She had already woken up before the sun reached the entrance of the cave. Usually she would have laid in her bed until the sun rose but today she felt like making a decision, maybe she’ll finally leave this shelter; she had been staying there far too long, after all she was running.
She stood up to begin a silent walk to the cravings wall, her hand wandered to her right pocket on her torn trousers by instinct. She pulled out a knife-like tool made from deer antler, she used to use bone but she recently found that it lasted longer and was even stronger.
“Leave” She commanded to the intruder, a tiny raccoon. Its little stomps resounded in the cave as he walked forward warily.
“Where’s mom? Mommy?”
“She’s not here, leave now”.
Why didn’t it leave? Usually twice was enough. Her cave was empty except for the animal corpses she used as blankets and the put out pit she kept at the side of her bed. It wouldn’t find its mom there or anywhere she knew of.
“Mommy? Where are you? I’m hungry mommy”. Its little voice echoed in the cave as he whined to its mom, right before it walked to a wall and she understood. Animals were always quiet by instinct in unknown territory but its steps were careless, all the other raccoons she knew of were stealthy as a cat, but this little one was loud. Animals can’t be loud, that’s a luxury. If a predator hears you, you’re dead.
But this tiny creature couldn’t help it because it’s blind.
“What’s your name, raccoon?”
“I’m Himaru, where’s mommy?”
She walked towards him decisively; he flinched away from her colliding with the cave wall behind him again as she calmly squatted and stoked the fur on his head softly and sighed to deliver the bad news with the softest voice she could do.
“Himaru, I…your mommy left you because you can’t see, so you endanger her and her cubs” She continued petting him in silence for a second.” I can get you some food and after that you can stay in this cave, but I won’t give you more food, ok?”
“What is “endanger”? “
“You’ll have to get yourself food after that, alright?” Animals were usually really slow, repeating twice with a firm voice does the trick, and also keeping it simple helps deliver the message. They are hard to deal with because once something gets into their head it’s impossible to get it out. She had raised a mocking bird once because she fed it and he kept calling her mom (it was too cute to let him go and she felt kind of lonely anyways). “I’m gonna get you some food now, Himaru.”
She exited the cave then, looking at her carving wall. It had 57 markings, one for every day she had slept there, where she will leave one last mark before leaving. Himaru isn’t going to live long, hell, she’d be surprise if he lived another week as loud as he is. Just like her little bird a predator will kill him when she’s not looking.
Animals move by instinct so they have simple minds: shelter, food, pack. They aren’t great company (she hasn’t found one that could hold a decent conversation) but she didn’t really have anyone else.
As daylight warmed her skin she stretched her arms and back, knife still in hand. Step by step she moved through the forest without much sound, getting closer to the hanging tree, where she kept her handbag that she now used to keep spare food away from the camp. You can’t keep it close to your shelter because it will attract predators, and that’s… not good.
Climbing a straight tree wasn’t easy but she had done it enough times to ignore the pain in her fingertips as she pushed herself up to a steady branch. Climbing was always messy, she had to use her arms to hang on the tree to push her feet up and then move her arms while her legs supported her. Because it also happened very fast, she’d fall to the ground if she didn’t coordinate her limbs appropriately.
Standing at the top of tree always makes her feel kind of proud, watching the forest around her in silence as she stands above everything else; she felt powerful, like a predator. Her handbag was on the higher branches, hidden behind foliage. She stretched her arm towards it tip-toeing a little because she wasn’t very tall. Bad, bad, bad, fucking bad-Something went very wrong and in a second she flinched backwards trying to put some distance between her and the food.
She had expected a cougar eating from it, a big predator that could tear her apart even if she had her knife between her teeth in case she needed to defend herself, but then something collided with her and that was worse. She had fucking gotten herself on some big fucking bird territory and she was going to break her fucking head in the fucking fall.
Thankfully her body caught up faster that her mind and managed to grab onto the branch with both hands. Fuck yeah. Her heartbeat was loud in her ears when she breathed a relieved sigh and tried to push herself up onto the branches. Shit, shit, shit. Nothing had crashed into her, something was grabbing her shirt and she didn’t need to look to know that it was human, but she did anyways. Fuck, she would have preferred a claw digging into her skin, shit. An amused eye met her own and her heartbeat drowned her thoughts. So like, her mind went to shit.
Everything happened in a blur. Her left foot tried to meet his eye as he yanked towards himself, stronger than her; she wasn’t going to be able to keep her hands on the branch for much longer. Somehow he managed to avoid the quick kick, but his pull weakened so she regained her grip as her other foot followed his face. Her head started clearing, she had to be smart about this even if she couldn’t hit him maybe she could make him lose balance an fall of the tree.
She kept twisting around, hitting air and trying to make him move, make him trip off the branch or whatever miracle but he didn’t fall. He jumped around without a care, maybe even gracefully but she didn’t really notice because she was fucking kicking for her life. At some point of the mess of limbs he just grabbed her left leg and along with the grip on her shirt pulled her out of her embrace. She didn’t even have a second to struggle or to feel pain in her hands, there was some kind of rope around her hands and feet she was placed against a firm shoulder and they were already moving through the trees.
Traveling so fast and upside down was already making her gag. She tried to think, time was running against her and she could do nothing about it.
Fuck, she was really going to get raped, wasn’t she?
His arm was on her waist keeping her in place and reminding her that he was stronger; he was also faster than her, it wasn’t hard to tell. He was even wearing a mask for fucks sake, he didn’t want his face being recognized like that’s not a red flag. She hated so so much that she was going to be that girl who got raped in the woods and then killed so there wasn’t a trace to follow or a face to recognize. She didn’t even have anyone who would look for her if she disappeared.
Fuck, she really was the perfect victim. Shit, fuck, shit, shit.
He stopped and they were on the ground. She didn’t know when or how but they were also in the middle of what looked like a fucking camp and there were more people around. Mask Man said something in a foreign language and they started approaching her.
What, what could she even do? She couldn’t run, she couldn’t hide, couldn’t struggle anymore. She was being moved, her back found support on a truck and her head span a little, accompanied by blurry vision. She closed her eyes for a second and realized they itched, but she had to force them open again as she felt someone getting closer to her, they began talking to her.
This time it was a different man, he had bandages on his face and looked somewhat friendlier, she didn’t trust it anyways. She still didn’t recognize what he was saying, probably a question since he stopped talking, waiting for an answer that didn’t come.
She kept her eyes away from his, her arms as close to her body as the ropes allowed her to, so she would look smaller and she bared her neck just a little. She did her best to appear as small and submissive as possible but her mind kept searching a way out. She hoped she didn’t look as pathetic as she felt.
Looking above his shoulder she could count two, no, three more people counting the man who captured her. She realized that they were all wearing some kind of uniform. What to do? How? When? She couldn’t escape.
She was going to leave today! I f only that little raccoon didn’t slow her down she would have been just fine. He was going to die in no time she shouldn’t have even bothered to get him food, shit. That’s what happens when you’re a compassionate loser, you get caught by fucking humans that are going to fucking rape her if not kill her or just sell her to sex trafficking. Not a big deal.
He started talking again. This time, a little more demanding. She shifted, baring her neck a little more. She really wished it had been a cougar, shit; she’d rather take a fucking bear.
After a few demanding words from someone else, the man in front of her moved. Discreetly, she shifted so she wasn’t baring her neck anymore. Her eyes stayed on the ground and her head still felt heavy, she found that she had to blink a couple times to keep the itchiness of her eyes away. She felt so fucking weak.
Nothing, nothing she could do to escape. As long as no one touched her she would be fine. She also noted that her antler knife had fallen off her mouth at some point of the struggling. They were really hard to make, motherfucker .She still had another one on her right pocket that she could use to cut the ropes, the problem was getting it unnoticed. She needed a big distraction. Just a few seconds, all she needed. Time, timing. Okay, logically she couldn’t do it; something else had to catch their attention for a few seconds. A noise, a fight, a scream, a motherfucking meteor or whatever. Well, it was starting to sound like a plan.
She could use that, okay. An external distraction- No need to be nervous she, has been through worse; giving up now would be like disrespecting those experiences. Besides, at the end of the day she was always fine. Sort of. Functional? Whatever, she wasn’t going to give up. She was going to be calm about it, think things through. Calm and collected. Why wasn’t her heart listening to her? It was beating so fast, it’s so hard to focus. Breathing. Yeah, four in, hold for seven, exhale slowly…Again. And again. Ignore those men’s gazes, just calm down and wait.
Her eyes blinked slowly as she watched her surroundings, careful to not move her head a centimeter. She was in some sort of clearing, three tents to the left, one to the right. She knew she had been there at some point walking in the woods, when? Hard to know, she didn’t exactly keep a diary.
Tension left her body and she signed, the adrenaline was wearing off and her shoulders felt specially affected by the struggle. They were whispering, about her probably, they didn’t look taken aback or wary, not even bothered, they didn’t look like they felt anything and that pissed her off. What was going on their heads? It didn’t look like a very serious conversation or a casual one. What is it? Which one? It made her nervous and that made her angry, like she had no control over this situation, and she didn’t. Shit, shit she was going to die.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Once they had finished their silent conversation, the men moved. The masked man who caught her left the camp with other guy in the same direction he had found her, she assumed, probably looking for her camp or someone else. Hopefully they would find neither.
They returned about half an hour later with her blankets and a dead raccoon. It was Himaru. Well, life’s hard, she told herself. Usually, she wouldn’t have cared-He was blind and Mother Nature was cruel, he was bound to die soon anyways, but the fact that it was these men that had killed him made her blood boil.
The other two got up from the floor to examine the fur of the blankets and now they seemed surprised, one of them even looked at her and he looked impressed. Was that directed to her? Underestimate me, please. I don’t want to be taken as a threat. It will be so much harder to escape.
The masked kidnapper pulled then a knife from one of his pockets. Her antler knife that took three days and two tries to make. They had it. That was her work you assholes! Don’t. Take. Advantage. Of. It.
One of them took out a scroll from his pocket. He opened it in a quick movement, placing it on the floor. They put the blankets over it and they disappeared, the scroll was closed in a second and everyone acted like nothing out of the ordinary happened. What. The. Fuck.
She covered her shock poorly apparently because the man with the bandages on his face smiled at her and put one of his hands on the protector on his forehead to tip it a little.
He was mocking her. Well, he probably wasn’t but she didn’t know what that meant or who they were, she knew know that it was some sort of distinguishing logo that meant that they were part of something but she didn’t know what.
They talked for a second before moving to start gathering their stuff. Ah, they were moving.
If they were moving she was moving, ah fuck.
Once they had their things the man with the bandages approached her again, she didn’t look at him this time either. He talked to her and sighed when he didn’t get an answer. He took away the ropes and told her something softly. He then offered her his hand to get up, what?
She looked at him and he was smiling to her. She considered tricking him but she realized that there was nothing she could do to escape right now, if they kept her rope-free she could maybe do something at some point. She took his hand hesitantly but didn’t return his smile; she did however look at his face. He spoke softly again and grabbed her wrist slowly without hurting her at all. Ok that was good, they probably wanted her without a scratch. That was also bad because someone wanted her and her theory that they were going to sell her into prostitution made sense. She tried to look as innocent as possible.
The masked man said something firmly and the one who was still touching her wrist seem to refute something but Mask Man only spoke slower, she noted that he was repeating whatever he had said before.
Bandage Man then shot her an apologetic look and tied her hands and feet again, well at least she wasn’t against a tree anymore. It wasn’t too tight but she couldn’t move a finger. Her knees, shoulder and hips were free though, like that was useful anyways.
She was pleased to know that she could stand up without her head screaming at her to lie down, her legs felt sort of tired-numb like she had been running for hours. Her world span it took her a moment to realize she was being carried like a sack of potatoes…
Huh, this really was something she hadn’t expected.
If it was as absurd as the situation felt, she could not tell once they started moving. She was bouncing in some guys back and her head hurt every time she looked at the trees around her. They were so fast. She kept her eyes closed and focused on what she could feel, it sort of felt like a rollercoaster. She made herself easer to carry, wrapping herself tight to the Bandage Man’s back to keep the good impression he had of her or maybe she was scared of falling, who knows.
Ok, she could tell there was a 7 second gap between each jump. Her head still bumping slightly against the man’s back, she considered if she could break the grip he had on her. Yeah like probably. Could she break the ropes before falling to the ground? If so, could she grab something to avoid hitting the ground?
Doubts? So many of them. Answers? Maybe. She could not really tell if she survive the hit, but they were travelling fast judging by the distance the mask man had traveled in minutes. But she had stay calm and make a decision: worst scenario, she fails; probable scenario, she falls to the ground and dies; best scenario, she falls but doesn’t die.
Would she rather die that get sold to prostitution? Hell yeah, she thought as she shook her body like a worm, jerking her hips just when the Bandage Man impulses himself forward. Her hips pushed his hands away from his own body and then they got away from them to avoid getting grabbed again. And just like that, she was falling.
She wasn’t going to go down just like that, oh no, she was going to try to reach her pocket with the antler knife in it and cut the ropes, but she was snatched from air before her hand even moved.
She didn’t even register it properly, what? She looked up to find a mocking eye looking at her. Shit, she was being carried princess style by Mr. Mask Man. Fuck, she should have thought it more thoroughly, of course there was going to be someone in front and behind her in case she tries to escape. She’s an idiot, now they’re going to be more careful around her and she’ll have even less possibilities to escape.
She managed to groan in her frustration before his gaze shifted from her to the rest of the group and shouted something that made them stop. Great, this was going to be embarrassing even if she didn’t understand a word.
She was going to be used as an ice breaker in some boring family dinner in no time, great, fantastic, hyper.
Bandage man looked at her a little shocked when they stopped in the same branch, but she refused to meet his eyes anyways. (How were they even standing in a branch without one of them even loosing balance?)
They talked for about thirty seconds before beginning to jump again, she was still in Mr. Mask Man’s hands and even if the ride was a lot more pleasant and much less fuzzy, she hated it even more. What did he care? He should have just let her fall. Fuck this guy, fuck this situation, fuck her, and fuck everything. His hands didn’t really hurt her, but they also were tight as fuck and didn’t even let her move a centimeter. Well, this was going to be a fun ride. Fuck it.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
They had been traveling for hours now, the sun stayed in front of her as a sign that noon had passed a long time ago. They hadn’t stopped once since they began moving again. She wasn’t exactly doing much exercise, but it was getting tiring.
They finally stopped in another clearing. They had been jumping around the trees without tripping a single time; these people were magical as they were evil. Prostitution is a joke; they might be going to sacrifice her to the gods! Ha!
She really had no idea what had been going on for a while and she was starting to lose her mind. She was either hallucinating all of it or it was just some fucked up dream. If it really was reality she was going to do what she always does with problems: act oblivious until it goes away.
She had had some time to think about what was going on and she had decided that she’d rather not know. A wise decision if you asked her.
The guy who had been carrying her said something but she didn’t catch a thing, foreign language, you see. He was probably threatening her or something. Obviously she wasn’t going to do anything; he had already proven himself stronger, faster and overall more capable than her. That didn’t mean she had forgotten about escaping.
He had already tied her around a tree before she could even blink, what was going on with this guy? She kept her face as blank as she could manage and her eyes gazed away from his face. She was starting to get sick of being submissive, but she knew it the only thing was keeping her relatively unharmed.
She could feel his eye on her, looking at her with annoying scrutiny: she was being analyzed. Her face remained impassible and devoid of emotion, there was only emptiness in her eyes as she let her guard down, if he wanted to do anything to her no one would stop him. She noted Bandage Man slightly eyeing them from afar; he looked like he was trying to hide his interest. She hated that she had taken advantage of his compassionate trust to try to escape, he was probably going to get in trouble but whatever. Not really her fault. What would he have done in her place?
She knew she was giving nothing away, just looking weak and submissive with her nose pointing to the ground and her dropped shoulders. He was probably seeing nothing but a fragile, helpless girl lying in front of him usually men enjoy being able to intimidate others. She wonders what he is thinking about her, deep she wants to be acknowledged by him as a decent threat but she is realistic enough to know that if he did nothing good would come out of it.
A hand peaked through her peripheral vision and poked her in the cheek.
Her eyes widened and she took a sharp breath at the sudden movement, she felt her chest tighten and a familiar emotion bubbled in her, making her throat close and her jaw clench. She could take being looked over, laughed at but he was humiliating her. She let her eyes meet his in an act of defiance for a second before looking away and relaxing her body again, taking in controlled breaths. He seemed taken aback by the pure fury in her eyes. Good, she mentally smirked and slapped herself for letting her emotions out. He corrected his posture so he was leaning forward again seeking another emotional outburst, but she blinked the anger away. She wasn’t going to show that again, even after he poked her again, this time pulling away his finger quickly like he thought she was going to try to bite it off.
She might not have a lot of dignity left but she doesn’t bite. Her chest wasn’t as tight anymore so she stopped controlling her breath. She was making a conscious effort to maintain her body relaxed while her heart was screaming in her ears and the adrenaline kicked in, she was waiting for his reaction. She had made a mistake and she was going to pay for it in no time. She heard her fate being pronounced in a casual way and waited for the pain to come.
She opened her eyes and they felt dry, when did she close them? She saw his back as he walked away from her. Huh?
Okay this was unexpected but she could work with it, either he was: 1 being cruel and just delaying her death or 2 he found what he was looking for and deemed her acceptable. She was confused and she didn’t like it. A few minutes were enough to make her think that she wasn’t going to die by their hand any time soon. So like, option 2.
It didn’t make sense. At all. What was he looking for, defiance? Was he testing her? Why?
She didn’t understand. Good lord, she could practically feel a headache coming.
He could have been searching for something to dislike about her so he wouldn’t be as guilty, but she must have already burdened him enough to be at least a nuisance. Not likely.
He could have been trying to make her unstable for whatever was going to happen, he wanted her (the product) to be as upset as possible. May be.
He could have been playing with her, enjoying being cruel to her. Ah. Nope. He could have hurt her anyway he had wanted when he was carrying her, no one would have known. She had been at his but he humiliated her in front of everyone. Oh, he was making a statement, he was placing himself above everyone else, saying “I’m the leader”, just a power display of sorts. Oh. He had wanted to deliver the message and she had just followed his lead. Well, she felt stupid.
Now she could see it, the way the others subtly looked at him as he continued to prepare his tent. He used her to create this aura of authority; he had seen through her escape, he was the one who caught her, he was the one who made her lose her cool. He was going to be the one who takes the decision of what to with her during the rest of the trip. Woohoo!
He asked Log Man for something, he handled him a scroll. The scroll. He put her blankets on the floor right next to his tent and looks at her. He was saying if you behave you can sleep next to me, like a pet.
That fucker… That was a power move, she had to give him that, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to rip his nails one by one.
She calmed down. Now all she could do was observe the situation: the way they interacted with each other, their surroundings, which does what in the camp… and find a way out of their grip. She was fucking tired of playing submissive, scared girl.
Keep your emotions at bay and think…
Mask Man said something and left the camp leaving three slightly confused men behind, she watched them sit in circle and start playing a card game, ah yes she remembered playing them at night with her family…Good times, she always won them.
After at least half an hour one man had left but he returned within minutes with logs to start a fire. She smiled when she saw him. Finally, now maybe, maybe, just maybe there was a chance for her to escape if they used it to cook meat. Her slip was enough to make the two men who had stayed in the camp suspicious. They said something to the Log Man and he answered, which relaxed them a little. She could tell that they were still wary. Bandage man kept stealing small glances her way. Boy, sorry that I took advantage of your compassionate nature but you’re the one kidnapping me, I’m not the mean one here.
They seemed paranoid of her for a while, she could feel their experienced eyes on her, watching her every move. So she kept a blank face and innocent eyes, looking like the cute airhead she used to pretend being.
They talked animatedly while playing the game, but she still could feel their gazes. She could feel the underlying threat they presented to her but they looked completely oblivious to her existence, like they had forgotten that she was there. That was the first time she looked directly at the group. She was interested on knowing if she could pick up how they made that atmosphere, like she could afford to make every mistake on the book and get away with it.
She could tell that they tensed up immediately when she lifted her head, but she kept watching them. Their conversation seemed a lot more forced now, she was tempted to look away but them Mr. Mask returned. Mask man was immediately informed of something. Ah, his authority was obvious at this point, his trick worked. He turned his head to look at her, the other men’s eyes followed his. Her focus was on him, she was being stared at by the man who tricked her into making him the expert on kidnapping girls on the woods and who will take the decisions on her well-being from now on, so she did what every rational person would in her situation. She kissed his ass, looking to the floor again, making three stunned men look at him in awe.
Let’s be nice to each other, Mask man.
The sun left and darkness ate it all, the night began.
When they started cooking the raccoon in the middle of the camp, she felt like she had won the lottery. Oh man, she was lucky. You don’t keep raw food where you sleep ‘cause it attracts predators, if you cook it though, it will become a fucking party. Animals can smell it from kilometers apart, they will be attracted by the smell kept on your clothes after you cook it.
Animals aren’t clever but they are deceptive and kind of witty sometimes. They are practical which is really easy to admire but also really gross. In danger? Leave your children, hungry? Eat them. Survival at its finest.
They were eating with their fire still lit like a calling melody or a mark in a map. There already were small animals that have been attracted by the food. Easy to tell, too many birds in a single branch above her, little predators like petulant snakes roamed the clearing, still away from the source of food.
She didn’t realize no one offered her any food, the masked man expected her to at least look at it once, she seemed lost in thought. She was planning to escape again, he didn’t waste a second to whisper it to his team. He didn’t have to, really, she couldn’t understand them. He suspected she never learned to speak as she only grunted in response to pain, not a single word had left her lips.
Her delight reached skyline levels when they heard a bunny run away making the bushed shift, when she looked up there weren’t any birds on it. Something big was coming, a predator was going their way and she was fucking ready.
She was upsetting him, he realized something was going on but he didn’t know what, it didn’t matter, she wasn’t doing anything remarkable, just waiting. Even if he was suspicious he couldn’t prove anything, she was tied to a tree and her hands were tied together too, she couldn’t be more innocent. Actually that was a problem; with her hands tied together she couldn’t reach for the knife in her pocket.
Ok, now she needed to think fast. She closed her eyes and steadied her heartbeat and breathing, her shoulders relaxed as she dived deep in her thoughts. Her head dropped as she meditated.
Her head rose again before he could reach her face. He was squatting in front of her; he looked slightly troubled for a second. His eyes were looking for signs of something, but he wouldn’t find anything and she needed him to go. If he was close to her when the predator arrived it was going to be problem.
