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Finding himself in a fictional world without any warning or reason wasn't the toughest part of the day for Takuma. After he had calmed himself down and had accepted the situation on the surface— there was still a part of his mind that wanted to believe that this was nothing but a lucid dream— he made his way back to the classroom, once again bewildered by the fact that he somehow knew how to return even.

He entered the classroom and made a split-second eye contact with Kibe, who didn't address him and continued to teach the class. Feeling lucky, Takuma climbed up the steps to his seat on the last bench. On his way, he roamed his eyes over his classmates who were of similar age to his current body. He recognized none of them.

He swallowed the bitter feeling that rose up and sat down on his seat with his head down. He wasn't unfamiliar with his current circumstances— transmigrated to another world— he had read enough light novels to recognize the situation, but that didn't make his situation any better because of the world he had been transmigrated to. Naruto. The world of constant war and strife fought with element-wielding super soldiers, each one with the potential of becoming a weapon of mass destruction. The cherry on top, there existed monsters, each capable of destroying countries on their own if they felt like it. Not to mention, there was even a god-like existence sealed away, whose release would spell the end of civilization and life on the planet.

'Why Naruto?!' Takuma lamented inside.

He was well acquainted with the Japanese media of anime, manga, and light novels. He would go back to it from time to time when something caught his interest. Yet, Naruto, one of the so-called Big-Three, wasn't one of his interests. The first time he had come across Naruto, he was intimidated by the length of its anime and had chosen not to commit to such a long show and had left it to the side for a rainy day. It was long after he had gotten into manga that he had chosen to indulge in Naruto through the original media, the manga— it might have taken a week or so for him to complete whatever many volumes and chapters there were. It was easier that way, much less time-consuming than watching hundreds of eighteen-minute long episodes. And that was it. He had read the manga once. Nothing more and nothing less.

It was an enjoyable read, but it wasn't his cup of tea. Maybe he would've enjoyed it more if he was younger or had picked it up when he was still new to the Japanese anime/manga scene.

The result? He didn't remember a lot of it.

Takuma grabbed his head and pressed it hard against the wooden desk. Binging was terrible for retention, especially when interest levels weren't at their peak. He was in an extremely dangerous world and he didn't know anything much about it— he couldn't even recall the names of the characters outside the main cast.

'Shit! Shit! Shit!'

He closed his eyes and tried to focus. Try to find out more. But after a few minutes, he couldn't deny the second outrageous problem that had presented itself to him.

He had no memories of 'Takuma.' The boy, whoever he was, had left behind no memories of himself or anything of his past or even basic general knowledge. He looked at Kibe teaching in the front; Kibe was the only one whose name he knew, and that too had popped up in his mind. Was Kibe special in some way? Why did he know Kibe's name, the language, and the way around the academy, yet he couldn't recall anything when he consciously tried to remember?

Takuma sighed. Without information, he was like a man on a wooden plank in the middle of the ocean with heavy rain making his life miserable and possibly short.

'Let's... Let's start with what I know.' Takuma looked around his desk for a bag, but he couldn't even find a notebook or even a pen. Did the boy not bring any stationary to the lesson? What was this, college? He sighed deeply.

Academy students graduated at age twelve. Given that information, Takuma needed to figure out how old he was so that he could find how many years he had left in school— how many years he had left... safe. Takuma patted himself down for any form of identification and found empty pockets. He clicked his tongue. The child had come out with nothing but clothes on his back.

'Next.' He had seen four faces on the mountain, which meant Fourth Hokage had taken office. 'What was his name?' Takuma frowned at his failure to recall the name of such an important figure. He then wondered how long it took to carve the face on the mountain, was it done manually by hand, or did they use chakra to speed up the process? The presence of the Fourth Hokage's face on the mountain meant that the Third Shinobi War was over, which was good for Takuma— no war participation in the near future. But was the Fourth Hokage alive? If he was dead, then for how long? Was he closer to Naruto's birth or to the Third Hokage's death? 'Or somewhere in between...' Takuma sighed— he had no way of knowing... yet.

The clock on the wall showed it was already past lunch (lunch that he had emptied out), but he didn't know how long a typical academy day ran. He couldn't wait to leave the academy and return home.

Home, Takuma sucked in a cold breath. He didn't know where home was. How would he make his way back when he couldn't remember a dime worth of memories. What about parents; will they come looking for him if he stays put somewhere around the academy? Once again, his head began to feel heavy with all the problems surrounding him. It wasn't even an hour since his arrival, and he already felt like he was drowning.

"Okay, class," Kibe clapped his hands to gain the students' attention, "let's move out to the training yard. I'm going to test your shurikenjutsu today; I hope everyone has been practicing; I would be very disappointed if you have not."

