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She kinda wished they would. Well whatever. She had plenty of necessary things to work on and she could worry about finding her own style once she got the fundamentals down. It had been drilled in her over and over again that it was ultimately the fundamentals that made the ninja.
It made sense. There were Jounin out there who reached their rank using only the fundamentals but there were exactly zero Jounin who were shitty at weapons and taijutsu. While not as exciting as learning ninjutsu Rei knew it would pay off in the long run. Rei ran the drill six more times, each time her weapon groupings hitting just a little bit tighter. She eventually had to stop when she heard her mother calling her name. Come here," her mother called out to her. Rei obediently stopped and walked over to her mother hiding her irritation at being interrupted with the ease of practice.
Instead of sulking she offered her mother a mostly sincere smile. What is it? It's too early to stop my training you know," she said with mock seriousness. We're receiving a very important guest in the clan hall tonight and you need to be there to greet him. You'll need to get cleaned up and dress up for the occasion," said her mother. She seemed happy and a little nervous about the prospect.
Rei tilted her head questioningly. She hadn't heard about this. Rei supposed that in a way that was exactly what was happening from her mother's perspective. She had heard some months before that every three years it was tradition that the Hokage would visit and dine with every major clan in Konoha and his visits happened to be scheduled for this year. Apparently there was a great deal of political tea-leaf reading that went into what order the Hokage chose to visit the clans, who he spoke to and exactly what was said.
Personal visits from the Hokage were rare and everyone treated these dinners like they were a Really Big Deal. It all sounded extremely — if she might steal a word — troublesome to her but she guessed that was all part of how the political sausage was made in Konoha. Rei had known the much expected visit from the Hokage was coming sometime this year.
She just hadn't expected it to arrive so suddenly. Then again who would go out of their way to keep a five year old abreast of such things? I already put out a kimono for you to wear. Hurry up and take a shower then I'll help you do your hair. Her thick ringlets never wanted to settle into the traditional elaborate hair styles. It was always a painful experience and the result never looked quite right.
Those traditional hairstyles were meant for people with straight hair, not those that had natural sausage fat curls like she did. Still Rei wasn't inclined to make a fuss. Rei managed to get her way in a surprising number of things but she didn't want to push her luck. Being anything less than "perfect" for the Hokage was not something her mother would tolerate from her. Everyone was eager to make a good impression. Her mom looked at her oddly because of her odd turn of phrase.
Rei just smiled brightly and walked past her into the house. By now everyone was resigned to the fact she was a little strange. She didn't care. What use was life if she didn't have a little fun with it? It was the prerogative of being a genius wasn't it? You get to be a weirdo. She went into the upstairs bathroom, disrobed and turned on the shower.
The shower was tiled blue very much like the bathrooms in her last life. As she washed her hair with a mix of herbs and oils Rei wondered at meeting with the Hokage. Even though Rei was irreverent when it came to figures of authority in this world she couldn't help but feel somewhat nervous.
The Hokage was a bigger than life figure and she could admit even she hadn't been completely unaffected by the seemingly endless tales of accomplishments attributed to the Third Hokage. The man was a legend and if what she remembered from the story was accurate he was impressive enough to live up to the hype even at his advanced age. There was a saying in the ninja world. Fear old ninja. They are alive for a reason.
Suddenly Rei was worried. She had briefly met other Jounin but no one as accomplished as the Hokage. Decade after decade of leading Konoha from behind a desk where his main opponents were politics and bureaucracy the man could probably spot a person selling him bullshit a mile away. Would he be able to tell there was something truly unusual about her? Would he somehow be able to piece together that she had no intention of adopting his precious "Will of Fire"? That she was planning on becoming a "traitor" by abandoning the village?
Rei knew she was being unreasonably paranoid but the stories always made it sound like the Hokage could do anything short of making the sun rise at midnight. He was also the man who held the power of life and death over her and everyone in the village. How could someone not be at least a little bit on edge when meeting him? Though it was unlikely one couldn't help but wonder if the man would order your execution if you offended him badly enough.
