as for a title how about something like: You can only hold a smile for so long (after that it’s just teeth)

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Monster Smiles (blood in my teeth)

Loyalty, teamwork, and the Will of Fire–all just pretty words to hide the truth:

The foundation of Konoha’s strength is child soldiers.

And some children are stronger than others.

Mashing up your title offerings since they’re both kind of long but I did like their vibes. So for your prompt in which child genius shinobi reluctantly (or sarcastically?) say “I require an adult” I’m thinking an anthology of various adults of the Naruto world during their time as frighteningly deadly children.

And I know you suggested Kakashi, Itachi, and Tenzo, but technically–seeing as how average graduation age is twelve (in peacetime, nine(?) during war)–all shinobi were child soldiers at some point.

I’d definitely want a scene of basically the Worst Night of Young Shizune’s Life. Because even though she can kill or heal a person in over a dozen ways, life outside of Konoha with Tsunade has a lot less to do with fighting or healing and more to do with finding her shishou in sleazy bars or avoiding debt collectors. Which is made more difficult when, according to civilian standards, she is too young to enter either establishments.

I imagine there’s a lot of Tsunade drunken shenanigans and Shizune having to outmaneuver these DUMB CIVILIAN LAWS and she ends up maybe breaking up an illegal animal fighting ring? And she finds TonTon who was SUPPOSED to be the reward for two dogs (bears?) but is now Shizune’s pet. Basically, the story of why the honorable Godaime Hokage and her first apprentice are banned from one city in particular for eternity.

I would like a section for… aw, I’m already making myself sad… Aoba. Because can you imagine how much of a chatterbox Gossip King Aoba must have been as a child? Just. The most talkative child, so nosy and curious and NO AOBA DON’T TOUCH THAT. (He probably had a saint of a jounin sensei, let’s be real.)

I think maybe his path to Cryptography started early on. He’d play the part of lost child to infiltrate the place, memorize the layout and guard rotations of the place, and for all that he’s annoying he’s also weirdly endearing? Aaaaand then it turns out he’s the vanguard for the REAL mission which may or may not include burglary at the least all the way up to assassination.

Hm… who else would I want to do…

I have a vague horrific idea about Ibiki’s first encounter with torture. He is heartbreakingly young and the last living member of his team but he keeps quiet, keeps his village safe, and manages to gain some counterintelligence while escaping by the skin of his teeth. He crawls his way back to Konoha/the nearest war outpost (because this is probably wartime right?) and is just like. Super professional but bleeding out “I need to speak to the commanding officer,” aka an adult. And everyone’s trying to usher him to the healing tent and he’s just like, no way I have to give a report, my team died and I got tortured for a week, I can handle a few more hours of dying this information is important.

Uh. But yeah, that’d be it. Riding that line between childhood hijinks and the dawning horror of what shinobi childhoods are actually like. 😀

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