He didn’t find anything she could tell by his face, but he didn’t look convinced. He was still looking at her. He looked deep into her eyes, she could chew the tension in the air and she was so temped to smile and freak him out. But she didn’t.
Log Man asked something and he turned away, breaking the tension. She breathed in and watched him walk away. She could feel Bandage man looking at her, staring intensely. Rude. Her hands itched as she suppressed the need to look at him smile and wink, how badass would that be. Sadly she really couldn’t if she wanted to keep her eye.
After a few minutes of waiting she could feel another threat around her, the predator, and it was coming directly her way. It was just perfect. She couldn’t wait, she was going to use it to draw their attention and get the fuck away.
She shifted her hips, until the pointy end of the knife was against her upper thigh, her hands were on her lap but she couldn’t grasp it with her fingers. She shifted her hips one more time slicing through flesh. She couldn’t grimace but she tightened her jaw and screamed in her head. Mask Man face reacted in the second blood dripped down her leg. She pressed her legs together and her hands turned to fist on her lap. He gave her a pity look before looking away. The blood was staining her pants, it was slightly visible from the front. Oh, he thought that her period just appeared. Good for her.
It was just behind her, moving slowly.
Once she could grasp it she cut through her pants. Once she could hold it in her palm she used it to cut through the ropes on her wrists. Those men hadn’t realized a thing yet. She finished loosening the ropes around her arms when she felt a warm exhale next to her head.
“My territory”. It was a bear. “This is my tree.”
Bears don’t use trees…unless…
“These humans were looking for your cubs, but they couldn’t find them, they want to hurt them.” The mama bear growled, deep in her throat.
“You are human too.” She was shaking, being barely able to whisper under her breath. They looking at her now and they looked frozen. If you don’t make yourself a threat to bears they won’t charge at you but if you get between a bear and her cub… different story.
“I’m a prisoner, I’m not with them.” The bear moved around so she had her body on her right side and began sniffing her hair. Mask Man was staring at her eyes directly; she moved her hands slowly cutting through the ropes on her knees, staring back.” You smell like blood.”
“They hurt me. They’re evil, they are hunting bears, they want turn your cubs to blankets…” She smiled at him, meeting his eyes before looking at his tent where he had put her animal blankets.” like they did to that bear”.
The mother bear went fucking berserk after that, she didn’t waste a minute to roll to her side, away from the furious bear letting the ropes she didn’t cut through completely break by the movement. She ran right behind the bear, so they had to go through it before reaching her. Her legs hurt from struggling hours before, she was shaking but adrenaline hadn’t kicked in yet.
She tripped twice over the roots, but kept staggering away from the camp, frantic and desperate. She wasn’t going to stop running until she dropped exhausted or dead, whichever fate had for her. Ah, memories…
Hyperventilation was straining her throat, she could feel the anxiety bubbling in her chest and her senses became unfocused, hyperactive, there were too many threats around her, she couldn’t tell if she was being followed until she was tackled. Her knife being dropped and forgotten.
She was being pressed to the ground by another body who didn’t waste a second and grabbed her wrists and held them together with one hand. She struggled, swinging her arms with enough force to dislocate her right arm. He screamed in her ear, maybe he wasn’t speaking louder than usual but her senses were too sensitive, she only stopped struggling when he put a knife on her neck.
She had to take her chance, this was… She won’t be able to escape anymore! She needs to go. Leave! Now! She has to get away! This can’t… Just… I can’t accept it! I can’t! NO!
In a swift movement she dropped all resistance on her arms before pulling away quickly freeing her hands, while her good leg impulsed her to the side, the knife cutting the skin on her neck.
Before blood even flew from her wound she was running, bolting, flying, getting the fuck away. She had only moved a few meters when a hand on her ankle made her trip again, a frustrated grunt left her throat leaving a trail of pain across her neck, nevertheless she turned her hands to fists and began crawling, she didn’t care if she had to have her leg ripped off or if she had to bite her limbs off she was getting away… She was… going to escape… There’s no way she was going to allow this! Her hands only grabbed dirt when she tried to get a hold but it didn’t matter anymore she was being pulled and she couldn’t do anything. She was helpless and ridiculous, she should have seen this coming, she was so stupid always thinking she’s going to get her way and live happily ever after. Her life hadn’t been a fairytale but she sure as hell acted as if, damn her stupid head for giving her stupid hopes, she was going to die or worse she was going to be abused for the rest of her life.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, her eyes watered as she accepted the situation. She was done, life’s a bitch but she’s always had that tiny little hope that it would get better, irrational fucking thinking. Just getting her hopes up before ripping them apart. She liked to think she was different from the naïve girl that watched her hometown burn to ashes and left behind the corpses of her loved ones as she ran away from the murderers thinking that maybe someone else got away, that she’ll be fine. The only reason she escaped was because the animals lead her away from the monsters that butchered her family. She had promised herself that she’d get stronger, doing push-ups, running, hunting, surviving. And she failed, she was not strong enough, she was a sad, stupid little girl who couldn’t keep a promise for her life.
When the man and she returned to the camp her tears had mixed with the blood spurting timidly from her neck. The men gathered around her. Her wound wasn’t fatal at all, she had her sliced external jugular vein sliced, which was very painful, but not deadly. They applied pressure to the wound and let it close itself.
She was shocked and tired, her hopes were gone so she just gave in to her dizziness and let herself go. Darkness surrounded her as she fainted.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Usually it is said that sunlight kisses a woman’s skin but she felt like it was spitting on hers, well sunlight was warm and nice but the reality that brought along was nauseous, it felt like it was mocking her.
Her injuries, she tried to lift her hand but it was tied to the tree, she had one of her blankets over her. She moved her sprained ankle out of it, it had been bandaged. She assumed her neck had been parched up as well. They wanted her alive, which was good. The blankets were a weird add, why would they give her any commodities?
They had already realized she was awake and they began moving, once they were all around her they spoke to her, it didn’t even seem like a question, she wasn’t going to answer anyways.
It was very strange, it probably wasn’t as suspicious as her mind made it to be, she was just paranoid. After that everyone went their way, she didn’t care much.
Her mind… it was a mess. Time passed but she didn’t feel it properly, without her drive, accepting her fate left her feeling like an empty shell.
She just gave up too easily. What a loser. What would her parents think of her now?
She flinched when she felt someone sitting next to her. Mask man was on her right, she noted that it was her most injured side. He had food with him and he was holding chopsticks. She remembered her family using them on strictly on family diners. He was laughing at her again but it wasn’t really working, she thought he looked stupid with his mask on and food on his hand. He had to take off his mask if he wanted to eat, but if his intention were to make her hungry it was working. He picked a piece of meat up and looked at her, but she was busy pretending there was no one by her side. He held it closer to her mouth, and she turned her head away from his hand, she discarded it being poison, there were easier ways to attack her. He held it away from her face and didn’t move his hand for a second.
She turned her head and opened her mouth, well she was hungry she’d better take the chance. He fed it to her silently and with his eye closed, she considered it to be the closest to a smile you could see with his mask. He was saying we don’t want to hurt you. See, we’ll feed you. She might even consider it an apology.
Then while he fed the second piece to her he said something with a mocking tone and she registered it as an open up, here comes the train equivalent so she bit on his chopsticks and didn’t let go. She knew that what he said wasn’t an apology but she took it as such, she was still hungry and he couldn’t feed her if he couldn’t move his chopsticks.
She let an indignant sound come up her throat to let him know she didn’t like that. She looked at Mask man and shot her eyebrows up, demanding another piece. He took a second to comply and when he did he held the food far from her face so she had to bite an edge before being able to fit it in her mouth. Petty. She could hear some of the others laughing so she shot them the hardest look she could do, that made them stop laughing. He looked slightly pleased and she thought that she could distinguish a smile under his mask for a second.
She ate until his plate was empty. He petted her hair and then he walked away leaving her behind. What. The. Fuck. What an awkward thing to do, why would he even do that. Oh he was totally treating her like a stray cat he found in the street…Ok she could work with it.
Well, it seems like that depressive episode was over. Huh, she should have some time to meditate the feelings excess off. Seen thing with perspective, she was going to start feeling the Stockholm effect soon, being grateful to her kidnappers. She already was, kind of, for not letting her die. Kill herself, whatever. Damn how embarrassing, and she was still tied to a tree.
She could probably just wait some days to escape, damn she was really dramatic. And kind of suicidal…Ooops.
At least she had her sass back, ah, she missed it.
Some time passed before they started collecting their stuff again. She looked up and checked the position of the sun. Past noon, huh, they seemed to have stopped for more than 12 hours. At least they were thoughtful with her injuries.
She got carried like a princess again which took away the little dignity she had left, looking decent in front of her kidnappers certainly wasn’t a priority, but she didn’t have much anything else to do.
As calm as a girl who had been kidnapped, injured and will probably be enslaved could be she closed her eyes and meditated on his arms.
In her mind there wasn’t any pain, it got breathed away whenever it tried to cloud her vision. In her mind she was calm. In her mind she could do anything, she could dive into her memories or swim away from the profound waters of her insecurities; immersing in her thoughts has always been useful after her feelings got carried away. Knowing her feeling as an observer calmed her anxiety, looking from afar eased her anger.
Meditating could be easily compared to hibernation; she was defenseless, unaware of her surroundings and had poor time conception. Hours or seconds, she could only tell after she’s woken and just by how stiff her muscles are.
Hours, this time at least. She was still dizzy; her blurry eyes had to adjust to the light. It was past 5 pm and night would come soon. Mask man was surprised to see her wake. Her eyes itched and she had the urge to rub them. But her hands were tied together so she just rubbed her face against his jacket. He tensed up immediately, so she did it again with a sly smile on her lips.
She shouldn’t tease him at all, they could still do whatever they wanted to her but this little moments of defiance, of fun, she could have… she’ll take them.
She was impulsive, always doing what pleased her the most the moment she wanted to, she really couldn’t deny herself in any way, what a stupid, imprudent girl.
Living in the woods hadn’t done her any good, she changes shelter whenever she feels like it, hunt at day or night, helps any animal she deems cute or just not overly rude… just does whatever she wants.
Well, until now.
She was dropped against a tree and tried once again. She could barely repress a sigh as the ropes tightened around her. This situation was a pain. She didn’t want to be there, they didn’t really care for her except for Mask man who seemed to be her personal caretaker. She still hated him with passion. He had kidnapped her, took her from her home…shelter, whatever, attacked her, he wouldn’t let her leave, or die. She just wanted to get away, couldn’t he let her do just that… She wasn’t bothering anyone in her sad little cave, she had just been about to leave. But nooo, they wouldn’t even kill her for mercy after she’d received those ugly injuries. What a terrible business they’ll do with a girl with such scars…
Night was coming once again. She couldn’t see the sun as the trees were on the way, how terrible, she liked looking at the sunset on sad days. Thinking that this could be the last day she’d be able to was…sad. And nostalgic.
These men didn’t learn a thing from the bear encounter, it seems, they had lit a fire just after they finished putting up their tents. She felt slightly amused as they started cooking in the middle of camp again. The moment the food starting cooking, small animals started gathering around.
“Old Jakiho, look, humans. Food! We should steal it, I say!”
“ They are feeding themselves. It’s our chance!”
“Stay where you are fools! The red light will kill you if you don’t approach it properly. When you are as old as I am you have seen what humans are able to do.” The fattest bid she’s ever seen stated as he puffed his chest proudly
Three loud birds were chirping in the branch above her head. Careless birds, screaming their plan in front of their enemies, they wouldn’t understand them, but still a careless and stupid move. They were going to get killed. “Don’t. You’ll be their breakfast.”
That’s all she could do to warn them. More words from her mouth would be too suspicious and draw the men’s attention. She nodded slightly when they asked if she was speaking to her. Terrible decision as they continued to speak to her. Who are you, why are you with them, don’t underestimate us! She’s not paying attention!, Why is she tied, so rude! She’s ignoring us after threatening us. Old Jakiho, who had been silent, spoke once again.
“Fools! She’s warned us. She is a hostage. Thank you girl, tell me how can you understand us.” She stayed silent once again, unable to answer. If she drew the attention of the men and they thought she was trying to escape again there was no telling what they’d do next. They pitied her now, it was alright.
“We’ll let you out of imprisonment, boys, break the ropes.” She shook her head. “Don’t…” She whispered as they flew to the ground. She could feel their eyes on her; those fucking birds are going to ruin her. “We can’t leave you like this! We’ll free you!”
“I want to be with them.” She lied shamelessly. “I don’t want to be free”
“You’ve forgotten how freedom feels like; you’re just like those caged birds, unable to fly away from humans. You’ll understand once you’re free again!”
What could she do to drive them away, they seemed to be eager to help her. They wouldn’t want to help someone rude. “I don’t want to be freed by some ugly birds, how can I stand with pride again if I let that happen?”
“You! Ungrateful child! Humans never change, hideous creatures…Let’s go, boys”
She’s driven them away. Manipulating animals was just as easy as manipulating humans. She signed then. Good, she’d get to keep their thin trust and she only had to give up an opportunity to escape. An impossible, stupid and risky opportunity, but it still itched.
She could barely notice how ready to jump those men were, they weren’t looking at her but she was being watched. It was obvious, they had already finished eating but were still sitting around they fire in a light conversation that sounded forced. She felt slightly proud of being taken seriously by these men, who were more capable than her.
After a few minutes, (around half an hour) they decided she wasn’t going to do anything and decided to feed her, it was Mask man who did it. He used chopsticks again.
After she was done eating, she wondered what do next. She wouldn’t be able to sleep for hours, and they would be watching her until she slept. Keeping them awake would make them tired and would slow down their reflexes, but she’d be tired too and they’d be warier of her.
Mask man was sitting on her right side, his eyes focused on a book. He didn’t let her see what was inside. Whatever, she wasn’t that interested, she only wanted to check the language but she doubted that, if she couldn’t recognize the words verbally, seeing them written wouldn’t make a difference.
Bored out of her head and unable to reason logically she had only one option left: doing what she wanted. Right now, she wanted to run, but since she was tied she did the second best thing to do: meditating.
Her body dropped once again.
When she woke up it was the middle of the night, everyone around her was asleep, even Mask Man. She looked around searching for some animal. Damn I should have told the birds to wait until they were asleep instead of offending them and losing her opportunity. No animals of use. And she doubted she could draw some animal’s attention without waking them up.
So she did the second best thing. She turned her head towards Mask man and blowed a little air towards his face. As soon as his eye opened she dropped into the meditation world again.
The thing about being in her head was that there is no correlation with real-life’s time, a second in there could be hours and hours could be just minutes. There is no way to control it. Or way to wake up if she didn’t decide to. It didn’t matter how much they decided to shake, touch or scream at her, she would only wake up when she decided to in her head.
So it wasn’t a surprise when she woke up and they were all around her. The ropes had been cut off and they seemed concerned. She didn’t care. She opened her eyes and stretched like a cat after a nap, ignoring them. She breathed in and puckered up some courage and looked the one in front of her in the face, with innocent but challenging eyes.
They all shared a look and tied her hands again in silence. They had been trying to wake her up but couldn’t and assumed she had died. Maybe she should have pretended to, but if a predator found her while she was defenseless she was done.
She got carried once again as they jumped between branches. But at some point they stopped in a road. Mask man placed her carefully on the ground and urged her to walk. She pouted but walked anyways. She had accepted being carried, now they’re making her walk? She wanted to talk to their manager. Surly, she had a right to be carried instead of walking specially if she was injured. Outrageous.
She hobbled slowly as the men walked around her covering her escape routes. She wanted to be carried again. Mask man was walking in front of her, she dragged her feet so that sand hit his ankles his every step. She of course stopped every time he turned his head around, just enough so that his eye could meet hers. She felt tempted to raise her arms and make a childish gesture pick me up, pick me up but decided against it. Too much.
She saw why she was walking now, an enormous door by castle like walls stood in front of the group. Damn, they had reached their destination. Couldn’t they extend the trip a little more?
Log Man offered her his vest she only raised her tied wrist to instruct she couldn’t put it on. They all stopped. Log Man used his knife to cut the rope and gave her his vest. She put it on without hesitation. Her shirt was soaked with blood from her neck injury.
She sure was going to be a show, bandages on her neck a guy’s vest on (it was a uniform), a hole on her groin and pants soaked in blood. At least they were dark so it only looked like she had pissed herself. The vest wasn’t ideal either. It was too big for her, it didn’t fully cover her t- shirt and it covered her torso until the hole. Lousy cover but it would have to do.
They continued walking towards the gates, slowly. She didn’t drag her feet this time, she continued limping though, she couldn’t really control that. They shouted something at the men on top of the wall and the gates opened, leaving them in a sea of dust. A soft push on her back instructed her to keep moving, she hadn’t realized she had stopped moving. Maybe, perhaps, could be, she was a little intimidated. Who wouldn’t? She didn’t have any ropes on but she felt chained.
They walked slowly through the doors, a humiliating parade that kept people’s eyes glued to her. The wind blew their whispers to her ears. She didn’t understand them but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t affect her. She held her head high and imagined herself spitting in their faces. That did the trick.
She didn’t hide her interest to their houses and shops, she realized then that she had no idea what language they spoke. She hadn’t seen a sign with letters; all of them had a strange drawing. Not even the way the syllables rolled off their tongues was the same.
She watched the walls of the room pass as they walked in line. They had entered a five stories building, the biggest one she had seen in the town. They stopped in front of a pair of solid doors. One of the men entered entered the room and they all waited. When he came out he said something and they started walking again, exiting the building.
In the ground they met a group of men. They were tall, most had visible scars. She was looked at with cold, uncaring eyes. She could see an aura of cruelty that followed them were they stood. She had thought that they would take more time before selling her. She was wrong.
The men around her broke their formation and she felt their gazes up and down her body as their eyes visited her body. Her heart had been beating nonstop since they entered the village, but now its rhythm was unbelievable, a sweet reminder of her torment: she was still alive. Her head throbbed painfully as a panic headache made its way through her nerves, still she kept her face as impassive as possible, knowing she wasn’t really doing a good work by the tears in her eyes.
The man in front of her instructed her to move and she did leaving the group and joining the new men. She could watch two of them share a devilish look and twisted smirk making the way though one of their mouths. The man grabbed her arm with a little bit too much force and dragged her, forcing her to walk faster. She turned her shaky hand to fists and let herself be pulled, being passive. But still held her head high.
She didn’t look back, they weren’t her friends. She and they had known that she was going straight to prostitution once they reached their destination but she had hoped they would feel a little bit of remorse at least. The men took her to a shady looking building away from the center of the town. They threw her to an empty room, and closed the door. As she sat on the floor and looked for possible exits she wondered if she was supposed to take her first client there. There was no bed or confortable surface to lie down. She hadn’t showered in days and her bandages and clothes were blooded. There were two doors, the one she came in and another one that was locked, the room didn’t have windows.
After a few minutes a woman entered the room. She frisked her, looking for weapons. She had none. The woman then instructed her to do something she didn’t understand. The vest was immediately pushed over her head. She let her. She removed her pants and shirt by herself, when her hands reached her bra, she snuck a glance to the woman. She nodded to her with a bored expression and she let it slide to the floor along with her panties.
She was shaking as she turned to face her, feeling pathetic. She turned her head away from the woman and tried to cover how shaken up she was, boy she had already expected to be forced into prostitution, but thinking was different from living through it.
The woman instructed her to remove her vends, and she did with the closest thing to an arrogant smile she could make right now. She seemed shocked and left the room without a word. She didn’t bother with putting her clothes on again, someone will remove them again in no time. Five minutes after the woman returned with someone else, another woman who blushed in her presence.
She thought herself to be lucky, she wasn’t hideous or looked violent, she could do worse for a first time. The new woman hesitantly made her way towards her, she held her hand towards her face. She made sure not to flinch when her hand reached her neck. Her fingertips traced the injury with firm pulse before emiting a green glow. The weirdest sensation followed if she was asked to describe it she would have just said minty and fresh and a little pinch. When her hand left her neck she didn’t need to touch it to know that the wound was gone, but she did anyway.
The woman’s hands cured then her thigh cut with crimson cheeks and, accompanied with a nervous laugh, she lowered herself to treat her ankle. Her private parts were just in front of the woman and she noticed her sneaking a glance before looking away and reviving the color on her cheeks.
Either this doctor was new or they weren’t a very good organization. Her hopes were regaining space in her mind again as she realized she had stopped shaking. This people were magic. She was glad to know that not all of it was being used to mean ends.
The doctor exited the room immediately while she and the woman stayed inside, she smirked at her before leaving the room as well. Her mind discarded the idea or attacking her the next time she opened the door, there was no way she could escape the building by her own.
So she stayed were she was until she came back. Around an hour or two, she couldn’t tell. The woman smirked to her again and pointed to her clothes, she picked them from the floor and sending her a questioning look she put on her panties. When she wasn’t stopped she got dressed again. The woman instructed her to follow, she did, listening to the rythim of their steps against the tiles on the ground. She leaded her to another room.
She expected it to have a bed and maybe a shower, but there was only a table and two chairs. She entered the room and sat on the chair, it had cuffs on her hands and feet that the woman put on her expertly, she turned around and left her. She knew she was probably being watched now so she didn’t even move a finger, she wanted to be as unharmed as possible. The fact that they healed her meant nothing, her injuries could be inflicted back in a second.
She waited for pair of hours at least before a man entered the room, it was one of the ones that accompanied her to the building. He looked at her and his lips threatened to curb in a cruel smirk, she gave him the control by looking at him and moving her eyes away immediately without tuning her head. He spoke to her mocking words, she was glad she couldn’t understand her they didn’t sound very nice. He kept talking to her so she kept her head towards him and her eyes in his general direction, showing that she was paying attention but never showing defiance.
He was starting to get angry at her silence, she didn’t understand him, not her fault. His hands connected to the table making a loud noise that startled her. He used his right hand lo lift her chin up so she was looking up at him, her eyes drifted to his ready to move away if he was displeased, but his lips curbed slightly and she knew she had made the right decision. His face got closer to hers, with arrogant eyes he stared at her lips and spoke once more, tightening the grip on her chin and pulling her higher.
She looked at his eyes pleading I don’t know, I don’t understand, I don’t know, I don’t know. She could tell he’s gotten nothing as he grunted before releasing her and leaving the room in an angry fit.
She sat in the chair for about two more hours. Is it day or night? I forgot. A different man entered the room and stared at her for a second, she met his eyes wondering what he’ll do next. She wasn’t sure why would an interrogation be necessary but she had a couple theories: an important person was going to be her client, she was going to have multiple chances to rat them and they were trying to avoid that or a third option she couldn’t yet grasp.