Takuma's heart leaped into his throat. He looked around, and everyone was already getting up from their seats. He followed suit and walked as part of the crowd as the students followed Kibe outside to the backside of the academy building. The training ground was devoid of grass except for some weeds popping here and there. Wooden stumps stood on the edges of the space, some thin and others thick; some looked like they had been slashed, others looked like they had been bashed in. Kibe gathered the class in front of five stumps standing adjacent to each other in a line; every stump had four bullseyes drawn on them with white paint— some were painted right in the middle, others were skewed some measure to the side.

"You'll know the drill," Kibe said. "Split into five lines and line up in front of the targets. You throw five. The first row throws at the target and then sprints to the target to retrieve their shurikens and sprint to the back of their line." He gave his students a stern look, "Only after the first row has run back would the second row throw their shuriken, not a second back, break the rule and be ready for hell. Do you all understand?"

The class chorused with a "yes."

"Good," Kibe smiled. "Before we start throwing practice, I want all of you to give me twenty rounds around the ground to get the blood pumping and sweat dripping. I told you last time, today's going to be tough," he grinned. "Now, what are you waiting for! Run! Run! Run!"

The students didn't need to be told twice as everyone took off running around the grounds. Takuma followed after them and placed himself right in the middle of the pack, letting the group decide his pace. He didn't know the body's physical condition; he assumed since the boy was studying in the academy, he should've enough physical endurance to not embarrass himself.

Takuma was all but lying on his back, wheezing his life out. His lungs were on fire as he stood with his hand on his knees, looking down at the ground wet with the sweat that dripped from his nose, chin, and hair. He was wrong. Sure, the boy's body had been conditioned enough to complete twenty rounds, but not enough to hold a middle-of-the-pack pace. He looked at others who were running behind and slower than him, and even they didn't look anywhere near as taxed him.

"Form the lines, quickly!" Kibe barked an order.

Takuma, still heaving, positioned himself at the back of the line. There were five wooden crates of shuriken, one for each line. The glint of the sharp metal made the panic from earlier come back, and without the running distracting him, it rose up like a tsunami over the shore. He didn't know how to throw a shuriken, he could barely throw a baseball properly. Throwing carriers of sharp death was out of the league for him, not even in the same stratosphere.


Takumi's eyes bulged when Kibe's voice snapped him out of his spiraling trance. He looked and found himself next in line. He watched as the girl in front of him picked up her shuriken and threw them two at a time and one solo towards the stump. They weren't dead center, but they weren't far from them.

"Very good," Kibe said with a smile, praise not hidden in his voice. He looked at Takuma, and the smile vanished. "Next," he said.

Takuma bent over the crate and carefully took out the shuriken to not cut his fingers on the edge and make a mockery out of himself. But he didn't need to worry about that as he made sure it happened a few moments after. Takuma stared at the stump several feet away from him, and he swore it didn't look that far when he was looking from behind. As he was looking, the others in the row all began throwing. Takuma panicked when he saw the others thrown and haphazardly picked a shuriken in his throwing arm and awkwardly threw it... and didn't even make it to the stump.

The snickers and laughs from behind made Takuma flush like a boiled lobster. He was the only one who had failed to cover the distance, even those who had missed the target had at least thrown it far enough. He glanced at Kibe, who didn't look shocked at his performance. No, the teacher looked like Takuma's abysmal performance wasn't anything special.

"What are you looking at? Continue throwing," Kibe frowned with his arm crossed when he saw Takuma looking at him. Kibe offered no advice or input.

Takuma straightened up immediately, and after four more throws that each failed to reach the stumps, he wanted nothing more than to be like an ostrich and bury his head in the ground to escape the mocking laughter from his classmates and the look of harsh disapproval from Kibe. It was even more embarrassing when only he had to cross halfway to recover his shuriken and come back quickly when everyone ran all the way to the stump to retrieve theirs.

The same humiliation was repeated multiple times over, and between the physical exhaustion and the red-hot shame, Takuma felt tears trickle down from his eyes. For the rest of that day, even after they returned to the classroom after another long set of laps around the training ground to finish the shurikenjutsu training, Takuma didn't raise his head. He kept it down until the end of school, until he was left in the classroom... alone.

Even with no one remaining to judge him, he couldn't raise his head.



[ A/N: Yuta Okkotsu from Jujitsu Kaisen in the cover image is there for purely aesthetic features. It's how I am currently imagining Takuma— you're free to imagine him in any way you desire. Note: Takuma is currently is much younger than the portrayal in the cover image.]



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