Reincarnation is not something I was a strong believer up until I was subjected to it.
It sounds odd that someone can actually say that it is a thing, especially when said phenomenon is preceded by something that should be ultimately the end of everything.
Death takes, and it never gives anything in return.
But much to my immense surprise when I realized that I had somehow breathed my last whisper… I realized that the darkness that was supposed to led me into the nothingness was actually a temporary one. The kind of temporary that I best knew as a mere night of sleep.
In fact, I blinked awake in a quiet manner and I found myself staring at a ceiling that wasn't familiar. I blinked various times, my brain failing to grasp at the situation at hand during these first few moments here in this different place.
This wasn't home, nor it was a hospital.
I could barely see around as the window had been left mostly closed, allowing just a small line of light to cut through the shadows surrounding me.
Blinking one last time, I finally realized that this room… wasn't just unfamiliar, but also 'familiar'.
The style gave away that this was the standard Japanese room.
I was resting by the floor- no, it was a Futon. A thin layer of soft mattress that separated me from actually touching the cold and unforgiving floor, while offering me a degree of warmth and tightness. And it just reminded me of unpleasant times I had to rest out of home, either for work or other affairs.
My calm had melted away at the incessant poking from my confusion and uneasiness over the unexpected sight around me.
I ruled out the chances of kidnapping. It wouldn't make any sense if I was just taken by some Japanese gangs.
Why? I wasn't even close to the zones that these people were known to operate to. It just wouldn't make any sense to make this much of an effort to bring me comfort, especially if this was a case of kidnapping.
The real hint that shoved away any normal reasoning was the fact that I was… tiny. I was small. Smaller than I was supposed to be.
Staring for a little while at my tiny and childish arms, I finally took a moment to reach out for my hair. A little spiky, terribly unruly. The classing sleep hair was there to bring me minor annoyance.
It was going to be troublesome to get a decent appearance out of it.
My panic had simmered down to nothing now that I had thrown away any dangerous circumstances. There was just a sense of peace in this moment that urged me to keep quiet as I continued to study my current situation.
A sigh left my lips, starting to get irked at the lack of proper illumination in this room.
But just as I pondered if I should've or not moved to check on the rest of the house, my attention was swiftly stolen away from myself and right to the only door I could see.
It slid open, revealing a tired but smiling face. A woman. Her long dark hair was combed in a short ponytail that rested by her shoulder. I resisted the urge to grimace at the prominent hint that this lady was possibly going to die considering how many mothers had perished with that hair-style.
"Good morning," The stranger greeted with an unexpected amount of warmth and familiarity.
I was stunned at first, unable to answer as I tried to properly assess the current situation.
Who is she? My new mother? My aunt? Maybe a very old big sister?
I really hoped the latter option wasn't the truth. I don't need to face the 'Ara Ara' just yet. Or ever. I really don't like the prospect of facing the truest plight of a young boy in a Japanese-based setting.
She blinked, surprised at my lack of response… but then her smile widened a little bit.
"I suppose you truly tired yourself out by thinking about today," The lady hummed with a nod. "But I hope you're ready for your first day at the Academy. The Hokage will be there to see if you're all awake and prepared for this experience."
Two things. Academy and Hokage.
Both yanked me right into the belief this was in fact… Naruto. The second term just confirmed this to be the truth.
I was confused by how, why and when this displacement/reincarnation/shift happened, but I didn't have neither the time nor the mental capacity to genuinely brainstorm.
The only things I could say now was that I was in the same world which saw Naruto happen and… I was a student to the Ninja Academy.
I just woke up and found myself already tied up to a deadly career path. Why do I feel that things hadn't changed much from the previous life?
I mean, death isn't that much of a variable in the workplace… but technically speaking, I was still going to be subjected to route I couldn't stray away from.
Despite my inner uneasiness, I managed a nod instead of keeping up with the silence. I was still unsure if this was a mother or an aunt, but I found myself leaning more to the 'Mother' option.
