He liked to reminisce sometimes, in the quiet moments when the world was completely silent. He would close his eyes, and try to remember before. He could recall lots of green, blurry in his memories, but a color so vibrantly different to the black, brown, and red that filled his sights now. Blue was another color he hadn’t seen in forever. He thought it was what the sky used to look like, before the clouds turned black and covered it. The hardest thing to remember was what a clean world smelled like. Every time he tried, all he would smell was decay and dust.
Silence was a blessing, a cursed one, filled with tragedy and heartache, but a blessing nonetheless. It meant there was no Eclipse nearby, and that, for just that one moment, he was safe. Safety wasn’t something easily come by anymore, not with the horrors roaming around the outside world.
He had found a cave of sorts, a few chunks of what used to be parts of mountains had smashed together and created an opening big enough for his tiny body to squirm through. The inside was dark, but so was everywhere else, and he had learned to rely on senses other than sight- after all, he hadn’t needed to use it for quite some time. It was large enough for him to stand up and comfortably lay down with enough room for his things as well.
Nowadays it was only one item that he carried with him everywhere, having lost all personal belongings years ago. The Stone Thing was his most important possession in this world, and the only thing that could save his life. After years of chasing down each and every piece, he finally had them all.
It was with trembling hands that he placed each individual part into the rather ugly whole, not that he had much to go on besides the shape of it. Why it was called The Stone Thing was because of the last, and most important part of the whole contraption- a flat and smooth, probably black rock.
Taking a deep breath, he focused on his childhood, back before he became a hunter, and then he placed the stone in the three metal prongs. Nothing happened.
His thought process stopped completely for a moment as he felt despair and hopelessness fill him. And then there was pain, worse than anything he had ever felt- like he was being squashed, and pulled apart, his bones turning to mush, and then hardening in all the wrong places. He couldn’t even describe the immense pain that wracked through his body, everything happening simultaneously and yet lasting for years, until it all finally just stopped.
He woke suddenly, awareness flooding in within seconds, and he immediately wished he had remained blissfully unconscious, where the immense pain bombarding him from every direction could not reach him.
He felt weak, and small, as if his entire body had been stuffed into a ball the size of a child’s palm. His whole body throbbed, specifically his ribs, as if he had been kicked there with too much force, and then a weighted anvil had been placed on them while he slept. Everything felt like one big bruise. Every part of his body, from the top of his head to the tips of his fingers and toes, was in sharp clarity- he could feel the blood rushing, and the muscles tensing against his will.
Despite all the pain, the most pressing misery was in his eyes. The light, even with them closed, the light was piercing and excruciating beyond belief. He had lived for years in absolute darkness, and now he was being bombarded with light that his body wasn’t ready for. It hurt.
Ignoring the protestations of his body, he lifted his left arm and placed his face in the crook of his elbow, darkening things considerably until he couldn’t feel that specific pain anymore- which unfortunately made everything else hurt more, especially the results of him moving his arm.
Wishing to focus on anything else, he turned his incredible senses outwards. He could feel scratchy sheets beneath his exposed skin, and something softer than he had felt in years, which suggested he was on a bed. That meant The Stone Thing had worked to some extent since comforts such as beds didn’t exist anymore where he came from. Next on the list was finding out where he was.
He made a small sound, using a very handy form of echolocation that he had learned. Sound bounced back to his very attuned ears, and through that he was able to deduce that he was in a hospital type place, from what he could vaguely recall them looking like. His bed was halfway surrounded by a curtain on the right side, ending before the foot of his bed. To the left was a window that was slightly open. He didn’t quite know what was behind the curtain, but he figured it was other beds and a door.
Outside the window he could hear some people walking around, talking and laughing with each other, which was quite the balm to his soul; being around living people again was so overwhelming, he didn’t know if he felt like he was going to cry from joy or run away from the situation he no longer knew how to handle.
He listened as a little girl exclaimed loudly to her mother that these flowers will make her leg heal faster. A small smile unconsciously graced his cracked lips as he heard the mother laugh lightly and pick up her daughter to swing her around, the little girl squealing in delight. He felt his eyes burning up, his throat clogging, and his chest burning. These emotions were almost foreign, but he was so happy to be alive for this moment, to listen to the simple joys of a child and a mother. They were things he had forgotten, but it was well worth all the pain and heartache he had gone through, just so he could experience this one moment of pure happiness.
Muffled voices to his right caught his attention and sobered him up. They were coming closer to his position, and even though they were obviously trying to be quiet, he could easily make out what they were saying.
“I apologize for the brashness, Hokage-sama, but we need answers!” This voice was male, sounding to be in his early thirties. He was speaking urgently and with an argumentative tone, but with an underlying note of respect.
“I understand, Hamara,” an old and withered sounding man spoke up, “but he’s just a boy, probably the same age as your son. How would you feel if your eleven year old son was ruthlessly interrogated?”
What. The last time he had checked, he was in his twenties. And sure, maybe he had been malnourished, and a little short from stuffing himself into small caves, but there is no way that he could pass as an eleven year old... unless his body had gone back in time as well, and he was in the state of his younger self. Which, thinking about it, would make sense. After all, one of his pains was feeling like he was being stuffed into something considerably smaller than he was used to.
“Ureta, can you tell me the state of his body?” The old man asked.
