Chapter 147: Mizuki?
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Days have passed since Homura met the kind but weird doctor called Ueno Kaneda.

He still had quite a while until he could agree or not to the doctor’s proposition.

Of course, he had to thank Iruka for even granting him that chance, the teacher himself came to ask Homura about it.

Not for Homura to show his appreciation, but to know Homura's decision.

It seemed that Umino Iruka Ueno Kaneda had talked to each other in the last few days and Iruka was surprised that the doctor gave Homura such a great commendation.

Or at least that what it felt for Homura.

Why would the doctor he met less than a week ago care so much if he chooses to follow the opportunity he was given or not

Homura didn't care to know, but his sensei seemed to care and wanted to see Homura's decision.

He seemed far happier than Homura.

Since the latter was far from content.

Though the fact remained that an answer would have to be given by the end of the month, though Homura was planning to deliver it in a few days since he didn't see any purpose in stalling any longer.

Also, so that he could stop Iruka, his sensei, from inquiring him about the matter anymore.

Iruka was starting to remind Homura of Naruto, they were oddly similar, except one of them has power beyond any human should have and the other was a regular human being.

But that mattered little.

As his classroom teacher, Iruka knew that Homura was a smart student and capable student, a bit mature at times but nonetheless, he was a child like any other in his classroom.

Though, he tend to prefer to be alone, he still seemed to have friends that deeply cared about him.

But Homura always seemed slightly distant and off, as if he had created an invisible wall to protect himself and not let others in.

Having him work at the clinic was also a way that Iruka thought that Homura could beneficiate from and learn to open his heart to others.

Although he did it for Homura’s well-being he did not fail to remind Homura that if he thought Homura his grades or performance were slipping he would have Homura stop.

That and coupled with the fact that he promised to stop sleeping in class were actually more of a detriment to the young boy.

He used the boring classes to either do mental training or recover from sleepless nights that he would spend tinkering on a few machines, he liked to build.

But now, that had to be scaled down, drastically.

If only he could use the shadow clone jutsu instead of the useless clone technique that no one would actually use in real combat or other purposes because the clones produced were mere projections of chakra taking shape on the physical world.

So as he walked down the corridor of the academy in the early morning in order to class, as he had done so many times in the past; his thoughts were now on this dilemma he had found himself in.

Homura was only ever truly taught by a few people, and even then it wasn’t as if they had been teaching him regularly or intensively.

He was more or less left to train by himself and that had somehow worked so far, but this was a whole new challenge.

Homura: “(Maybe…Maybe. It is a mistake. But if I don’t agree Umino Iruka, will bother me even more…He’s weirdly passionate about teaching and his students in a weird way. )“

Yes, classes with Umino Iruka were quite different than classes with his former teachers or even his current teachers.

He was far more jovial and students were more at ease with him.

Perhaps it was due to him being new to teaching but other teachers didn’t really take a hands-on approach and simply taught the students the basis of what they were supposed to learn and quickly left the students to their own devices.

If they failed it was because they were problem students or untalented, which meant remedial classes or a harsher training regimen.

And if they thought one was useless, they would just give up on them and leave them behind and do the bare minimum of what is asked of them.

That was how Homura had been taught so far.

Thankfully for Homura, he has never been been to the predicaments previously described, he mostly keeps things to himself, since he has trouble cooperating with others in the first place and would show enough progress and skill to be excused from most remedial classes.

But in some cases, just barely.

Regardless, Homura, prefers to be in charge of himself and cares little about what others do, which was a dangerous trait for a shinobi and worse for a team leader to have.

But so was the norm for many shinobi, at the end of the day they were all competing with one another, they weren’t just playing games.

A clear distinction between those who could become genins and those who could not, was slowly forming.

Those that were talented were confident in their abilities and those who were not, they would have to catch up or be left behind.

But graduating was unfortunately not the end goal. 

It may even be possible that half of the class will be left behind, even if they did technically graduate.

One could graduate from the academy, but if they were seen to be unfit for whatever reason, they can be held back or outright taken away the chance of becoming a shinobi.