The man asked her something and waited, silence filled the room and he asked the same thing louder this time, same words same tone. She continued to stare at him dumbly, she turned her head to him. He repeated himself loudly again, but this time pointing to his ear.
Oh, oh, oh, she pointed to her ear and gave a thumbs up. “I’m not deaf, I just have no finger-fucking idea what you are saying.”
He looked shocked, even though he probably couldn’t understand her. She signed and leaned back on her chair. The man left her in the room and she waited. And waited. Half an Hour. One, Two, three and four hours until a different man entered the room. He was the first blond person she saw, weirdly that shocked more than the woman’s purple or Mask man’s white hair.
She assumed that he presented himself, but she couldn’t tell what was his name was. He walked towards her and put his hand on her forehead, she dropped.
Inoichi retracted his hand and processed what he just saw: an ocean of fire and screams, sound so loud it made his ears ring and sorrow rooted deep in his heart. Memories weren’t facts; he wasn’t watching a film, he was reviving their experiences in their body, saw what they saw, felt what they felt. And this kid, this child had seen just enough. She was malnourished, pale and scared. She started shaking in her seat, when he got closer he could tell she was hyperventilating, she was having a panic attack. “Quick, somebody call a medic!”
Ibiki walked through the door “I have to inform the Hokage, I’ll leave this to you. Take her to the hospital.” Ibiki nodded and he took off.
Moving expertly through the rooftops he reached the tower in seconds. The doors were open and he slipped through them without hesitance, they were waiting for him. “Hokage-sama”
“The girl is being taken to hospital right now. Her memories don’t show any sign of manipulation, but some of them were locked by natural means, when I forced them free I triggered a panic attack. She doesn’t present a threat. She is a civilian from a town that got attacked by rogue ninja. The people, all of them were murdered and their houses burned. She escaped and ran away to the forest where she established contact with animals, she seems to communicate with them but she hasn’t met a person in a long time.” The Third assimilated his words for a few moments before inquiring again: “How long?”
“Hard to estimate, I’d say around 6 or 7 months but it might be imprecise”
Hokage-sama took a drag from his pipe “we should send her back to her people, where she belongs.”
“That won’t do, her memories hint that her entire country was destroyed and all the people killed.”
“Very well, I’ll have to take different measures.” Sarutobi turned to the team that had found her. “What are your thoughts on this?”
“She wasn’t violent towards us” Kakashi coughed, “she attacked you in self-defense, if that, and that only resulted in injuries on her part” Kakashi coughed again” Self-inflicted injuries”.Hyuga Iroha was clearly annoyed by Hatake, Inoichi understood him, no matter how good of a ninja he was he shouldn’t be allowed to be so disrespectful with his superiors. Hokage-sama paid no mind, he had always favored him.
“She should be put in custody, if she doesn’t know how to speak our tongue it could be a problem. It’s safe to assume she doesn’t know how to write either. Hmm” Third took a second drag of his pipe.
“Hokage-sama” Kakashi called, “ She should have someone following her, she seemed to be reckless during her attempted escapes, she could easily kill herself. Besides, there still is a chance that she could be a spy, she was found very close to a critical spot for the mercenaries we were tracking.”
“If she is a spy, she has had the most meticulous memory lock I’ve seen in the 26 years of my career” Inoichi said easily, if he was going to question his work he better know what he was talking about, and the Yamanaka knew the jonin didn’t.
“I apologize, I meant no disrespect.” Inoichi just nodded and let it pass. “But if she happened to be she has information to compromise our relationship with the four nations, we should take precautions.” Inoichi turned his hands to fists but didn’t respond.” While she was compliant whenever we had an eye on her, she tried to escape on the minimal opening. She didn’t become overly violent because she was intimidated by our presence, but she might if left unsupervised.”
“Very well, I’ve taken a decision. She shall be in your custody Kakashi, then you’ll be assured by your own experience whether she is or not a spy.” The third calmly declared and took a third drag of his pipe.
“Is it really necessary? I’d be assured if a Nara decided she was clean. Now that I’ve taken a genin team I won’t be able to watch her and an ANBU team will be needed regardless. An orphanage would provide the same I can, Hokage-sama.”
“Kakashi, the team will be ready tomorrow, for today you should be with her. In your first report you said she was especially wary around you, that way she’ll avoid any doing sort of escape plan. Having a familiar face should do better than assigning a new one to her case, for security you’ll be assigned a spare house so your location won’t be compromised. I won’t object if you decide to take her to the Nara compound for a second opinion, just to be sure.”
“Hai, Hokage-sama.” The jonin answered visibly uncomfortable with the decision. Inoichi wasn’t that kind of person but he wouldn’t deny feeling some sort of satisfaction by it. The golden boy hadn’t gotten his way so a terrible report was to come their way, he felt bad for the desk chunin.
“You’ll report every day for a week, then every two days until she is no longer suspicious. I expect a detailed report by the end of the week for the rest.”
“Kotetsu, Izumo retake your duties as gate wards tomorrow morning, Kakashi, stay behind. The rest: dismissed.”
Inoichi decided he wasn’t having a terrible day anymore and walked tranquilly to the IT headquarters.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Waking up in a hospital was a low blow for her. When she realized that she wasn’t home but in some foreign place she thought she might break down crying.
She moved her legs to confirm she wasn’t sedated and the IV on her wrist was benign. She stood up on the room and gave some tentative steps around it. It would have to do. She found her clothes in a bag on the feet of the bed, steading herself she stood up again and did her best to get dressed without taking the IV off, but it was impossible so she pulled it off a tad roughly and she regretted it for a second before moving on.
She did the bed and hid the hospital clothes under the bed; it looked like it hadn’t been used. She opened the door and looked around, she didn’t see any doctors so she walked around pretending she had something very important to do and she shouldn’t be bothered. Pretending that you knew what you were doing usually worked to avoid being interrupted but she wasn’t so sure looking at her blooded clothes.
As she watched the two men walking towards her she thought that her guardian angel must be hangover or just hate her. She managed to turn naturally and thought about running but her legs thought “walking slower than a turtle”, so she looked at the rooms around her as she heard heavy steps and walked towards one of them with a sly smile. A hand grabbed ruthlessly her arm and didn’t even have to pretend to flinch. Mask man gave her a serious look; she just tried to look innocent and pointed to the bathroom sign that was in front of her. She was released immediately and she moved to the bathroom. Once inside, a shaky breath left her lips. She splashed water on her face and slapped her cheeks as the other women in the bathroom looked at her frightened.
She took a second to look at herself in the mirror, he hair was tangled and in some of her locks there were leafs and sticks, her clothes in their wrinkled wonder had lost their color and were now crimson red, you know, blood colored, her trousers still had a hole below her crotch. The only thing that was clean was her face.
She entered one of the stall, she was already there anyway. She couldn’t think of anything and she wasn’t sure what was going on. Was the sex traffic thing finished? Had they been found out?
She chose to follow them diligently; she couldn’t find a way to escape now and she wanted to see what came next, will they release her into the wilderness again? Pretty please?
She stepped out and Log man and Mask man were on her sides, they guided her out of the hospital, at least they walked on her rhythm. The walk was torturous, her legs hurt and she was tired of not knowing what was going on, she wanted to change clothes and lie down.
They reached a neighborhood; all houses looked the same and walked into one of the porches, after a second of standing in silence she looked for a ring. There wasn’t any. She looked at Mask man and he tilted his head upwards, telling her go ahead, she pushed the door but it didn’t open, she tried pulling. Log man then made it slide to the side, she felt like thanking him. She waited for either to step inside even though she was aching to sit down and rest. She hadn’t been able to escape, her efforts were useless so she wanted to sit down now.
It was Mask man who did it and Log man spoke a bye before leaving. She followed him upstairs until he made her a sign to stop in front of a door, he entered the room and started to run the water, it was a shower. He gave new her clothes and held his hand in front of his nose and shook it. She was offended instantly, what a nice way of telling her she stinks. Let’s see how you’d smell if you lived in the forest, bitch. She took the clothes and walked inside the room closing the door behind her and making sure she locked it. She threw the clothes to the ground and turned the shower of and starting filling the bathtub.
She entered it before it was filled by an inch, hey she was tired. The hot water relaxed her hurt legs so much she thought she could fall sleep there. She forced herself to scratch the dirt and dried blood off her at some point. She washed her hair three times and she forced herself to stop when her scalp protested at touch. When she came out of the water and took the bath plug out and watched the water disappear.
She dried her body and put the new clothes on and folded the old ones. She looked at herself in the mirror in her vanity and she decided she was fine. Her ginger hair wasn’t wild anymore, but it wasn’t silky and straight either, it still looked a little dry. The shirt fit her nicely but the skirt was a little bit too big so it slides a little below her hips. She watched herself sadly… she was way too thin her skin was pale
With a towel on her head and her dirty clothes on her hands, she came out of the bathroom hyperaware of her surroundings and jumpy as heck. The bathroom had sheltered her from her reality and now she had to think about what was going on in her life, worse, she had to face what was going on in her life. She had been kidnapped, a fact, she had been tested and cured, another fact. Why? She could only speculate, but it’s very probable that the answer is prostitution.
Why here, why him, why? Oh, oh, oh.
That’s why he was so keen in taking her there during the trip, that’s why he fed her, why she was in his house… She was his personal whore. He found her, he gets to keep her.
Well, this was starting to suck. She doubted she would make it to the forest from the middle of the town. Her back met the wall’s cold surface as she supported herself with it, he was going to force her into some sexual encounter in a very close future was terrifying.
She flinched again as Mask man appeared next to her, he signed to follow him, so she did. When they reached the door he pointed at her head, she touched the towel so she took it off and held it in her hand, not sure where to put it. He was getting impatient by the sound his foot was making against the floor, so she just put it away with the rest of her clothes on top of a little table.
He walked through the door and she followed on his left side, walking faster that she should be. He wasn’t exactly running, but one of his steps was two for her short legs. She tripped on a rock and her legs gave up so she supported herself with the first thing she could grab, which happened to his arm. He tensed up and stopped walking, when waited a second and when she didn’t let go he continued walking, he was still tense but she couldn’t walk without support and she couldn’t exactly ask for a crane.
They walked through streets and she gave up trying to remember the way back. Mask man held a book on his other hand but it didn’t seem like he was distracted as he moved fluidly avoiding people walking towards them. She was causing a commotion, pairs of eyes following her movement and mouths gossiping about her. She couldn’t help but feel bothered.
They reached their destination apparently as he knocked on a door and proceeded to maintain the longest conversation she’s heard before entering a house. The woman who opened the door eyed her, probably bothered by the fact that she was still touching his arm. She then moved aside and they entered the house, it was a lot bigger than the one she was taken to, so she assumed the person he was going to meet was more important than Mask man. Why would he take her there? Was he showing off? One figures he’d gave her better clothes.
They walked into a living room; it had a space for a chess board in front of some sliding doors. Another man approached them. He was a skinny looking man, he wasn’t as tall as Mask man but she found him just as intimidating and when their eyes met. She felt like she was being tested in a everything you do will be used as proof against you kind of way.
She averted his look and lamely hid behind Mask Man’s arm. If it earned her a reaction she didn’t notice because the walls were a lot more entertaining to look at. Mask man touched her fingers and she released him immediately, the two men walked away talking and she just stood there, like a fool. Mask man pointed to the couch and she moved to sit on it.
Wait, she didn’t consider that maybe she was here as a whore, fuck. Maybe Mask man was her pimp or something. Shit, fuck, fuck. The hairs on her neck stood up as goose bumps traveled her body and her mind panicked. It had to happen at some point, right? Fuck this was not easy.
The two men kept talking while she just sat there looking in front of her and letting her imagination travel through the dark parts of her mind. A boy entered the room, he looked way younger than her like 11-12 and she felt sad as the realization that maybe she was there as some kind of test to “become a man”; one of those terrible rites boys had to go through. By the look on his face he had no idea what she was doing there, but he seemed more preoccupied by the fact that Mask Man was there too.
She didn’t have to understand the language to know he was told to sit next to her.
This was terrible, he was just a child. If that was his parent he was awful, it was abuse! This poor kid was going to end up fucked up because of this. He was a child, he even had a toy in his hands. Oh, she knew that toy, it was just like a Rubik’s cube, she used to do them with her cousin and compete who was faster. She always lost, her forte was cards.
The kid was stealing glances at her in what she suspected to be discrete but absolutely wasn’t. He really was just a kid, she kept her head still and her gaze focused in a point in front of her and let the movement of her hand catch his attention, then she placed her hands as if she was holding the cube and started to do the right movements slowly. She could check his movements with the corner of her vision, still keeping her eyes on the point. From behind her you wouldn’t be able to tell she was doing anything, she was still and hadn’t moved her head in minutes. No one could tell she was paying attention to the boy.
When the cube was done, it cracked. All its pieces fell to the sofa revealing that in the middle of it there was some sort of piece.
Of course, the first thing the kid did was tell someone, she should have seen it coming but her dumbassment had been blocking the view. Kids want recognition, they want a award for finish a task, they want acknowledgement from who they deem superior to them, they want to impress adults and who would he want to impress the most? The person who gave him the cube: his dad.
She was fine as long he didn’t tell on her. So it was exactly what happened, she could tell because the motherfucker was pointing at her. This is it she was never helping another brat ever fucking again. Read the fucking room kid. She knew he face had a crooked smile and eyes full of fury, but he didn’t have to be so obvious. Snitches get stiches, bitch. The only thing that kept her from smacking him was how utterly terrified she was.
Her body tensed up like crazy as she felt all gazes on her, the goosebumps returned and she had to turn her hands to fist to avoid shaking. The kid finally seemed to understand he shouldn’t have told on her by the oi, oi he spoke. Surprise, bitch, you fucked up. You fucked me up.
The boy’s father spoke again and he answered with a un, and left the couch. Damn she was done, finished, ended…done. The boy walked to a box and picked up a fancy bag. He took it to the chess board and started arranging the pieces glancing at her once in a while. He sat on a cushion on the floor and lifted his hand in front of him, signaling her to sit to play. Oh, okay.
Maybe she could play this off…right?
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
This girl was all kinds of suspicious, Shikaku thought to himself. He was sure her alibi was right, she didn’t understand a word, but she was clever. Even the way she sits, she was sitting just like his son, not unlike anyone else would sit but he could tell the difference. She was coping him.
“You certainly have brought someone very troublesome, Hatake.” He agreed. He focused back on the girl who was losing her pieces fairly quick. It was a disappointment, he had thought her to be a lot more intelligent. He hated to admit it but he wouldn’t have realized she had been doing anything if his son hadn’t been so obvious. She solved the puzzle by herself without giving a clue and without touching it, he was impressed, it had taken him twenty minutes to complete it and his son had had it for a couple hours.
That being said, it was a little disappointing seeing her losing so fast. Shogi was the Nara’s specialization after all, they played it everyday and she…wasn’t keeping a good fight. Her strategies weren’t terrible but they weren’t good either. She was starting to use her cards better but there wasn’t much to be done now. Maybe she was throwing the game off, but it seemed unfit.
She was focused and reacted if she lost a piece or gained one accordingly. She wasn’t faking. Her strategies were overly-simplistic, they didn’t use multiple pieces giving up opportunities to form a more fitting strategy. Her vision on the game was shallow at best.
The game wasn’t giving them anything new. Maybe he’d stop it.
“What’s wrong Shikamaru?” He was hesitating in an obvious move. He’d know better, being his son.
“I feel like she’s baiting me, no, I am sure. It’s like I can’t see the whole picture.” He moved his knight away from the invisible threat, sacrificing his tower. She took the advantage immediately, he doubted she had had a master plan from the beginning, she was just playing him. She understood that she stood no chance against him and changed her strategy to manipulate him into losing. Maybe she wasn’t so dumb…Making him paranoid enough to change his strategy. She was still terrible at shogi, it was just like…
“ Shikamaru, move the knight out of the way.”He instructed. He had a theory, it would fit with her alibi. “But she’ll take my king with her tower.”
“Just do it.” He should know better and just obey him, kids these days...
Just as he suspected, nothing happened. She moved her knight to a position easier to defend.
“Why didn’t she..?”
“Because you haven’t moved your tower yet” He told him with a smile. “She doesn’t know how to play; she’s just been mimicking you.” He turned his face and directed his words to Kakashi. “She’s clear of suspicion, she isn’t faking it, but you should be careful, she’s too clever.” He let a laugh out. “She might even get away.”
Kakashi gave him a tired look, and his son seemed a little shocked. “She could be a criminal? And you let her in our house and get me to play shogi with me?”
“She has no shinobi training. You could take her.” Kakashi spoke up.
“But letting her into our house…”
“Maa, it’s fine. We’re leaving anyways, I have to go grocery shopping.”
Kakashi left with the girl trailing behind him. Troublesome, really troublesome.
“Dad? Who is she?”
“For what I’ve heard, a survivor.”
Kakashi placed the bags on the counter and watched them tiredly. She had managed to sneak some sweets on the shopping bag right before paying. She was eating a tsubuan pan with a little too much intensity. She probably couldn’t help it, now that he thinks about it she hasn’t eaten anything since last night. Hmm. He felt pity, what Inoichi had said about her past was… bad. She had suffered the deaths of her family and ran away, she could only speak to animals and she’s lived on her own in the forest for months and the worst of it all was that she was a civilian. It was terrible, but he still couldn’t see why he had to babysit her.
He was in no way a positive influence on her. He was a shinobi, being used as a babysitter was an insult. He should be in his apartment sleeping right now not there making her dinner.
Orders were orders, especially from the Hokage, but he couldn’t help but feel like it was a big mistake. She was a civilian; she shouldn’t live with a shinobi. Besides, he was pretty sure she hated him if her little sabotages were something to go by.
He stopped glaring at the food, trying to make it cook itself and began cooking.
The girl had already eaten all her sweets and was currently pouting… He had to report about her, what was he supposed to tell the Hokage? That she was an idiot?
This was going to be a long night.
The fact that he had let her buy some sweets had been a pleasant. She was still jumpy, though.
She still hated him; the fact that he allowed her to get some sweets was just some decency. It just showed he wasn’t entirely heartless, which was good for her. Maybe she could use it.
She watched him cutting vegetables with amusement; she was no cook but come on, how old was he?
She stood up, walked to the groceries bag and started placing the items around in the fridge or in the cabinet doors, mentally cataloging again what he had bought. She left some meat out to cook, let the oven preheat and started seasoning the steaks.
By the time she pulled the last steak out 15 minutes had passed. He was done with the vegetables too. They set the table in silence; it was really tense because she could feel him observing her. Did he not get tired of it?
They sat down, still in fucking silence and began eating with chopsticks. She stopped him as he picked up a steak to cut them in half. She had cooked them rare, medium rare and done, to choose whichever he preferred.
He choose done and she got the rarest one, in the wood she had gotten used to eating meat raw so the taste now was a bit weird but still fucking good.
She ate two steaks and barely touched the musty looking herbs he cooked, who liked that? Disgusting. Real food has meat in it.
He eyed her disapprovingly, but she didn’t care. She realized he was looking at her a little too much now, he had finished eating too so they were sitting in silence. The night was falling slowly as shadows possessed the room. His stare stayed with her as she made a decision, she stood up and walked to the cabinets. She was probably expected to perform certain services tonight, but she was having none of that.
Making an infusion doesn’t sound deadly, because it isn’t, especially if you were using herbs that can be bought in a supermarket, but she knew her plants. She was calm, calculating and collected. She knew a single wrong move would lead away that she was doing a sedating brew.
She poured two glasses and took them to the table he still sat at. He wouldn’t drink something like that, he’ll think it’s poisoned. So she put his glass in front of him and started drinking hers as an incentive. He didn’t react, she made sure that the amount she drank was noticeable. Why wouldn’t he drink, did he catch her trick? She couldn’t see anything in his eye, not anger, not disapproval, not excitement, not a single emotion
If he didn’t drink his glass he won’t pass out and she’ll have to... So she did the next best thing: She drank her glass as a shot and walked away. He didn’t stop her. It was better to wake up sore than to have to live through it.
Where to go? She had no idea she didn’t know the house at all. She managed to reach the staircase before drowsiness took over and passed out.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
She woke up with one thought: Did he eat with his mask on? She had been too busy filing her stomach. She really didn’t realize it until now. Maybe he would have drunk it if she averted her eyes. Wow, she was such an idiot. And a drama queen.
She had fallen asleep on the fucking staircase and her body hurt now. It was worse than a bad hangover, damn. A blanket lied on top of her providing warmth and she realized he must have put it there. He was making fun of her.
She stood up and stretched her back and was pleased to know that there wasn’t certain soreness she had expected. Nice. Kudos to him for not being a terrible person.
She went downstairs and saw him in the kitchen, he clearly had cooked breakfast for himself by the mess on the counter. He looked her in the eye and gestured her to follow. They walked to the front door and there he pointed to the front door and moved his finger. “No”
Her eyebrows could have reached the ceiling if they hadn’t been stopped by her forehead’s muscles. She knew that anyone could have understood the offended noise she made. He pointed to the door and did it again.
He turned to the door and she spoke for the first time, a spiteful mocking “Bye”.
The first thing she did was walk around the house, checking every room. From the front door there was only one path, towards the kitchen-living room, it was a big room that surrounded by windows and transparent doors that led to the garden. There was another room on the left of the sofa, a big bedroom with a private bathroom. His room, of course.
Upstairs there was only a bathroom and a smaller bedroom. Probably hers, she checked the closet to find it filled with outfits identical to hers and looked around. She was glad he didn’t seem to want to force her to sleep with him after…sleeping with him. Ok maybe not so glad.
She searched in every drawer, wardrobe and the rest of furniture in the house, it was frankly empty, nothing she could really use. She had reached the kitchen when she noticed a giant dog covered in mud was in the garden. Uhh, ok.
She opened the door and spoke to it. ”Hi, do you know where you are?” When she didn’t get an answer she talked again”Well, it doesn’t matter, what’s your name? “
She walked out of the house “Are you alright? You don’t have to talk, I can make enough conversation, but it would be cool if you told me your name to know how address you…”
It didn’t seem aggressive but name no move to acknowledge her. If it didn’t understand her then she had officially become useless. Talking to animals was her whole thing; it was most of her identity. It didn’t growl when she came closer, but she drew the line at touching.
“If you don’t tell me your name I’ll just have to give you one…how about Princess-Flower-Petal” She told the bulldog whose head reached her neck while still sitting. “Do you like it?” She smiled. If it stuck it would be hilarious, Princess-Flower-Petal just blinked at her paying her attention, which was the most she’s gotten from him. “I think it fits you”
“Do you like to play games? I don’t have a ball or a stick but I bet we can figure something up… Maybe you just like cuddles is it fine if I…” She stretched her hand slowly until it met his head and started stroking it softly.” Ok then…” When she moved closer to pet it with both hands her knees got dirty with mud.
