Naruto Hiden / Naruto Hiden Vol 2 Chapter 1

Konoha

Since when did I stop saying things were troublesome…?

That was the thought passing through Shikamaru’s head as he gazed up at the blue sky. Even though the wind wasn’t that strong, thin clouds were hurrying along one after another, passing in and out of his line of sight.Their flustered state seemed similar to Shikamaru’s own. He laughed derisively at himself for the thought.

At any rate, he was busy.

Two years after the Fourth Shinobi World War, the world was finally starting to regain its stability. The Kage Alliance that had come into existence when the war broke out had continued to this day, and the world of Shinobi was drastically different than it used to be.

The alliance might have started between the five hidden villages, but after the war, small neighbouring countries started to declare their participation in the alliance as well. It had come to the point the organisation that had started out as an alliance was developing into a Shinobi Union, one that involved every shinobi in each participating nation.

Contracts that had been undertaken individually by villages prior to the union’s existence were now being brought towards the Shinobi Union collectively. Each village who participated in the union had shinobi representatives assigned to every other village for discussing negotiations over contracts. In this way equilibrium of labour between villages was guaranteed, the disparity between villages was revised and the Shinobi World could finally greet the era of peace with open arms.

“Haa…”

Shikamaru’s sigh disappeared up into the sky. His back was absolutely freezing thanks to lying down on the cold stone floor beneath him, and if he stayed like this, then he was probably going to end up catching a cold. But he had his reasons for not getting up.

Work was waiting for him.

So much work it wasn’t even funny.

It was only because Shikamaru was intending on a short break that he was allowing himself to laze around in the afternoon like this to begin with. But he also knew that the moment he so much as sat up, his mind would slip back into work mode. And when that happened, Shikamaru was perfectly aware that he wouldn’t get another chance to rest like this again.

And so, he refused to move despite the cold, stubbornly intent on resting as long as he could. Until somebody found him out, Shikamaru didn’t intend to move an inch from this spot.

‘This spot’ was the roof of the Hokage Residence.

You could see generations of Hokage’s faces carved into the mountain parallel to the round roof Shikamaru was sprawled out on. In order from the left, there was the first generation’s Hashirama, then his brother Tobirama. There was the Third who had died during Orochimarui’s Konoha Crush plot, Hiruzen, and then the ‘Yellow Flash’ Namikaze Minato. The Fifth was a legend along with Jiraiya and Orochimaru, one of the three Sannin, Tsunade.

There were all past Hokage.

Now, the face of the man who was the current Hokage could be found carved next to Tsunade’s.

A pair of sleepy looking eyes peeking out from underneath wire-like hair could be seen, as well as the bridge of his nose, while the rest of his well-defined features were hidden under a mask.

The Hokage was a symbol of Konoha. It was a position that couldn’t be obtained unless you were acknowledged by every single shinobi in the village. Even though that symbol’s face was supposed to be carved into the mountain as a commemoration, to still keep the bottom half hidden under a mask…

Hatake Kakashi.

That was the name of the current Hokage.

The teacher of the two who had lead the way to victory during the war, there wasn’t a single person in the Shinobi World who didn’t know his name. Shikamaru on the other hand, knowing both the man and his students personally, was far from star-struck. There were fans who adored and fawned over the three, saying they were ‘heroes of legend’ but in reality none of the three were really types to fit the term “legend”.

Kakashi, while certainly a man who got things done during a crisis, turned back to his usual role when it came to everyday life: a no-good adult who didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

The other two heroes had similar problems as well. One was an abysmal idiot. The other, abysmally stubborn. It was because the rest of the world didn’t know about the hopeless sides of those three that they were being hailed as ‘living legends’.

“What am I even doing…?”

The words left Shikamaru’s mouth without him really thinking about it.

He himself was the type of person who would never become anything close to a hero. He never wanted to be one in the first place.

If you said he wanted to be one of those ninja who practiced vigorously to improve their ninjutsu, you’d be wrong. He certainly never thought about studying medical ninjutsu and becoming a specialist in the vanguard back-up, either. If you said he wanted to be someone with a high rank in encryption or in medical surgery, you’d be wrong too.

He just…wanted everything to be average.

That was Shikamaru’s dream.

He wanted to be an average ranked ninja who’d have an average job, marry an average wife and have an average child, and then, after an average elderly prime…

Well, everything came to an end one day.