Ninja ranks and positions were at the end of the day things that were given or awarded, so being stripped of one's position was not unheard of.

The resources the village invested into forming their shinobi were far from cheap, they were part of the running machine that kept the current system of this war economy. So cutting the weaker links was not a matter of if but had to be cut.

Too many subpar shinobi would only sully the image ninja villages portrayed, especially the 5 great villages.

Though each student was a separate case and one could not exactly judge them the same way as for the others, each case was different from each student.

It was an expected outcome, Konohagakure's academy was created for children from different clans and civilians alike, the curriculum that those children took was standardized to not give anyone an unfair advantage, but that did not account for training outside the academy. 

So those from powerful families tended to perform better, but at the end of the day it was all dependent on the abilities of the student themselves. 

Genetics and other advantages were just a part of the equation and not the whole thing.

But no matter the case, if the teachers and staff at the academy thought the student in question showed promise or some other reason, they would still bet on them.

However, at the end of the day, physical ability and the ability to carry out orders were traits most searched inside those aiming to become a shinobi.

Those who could not fit those said profiles were already at a disadvantage.

Though at the end of the day, most students were just normal children. They would easily forget those details and only remember them when they were in trouble of being left behind.

So they acted like spoiled brats most of the time.

Sadly, Homura never forgot since the apartment he was granted was being paid for by the academy, and if he failed he’d have to leave, and if he was too old by then he could not exactly go back to the orphanage…but had to find a job, which a lot of the times was or involved menial work, such as farmer and other similar posts.

But the worst part is that leaving the village would be quite difficult, not exactly be able to leave the village whenever he pleased was troublesome.

And that was a right only attributed to most ninjas and a few other villagers which was troubling for him to say the least.

Though in a world where danger could lurk anywhere, it wasn't exactly an unfounded policy and few cared to challenge it.

Homura: “*sigh* ”

So as Homura prepared himself for another day of boring lessons, and a rowdy classroom like most days, he unfortunately almost bumped into a person as he was about to turn around the corner.

If a shinobi were not kneading chakra they could more or less be the same as a regular person, but their physical abilities, skills and muscle memory remained more or less the same, at least without having to enhance themselves without chakra.

So as Homura was about to collide with the unknown party his body reacted prior than his mind did and he dashed backward and got into a fighting stance.

Which surprised even himself slightly.

To have your body move without being exactly fully aware why is a devastating feeling that would leave anyone startled.

Homura: “(What the?)" 

Homura couldn't understand what had just happened he felt danger and the rest was history.

Homura's defensive instincts quickly subsided as he recognized the friendly face in front of him.

It was Mizuki, the new teacher who had recently joined the academy. Homura knew of him since Umino Iruka introduced him to the class and he would sometimes help or join Iruka for their classes.

But he never cared much nor did he have the patience or the desire to know more about him in any fashion.

Nonetheless, he had heard about him and his popularity among the students, especially young female cadets that found him cool and quite attractive.

Not that Homura knew any better, to him he was just some guy among many that showed up in his boring life one day, and that he was now forced to attach ‘sensei’ or ‘san’ to his name.

Otherwise, it would be seen as impolite, not that he cares but it seems the only person that gets to be impolite in the classroom was Sasuke.

Homura couldn’t help but point out the unfairness of it all but he really didn’t care at the end of the day, he knew why some teachers let Sasuke get away with almost anything.

After what happened to the Uchiha clan and being ranked first in their class, he almost seemed like an untouchable existence.

If it wasn’t for the girls in the class fawning over him and overall bothering him, or Naruto bothering him to no end, it was likely that Sasuke would perhaps never utter a single word. 

That was simply how distant the boy was and felt almost nothing for most of his classmates.

Besides, if Sasuke wasn't bothered he would just stay out of the way and do what he was asked to do.

So most teachers hardly cared as well.

Mizuki: "Whoa there! You almost gave me a heart attack!" Mizuki chuckled, his jovial voice putting Homura at ease.