“Oh, you’re covered in mud, Princess, We have to do something with that… How about a bath? Do you like them? “She took a step back and tried to rub off the dirt but she only got her hands dirty. “Wait here for a second” She petted it one last time before going back into the house. She came out with a plastic basin and without a trace of dirt. “Can you give me one paw? Ok I’m gonna wash them so you don’t leave marks around the house, I’ll be careful.”
When she was done washing it she walked door and opened it as much as possible “Come in, Princess-Flower-Petal.”
It walked slowly and hesitantly towards the house she didn’t hurry it. She checked a little manically that there was no mud in the walls or on the furniture. “You are doing a very good job not getting anything dirty, thank you. Now, hop in the bath. I’m gonna get you so clean you’ll get transparent” She told him with a smile. She turned the water on and checked the water temperature, it was warm. “Is it alright? It’s been a long time since I’ve bathed anyone, you are in… well I can’t say good hands, decent ones will be fitter don’t you think? Hey what if I pet you while I wash you? That could…You like that spot under your ear huh. You know, Princess-flower-Petal, that-“
“His name is Bull”
“You are not gonna do that again, right? That’s not good for my heart. Alright-y then Bull, you’re almost clean. And what’s your name buddy?”
The little pug had sneaked in while she wasn’t paying attention, which was a no-no. She could be dead if that had been a predator.
“Well Pakkun are you friends with Bull? It’s always nice to have someone looking for you, right Bull?” She didn’t wait for an answer. ” I can see that you are not dirty but I don’t mind offering you a bath too. How does that sound”
“Why are you bathing him?”
“It was hard to pet ‘im with my hands dirty, but now I won’t get my hands dirty anymore so I can pet him freely. I can pet you too if that’s what you want.”
“Can I pet you, Pakkun?”
“Why? What for?”
“It’s alright you don’t have to. Having a conversation is nice enough. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want.” She smiled at him still petting Bull. “But I would love to pet you too…”
“What are you trying to do?”
“I’m just saying that you could be being petted right now but you are choosing to be not-petted. No need to be shy, I really like animals. Aren’t you a little jealous of Bull?” She petted that spot under his ear that he liked so much.
“Why are you so comprehensive?”
“Well I don’t want you to bite off one of my fingers; also, I don’t like making animals uncomfortable.”
“Girlie, why are you-“
She could sense someone downstairs, Mask man. And she had two fucking dogs on the bathroom. She doubted they would do anything to attack him, Oh she was sooo screwed.
She turned on the shower hoping it would tune out the sound of her voice.
“Ok listen guys, we have to be very quiet now, Bull come out of the tub I’m gonna dry you with the towel, alright. Very quiet…uh, sorry Pakkun I promise to bathe you in the future. Now, I…can’t.”
Alright, alright. Ok. She had to get the dogs out without him realizing it. And he was coming upstairs, well fuck. Ok why would he go there if there was only the bathroom and a bedroom? He was looking for her, but he could hear the shower if he wanted to shower he had a bathroom in his bedroom. Oh he was going to peek on her. She grabbed a little bit of toilet paper and inserted it in the key hole with her nail. He couldn’t peek any other way.
Maybe he was going to try to get into the shower with her. It’s hard to keep a hard on when you are disgusted. He was already at the door.
She turned the shower off and put her hands on her mouth and hoped that the sound could pass for a real fart before flushing the toilet. He remained in front of the door for a second before walking away. She turned the shower back on and signed. She rested her head on the wall and pressed her back on it before letting herself slide to the floor.
“What was that?”
“That means I get to keep my innocence for a little longer” She put her hands on Bull head and petted him for a second. “OK, alright” How do I say this. “Do you know how to play hide and seek? This version is a little different I’m going to open the door and you’ll hide here, I’ll call him to play with me and you’ll use that moment to go downstairs and go out to the garden where I found ya, alright?.” They didn’t look very assured, but it had to work.
“C’mon, this is teamwork.”
She turned the sink on and used the water to wet her hair. She took all of her clothes off except her underwear and put a towel around her body, the one Bull used, ugh whatever, she hid her bra straps so she appeared to be naked.
She checked that he was downstairs and opened the door. ” See ya, boys” She walked towards the room and thought how she should lure him there. Oh, that’s good! She purposely tripped and her body resonated against the wooden floor. He came upstairs a few seconds after to check what happened. She signed, there was no going back she was serving herself in a golden plate.
Is he not going to help me up at least? Damn, thanks.
She stood up as she watched the dogs leave the bathroom and jog downstairs without making any noise. At least they could leave unharmed. Maybe she could shrug off the situation if she acted casual ‘cause he was blushing.
So she did that, she walked away to the bedroom and closed the door behind her, pressing her entire body against it so he couldn’t open it. She doubted that would stop him, he was stronger than her by far, but he didn’t try to open it. In fact, he didn’t even move. She could sense him standing in the same place. He stayed there for a minute before going downstairs and leaving through the front door. What a freak. Whatever. She got changed and sat on her bed, unable to leave the room. She could breathe properly now that the gods had smiled upon her and everything turned out fine. Now she had to keep herself entertained some way…
“Ah, what a pleasant surprise, Kakashi, I didn’t expect you to come here early, did something happen with the girl?”
“You could say that…” He murmured to himself. “Ah, nothing dangerous towards the village”
“Start from the beginning: the hospital”
“When we arrived she had already changed to her old clothes and was walking on her own, I believe she was attempting to escape.”
“That’s interesting, amusing even. Out of curiosity I asked about her this morning and she hadn’t been discarded, however the room appeared to have been empty. That’s until they found a hospital gown under the bed. Hmm. Did you take her to meet the Naras?
“Yes, Hokage-sama. Shikaku-san doesn’t consider her a threat, but she is troublesome. I have no longer doubts about her alibi” Kakashi waited for directions of any kind but they didn’t reach him so he continued. “At night, she prepared a sleeping brew and passed out in the staircase.” Kakashi politely waited for the Hokage to react beyond an amused oh? but once again didn’t get any pointers. ”This morning I instructed her to not leave the house and left my summons to watch her, may I call them?”
The Hokage nodded and the room filled with white smoke as Pakkun appeared where his hand had been.
“Pakkun, can you report about her? Since the moment I left the house”
“Sure boss. As soon as you left she walked around the house looking for something, until she saw Bull outside and immediately established contact with him. She bathed him. The girlie, she’s very nice, she offered to bathe me too.”
“That’s what you three were doing in the bathroom?”
“Yes. Also, she seems under the impression that she’s being sex trafficked.”
“…Is that why she tried to seduce me?” The Hokage was very interested in his report now.
“No, I recall that she murmured to herself that it was difficult to maintain a “hard on” when you are disgusted, also she said something about peeking at her at the shower. I don’t think she realized she said it out loud. And as soon as you walked away she told us that she got to keep her innocence a little longer.”
“Then why did she lay nearly naked on the floor.”
“She told us to leave the house while she distracted you, ah, I remember she used the term which was slightly disturbing. She wasn’t surprised to hear me talk, it’s most probable she can speak to animals on regular basis. Should she be told that she is not being sexually trafficked, boss?”
Kakashi was horrified and didn’t answer, thankfully Hokage-sama wasn’t as shaken as he was.” Yes, please. Did you notice anything else about her? Anything would be of use”
“She was really nice, she called Bull Princess-Flower-Petal until I told her his name and she didn’t seem intimidated by him the slightest, Bull hates when he scares little kids so he was really happy. Also she is good at petting. Hmm. She talked a lot too. But she never told us her name. Never stopped to hide her presence either, but she was friendly.”
“Very well, then. She should be watched for a little longer. I’m afraid the ANBU squad isn’t ready yet, could your summons take the duty for the evening too?”
“Very well then, dismissed” Sarutobi smiled to himself as he took a drag of his pipe, she was just as entertaining as a Icha-Icha book and he already wanted to know what would happen in the next chapter, but with a different kind of curiosity and not exactly as… It was a bad metaphor.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
The first thing she felt when she saw Pakkun again was panic.
When he told her that she wasn’t a real-life sex doll she was thrilled. The sigh that left her lips couldn’t even begin to express how utterly relieved she was. She knew that maybe she shouldn’t believe him without proof but she didn’t care, hope was running through her veins and it was great. She didn’t have to do any of the things she had been trying to accept for hours, she felt free even if she wasn’t at all.
“ … Bull and I are his ninken. Boss is a shinobi so you have nothing to be scared of, you are safe here, no harm will come from us or any other shinobi. My mission today is to guard you. Also, you have permission to pet me.”
“Those are nice words, but can I leave or would I be stopped?”
Pakkun looked at her harder, she had changed; from her body language to her tone of voice, she even smelt more dangerous.
“I don’t know.”
“Alright-y then, I think I’ll stay anyways. But I might leave at some point. ” She petted him then. Bull didn’t exaggerate. “You said you were warding me, huh, I wonder what you did to get babysitting duty.”
“You owe me a bath.” She laughed, he found it nice.
“Well I assume you can communicate with the rest of humans in here, I might have to use you as a walking translator. I should probably learn to speak in their tongue before you start to hate me- I talk a lot. “She was smiling again, if he hadn’t been paying attention he would have missed the second she switched from dangerous to innocent, and even now he wasn’t sure he could pinpoint it exactly.
“I’ll inform them.”
“That’s nice I’d like to… can I put you in my lap… I’d like to learn as fast as possible. Also, can I ask you something?”
“I might not answer.”
“What does shinobi mean” Strangely, he didn’t think she was lying, so he explained it .It was unusual for a human to not know that, Shinobi were quite popular appearing in books, films and all kind of education.
“Oh I get it… If you are his dog you are also a ninja right?”
“Yes, a ninken” The widest grin appeared on her face.
“So…” She stopped petting him and leveled her face with his “We can go out for a walk… just to see the place a little bit? You can stop me if I do something you don’t like, you’re a ninken! There is no problem, is it? ”
He looked at her. He wasn’t about to admit he couldn’t stop her physically, he was a tracking hound not a battle one. She had a nice glint of mischief in her eyes, slightly childish. It was the most cheerful she’s felt since she was found.
“I suppose… but you have to bathe me afterwards”
She stood up immediately with Pakkun still on her arms and marched to the door. He was getting a little dizzy from being carried, he felt as if he was a throwing-stick being swinged to every direction whenever she moved. The second they were outside he jumped out of her embrace to the ground and walked with as much grace a pug could.
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t mind, I haven’t been to a town for a long time. Just walking through the streets is fine.”
So he took her to the shopping streets, close to the center. He was forced to walk closer to her as the flow of people around them thickened, he had been watching her; she was curious about most things around her. “It’s a little different from how I lived before” She had told him looking lost in thought. He respected it and didn’t try to disturb her.
“Hey skinny! Eat more! I wouldn’t like to have those legs around me. Nice butt though!”
His head turned as quick as lighting to see a man on his forties laughing with his colleagues in a pub as if it had been the best joke he’s ever said.
“It’s nice to see humans never change, was it about my boobs or my hair? That’s where they’re usually focused on.” He was surprised that not only it had happened before, she was not even bothered by it.
“It’s fine you don’t have to say it, I can probably imagine it anyway, they aren’t exactly poets.”
They walked in silence through the streets some more. Until she spoke again” You looked surprised, does that not happen to shinobi girls?”
“I don’t think so… Kunoichi tend to hit a little too hard to civilian men liking.”
“Well, then I have a solution: all I have to do is pretend to be a kunoichi. How do you tell who’s a shinobi and who’s civilian?”
“They have a hitai-ate with the symbol of Konoha. They also have a kind of smell, hmmm, it’s hard to describe, the way they walk, the rooftops-“
“Yes, shinobi of Konoha are known to jump from rooftop to rooftop as a fastest route. If you look closely you’ll notice the buildings are close to one another.”
“Let’s do that then”
“What” How did he not see that coming, “That’s a bad idea.”
“It’s fine” She shrugged it off “I’ve been jumping from branch to branch for like decades, it can’t be that hard.” They walked to the side of a building where there was barely space for two people.
“You’ll have to get to the roof if you want to use that route.”
“I was counting on it” There was too much space between the walls to press her back to the other building as support and climb with her legs and hands; so there was only one option left, using one wall to jump to the other and back to the first one until you climb up. Just like, Mario if you will, but this wasn’t like the videogame her pride was on the line. Also if you fall it hurts.
She walked until her back touched a wall and took a deep breath before running and jumping against the other, only the tip of her feet made contact but it was enough to impulse herself so that her other foot reached the wall. She only had to do it two more times before her hands clung to the roof and she pushed herself up. It had probably looked very cool.
“That’s the first time I’ve done that” She told the dog who just jumped to the top looking like he had barely done any effort. ”That’s just showing off.”
“I’m not sure what you did, but don’t do it again” She laughed and began walking to the other side.
“This is fun” She was nuts, Pakkun was regretting letting her out, he hoped the bath would be worth it (by the way Bull talked about it, it really was). “Eh, I thought you said the buildings were close together.”
Pakkun looked at her “They are, by ninja standards.” She shrugged and didn’t hesitate to take a few steps backwards and sprint towards the edge like a madman. He couldn’t help but bark at her, he was going to get a heart attack. She made it just fine to the other side by her standards, yes her ankle and legs were slightly bruised and still hurt but it just felt like stiffness as if she had been running for hours the day before. Yeah she limped a little but she could run just fine and this felt amazing, she thought she’d never get to run again. And the view was kinda pretty, all those buildings with different colors and the mountains…“Hey what’s that on the mountains.”
“Those are the faces of the Hokage who have led Konoha.”
“That’s kinda pretentious, but whatever. The Hokage I assume is the highest in the hierarchy”
“Alright let’s get down” She walked to the ending of the building and stood in the edge for a second, Pakkun was behind her hoping she wouldn’t try to jump. She grabbed the ending of the building and supported her entire body weight with her arms, she began to move the lower parts of her body using the oscillation to jump on top of a metal dumpster and rolled to avoid hurting her ankles that were already screaming at her to stop.
Pakkun jumped next to her. “You have to ask me next time before you do something like that again”
“I bet you feel really dumb jumping when you could do cool things like me” She walked out of the backstreet to the main one like it hadn’t sound like she had been trying to kill a fly with a pan. It barely took thirty seconds for the eyes that followed her to mind their business. Just look unaffected and people will assume it isn’t, old trick.
“We should return, it was a bad idea.”
“ I disagree, we should… Hey isn’t that your boss, what’s his name anyways?”
“What’s yours?” He asked eyeing Kakashi, he had probably been looking for them. He had his book on his hand and looked bored.
“Good point” She was not really sure what she should do, greet him? He didn’t look like he knew she was there, she stood there like an idiot while he was getting closer. He didn’t look like he was going to stop so she let things happen. Usually when she just went with the flow she did incredibly stupid thing, this time wasn’t any different. When they crossed she started walking in his same direction by his side and grabbed his free arm.
He didn’t look bothered, hell, he didn’t look like he had realized she was hanging onto him. Better for her.
“What are you doing girlie?”
He sounded incredibly exasperated and she loved it. “It’s my emotional support arm”
Pakkun didn’t say anything else after that. She thought it to be funny but didn’t laugh.
They walked through streets and streets of shops, clothes, shoes, restaurants, weapons, flowers even a couple supermarkets. Also a lot of food stalls. “I want a notebook” She blurted, knowing he didn’t have to listen to her the slightest, she’ll probably get ignored. “And a pen.”
Pakkun repeated her words and she let his arm go as he entered a shop. Hmm. Nice, this was going actually great. He came back with a bag, he didn’t offer his arm but she took it anyway. He didn’t make her let go so she guessed it was fine. She wasn’t even touching him anywhere else, just using him as a shield. They attracted many eyes and she paid no mind, it was a funny situation: he was ignoring her as much as he could and she was clinging to him looking like she didn’t care about anything.
Oh, look, something interesting. In the street there was a very loud man that stood out in the crowd, especially because the mass of people avoided him like the plague. She had a second to see green before she was inside a random shop. Mask Man didn’t look interested in the products at all, but she was. Was that dynamite?
A teenager boy walked towards them, probably an employee, and he didn’t look happy at all. He also didn’t sound happy. Probably about having a dog around explosives. Mask man didn’t look intimidated but was making a slight effort to stay inside the shop. Ok, fine, you owe me. She picked up Pakkun up a little bit too slowly to catch his attention and she petted him slowly dragging her hands on his fur as she smiled shyly and blinked innocently at him. The teen blushed and smiled back at her before saying something and walking away. Well isn’t that a nice stroke to her ego. I still got it.
“What do you still have?”
“Eh, forget it.”
Mask man was looking at her with interest which was as close as being acknowledged she’s gotten so far, so she decided that dynamite was a lot more interesting. And it was. There were like infinite kinds of powder in that shop, proof that the shinobi thing was true, not that she needed that anymore. Looking back she was glad it wasn’t magic, because she was only so crazy.
“Boss says you’ll start at the Academy tomorrow to learn to read and write”
“Neat.” She said in a flat tone but meaning it. “Are you going to come too?”
“I don’t think so” Pakkun was her personal translator, she didn’t know how much she would understand on her own.” Boss says I have a mission”
“At least help me with homework when you’re back. Let’s head back home, I still owe you a bath.” Mask Man seemed unaffected by being bossed around, but then she’d barely seen half of an emotion on him.
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Being in class with a bunch of seven year olds was as humiliating as it sounded, especially when you didn’t understand a thing they said and you had a big ass scar on your neck.
She was given an exercise book and she was pretty sure the teacher told her to do two of the exercises, the book also had explanations. By the time recess came she had found out how to say “I” and “You”, even if she hadn’t been taught, which was good, even better than she expected given that they were learning the vowels.
Recess was even more humiliating as all the kids grouped together to play while she just sat under a tree and tried to dray the symbols on the ground with a stick. Kids were loud, she was annoyed, but they were kids what else could you expect. Some of them had tried to speak to her but the teacher had explained that she didn’t know the language, that didn’t stop some of them that gave up after a trying to hold a one sided conversation.
She noticed a little nest on the tree she was sitting against, it didn’t have enough space for all of the mocking birds. They weren’t as big as an adult to fly away, but they clearly weren’t as small as baby birds because the nest that had fit them all was small and had barely space for a few of them.
“If you can’t fit in the nest you can use my hands for a little while if you want.”
“But mommy said not to” The smallest one said. “She told us not to go far so it’s fine, right human” Another answered. “I’ll go I’m the best at flying”
The third one flew (shaking in the air a little) to her hands and sat comfortably. As this kind of things usually went, after she’d proved to be harmless and nice, she ended up covered in birds resting on her. Two on her head one on her hand and some on her shoulders and lap.
Some kids ran to her causing the peaceful atmosphere to disappear in a mass of birds around her. It was kind of pretty for, like, a second, but then she felt the heat loss. The kids in front of her looked really affected, like really affected, on the edge of throwing a crying tantrum kind of affected. She walked towards the closest five-year-old, got on one knee and offered the bird to her.
“Tatsuko, let the human touch you please.” The little bird didn’t answer.
She got ready to sound like an idiot as she swallowed her pride “I” She shook her hand lightly. “You” She offered the bird to the little girl who touched him with one finger in the head and walked away immediately. What the fuck. Kids are still weird as fuck.
Suddenly there was another kid in from of her and he petted the bird and screamed something to his friends. “Shh” She said gently making sure he understood it bothered the bird. It didn’t though, birds are the number one screamers of the woods, but it bothered her. She hated children because they could be substituted by a machine that made a high pitched sound every three seconds and you wouldn’t notice. She was nice to them for the same reason you don’t bother a tiger cub: over-protective parents.
She was glad she didn’t know how to swear in this language because swearing in front of children had led her to have a couple nice conversations and passive-aggressive threats with unhappy parents.
Apparently there was a queue now because the kids kept coming and going. If it was cute she paid no mind because the teacher was eyeing her suspiciously so angled her leg so he could see as much skin as possible but without showing her panties( the skirt had a little pant too so it didn’t really matter, but the illusion of not knowing what the shadows were hiding…). It worked, he stopped staring at her.
A faint ring resonated through the playground, the end of recess. She stood up leaving a bunch of protesting child behind, he was met with a general shh from the rest of the children and she couldn’t help but smile. Ok, that was kind of cute. “Tatsuko, I have to go” Oh, he was asleep. Well, she didn’t want to wake him up but he had to go back to the nest, she had class. Climbing a tree with just one hand wasn’t ideal but wasn’t terrible either. She managed to put the ird in the nest just before her support gave up and started falling. A four second fall was enough for her to get in position to roll on the ground so her ankles didn’t suffer that much. She used the spare inertia to stand up. A couple gasps were heard around her, well it must have looked really cool for a bunch of kids. She walked back to class and let them swoon over her coolness.
She wasn’t surprised to find that it was Pakkun waiting for her at the entrance instead of Mask Man.
“Hey Pakkun, what’s up? By the way can we go to the forest?”
“Hello.” He answered looking unimpressed “Boss said not to leave Konoha”
“I know there is a forest inside Konoha” She didn’t, she made it up but hopefully he’d bite. “No” He didn’t. Kids kept gathering around her looking slightly viciously at the small dog.
“Then I’ll hang out with my classmates, you know, I’ve promised them to play with them but if I were going to the forest I’d feel excused… Pakkun are you listening to me?” The mass of kids were around them now, and someone was about to make an active effort to touch him.
“Fine, let’s go now”
She smiled as she ran from the children and their parents following Pakkun through the streets, she tried to match him, running faster, but whenever she came closer to reach his pace he ran faster.
She ended up panting heavily and slightly sweaty. Pakkun looked fine, again showing off. “You’re really fast Pakkun” She praised him. “I appreciate that you’ve taken me here” She walked into the line of trees letting the smell of dirt and cold and wet that forests had, evoking familiar feelings in her. She took a big breath and exhaled loudly, she started stretching too. “Pakkun do I have permission to climb a tree?”
“If you climb trees like you climb buildings…– fine, but don’t hurt yourself. “
She didn’t need to be told twice. Her hands moved by instinct and she was in the top of the world again, in her element. Damn it’s been like two days and she had already missed it.
“Bothers beware! Human!”