Was there any greater happiness to be found than in a life plan like that?

He didn’t think so.

On days with good weather, lying down like this and watching the sky, seeing the clouds floating past and taking your thoughts with them. On rainy days, having shougi pieces as your company would be more than enough. There would be no pressure from people’s expectations. No stress, either.

Wasn’t that a wonderful sort of life?

“Haaa…”

It was a deep sigh, issued right from the bottom of his stomach.

The bastard called “reality” was a really tough opponent.

If the thing you were fighting was a human being, then at least there’d come a day where you would win against them. Even if they were a god-like person, they had to have a weakness somewhere. The enemies in the war had been abominations, and yet all the shinobi had focused their powers together and won against them, hadn’t they?

You can win against an opponent in front of you.

However…

Reality is an opponent without substance that you can never, ever defeat.

No matter how Shikamaru kept wishing and wanting otherwise, reality callously kept sending him towards the exact sort of fate he did not want. Shikamaru, who had wished so badly to be ‘average’, was now someone the Shinobi Union couldn’t do without.

He had so much work. All the jobs taken on by each nation’s Daimyo and citizens had to be classified from A to D rank, and then each village’s characteristics had to be carefully taken into account to figure out which one was most suitable for the allotment of labour – and then there were the Chiefs of the Union, the Five Kage’s consultations. They used him for everything, to the point where he even ended up being a shougi partner for the old Tsuchikage.

“The Shinobi Union’s Shikamaru of Konoha.”

There were people who even went around calling him that now.

Even though Shikamaru didn’t want to stand out, even though he didn’t want to succeed at anything, even though he fought and fought against it, his surroundings kept pushing him until he rose above others.

His first mistake had been at the Chuunin Promotion Exams.

The Chuunin Exams, started by the villages of the Five Kage and including even the genin of other small countries. In the midst of the chaos of Orochimaru’s plotting and the Third’s death, for some reason Shikamaru was promoted to the rank of chuunin.

Amongst all the applicants, he was the only one to get that promotion.

It was the kind of situation where Shikamaru felt that yelling ‘what have you done?!’ would have been more than appropriate.

His fatal mistake had been in the part of the exam where genin were paired off to fight against each other. His kagemane jutsu’s success had greatly shocked his opponent, a sassy kunoichi carrying an absurdly large fan that created giant gusts of wind, but at the end of their stalemate, it was Shikamaru himself who threw in the towel.

It was this forfeit of Shikamaru’s that was so highly valued.

Being a Chuunin included leading subordinates. That was why the ability to precisely analyse one’s situation was the one most highly valued. The examiners approved of Shikamaru accepting that he was cleanly defeated, and gave him the highest evaluation.

It was a really unwelcome evaluation.

It was an examination he hadn’t wanted any part in, one that he’d been forced into entering by his teacher’s, Sarutobi Asuma’s, insistence. He hadn’t intended on such on evaluation, hadn’t felt the slightest desire for one either. But reality had still lead Shikamaru to becoming a chuunin, as well as to everyone in the village looking at him differently.

And ever since then, Shikamaru’s life plan had started to slip out of his grasp.

When Sasuke left the village, Shikamaru was assigned as a Team Leader working together with his classmates to try to bring him back, and after that as well, he was given the most missions out of all his classmates. He resisted and protested, but reality just kept bringing Shikamaru higher and higher up in rank.

Since the Fourth Shinobi World War…it’d been two years.

Shikamaru had become 19 years old. It was an age where he could no longer be called a child.

He wondered just how grateful you should be for people expecting great things from you. Was being someone who others depended on really such a wonderful achievement? The answer went without being said. There was a plain example in Shikamaru’s friend, Naruto, and how his desire to be relied on by everyone had turned him into the whole village’s– no, rather, the whole Shinobi World’s hero.

Shikamaru knew very well that people were living things who would end up depending on one person or another. That’s why despite his misgivings, he didn’t feel any hateful feelings such as ‘if only you didn’t exist’ towards the people who relied on him. And no matter how much he was against the idea of being depended on, he had never once cut corners on missions.

It had been 19 years since he’d been born into this world, and yet he already had so many obligations and entanglements he’d gotten himself involved in.

The group who had intended to take over the world, the “Akatsuki”, had killed his teacher Asuma. Asuma’s girlfriend Kurenai had been pregnant with Asuma’s child. That child was now two years old. Her name was Mirai.

