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A note from koforeme

I corrected part of the last chapter, changing the age the academy is entered to six from five. It's the age Itachi entered at and it just generally makes more sense. Anyway. Hope you enjoy this chapter and that it doesn't really feel unnatural the way I wrote stuff.

Though the lessons of the Academy were simple, Shinkumaru enjoyed them. There was more to the Avademy’s teachings than taijutsu and bukijutsu. Reading, writing, math, science, geography. This was all in the curriculum. Though during wartime the requirements for graduating were much less strict, therefore allowing these lessons to be optional, this has changed since the third great ninja war has ended.

It was the lesson in kunai throwing that was the most boring for him. He could hit the target with his eye closed after having practiced much more difficult kunai throwing by himself. The other students had no such luck, though one came close, attracting Shinkumaru’s attention, though… the most attention was attracted by himself. The thrower most adept other than himself was Sasuke Uchiha. Now that he thought about it wasn’t that the son of Fugaku Uchiha? Younger brother of Itachi Uchiha? No way! How could he have not noticed earlier? There was no way he wouldn’t know of those people after living almost four years in the Uchiha compound. He berated himself for having not noticed immediately. He should pay more attention to others. He was there to make friends after all!

It wasn’t just Sasuke that looked interesting. The blonde-haired one that was giving Sasuke the death glare, the fat one that seemed like he was concentrating more on eating his chips than throwing the kunai, there was one that was obviously not even trying, didn’t look to even want to try, honestly. This class was full of colorful personalities. The child had never felt he would enjoy the academy more than when surrounded by these people. The fact that even as he was observing everyone else, he was still hitting the bullseye on his target helped.

The rest of the lessons included handsigns and some physical education, but that was it. No sparring, no fighting. Not yet at least. They would get to that part of the training, but they needed to build up some sort of form first, even if a few of them were already proficient that didn’t go for all of them. The entrance exam certainly didn’t require it, if it did… why go there in the first place?

Leaving the academy and walking to the Uchiha compound took a while. The Uchiha were relocated in the very corner of the village after the Nine-tails attack. It was good that the academy was at the foot of the Hokage monument. IF it was any deeper in the village it might have taken hours to walk there without skipping along the rooftops. And if nothing else, he was thankful for the exclusive training grounds the Uchiha were allowed. It wasn’t a bad view either. With the lake in the middle. And it was good for practicing water walking too.

“Ah.” Shinkumaru suddenly remembered something and stopped. Looking back, surely enough Sasuke was walking behind him, on the same path back home. They were both Uchiha, of course they would be going home in the same direction, up until Uchiha grounds at least. He suddenly got nervous. He’d never talked to someone his age before. How should he approach him? What should he say? ‘Damn it, Shinku, get yourself together!”. He shook his head and walked over to Sasuke.

“Hey! I’m Uchiha Shinkumaru!” He greeted energetically, trying to cover up his nervousness.

“I… know. Um. I’m Sasuke.” Answered the surprised Uchiha youth, caught slightly off-guard for what to say.

“You do? Oh! Because we introduced ourselves earlier?”

“Well that too… But you’re kinda famous, you know.” Said Sasuke, almost looking slightly discouraged, or jealous?

“I am…?” Shinkumaru had never heard of this. Obviously his parents would never tell him and he didn’t really interact with much people besides that. Maybe people avoided talking about him when he was around? He knew that he had overheard them talk about Itachi at least. Even how he might have killed his best friend, Shisui-san. But… that couldn’t have been. Itachi-san seemed scary at a distance, but Shinkumaru didn’t believe he was the type of person that would do that.

“Mhm. People are saying you’re the next genius after nii-san. Ah… Itachi.” Sasuke corrected himself, thinking maybe using the pronoun he was used to addressing Itachi with would confuse the other person.

“Oh come on. I know your brother. Who doesn’t? Really though? I’ve never heard about that.”

“You’ve already awakened your sharingan haven’t you? Even my brother hadn’t awakened his at our age… so.” Of course, someone like Shinkumaru who had awakened his when he was two was unheard of until him.

