In the early morning hours as the sun begins to lighten, dawn slowly crawling into the sky, she sits on the veranda and breathes. Morning dew glistening on the grass, bird song filtering from the treetops.
For a few moments she can imagine that she is a child once more, those simpler happier times. When the house was fuller than just her and Shizune and the ever present ANBU guards, when the silence would be broken by the sounds of her family beginning to awaken.
Instead stands a copse of trees, the youngest nearly two decades old–for her cousin, Kohari–the next youngest after that for Nawaki.
Hers will be the last tree planted here. The end of a tradition, the end of a clan.
For a few moments, Tsunade drinks her tea and imagines.
Of the Lucky Seven brats–Hatake included–it’s obvious that the Uchiha brat is the least troublesome. She loves Naruto, and it’s not just professionalism that has her keep bringing Kakashi and Shikako back from their stupidly persistent death wishes, but Sasuke is the least problematic and she’s not ungrateful for that.
Of course, he still is a Lucky Seven brat: least troublesome does not mean not troublesome whatsoever.
“It’s a routine patrol,” she says to the impassive ceramic face of ANBU Hawk, “it’s been run every day for decades! Probably since Konoha itself was founded!”
Still, ANBU Hawk’s face does not change. His posture, though, slouches just that tiniest bit.
She softens her tone, “Better for it to be discovered than not, of course, I just don’t know how this could have stayed hidden for so long.”
Neither of them mention the Sharingan. The whole point of ANBU Hawk is anonymity.
Before, Uchiha in ANBU were sent out immediately on ops. An Uchiha on a routine ANBU patrol would have been inefficient, underutilizing their abilities… or so Danzo would have said.
If there are any hidden caches and tunnels that only a Sharingan can see around the Hokage’s residence…
“Bodyguard duty for you,” Tsunade says, and tries to make it sound like punishment.
Seeing her face on the mountain–alongside her grandfather’s, her granduncle’s, her sensei’s, and that Namikaze brat’s–she thinks about legacies. About responsibilities and inheritances and the cloying, clawing threads that tie her down.
Konoha was her home. Konoha was her hell. Konoha is in her blood, in her heart, in her bones. In every word she speaks and every person she heals and every desk she shatters under her fist. All the paperwork blurring beneath her eyes, every face that looks up to her, every building every weapon every tree.
She is Hokage, she is Senju, she is Konoha.
Konoha was not just one clan’s dream, Konoha is not just one clan’s inheritance.
Shizune adjusts to living in the village easily enough, but Shizune has always been adaptive. It helped on the road, when Tsunade was more drunkard than mentor, and it helps now when Tsunade has to allocate more and more of the hospital’s running to her first apprentice.
First apprentice. How strange to think of Shizune that way when she is more than that–her confidante, her friend, practically her niece–and yet it’s not inaccurate.
Tsunade never thought she’d have a second apprentice, but there’s something about that Haruno girl. Potential, yes, but a joy and love for life that she can barely remember having herself.
She certainly never thought she’d have third one, and not even for medicine at that, but the Uchiha brat has an eye for administration. She’s not just talking about his Sharingan, either, though that certainly helps with the paperwork.
Tsunade was raised to be head of a waning clan, groomed for the position, no matter how futile it turned out to be. Sasuke never had that.
He was the spare, the youngest. A child with a hyper-competent older brother, a fully functioning clan, an entire infrastructure that had no need for him.
There is no formal invitation. She does not leave confidential information lying around, though it’s not as if there’s much of a Senju clan to manage anyway.
But if she voices her decision making processes out loud more often. If she’s become observant of customs long set aside. If she has two cups of tea prepared for the early morning hours, well.
Everyone adapts eventually.
In the backyard of the Hokage’s residence is a copse of trees, a holdover from a past era.
She remembers digging for every single tree: scoops of soil in clumsy toddler hands, crescents of dirt beneath her nails as she clutched her newly orphaned brother close.
Trying so hard not to cry on Nawaki’s because it would devastate her if his tree withered from salt. (Dan should have a tree. A few months more, maybe, but she’s done with pleading for an impossibility).
She came back long enough to plant Kohari’s tree (and regret that she didn’t know what the Uzumaki traditions were) and leave with Shizune in tow.
It might be blasphemous, might enrage all of her Senju ancestors, but what does she care what a bunch of dead people think? If she wants to have an Uchiha plant her tree, well, who is going to stop her?
She’s the last of her clan; she wants someone who will remember her as such.
A/N: Less Tsunade and Sasuke bonding and more implied bonding and character analysis? Hope you enjoy anyway, @future-tongue!
Fire fallow cultivation, aka slash-and-burn agriculture, is when fields are burned so that the ash can enrich the soil for future crops to grow. 😀