I tucked away the phone and looked around the canteen with a quiet sigh. It was nearly empty, only a few people remaining in the canteen, the rest had already headed to their assigned examination rooms. I sighed again and rolled my eyes at myself; as usual when it comes to Naruto I am a fangirl, not completely obsessed with it though. I glanced at the wall clock. One minute to go until the bell rang. I hastily got up and made my way through the crowds of kids up to the examination room, where I would write my last test in the CSEC examinations. As I walked through the milling students, I greeted the classmates I saw and wished them luck, receiving a few hugs from enthusiastic friends. I was nervous, but sure I could pass easily.
Two hours later I was quietly tapping my fingers on the desk, waiting patiently for the exam proctor to announce that our time was up and begin collecting papers. I grinned in amusement; ever since I had seen the Chūnin Exams Arc I had begun the habit of referring to invigilators as "Proctors". I looked around the room and saw that most of the other candidates were finished and like me, were waiting for the exam to end. A few, however, were intently rechecking their answers, trying to see if they had missed any questions or left out words.
I glanced at the proctor then frowned as I noticed something rather strange. When the woman had come in her shirt had been a bright red, now it seemed to have faded to reddish-orange. I looked around at the other candidates. Their clothes all seemed to have faded to some extent. I looked down at myself and then back at the others. My own clothing had retained its color, unlike everyone else's. I wondered if there was something wrong with my eyes and glanced at the clock. I saw that there were 15 minutes remaining until the invigilator could call time, so I decided to take a quick nap to rest my eyes. Maybe I would stop seeing things if I gave them a rest.
When I felt the proctor shaking me awake I sat up in alarm. I really had been fast asleep! I blushed hotly in embarrassment as the other candidates laughed quietly. Unbelievable... I fell asleep in the exam room...
"Sorry," I mumbled as I handed over my answer sheet and question paper.
When the proctor walked out of the class and the other candidates began piling out I reached into my backpack, which I had retrieved from the back of the class, took out my cap and pulled it on. I walked outside, waving off my classmates when they called to me to chat about the exam. All I really wanted to do was hurry home and start in on my vacation. I'd catch up with them later, and with Melissa Hawkins not in the country I didn't really have much to do. There were several groups of kids along the road so I walked a ways up past them to get a clear view of oncoming traffic and stopped, looking around for a taxi. When I saw one, I flagged it down and got in.
The ride home took twenty minutes. Along the way I pulled out the blue notebook I used to record the important dates for school. Flipping through the pages I scanned the notes to find out if and when I was supposed to go back to school. Thankfully I had nothing written down so my entire holiday was free. That was unquestionably the best thing I had seen in weeks. I slipped the notebook back into my bag and grinned at my reflection in the window. Abruptly I lost my grin and stared out the window, mouth open in astonishment.
The colour changes had extended from school and were now affecting the passing scenery outside the car. I stared at them for a full minute, completely shocked. Then, as suddenly as I had noticed them, they vanished. I blinked. It was like nothing had happened. I glanced at the other occupants of the car. They gave no sign of noticing anything unusual. That could mean that I was the only one seeing them. That thought was probable. Ever since I was a baby I could remember seeing auras. After my eighth birthday I also discovered the gift of telekinesis. I'm pretty strong in that area. I can lift things more than fifty times my weight with minimal effort and I can do other things with telekinesis but only when I'm alone or with my dad; it tends to freak other people out. Those colour changes reminded me of the way people's auras changed when they got tired. But why were the auras acting like that? I've never seen anything like it.
Automatically my fingers went to the necklace I always wore. It belonged to my mother, a silver locket, but instead of pictures each half was inscribed with a single kanji that I don't understand, and I can't remember her. In the accident that killed her I lost every single memory of her. It's like she never existed to me and the only time I can feel like I have a mother is when I touch the necklace or the large scars on my back and stomach that I still have.
'Something fishy is going on here,' I thought to myself.
