Baby Grows Up, a Kareru Uzumaki ficlet (2016-10-05)

Every year on his birthday (or, rather, the day Mum found him) Kareru’s aunts and uncles hold a tournament.

Supposedly it’s to see who his favorite is–he knows better than to actually answer that question–but Kareru thinks it’s just an excuse to hang out with each other. Or maybe “excuse” is the wrong word, it makes it sound like a bad thing; maybe “reason” would be better.

Every year on his birthday all the people he loves gather together and there’s nothing bad about that.

“I’m thinking about growing my hair out,” Kareru says, tugging on the red strands that brush against his ears. He is the Uzumaki clan head, a recent genin, and simultaneously thirteen years old and somewhere in his forties. Maybe fifties.

“Oh, yeah?” Mirai asks, pulling on her own long dark locks. They curl around her fingers and cling like little tendrils–to her fingers and, from the leaves and twigs in her hair, everything else, “I’ve been thinking of cutting mine.”

“I’ll do it if you do,” Kareru promises, reaching out with his pinky extended.

Mirai blinks at him before smiling, matches him and intertwines their pinkies.

Kareru will remember this moment for the rest of his life.

People expect a lot from him, he knows, even people he’s never met.

He’s a bit famous–not to be vain–given who his parents are and the circumstances of his birth (or, rather, finding). And not to mention, he’s been communally raised by a group of shinobi who can individually be called impressive and collectively be considered overkill.

He has a good foundation to build from, the best foundation it could be said–again, not to be vain–and so he knows that the expectations on him aren’t entirely unfair.

He’s not going to be the Sage of Six Paths come again. He’s not going to be the Uzukage, resurrecting–figuratively, of course–the fallen village of Uzushio. He’s not going to single-handedly revolutionize the field of fuinjutsu and usher in an era of prosperity and peace on top of the already prosperous and peaceful existence the world is currently enjoying.

Kareru won’t live up to everybody’s expectations, certainly not those expectations, but it’s nice to think that people think he can. The fact that people think that of him, even if those are exaggerations and extremes, is only because in some way they believe in him.

And even if he doesn’t know what he wants to do yet, it’s still nice to be believed in.

Baa-chan teaches him how to cook, how to lie with a smile, and how to flip backwards into a one handed handstand and kick someone in the face all in one smooth movement.

Surprisingly, all three things save his life. Even more surprisingly, it’s all during the same mission.

TenTen-oba… er, that is, TenTen-sensei, stares at him, hands on her hips, with an expression he’s seen her give Mum before: confused, but reluctantly impressed.

“We’re not even Team Seven,” she says, as she signals for Mirai to tie up the prisoner and Shachi to secure the perimeter, “I didn’t think this would be a problem,” she sounds even a little bit irritated–but her hands are gentle when she checks the stab wound on his shoulder, and so he knows she’s mostly just worried.

“Sorry,” he says, hissing in pain as she tugs the kunai out, and sticks a healing tag on the wound. One of her inventions together with Sakura-oba–translating the Mystical Palm jutsu into seals–something he’s been meaning to ask her to teach him.

“Don’t apologize,” Mirai says, having finished tying up the prisoner thoroughly and with a knockout tag to boot, “It’s not your fault,” she says pointedly in Shachi’s direction, who looks away with reddening cheeks.

“It’s nobody’s fault,” TenTen-sensei says, helping Kareru to his feet once the healing tag has run its course, “Although I’m sure your father will tell me otherwise.”

Kareru doesn’t know what TenTen-sensei and Tou-chan have against each other–something to do with how much of a bastard he was as a genin, Dad will say–but he has long since learned how to capitalize on it.

“I won’t tell him if you teach me the healing tag,” he says with a wide grin. He can fix the hole in his shirt and wash away the blood easily, it’s the lying that will be difficult: Tou-chan does have the Sharingan, after all, and he has years of interpreting Mum’s carefully crafted understatements.

But Baa-chan did teach him how to lie with a smile and that’s one thing Kareru learned better than Mum.

Mum isn’t around a lot–traveling and researching and (though he knows he’s not supposed to know) maintaining her part of Konoha’s extensive spy network–which makes the time she is around all the more precious.

“Kareru!” she calls out, before he can get within five feet of her. He knows he’ll never really be able to sneak up on her–her sensor abilities and his chakra capacity making the very idea impossible–but he likes to try anyway. She’s not angry or annoyed by it, gladly accepting the hug he gives her and even tolerating the way he lifts her off the ground for a moment.

She’s still taller than him–which some part of him is relieved by, never mind that he’s outgrown both of his dads–but she’s thin in his arms, light and easy to carry. He wonders if she’s been eating enough out on the road all alone, and he finds the thought infinitely sad.

This is a part of growing up.

When he was a toddler, Kareru got to be Hokage for a day.

Not really, of course. It was mostly Kaka-jii-chan letting him play with the Hokage’s hat and draw on no doubt terribly important documents, but it’s one of Kareru’s earliest memories. The view from the Hokage’s desk as shinobi come and bow and speak and leave, the entire village spreading out from the tower like ripples from a fallen object.

It’s a nice memory, but Kareru knows he doesn’t want it to happen again. He loves Konoha, it’s his home even if he wasn’t born here, but Hokage for one day is enough for him.


A/N: A bunch of random snippets in Kareru’s life because, I dunno, I didn’t have much direction here, @captainlibrarynerdstuff. But it was fun to write nonetheless and I think I’m getting a better idea of what Kareru is like as a person.

Also, because I say so, Shachi is Shachi Umino aka Iruka’s nonexistent child with… I dunno? Someone? I dunno. I built an entire backstory for Shachi even though he’s hardly in this, but basically he ends up having the Mokuton because I say so… but also because I head canon that Iruka is somehow related to the Senju (which is why he looks so goddamn much like Hashirama, I know it’s mostly same face art from Kishimoto, but let me have this) via his mother and then I had to come up with a Senju line so it’s probably something like…

Shachi Umino, son of Iruka Umino, son of Kohari Umino nee Senju, cousin of Tsunade Senju via Harigane Senju (who I made up) who is siblings with one of Tsunade’s parents (who don’t exist at all?!) and thus child of Hashirama Senju and Mito Uzumaki. So Shachi is the great great grandson of Hashirama and Mito.

Basically, TenTen’s team have super prestigious pedigrees and she’s the long-suffering herder of these overpowered cats. She thought she’d avoid the craziness by it being Team Nine instead of Team Seven, but then she remembers that she was Team Nine and her team had Gai, Lee, and Neji so… (she doesn’t realize that someone who can create Hammerspace as a teenager should also be considered impressive, but she likes the idea that she’s normal too much to abandon it).

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