Tobirama-sensei chooses Hiruzen and something you didn’t even know existed within you shatters.
Everything after that is just collateral damage.
The first is an accident.
Or, at least, that’s what the report will say.
A training accident, two wartime soldiers unable to readjust to peacetime sparring.
A misunderstanding, you say, still covered in your teammate’s blood. You thought it was a genjutsu, luring you into a false sense of security.
It’s not completely improbable, is the thing. Kagami is–was–the most mischievous of the now disassembled Team Tobirama, with a flare for genjutsu and tricks. A smile and bright captivating eyes that had nothing to do with the Sharingan.
An Uchiha that even the most stalwart Senju trusted.
The first is an accident.
Decades down the line, you’re not certain if that’s true anymore.
Second and third are easy, the wrong words whispered at the right time.
You are not the only one who got skipped over.
Why Hiruzen? How is he more worthy than us? Were we not all students of the Hokage?
Politics, you’ll hiss at them, a blade sliding between ribs right into their hearts.
An enticing weapon, but ultimately a trap.
Shisui’s eye is a redundancy.
Fourth bows out before you can do anything.
Torifu was there during the first, he remembers it as well as you do.
He steps aside and for that you turn your attention away from him, from his clan, and their vassals.
In your last moments, you will wonder if that was your fatal mistake.
For a while, you think that is enough. Prove your worth and sweep away those in front of you, it is only a matter of time before Hiruzen’s weakness provides an opportunity.
But time does not stand still. Soon fifth through seventh arise.
Children, compared to you. Literally. Hiruzen’s students. What do they know of war? Of sacrifice? They do not have the experience.
But youth and talent–and pedigree in young Tsunade’s case–is not something so easily dismissed.
For now you can do nothing–nothing overt, at least–but they are primed to tear themselves apart.
It doesn’t take much to help that along.
Eighth, you almost regret.
He is the youngest, certainly, but you were once a child in war–surely if your sensei’s grand nephew were actually worthy, he would have survived.
Perhaps it’s the loss of the Mokuton that you regret.
The ninth was never truly a threat, a dreaming boy with no real claim.
But Konoha was built on dreams and you will not let some upstart stand in your way.
The White Fang of Konoha, a silly moniker that somehow strikes fear into enemy hearts.
As formidable on his own as Hiruzen’s brats are altogether.
No, this won’t do at all.
It is not enough for him to die, you need to destroy him utterly–his career, his reputation, his spirit.
You are ruthless with the tenth.
Every so often, you push them along–fifth and sixth and seventh succumbing to their own flaws–weaknesses that would have been exploited by enemies of Konoha.
Cowardice, fear, so quick to run away from what should be her only priority.
Obsessive and vain, so easy to distract and lead astray.
Foolish and sentimental, desperate for approval.
You are protecting your village by exposing them–what else reason could there be?
(You overreached with The Salamander, the man who titled Hiruzen’s students. You thought it would be a simple trade of services, a mutual extermination of brats.
But foreign shinobi are hardly worth the effort; the deal is dropped.
(Uzushio is a separate matter, but their lives are long and their memories longer.
Mito-sama was always biased against you.
Konoha will never be able to achieve its true potential with them forever poised above.)
Time marches on.
You uproot those you can, prune those you can’t, but they sprout like weeds beneath your feet.
That absolute infant that Hiruzen chooses may have made a name for himself during the war, but he is nothing more than dandelion fluff easily blown away in the breeze.
Konoha is better off without him.
You remember the first.
Uchiha that even the most stalwart Senju could trust.
There might as well be no more Senju, but the sentiment applies. Shisui follows in Kagami’s footsteps and the clan head’s brat has far too much potential.
You remember the first.
You remember that Konoha was built by two clans.
One is near to extinct. Surely the village can also survive without the other.
Hiruzen is old, weighed down by years and loss and having to put on the hat for a second time.
Or so he says.
You wouldn’t know, you’ve never worn it.
He is so completely unaware of all that you do for Konoha, so blind and soft. He walks amongst the villagers, a kindly, foolish grandfather instead of the unyielding pillar of strength that he should be.
He is a disgrace.
(He was your friend, once.
Now he is forever imprisoned within the belly of the Shinigami.)
(Kagami was your friend, once, too.)
Everything is just collateral damage.
A/N: … EURAGHRURH!! I’m disgusted with myself. But, okay, like. This is not meant to be apologetic or sympathizing for Danzo–I literally just wanted to experiment and see if I could get into his headspace and it… I dunno. Did it work? YEURGH, gross gross gross.
Brought about because of the massive hate-on for Danzo that’s going on in the discord, and the ongoing theory that he sabotaged every prospective Hokage candidate in the past fifty years. If it’s not clear who is who: 1 – Kagami Uchiha, 2 – Homura Mitokado, 3 – Koharu Utatane, and 4 – Torifu Akimichi were the other members of Team Tobirama. 5 – Tsunade, 6 – Orochimaru, 7 – Jiraiya. 8 – Nawaki (aka Tsunade’s younger brother). 9 – Dan Katou (aka Tsunade’s boyfriend). 10 – Sakumo Hatake. And then Minato who did succeed at getting the hat because his career trajectory was frankly ludicrous and too quick for Danzo to squash. And then Shisui and Itachi because those dang Uchiha.
I am not too keen on the ending (as per usual for me) given that I didn’t think I should end at the Chuunin Exams but I didn’t want to get into the whole Tsunade is Godaime and the whole constant undermining of her authority, even though I did kind of want to get to the point where Danzo dies? Should I have just stopped at the whole Uchiha it comes full circle thing? … maybe…
Arguably, if you ignore the line in the Torifu section, then this could be Naruto-canon compliant? But obviously I wrote it with DoS in mind. And I am hoping that Shikako is at least tangentially involved in Danzo’s downfall which is another reason why I didn’t go past the Chuunin Exams because… I have no idea what that downfall is going to look like. Fantastic, I assume.