It didn't matter that the odds of that happening were slim to none. The threat that he could was enough to give a person pause. Finishing her shower Rei dried herself with a towel and headed to the room she shared with Ino. On her bed neatly laid out was an expensive pink formal kimono with flower patterns in light green and white. It was brand new and Rei had to wonder if her mother had bought it for just this occasion.
I don't even like pink Rei thought. It seemed that in both worlds it was just assumed young girls would like things in that color. While it wasn't her favorite color the kimono was still beautiful and the shade of pink was thankfully tastefully muted. She quickly dressed and put on the matching obi before going to look for her mother. Rei found her sitting on the vanity in her room putting the last touches on her hair.
Emiko looked over and smiled. Though you didn't tie the obi quite right again. The result was something that looked more or less like it was supposed to even if it felt like half her head was covered in pins and clips. Seeing her blonde hair and lilac eyes in what was almost indistinguishable from traditional Japanese garb made her feel like she was a Western girl playing dress up.
However in the elemental nations there was nothing unusual about blondes and redheads in formal kimonos. Rei found it a bit surprising that even after five years little things like that could still be jarring. It's time," said her mother leading her out of the room. Night had already fallen as Emiko led Rei out of the house. They turned down a well maintained street with traditional houses on both sides. Paper lanterns with the Yamanaka clan symbol were hung on posts at regular intervals providing lighting for the first half of the night.
There were rather more paper lanterns out that night and the streets were more well lit than usual. This she suspected the extra effort had been made on behalf of the Hokage. Emiko led them into a large building where clan meetings and other important events held in the Yamanaka compound took place.
It strangely reminded Rei of a mead hall. A large sunken foyer greeted them at the entrance and this led to a spacious raised dining area capable of holding over a hundred people. Lanterns were everywhere and here they were made of glass instead of paper as was more common.
Everything else was made of polished wood and Rei wondered if the First Hokage's Mokuton had been responsible for creating the building in the first place. Clan members already gathered were standing and speaking quietly in small groups. Rei spotted her father who was engaged in a serious looking conversation with a couple of veteran Chunin.
Her mother left him alone and instead steered them towards a small group of women quietly speaking to each other. The group of them in their colorful kimonos brought to mind an especially pretty flock of birds. Hokako-san, that kimono looks wonderful on you," said her mother quickly inserting herself into the group gracefully but without much subtlety.
You and Rei-chan look divine," the other woman replied with an easy smile. Rei replied gracefully to the compliments she received but otherwise tuned the women out. It seemed that in any world women loved to gossip and Rei wasn't the least bit interested in the latest bit of drama going on in the clan. She passed the time people watching as more and more ninja of the clan slowly trickled in. The hall wasn't big enough to accommodate every clansman and only the most prominent ones would be in attendance.
Though she knew she was the heir Rei still found it odd to think of herself as one of the most prominent people in the Yamanaka clan. In a lot of ways Rei suspected she would always feel like something of an outsider. Eventually the doors opened and in walked Yamanaka Toshiaki who was the current head of the Yamanaka clan.
He was a tall and reed thin with greying blonde hair who was somewhere in between middle aged and elderly. Still the man stood straight and strong and carried himself with an air of dignity that forced you to take him seriously and treat him with respect. Toshiaki was her father's elder cousin and both his children had been killed in action during the last war.
As Inoichi was the closest family member to the clan head and Toshiaki would never have another child Rei had become the new heir to the Yamanaka clan when she was born. Why can't they just hold an election or something? Please take your positions and be prepared to greet him.
Clansmen arranged themselves in two lines on either side of the foyer, each of them shuffling around in such a way that made it obvious their positions had been decided beforehand. In less than a minute they had all efficiently positioned themselves and Rei found herself standing next to her mother nearly at the head of one of the lines. All chatter stopped and the air took a sudden serious military mien. Toshiaki stood by the door flanked on one side by her father and on the other one of the clan elders.
Rei could see what was going to happen. When the Hokage came close enough Toshiaki and the two flanking him would go and greet the Hokage outside. Afterwards they would escort him in and the Hokage would see the finely dressed Yamanaka clansmen lined up on either side of the hall to greet him.