"I'm awake," I replied slowly, giving one last analytical thought over the way I was supposed to be addressing the woman in front of me. "Okaasan."
Her smile twitched mirthfully at that response.
"I'm glad that you are," She commented back. "But I think you shouldn't waste more time by the bed. Breakfast is already by the table, and your Otousan wouldn't want you to be late for your first day."
I saw her entire frame sag a little at the mentioning of her husband. I didn't need to be told directly to suspect that my new father was dead.
That's saddening… but not to the point of tears. I don't even know my name, how was I supposed to sympathize over such a detail?
It would've been hypocritical to grieve over an unknown man's death. Because it wasn't a burden to consider as mine.
Instead of speaking, I just stood up and walked up to the woman. Her sadness was hidden by a faux effort to show happiness over my presence. If I had been a child, that would've been effective… but I wasn't one.
Or at least, I wasn't one mentally.
I reached for her left hand, urging her to stand up from her crouched position.
"Otousan wouldn't want you to weep for him," I stated calmly, and my child-like tone was finally clear to me. But my eyes were on my mother and… she seemed to freeze at my comment.
She teared up a little bit, but she nodded, standing up and starting to lead me through the halls of the modest-sized compound.
And while I waited for other hints pop up before my eyes and offer me a clear sight over the specific part of the timeline I was, the woman decided to 'reward' my fortitude with a brighter smile and a revealing comment.
"If only he could see you now, Danzou-kun."
But as the lady kept on with a happy outlook even when we reached our destination and started to eat breakfast, I felt something crash within my mind.
Of all things I would've expected from this BS-degree reincarnation, replacing the child form of Danzou Shimura wasn't in my list.
And boy, this was going to be a wild ride for sure.
Konohagakure no Sato was far from the urban settlement that was going to become in a couple of decades from now.
The place was actually a big village with just various compounds and buildings. Just a handful of shops spread all over the place, and no pseudo-modern organizations occupying a slice of the available land.
A single element remained unchanged in this very unexpected 'displacement' was Konoha's own Ninja Academy.
It was a novelty for this era, as the warring states had just ended, and people were still grasping at the 'innovative mind' created by the combined efforts of the Senju Brothers, Madara Uchiha, and Mito Uzumaki.
Kind of surprising to hear from my own mother how the last member was equally commended as the other three.
It reminded me of the fact that Hashirama's wife had yet to become the first Jinchuuriki to the Kyuubi, and that there was no reason to cover her image from any kidnapping attempts.
I glanced at the chance as something to further help me gain a better standing in this world.
If I had been reincarnated in the 'original' timeline, even as a kid with less chances than Naruto to becoming a Genin early on in the show, I would've probably taken a slower and safer route.
But right now that I was growing to become one of the soldiers for the First Shinobi War? I had to milk everything that could be milked for new techniques, body and chakra improvement, and higher hopes of surviving the first two conflicts.
The third war could be winged with me chilling by the homefront. But that was if I managed to live to that point.
Plus I had no intentions of becoming an actual cripple. I really didn't need to become half-mummy for the sake of canon.
Fuck canon, I was going to mess up with the plotline so hard that not even its mother was going to recognize it.
With that mindset already ingrained in my next moves, I proceeded to attain a proper and peaceful outlook to appear as genuine as possible.
The woman that was eagerly leading me around, my new mother, didn't seem to find anything worth of pointing out over my performance. Either I was visualizing little Danzo's personality flawlessly, or she was just basking over the 'mature' comments I had thrown her way.
Nothing strange, but just some pure and innocent praises that were meant to give her a better look over life.
I wasn't a psychologist, but I could recognize depression perfectly when said depressed person would silently stare to a seamless spot of the table for a long time while she waited for me to be done by the bathroom.
I swear she hadn't moved while I was busy with my simple routine, and I almost worried about a circumstance that could technically become a problem to me.
If she killed herself, and the chances were pretty high considering how much she loved 'my father' and 'grandfather', both Shinobis that had died before the Shimura clan had joined the new village, then I was going to be left at the local Orphanage.
