(In)Difference drabble (2015-01-23)

“How is Nae-chan lately?” I have asked this three times in the past month. It was probably getting annoying by now, but I was desperate to know.

“She got into a bit of trouble in Otafuku Gai, but nothing she couldn’t handle,” Nonetheless, Mito-sama answered my question with a smile, before shooing me off to join her granddaughter.

I tried not scowl overly much. But luckily, Mito-sama found it endearing rather than rude.

“Who is Nae-chan?” Tsunade asked, trying to be nonchalant, but by the twist of her mouth and the fidgeting of her dominant hand, I could tell she was irritated.

Nae-chan is not a person. Tsunade does not know this.

“Just a friend, Tsunade-hime,” I deflected, before moving into some warm-up stretches. It had been three months since Tsunade and I began exercising during our overlapping days off, five months since we both graduated from the academy.

Five months since I was passed over for a Nae-chan position.

She took the hint and began her own stretches too, but she didn’t let the topic drop completely.  “I don’t remember there being a girl named Nae in our class,” It’s not like we couldn’t multi-task, we’d be extremely poor examples of kunoichi if we couldn’t talk and stretch at the same time. And anyway, it wasn’t like stretching was something that we’d have time to do out in the field. It’s strange what things seem luxurious when you became a child soldier. “How come I don’t know this Nae-chan, but my grandmother does?”

Because your grandmother is the head of the undercover kunoichi network–she’s the one that founded the Nae-chan organization, I carefully don’t say. Instead I picked at the real reason for Tsunade’s curiosity.

“Are you jealous because I call her Nae-chan and I still call you Tsunade-hime?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her flush a fiery red. It obviously wasn’t from the minimal exertion of the warmup.

“What- I just. I just think it’s weird that you always ask about her but I’ve never even seen her! What kind of friend is that?” She crossed her arms defensively, and even as I turned to face her, she still had traces of an embarrassed blush on her cheeks. Even disregarding her famous shinobi lineage, Tsunade would not have been a good Nae-chan candidate at all.

“Well, Tsunade-hime-sama-chan,” I said the mouthful of butchered titles as saccharinely as I could, “I seem to recall you spending most of our time at the academy beating up a certain boy that you have the unfortunate luck to call a teammate,” Getting her started on Jiraiya was bound to distract her from the Nae-chan issue.

“That pervert!” She raged, resuming her stretches with vigorous energy, “I can’t believe I’m stuck with him of all people! He still calls me Princess Flat Chest! Even in front of sensei!”

Ooh, that’s rough. Considering her sensei was the current Hokage, she was literally being made fun of in front of both her commanding officer and the most powerful person in the village.

“It’s because you keep reacting, he left the rest of us alone once we started ignoring him.” Well, and after Suisen stuck him in an hour-long genjutsu; physical retaliation didn’t stick, but that had. She still won’t tell us what exactly she made him see. Hmm, “He might be a masochist, and you’re giving him his pain fix.”

Tsunade looked so horrified for a second that I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“I wish I had known this sooner,” She sighed wistfully, certainly more heartfelt than a matter of Jiraiya inspired irritation deserved.

Isolating Tsunade hadn’t been something the other girls and I did on purpose. I admit that part of it was because of the intimidating Senju name, though another part of it was simply a lack of advances on her part too. Mostly, though, it was the Nae-chan thing. We were candidates, and she wasn’t. She simply couldn’t be.

As previously stated, the Nae-chan organization was sort of an undercover kunoichi network. But it was less of a spy network and more of a secret standing army. Girls had smaller chakra reserves than boys, and often had better chakra control to go with it. Which meant that most academy-trained kunoichi could compress their chakra into seemingly civilian levels far easier than their male counterparts.

Throughout the towns of Fire country, and even a few allied countries, there was at least one Nae-chan living a double life. Especially in the capitol, which was teeming with the who’s who of the aristocracy and merchant sector, and also included the headquarters of the dwindling samurai army and the second largest Fire temple. There were at least twenty Nae-chans stationed in the capitol.

In the academy, I had been friends with my six fellow Nae-chan candidates. Close friends, even. It’s hard not to be when you’re ten years old and told you might be part of what basically amounted to a secret society of kunoichi. The seven of us had been pulled aside one day during our third year, we had been told that we had potential. Of course, many kunoichi who graduate the academy end up as a Nae-chan–but a lot of those end up in the small villages in the outskirts of the country; almost a border patrol, really. But the Nae-chans in the capitol… they were the elite. That’s what the seven of us had been training for.

So it sucked when, by graduation, my chakra reserves had developed enough to out me as ninja-trained. The six of them got the Nae-chan positions they wanted, and I couldn’t begrudge them that, but I also felt helplessly left behind when we all graduated.

Which must have been what Tsunade felt like the entire time, being excluded from the group of kunoichi that could actually keep up with her. We must have been intimidating in our own way, a flock of preteen girls whispering to each other, because it wasn’t until after the others had left for their new careers, that Tsunade approached me as the only other kunoichi to end up on a jounin team.

~

A/N: Terrible ending, but I didn’t really know how else to continue? First off, yes. It’s Naruto fanfiction. But really I just was like… why is there only one kunoichi for every two boys? WHY THE SEXISM? So to answer that I was like… well, obviously the other girls are being sent elsewhere. Hence, “Nae-chan” – Nae meaning seedling/saplings.

This is a semi SI!OC character who ended up in the same generation as the Sannin. She actually wanted to become a Nae-chan because that way she wouldn’t have to interact with canon people and possibly mess up the timeline but fate (by which I mean me) decreed otherwise!

The fic name, which I may actually do eventually or at the very least drabble in more, is tentatively titled (In)Difference. It features one Kiyoshi Utsugi who is extremely afraid to change something for the worse and thus tries not to interact with important canon characters. Only for them to seek her out anyway. She may or may not be Kakashi’s mother? I dunno.

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