58 Sadness

Truth be told, Jun had never liked his grandparents. But they were still family. And to see their child murdered before their eyes, and to be killed in vain by clan members trying to avenge it. It was a cruel fate.

There was a brief silence. Maybe they were hoping for him to say something, but Jun just felt empty. His mother's killer was dead. In a flash of madness, he could have vented his rage on his grandparents for luring Hazuki into this situation. But he couldn't even blame them anymore, could he? Seichi was dead, and Nao would soon follow.

All those deaths… It seemed so vain, so bitter. It was a total mess. Who was to blame? Who to hate? That last question was easy, he hated Fugaku. He hated him for his dismissive attitude toward the incident. Then who else? The only surviving officer? The witnesses, who hadn't acted quickly enough? The Hokage, who hadn't anticipated any of it? Danzo, who had been adding oil to the fire? Itachi, for taking too long to massacre his clan?

There was no scapegoat. Jun wanted to be furious, and go after someone to annihilate them, to inflict them some of his pain. But that feeling he wanted so badly wasn't there. There was nothing but a terrifying future without his mom. Jun said nothing; he breathed very slowly.

Shikaku cleared his throat.

"Such a thing has never happened. Obviously, the Uchihas aren't in charge of the investigation. And… given the attitude of the police officers… we were in the process of deciding whether this institution should be dismantled."

There was a tense silence. Jun was pretty sure that before he entered the room, they were talking about that. They had all probably been talking at once, barking at each other and sending scathing accusations. But suddenly, they no longer dared to utter a word. His presence reminded them that this was a human tragedy, not some stupid political game. Even Danzo was quiet, but Jun could feel his gaze appraising him coldly.

"Jun," Hiruzen called.

He turned to the Sandaime. The Hokage hesitated for a moment. He suddenly looked very old and tired. But there was something cold and cautious in his look.

"There is an old precept dating back to the end of the clan wars when Konoha wasn't safe. But it still applies. If a Konoha ninja kills another, you have the right to seek retribution from the responsible clan."

The temperature seemed to drop a few degrees. Several people inhaled deeply. Jun didn't miss the way Danzo turned his head slightly in bewilderment, before narrowing his eyes attentively.

Retribution. The word echoed in his mind. Unable to help himself, he let out a dry laugh. Retribution? Would that bring his mom back? Would he feel better afterward? Did they expect him to ask for Taizo's mother's head for the murder of his mother? Did they expect him to turn his rage on Fugaku, to demand his imprisonment or his death? He shook his head. He suddenly felt tired.

"No. Do what you want with them…"

"Really? Are you sure?" The Sandaime asked visibly surprised.

"What do you want me to tell you? Drive them out of Konoha? They wouldn't survive a month out there. They haven't fought since the last war and are just a bunch of cowards good at brutalizing civilians or the crippled. Unlike them, I don't go after someone weaker than me." Jun snapped angrily.

Fugaku bristled like a cat, insulted. The young police officer standing beside him, who had looked terrified this whole time, even seemed to find some courage to glare at Jun. The teenager also glared at him contemptuously, and the officer looked down hastily.

"You see what I'm talking about? They can only look down in my presence. Do what you want with them… I do not care. Taizo Uchiha is dead. The rest of the cowards is of no interest to me. Dismantling the Police or replacing them is a decision for the Division and the Konoha Council, not my personal vendetta."

Hiruzen pushed back his seat. He seemed almost impressed. He nodded to Jun.

"Your clemency honors you. It is a proof of wisdom."

Jun doubted it was proof of wisdom. He wanted to deliver justice himself, to take revenge personally. But he couldn't. The guilty party was dead. He had to let it go. He just wanted to see his siblings.

"Has anyone told my sister?"

There was a moment of hesitation, then Shikaku answered.

"I told her jonin-sensei, but she doesn't know the details."

Then it would be up to Jun to tell her everything. He should also inform Kazuma, Neji, and Karin. His throat tightened up at the thought of delivering the news to them.

"May I leave, Lord Hokage?"

Fugaku opened his mouth, but the Sandaime glared at him and he remained silent.

"Yes of course. And… My condolences. I'm sorry for your loss."

