Cross Post: Unintended Consequences (Ch01)
original here. dated 2013-11-24.
A/N: I’ve been doing some recording today for dosbysilverqueen and I guess my brain caught in that gear. Also, I’ve been meaning to do this to finish off the rest of my Unintended Consequences backlogs.
FYI, Unintended Consequences was the prototype for my Externality series in which Tetsuki Kaiza (one year older the the Rookie Nine) somehow helps Naruto graduate a year early–because apparently he tried to graduate twice before actually graduating with the Rookie Nine. Which still confuses me since the anime says he entered with their class but… oh well.
Her Academy career is nothing special. Due to her heritage, or lack thereof, there is no real pressure for her to succeed. Nor are there any real expectations.
For the most part, she does pretty decently. Like many other orphans who have decided to take the Academy track, she is better than the strictly civilian students. The ones who are, for lack of a better term, soft. They’re just playing, drawn in by the culture of Konoha and it’s almost patriotic glorification of ninja. They have parents to go back to, parents who are often just indulging their children and don’t really understand the horrible commitment until far too late.
But they do have one thing going for them, as she and many of her fellow orphans can feel all too keenly, they have a better support network. They tend to do better on the strictly academic tests–history and math in particular–because of superior literacy skills. Even if everyone in the Academy has technically gone through the same two years of free schooling, there’s a lot more reading and writing done outside of school for those with disposable income that can be spent on books.
It’s not that they starve, Konoha is too well-off for that, but there’s a difference between a two meals a day at specifically scheduled intervals and having access to food whenever one feels the slightest bit hungry. For some of the orphan students, it reflects in the physical classes–she knows of at least two fellow orphans in her class that simply can’t do all of the drills because of low blood sugar or malnutrition. One was flunked out in third year, the other most likely won’t be able to graduate. For the most part, it just makes civilian kids all the more coddled: during the annual “survival field trip,” which is basically camping in one of the safer, more forested training grounds, civilians tended to be the ones complaining and dragging the groups down.
But, if the orphan students just barely eke past the civilian kids, both are easily blown out of the water by Clan children.
Whatever support network civilian students may have, Clan students simply have larger and better ones. Even Branch Hyuuga, who are treated as servants by their Main counterparts, still have better books, equipment, and social groups than even the richest of civilians. Not to mention, Clan children don’t have any of the negative habits that civilian kids do. They aren’t spoiled like civilian kids by their support network, if anything they are groomed and trained and conditioned to be superior ninja.
If civilian kids are the raw meat left out in the open to rot, and orphans are the dry, tough, but still edible jerky, then Clan children are perfectly restaurant-prepared barbecue.
It’s hard not to feel jealous. Life isn’t fair, she knows that, but it’s not like she’s doing so badly. They get good results, sure, but hers are nothing to sniff at.
It would probably be an exaggeration to say she’s a genius. She still has trouble with academics–due entirely to her mediocre literacy skills–but during the few occasions where the questions and answers are verbal she does just fine. But that’s not really due to her intelligence as it is her ability to know what the teacher wants to here. It’s less “smart” and more “sharp.” Not all orphans have this skill, but a few do; there’s a shrewdness that comes with being overlooked and undervalued. What would be deemed precocious in other kids, is considered cynically canny in an orphan. It is both a blessing and a curse.
To her dismay, she enjoys genjutsu. She absolutely loves it. The logistics of layering genjutsu, the variations necessary to take hold of different senses, the open canvas to make imagination into reality. It’s like stepping into a dream, controlling every aspect of the surrounding world and the target in turn. It’s amazing.
Nonetheless, her skill and preference for genjutsu is problematic. It’s unfortunate because–combined with her adequate achievement in kunoichi classes, her unremarkable yet fair features, and her lack of social or political standing–her future will likely be filled with infiltration and seduction types of missions. While it’s not the worst that could happen, and her skill in genjutsu implies that she doesn’t necessarily have to have sex in order to seduce, if she continues along this path she’s going to end up a glorified prostitute before she turns fifteen.
It doesn’t help her case that she has a low ranking in taijutsu class. In her defense she does actually know the katas, but when it comes to the spars she dodges and hesitates when she really should attack.
Her saving grace is that she has larger than average chakra reserves: not just for kunoichi, but amongst academy students in general. She also has fairly good chakra control–not perfect like some of the other girls, not enough for the more delicate medical jutsu, but enough that she can understand and perform ninjutsu and chakra exercises within just a few tries.
She might be considered for light combat instead: guard duty and border patrol, which, though it isn’t the cushy administrative post or the relatively safe teaching position, is still preferable to infiltration, seduction or not. It’s one thing to build a temporary fake world with chakra, it’s another to actually live a lie all the time. She already feels like an outsider occasionally, she wouldn’t want to be one in a foreign country for the sake of a mission.