“Yeah, but… The sharingan isn’t all that matters. I don’t think I could stand up against Itachi-san in anything else. I mean I don’t even know any ninjutsu yet.” Shinkumaru felt he couldn’t be compared to Itachi. Every child in the Uchiha clan saw him as an idol, himself not excluded. There was no way he could compare.

“Well… yeah. Yeah you’re right! Nii-san is amazing, after all.” Sasuke regained some vigour. He was proud of his brother even if he was always in his shadow and he was glad to know that other people saw him in the same light. He was worried about talking to Shinkumaru at first, but it seemed like those worries were unfounded.

“Hey, hey. Will you be my friend? I’ve never really made a friend before and I thought maybe since we were in the same clan… you know.” Shinku suggested. His heart was pounding. Did he word it right? Was he rushing things along too much? Maybe Sasuke would think he only wanted to be friends with him because of his brother? Oh no! That would be terrible! He definitely didn’t want to come across like that. Thankfully, it seemed like that didn’t happen as Sasuke nodded.

“W-Well… Sure. Let’s be friends.” Sasuke said, somewhat embarrassed and causing Shinkumaru’s face to light up in delight.

“Really? Then, do you want to train together?”

“Huh? But… you were better than me in everything today… won’t training with me be annoying?” Sasuke expressed his lack of confidence. Even Itachi didn’t take him training anymore, and even when he used to he would never teach him anything. He was probably annoyed having Sasuke along for training. He couldn’t be bothered training with someone so much worse than him.

“No way!” Denied Shinkumaru “Even if it’s true I’m better than you at things now, if we train together I’m sure you’ll catch up in no time! But if you ever learn any ninjutsu or stuff from your brother or dad you have to teach me alright? My parents aren’t really shinobi so I have no one to learn from myself.”

“Really? Alright! So you’ll teach me the things you already know?”

“I promise to do my best!”

The two talked more on their way home, bonding over their mutual admiration of Sasuke’s brother and the policies of their clan, how they hoped they could in the future become great shinobi to protect the peace. Sasuke was a shy child, but he gradually got used to Shinku’s more energetic personality. Getting to the compound Shinku stopped to buy some dango from a shop, run by a kind old lady he would frequent and was surprised to learn from Sasuke that they’re one of itachi’s favorite foods. Sasuke also decided to buy a few himself, hoping to maybe offer them to his brother in case he came back home that day.

Walking further through the compound they eventually split up as they live in different directions, deciding to meet up again tomorrow on the way to the Academy. Shinkumaru had been having so much fun he realized he had completely forgotten to activate his sharingan, though after remembering how defeated Sasuke looked at the fact that he had already awakened it, he decided against it.

Entering his home he announced that he was back before entering the living room, where his family would gather to eat together, being right next to the kitchen.

“Welcome back, Shinku. How was your first day at the academy?” His mother greeted from the next room, while his father seemed lost in thought, sitting at the table and staring into empty space. He had been doing that more and more often lately.

“It was fun! We learned some new stuff, and we had shuriken and kunai throwing practice, then we ran around some for exercise and we practiced hand seals. And I even made friends with Sasuke!”

“Sasuke?” His father chimed in, seemingly snapped out of his stupor “Captain Fugaku’s son?”

“Mhm!” Shinku nodded deeply.

“I see… What did you talk about?”

“Um. About training together, about his brother and… about the clan I guess.”

“Did he tell you anything new?”

“Mhm!” The answered, his father flinching slightly. “Apparently Itachi-san really likes dango! Which reminds me. I bought some on the way back.” He put the bag of dango on the table as his dad relaxed, relief written all over him.

“Is that?” he smiled somewhat weakly “I hope you have fun with him then.”

“Mhm!” The child answered innocently, not understanding what his dad was worried about. Completely unaware that it was what would lead to an unprecedented disaster for the whole of the clan. One that would remain in history forever. A massacre.

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