He perked up a bit, wanting to know everything that was wrong.
“He is severely malnourished and dehydrated,” a woman’s voice started, clinically detached, but with a professionally hidden note of concern. “His body has undergone a large amount of stress, stunting the growth. Several bones are incorrectly healed. His eyesight is greatly damaged, and his vocal flaps are thin from disuse. He may not ever be able to see again, and talking will be difficult for about a month or two. He is suffering from an extreme case of chakra exhaustion, to the point that it’s a clinical mystery how he is still alive.” She quieted down as the three of them reached his room.
The door opened and they shuffled in, walking to the foot of his bed.
“Are you awake, son?” The old man asked, and he moved his head a bit, ignoring the sharp pain that inflicted on his neck.
“Where did you come from?” Hamara asked gruffly.
“Hamara-san,” Ureta cut in harshly, “talking will be difficult for him. Yes or no questions only. I must insist.”
Hamara huffed, “Do you know where you are?”
He shook his head.
“You showed up in front of Konoha’s gates, unconscious. I find this all highly suspicious.”
“Hamara,” the old man cut in warningly.
“I apologize, Hokage-sama. Do you remember what happened to you?”
Does he remember the years of the Eclipse? He nodded his head, pretty sure he could never forget that. What he doesn’t remember is ever hearing of a place called Konoha, or what chakra is, but he figured it was just one of those things that were swept away in favor of survival.
“Yes or no questions only, Hamara-san.”
Hamara made a frustrated noise, “Fine! Someone else ask the questions!” Footsteps shuffled away and there was the sound of cloth shifting as it rested against a wall.
“What is your name, young man,” the old man asked.
He waited for the woman to reprimand him, but she said nothing. Clearly this man was the leader of wherever he was. “G-” He started coughing, nearly hacking up a lung, his body convulsing a bit. After a moment, he tried again, happier than ever that his name was only a single syllable. “Gon.” His voice was hoarse and barely above a whisper, but it was intelligible.
“Well, Gon, it’s nice to meet you. I am the Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen.” He sounded kind, and trusting, but Gon could tell he was just a bit wary of him. “I’m assuming you are about eleven?” He left it open ended, waiting for Gon to agree or disagree. Gon did neither, choosing instead to shrug, unsure what this body’s exact age was until he looked in a mirror, which would probably be impossible, if what Ureta said was correct and he was blind- not that he had many issues with that, it was what he was used to.
“Have you already graduated the academy?”
Academy? Gon had never gone to school before, so he shook his head.
“Then as soon as you are healed enough, you will be joining the graduating class. We will give you a private tutor to help you with whatever you have missed.” He turned away to address Hamara, “Get Hyuuga Asuka and tell her that she’ll be getting her practical experience.”
“Yes, Hokage-sama.” Gon could hear as Hamara left them, closing the door rather loudly.
“Asuka is a teacher in training,” Hiruzen explained, “but before she can become a full time instructor, she has to tutor someone.”
Gon nodded to show he understood.
There was silence as they waited for Gon’s new tutor. Two minutes later, Gon heard Hamara whispering to someone as they came to his room, “This is going to be a tough one, Hyuuga-san. He can’t see or talk, but for some reason, the Hokage thinks he can still be a shinobi.”
“If the Hokage thinks he should be a shinobi, then I will do my best to make sure that happens.” Hyuuga Asuka had a wonderful voice, kind and melodious, Gon felt that he could listen to it all day, which he probably would get the chance to.
They walked through the door, and both of the newcomers greeted Hiruzen.
“This is Gon,” the Hokage said, introducing him to Asuka. “He’s eleven, and needs to get caught up at the academy. Your job will be to tutor him while he’s healing, and if he needs it, then while he’s in the academy. He can’t see, and talking is difficult, but Ureka said he will be capable of full speech in about a month, if it’s practiced. Do you think you can handle it?”
Asuka was quiet for a moment, and Gon had half expected her to decline. “I accept the job offer, Hokage-sama.”
Hiruzen sounded significantly more chipper when he spoke next, “Wonderful! Then I shall leave you two to get acquainted.” Three pairs of footsteps walked out of the room.
There was an awkward silence for a few moments, “Gon, was it? My name is Hyuuga Asuka. You can just call me Asuka-sensei.” She paused, as if waiting for a response. The quiet was uncomfortable.
She finally started moving, and Gon listened as she walked around the room, grabbing a chair, and setting it next to his bed. “So,” she said, dropping into the seat, “I’ll tell you a bit about me, to start off. I’m twenty-five years old, and a branch member of the Hyuuga clan. I’m only a chunin, but becoming a jounin didn’t really interest me. Since I was in the academy, I had been fascinated with becoming a teacher, and inspiring young minds. I took all of the classes, and I’m well studied, I assure you... But I will admit that you are the first student I will take on.” Gon nodded, not really minding. It would help if he actually knew what half of her introduction meant, but she used so many strange words that Gon knew almost nothing more about her than he did when she had just walked in. “Now, I want you to try talking. I know it will hurt, but you have to exercise it a bit. Tell me something about you, okay?”
Gon nodded, and then focused on what he wanted to say. Through everything, he had figured something very important out, and it was time that he started getting some answers. “I-” he coughed twice, “I think... I'm from a different world.”