Now, it’s time to charm the locals. “Hi honey I’m not going to hurt you at all, so how’s…”
She probably looked really dumb sitting in the floor of the living room, reciting syllables to herself and tracing the kanji on her thigh but that didn’t stop her. “A, Ka, Sa, Ta…” It was hard…
She’ll learn it in her mind. “Pakkun, I’m going to take a nap, don’t wake me up please”
She drifted to her meditation world and searched for her memories, watching them pass for hours until she was bored out of her mind. She shrieked loudly as she tried to comprehend the next part of her textbook and failed. Well, having nothing else to think about, she woke up.
She yawned and stretched her muscles. “Hey Pakkun, how long have I been out?” He was behind her, lying on the sofa. “Boss, isn’t home yet”
“Hey did you know I played some weird game with a kid the other day?”
“That seems interesting.” He sounded like he was talking to a five year old. Yeah, she was immature but he didn’t have to be that condescending.
“I mean a board game with kanji on them, I was wondering if you know how to play and if you could teach me? It was relaxing and I love strategy games. I’m no good at them though, I hate waiting. I don’t have any patience”
He was interested now, “I can’t know what game you’re talking about and we don’t have a board”
“You’ve agreed to teach me if you can recognize the game and acquire a board, you know that?” She ripped a page of her notebook and drew the board and every kanji in the position of the piece should take. ”Do you recognize it?”
“Its’s shogi, how did you…?”
“I’ve accidentally memorized it” She answered with a shrug. He was standing in front of her and didn’t hide at all his curiosity. So she was getting to play, nice. Damn she was starting to make a habit of having everything her way.
“How do you accidentally memorize something?” She tapped the page with the pen and didn’t answer. “ You are very strange, girlie.”
“I’ve heard worse, little man.” She ignored the disbelieving little man from the dog and prepared her notes, ”what’s the meaning of this kanji”
“It means knight” He answered. She scribed on her notebook.
“How is it pronounced?”
Oh right, “Why did I think it would work? Well I guess the Kanji is good enough. How does it move?”
Kakashi was already exhausted from dealing with the little genin so he didn’t have the energy to react to the girl that was sitting in the floor instead of on the sofa and happened to be really focused on a piece of paper. She’s thinking shogi strategies he was informed by the dog. He hadn’t asked.
“I’m making dinner” He told no one. He didn’t want to be mean,(he actually didn’t care) but he still couldn’t see how he could help her at all. Thinking about it, Hokage-sama thought that caring for a bunch of kids would make him softer. Still, he’d rather take a solo S-rank. At least this time the kids had actually passed his test, even if it had resulted in a bizarre team dynamic.
Naruto was the vivid image of his dad and had Kushina’s attitude, he was too airheaded and loud. He could barely stand looking at him, remembering his sensei and team wasn’t ideal. Sasuke, the last of his clan, was obsessive and had a terrible attitude with his teammates. He was his responsibility now too, having a sharingan and having been Itachi’s taicho was enough to make him feel guilty beyond reality bounds. Sakura was… a piece of work. She was still playing at being kunoichi with her harsh attitude towards Naruto and swooning over anything Sasuke did. They were all annoying in their way and each and every one of them managed to be more annoying than the one before.
He sighed as he prepared the vegetables to fry. His eyes drifted to the girl on the floor.
And this teenager who talked to animals and no one else, she had to be babysat by his summons and somehow managed to become the favorite. She was reckless and suicidal, intelligent enough to impress Jounin Comander Shikaku Nara and a constant reminder that he nearly cut a desperate defenseless civilian girl’s neck. She hated him (he didn’t really blame her).That made her beyond annoying too.
At least she was independent , he mused as she used the same pan to fry meat. Did she not eat anything else? Well if she had spent so much time in the forest… It could explain too why she hid her presence so well or it could be her Kekkei Genkai. She was mystery but he was not that interested.
At least he still had Icha –Icha.
The teachers were really pleased with her to the point of giving her the next book of exercises after just finishing half of it. Took them, like, three days. But to be fair it was for children so most exercises were focused on remembering the hiragana and katakana that she had committed to memory from the beginning. The challenge was to understand words as they came because she could barely pronounce properly and it was beginning to get annoying not understanding what was going on every minute of every day.
At least the animals liked her. The forest was nice and she even found a lake in the woods. It was really warm it looked like a vacation spot. She hadn’t jumped on the water yet but hell if it wasn’t inviting.
Another thing, Pakkun had just told her that he wouldn’t be following her as much anymore, she wouldn’t have been bothered if she hadn’t feel four threats around her. He had tensed when she attempted to mention it in the most subtle way, so she shrugged it off and waited. Pakkun walked with her to the woods but left immediately after. The threats stayed. She did her best to pay no mind.
“Hey Mama-Kagawa how are the birdies?”
“They haven’t hatched yet, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong… I’ve talked to the Elders of the Trees and they aren’t worried but they haven’t given me any reassurance either. They’ve trying to take my mind from them but I just can’t, it’s terrible… Do know anything I should do?”
“I can’t tell… Can I hold an egg” It was more of a test of trust than anything else. She sat on the branch next to the nest, she trusted her, it seemed. She held the egg with careful hands and examined it carefully the coloration was right and the temperature was perfect for the eggies to hatch. They were brown flycatchers so migration to the south was still a few months apart. She tapped on the shell and the baby tapped back, she did it again and the little one answered again, and again until the little one broke the shell by itself. “They just need a little encouragement, it’s a first time mother thing don’t worry they get around” She said and placed the newborn on her nest. “The rest should hatch once they hear their brother’s hungry sounds. Look, it’s already happening.”
She was a minor expert on animals, if you had been to talk to animals since you were a toddler you would be too, and she was curious by nature. With that and the spare knowledge that came with her parent being medical herbs sellers she would have become a marvelous vet.
She parted from the bird with a smile and reached the lake. The threats were still around her but weren’t aggressive, well hadn’t been so far. Still, they were a bother. They kept her on edge. She suspected them to be human watching if she was to trust or if she was going to run away. She had to make sure to keep them from looking too close at her actions ‘cause this was a delicate topic.
She started stripping, her shoes, socks and then her skirt an shirt, she even took of her bra and entered the water. And, well, started talking at it.
“Hello Kaizo, I’ve been thinking about your problem and I think I’ve found a solution but first I’d like to ask a few questions. First: Why are you here? You are a solo piranha in a closed lake you couldn’t have come here by a river or nothing of sorts this isn’t even your habitat.”
“To be honest I’ve came by myself to seek salvage for my kind, as you know my brother reigns ruthlessly feasting on our young. I had heard of a nymph who solves nature’s own riddles with ease so I came here, I came to you. I hope that’s answer enough.”
“I am satisfied with your answer, Kaizo. Second question: how did you reach this shallow water, expect me not to believe your lies. Answer truthfully or don’t at all.”
“Dear nymph, if you should save my kind I’ll give you any answer and I’ll gift you with power of our own. Now, please tell me the answer? What shall I do? Do we have an opportunity to live on or shall we perish in the adversity of a tyranny.”
“Your choice remains to be yours, in the end. In my expertise you should devour your brother and claim yourself as king. Kind as you are your people won’t forget your actions and bow to you immediately. It is a tough choice but you shall choose. Your kingdom or your brother.”
“I see, mighty as you are I, already knew what my destiny was, seeing as I’ll make the right choice. With your wisdom by my side I can’t lose. I’d like to offer you an explanation and our contract as summons. We are one of a kind, we’ll serve you well, please accept our contract. It’s all we can do.”
“Yes, by it you can summon us, the piranhas of the southwest river, to ask us for help. We’ll assist you as you have us now. We won’t forget it.”
“What are the drawbacks, will I be linked to you permanently?”
“In a sense yes, but you’ll be able to connect with other summons as well, we won’t mind, as you grow more powerful we shall too. Hear me, there aren’t any tramps to my words. Allow me to honor you for your unparalleled kindness. You’ve saved my kingdom and asked dnothing in return, considerate a gift.”
She considered after a moment, but she already had the answer, “I’ll sign it under the waters”
“As you wish”
It had been a rather pleasing experience, if you ignored that you have to use your own blood to sign. Pakkun had told her about contracts some days ago, to be honest she had thought that it sounded like selling her soul to the devil. But it was a chance and fucking piranhas? That’s as cool as she’s gonna get.
Being so formal had felt like roleplaying for her, colloquial words were more natural, thank you. Her ego grew for a second, she felt like she could stand proud and be called a queen daily. Reality roundhouse kicked her as she realized that some birds were playing with her clothes lifting them in the air.
“Hey you punks give it back! Who are your mothers?!” Fucking kids. They mocked her in the air and she grabbed a stone. “Don’t make me punish you!” They flew around in different pattern playing in the air and she had barely a few seconds to choose the right moment. There!
She threw the rock and hit them both, not hard enough to hurt them but to work as a warning. I could kick your ass to the next world, watch it. She got up from the water with a hand over her boobs and put her bra on. She was still wet so she grabbed her clothes and waited until she was dry. Her hair didn’t really dry, she should have thought things through, well, whatever. She walked home with the threats following closely.
She stared dumbly at the dog, she wasn’t even processing his words. “what?”
“Do you want to become a kunoichi?” He looked disinterested and a little bored.
“I am… allowed to? Really?”
“Yes if you weren’t I wouldn’t have mentioned it.” He licked his nose” Besides, you appear to be under the assumption it would be easy and immediate, it won’t. You’d have to go through the same training the kids at the academy are going through and even then you may not be fully conditioned until a couple years. Usually only kids from five to eight years old are allowed in the academy but you have been noticed to have… potential.”
“What kind of potential?” She said, clearly fishing for compliments.
“You won’t have to go through the process of desensitization, an adequate stamina for a genin, a decent agility and strength for your age. You hide your presence and are stealthy. You would have to work on the ninja arts and the language at the same time, but you could become genin in less than a year.”
“Talking to animals is also a nice ability, don’t you think?” She could see why they’d want to offer her a special opportunity.
“I suppose it is a nice Kekkei Genkai.”Hell if she was going to be in a place where people could do the closest thing to magic she was going to learn, or at least try. It can’t hurt to try more than it hurts being kept in the dark.
“Well I’m interested, if, if I can play shogi again. That’s my only demand.”
He didn’t even bother to give her a glare. “I’ll see what I can do”
“Thanks! I’d feel really dumb if I couldn’t play even after having all this strategies, well they aren’t finished but it doesn’t matter. I’m just bored.”
The next day the teacher, Izuma-sensei, a chunin, told her to stay for the afternoon lesson. You know the time she spent running in the woods or just fooling around the town? Yeah well, not anymore.
Being showed around was a little humiliating, especially after she had done the tests to tell her level. In the physical she did decently (she hoped) but then taijutsu or beating the shit out of kids, ninjutsu doing actual magic, like doing a fucking clone or disappearing. Genjutsu or mind magic, fucking bullshit too, provoking hallucinations to people.
Pakkun was right, she had to work on her ninja abilities, because it was… sad. Training with the second class, while still better than training with six years olds was humiliating. It shouldn’t help that they were about eight, but it did. Apparently, kids from clans could enter the academy younger than the rest and complete the five year course as fast or as slow as they want. Usually the kids are about twelve when they graduate, sometimes even held back to match the rest. Most classes have kids with different ages, some classes never graduate.
At least she had impressed them with shurikenjutsu or the art of throwing things at a bulls-eye. She had been hunting animals with stones and knifes she made herself, throwing pointy things was her only talent, if you don’t count pissing people off.
Kids admiration is nice when they ooh at the same time but when they ask you afterwards and all you can tell them is I don’t know it sucks. She felt like a superstar, but the kind of celebrity who punches the cameramen. Kids were just…annoying, they were kids so they couldn’t really help it.
The gods had listened to her and Mask man took her to the same place where she had played the game the first time. She was quick to sit in front of the same kid who was giving her an odd look. Understandable, a girl appears from nowhere, she sucks at his favorite game and insists on playing with him.
She left the house smiling after being absolutely wrecked when none of her strategies worked at all. It looked like a massacre, all of her pieces started to leave the board ten moves in and he looked hesitant to continue after she sacrificed her queen for his leaving only peons, a tower, a knight in a bad position and her king. He looked right through her strategies and she now knew that there was no way she could make a strategy he couldn’t figure out, so she put her mind to work for a different kind of strategy. A mental one, if you may, (aka making him paranoid with an overly simplistic strategy that would make him think that it was a trap, that there was a more complex one hidden in her moves.)
Neither spoke on the way home so she took her notebook out and started revising on grammar, she knew base vocabulary and enough grammar to make a sentence. But she would rather not speak than sound like a two year old. The problem is that she is not practicing her vocabulary talking with someone, she had to listen to strangers conversations that were often too fast and too bizarre.
She knew basic stuff: family, numbers, colors and just basic grammar and some verbs. She could ask Pakkun if- oh that’s not the direction home. Her hand on his arm tensed, the emotional support arm wasn’t working. Where were they going?
“Where…we go?” Wow she disliked with passion having to speak like this. It was so goddamn frustrating not being able to say shit. She sounded so fucking stupid, she wanted to punch herself in the face god, uh. Surprisingly, he answered, but she didn’t understand a word. She made a sound that she hoped expressed her cynical of course I don’t understand. She liked acting like a spoiled child and sometimes contrasting it with a bizarre personality and complex ways of thinking, now she sounded dumb.
They walked to the biggest building in town, where she had waited before being taken to the nude-heal-interrogation building (she didn’t like thinking about it). People weren’t exactly subtle, the emotional support arm was suddenly a lot more useful. She was a little anxious, to be fair she hadn’t exactly had wonderful experiences in the town so far. Sure, kids were nice, but she had been through questionable tests that she had ignored in favor to have a bed to sleep.
Mask Man, she should know his name, talked to a receptionist of some kind, maybe it was a control, she wasn’t really sure, and they walked into a room. Oh god, they were waiting for them, this was planned. Fuck, obviously Pakkun didn’t tell her anything because they hadn’t wanted her to know. What the fuck was going on? She was starting to freak out.
They were all placed around a desk where an old man sat. They stopped speaking the second they realized she had arrived. He looked at her through wrinkled eyes and asked her something she didn’t understand. She’s been here for a week, what did you expect?
They were talking and she knew that they were taking to her. At least they were talking at her. Didn’t they know she didn’t know the language? They had to. Mask man knew, why wasn’t him telling them. “Speak” Oh, nice so now he can say shit, thanks man.
“What I say? I don’t understand they say” Lame, humiliating and embarrassing, Mask Man you are sleeping in the sofa tonight. She felt so goddamn stupid, oh my god, she is not going to be able to sleep tonight, ugh. They spoke to her again, slower and nicer, like she was a scared animal (not wrong) or a lost little kid (hah!). The ojisan gave up on getting her to talk at some point, he said something firmly and Mask man took her out of the room on a steady pace.
It didn’t take her long to regret speaking to him, because now that he knew that she understood single words the commands didn’t stop coming. Cook, sit, stand up, follow, speak, and wait.
Thank god she still had the Academy to get humiliated in taijutsu by her teachers and learn a little bit more vocabulary, maybe work on her own on the Academy jutsu. She noticed that the Academy based most of their exercises on building stamina and physical conditioning and she liked to think she was good (no one told her she wasn’t).
She wanted to learn ninjutsu as soon as possible because, uh, magic. But the whole ordeal was super hard, she had tried standing up and let the magic happen but apparently you need hand seals and stuff. She hadn’t known that. (It was kind of obvious.)
She found that meditating helped control chakra, which was great, beyond great actually. Her timeless illusion was amazing to memorize homework and do chakra exercises; if her body could get muscle memory from it, it would have been priceless, but just that was amazing too. It also helped that she was a little bit of a praise whore so compliments were her main focus. Sometimes she even asked what the words meant just to hear more. She was actually liking this thing about being a ninja.
Class ended and she was still trying to figure out hand signs. The hand signs were made so that each of then needed a different way of chakra canalization, technically you could do any jutsu without them but you’ll have to remember the way you channel your chakra. And that’s extremely hard. Chakra leaks everywhere and things get messy, you misuse a lot of chakra and the result is a pathetic try.
She was pleasantly surprised to find Pakkun at the entrance, maybe the four threats would leave now? They followed her through the woods no matter how fast, how many turns she took; they were on her back, always a few steps behind. She knew they were part of Konoha, they were still testing her but at least they weren’t hostile.
“How are you Pakkun, are you coming to the woods with me today?”
“Actually boss wants me to take you somewhere, come with me girlie”
That was strange, he didn’t even say where. “Kay then, is it a water park? I love water parks, I hope it’s a water park.”
“It’s not a water park” He wasn’t even looking at her.
“Why would you be so secretive? Don’t tell me we are going to the vet?! How terrible, at least you are protecting me from the truth…”
“That’s very nice of me.” Hmm. He really didn’t look in the mood to talk, so this was serious.
“Hey did I do anything wrong or something?” She asked with her hands on the back of her neck sounding casual.
“Eh...no? I don’t think so.” Did they found out about her contract? She hadn’t even summoned them yet, she didn’t know how! She should work on that because piranhas. “Did I promise you a bath and forgot or something?”
He didn’t answer. She frowned, he was the closest thing to a friend. “Where are we going?”
“To the Hokage office, he wishes to speak with you”
“The Hokage as in the leader? Mountain-face?” Oh god, oh god. Usually she would be alarmed by the news but right now wasn’t the moment. She had seven ducklings on her jacket, shit, it was a very bad day for doing favors. “I don’t suppose we can go to the forest for a few minutes?” She asked innocently.
“No” Well, there goes her options. All right the duckies were all asleep so if she kept the conversation short and quiet it would be fine. Most likely. Possibly. Maybe? Oh god she was screwed.
They walked to the center of the city, they went into the same building Mask man had taken her the day before. They went to the same room. The same people were waiting for her. Oh no, she had made a fool of herself in front of the Hokage. Oh god, and now she had ducks in her pockets. You could probably tell, oh god, she looked like she had stolen every single pinecone in the city and stuffed them in her jacket. She was choosing a random god and praying to it from now on. Hopefully one with a big ass sword.
The Hokage spoke up and Pakkun translated his words. She said hi in their language, flushing, she felt stupidly shy, oh god. I’m never like this I swear.
“How are you liking Konoha” She blinked dumbly at the first question. That’s not what he’s asking, god she hated things like these. Pakkun waited for her answer and she assumed he would repeat after her.
“It’s different from how things used to be for me. My family and I used to move a lot too so I’m used to adapting to different places. I think I’m doing fine, once I learn the language properly I can be fully independent” She didn’t like sharing things like this, but she said nothing about her past. Also she lied, she had no kind of way of being on her own, she didn’t have a place to stay, didn’t have money, all she owned was a gift from him and now he wanted something in return but what exactly?
“ Don’t worry, what matters right now is how are you adapting. You used to move a lot? Do you mind telling me more about it?” She knew, this was a test, no other way about it. If she minded she had to man up and cry on her spare time about it. The other option to this was interrogation.
“My parents sold medical herbs. They grew them themselves, but they ran out of some kind and had to gather it for months. We moved by seasons, sometimes, different kinds of plants grow in different places and in different times.”
“I see. I heard the Land of cyclones have all kind of herbs. Is there where you lived?” He is demanding where, are you a spy?
“They do, mostly poisonous and very similar. I’ve never been there. We moved through The land of Air and The Land of Sunshine, in little towns with not many people.”
“May I ask why is that?”
“Some remedies to specific illnesses are so strong can be used to poison a healthy person, my parents couldn’t control what the clients do with them. No one really wants to be the hangman’s neighbor.”
“I see, it must have been a hard childhood, did you have friends?”
“I’ve always had someone to spend my time with” She dropped the innuendo in a firm voice before being able to stop herself. ”Most of my friends were temporary, I knew that. The only people who stayed with me were my family: my parents and my sister. I was also close with my cousins, but they lived far, we met on winter on the Land of Dirt. Most of the year we lived in the Land of Air” It was true.
“I can’t say I have heard of it” She didn’t answer. What would she say good, you aren’t supposed to, it’s made of war refuges. It’s also called the Land of Lost Genes because of it. It’s not even a country or a place per se, it’s a point of reunion. People who ran away, who were chased for their genes, for their bloodline limits, bastards of clans. We looked for each other, we were family, but we were attacked. All the hiding, the running away in the darkness of night, for nothing. We died, they found us and they killed us. We were nothing, not a threat, not a nuisance we were neutral but they didn’t even care. We were just genes, a weapon to arm their children. I was too young, I am so glad I don’t have any information on where, how or when.
I was too young, all I knew I overheard, always euphemisms, too much of a kid to understand anything. When cousin Nathan and his sister Maria disappeared I learnt to not ask. I understood when auntie Martha didn’t come meet us. Who is Martha? I’ve never heard of her.
“We have noticed you can communicate with animals, can you tell me about it? Did it run in the family?” She wasn’t dumb, is it a Kekkei Genkai?
“ I’ve been able to talk to animals for my entire life. I developed most of my social skills from them, my family thought it was cute that I was always surrounded by them. Neither my parents or my sister had the ability. My grandma, however, was declared insane by a specialist and died from medication at 27 years of age, she used to hear voices.”
His face darkened for a second as I finished my words. “You have nothing to fear, we won’t do anything to you .You shouldn’t lie to us, we are just trying to help.” I couldn’t help but to smile.
“I don’t know anything about my grandma, the rest is true.” She watched his eyes move to the men around her.
“Why would you lie about that? We respect your privacy if you didn’t want to tell us is fine, but we need to know important matters, we’ll aid you.”
“Sorry, I wanted to know if you could tell if I lied. I was curious. I figured that if it was a useless detail it wouldn’t really matter. As you know I haven’t tried to lie to you, and I don’t intend to.” She could guide the conversation just fine, omitting information was fine as long as you make it seem unimportant and if asked she just had to be vague but truthful.
“That’s interesting. I heard you were clever.” She frowned, but with her face it just looked like a pout. “…Do you know who told me?”
She turned her head to the blond man on her right “It was you, I think. You didn’t do any kind of sign but you were the only one who never looked at the Hokage while I was speaking. Your eyes were always in me” She had to stop herself, she really couldn’t do a flirty comment now. She was such an idiot.
The Hokage was smiling when I looked back at him. “You are right. Hmm, certainly, you are interesting and may be a great asset to the village. May I ask you why do you want to become a shinobi? ”
“I am still learning what it means, I cannot give you an answer now.” She deflected. She wasn’t going to bare her feelings just like that. She liked taking decisions knowing fully what they meant, she is childish but not stupid. She memorizes obsessively because any of that knowledge could save her life, she runs until her legs give up so the next time she can last longer. It has saved her life before and now that she is about to jump right into danger she needs extreme training. Survive or die, the paranoia of being the last in the food pyramid has kept her active since the moment she set a foot in the woods. She wasn’t giving it up now.
