am when I realized that I wasn’t actually asleep.

  This happens sometimes, when I’m around new people or in a new place. 

  I fall into the dark recesses of my mind while Kurama lingers at the front, not quite controlling the body but not letting it sleep either. Just, watching, waiting, surveying.

  It was a pain in the ass because while I might feel fine on the inside, the body would be sore and slow, too lazy to function.

  I crawled to the front and sat with the fox, looking through my own eyes like they were somebody else’s and I understood why we weren’t asleep.

  With Kurama so close, all of my senses were heightened to the point that I could hear and smell everything.

  Heartbeats from rooms upon rooms echoed down the hallway towards me, their breaths puffed into the air so loudly that I could hear the rasp of a cold coming on three doors down. Someone on the ground floor was getting a drink of water, the house itself groaned and growled in the dark. I could smell who had made my bed- Iruka and Hinata, two days ago. They’d had eggs and bacon that morning.

  It was overwhelming.

  I stretched my numb limbs and blinked my eyes to ward away the dryness.

  My room was cast in the red light of the clock and the stray beams of moonlight that had found their way through my window, illuminating the silhouettes of everything just enough to help me navigate my way to the door.

  The hallway was much darker but it was easy to find Sasuke’s door right beside mine.

  I knocked lightly and cracked it open.

  “Sasuke?” I whispered to no response.

  I pushed it open more and peeked in. Sasuke was sitting on the edge of his bed, staring out the open window.

  The bed looked awfully comfortable. I closed the door behind me.

  “There are a lot of people in this house,” I said once I was sitting beside him.

  Minutes stretched by in silence, we both watched the moon.

  “I can see their energies through the walls,” Sasuke said back, tilting his head towards me so the light caught his eyes and made them glow a haunting red and purple, three tomoes drifting in each one. I pinched my lips together. “It’s new. Distracting,”

  “Did you pick it up from someone here?”

  He shook his head. “It’s the eye, I don’t know what happened, it’s like it makes everything stronger. I can’t focus. I can’t think. It’s like getting the Sharingan for the first time all over again."

  A breeze wafted in and I shivered, my energy picking up to counterbalance the frigid air. I felt my warmth push outwards and Sasuke sighed, his shoulders sagging. I noted that he had changed into sweatpants and a long-sleeved shirt. I was still covered in the grime of travel.

  As we sat there in silence, I found myself focusing on his heartbeat and breaths and eventually it was like we were the only two in the whole house.