To become Mirai’s teacher…it was a promise that he absolutely had to keep.

Shikamaru’s father, Shikaku, had been tasked with being the Alliance’s main strategist at the time of the Fourth Shinobi World War. When Obito used the destructive power of the resurrected Ten Tailed Beast to aim for the Alliance’s Headquarters, his father had died alongside Ino’s father, Inoichi.

Even now, his father’s and Inoichi’s last words were still ringing clearly in Shikamaru’s ears.

[We are always within you. Never forget that!]

To become as great a man as his father…it was a promise he’d made to the man who had helped to bring him into this world.

And then, there was…

Naruto.

Honest to a fault, the hero of Shinobi who believed wholeheartedly that he’d become Hokage, who never doubted the fact for even a moment…

During the fight with the Ten Tails, Shikamaru had been on the brink of death. While he was being healed by Sakura, Shikamaru had this thought:

Nobody is more suited to being his advisor than me…!

If Naruto became the Hokage, then Shikamaru would be his right hand man. It was his dream.

He had so many obligations already, he didn’t even want to count them. There was no mistake that it was all because of that same force that kept pushing him forwards. It was a good thing to be needed, and he should be grateful for everyone’s opinion of him allowing him to live as he was.

He should be grateful, but…

He got tired sometimes.

Shikamaru’s real self wasn’t the man everyone thought he was. His real self was a man who thought everything was troublesome, who wished for an average life. The kind of man that could be found anywhere. And the greater people’s expectations of him became, the more he wanted to run away. That was the truth behind the man that was Nara Shikamaru.

In the old days, all his comrades had fully understood how full of complaints he was, how much he didn’t feel like accomplishing anything.

Since when had they started to misunderstand him?

Since when had he stopped calling things troublesome?

Logically, both of those things must have started around the same time.

“When did it start…?”

As he gazed up at the clouds, deep furrows came into Shikamaru’s brow. His eyes narrowed as he thought hard on the subject, until he could only see a little bit of the sky.

A single hawk came into his line of sight…

The hawk was flying West, where parts of the sky were already beginning to be dyed a light pink from the setting sun. It spread out its wings and slowly started to circle. Shikamaru happened to be right in the middle of the hawk’s arc. No – the correct thing to say was that the hawk was circling around the Hokage Residence.

Shikamaru didn’t just sit up. He leapt right to his feet.

His mind that had been dwelling in depths as deep as the sea was sharpening again, and his eyes locked onto the hawk, not glancing away for a moment.

Jet black…

The hawk was so pitch black, it could’ve been painted with ink.

No – it really was a hawk painted with ink.

Super Beast Imitating Drawing…

Sai’s jutsu.

Sai was the man who had joined Naruto and Sakura on team 7 as a replacement for the missing Sasuke. His specialty was the Super Beast Imitating Drawing Jutsu, painting ink animals and giving them life and movement.

The hawk flying overhead Shikamaru was definitely from Sai.

“It’s finally come…”

In Shikamaru’s field of vision, he could see the hawk stop going around in circles and start to descend.

Shikamaru ran towards the stairs that went down from the roof. As soon as he reached the bottom of those, he’d be at the Hokage’s office. The hawk would definitely end up going there.

The moment Shikamaru had reached the stairs, the hawk also disappeared behind the side of the Hokage Residence, as a shadow would flit over one’s face. Shikamaru leapt down the stairs, running down the hall to the Hokage Office.

He opened the door without even bothering to knock.

“Oh, Shikamaru.”

It was Kakashi who spoke. He was standing behind a desk cluttered with piles of books and documents, reading an open scroll.

“Did Sai’s hawk just…?”

“That’s right.”

Kakashi turned the scroll over to Shikamaru so he could see. The messily written sentences on the white paper of the scroll flitted in and out of Shikamaru’s sight. It looked like a very hastily written message.

“The situation seems to be even graver than we’d thought.”

Kakashi’s gaze met Shikamaru’s as he spoke, the look in his eyes even more solemn than Shikamaru had dreaded it would be. Even the usual vague way of speaking the Hokage had was now entirely replaced by a sombre tone. Kakashi’s whole attitude was giving him an awful sense of foreboding.

Shikamaru’s eyes followed the handwriting on the scroll. While most of Sai’s message was written with very small, delicate writing from a fine brush, the last sentence alone stood out, thick and violently written:

“I don’t know who I am anymore.”

 

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