Rei had never experienced this kind of pomp and ceremony in her past life and she felt it was all a bit too stuffy. The girl was very much not a fan of formality. She supposed she should count herself lucky she hadn't been born into the Hyuuga clan. Make sure to follow along," her mother whispered to her. It was just a bit eerie how every person in the room stood quietly at attention while they waited those last few minutes for the Hokage to arrive.
It was like they were all in uniform waiting for inspection instead of dressed for a fancy dinner in their finest attire. The last few minutes ticked by slowly as Rei struggled not to fidget. After what seemed like an eternity but must have been less than five minutes the clan head with her father and the elder at his shoulders stepped out of the hall. It seemed the Hokage had arrived. The room held its collective breath while they waited for polite greetings to be exchanged and for the guest of honor to be showed inside.
Of course the Hokage was the first person to reenter the room since traditionally the highest ranking person entered first. Rei barely got a glimpse of his robes before she was bowing along with everyone else bending at the waist low and keeping her eyes on the floor as was "proper". The Hokage strolled across the room with such casual ease Rei knew it must have been for show. Two plain faced men in Jounin uniforms flanked him as an honor guard and Rei was willing to bet they were part of the Hokage's personal ANBU when they weren't acting as ceremonial bodyguards.
In unison as if by some unseen signal all the Yamanaka straightened from their bows and stood at stiff attention. The Hokage didn't visibly react but instead just walked to the head of the two lines. Toshaki and his entourage were close behind and Rei watched curiously out of the corner of her eye as the Hokage conferred briefly with the Yamanaka clan head. What is going on? Wish someone had clued me in to the script beforehand. What was going on became apparent as the Hokage started to speak to a Yamanaka clan member almost directly across from her with Toshaki following closely at his shoulder.
They spoke in quiet tones for a few moments before the Hokage moved down the line and spoke briefly to another Yamanaka clan member. Rei realized that the Hokage was very deliberately choosing to speak to a handful of clan members in front of all the others and that it undoubtedly was intended to send some kind of message.
I bet there'll be hours of speculation as to why the Hokage chose to speak to the people he did and what it all means. You also have to wonder if anyone will feel snubbed if the Hokage doesn't stop to speak to them personally. Ugh I don't have the patience for politics.
When the Hokage finished going down the line and then crossed over to speak to the people in Rei's own line it finally occurred to her that the Hokage might stop to speak with her. I really, really hope he doesn't she thought with dread bubbling in her stomach. Rei knew she was far, far too inexperienced to try to match wits or pull one over on the Hokage. She knew she was being paranoid but she couldn't help but feel afraid that the Hokage would be able to instantly see right through her.
It wasn't rational but Rei had heard too many stories about the Hokage being a man who could do anything and despite herself she had been sucked in by some of the hype. Especially since she knew a great deal of it wasn't hype at all. Deep breath. You're just a little girl known to be a bit of an odd snowflake duck.
If there's anything odd to be seen it will probably just get chalked up to that. Minutes passed and the tension in Rei's five year old body increased as the Hokage drifted ever closer to her place near the head of the line.
Rei forced herself to physically relax but didn't think it did a lot of good. At least if she looked like a nervous wreck it could be chalked up to nerves from being in the presence of the Hokage. Rei took a deep breath as unbidden words from her old world came to mind. There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is only chakra. Finally the Third Hokage came to a stop right in front of her.
It was almost a shock that the Hokage looked like a normal man and not a three meter tall glowing demigod. This was the first time in her life that Rei had gotten a close look at the man who had lead the Village Hidden in the Leaves for over forty years. He was somewhat shorter than the average man but not an inch less imposing for it. His face was lined with age and was covered with a few liver spots. His features were remarkably unremarkable.
He had a pointed neatly trimmed grey goatee that somehow managed to make him look more approachable and dignified. He looked down at Rei with a friendly warm smile and it was easy to see how Naruto would latch on to him as a semi-paternal grandfatherly figure.
His eyes though gave lie to his outer appearance as simple old man. They were sharp and focused and while not exactly calculating there was a… weight to them, as if he was seeing what she would make of herself and how useful she would be. It wasn't completely heartless though. Rei thought that while she was being weighed for her utility that didn't mean he was heartless. His eyes said he also cared.
