Chapter 29 Notes

Chapter 29 – The Stolen Child, Part 2

Author’s notes:

Another ridiculously long chapter. Seriously. I don’t know why I write so much. And I made a New Year’s resolution to get a new chapter out every month and I’ve already blown it for January! Ack! But I’m going to try to change up the writing to more plot-driven than character-driven for the next few chapters, so hopefully it will go faster.  

Chapter notes: 

I have the bad guys cursing in this one, but I’ve tried to keep it to a minimum, on the good advice of the inimitable kungfu. But these guys really are bad, so it’s ok. 😉 And this is a dreamy flashback, but I break all kinds of rules. Namely that it’s not completely in Katsuro’s pov. So please forgive that. It was important to convey the information here. But it did drift into dreamy territory at the end, so that’s good!

The wind pushed down through the tree again, kicking up a swirl of leaves. Then suddenly, right in front of his eyes, a dark shape materialized in the spaces between leaves…. — So I’ve mentioned this a few times, where a shinobi uses wind to disguise his movements. I’m not really getting into how exactly this works, like the manga does. I’m more enjoying writing about the stealthiness of ninjas and the fear it must illicit. In this story, the ninja employ low level stealth tricks before relying on actual jutsus to accomplish their goals. Good for strategy, conservation of energy, concealment of techniques, etc. 

But Itachi was different. He was methodical and precise, like packing up his blanket when not in use or hiding the orange peels so as not to leave a trace. — So you can see where Katsuro models some of his behaviors from, the ones that are little ooc for canon Naruto. Like cleaning up after himself!

Itachi held Naruto’s chin and thumbed over the lines, closely inspecting them. It was the same as the other shinobi, but there was a courtesy in Itachi’s manners. — So, I’m writing Itachi as respectful and courteous. But even that is a little shinobi trick. He’s polite to keep other people comfortable and therefore pliable. He’s not courteous because he’s nice; he does it because he’s working towards a goal. And it’s easier to have people bend to your respectful behavior than to have to force them. (Remember the Katsuro’s “Better to yield to force, than force to yield” from the first chapters?) So in writing Itachi’s interactions with Katsuro, he is always polite, but never friendly. There is always a distance, no matter how considerate he is to the boy. I hope this has come through here. Katsuro doesn’t see it, because he’s never known friendship. But the reader hopefully will be able to see it. And then when he meets Sakura, and has a taste of unconditional love, it shifts his whole understanding of the world around him.

• Naruto’s transformation jutsu — There is no reference for how Tsunade’s regeneration jutsu was first applied. (You know, the one that gave her the purple diamond on her forehead.) So I patterned this off the one Kakashi used to seal Sasuke’s curse mark. It’s a big jutsu, full-bodied and long-term, so it would need a big application and extra knowledge.

Naruto scrambled out of his hiding spot and dashed down the dirt path beside the building. Itachi frowned at his echoing footsteps. — Naruto marvels at Itachi’s stealthiness, then later tries to be quiet and fails miserable. This is a little contrast to the current time, when Sakura marvels at Katsuro’s stealthiness. So it’s a comparison showing how much he’s grown from the start.

• Then suddenly, everything went cold. Naruto felt a light breeze on his skin. But a deeper chill had taken hold. As if being frozen from the inside out. Somehow, he knew this, remembered it, deep in his bones. Maybe deeper still. This bitter cold creeping in, smothering and freezing him, making him forget…. — We know in the manga that the Kyuubi was controlled by Madara’s sharingan. And we know the kyuubi hates Madara because of it. So I’ve written Katsuro as feeling an extension of the kyuubi’s fear in response to the sharingan. Particularly feeling cold. When he sees Madara and when he gets a front-row seat to Itachi’s genjutsu, Katsuro feels remarkably cold. Like his identity is being frozen and all control is being taken away. This is in direct contrast to the hot, encompassing fear Katsuro feels around the kyuubi. And to Katsuro himself who is always overly warm. So the Uchiha power is written as feeling the opposite of the kyuubi’s power. And it reinforces the general differences between Naruto and the Uchihas (light/dark, etc.).

• “You felt that?” Itachi looked sharply at him. “You didn’t see an illusion? But you could feel it?” — even the all-knowing Itachi doesn’t quite understand how Katsuro could sense the genjutsu. He guesses it’s the kyuubi, but he’s clearly underestimated the connection between host and demon.

