Chapter 7 – Drawing New Lines
After the incident with the missing-nin that Sasuke killed, Ranmaru had been on high alert. He didn’t want to see his new friends getting hurt again and he definitely did not want to see the look of deadness in Sasuke’s eyes again, so he had taken to using his Kekkei Genkai to avoid anybody that might be honing in on them. Ranmaru could see and hear ninja coming from afar – although Karin was more adept in this area with her sensor abilities – and he could cast genjutsu to misdirect them. He tired often, however, and he still wasn’t strong enough for large-scale genjutsu, but he did what he could to help out the group.
Story by Vanilla Muse
Sasuke wasn’t in a rush to return to Konoha. He led the group leisurely and they took frequent breaks. While the group rested and enjoyed Konoha’s temperate environment, Sasuke would often practice with the weapons foraged from the bandits and rogue ninja that attacked them. He had poor aim with the shuriken, but did better with the kunai.
If Sasuke wasn’t doing target practice or ninjutsu training, he would be coaxing one of the older children in the group to spar with him. Taijutsu practice, he said.
Juugo was a poor taijutsu partner in that he lacked form. When he needed to fight he usually relied on his nature chakra to transform himself and go berserk, although he was learning to be more conscious of his actions during those periods, but the going was slow.
Kimimaro preferred using his bone weapons to fight, especially in close combat. It was the way of his people and Kimimaro didn’t see any special need to change that, but he would indulge Sasuke.
Karin turned out to be the best sparring partner out of the three, as she didn’t have a previous style of fighting that she liked to fall back on. She had some formal training in Uzushiogakure, but didn’t get to learn much before the invasion destroyed her village. Her style was a mix of formal learning, instincts, and fighting dirty. This seemed to work just fine for Sasuke, for he used a rather unorthodox style of fighting too. There was definitely a form and a flow to his movements, speaking of a past teacher, but it wasn’t anything you would see in a ninja village.
Sasuke’s form was graceful and fluid and relied on evasion and redirecting of the opponent’s momentum instead of powerful punches and kicks. The style suited Sasuke, because he was so flexible that he would often evade an attack in a way that no one else would or could. Watching him fight was like watching water dance.
They continued on for a time like this. Strolling through Konoha, training, hunting, camping, and generally bonding with each other. The bonding helped each of them in ways that they did not realize, but as they grew closer and the loneliness moved further, they became lighter on their feet and smiles came more readily.
Once they hit the outskirts of Konohagakure, it wasn’t long before ANBU tracked them down. Upon confirming that Sasuke was Uchiha Sasuke, the Last Uchiha and sole survivor of this clan – the others were not informed about this little important tidbit until then – an ANBU entourage arrived to escort them back to the village. Karin also got to see firsthand a medic-nin at work.
Once they arrived inside Konoha, they were given three days to clean up and recuperate before politics and paperwork come breathing down their necks. During that time, each one of them had to go through a therapy session to assess their mental state. Asides from a few minor hiccups that were to be expected from their experiences outside of the village, their mental states were considered stable and no one was pronounced clinically insane.
For Ranmaru, registering to become a Konoha citizen was simple enough, a brief meeting with the Hokage and mounds of paperwork. Applying to attempt for a Konoha genin position was more of a hassle. There would be an interrogation followed by a probation period in which they would be monitored by ANBU to ensure that they were not enemy plants. After which they would have to pass a test before general admission into the Academy.
What caused uproar was when Sasuke wanted to write Kimimaro, Ranmaru, and Juugo’s name into the Uchiha family register, to officially bestow upon them the Uchiha name. Murmurs of unrest rose in the Council. Talk of some Itachi dude came up, something about blood purity, and something about them lacking the eyes. They do have eyes and they can see just fine, thank you very much.
Karin was fine with keeping her Uzumaki name, so she avoided that whole debacle. She did have pride in her birth village after all. Besides, she would be an Uchiha in the future when she married Sasuke, or so she’d like to believe.
Sasuke stood at his full height, which wasn’t much considering his age, and presented his arguments to the Council. “As the Last Uchiha I am now the Head of the Uchiha clan. I hold full authority over the Uchiha name. I have an obligation to rebuild my clan and these are the people I choose to become my new family. Together we will rebuild the Uchiha clan and serve Konoha with pride!”
“You are still a child, hardly the head of a clan.”
“I grew much in the time that I was taken from my beloved village. I have escaped my captors and made an example of them. I have led our group safely from The Land of Mist back to Konoha. I think I have proven myself capable of taking care of myself and that of others. I understand the heavy duty that comes with being responsible for human life. If Itachi should come to attack my village or my clan, I will confront him myself. Konoha is my village, and I have acknowledged these people,” he waved to Ranmaru, Kimimaro, and Juugo, “as my people now. I hold full responsibility for their safety.” Sasuke was laying it on thick, but the Council was still tittering back and forth.
Sasuke breathed deeply, “Once I am a genin I will be acknowledged as a full adult. If it will settle your minds I will take the graduation exam now.”
“No!” The Hokage put his foot down and everyone was startled by his vehemence. “We are not in a time of war, there is no need for Konoha’s children to graduated from the Academy early.”
“Yet you would make exemptions for that monster instead?” One member sneered.
Sasuke spoke up before the conversation could digress, “Very well then. I shall graduate on time with my year mates, at the top of the class,” he declared. “I will prove that I am a man of my word, and that I am capable and responsible enough to be the Uchiha Head. I hope this will set your minds at ease.”
Of course the Council didn’t just bend over at that point. There was a lot more beating around the bush, but Sasuke pleaded to the Hokage with his eyes, and eventually with their effort saw three new names added to the Uchiha family register.
They all moved into the Uchiha Compound. Karin was shocked at the eerie, desolate state of the place. The once proud Uchiha clan, reduced to a compound of ghosts. Ranmaru just looked sad.
Sasuke told them to choose whichever property they liked. Kimimaro and Ranmaru moved in with Sasuke naturally. Karin chose the house next door. Juugo decided to choose a place further away just to be safe. If they hear him raging, they will have time to plan a course of action before he reached their houses.
Sasuke was given ten days to settle his new family members into the village and then he was to return to the Academy. Sasuke did just that, and he also threw himself into his training and studies. Every morning he trained in his weaker aspects and at night he would pour over his Academy notes meticulously. He even dropped by the Academy to pick up a packet covering the lessons he missed in class.
His friends tried to be as supportive as possible. They hadn’t realized what it took for them to join his family; even opening the Compound to Karin, an outsider, was fraught with arguments against the Council. Karin wondered if the Elders liked to argue just to be difficult or maybe they had nothing else to do in their old age, because they ended up approving of her stay in the Compound after all. Seeing the struggle that Sasuke went through, was still going through, and probably would be going through for a long time in order to keep them, they developed a new appreciation for his dedication and devotion to them.
The four of them, Kimimaru, Ranmaru, Karin, and Juugo, explored the village as a group to familiarize themselves with Konoha, so that Sasuke wouldn’t have to show them around everywhere – he did make a point to show them major establishments at least. Juugo was surprisingly adept at cooking once he figured out the kitchen implements, so he would come to Sasuke’s house and cook a big meal for everyone, allowing Sasuke more time to study. Karin took care of any more paperwork that came their way. Kimimaro and Ranmaru took over household chores.
All in all, it was a tough week, but Sasuke’s house had never been so lively and warm.