When I got home there was no one there except Mouse, my dog, who licked my hand and went to sit by the kitchen door. Mouse is an enormous dog higher than my waist of an unidentifiable breed with thick, shaggy gray fur, and it would be more accurate to say that I'm his girl. I have no idea why, but when he was a pup he'd hang around my primary school and watch the kids. Eventually he found me and started following me around. I ignored him at first but he grew on me. I suppose he knew somehow that I would eventually relent and take him in. He is ridiculously smart and occasionally I suspect he's smarter than me.
My father had gone to England, his mother country, on some consultancy case for Interpol. I took off my shoes and put them on the rack to the left of the front door, shut and locked the door and dashed up the stairs to my room to change out of my school uniform and then ran into the big, roomy kitchen to make myself a snack. Mouse followed me in.
I sat down at the kitchen table and hungrily wolfed down the cheese and bologna sandwich I had thrown together. Brushing the crumbs away I leaned back and stretched in satisfaction, then carried the plate to the sink and washed and dried it and put it away. I went back to my room and picked up my backpack from where I had dropped it at the foot of the bed and unpacked it, setting up my phone to charge and then grabbed my towel and went to have a bath.
One hour later I plopped down on the plump living room couch and grabbed the television remote up from off the coffee table. I had already loaded the first volume of Naruto into the DVD player and the title menu had just popped up. I pressed Play and leaned back. I was wearing my favorite clothes; a sapphire blue zip-up vest with a silver circle on the back and straight, loose black jeans with two parallel stripes at an angle on the right leg. I had let down my hair and it fell around my face past my shoulders in soft brown ringlets. Mouse came in and lay down across my feet, one of his favorite positions.
I grinned as the first episode came on. No matter how old I get I will always love watching Naruto, especially the first volumes. It's kind of cool to see the characters change in small ways and then suddenly shoot up in front of your eyes in Shippuuden.
I wondered what it would be like to witness those events in person, regardless of the danger that would undoubtedly arise. I tilted my head to the right. On second thought, I don't really want to know, it would be ridiculously troublesome. I shifted around on the couch until I found a comfortable position, pillowing my head on my left arm I lay down on the couch. I watched for a while and then started thinking about the strange color changes I had observed at school and on the way home earlier.
I raised my head and looked around the room.
'That's strange,' I thought 'Ever since I got home the colour changes disappeared.' I yawned.
'I feel really sleepy all of a sudden.' I lay back down and wriggled into the cushions a little, blinking sleepily at the TV screen. As the end credits of the first episode came on I fell asleep.
There was something coming for her.
Something with taloned feet that clacked loudly on the cold stone floor as it stalked her through the monster filled tubes. Something that wanted to hurt her and to do terrible things to her, in ways no one should ever have to experience.
She ran swiftly, terror lending wings to her feet, but no matter how hard she ran it was always no less than three steps behind her. Suddenly she rounded a corner to find it grinning madly at her. It grabbed her before she could run and shoved her down to the ground, pinning her arms over her head. It lowered one of its clawed hands over her belly and grinned terribly down into her pale, terrified face, licking its grotesque purple lips with a long forked tongue, giving her a good look at its snake - like fangs as its yellow eyes blazed with sickening bloodlust and madness.
Then it slashed down.
Diana started awake violently and lurched up, one hand clamped against her mouth, stifling the scream that gurgled up from deep in her throat. A movement flickered in the edge of her vision and she scrambled away to the other end of the couch. She looked at the person who had moved, and when she saw who it was her breath caught in her throat, her face went pale with shock and her heart began to pound painfully in her chest. Her vision swam, blurred and went black.
A masked ANBU caught her before she fell to the floor. He laid her back on the couch then turned to the Third Hokage.
"From her reaction she recognized you, Lord Hokage," he observed quietly.
"So it would seem," agreed the Third. "She also appeared out of thin air. And that was no teleportation jutsu I've ever seen, or heard about for that matter."