“I understand, of course. I heard you like meditating; that is a great hobby for a shinobi, indeed.” No more questions, huh, just badly disguised inquiries. She heard a small squeak.
Fuck, fuck, the ducks. She forgot about the ducks! She awkwardly put her hand on a pocket, careful not to poke the babies and petted the one who woke up. It shifted and slept again. She probably looked weird, could they tell? May be she could play it off as a nervous tick.
“I learnt it in my childhood, I was a very curious child you see, always trying something new. My parents helped me appreciate the calm it brings. Now it’s part of my routine, I enjoy it greatly.” Could he, like, order me not to meditate? They didn’t know what I did in my mind. No one else has this experiences meditating, maybe is part of my Kekkei Genaki or a second effect of the seal mom put on me.
“Of course, thank you for answering my questions, it must have been hard. Feel free to come by anytime you have a question about becoming a ninja, the shinobi way can be confusing to those strangers to it.”
“Thank you Hokage-sama.” She didn’t know what to do next, should she bow? She should wait to be dismissed but that sounded pretty dismissive, right? She impulsively bowed a bit too fast and made an embarrassed sound as the men looked at her with amused eyes. It was probably pretty bad manners or something.
“Wait a second, please. Can you say why you were so keen on going to the forest?” Fuck, thanks for that Pakkun. She knew he wasn’t her friend, he was her babysitter and she probably wasn’t the best company but damn did he have to say it like that. Sure, it was suspicious and he had to report it but she felt irrationally upset. Like a free punch. She hadn’t done anything to him to be treated this way.
“Animals there treat me nicely, what’s with you today Pakkun?” She swung her hips and closed her arms in a perfect impression of her mother telling her off. “You see, I don’t-“ A little duck rolled out of her pocket but she managed to catch it before it hit the floor, the sudden movement woke the ducklings up. They shifted in her pockets and one of them jumped to her hand she lowered her hips to the floor as the ducks jumped by themselves to the floor- They fucking did that all the time, it’s their mother fault they think the floor is water and the fall won’t hurt them. It will!
She was embarrassed enough until one of them quacked and then all of them joined him. She would like to say it was in unison, but it wasn’t, it was worse, it was chaos. She scooped a couple ducklings and blew air at them until they stopped shouting, it calmed them down. “I think is time to go back to mama, eggies.” She put them on her pockets and took two more from the floor. Six. One was missing. She tapped the floor periodically every two seconds and the last one marched to her finger happily. She picked him up, shoved it (delicately!) into her pocket and stood up like nothing happened.
All of this right in front of the man who could throw her life out of the window, niiice.
“It was a pleasure meeting you today, Hokage-sama.” She said completely serious and walked away under the disbelieving gaze of the men.
Mask man followed her and she grabbed his arm immediately. She felt a little better. Emotional support arm worked perfectly. Pakkun trailed after them and I had no doubt he had to repeat what she had said. The people on the hallway looked at her weirdly. She was going to have to get used to it, they wouldn’t stop looking at her no matter what she did. Yeah she had orange hair but is it that weird? Maybe it had to do with her being blushing to death in this very moment.
He didn’t protest when she directed them towards the woods so she guessed it was fine. He kept sending her glances and she was pretty sure he was amused so she said what she’s heard most at the academy “Shut up.” She was pretty sure he was even more amused so she squeezed his arm and she was almost sure he laughed a little.
They walked in silence to the forest, it took her thirty seconds to find the mama duck, she was already waiting. She chatted happily and shortly with her and said behind her teeth that they were oh, so well behaved, little angels. When she turned back she found that he was looking at her. If only she could say they talk more than you. He looked curious, yeah she had a lost Kekkei Genkai but talking to animals wasn’t that impressive.
“Come” She walked back to him and grabbed his arm again. She was starting to get used to him speaking one word commands which was pretty sad, actually.
They moved out of the forest, they couldn’t have walked more than ten steps before someone started shouting.
“Kakashi-sensei!” He did his best to walk faster and prevent her from turning to them but she did. They were three kids about twelve. Oh god, they were shinobi, at twelve! They were so little. Ugh, and they were screaming. Well, the blond one was. Mask Man looked downright miserable. Oh, nice, she was grinning like crazy while the kid yelled at him, his suffering her pleasure. She had the decency to hide her smile under her hand when he shot a look at her.
The girl who had pink hair (and they say her hair color is weird) whispered something to the blond who stopped shouting for a second before beginning to yell again this time with a mocked voice. She realized that the dark haired kid and the pinky were looking at he interested. She blinked dumbly at them. There was no way they had heard her talking to animals.
“They think you are his girlfriend” Pakkun added helpfully.
“Oh” Right, she was holding his arm and pretty close to him. She let go of him and looked at the kids. How was she going to tell them that she wasn’t? Nah, that was Mask Man’s problem.
He spoke to them, probably to explain. The blond kid seemed just as enthusiastic as before. He shouted something at her but she didn’t catch a thing other that I am. She blinked at him.
She wished she could understand him, maybe say nice to meet you and stuff too. But hey, she could tell him she was wearing a white shirt so who cares for actual useful stuff she would use in a conversation.
Pakkun made a… noise and ignored her. He was being very weird today. He didn’t traduce it. She was starting to get mad at him, he had embarrassed her in front of people, so two can play the silent game.
Mask man had stopped talking to the kids. They looked at her and attempted to analyze her, they didn’t look very impressed maybe curious at best. The girl looked at her with kind eyes, the blond didn’t look like he understood a thing and the black headed one looked plainly interesting.
He turned away from them, ignoring their exasperating exclamations and actually offered his arm. Hmm, he was spiting them apparently. He looked kind of happy. She accepted gladly “Let’s go Kakashi”
He looked miserable again, ah, isn’t that nice? What a wonderful evening.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
You know, life is staring to get domestic. She was lying on the floor reading her notes on the language while Kakashi was ignoring her reading a book.
“Kakashi’s hair is ugly” Eye twitch. “Ah, aah, Kakashi’s hair is white. Hmm.” He wasn’t so bad to be around. For some reason the only time he spoke at her more than a command was at last night’s dinner. He was insistent on making her eat vegetables and that wasn’t going to happen any time soon so she ended up eating to the sofa holding her plate in the air and ignoring him as he ignored her. Roommates, am I right?
“Come with me.” She looked at him. He looked bored.
She turned back to her book “Where is Pakkun?”
“Pakkun is busy” Pakkun is busy, she repeated and nodded, saying that she understood. She got up, what would she gain by delaying? It’s not like she had anything else to do.
Once she had her emotional support arm they left the house in a steady pace. She doubted they were just taking a stroll around the park but she was actually pleasantly surprised to find herself in the same spot as the day before with the same kids “Kakashi-sensei, YOU’RE LATE!”
They took a second to realize that she was there as well. Three pair of eyes turned to her, she smiled shy and said “Hi.” The blond kid sounded very impressed, she could tell he was encouraging her to say something else, but she didn’t know what exactly. “I don’t understand, sorry.”
“I’m Naruto Uzumaki and I’m going to be HOKAGE” Oh, her name and stuff. It was kind of obvious. That was alright she had already chosen one.
“My name is Arabella.” Kid was pretty nice. Pretty damn loud too, she didn’t understand much after that. “Sakura-chan introduce yourself!”
“DON’T CALL ME SAKURA-CHAN NARUTO-BAKA! I’m Sakura, nice to meet you.”
“Nice too meet you, Sakura” She hoped that meant what she thought that meant. She ignored her screams to Naruto, hopefully she wouldn’t get yelled at. The third kid didn’t even look at her, so she didn’t make any approach to him. He looked annoying.
She looked at Kakashi, still holding his arm, as he tried to sooth them, they shouted back to him causing her to wince. This was noticed and the pink haired girl reprimanded Naruto, the blond kid. She wanted to tell her that it was alright but she didn’t want to get yelled at.The kid looked terrible, she had to do something. So she did the most awkward thing, she petted his hair and smiled at them. That seemed to do the trick for a second before the blond literally screamed “ NEE-CHAN!”
Sister? Huh, go ahead kid. She had no idea what was going on.
“I read now, bye.” Kakashi didn’t stop her, he was busy with too many kids questioning him. She was pretty sure the questions were about her but she didn’t care to answer, it’s Mask Man’s problem now.
She sat in the shadow of a tree and read her notes on grammar, she also had some new vocabulary. The Izuma-sensei has given her new (and probably handmade) notes on basic conversation. Since the kids grow up with the language they don’t really need to know how to say thank or sorry and if her parents have beaten anything into her skull it was good manners. She had thanked him immediately after that.
She memorized the lines of the kanji by tracing them on her leg and sometime said them aloud to remember how they’re pronounced. She realized that the kids were running around the training grounds commanded by Kakashi. The realization that Kakashi was really their teacher hit her. Hmm? He didn’t seem the type.
Looking closer she could see a sadistic tint in his actions, she watched the kids, the black head and Naruto were screaming at each other rather loudly. She turned a page on her notebook. None of her business, she was just glad that she didn’t really have to deal with them.
She focused in the lines of the new Kanji, verbs ugh. Apparently they had a polite way of saying everything, a formal tone and an informal tone. The catch is that there is also a negative for every tense, and they’re all different. She had only present tense written down in every form and it caused her a headache.
At least the vocabulary was relatively easy, animals, cause she could speak to them, and some adjectives. Nice, easy, cute, cool, sweet… it was vocabulary for little kids. What did you expect?
At some point a couple squirrels ran down the tree and began to play with her hair and clothes. She couldn’t remember who they were, but she had already introduced herself to them. Birds also liked to sit in her lap and pretend it’s their own nest, especially the young ones. She lost count after the forth bird.
There was a bunch of ninja stuff going on in the field and she was kind of impressed to see a lot of Narutos running around and disappearing in smoke a Kakashi kicked them. She hated to admit it but it looked incredibly cool, Kakashi really was a trained shinobi. Maybe it wasn’t so embarrassing to have been caught by him, she watched as he moved expertly through the field.
The black haired kid joined them and she wasn’t so sure anymore who was attacking who, orange and black moved back and forward meeting with a chink. She watched Kakashi step out of the fight silently and let them fight each other. Sakura walked to his side, looking disturbed, but Mask Man ignored her and waved lazily to her direction. She couldn’t help the smirk as she waved back. The pink girl didn’t wave, her loss.
Apparently they kids had realized they weren’t fighting Kakashi but each other, they screamed at each other and began fighting again. Kids. With weapons. Kids with weapons.
She went back to her book, again annoying children are none of her business.
She was startled when the animals around her freaked out, the squirrels ran back to the tree and the birds flew away in a cloud of feathers around her. The kid looked at her visibly surprised but said nothing as he looked away and pouted.
She turned her head and watched the blond kid in the other side of the grounds sitting down on his own. So they were grounded. She contained a laugh.
The kid seemed to realize and huffed. He ignored her, pouting. That was kind of cute for an annoying brat who wouldn’t even say his name. She faked reading, turning a page slowly and as loud as you can possibly turn a page. By the third one his eye twitched. He turned to look at her.
She kept her eyes innocently on the book for a second before licking her thumb and moving her hand towards the page. Tch. She barely suppressed the smile on her face, he was annoyed enough to acknowledge her, hah. Take that for not introducing yourself, bitch, she could be mildly annoying for hours.
She looked at him and lowered her hand. He held her stare for a very long time, she was pretty sure that after thirty seconds it was considered a stare off. She wasn’t going to lose. But that page was getting boring, maybe she should pass it…
“Stop” She smiled at the kid who talked for the first time. She looked away this time.
“Hai, hai.” She had finished memorizing a long time ago and she was just bored. Kakashi seemed to be chatting happily with Sakura ignoring Naruto who was shouting. She laughed a little. This was a chaos, it was worse than the Academy.
He looked like he had just been caught petting puppies instead of kicking them. She doubted it was a compliment but there was a fondness in his voice. She shot him a knowing smile and echoed him.“Dobeee.” She didn’t know if she could do a better impression of a lovesick girl. But she could try “ Oh, dobe.”She said, dramatically resting her head on her forehead. Tch.Oh, he didn’t like that. She giggled a little. “Sorry…” She giggled a little more. Oh, he was so irritated, it was cute. “That’s cute”
He looked shaken and blushed as she focused back onto her book and reread the grammar rules and the list of verbs she had. Hmm. Maybe she should do a page of verbs in every tense she knew? She only knew present and negative present, but in the future that could be useful.
The kid kept looking at her in disbelief, he looked insulted. She closed her notebook and put it on her lap before starting to do hand seals. “Ox” She muttered to herself… “Bird, serpent-“
“Wrong” She looked at the kid. Well, if it isn’t rude little shit number 2, named after his teacher. He looked away and attempted to ignore her. If only that were possible, boy.
“How?” She asked him. What could she lose anyway, she had to tag along in babysitting duty because her own babysitter was busy. She didn’t have much dignity left after the Academy anyways.
She was actually pleasantly surprised as the rude little shit showed her the hand seals but didn’t attempt to look at her general direction. So much for Little Shit-sensei. “I good?”
Well look at this fucking kid. This motherfucking brat. Does it cost you so much to look at me? Thank you. “ Ram… Hare, Rat-”
“No, rat.” He showed the formation again, slower. Ah, he wasn’t so bad.”Hn”
After a while of chilling in silence Kakashi calls Sasuke back to training.
She’s bored out of her mind so she begins meditate immediately. It’s going to be torture because she’s just memorizing stuff from her own memories, she’s bored inside of her mind…
When she gets sick of studying she does the taijutsu stances she’s been taught and redoes the hand seals Sasuke taught her until her hands hurt and her fingers aren’t as sloppy.
She could do the nine hand seals instantly and she felt simultaneously really cool and really dumb, ‘cause they didn’t become jutsus so she was just doing dumb hand seals.
She practiced her taijutsu until it became a reflex, she hadn’t been taught much anyways but she used the other kid’s taijutsu as a model. Looking at her memories while practicing was the equivalent of having a tutor, it was super useful. She didn’t even get tired, it was inside her mind after all. The only problem was that she didn’t grow any muscles because it didn’t count as exercise. She wasn’t moving her muscles, her mind thought she was.
The easy solution was exercising right after, but when she woke up, muscles stiff and sore throat from breathing through her mouth the kids were done training and Kakashi was coming her way.
“Let’s go Arabella-chan.”
He won that one.
This was getting ridiculous, you know. She can pass the follow me, walk, move, eat, even that fucking time he just said speak in front of the fucking Hokage. This shit pisses her off.
Listen, so they get to the shogi kid’s place like usual to play the game. And this time she’s actually excited because she can introduce herself. So she gets there and she’s been bossed around, like, to the extreme for the whole day. He doesn’t even say hi to her, not even good morning. So this fucking time she was nearly fuming.
They get to the place, but the kid isn’t there yet just his father and… wasn’t him in the room with the Hokage that time with the ducks? Well damn, that’s embarrassing. “Hi” She said shyly, probably blushing. “My name is Arabella.” He didn’t so much as smirk but she could see the amusement in his eyes.
“Hello, I’m Shikaku”
She put her hands in her pockets and took them out “No ducks.”
He was fully smirking now. “Good, no ducks.”
She didn’t say anything else after that. Shikaku, however, continued to talk to Kakashi faster and with much more complex words. She wasn’t catching a thing. After a good ten minutes, the kid appeared, looking simultaneously tired and bored.
“Come here” Who the fuck did he think she was, a fucking dog. This was fucking humiliating and she wished she knew how to say something meaner that you’re not nice. “Sit”
“Woof woof” The kid looked at her in bewilderment and Shikaku was just shocked. Currently, Kakashi and she were having a stare off, really intense one, if you asked her. He was intimidating, so much she started to hold her breath but kept her eyes glued to his. The moment Shikaku chortled the atmosphere shifted and she found herself holding a laugh. She put her hands up as if saying I surrender and sat down to play with the kid.
She fucking lost three times before they left but she didn’t mind.
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Izuma-sensei was really nice. The moment he saw she already knew all the hand seals he bathed her in compliments and moved on to the next ninja thing.
He grabbed her hands and pushed a twirling sensation into her body. Chakra he explained. Then, he grabbed a leaf and made it stick to his forehead. Like, it was just standing there. What the fuck. He gave her the leaf and encouraged her to try.
She was pretty dissatisfied to say she didn’t get it right the first time, or the second, or the thir- you get it. They finished taijutsu and she still couldn’t do it.
It took her an actual week of training with her eyes closed trying to get the same sensations with her own chakra to get a motherfucking leaf to stay on her hands, not even her forehead, her hands.
After that she kept a leaf always on her body, trying to make sure it doesn’t fall off. Then two, then three, until she was able to focus her chakra on her forehead. She kept the leaf on as much as she could, until Kakashi obviously made fun of her, so instead she kept the leaf under her skirt for the whole day.
Five leaves were currently on her thighs as she ran around the training grounds, painting like a dog and with a sore throat. She had learnt to bring a bottle or two to calm her thirst before taking the sweaty route back to the house. The threats were following her again, they had been since that day with the kids. She hadn’t seen Pakkun in a long time and she kind of missed him, he was cute and nice to pet. She couldn’t stay mad at him for long (she had no one else who could traduce her words.)
Yeah he had been a dick to her and then hadn’t talked to her for almost two weeks but she was kind of lonely and life felt like a routine, when she was bored of studying, she ran when she was tired she studied then sleep then academy then… It’s been three days and she was done.
So the next day after the Academy she just went along with Kakashi to the training grounds. It was pretty much hilarious because the guy just didn’t care, about anything, just, at all. Like, that must be so infuriating for someone who actually expects him to give a single fuck, but he just doesn’t. That’s simultaneously cool and theatrically funny.
“What are you doing.” She was already clinging on to his arm.
“I’m going to baby training.”
She could probably climb on him and he wouldn’t move, it would be a forced piggyback ride and he would just keep going. She wasn’t going to do that, she didn’t want to lose Emotional Arm Support rights. But it was hysterically funny for her.
They got to the training grounds in absolute silence and she found that she didn’t mind as much anymore.
“Shut UP teme, when I’m HOKAGE I’ll be your boss and you’re getting D-ranks FOREVER.”
“HA! You don’t know how to answer! I win.”
“Naruto leave Sasuke-kun alone! You’re just jealous of Sasuke-kun, right Sasuke-kun?”
“Why would I be jealous? I’m better than him.”
“Keep thinking that, dobe.”
“ What did you just say, teme? I’m gonna-”
“Maa, no fighting in front of the guest, you make me look bad.” The kids turned to them and she smiled at them. She was so glad they didn’t know she could understand them, she didn’t want to be involved. They really were chaos, but the funny kind.
“Hi, Naruto, Sakura” They forgot immediately their bickering and focused on her entirely, they seemed very happy that she remembered their names. “…Sasuke” He seemed hesitant before nodding. The pink girl eyed her suspiciously and she guessed she was jealous of her. She wondered if Naruto was too, that much hate couldn’t possibly be produced by the kid just by saying hi to her crush.
Naruto just seemed confused “Why does she know your name, teme? You didn’t introduce yourself to her the other day.” Kakashi looked at her with interest, she did her best to ignore his gaze and the death glare the girl was giving her. Careful your eyes might pop out of your sockets.
“Hn” Kakashi leaned forward towards his students and she realized that he had blocked her with his body, she was trapped between him and the kids.
“I’m interested too Sasuke, did she contact you outside of training?” She stayed silent, he wouldn’t believe what she said so it had to be the kid who answered.
“She asked me to help her with hand seals during training, it just seemed normal to introduce myself.”
Kakashi relaxed again. “I see. Maa, she’ll be joining us today too.”
“Woah, Arabella–neechan are you going to train with us? That’s awesome.”
“Naruto-baka she’s only a academy student. There’s no way she can train with us, she could get hurt!” Sakura told him confidently.
“I want to train. It’s fun. I want to learn.” It was actually a lot harder to speak than to understand what they were saying.
“Very well then, cute little genins… and academy student” He said with a clap and a very vicious eye smile. Oh he wanted to get back at me “We should start by practicing everything. Let’s start with three laps around the training grounds and then we’ll begin with some taijutsu, shurikenjutsu and maybe ninjutsu. Hmm, do you know the three Academy E-ranks?”
“Nope, leaf.” She currently had like five leafs under her skirt and they just drop when she’s tired. She’s trying to build decent chakra control but when she forgets its hilarious, they just fall off. Frankly, it looks like she gave birth to a tiny plant. Maybe she should get rid of them at some point, it could be extremely embarrassing if she lets go by accident.
“Hmm. Alright, do you know how to escape a Genjutsu?”
“ Well, you are a academy student” She couldn’t help but to raise eyebrow. She’s been here for what, two weeks, and she knew plenty, she could probably skip a year in a month or something; on top of that, when she arrived she didn’t understand a word, now she could speak even if it was just a word. It was an impressive work on her part and he was an asshole not acknowledging it.
“Sasuke, Naruto, since you have so much energy, you should do five laps each.” Kakashi told the kids who were fighting again while she had been distracted looking at him disapprovingly.
She ran behind Naruto and Sasuke watching as they provoked each other with words she didn’t understand. It had been the most interesting thing that had happened in the whole fucken week. She ended up running the five laps with them while Sakura had just sat after two.
Kakashi looked at them while she let jarred breaths and Sasuke struggled to maintain himself in a relaxed posture, his muscles flopping a little while Naruto continued to be as energetic.
She was starting to sweat badly and her heart was drumming erratically in her ears, she could feel the blood on her veins moving. The leaves stayed under her skirt.
She tried to control her breath but couldn’t. How did she get in this situations, first the ducks and then the leaves, she was glad that she couldn’t understand the jokes that were made about her, because she could certainly tell that there must have been a few.
“Maa, since you are all so tired we should start with shurikenjutsu. That is, if you can stand up.” She knew when she was being provoked, it didn’t mean she wasn’t going to go head first about it. She was prideful in a weird way.
She still hit every single one of the target’s center, but then the kid, Sasuke, threw three shuriken at the same time. And she felt dumb to admit she hadn’t actually experimented with the only thing she was good at just because she was good compared to literal children. At least it had only taken five tries until one hit the center and the others were just close.
Fifteen minutes after she could say she was satisfied with her aim. So they moved on to taijutsu.
Getting your ass beat to the floor by children was always as fun as eating sandpaper, so it really wasn’t that surprising that two out of three got her on the floor before hitting the five minutes mark.
But when she fought Naruto she saw him doing something interesting, the bushin from class but with just one hand seal. And it stayed.
“That’s cool! Do it one more time.” She asked and the kid beamed at the compliment. He tried to play it cool but he looked incredibly excited. Tch. Sasuke was giving them a condescending smile and she could tell Naruto was about to explode. So she diverted. “One more time, pretty please.”