At least that's what he wanted her to see at any rate. She wouldn't kid herself; whatever she saw in Sarutobi Hiruzen would be exactly what he wanted her to see. Someone like her didn't stand a chance of seeing past his walls. It's a pleasure to meet you. They tell me you train hard every day," he said. Rei had a momentary moment of panic. Open ended questions were a classic way to gather information. How should she respond? Was this some kind of test? Was he looking for something?
Looking up at his face she realized she had no idea. Frankly she was getting annoyed with herself and tired of being unsettled by his presence. Or she could just be herself. Oh fuck it. She grinned at him with a hint of mischievousness. It was a look her parents knew usually meant trouble. That's my goal you know; to become a powerful ninja and be able to see the world," she said, laughing inside and hoping she didn't somehow get herself killed.
He seemed please by her response. So you want to be a ninja? All the people I want to emulate are ninja after all," she said, putting her hands behind her back and turning up the cuteness factor to eleven.
Tsunade, Orochimaru, Deidara, Sasori. All the people I want to emulate are most definitely ninja. The Hokage nodded indulgently like she had just pronounced some great wisdom. There are a lot of great role models for you in your clan. You know the way of the ninja is very hard. Do you think you're ready for it? The girl wondered how many people could tell she was grinning like a mad fool on the inside.
The Hokage chuckled at that. My, it looks like the Will of Fire burns brightly in the next generation. You begin the academy next year don't you? I'll be expecting great things from you. I promise I'll be like no one you've ever seen before. The smile on Rei's face fell as soon as he was gone. Damn it damn it damn it. I definitely went too far.
While she was lost in her own thoughts the group started to break up. Rei realized she had been the last person the Hokage had talked to and he had proceeded further into the hall to the large formal dining area. Her mother appeared in front of her and drew her attention. Rei had the decency to look a little sheepish. I was just a little nervous. I thought you and dad had figured that out by now," she said, putting a hand on her hip and imitating her mother's raised eyebrow. Emiko looked like she wanted to give her daughter a serious scolding but held herself back.
I have to stay for the dinner. Emiko shook her head. You'll get to join us once you become Genin. I can't wait. Rei thought sardonically. There's dinner in the fridge. Your aunt should bring Ino back soon so make sure she goes to bed on time. I can handle it. See you tomorrow. Rei left the meeting hall and walked home with a sullen air. Her eyes were firmly planted on the ground in front of her the whole way. When she got home she decided she wasn't hungry and chose to forgo dinner. Instead she went up to her room, changed her clothes, and threw herself on her bed.
What the hell was I thinking needling the Hokage like that? I wanted to fly under the radar and I might have ended up doing the exact opposite. With that last comment I probably ruined whatever good impression I had made on him. Ugh, being a smartass little shit is not a good defense mechanism in the ninja world. Rei lay there for what felt like a long time going over everything that had happened and the ways in which it might hurt her.
In the end she decided strict professionalism whenever she met the Hokage in the future was the way to go. She only hoped she could actually stick to that. Eventually Rei felt someone coming up the stairs and when the door opened she sat up. Ino stood there looking freshly showered after playing at their aunt Yua's house all day. Ino gave her a long look and a little frown marred her features.
Rei blinked. You look sad or something. I don't know but I can tell something's wrong," Ino insisted. Rei sighed and rubbed her face. She must have really looked a mess if a four year old could so easily tell something was wrong with her.
I've had a bit of a rotten evening. Rei hesitated before wrapping her arms around the younger girl. Typical Ino. Always thinking she could make things better with a hug. Sometimes she was right. Rei smiled. I'd like that. The older woman seemed to think it was a big deal. When Rei asked why she got a longer explanation than she had expected. When Rei had watched the show she'd thought everyone wearing the same outfit everyday had just been the artist's convention to help keep things simple.
It turned out this wasn't the case at all and there were historical reasons why this practice was adopted. During the warring states period when armies fought the commanders started wearing clothing that was easily recognizable. This was so the ninja on their side could easily find them in the field of battle to look for orders and to try to draw enemy aggression.