Before him stood an individual dressed in the traditional attire of a Konohagakure shinobi, complete with a bandana and leaf ninja protector. This tall young adult, with their striking blue hair and warm smile, exuded an undeniable air of approachability that would undoubtedly put anyone at ease.

Normally he could just pass for another chunin who would sometime pass by the academy since the Hokage’s office and the academy were overall connected.

Nonetheless, the man had such a presence and a relaxed appearance to him that would easily put others at ease, to a frightening degree that Homura was very well aware of who he was since not even him would normally put up his guard.

He almost felt danger for a moment, but shinobi and even cadets are all taught to be actors to some degree since they had to impersonate other people all the time after all.

Homura: "Apologies, Mizuki-san. I didn't mean to startle you," Homura replied, relaxing his defensive stance.

Mizuki: "No worries, no worries. It's good to see our future shinobi are always ready for action," Mizuki said with a wink. "You're one of Iruka's students, right?"

Homura nodded, still a bit cautious. Despite Mizuki's friendly demeanor, he couldn't shake the memory of what had just transpired.

It all happened very fast, but Homura couldn't shake the feeling that something felt slightly off.

Homura: "Yes, that's right. I'm Homura. (I... It almost felt that he was about to grab me or something… was it my imagination?)"

Mizuki: "Ah, I've heard good things about you from Iruka. A dedicated student, huh?" Mizuki's friendly smile widened.

Homura couldn't help but feel a sense of caution around the man, that would later reveal himself as an antagonist.

Though it was perhaps for the best that Homura did not truly recognize the man in front of him since at the of the day he was just an inconsequential small fry, that desired power above all else.

A sad being.

If Homura was someone to consider parallels and knew who the man in front of him truly was the irony would not be lost on him.

Nevertheless, Homura’s pride would never put someone he didn’t acknowledge on the same pedestal as himself.

Perhaps being born special and knowing the great powers the Uchiha possessed made him, slightly more confident and arrogant. 

Homura: “Thanks, I will be more careful next time."

Mizuki: “Alright, be careful.“

Mizuki said with a warm smile as he waved Homura goodbye and parted ways.

He could not shake the feeling that something was a miss just now and his instincts never led him astray so far.

So as soon as he saw Mizuki turn his back, Homura's expression changed.

Homura: "C, find everything you know about an individual named Mizuki who matches the appearance of the person and profile just now.”

C:” Understood… Mizuki, the first antagonist introduced in the manga. Spy / disposable pawn of Orochimaru.”

Homura: "(O-Orochimaru?!)"

When Homura heard that name he was shocked.

How could he not, the man was a monster of nature.

Someone so vile, that in the original series just looking at him had others tremble in fear of the man, but above all his cruelty and power was something to fear.

Though as time progressed he mellowed out. 

In the original series, Orochimaru was an antagonist that ultimately became allied with the heroes in the end and helped saving the world or at least as far as they knew.

But the latter Orochimaru was very different from his original depiction. Orochimaru was a cruel and amoral being, that was beyond frightening.

When Homura heard that name or remember who Orochimaru was to tremble slightly as he couldn’t help but look behind and catch sight of Mizuki once again but he was now long gone.

Besides a few students in the hallway, he didn’t see his target.

Homura: "*sigh*"

Regardless of Homura’s feelings, C, continued to provide information, uninterrupted.

C: “Mizuki will be considered disposable and has no real direct contact to Orochimaru, current threat level…average."

Homura:”(Average? I don’t think I can take him on, even on my best days from what happened just now,) Homura couldn't help but remember Mizuki's appearance. As far as anyone was concerned Homura was the one who overreacted. 

His composure and calm demeanor almost left Homura feeling that he imagined it all but since he had no real proof of anything and not footage since Mizuki seemed to have used a blind spot in Homura's defenses...he was not exactly sure what Mizuki wanted to with him.

Homura:" (he was able to fake his composure and almost grab me…that is considered average?… though I guess I could technically escape from him since I was somehow able to react to him… No, I need to reevaluate that threat system.)”