He light up again. “Sure thing Nee-chan. Look at my awesomeness!”
She felt his chakra divide and explode and puff, another Naruto who felt exactly like the original. There was no difference, none, they felt the same, talked the same and even smelled the same; they were both Naruto and it was fascinating, Fucking ninjas. Not a copy, just another one. Just like twins or something. Cool.
She copied his hand seal and gathered Chakra around her belly and let it travel through her until it reached every part of her body and she let go. It all left her at once. It was just like dipping in freezing water for a second then having your body adapt immediately. Did it even work?
It did. There was an exact copy of her just… there. Is that how having a twin feels like? She waved and it waved back. Do they share thoughts? There is only one way to tell. Rock, paper scissors, 123.
They didn’t, but it was pretty close. They didn’t share thoughts but they followed the same thought process, they are the same person.
“Arabella- chan we are going to the Hokage tower right now.” Kakashi didn’t look so happy. Ha! She learned it before they even tried to teach her the bunshin in the Academy. “Which one is …”She didn’t understand “Real” Oh right. He wanted to take the original.
They pointed at each other.
It probably wasn’t as funny as it felt but even Sasuke was smirking and that didn’t look very common. Kakashi just picked them both up, like they didn’t weight a thing to him. Her laugh grew louder as she waved the kids goodbye on the back of Kakashi’s neck. Being picked up like a sack of potatoes was a little offensive on her opinion. She wasn’t a kid.
Then he dropped one of them and the clone popped on the floor. How did he know?
When the memories of the clone reached her she was confused and disoriented for a second. The memories… That’s fucking useful. She was going to abuse that, now she has clones to do everything. Clones? More like slaves. She’s not going to touch a motherfucking book ever again.
He didn’t put her down even after she attempted to, twice, she wished she knew how to tease him about getting a close up of her ass, seriously, if he turned his head his nose might bump on her backside. Or just ask for a piggyback.
Well this is the most fun she’s had in a while.
“ Hey...” Naruto said. “ Why are there so many leaves in the floor.”
“Shut up, Naruto.”
Omake(Can be skipped.)
She was pleasantly surprised to see the shogi kid, Shikamaru, walking around the city. She had been taking a stroll around town to waste some time until she finished the babysitting duty.
He looked surprised to see her and actually stopped to talk. That was really nice of him. After an awkward minute of him asking her something and she not having a clue he signaled to his own pocket and she realized he was making a joke about the duck thing.
“I do, one more time” She smiled to him and he smiled back, what a sweet child. Lazy but nice.
She was pretty sure he asked her to take them out. She couldn’t help to blush but nodded with a smile anyway, she reached her pocket and a very enthusiastic blonde pushed him away and placed herself in front of her. Kids, always wanting to be the first of the line. Shikamaru didn’t look affected at all, she figured it was fine. She took the lizards out of her pocket and placed them in her hands.
Her scream rang on her ears for three hours after that and the original laughed at her for a solid ten minutes. Get the clone on babysitting duty, they said, they adore it, they said. She did not. She spent five minutes picking baby lizards from the floor while the kid wept in the background, Shikamaru helped her pick up lizards and apologized. He was a good kid.
She didn’t like the blond.
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
The Hokage hadn’t cared much and said something she didn’t understand. She was pleased regardless because it had been a joke at Kakashi’s expense judging by how much he had hated it.
Apparently Kakashi’s opinion had made an impact because Izuma-sensei had avoided chakra training altogether and stopped helping her individually on taijutsu. He looked like he pitied her when she asked to learn about the Academy’s ninjutsu. He said no, of course.
Still if it was going to be like that she was going to take full advantage to study the language. She made a clone and both of them took notes. The clone went with past and future tenses along with its negative versions and she wrote down vocabulary pronunciations and meaning. She would have to search for the kanji and she was pretty sure she discovered a new sound they use. She’ll definitely practice that when she is alone in the woods.
Yes, alone. The threats stopped following her three days after the kagebunshin thingy. She was free do to whatever, o she just did the same thing as always: train, talk to the locals and avoid street with drunk men.
She started to stay on the academy training fields after classes to practice with only one blunt kunai and shuriken she had stolen/picked up when no one was looking. She was pretty sure that Izuma-sensei knew it but he didn’t mind at all.
Kakashi was uncooperative, he only talked when he was spoken to and answered short sentences, no more words than necessary and never long enough to take a second breath. How are the genin people? Annoying, Can I train? Sure, Where is Pakkun? Busy…
Dinner wasn’t much better, complete and awkward silence she finally decided to start filling with one sided conversation. He kept trying to give her cues to end the conversation, being very obvious about ignoring her and not wanting to talk.
“I hate vegetables” She commented chewing on her steak, Mm-hmm “ Vegetables are evil” Mm-hmm. “They suck, I think they-“ Mm-hmm “-they make people boring.” He still mm-hmmed but she could tell he was insulted.
She rose her face to serve herself some water and he made a sudden movement to pull his mask up with the bad luck that a lettuce leaf peeked on the tip of his mask. She let out an involuntary snort as he picked it from his face.
She had to put the jar down from the shaking that came with trying to contain her laughter. They could count as spasms. He didn’t look amused.
He used his unusually long arms (they were average but she liked insulting him in her mind) and grabbed her last steak, he pulled it towards his mask-hidden face. She had to lean over the table and grab one of his arms as she attempted to cause a chopstick fight as he opened his mouth and tried to get the meat to his face.
She started laughing then. “Stooop, pleaaase Kakashiii.” He looked confused for a second, like he just caught himself being funny and interesting while he was clearly trying not to be anything but dull. She took the opportunity as soon as it presented and got the meat. She swallowed it immediately without even chewing. “Meat is mine, boring man has boring vegetables.”
He still looked stunned by showing behavior that could be considered “amusing”. He should apply the best advised a gay porno ever gave her it’s not weird unless you make it weird, bro.
He was still lost in thought, she was having none of that. “You clean, I don’t understand what dishes are.” He was displeased, she showed him a sly smile before heading upstairs to sleep. He didn’t even try to stop her.
That night she woke up agitated, with a terrible feeling. She headed downstairs to the kitchen and it only intensified. It came from the woods, she was sure. There was a problem in her woods.
She had to get there.
She could tell Kakashi was awake, she couldn’t leave without him knowing. She had to think of something else. Hmpt! She turned the faucet on to muffle the sound as she made a Shadow clone. Now, as the two girls stared at each other they began to think a plan, both of them realized she should have prepared one before making the bunshin but it was too late now. One of them sat on the counter and slithered towards the window, making sure they didn’t cause a suspicious number of footsteps. The other helped her jump out the window and she rolled on the grass of the garden. She heard the window close with a thud and ran to the woods.
She didn’t have time to note that she didn’t pant nearly as much this time. She was shaken by the intensity of the wrong that was in the woods. She moved silently through the mute trees who felt abandoned.
She reached the clearing, the vibes were vibrating with wrong. She looked, stunned from the back of the tree as a giant snake and an androgynous snake humanoid talked. It sounded important, the smaller snake, the being, made her shudder when he turned to look at her. She stayed in her position, frozen as he spat an order and disappeared along with wrong feeling she had followed. She let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.
“My, my. Silly little girls shouldn’t be spying in the woods. You should have run away the moment he ordered me to kill you, at least I would have gotten to hunt you down. That’s always fun.” The purple snake moved slowly towards her and the forest fell in unnatural silence. Her throat clenched painfully and her muscles tensed, she felt cold sweat in the back on her neck and shuddered. Then her fight or flight instinct kicked in. Who was she kidding she didn’t have one of them.
“How stupid do you think I am? I know you don’t take orders from him.”
It stopped. “Oh, and why isss that, human?”
It was working, oh god, oh god. “ It’s pretty fucking obvious isn’t it? You can’t fool me. It was a poor attempt” The nervous swear slipped through her mouth but she was busy pretending her mouth wasn’t dry. The conversation seemed to finish there and they came to a stall point, she needed to get the conversation going before the bluff stopped working.
“Why did you come here, fool.”
“I felt a disturbance in the forest and came to see what was happening, you know that I haven’t heard anything important, anyways.” Another bluff, she didn’t understand what was being said.
“ A dissturbance? Can you ssense Natural Chakra?”
“… Who’s asking?” The fuck’s Natural Chakra. It slithered to the side but didn’t come further.
“ You may call me Manda.” He waited a second. “Well?”
“Why ask what you already know?” Manda darted his tongue tasting the air and looked at her curiosly.
“What’s your name, human brat.”
“I’m Arabella, but brat’s fine.” She waited for him to do anything, but he just stared at her, so she kept talking. “I’m interested in you, did you know that every animal in the forest has been hiding since the moment you arrived?”
“What do you want from me? It’s not every day that a human dares to put themselves in from of me. If they do dare, they always ask something of me.”
She swallowed air and hope that her twitching hand wasn’t a giveaway of how scared she really was. “Do you keep count of how many you’ve eaten?”
“Didn’t expect you to. My question is why haven’t swallowed me yet?”
He darted his tongue again, in annoyance she noted. “You said you were curious of me, I am curious of you. I will, most likely, eat you afterwards, don’t be impatient.”
Her shoulders shook with a nervous laugh. “I hate waiting.” She was so stupid, it was nearly impossible for her to have lived this long.
“Iss that what you crave? Death? Oh, I see, it won’t look as cowardly if you fall by me, is that what you thought?” It moved forward to her hissing dangerously.
“I didn’t come here to die, but I knew it was a possibility.” She shifted her footing to give her the right impulse if she needed to run. He realized and looked amused at her. He changed trajectory and began to circle her. The top of his skin was as high as the lowest branches in a big tree, once he cut her escape routes there was no running. “I came here to…”
“Why did you come here? I’m waiting.”
She shot her eyebrows up and accepted she was dead as her finally cut off any chance of escaping from him. “I came here to make friends” The clearing echoed with a deep and rough snort.
“Iss that ssooo?” He looked infinitely amused.
“Yes. You see, I am new here and am looking for some friends. You just happen to be perfect for it. Tell me what are your hobbies?” He placed his head in front of her and rested it in his own long body as his sharp and short laugh spread through the forest.
“I enjoy terrorizing children and destroying cities.”
“Well, I haven’t had the chance to do that yet but I am definitely looking forward to. Do you have, eeh, any cities you can recommend me to destroy?” He just kept laughing in front of her.
“I’ll make a list.” Then his face came further, towards her. “Do you, perchance, have any hobbies you can recommend me?”
“Knitting” She said way too fast. Then made an ugly sound in her throat. He didn’t have hands. She tried to amend it quickly. “ Can I touch you?” She made it worse.
“Are you sure you didn’t come here to die you seem very keen to” But moved anyways.
“I won’t hurt you, I doubt I can hurt you anyways. You seem… ehh… ehh… resistant. ”She choked on her words as he place his head inches away from her face. “Can I..? I’m going to… I’m… I’ll do it now.” She walked a step like she had never inhabited a human body before and shoot a shaking hand and pressed it against a scale. “Can you even feel it? I think yo-“
“ I can’t” He moved his mouth to speak causing the scale to shift.
“Kay” She doubted it sounded like a real word, it was more than a shriek. She patted it up and don twice to calm her nerves and took a large step backwards. “Thanks” She cleared her throath. “Do you have any other hobby?”
“ I know fuuinjutsu. And torture. Sometimes I do them at the same time.”
Her smile, that was already poor, crooked. “What is fuuinjutsu? Sounds painful.” He laughed again.
“I was under the impression that you were a ninja, are you really just a little girl in the wrong place?”
“I am an idiot if you ask my opinion” She earned a laugh and tried to keep her hopes up. If he liked her, she survived, if he didn’t she died, it wasn’t so bad. She cleared her throat again. “ Well, I think you are very polite, you surly wouldn’t play with your food feelings like this right, Manda-chan?” She sensed she had gone too far with the chan. She sat in the floor and crossed her legs in front of him. Trust me! I trust you. “I assume I am a friend to you as you are to me, do you mind telling me more about your interests.”
He seemed pleased. “I can only assume you mean fuuinjutsu. It is the ninja art of sealing, very useful, Arabella-san. It teaches you what lines not to cross.”
“ As our friendship progresses you’ll find that I am irrevocably stupid, Manda-chan.” She screamed in her mind. “Keep going, please.”
“I appreciate your guts, tiny one.” He smiled. “I cherish fuuinjutsu very much, I learned from my father in a very young age. It teaches As I got stronger he got warier of me. He was right to, of course. Once I was ready, we fought and I killed him, reaching to the throne of the snakes.”
“Cool!” She swallowed air again and her throat itched. “I had a cousin like that once. They’re all dead now. I also set fire to the house so their corpses would burn down before the hunters got to them, haha. Wouldn’t it be glorious to have some tea now with us? I’ll make sure to bring some next time.” She smiled sweetly and spoke in the same breath.” Fuuinjutsu, seems lovely. I accept, of course, I would love to learn. What should I bring to my first lesson? Also, could it be on Tuesdays and Thursdays at midnight, that’s when I’m free.”
He didn’t look surprised. “I have no concept of Tuesday or midnight.”
“Every two days starting tomorrow as the night falls in this same place, does that sound right?” She was still sweating, it was disgusting. He didn’t answer this time. “ Well, I have to take my leave now, I loved meeting you, Manda –chan. See you tomorrow. You are so cute, Manda-chan. Bye.” The snake shifted and allowed her to leave. She walked away to the woods and when she looked back the snake had disappeared.
She shank to her knees and pressed her head to the floor as a stray tear fell to the ground. She panted as if she had been running for hours. She managed to realize that she had only been that scared for her life once before collapsing to the floor and disappearing with a pop.
In her bed, the original shifted as the nightmare took space in her mind before disappearing into a world of marshmallow, she began eating the marshmallow-men. They were so delicious.
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Apparently, Izuma-sensei had realized something had happened to her. He had asked her if she was alright twice. She just told him she wanted to become a real shinobi as fast as she could, that's why she had been running nonstop since the end of the morning classes. Every time she had tried to throw a shuriken her hands shook and didn't let go.
She had an appointment with death this evening and she had promised to bring tea. Just another average Tuesday in Konoha, woohoo. Wonderful weather too, partially cloud with a possibility of 85% of getting eaten alive. Okay there was no way she wasn’t sending a Shadow Clone.
In the middle of taijutsu class Izuma-sensei pulled her from the rest of the group and told her they were going to work on ninjutsu. She was glad to know she wasn't banned anymore, they started by checking her chakra pool. Apparently she had a normal amount, she had had it tested on a charmed paper or something. Average was nice, she liked average very much.
Then, her chakra control. It was nice to know she was actually good at something, he kept complimenting her on it and she was delighted. Then they moved to the basics of the henge, a jutsu to change your appearance of anything. She watched as her teacher became a bird, a shuriken and the Hokage.
"Bear!"She encouraged him.
"Try it first, make sure that the chakra is distributed proportionally on the whole body." She followed his instructions, she kept her chakra bubbling under her skin and when she thought she had it, the perfect amount, or the closest thing to it she let go. She opened one eye did she do it?
The clone in front of her made jazz hands to mock her, she just did the Shadow Clone Jutsu with the wrong hand seals. Oh, she didn't learn what quantity of chakra he put in every hand seal. Maybe she could learn to do it with only one like the Shadow clone, all she needed to do was remember how he used his chakra.
She gathered some chakra and distributed it through her body, she experimentally kept the chakra inside her and tried to twist it or to just make it happen. Nothing happened.
“What do you think you’re doing dumbass” She turned her head to see her bunshin laying lazily in the floor.
“And you didn’t once think that the henge doesn’t really change your physical body but your appearance to other people?”
She swung her hip and hurried her clone with a hand movement. “So?”
“So maybe you should try molding a thin layer of chakra”
“You can tell I’m not molding much, idiot.”
She smirked with condescension. ”I can tell that you should mold chakra outside of your body before you accidentally rearrange your organs, idiot.”
“You mean a thin layer of physical charka would be enough to shape-shift me?”
“I think it just reflects light differently, it’s considered a genjutsu even though it doesn’t insert your own chakra into your enemy’s mind, ergo it alters the perception of your body through an optical illusion. Maybe it reflects the light in a certain way, altering the composition of the light rays? Just a though anyways, could be wrong easily.” The clone said before rolling in the ground. “I wish I had a gum, I want to make a bubble. It feels right after a rant. ”
“I know it does.” She said, henged as the Hokage. “It doesn’t seem to alter you voice so you’re probably right about the illusion. And my hand looks normal to me but when I look at this pond I look just like the Hokage.”
“You’re going to the Manda thing instead of me.” She stated seriously. She didn’t want any kind of defiance right now.
“Also, take the notebook”
And like that, the clone walked away with only one of the shadows following while three stayed with her.
“Well that’s going to be a problem” She mumbled to herself, fully knowing that they didn’t understand a word.
She stayed and practiced the henge for a little longer until Izuma-sensei came back. He was immediately impressed by her, well, he could only compare her with children but she wasn’t going to complain.
Meeting with Manda was making her anxious already, even if she wasn’t even the one meeting him and could do nothing about what happened while she was away. Her clone could be messing a little too much with him and getting her killed. She needs some ice cream.
She wasn’t sure if it was the panic or the eyes of the shinobi around lingered a little too much on her when she walked around the town. Were they really so perceptive?
She hoped she didn’t look nearly as anxious as she felt, maybe she had some toilet paper on her shoe or something…
Relieved was all she felt when she found Kakashi and the kids hanging around the town. Finally some known faces, everyone else is giving her the creeps. It’s easy to forget this were the same people who could take her down in a second. They were even more skilled than the one who murdered her family so the illusion of her safety was just that, an illusion.
Suddenly she noticed thirteen people standing around her. She could even tell they were tense and alert of her, just like she felt the predators in the woods, they were waiting to strike. She hated being the prey but there was nothing she could do right now, being helpless sucks. If only she could-
“ WOAH, Arabella-nee, HI!” The ball of orange screamed at her. He was jumping around her and suddenly another Naruto appeared and began to shout at her too. Then another guy, and two more… how many shadow clones does he have?
“Kakashi-sensei has us doing D-ranks, it’s so boring. We should be doing cool missions like protecting a princess or attacking bandits… We are so strong we’ll be doing B-ranks in a week, believe it!” He seemed glad to rant off to her and she took it as an opportunity to see how much really she understood. Maybe she could drop the reading and writing classes and just learn the verbal part of the language? It sounded a lot easier. Call her lazy but it was too much, she would rather have free time to plot evil plans or something.
“Maa, leave the girl alone Naruto. Shouldn’t you be painting the fence? Sasuke here just finished his part.”
Sasuke stood next to Kakashi, looking perfectly unaffected, unbothered. A little too perfect, she could see he was proud behind his façade of stoic features.
“There is no way I’m going to lose to Sasuke!”
“You already have, dobe.” Kakashi had to grab Naruto to avoid a fight, these kids were persistent… and violent.
“Sasuke-kun is amazing! He’s already finished. You can’t compare, Naruto-baka.” The pinky said with a grin, she looked at Sasuke expectantly, wanting a smile or a nod or something. Needless to say, she didn’t get it. Sasuke ignored her like the brat he was.
Poor kid, one day she’ll learn men ain’t it. Life’s better without chasing an ideal Sasuke.
“You haven’t finished your part either, Sakura.” Kakashi pointed out. “Maa, hurry up, we need to do another two D-ranks today. Those toilets aren’t going to clean themselves…”
Sasuke looked a little green after that and she nearly laughed in his face, she was not doing a good job on hiding her amusement.
She checked again and there were only four threats around her. She wondered how her clone managed to escape one of them. She’ll probably get it when it pops. Oh man…
A deep guttural laugh echoed through the forest as the snake mocked her. “I didn’t really expect to come, lunch.”
“I don’t believe you; if you actually hadn’t you wouldn’t have come.” She ignored the pet name he had given her.
“So clever.” He murmured and started circling her torturously slowly, “so, so clever.” He took his tongue out and jiggled it in the air.
“Cute” She couldn’t stop herself. It was hardly cute coming from a 55ft tall snake whose tongue weighted more than her. She just hope he didn’t take it as an insult of some kind.
“You are a strange little girl, lunch.” He moved, enclosing her. While there was still enough space to fit three elephants she felt her throat constrict and her lungs ache painfully. “ Don’t worry, it would be a same to eat you now. Maybe when you are no longer interesting. Didn’t you want to learn fuuinjutsu, lunch? “
“ I prefer brunch.” She blurted. Her pharynx had had a tough time articulating her words, now it itched and her voice came out a little strangled. “I’m ready whenever you are ready.”
Manda actually gave her a class, she wasn’t going to say anything. Actually she was very interested in it. Fuuinjutsu was even more interesting that she had expected, even if it involved perfect calligraphy and actual drawing talent with ink. She was content with understanding the beginnings and starting practicing on her own with small things. She just hoped no one asked why she had half of her notebook filled with kanji for ‘destruction’ or ‘pain’. There was one which just said ‘boom’ in really fancy lettering. Of course there were decorations and drawings in the seals she didn’t understand and was asked to not touch or recreate under any circumstances.
It’s not like she was going to disobey the giant snake so she didn’t. Also, she was forced to lean to read and write, the kanji must be perfect. Well isn’t that annoying, she was going to put effort in the most boring skill ever, calligraphy. Ugh.
“Hey” She said to the original the next morning.
“How was it? Did you survive?”
“No, I died.” She looked like she was stretching.
“Ohh, are you ok?” She was playing dumb, like always. The original was so annoying… was she really like that to everyone else? No wonder everyone assumed she was an airhead.
“Yeah, only I died.” She sighed.” By the way, you remembered to spam some clones beforehand right? It’s a whole night of information, you are probably gonna pass out.”
“Yeah I have a clone at the academy so I won’t skip and another with the birds, the threats will assume you are one of them and they won’t-hey, how did you get rid of your tail?”
“They knew I was a clone so I faked tripping and henged into a stone so it looked like I popped."
“Oooh. That’s clever.” The original praised. “I’m copping that”
She shrugged, “It’s your idea anyways”
“Are you saying I’m clever? Aww thanks.”
She huffed “I’m saying part of you is, that part being me. Watch the fall.” She popped
The original fell flat on the floor with a thud.
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
Manda isn’t so scary if you don’t value your life. He’s a good teacher, everything he said gets stuck in your brain, partly because I would rather avoid the consequences of being unprepared and partly because he has actual skill in schematizing and explaining concepts.