And while I didn't give that much weight at the accounts offered by few flashbacks from Naruto's childhood and stories depicting physical abuse and/or neglect over the orphans, I really didn't want to lose my big house.
Kind of cruel to be picking up elements over my new family like this, focusing only on my betterment rather than preserving them out of mere kindness… but this world just wasn't going to allow me to have a happy ending.
At least, not without murdering three quarters of the current population.
People were still fixed in warring despite the fact Villages were becoming a reality. And I was expecting some greediness from those that wanted to fully control the Bijuus.
Fuck, I need to make plans to kill Zetsu early on.
I wasn't going to allow the bastard to live long enough to make any of the messes that this period should be experiencing. Especially Madara betraying the village.
That was a mission with identical priority to surviving the dangers that were going to come my way.
And I was really afraid to fail miserably right by the first step just as we were taken inside the large courtyard in front of the Academy's building.
Mom, like the other parents, had been kept away as the children were led to this large clearing.
It was so surprising to be in this place… after seeing it in its 'anime' version.
There were four adults before us. Three I could recognize as the Senju Brothers, Hashirama and Tobirama, and Madara Uchiha.
The fourth man was possibly the 'objective' judge, since the three known Ninjas were… not looking quite friendly with one another.
I expected the serious and no-nonsense Madara for this occasion, yet I was regaled with-
"The first student to pass the initiation test will be offered my personal teachings for a base Katon technique."
"Madara, I thought we agreed to not give this much incentive. We don't need to create unneeded competition-"
"The first student can choose either Uchiha-san's offer, or they can learn two base Fuuton techniques under my guidance."
"Tobirama, don't start bickering with Madara! We can't do this in front of the kids!"
I noticed the unknown man standing a couple of meters away from the trio frown nervously at the scene, and I could see his need to intervene curbed by the logical reasoning that any attempt to defuse the situation would result in some damage on his person.
Quite troublesome to know that some of the comedic elements of the series were there to create an… unflattering introduction scene for the First Hokage, the future Second, and Madara 'Indestructible' Uchiha.
"Is… is this normal?"
The child beside me blurted out without thinking too much about it.
"I've heard that they had been like this since they were children," I replied absentmindedly, gaining the attention of the oddly familiar brunet. "I suppose old habits are troublesome to kill."
"But the Hokage is-"
"Still a man," I interjected for him. "And one that can't get his younger brother to not be as unprofessional as his childhood friend."
The boy snorted in amusement, and I was half-glad that we were talking quiet enough to not get the adults' attentions on us.
I didn't want to be subjected to a death glare from Madara himself. And I really didn't want to be subjected to a double death glare from him and Tobirama. That would be deadly enough to kill me on the spot with how weak I currently was.
"I'm Hiruzen," The child ultimately said, and I felt sweating at the odd circumstance presenting in front of me.
Hiruzen Sarutobi, the man that was going to become the Shinobi no Kami and… the Third Hokage. I was supposed to be his malicious rival. Danzo had wanted the hat but was eventually screwed by a cowardly decision during the First Shinobi War.
To think that this situation was happening so suddenly and so… favorably.
Holy fuck, is Kami herself looking out for me?
Still, I offered a polite smile and nod.
"I'm Danzou. Nice to meet you, Hiruzen-kun."
Our interaction was brief as the amusing but also awkward scene finally concluded with some lingering glares thrown from both parts.
"Today you will be taking a simple test to show those that are ready to be enlisted to the Ninja Academy. Each and every one of you will have to display some control over a particularly simple technique, one that will be first shown by Hokage-dono."
Hashirama smiled as the unknown instructor pointed at him. The oldest of the Senju brothers started to slowly display various hand signs and then… a second Hashirama appeared right beside the first one.
Bushin no Jutsu.
I'm kind of surprised that this was going to be the test to enter the academy. I guess this just showed how much the Academy was going to decline after just four decades of activity.