The commanders were the strongest ninja and the pervading philosophy was that if they were targeted they would have the best chance to survive. It also made it very easy to get enemies to overcommit to attacking the commanders and lead them into an ambush. Eventually the commanders started wearing their distinct battle garb at all times both in order to be ready to fight at any time and for the prestige and status associated with their uniforms.
Over time all ninjas began to emulate their commanders and wore distinct clothing that easily identified them. This changed somewhat when the Hidden Village system was founded and there was an effort to introduce a standard uniform especially among the higher ranks. However there is still a strong holdover of the practice especially among the Genin and younger ninja. Clans in particular viewed wearing your own signature clothes as a point of pride.
Like many traditions the original purpose of it no longer applied but the actual practice refused to die. It also meant that at a young age perspective ninja had to choose an outfit they would wear for years to come. That explained some of the odd and painful fashion choices of Genin during the show.
So that was why she found herself in a children's military supply store with her mother looking for a signature "look" that she would probably carry into her Genin career. Rei had serious doubts about the practicality of the "battle dress" and wondered if its main purpose was to attract the whims of young girls. Rei wrinkled her nose. Way too girly. I don't think I could take myself seriously if I wore something like that.
Something more functional then? And pockets. Definitely want pockets. There was a dizzying selection of clothes, weapons and equipment made with smaller hands and bodies in mind. She was pretty sure she found versions of what some of the Rookie 9 had worn on the show on the shelves as she browsed. At first Rei had been rather neutral about finding something to wear but now that she was there she wanted to find an outfit that meant something.
Maybe something that had a deeper meaning even if only to her. Something that symbolized her rebellion against the situation she had been put in against her will and without her consent. Unbidden a memory came to her… that of a young Orochimaru with his Genin team wearing an off white battle kimono. A nasty little smile came to her lips. She couldn't wear exactly what he wore, that would be too suspicious, but emulating the style of a younger Orochimaru was exactly the type of silent rebellion and personal meaning she was looking for.
It also helped that the rest of the Sannin had also worn battle kimonos too though in slightly different styles. She didn't know if dressing like the young Sannin would help but psychologically it definitely wouldn't hurt. Quickly she flittered over to the section that held a moderate selection of battle kimonos.
As she started going through them her mom came and stood over her shoulder. None of the young kids wear them anymore. I like them. Besides I think they look dignified. But I thought you wanted something with pockets? Here let me help you find something nice in your size.
It was a pale lilac kimono that matched her eyes with an aggressive black collar and sash. It was a little longer than knee length and had long billowing sleeves she found herself liking a great deal. Black shorts and undershirt completed the outfit along with black ninja sandals.
Other than the kimono being lilac instead of off white Rei looked exactly like a young Orochimaru. Looking at herself in the store mirror Rei found herself both sad an excited. Despite the questionable circumstances she was going to learn what in her last world would only have existed in the realms of fiction. Controlling the elements, moving too fast for the eye to see, walking on water… she was going to learn all of that and she was going to do it wearing that outfit. On the other hand there was always the specter of what she would be expected to do with those skills after she graduated hanging over her head.
It suits you," her mother said. She was surprised at how touched she was by the gesture. It wasn't often he could take the time to do something even as simple as that. Her dad was a very busy man with lots of responsibilities and she had learned to treasure the limited time she got to spend with him. As much as Rei disliked the Hidden Village system for its lack of basic human rights and authoritarian regimes she had to admit that there were occasional spots of light in this new society.
Her father had been tasked with developing standards and protocols for a new initiative known as the "mental maintenance department" which was probably going to end up getting folded up into Konoha's hospital system. Setting aside the implication that the mind — or the ninja in question — were weapons to be maintained it seemed like a small bit of progress in the right direction to the girl.
It's never been a secret that ninja tend to develop deep and debilitating mental traumas over the course of their careers. Something that was never shown in the story she had read — or perhaps had never existed there — were the fairly disturbing statistics on suicide rates for veteran ninja.
It also wasn't just those that were suicidal that could benefit from some professional help. If Konoha was hellbent on using prepubescent child soldiers then it was high time they had something official in place to help treat the resulting mental trauma. At least it was now officially recognized as a problem and something was being done about it.