But that’s a matter for later, after the final exam. As it is, maybe she’s still looking too far ahead, because the semester just started and the final exam isn’t for another five and a half months. Then again, preparation certainly wouldn’t hurt her chances of passing, and it’s better to be eager and pass than under-prepared and failed. Speaking of, the new (older) additions to the class have already taken the final exam: they know what to expect, even if they obviously failed, but that knowledge should improve their chances of passing. And hers, if she can get one of them to tell her. Information is often more valuable than gold or steel for a ninja.
She doesn’t know what the returnee rate usually is, but there’s only four of them in her class and of that only one of them is a girl. She remembers her from kunoichi classes, which combine every two class years, and the girl was always complaining. Also, she wasn’t particularly good at any of the kunoichi skills–not that it’s so unusual. Another girl in their class, TenTen, usually only just barely passed those tests, but at least she had impressive shurikenjutsu skills to make up for it–the returning girl didn’t have any such specialties. Which explains why she failed. She never even seemed to want to be a ninja, really, but that’s not particularly relevant.
Nonetheless, maybe one of the others would be better. Knowing why they failed before approaching them would be helpful. She doesn’t want to waste her time on someone who can’t help her, but she has to give them incentive to cooperate. It would be best if they could help each other, though she certainly wouldn’t say no to free information.
Oh. One of them is Rock Lee. She’s heard of him, of course. The boy unable to mold chakra but wants to be a shinobi anyway. Why he failed is obvious, she can’t help him overcome that kind of handicap, though she admires him a little bit for his determination. But mostly scoffs at him for irrationality. What kind of ninja does he think he can become without even being able to do the Basic Three? And supposedly all he had going for him in the taijutsu classes was sheer stubbornness. No chakra, no academic intelligence, average at best taijutsu. How he even made it this far in the academy is a mystery to her.
She’ll pick from the remaining two, then. One of them looks sort of familiar, in a hazy sort of way. Perhaps he was at the same orphanage? But with his blonde hair and blue eyes, clashing horribly with his orange outfit, he’s probably a Yamanaka clan kid. He also looks kind of short, a definite reach disadvantage in taijutsu. She can’t really tell from this angle, and his clothes hardly help, but he looks like the kind of person who would fight with power more so than speed. Or at least, he will be when he gets a bit older. The other guy doesn’t seem familiar or outstanding at all. She’ll ask him first, then, after today’s classes.
It’s probably for the best that she decided to wait to ask about the final exam. The other guy was a total dick. Not to her personally, of course, because she hadn’t even approached him yet. But apparently he’s a long time tormentor of Rock Lee, which is just… dickish.
Ok, so sure Rock can’t use chakra and it’s probably stupid of him to keep trying to become a ninja. But there’s no reason to bully him for it. And what does that say about that beanie-wearing jerk that he didn’t pass either? At least Rock has the excuse of not being able to use chakra–from how the other guy kept lording himself, he should have been able to pass.
Well, the stuck up Hyuuga took him down a few pegs at least. Not for any nice reasons, though, because saying someone who has failed is destined for failure is also pretty messed up. But no one really wants to argue with the likely Top Rookie of the year, especially when he’s making an obnoxious jerk shut up… and when he sort of has a point.
If you didn’t pass the exam because of a low score, fine, maybe next time study harder or something–though if you didn’t bother to the first time you’re probably too lazy to the second. But if you didn’t pass the exam because you physically cannot and will not be able to do ninjutsu… they’re called ninja for a reason.
All of that just means she should probably reconsider the kunoichi senpai or ask Uzumaki. Because that’s who the blonde kid was: Uzumaki Naruto, not a Yamanaka clan kid. Although, that didn’t necessarily mean he wasn’t half Yamanaka, he might be a bastard child. But even in that case, Mochida-sensei wouldn’t dare be even half so caustic if he were related to one of Konoha’s major clans, unofficial as it might be.
Something about his name sounded familiar, despite that. Uzumaki isn’t a clan name, she knows, but it still sounds like she’s heard it before. Maybe he’s related to someone from their textbooks. Or, from the way the teacher has been glaring at him when not outrightly ignoring him, maybe someone from the bingo books.
She has no idea why he still seems familiar, even though she knows she’s never seen him in her life–she’d remember such a bright orange suit. But what really bugs her is that she doesn’t understand how Uzumaki could have taken and failed the final exam already but still be a year younger than her.
If he were a genius, getting admitted early or skipping a few years, then he should have been able to pass. Unless, since he failed, he’s not good enough at a specific skill or he has a lot of potential, but hasn’t been been taught how to reach it. With the way Mochida-sensei has made his day difficult, she can believe it.
She doesn’t want that hostility to be turned to her, even though Uzumaki looks like her best choice for the deal. He doesn’t have any grating character flaws from what she can tell, and his reason for failing may be something she can help him with. And if he’s really aiming to be Hokage, as he yelled earlier in the day, even though it’s unrealistic that just means he’ll be more desperate to pass. She’ll have more leverage during negotiations. As long as it’s outside of class it’ll be fine, Mochida-sensei won’t know. It’s not like she wants to be friends: their association will be strictly business.