"You have up until Lunchtime to get this technique down and working on an acceptable level to pass," The instructor resumed with a quick nod. "You may start from now."
I nodded myself, and I gave a quick glance to my newest 'friend'.
Hiruzen was smiling, and I was quite sure that he knew how to get the Jutsu correctly thanks to some prior training with it.
I'm a kid, and I really wanted to get a flashy and destructive technique in my arsenal.
So I pushed myself to remember the hand signs and… closed my eyes.
I wasn't sure if Danzou knew how to draw Chakra this early in his life but… I knew a hint or two about how things were supposed to work.
It was all based over some will-centered control over my reserved. The hand signs were meant to properly channel the energy in the technique I really wanted.
So, after taking a deep breath and grasping at my innermost, I started to get the hand signs done.
Tiger. Boar. Ox. Dog.
I partly expected to fail the first time around… and while I knew that drawing Chakra was much easier when one had a small reserve, I really didn't expect the pleasant results that beckoned me as I opened my eyes.
Hiruzen had managed a success by getting two flawless Clones out.
But I had somehow gained attention by actually get three clones out. Those weren't as perfect as Hiruzen's as they all looked fairly winded. Almost sickly pale from a closer inspection.
Yet it was enough to gather the attention of both Madara and Tobirama to the scene.
The combined success got them interested, and I could see them both trying to decipher which one was actually the best to determine as the 'more successful'.
I glanced at Hiruzen, and the brunet glanced back at me. We shared an unsure but determined look. We were quiet, but we both had the same thought over the matter.
"Draw?" I inquired quietly, getting a smile out of the fellow student.
Hashirama was close enough to hear the simple understanding, smiling brightly as he pushed himself between the two rivaling adults. "You heard the children. They are both first."
"We're the judges for that, Hashirama-niisan," Tobirama pointed out with some annoyance.
"And I think a draw would just be a pointless result," Madara somewhat agreed.
"And you're both too slow to decide. I agree on the two boys' assessment," The first Hokage rebuked with a serious tone. "And I think I'm not the only one accepting this."
The unnamed instructor nodded in agreement at the taller brunet's fair reply and soon Hashirama's attention was on us.
"But if we want to keep up with the competition, I guess the question now is… which one of you wishes to train with Madara-san, and who wishes to train with Tobirama-san."
And that's where I think I put a foot in my mouth. While it would've been smarted to stick by the Second Hokage as it was the 'safer' way to learn more, I knew that Hiruzen would get mauled by someone like Madara.
So… I concocted a devious idea to get him to pick the choice I wanted him to go for.
"Both offers are good," I muttered quietly. "Uchiha-sama is offering a Katon technique, and Katon is known for firepower. Senju-sama is offering two Fuuton techniques, and while the Wind Style doesn't offer the same power as Katon, I think the flexibility with those make them match up evenly with the former."
"But you can pick one, child," Tobirama commented dryly. "While I find your comment well-described, I think you understand that we don't have all time to waste on your indecision."
I shrugged. "I suppose then… that I will have to pick Uchiha-sama's offer."
The white-haired Shinobi froze at that, while Madara actually smiled smugly at the little victory gained from this.
Hashirama nodded, his smile twitching for a moment before he turned to look at the young Sarutobi.
"I suppose you will be fine to train under Tobirama-san."
Hiruzen looked slightly uncertain about the situation, but then again he wasn't given a real choice. If both offers were good in term of learning new things, then the breaking point was the unnerving presence that Madara exerted quite naturally.
So I wasn't much surprised when he offered a quick nod.
But while I was sure to have prevented a detrimental rivalry with the boy, I certainly sealed my fate for an arduous time with the one and only Madara Uchiha.
The man was still smiling and… it was a chilling sight for sure.
I swear, I saw the girl occupying the space on my left actually started to cry before that vision.
Hashirama, being the simple 'dolt' at the time, quickly scolded his childhood friend and… more bickering ensued.
And while I made my first real step in this mad world, I couldn't help but think…
How do I 'kai' my clones away from existence?