While Rei was generally pessimistic about her situation and the system she found herself living in she was at least hopeful for the future for the sake of the people living there. As bad as things currently were things had slowly — so slowly — been getting better since the warring states period. With any luck in three or four hundred years something similar to All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights might have a chance to take root.
However it sure as hell wasn't going to happen in her lifetime. As Rei was increasingly convinced power was the only true freedom to be found in the ninja world and the only rights you had were those you could take for yourself. She would become an S-Rank ninja and escape or die trying. Live free or die trying… wasn't that a saying in her world? Certainly fit. Baby steps first though. Today was her first day at the academy. Rei knew that was shorthand for her father asking what she thought about the whole 'going to the Academy' situation.
I hope to learn a lot. As long as I get the training I need I can handle the sitch," she said with a shrug. You know what. I'm going to be stuck all day with a bunch of six year old kids," she said distastefully. Rei gave her dad an incredulous look. She smelled blood on the water now. What do they call him now, barbeque boy was it?
She sighed. What do you want me to say? That I find kids my age annoying and can't relate to them one bit? That no one my age can keep up with me? That I'm too mature? You already know all that. Not seeing what going over it again is going to accomplish. Being so smart? It's not anyone's fault. Adults are good enough company and Ino keeps me from getting lonely. Thankfully she didn't have to wait long to find out what was on his mind.
You should make an effort. You should consider befriending him. It would be good for you. She looked up at him curiously. Too smart or too good looking? And yes too smart by half just like you. Too smart, too talented and too good for his age. He also has the same problems as you relating to his peers. Definitely a genius like you," he said leaning in slightly, "maybe even better.
He knew she would be interested now. She suspected she knew who he was talking about. She'd guessed right. She'd thought that in the story Team Gai had been just a year older than the Rookie 9 but she hadn't been a hundred percent certain of that detail.
Rei had known for a while that she might end up in the same class as Neji, Tenten and Lee but since it had not been certain she hadn't given it much thought. Now her father had confirmed that she would be in their same class. Now that was interesting. Especially Neji. Neji was very interesting. Geniuses were a rare thing and from her memories of the Chunin exam Neji had most definitely qualified. Supposedly he'd been the strongest Genin in Konoha at the time of the Chunin exams. He'd been the first one to make Jounin too even if his powers seemed to plateau a bit later in the series compared to Sasuke and Naruto… but that might have just been from his stubborn Hyuuga insistence of practicing only the Gentle Fist.
Impossible to say. Either way if things were more or less as she remembered he could make an invaluable ally. He wasn't without problems though. Like many in the Naruto world he'd had a tragic past and it had scarred him. He'd also come across as something of a prick too at least until Naruto had "fixed" him. But… he couldn't be that bad as a six year old. Other than that as much as she hated to admit it Rei was a little… lonely.
As much as she loved Ino and as many interaction as she had with her parents and many other adults in the clan the truth was there was no one really like her. It was odd thinking that because how many adult minds in children's bodies were there in the world? Not many if she had to guess. Another genius child was probably the closest thing she'd ever have to a peer.
It was worth looking into at least. The thought lit a fire inside her. Her father must have seen something in her because he chuckled and rubbed her head affectionately. Remember Hyuuga can be a little stuffy and slow to thaw but they are good loyal ninja just the same. Keep at it and I'm sure you'll win him over. The small grin on her lips gave her away. Chapter 7 So this is it. This is where I'm going to learn to be a good little soldier of Konoha.
Where I learn to kill and die for something I don't even believe in. On the bright side I'll also be learning how to break the laws of physics. After a ceremony at the front of the school filled with speeches about hard work and the "Will of Fire" the new Academy students were left to find their assigned classrooms on their own. Thankfully the ceremony had been brief as the Hokage himself had made an appearance and Rei had suddenly found herself feeling nervous about her impulsive choice of wardrobe.
After they had been dismissed from the ceremony Rei had taken her time, wandering the halls to familiarize herself with the Academy before making her way to her new classroom. The classroom was surprisingly mundane and looked very similar to what she remembered. It was larger than depicted in the story though and Rei estimated it would hold about sixty students. A blackboard, desk and podium stood at the front of the class and the student's seats were lined up and tiered upwards in a stadium style.