The ANBU raised his rabbit mask and knelt next to Diana, looking at her intently.
"Her chakra reserves are large, but she's never used them," he stated. "Whoever she is, she's no ninja. However, her chakra feels… irregular somehow."
"But if she isn't a ninja how in the world did she get here in that manner?" mused the Hokage. He walked over to stare down at the unconscious girl. He tilted his head thoughtfully.
"Take her to the Sapphire guest room in the East Wing. I'll be there shortly."
The ANBU gave him a puzzled look, then nodded and moved to replace his mask.
"No," said the Hokage. "It's just a feeling Takeshi." He told him as the ANBU gave him a puzzled look.
"Yes, Lord Hokage." said the ANBU. He lifted Diana, cradling her head against his chest, and went out of the room.
The Third looked after them for a moment and then left.
Takeshi waked up the main staircase leading to the second floor carrying the strange girl in his arms.
"Judging from the chakra differences this girl is clearly not a ninja, yet her chakra seems to be active. It seems to be flowing around her and through her like she does use it, but not actively." he mused.
He exited the staircase and turned right, into the corridor that lead to the East wing and stopped at the last door at the end of the hall and frowned at it. He placed his foot against the door and channeled chakra through the wood to the lock. It clicked open and he pushed the door open with his foot, stepped inside and nudged it shut, then walked over to the bed and laid the girl on it with her head on the pillow. He went over to the windows and pushed open the sashes, then walked back to the bed, curled up on the footlocker and studied the stranger intently.
Obviously female, appeared to be average height, dark brown hair in an unusual style, it tumbled in loose ringlets on the pillow. She had pale skin, a slightly oval face, finely arched eyebrows and short, thick black eyelashes. Her nose was small and straight and her lips were full and slightly turned up at the corners. She was slender. Her hands were long and slim, and there were callouses on her right index and middle fingers, he could see she spent a lot of time writing. The build of her body did not show any signs of her being trained to fight, she was clearly a civilian.
He noticed her body had begun tense a little and just before she opened her eyes he looked away, out the windows, and then looked back at her when she sat up after a minute.
The Third Hokage walked to his office and sat at his desk. He thought for a moment and then called one of his guards into the office. A few minutes later there was a poof a smoke in one corner of the room and a tall man dressed in all dark clothing stepped forward. He was dressed in a long black trench coat over a black shirt and black pants with black ninja boots. He had a scarred, grim face and wore a blue hitai ate wrapped about his head like a bandanna.
"You sent for me Lord Hokage?" he asked.
The Hokage looked up from the desk. "Ah, Ibiki. I was wondering, is it possible to travel from one dimension to another?"
Ibiki frowned, wondering why the Hokage would ask him that question but answered. "A Sharingan or Rinnengan user might be able to. But the Rinnengan has not been seen since the Sage of Six Paths, and as far as our intelligence shows the remaining two Uchiha do not have that ability, neither does Kakashi Hatake."
"But it is possible?" pressed the Third.
"Theoretically, yes," agreed Ibiki.
The Hokage nodded thoughtfully.
"It would be extremely difficult even for an extraordinarily talented ninja to travel between dimensions. In fact, it would be on the verge of being impossible." He mused.
Ibiki nodded slowly in agreement.
"Lord Hokage is there something I should know?"
"Yes. In the Sapphire guest room in the East wing of the mansion is a young woman who seems to have appeared from nowhere. She materialized on the living room couch just as Rabbit and I walked in. She does not appear to be a ninja, her manner is civilian. She has never activated her chakra pathways but paradoxically it is clearly active, it flared when I reached out with mine. It felt extremely powerful, almost exactly duplicating the Uzumaki chakra."(2)
Ibiki looked slightly surprised.
The Hokage stood up and led the way out. Ibiki shut the door behind him as they left.
Diana drifted awake slowly, enjoying the breeze coming in through the window. Suddenly a thought occurred to her.
