It was a quiet morning in Konoha.
The sun was just starting to rise and the birds had just started chirping; filling the village air with their song. Many of the citizens had yet to rise from bed, while the local merchants were organizing their goods and getting ready for the morning market rush.
Overall, it was a peaceful morning in the Village Hidden in the Leaves.
One woman, the matriarch of the Senju clan, was among those awake and running around the kitchen, while trying to get ready for the morning. Breakfast needed to be cooked, the tables set, and everything double, maybe triple checked before she sent her family on their way for the day.
Akemi, the matriarch mentioned before, had the appearance of a very youthful and gorgeous woman with copper hair tied up in twin buns atop of her head with bangs that framed her face, and turquoise eyes. She wore a simple, high-collared, black kimono, held closed by a matching colored sash with deep red and yellow lava motifs.
Humming a happy tune and smile on her face, Akemi continued making breakfast for her family and went over a mental list of things her child would need for the academy. Graduation exams were the following day, but Akemi wasn't worried because she raised her son to put his one hundred percent into anything he set his mind to.
Upstairs, the child in question awoke to the sound of a bird outside his window. The sunlight shone through the double doors that led out towards the second story balcony where the bird in question sat as it alternated between pecking on the post and chirping.
Twelve year old Raiden rolled over in bed and onto his back; arms thrown wide and eyes staring vacantly at the ceiling as he tried to recall the dream he had last night. It was a really good dream. It'd been about graduating from the academy, the sole thing on his mind since last weeks announcements.
Brushing the dream aside, he stretched a little and got out of bed before making his way to the ensuite bathroom. Raiden only felt and looked slightly tired as he fished around in the medicine cabinet for his toothbrush. As he started brushing his teeth, he got a good look at his appearance in the mirror; hair that stuck up like spikes all over his head.
Turquoise eyes narrowed to slits out of aggravation. Raiden, at times like these, really wished he inherited his mother's soft and manageable hair, and not what he got --white and shaggy, inherited as far back as his great grandfather.
Raiden started to brush his hair. His bangs, once short and covering his forehead; much like his father, grandfather, and great grandfather before him, were now parted to the right and, mostly served for framing his left eye.
After finishing up in the bathroom, he returned to his room.
Raiden walked over to his closet and pulled out a hanger with his clothes on it. This consisted of a long sleeved black and navy jacket with the navy showing more prominence than the black and the Senju clan symbol on the back, under that is a black lined mesh armour shirt. Navy shin length pants and a necklace from his mother; a lava rock pendant hanging from a short silver chain, completed the outfit. His black shinobi sandals were in their usual spot at the entryway.
"I look awesome." Raiden gave a thumbs up to his reflection. "This sure beats those traditional robes that great grandfather and great granduncle wore."
"Rai!! Raiden Senju!! Aren't you up yet?" His mother called from the bottom step. "You don't want to be late for the academy, now do you?"
Raiden turned his attention back to the photo of his great grandfather that sat on a small circular glass table beside the mirror; in between two burning incense cones that filled the room with the smell of cinnamon, his favorite scent. Every morning, before leaving to begin the day, he always paid respects to his great grandfather.
He knew of his great grandfather's reputation; impressed by his accomplishments, what he did for the village as Second Hokage. Great Granduncle Hashirama may have been the driving force in creating the Leaf village, but Tobirama was the one to implement the laws and institutions that made a shinobi village work. No doubts about that.
Raiden grew up listening to stories of the Leaf's early days, as told to him by his grandfather Toshirō, born five years before the ending of the Era of Warring States and grew up one of the first children to live in the village.
He blew out the incense, watching as small streams of smoke wafted up into the air afterwards. "Well, I'm going now." Raiden told the photograph, palms now pressed together in a namaste gesture. "I'll make you proud. Count on it."
That's the last thing he said before walking out of the room, down the stairs and in to the kitchen.
"Raiden. Good morning son! Can you set the table for me please?" His mother asked as he entered the room. "Your father should be getting up soon, I think. He got back real late last night from his mission."
"Good morning mother and certainly." Raiden took the plates sitting on the island countertop. Akemi smiled over her shoulder at Raiden, watching as the boy went about the task.
"Do you have everything packed? Books, scrolls, homework?"
Raiden nodded along to every piece listed. "Yep, got it all together yesterday," He paused to hand his father his cup of tea, and continued. "My bag is in the entryway, and I'll get it on my way out. No need to worry."
"Yeah." Akemi laughed, and Raiden glanced over at her. "Right. When you say 'no need to worry', that's when I worry the most. I'm your mother and I'll always worry about you. So deal." She stuck her tongue out at him playfully.
Raiden rolled his eyes, but paid special care to not let his mother see it. He didn't feel like being cuffed by her. "Yeah, yeah."
"Anyway, that's good, I don't want you missing anything on the day before you graduate. Oh!! Graduation!!!" Akemi squealed, rather excited herself and remembering the day of her own. "Are you excited?"
After setting the table, Raiden sat down at the bar to talk while Akemi cooked. "Yes, but I'm more excited at the prospect of what my genin team will be like."
At the academy, the instructors sometimes teamed them up in some cases, such as shinobi sparring, to determine team dynamics and see first hand, who worked best with who. In the end, Raiden didn't care who he got teamed up with, but he did rule out three -Ino Yamanaka, Sakura Haruno, and Sasuke Uchiha.