• “You don’t know your opponents, you don’t know how to fight, and you don’t know what you’re fighting for.” The boy looked absolutely dejected. The captain wasn’t heartless though. “Listen, the difference between fighting to win and fighting to survive is the difference between a dead soldier and a live one.” — So this is a little bit of the tough stance like Katsuro took with Sakura in the temple. This is where it came from. 

“I knew you could control it,” he said quietly. This time, there something like a real smile on his face. — Itachi took a gamble and it paid off. He didn’t have any way to train Katsuro as demon hosting and sealing is not his specialty. And being on the run he has no access to information. But he was hoping that the kyuubi would preserve its host. And it did. So experience becomes Katsuro’s teacher. 

• Itachi cleared his throat. “It’s a family jutsu. Something he was born with. A legacy, if you will.” — line specifically referencing Itachi’s statement in the manga, when he returns to Konoha and confronts Kakashi, Kurenai and Asuma, saying he was there for the Fourth’s legacy.

Spoiler notes:

• No one ever came out for him, and save for a single black bird that alighted in the tree for a moment, he never saw another living thing. — This is an oblique reference to Itachi. Imagining that Itachi would send a jutsu crow to make sure the boy was there while he was occupied with “cleansing” his family name. I may or may not bring it up again.

• The way Itachi put it, there wasn’t really a choice. But it didn’t matter. He wanted to be a shinobi. More than anything. — So when Itachi comes to collect Naruto in the beginning, I’ve tried to write him as very much having another agenda. And in Naruto’s childish way, he recognized that. But he makes his choice anyway. It’s important that it was his choice, he wasn’t sweet-talked or outwardly bullied. It’s an important part of Naruto’s character that he makes the choices. Because later, if he makes bad choices or wants to change, he will always have the power to. This self-reliance is a big part of him. So I wanted to make sure it was present, even in this early stage. Itachi was coercing, but Naruto wanted to go anyway. The choice ultimately was his. And this self-reliance will help define him later, when he is bullied and trapped into choices he doesn’t want to make. 

Naruto didn’t know when they leapt the wall, but eventually the air around them changed. It felt full and moist. Cracking his eyes open he saw the enveloping arms of a tree. They touched down on a branch and leapt off again. The cool air washed over him. — Again, sometimes the milestone moments are less important than what happens afterwards. He missed the wall, the big moment he had expected. Instead he is baptized by the coolness of the woods and plunges directly into his new life. So he doesn’t remember the wall, the symbol of his entrapment; he remembers the fresh air of the forest, symbolizing his freedom.

Itachi jotted something in the scroll, rerolled it and flipped his fingers into a quick hand seal. The scroll disappeared in a puff of smoke. — From the cave, after they’ve just fled Konoha. So, Itachi clearly has an agenda and he’s checking in. Throughout this chapter there are fragments of a larger plan slipping through. More to come in the next chapters. 

• Madara — so again, his appearance is part of a larger unknown plan. Since the bulk of the info here is from Katsuro’s pov, the focus of a meeting with Madara would be suspicion, then fear. Just like in the manga, Madara’s role here is as a silent partner of Itachi’s. He’s a shadowy background figure. We have greater knowledge of his involvement, but Katsuro doesn’t. Anyway, he’s part of the larger plan. 

Katsuro scrambled back up, swinging at anything he could, but never quite connecting with the bigger boy. Ringed around them were several other rough kids, ready to take the big one’s place if they got the chance. — The fight in the alley is foreshadowing for the fight he will face with the soldiers. He’s got to hold his own in a situation where those around him are vicious. Both of these situations are foreshadowing for a group he will join in the future….the Akatsuki!

The boy was his responsibility, and an attack on him meant his ass was on the line. It was a direct insubordination, and he wouldn’t stomach men like that — So this is a little bit from the pov from the captain. Specifically, when Katsuro is hurt, he’s not thinking about the kid or his pain, but about himself. He doesn’t want the kid to be hurt because he doesn’t want to get in trouble. The captain is by far the kindest around, but he’s just doing his duty. This whole experience will be a big contrast to Naruto’s experiences when he returns to Konoha, has to work with the Rookies and Sakura, and learns about true teamwork and partnership.

• The big fight — so I went back on my decision to not have the Kyuubi speak to Katsuro/Naruto. But instead of having a conversation, it is something absolutely pertinent to its survival. The fight also forced open the Naruto’s seal. The host was under threat, and the kyuubi had to open to preserve them both. But now the host has the key to accessing the power. So now he’s able to rely on the power, without being instructed, but he doesn’t have some chummy relationship with the kyuubi.