She noticed with some amusement that the chairs and desks were closer to adult sized than child sized. The kids that were already sitting down looked a little ridiculous in the too-big furniture. It made sense since each class used the same classroom for the whole six years of their education. Looking around the room Rei searched for the only three people she knew would be in her class. Sitting all the way in the back row was a brown haired girl with her hair in two buns and a Chinese style shirt.
If it wasn't for those two things Rei might have not recognized her. As much as she had like Tenten in the show she really didn't have any outstanding physical characteristics. Her face was that of a young kid, adorably chubby and cute in that way only young children could be. She wasn't talking to anyone when most other kids were gathered in small groups.
Well wasn't that peculiar. Was it possible she had been an introvert as a young kid? Sakura had changed a great deal over her Academy years after all. Maybe something similar had happened with Tenten. Next she saw the boy who could only be Rock Lee. He looked just like the young Lee that she had read about with a grey Chinese shirt and a long pony tail. His hair was charcoal black and his eyebrows were a lot thicker than normal… but not as bad as in the show.
Sure they were thick and bushy especially for a six year old but they didn't look abnormal either. Chalk that up to another minor difference between worlds. He was talking to a group of boys and they seemed to be getting along. The kids were still at that age where awkwardness between strangers was something that was quickly overcome.
Rei wondered how long it would be before his malformed coils were revealed and he began to be shunned and picked on by his classmates. It was hard not to feel sympathy for the kid. Finally standing off by himself with seemingly a bubble of empty space around him was the student she was most interested in.
Neji wore a chibi version of the outfit he'd worn as a Genin though he was missing the bandages on his arms and his forehead was covered with a white sash. His long dark hair was worn loose and the way he stood put Rei in mind of a child trying to imitate the aloof stance and seriousness of the adults in his clan but still managing to look like he was playacting. His head moved as he scanned the crowd with a faintly contemptuous turn of his lips — an impressive accomplishment of general disdain for a six year old.
His gaze turned in her direction and briefly their gazes met. She gave him a bright smile with a shade of arrogance and held his eyes. He looked momentarily surprised by her boldness as he studied her momentarily before turning his gaze away and continuing to scan the crowd, dismissing her.
Well if I were him I'd dismiss me too. He seems a prickly one. Better pick a seat and observe for now, see what I can learn about him. I've made enough of an impression that at least he'll remember what I look like. There were still about ten minutes before the class started and the seats were slowly filling up. Of the three people she knew of in the class there was only one that she considered sitting next too.
Neji struck her as the type who needed his space and she didn't want to crowd him and Lee was just acting and speaking like a regular boy his age… not something she was eager to subject herself to. With confident steps she walked up the isle and took an empty seat next to Tenten. Tenten looked at her curiously but didn't say anything. Rei gave her a friendly smile.
After hesitating the girl spoke quietly but clearly. Hayashi, so that's her last name… I'm pretty sure they didn't say it in the story for whatever reason. Or maybe that's another difference between the story and this world. They were at the very back on the last row so Rei could see the whole classroom. Neji had chosen a seat on the very front row and she watched as he rebuffed attempts at small talk with glares and occasionally a few words.
The boys on the receiving end seemed to pale and scurry off rather quickly. Scary eyes for a chibi Rei thought in amusement. A few minutes later a kunoichi walked into the room with purposeful elegant strides. If this was their teacher she wasn't at all what Rei had been expecting. First of all she was a woman and part of her had just assumed they would have a man as a teacher since the only ones ever seen teaching in the story had been male.
Secondly it was how young she looked — Rei would have pegged her age at roughly sixteen. She wore the standard Chunin outfit except the colors were all wrong. Her pants and shirt were black and her Chunin vest was dark blue. How she'd gotten permission to alter the outfit so much Rei had no idea. Her hair was a strange color though that wasn't unheard of in Konoha — it was colored aqua and done up in a tight severe bun.
Her eyes were green and she wore a pair of delicate looking eyeglasses. The new kunoichi's face was set in a tight no-nonsense expression that made Rei think of the headmistress of some strict boarding school. In her hand she was holding — of all things — what looked like a black riding crop.