The first two because they're too loud, bordering obnoxious, not to mention boy crazy. To Raiden, they didn't seem the type to take being ninja seriously and likely to endanger the squads they were placed in. Sasuke, while diligent in training and in studies, always been a loner and stayed to himself; not interested in interacting with classmates, or partaking in team related class projects.
Raiden didn't see him and Sasuke getting along, if assigned to the same squad.
Akemi smirked. "Well, you've been waiting five years to find out. Another day or so won't hurt you, now will it?"
"No. I suppose not."
Raiden joined his father at the table, his mother following behind with a tray of toast, jam and tea. Kazuo ate his fruit and yogurt as he worked on a mission report he needed to file later.
"Well, since you're on the subject of squads, who do you hope is on yours?" Kazuo asked, breaking the silence between the three of them. "Are there any in your class you won't mind sharing a squad with?"
Akemi looked up from her plate and at Raiden.
"Squads are made balanced, or to specialize in certain fields, right?" Akemi and Kazuo nodded, Raiden continued. "If that's the case, I don't think it matters. You want a serious answer though, so I'll give you one. There's that transfer, Hokuto, from the hidden star village. She's different from Sakura, Ino and the rest of the 'Sasuke Uchiha fanclub'. Then there's Hinata Hyūga. She's quiet, doesn't bother anybody, but very nice. If I had to pick from the girls, either Hinata or Hokuto."
"And the boys? Any among them?" Akemi asked. She had high hope that Raiden would say he wanted to be in the same squad as Naruto and Sasuke, the sons of her two best friends, both deceased now. Yeah, sure, Kazuo and Sasuke's father, Fugaku, were rivals in their youth. That didn't mean Raiden and Sasuke had to be, right?
"Hmm, well.. that's hard to say."
"What do you mean?" Kazuo asked, holding breakfast sausage to his mouth.
"Well, Kiba is Kiba, a typical Inuzuka. Loud, with a village size ego to boot. Naruto is the same way, minus the whole Inuzuka part. Sasuke doesn't work well with others, he tends to do everything by himself even during team related exercises. I don't see myself working well with either of them." Raiden explained, adding bacon to his plate. He buttered his toast and added some homemade strawberry jam. "I'd pick Shikamaru, Shino, or Choji over the others, any given day."
Akemi's heart sank in disappointment. So much for that. "I'm sure everything will work out in the end."
"Your mother is right, eat your breakfast, you don't want to be late for the academy."
"See guys you later!" Raiden called out, slipping his bento box inside of his beige satchel, then adjusted the strap so the bag hung comfortably and left the house through the front sliding door.
At the end of the stone walkway, marking the sole entry and exit point of the Senju family residence, stood a wooden archway; styled like torii, and flanked on both sides by a hedge wall that wrapped around the entire property. On one side of the yard, a medium-sized pond surrounded by stones and plant life with a dragon fountain in the center.
Raiden passed through the arch and turned to stare up at the small red flag that waved in the breeze; from the top of the lookout tower of his house. On the flag, the Senju symbol had been etched in black.
"The Vajra," Raiden smiled warmly. "A symbol that represents both indestructible and irresistible force. I promise to one day embody the meaning of the Senju crest." He spoke out loud. It's a promise he's been making since starting at the academy.
He continued on his way.
Raiden wanted, more than anything, to make his family proud and to live up to the reputation the Senju were known for. The Senju clan had been, at one time, a large and prominent clan in Konohagakure responsible for the creation of the village. While not as large as they used to be; like the Hyūga, Sarutobi or Aburame clans still thriving, that didn't mean anything. The Senju still live on in the hearts of every villager who believed in the 'Will of Fire' and called Konohagakure their home.
The villagers all expected great things from Raiden, it showed whenever they stopped to stare, to point out and to talk to him.
As he continued to walk towards the academy, Raiden took a moment to observe his surroundings. Much of it remained just the same as he read in Konoha, A History and Sign of the Times: The Shinobi World Wars Vol 1-3. He loved to read; with history and world geography being favorites.
Civilians and ninjas alike walked around, gathering together outside the shops, laughing and chatting amongst themselves peacefully. The places and people may not be the same as decades past, but Raiden often envisioned his great grandfather walking the streets.
Sometimes, it still shocked him that these very streets used to be a battlefield.
"Raiden! Hey!" A familiar female voice called out, stopping Raiden in his tracks. Turning around, Raiden saw a girl with brown hair and indigo eyes running up to him; one hand in the air and a smile upon her face.
"Hokuto! Good morning to you." Raiden waved. Hokuto ran up, did a complete circle around and gave a friendly shoulder bump before settling in step beside him.
"Morning," Hokuto giggled. "I hope I didn't keep you waiting."
"You didn't." Raiden shook his head. "So, are you looking forward to the exams tomorrow?"
"Yes!" Hokuto cheered. "Graduation can't happen soon enough."
"I agree," the white haired boy said, smiling at his friend who didn't seem to notice the hint of a blush on his cheeks. "Let's go before we're late and have to sit through one of sensei's long winded lectures."
Hokuto nodded, smiling back. "Okay."