'I'm in bed,' she realized, 'I didn't fall asleep in bed, I fell asleep on the couch…' The memory of the nightmare and what happened after it came rushing back like a dash of cold water on your face after a quick nap.
She opened her eyes and blinked in confusion at the sapphire ceiling.
'What did I get into? And how did I get into this?' she wondered. 'And what will happen to me?'
She sat up, glanced behind her and scooted up to lean against the headboard, pulling the pillow into her lap and hugging it. When she had settled herself she returned the gaze of the man who was curled up on what looked like the footlocker of the bed. He was dressed in the ANBU uniform of Konoha, and from the mask hooked to his belt he probably was one. He had jaw length brown hair and gunmetal gray eyes with long black eyelashes. He had a long straight nose and full lips, the upper lip slightly fuller than the lower and pale skin. There was a faint, straight white scar on his right cheek.
"What's your name girl?" he asked quietly, looking steadily at her.
Instead of making her nervous, his quiet look made her calm and clear-headed, and she answered in the same quiet tone he had used. "My name is Diana Matthews."
He nodded. "My name is Takeshi. Do you know where you are?"
Diana hugged the pillow tighter. "Yes," she answered.
He nodded again and then glanced at the door. It opened and the Third Hokage and Ibiki Morino walked in.
'Oh wow,' I thought. 'The Third Hokage and Ibiki Morino!' My inner self began to jump around squealing in excitement, but I whacked her with a big stick I conveniently found lying around. She shut up then. I opened my mouth to introduce myself again but Takeshi beat me to it.
"Her name is Diana Matthews," he said.
The Hokage nodded, pulled up a chair to the bedside and sat down. Ibiki stood behind him, slightly to his left. I noted that he was close enough to grab me if necessary. I grinned inwardly, typical Ibiki.
'Really? You better hope he isn't his usual scary self or we're toast! It'll take an awful lot of convincing to get him believe we're from another dimension where this one is only a fairy tale,' growled my inner self.
'Right.' I agreed, and then did a double take. When the hell did I develop an Inner Personality?! And another thing, how come this place doesn't look like it would in the manga or anime? I glanced at the Hokage and Ibiki. The looked like ordinary, everyday people. They were still the same persons they had always been; but they looked real, not like hand drawn, two- dimensional characters.
The Hokage leaned forward to look closely at me. "Do you know where you are?" he asked.
My attention snapped back to the situation at hand. "Uh, Yes. Konoha, Village hidden in the Leaves, in Fire Country."
He gestured at himself, Ibiki and Takeshi. "Do you know who we are?"
"You are the Third Hokage, the one in black is Ibiki Morino, and the ANBU told me his name is Takeshi." My inner self crossed her fingers and started praying feverishly.
"How do you know those things?" Ibiki fixed me with his trademark terrifying look. I winced, until now I never fully appreciated the power of that look. Lying to him would be like trying to catch smoke. Impossible.
"It's going to sound completely crazy but I'm not from this world. Where I come from you're all in an anime show called Naruto." I noted the skeptical looks on their faces. "The show revolves around the main character, Naruto Uzumaki. I've watched the show and read the manga from the beginning up to the current chapter, but I've missed a few arcs so I don't know everything…" I trailed off because Ibiki had narrowed his eyes at me and the Hokage started frowning. Oh god, I'm screwed now.
"You're right," he said coldly, "It does sound crazy."
I felt myself starting to get angry. How could they think I would lie to them? I mean, they're elite ninja, the best. They could tell in an instant whether or not I was lying and I wasn't lying!
"I'm not lying!" I burst out, "How could I lie when there are three elite shinobi here would probably be able to tell if I had a stubbed toe much less if I were telling lies?!" I snapped my mouth shut and held my breath and counted to three. Slowly, I exhaled. "Sorry," I muttered.