What is she planning on doing with that thing? The answer became apparent as she strode behind the desk at the front of the classroom, turned deliberately to the front, and when the class hadn't quieted down to her satisfaction she smacked the riding crop on the desk.
Suddenly all conversation ceased. I will tolerate no goofing off, no chatter during class, and absolutely no disruptive behavior. You are to arrive promptly on time every day and raise your hand in case you have any questions. Consequences for rulebreakers will be… severe. Do your best and I'm sure we'll all get along fabulously. Any questions?
She was fastidious, cooly in command and had a sixth sense for when students weren't paying attention. Also it turned out corporal punishment was still a thing in Konoha schools. The class found this out the first time some kid started speaking to his neighbor too loudly for Nao-sensei's taste. Everyone was shocked when her riding crop extended in the blink of an eye and smacked the offender loudly on the arm all the way up on the fourth row. Rei might have laughed out loud if she wasn't afraid of getting smacked with that riding crop herself.
Plus when Nao-sensei turned her glare your way… well her green eyes and furrowed brow had a special power for making students break out in sweat and behave themselves. Rei thought it must have been some kind of kekkei gankai. It's probably a good thing for the integrity of the school that Nao-sensei wasn't Naruto's teacher. Not sure who would come ahead in that battle of wills.
I can't imagine anyone other than him having the guts to mouth off to Nao-sensei. Thinking about that scenario was really entertaining if a bit frightening. As a teacher Nao-sensei was precise, methodical and matter-of-fact. She was also very good at what she did. Despite her general dislike for authoritarian figures Rei found herself liking Nao-sensei a great deal. Her logical and methodical approach appealed to her as well as her unwillingness to put up with any kind of nonsense. It was an ideal environment to learn and while many students griped out of class when they thought she couldn't hear Rei was nothing but pleased.
I wonder if she was in the story but just never got any screen time? If so that would have been criminal. Who wouldn't want to include a sixteen-year-old aqua haired McGonagall with a riding crop? However that was about the only bright spot that morning as she sat through class. Rei realized very quickly that the first year was going to have very little to do with the ninja arts and everything to do with giving the students a necessary basic education.
Mathematics, language, history and geography were the topics that would be covered in the classroom the first year. Rei had to swallow a loud groan when she realized what a colossal waste of time the current school year would be if she couldn't somehow skip ahead and go to another year. Her mathematics skills were intact from her past life and she could already speak and write at an adult level of proficiency.
She was familiar with all the big events that had happened in the Elemental Nations since people had started keeping track and she could probably draw a map of the Elemental Nations from memory. In other words except for possibly a few bits of history and some very specific geographic details Rei already knew everything they were going to be taught in class that year.
Well… this can't be as bad as it seems. Konoha is not the type of place to coddle and hold people back when they're ready to move on. I'll have to talk to Nao-sensei after class and see about moving up to another year.
Shame I'm going to miss out the opportunity to befriend Neji and I would have liked to keep Nao as my teacher… but this was always a possibility. I'm a 'genius' and those usually graduate years early after all. Rei spent her first class period looking alert all while playing with her chakra and getting pencils and pens to stick to her fingers.
Privately she hoped this would be the first and last day she would have to sit through a class so below her level. In order we will test your speed, upper body strength, flexibility and endurance. This will give us an idea of your level," said Nao-sensei, casually pushing up her glasses with a finger.
As your instructors it is important that we have an accurate idea of your current level. Now all of you get behind the white line. On my signal you will run one lap around the track as fast as you are able. There was whispering and muttering as students slowly made their way to the line. Rei herself stepped decisively to the very front not wanting to be stuck in the middle of the pack from the get go.
There was excitement bubbling in her stomach. All her life thus far she had spent her time in the Yamanaka compound being tutored by her mother and various Chunin and Genin of the clan. They had been the only people she had been able to compare herself with. Seeing how she stacked up against others her age felt like she would finally be able to see how far ahead of the curve or not she truly was. Looking to the side she caught a glimpse of Neji who had the same idea as she did to get to the front of the line.
He must have sensed her looking because he turned his head to face her. Rei gave him a small conspiratory smile. His eyebrows drew together in confusion before he turned his gaze away. She was pretty sure he didn't know what to make of her.