Jun didn't care about his condolences. He wished it had all been a bad dream. A couple of hours earlier, he was laughing and joking with his comrades on the way back. It seemed so far away like it was another life. He knew it wasn't the Hokage's fault, but what were his condolences going to bring him and his family? The old man could keep them for all he cared.

Jun bowed slightly without a word and exited the room.

People became silent as he approached, avoiding his gaze, and whispering as soon as he passed them. The teenager clenched his fists, staring at the ground. People already knew. His mother's death wasn't just a tragedy he had to overcome in private. No, it was a scandal, a public affair. Jun quickened his pace until he disappeared with the Body Flicker Technique. A ball of despair had gripped his throat.

He thought about Izumi and Kazuma. How was he going to tell them? How was he going to organize the funeral? He had no idea how this sort of thing works. He hadn't even seen his mother's corpse. It was probably at the morgue. Did they conduct an autopsy? The teenager felt his pain grow. He had seen autopsies. But imaging his mother going through it… He felt like it was so cruel that it happened to her. She wasn't supposed to die. She was supposed to be safe.

Jun felt like a shell filled with intense emotions, ready to explode. When he arrived at the apartment, he didn't bother to knock. He felt both Izumi's and Kazuma's chakras inside. Someone had apparently picked up their little brother from daycare. When Jun entered, they were both huddled together on the couch. Their eyes were puffy and red; their faces streaked with tears.

Jun would have liked to be a responsible and strong adult who could comfort his younger siblings. He took a deep breath. He opened his mouth to say something reassuring…

No words came out. Instead, it was tears that flowed down his cheeks.

When his siblings saw him in tears, it sent them into another fit of crying. It took them several minutes to calm down. Jun forced himself to regain his composure. He needed to be strong for them. Karin and Neji came back from the Academy. They were pale and worried. They all cried again. Neji had to be prevented from swearing revenge. Jun knew how serious the boy was. He didn't kid around.

It was also necessary to prevent Kazuma from going down the revenge path, which was more unexpected. It was the first time he saw his little brother so sad and angry. When dinner time came, they were all exhausted and emotionally drained. But it was a good thing. It was best to let it out than to leave it inside while it built up.

A ninja must always hide his emotions. It was a rule they were taught at the Academy. Jun didn't agree with it. Hiding his emotions on a mission was one thing. It was best not to be distracted by emotions on a mission. But ninjas were humans. It was normal to have feelings. Jun had never suppressed his emotions. He couldn't live holding everything in. It had to come out somehow. People were always better after releasing their anger or sadness. They could think more clearly.

Therefore, Jun had to start thinking about the future. The pain was still there. It had only been a few hours. The teenager was exhausted, but his mind was clearer. He splashed water on his face and tried restoring some semblance of order in their lives. He prepared food and began to think. He looked back on what had happened. The picture that was being painted was not reassuring.

He had activated his Sharingan in front of witnesses. It may seem insignificant, but considering the fact that he had managed to hide it for seven years, he was a bit frustrated. In the past, he feared that the Uchiha clan would try to use the Dojutsu as a pretext to draw his family back into the clan. But now, he knew it was impossible. No one in the clan would have the nerve to suggest that.

On the other hand, he still had to worry about the other threats, Orochimaru and Danzo, the two Sharingan collectors. Everyone in the Hokage office had seen his eyes. It was a small miracle that no one had mentioned it. But Jun was certain it would come out when the current events calmed down a little.

Then, there were the ramifications of his mother's murder. Jun had to take slow deep breaths before focusing on it objectively. Thinking about her murder was like opening a wound that had yet to heal. But he had to do it. The Police had killed someone.

It wasn't just anyone. It was a kunoichi with a good reputation and many friends among all chunins and people from several clans. The village's hostility towards the Uchiha clan was about to reach its breaking point. The Sandaime was even ready to get rid of the Police. It was a change from the story he remembered from Naruto.

What consequences would it have? Would it be enough to dissuade the Uchihas to pursue their coup? Or would it have the opposite effect and cause a civil war? Would Danzo, fearing this, order the elimination of the clan sooner? Maybe he wouldn't even use Itachi.

Nothing was certain now. All because of the death of his mother, an Uchiha…

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