"Alright," the Hokage sighed. "No one ever said you were lying. Diana, was it? An unusual name." he commented.
"It's not that unusual. Lots of girls have that name where I come from." I made a face. Takeshi shrugged.
"It's still unusual here. Unless there are girls in far off lands that have that name." he said.
"Do you know any classified information?" asked Ibiki folding his arms and dropping the "Terrible Gaze."
Do I know any classified information? I considered that. "I only know classified information in relation to the plot of the, uh, story. And before you ask, some of it only the Council and the Hokage know." I shifted slightly and realized I had completely forgotten I was hugging the pillow. I had nearly squashed it when I flared up at them. My inner self had stopped praying, but was still keeping her fingers crossed.
"When does our "show" begin?" asked the Hokage.
"About a week before Naruto graduates from the Academy." I answered slowly. I wasn't sure what he was getting at, but I hoped it wasn't anything too drastic, like asking me to tell him everything I know about whatever.
"So from that point on you know all the events that will occur, good and bad, correct?"
"Yes," I said carefully, tensing up.
He smiled kindly at me. "Relax Diana, I won't ask you to disrupt events, but if you could give us a heads up and tell us when we should be alert it would benefit both of us."
"That wouldn't hurt, I suppose." I agreed cautiously. I mean, it's not that I don't trust the Hokage, I really do. It's just that having knowledge like this is so dangerous. I have no right to be here with this kind of ability to meddle, so to speak, in other people's lives.
'Yeah, and you're forgetting a few things. One: we have no idea how we got here so we have no idea how to reverse the process in order to go back home and Two: while we're stuck here we are completely at their mercy, or have you forgotten that DANZO is here?' reminded my inner self.
'Oh dear lord, I did forget about Danzo.' I groaned mentally.
"Good," smiled the Hokage in response to my answer to his question
"Hey Diana," asked Takeshi curiously, "How did you get here?"
It took that long for someone to ask that? Seriously, sometimes ninja can be weird. My inner self nodded in agreement and I wrinkled my nose. It is so weird and downright creepy to suddenly have an Inner Self. I hope to God I don't meet Sakura before I get used to this. Back to the question.
"Well, I was watching the first volume of the show. When the first episode ended I fell asleep, had a nightmare and woke up here," I told him.
Then I remembered something else.
"Um, this afternoon when I was coming home from school I noticed that the colour seemed to slowly fade from everything except me. When I got home it stopped."
"Diana it isn't afternoon, it is mid-morning." Said Ibiki.
What? Mid-morning? I looked out the windows. Sure enough, it was mid-morning. A little closer to midday actually, but it was most definitely not afternoon. As I stared out the window, a nagging feeling started in the back of my mind. It couldn't be possible, could it?
"What date is it?" I asked them. Please, please don't let it be true, I prayed.
"It's October. I don't remember the date exactly but it's around the fifth. What's wrong?" Takeshi peered at me in in concern. And concern was needed. I was gaping like a fish and my inner self was screaming in indignation.
'October?! It was June when we left goddamnit! What the bloody hell is going on here?! And our birthday is in September, how the fuck are we supposed to be sixteen now?!' she screeched, waving her fist in the air.
I agreed wholeheartedly, and then managed to close my mouth and calm down ever so slightly.
"What's wrong? Oh, nothing much, it's just that somehow my birthday went by when I wasn't looking and suddenly I'm now sixteen." I said sarcastically.
"Speaking of sixteen. You can't get back to your world, can you?" asked the Hokage. I shook my head in frustration.
"In that case, you'll need a place to stay and other necessary things," he glanced at my bare feet, "Like footwear. Look in the footlocker Takeshi is sitting on; there should be shoes in there." I put down the pillow and slid off the bed to look in the footlocker as Takeshi sat on the end of the bed instead. As I knelt and began rummaging in the jumble of footwear the Hokage continued talking.
"As for a place to stay, this mansion is the one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the village. So would you like to use this room while we get you sorted out? There is also the option of becoming a civilian of this village, if you so choose." He explained.
I stopped rummaging and stared at him wordlessly for a few seconds. Become a citizen of the Hidden Leaf Village? That was incredible! One snag though, how do I fill out the forms? I can't read the characters in their writing system!
"I'd like that very much, but I'd need help with the forms. I can't read or write in your systems." I said, digging around in the footlocker again. I unearthed a soft, black leather boot with a silver zipper. It looked to be the right size so I put it on the floor beside me and began looking for its mate.
"I can help you with that, but you'll need to learn how to read and write. What kind of writing system did you use?" he asked.
"One very different from the one you use here." I answered. "Actually I've already seen several examples of yours. A country back home uses the exact system." I dug up the black boot's other half from under a pair of heavy construction boots, closed the lid and sat on it.
"As for getting someone to teach me to read and write, why not give that task to the guard you'll assign to me? It's gotta be a lot more interesting than just following me around all day." I slipped on the boots. They went almost up to my knees and fit perfectly. I walked around the room and felt them shaping to my feet and adjusting to my balance. Huh, ninja boots. Cool. My inner self was approving my selection and making comments on how how well they went with our outfit.
"We'll see." Said the Hokage and stood up. "Now that you've found footwear, let's go to my office and I'll help you fill out the citizenship papers. Takeshi, inform the Ninja Council that there will be a meeting in an hour and a half." The ANBU nodded, replacing his mask and vanished in a poof of smoke.
"Ibiki, you may go back to the ANBU headquarters now. Thank you." Ibiki bowed and left the room and the Hokage and I went over to the Admin building.
Once there we requested the relevant documents from an aide and filled them out together, with the Hokage writing where necessary. Then I signed my name and voila! I was officially a citizen of Konoha. It was completely, totally, utterly NUTS, but there was the proof right in front of me.
I AM. A CITIZEN. OF KONOHA.
There. I said it. Well, thought it actually, but that's not important. What's important is that I've a place to stay, citizenship, boots… but no toothbrush or clean underwear. The Hokage must have realized this because he stood up and piled the papers to the end of his desk in a manila folder. I yawned and saw sparkles swirling at the edge of my vision. Oh god, I'm sleep deprived. It was late afternoon when I left and now its morning again and I haven't slept at all. When I fell asleep on the couch doesn't count. I do not do well without sleep.
"Come on," said the Hokage walking to the door," We'll go down to the Mission Room for Iruka. There aren't many missions left for this morning so he will go with you to buy what you need." He fished around in his robes and brought out a roll of bills which he handed to me. "Do you know how to use those?" he asked.
I pushed down my growing tiredness and examined the bills in my hand. "I think I remember from what I read."
"Iruka will explain to you. Get what you need and have some lunch, then go back to the mansion," instructed the Hokage.
I stopped walking. "Lord Hokage? There's something I have to tell you. It's not about my knowledge, it's about me." He stopped and turned to me, a piercing look in his eye.
"Yes?" he prompted.
I swallowed. "Have you ever heard of Telekinesis and psychics?" I asked.
He looked at me sharply. "Are you saying that you are one of those people?"
I nodded. "I am a psychic, and part of my ability is telekinesis. My psychic ability is seeing and manipulating auras though."
"You haven't been manipulating anyone here, have you?" he asked.
I stared at him in horror. What? "No!" I exclaimed, "I would never do that to anyone here!"
He nodded in satisfaction. "Good. Just checking. Now come along." And he continued walking along the corridor.
We talked to Iruka and he got another ninja to cover for him while he went shopping with me. The Hokage left after the other ninja agreed to cover and Iruka turned to me and smiled warmly.
"Now then, you're new here, so I'll explain how the bills work while we walk, okay?" he said, smiling cheerily as I handed him the bills the Hokage had given me.
"Easy to see why the kids like him so much.' I thought as we walked outside.