He still called her lunch, she’s decided to consider it a pet name and move on. Also she has a lot of work to do, she’s gotten better at the language and now she can hold a decent conversation. Does she do it often? The answer to that would be no; the only people she hangs around periodically are Kakashi that is apparently physically pained by social interactions with her, Naruto who can be set off into ranting without any kind of control, Sakura who is actually nice when Sasuke isn’t around and Sasuke himself. He… well… he is physically pained by talking to anyone but Naruto.
She also hangs with Shikamaru but they’re always playing shogi and there isn’t much she can say that aren’t insults (not like she knows many). Seriously that kid can’t be that good. She’s tried to catch him cheating but he is too good, or she is just bad at the game. Hmm.
Anyways, she’s gotten used to hanging around the kids and listening to Naruto’s rants and rolling her eyes at Sakura. Kakashi just stares at her, why does he never do anything? Sakura could use a long conversation, Naruto would appreciate a hug and maybe a muzzle, seriously that kid doesn’t shut up, and Sasuke need a bitch-slap.
The kids had issues but she didn’t exactly had friends to spare. Well she had the animals which, by the way, could understand her no matter what language she spoke on. She didn’t know why she was surprised, they didn’t understand her family, and animals understood her no matter the language.
Lying in the grass, as the original ran around the forest, she opened the notebook and began to make a list of things she had to learn. Fuuinjutsu and the language were the obvious ones, taijutsu and Academy ninjutsu were covered, genjustu was a problem but it wasn’t like she wasn’t doing anything at the moment. She’s been studying to the point of being considered torture and right now she is focusing on getting herself fit.
Kakashi’s kids are faster than her, even Sakura is stronger than her and she barely runs five laps. She’s seen Naruto run almost twenty in a day because it’s the only thing that will keep him from fighting Sasuke. Thirty. Her tops was around twenty, they were like 5 kilometers long, or something. She’s been counting sheep, like when you can’t sleep, and she’s reached 5,000. Like, an eternity.
The clones study, the original runs. It’s all fun and games until someone has to run. The original gets pissy and you cannot make fun of her without getting punched until she drops out of exhaustion or she runs out of adrenaline in her veins so she has no strength to attack them.
Seriously they were training hard for someone who hadn’t really expected to survive the week in the town. It’s not like she hadn’t had chances to die…maybe she could fake her death at some point? Whatever. This is getting too personal. Where is this going? Is she going to stay here?
What she knew is that some time has passed and she didn’t feel like one of her chronic breakdowns was coming through which was good, she hoped. Maybe it will hit her without a buildup like always? She hoped not.
She wrote down summoning jutsu because she actually had cool summons and she had no way of contacting them and they were cool. Like extremely cool. Piranha level cool. They even had colorful markings, awesome ones, if you asked her.
The original collapsed next to her. Ah, yes the pitiful walk home where she carried her. She’s also found out that clones can make other clones but it is exhausting. And they also don’t refill chakra nearly as fast as the original.
She placed the original in the bed and popped herself making the original twitch slightly and dive deeper in her dreams.
“Good morning everyone” The kids were sitting in the bridge waiting for their sensei who was behind her, or was supposed to be. He had probably stayed behind just to avoid the kids. What an A-grade asshole.
“NEE-CHAN! HI.” Naruto light up and moved to stand in front of her so she could ruffle his hair like she did when she joined them. He was a sweet boy, just too fucking loud.
“Hello, Arabella-san.” Sakura stood up but didn’t move from her position in front of her, still stealing side glances to Sasuke.
“Hn” She seemed jealous that he had greeted her. Arabella felt a little sorry for the kid, her painfully obvious crush wasn’t getting her anywhere and she was wasting her time.
“Are those shoes new, Sakura? They are pretty.” She didn’t want to get on her bad side so she just praised her. The kid blushed and looked at her shoes before turning slightly to see is Sasuke had realized before answering a timid yes.
“Where is Kakashi” It didn’t even sound like a question. The little shit was demanding to know from her. She suspected he didn’t know he was being rude so she just answered with a shrug and biting her tongue. Because he was a kid and didn’t mean anything by it.
“He is always soo late Nee-chan, I can’t become Hokage if I don’t train, believe it!” Naruto chimed in, immediately sharing his discomfort. He liked to talk a lot. Sometimes he talked at her.
“Why don’t you train before he here?” She suggested” if you do what he tells you before he tells you, he will have to teach you something new, justu and stuff”
“NEE-CHAN” He locked moved by her help and she felt sorry for him, he was clearly affection deprived. Sakura was just nodding fervently. Even Sasuke looked shocked by her idea.
“Maa, that’s not very nice Arabella-chan, I teach them plenty stuff.” Kakashi showed up in the worst times… She should have said something worse.
“Well I-“She tried to say but was interrupted by two squeaky voices “YOU’RE LATE.” She wasn’t even mad. She was sure this happened everyday even when she wasn’t there and it was starting to be funny.
“Well, I am late, but I just wanted you to realize that you could train by yourselves before I told you to. It is a valuable life lesson, sometimes you have to do things by yourself to get better. In the end, you will be the only one who can save you.” He said slow and calm.
“That’s BULLSHIT” Naruto stated pointing at him. ”You just don’t want to teach us. You’re too lazy.”
“Hmm, who knows? We’ll never know.” Kakashi didn’t look affected at all at being called out. “Firstly we are going to the Hokage tower to get a mission. Sadly, Arabella-chan can’t come with us. One of you will have to stay behind with her. Hmm” He faked looking thoughtful as he stared one by one at the expectant Sakura, who thought she would be picked, the enthusiastic Naruto, who was waving his hand and calling me me before settling in the stoic Sasuke.” Sasuke you stay, the rest let’s go.”
“Can’t he come with us?” Blurted Sakura before blushing. She clearly considered her a threat to her relationship with him, if only she realized how annoying her dream boyfriend really was… Kakashi was doing this to spite her too, isn’t he? If Sakura hates her she won’t want to go with them as much. Joke on him, she has nothing else to do.
“Why would that be, Sakura? Is there a specific reason you want him to come too?” Wow, Kakashi was not being subtle at all, but then, neither was she.
“W-well” She started pushing her index fingers together and looking away. “The team should be together at all times to ensure teamwork, isn’t that right? It’s the most important thing in a mission; if the team is a mess the objective will not be met and the mission will be a failure.”
“That’s right Sakura-chan” He clapped as if he had figured something out, clearly acting. “Why don’t we make this like a mission? One of you should guard the client, taking turns, while the others fight. Does that sound alright?”
“Alright then Sasuke takes the first turn and then Sakura, then Naruto, understood?”
Kakashi and the kids left the bridge and left her alone with Sasuke, who didn’t seem eager to talk.
She can’t really stand the silence so she was going to talk to him, even if she has to carry the conversation the whole time.
“Thank you for handseals.”
“Hn” She would have preferred if he hadn’t answered.
“You’ve been a shinobi for a long time? I’m still in the Academy, I’ll learn more shinobi stuff soon.”
“You see, I think the Academy jutsu are really cute, I don’t know how to Kawarimi but I’m good doing the other too. Should I henge into something? Oh! you should henge into me and I henge into you, they won’t notice.” She laughed childishly.
“Hn” This brat is getting annoying.
“We should see if they are finished, if we go to the Hokage tower instead of making them walk back, maybe we-“She had started walking towards the town, she grabbed his arm to get moving before he shouted something at her.
“What?” He motioned gabbing something and letting go” Oh, sorry.” She said letting go and stepping away from him. “If we go now we can catch them if you prefer, or we can stay back” He looked baffled, poor kid has probably never been shown decency, judging by the way Sakura approaches him and other girls interact with him. He was totally hating the attention he was getting, poor boy. If he wasn’t so annoying…Wait, probably that was the reason he was so annoying, to avoid unwanted attention; that way girls with decent self-steem will walk away from him. Yeah, he was good looking, but he was a jerk and 12 years old, he should be playing with dolls or something. Being an asshole as a coping mechanism, well…she’s heard worse.
She started walking by herself and he followed her, staying a little behind. She just didn’t care, she turned around, walking backwards in the empty street and kept talking at him, face to face. She was just ranting to him because he hadn’t called her annoying yet and she knew he would if he had considered her such. He wasn’t talkative but he didn’t hide what he thought.
He was kind of weird, to be honest. She knows deer that are less startled by people than him. “…And I like lying down in the forest in the shadow of a tree, what do you do in your free time? You look like you have hobbies like cooking or plants or something like that…do you like fishing? You don’t see the type. I hate fishing because fish always mock me but I like hunting. I guess that is my hobby…” She turned around now that the streets were starting to get more crowded and he walked so he was by her side. He hadn’t showed any intention of answering her questions but didn’t seem bothered by her ranting. Good.
“… I like nature too, I guess. I know a lot about animals and I like to spend my free time training in the woods. I am kind of an animal magnet. They just show up. They are harmless but once when I was little I brought a mountain lion to my house because I gave her a slice of cheese. My parents were not happy-”
“We should wait here.”
They were at the entrance of the Hokage tower, he was right. She felt like a little kid making alist of the things she did during vacations for school.
Sasuke’s hand twitched for a second and she got alert. He was making this face where he looked unbothered but she could tell he was nervous… Why was he… Oh, two girls were hiding terribly from them in a bush, startling the passerby. Also they were furiously whispering, presumably about them.
She thought about making a comment about it but didn’t. She just kept ranting.
“…My favorite color is blue, sky blue, you know. But I never wear it because it looks bad with my ginger hair. And everything always-“She had to stop talking because the girls had thrown a stone at her. She caught it with one hand and started casually throwing it up and down”- always looks bad when it isn’t white or black, even with those it looks weird. I wish I had normal hair like black or brown.”
The girls were loudly plotting something again and she expected another stone to come her way. “It’s so annoying, I can’t hide, It’s just impossible-” She stopped the incoming stone by throwing her own and making them collide halfway. That was so cool of her. She was kind of proud at that.
Naruto waved violently at them while screaming. “WOO-OH, WE ARE HERE. WOO-OH”
“I think they can see us Naruto-baka” Sakura stated walking towards them. Seriously they were two strides away. Kakashi was waving lazily at them.
“Hi, we thought we better meet you here, this way the team is closer together like you wanted Sakura-chan.” She included her immediately in the conversation because she was already looking at her suspiciously. She didn’t like that she had been talking to her boyfriend.
“Hn” Sasuke confirmed. Sakura beamed at the slight praise, poor, poor girl.
“NEE-CHAN! We are doing a C-RANK, believe it!” Naruto excitedly told her.
“We are actually doing a mission out of Konoha so we are leaving tomorrow morning. We’re supposed to train and prepare for tomorrow so we have decided to escort you home.” Sakura explained.
“That’s very nice, Sakura-chan.” Arabella smiled at her, “Just follow Kakashi, he knows.”
“A-Ah” She stuttered, “Can I ask why is that? A-Are you Kakashi’s girlfriend? Is that why you always come together?”
She avoided the dirty jokes that instantly flooded her mind about ‘coming together’ and instead answered “We live together.” She answered, plain and simple, because she can’t do anything elese. God if only she could play them…She could tell she had the full attention of the three kids, Kakashi was looking away, ignoring the conversation. He didn’t look like he was going to answer any questions.
“What? You are living with Kakashi-sensei, but you are so pretty Nee-chan how did you end up with him.” She actually laughed at this.
Kakashi looked at him” Maa, that’s not very nice Naruto. You are hurting my feelings”
“Can I ask you, how did you convince your parents to let you live with Kakashi-sensei?” Sakura asked shyly “It sounds like a lot of trouble.”
“My family is dead now.” She answered easily. Sakura visibly winced, sorry girlie I can’t put it in any other way. Was that too blunt?
“I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to-“
“It’s alright they’ve been dead for a long time.” She smiled warmly, Sasuke was as shocked as Sakura and Naruto was thinking silently. It was probably a weird moment for the three of them, they probably didn’t know anyone who have known death like she had. ”And about the other thing… what has Kakashi told you?”
“He didn’t say anything.”
“Hmm, I won’t say anything either.”
“But that’s not fair!” Naruto said, joining the conversation again, he had been quiet for a while; a short while, but a while nonetheless.
“How did you met Kakashi-sensei, Arabella-san?” Sakura asked clearly trying to make her spill some information on her sensei.
“You didn’t tell them anything about me, Kakashi?” She asked him instead of answering. He said something about it being her choice or something. He probably just didn’t want to explain. “We met in the woods, I was going to give some meat to a blind baby raccoon and he-“
“And then we walked here and I had-” She said gesturing to her shirt, how it had been bloodied.
“That’s classified too.”
“And now I’m here, living with Kakashi. Tadaa”
“You didn’t say anything!” Sakura protested. “Not even what part of the woods, was it training grounds 53?”
“It wasn’t in Konoha or in fire country.” Kakashi answered for her; that detailed didin’t go over her head but she put it aside for the moment. The three kids were really curious about her, they were cute. They clearly wanted to ask.
She smiled sweetly “My family died so I lived in the woods and then Kakashi found me.” And forced me to get here, how did you even say kidnapped? Kakashi didn’t seem bothered by her revealing this information, since it was kid-friendly.
“And then you fell in love! That’s a beautiful love story… I wish…” Sakura squirmed, sneaking a look to Sasuke yet again. She kinda understood now why he was such a little bitch. If she had to go through this everyday… She’d be pretty conceited too.
“Wait, why were you in the woods, couldn’t you have gone to a town or something?”
“Naruto, you can’t say that” Sakura reprimanded him in a screaming whisper, she just waved it off.
“I can talk to animals” She shrugged, but she probably should have. She was just so scared that she would be found again by the people who killed her parents….And she would have had to answer a lot of questions she wanted to avoid thinking about.
“Wait… the mountain lion… was it true?” Sasuke asked her.
“Yeah, her name was Sarah” She had been a lovely feline, much nicer than the rest. She had found that her cubs had grown too much and they left her side to live on their own. They spent like two days together before her parents told her she couldn’t have her as a pet because it was suspicious and they didn’t want to draw the attention of the rest of villagers. “I don’t like lying” Even if she has lied more than she’d liked.
“WHAT! That is so COOL, can you talk with birds too?” Naruto appeared in front of her catching all her attention. This kid was so obvious, he didn’t like how she had given Sasuke information about her that he didn’t already know.
“Sort of, yeah”
“Those are birds, Naruto-baka”
“Really? I thought they were-“He was interrupted by a masked figure dressed in black head to toe. She recognized them immediately, one of the threats that had been following her. They were wearing a metal plate and an animal mask, Kakashi recognized them as ‘bird’ and she could only tell they were a woman after she spoke:” The Third summons Arabella-san in his office. Let’s go.”
Kakashi nodded to her but she was already at her side waving good-bye at the kids. Look at me so tamed and obedient. She really hoped she was not taken to the interrogation room again. ‘Bird’ did something ninja and they appeared in the Hokage’s office. She didn’t have time to contemplate the space as the floor started spinning and she gagged. That was not nice.
“Sorry about that, Arabella-san, I’m afraid the Shunshin isn’t as fun when you are a passenger. Do you need a glass of water?” The third Hokage stood above of her in a chair with a long wooden pipe on his hand. “Thank you Bird.”
The kneeling girl disappeared from her side, presumably in the same technique she used to bring her here, the shunshin. “No, I’m fine, thank you” She shoot back the politeness she recieed but she had no doubt this was about to go south real easily. She was going to be as polite as possible, just to avoid any trouble at all, she had no doubt this man held her destiny. Bird had been kneeling maybe she should-
“Oh, there’s no need for that, stand up, you are not a Kunoichi of the leaf” He took a drag of his pipe “…yet” He then filled the room with puffy white smoke.
Oh, that was quick, he was going to test her on her capabilities and loyalty to the village to determine if she was going to become a Shinobi. He was trying to test her, but she knew too well how this things went.
He remained quiet, staring at her, waiting to meet her eyes. She gave in and stared back. She didn’t have to fake the raw curiosity in her gaze. He coughed and she had no doubt it was fake.
“I hope you don’t mind the lack of traducer, I have heard of your exponential growth in the understanding of our language.”
“I don’t mind” Even if she protested she doubted that he would postpone it. It was clever, it placed her in a position of inferiority, beginning by the position of the Hokage, above her eye-level, even though he is sitting, and finishing by the obstacle of the language. She can’t lie convincingly if she can’t speak properly.
“How are you liking the Academy? I have heard of your progress.” First question, it begins asking for her opinion, he isn’t looking for things to improve there, is he?
“I enjoy training, but I am behind the rest.” She considered mentioning Izuma-sensei, but there was no way she was gonna drag his name with her, making him a suspect. This was nothing but an intervention, but he had nothing on her. She knew she was being followed, they didn’t know she knew so everything she did in front of them was considered natural.
“That’s hardly the case, your teacher, Izuma-san has asked for an early promotion to the third year class, which is quite the achievement, what do you think of it?”
“If Izuma-sensei thinks I should be there, I agree. “He brought her for this? Is this the mere introduction to the true reason?
“Why do you believe you are behind, Arabella-san?” the Hokage was serene but careful with his words. He wasn’t satisfied by her answer.
“I know I am behind in Physical con-di-tio-ning” It was a hard word she hadn’t had time to study properly, it also helped to make her look innocent and childish. “They are faster and stronger than me and I need help with taijutsu. I don’t know genjustu.”
“I see, well, I’ve heard you are doing fine in taijutsu, but I am afraid that the henge technique is the farthest the Academy can take you in genjustu, you would have to apprentice under a genjustu specialist if you want to continue studying them.” Was he going to be recommend her to someone? ”Have you ever been referred as ‘tensei’? “
She opened her notebook and looked for the word… Genius…
“Maybe the correct term would be prodigy” She closed her notebook with one hand and placed it again in her hip.
“I am not a genius or a pro-di-gy, I have to work hard for my archieve-ments. Everything I can do it’s because I work hard” She stated with a little difficulty, there was no way she was getting that kind of treatment. A title like that was an invitation to be exploited to her maximum, she was already pretty ambitious by herself.
“I see, very well then. May I ask you, why do you want to become a shinobi?” Does she truly want to, or has it been imposed upon her arrival there. She’s just gone with the flow so far and maybe this was her chance out, what does she want to do?
“I don’t know” She answered truthfully, maybe not to the question he asked but it was still an answer.
“It is understandable, being asked so abruptly. I ask you to think about it and then answer the question. Have you ever heard of the will of fire?” He took a slow drag of his pipe. “Konoha is a special place, you see.” He stood up and walked to the window “It is a place where every year shinobi are born, raised, grow old, fight, and die to protect their home. Their desire to protect their own often overpower their fears and it becomes the Will of fire.”
“Wanting to protect isn’t a desire, it’s a need. Everyone who loves someone knows it.” She commented abruptly. He merely turned his head and smiled at her before turning away again.
“These people are precious to me. My desire to protect them often blinds me, I am glad I wasn’t blinded by your foreignness and welcomed you into the town. I think many ninja could learn something from you. However I have to warn you, if you attempt the slightest to act against the village you will face repercussions.” It wasn’t so much defying the town as defying his person, his position on it.
“Arabella-san, keep working like you’re doing and maybe next time you enter my office you will kneel.”
“Hai, Hokage-sama” He seemed extremely pleased by her answer. She took it as dismissal and left the room. Actually, after dealing with Manda nothing was as scary.
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
“Alright” She said more to herself than to the snake on her kitchen counter, “Let’s lay some ground rules.” He didn’t seem to be paying attention, she chose to continue anyways. “One, you will be under my supervision at all times, don’t wander off on your own. Two, don’t attack anyone no matter what. Three, I didn’t ask for this, neither did you, this doesn’t have to become punishment for either of us, but remember: I call the orders and you follow. Don’t forget I can send you to the slaughter anytime.” She took a deep breath. “Last one, do not speak with any other human, is that understood?”
He turned his head to her “Why.”
“Why should I obey you” There were many answers, but she was sure that hers would determine the nature of their relationship. Now, she could play many roles, the sweet girl who has no idea what’s going on, the strict self-righteous woman who would make him go straight or the cruel resentful slave-owner. But she was none of that.
“Listen, I’m not your mum. I’m kind of your roommate. Ideally I’ll just tell you off if you eat my food or like do something that has consequences for me. Just follow the rules and we’re cool.”She walked to the fridge and grabbed a bottle with milkshake on it. “Just don’t try to run away, I’d hate to go to Manda to tell him that his baby boy is being mean to me, I’m an easy crier you see.”
“I am not anyone’s baby boy nor I’ll ever be, you fool.”
“Yeah we gotta work on that, those insults are pathetic.” She took a long gulp straight from the bottle. “Hey what are your opinions on female semi-nudity?”
“I just want to chill with no pants off.”
“What are pants?”
She turned to him with a smile “Perfect.” She walked to the counter and offered her arm to climb on her but the snake just slithered off on his own making her roll her eyes. “Whatever, bratty boy, follow me to my room, where we sleep from now on.” She was so fucking lucky that Kakashi was out of town and that the threats were getting bored of her. They had been following her for so long and all she did was average and normal. Train, go to class, study sleep, talk to animals and just chill. Nothing suspicious. And they were noticing, so they just followed her from time to time, just for some hours and not every day.
Just in time to make her position become questionable.
She hadn’t planned to leave so early but she might need a plan C, just in case. Plan B is crawling to Manda and owing him one to smuggle her out, he surly wouldn’t mind anything that traps her into needing him.
She offered her arm to transport him to her bedroom but he ignored her as always. She did enjoy watching him struggle to climb the set of stairs afterwards, 5 minutes of pure joy.
“This is my bed, I sleep here, you can sleep wherever. We can fix something more appropriate if you lie, but this would have to do for now.” He didn’t seem to care much, but then neither did she. She was not getting out of her way for that snake. He ignored her again and curled on the floor. “Goodnight, don’t be a dick and try to escape while I’m sleeping.”
He was still there when she woke up, somehow, she was both relieved and annoyed. She didn’t want to be no one’s private babysitter but also didn’t want to anger Manda. At least, his son as a security blanket, Manda couldn’t kill her now, but now she cannot deny having connections to the big purple snake.
She was lucky that it was a Saturday o she didn’t have class that day, at some point she would have to face a enormous class of excitable children and an aggressive snake meeting, just not today.
She tried to talk to him during her breakfast, but he ignored her so it was a lot more like talking him through her meal. Since he didn’t answer when she asked him if he wanted something to eat he skipped breakfast.
She sat at a nice shadow to rest and study for probably hours, while Kurodoku just chilled on a branch just, above her. He still didn’t answer when she asked him if he was hungry. This time she confronted him “Are you seriously giving me the silence treatment? That’s so sly of you, sly boy. Perhaps you might also want to interrupt me when I speak from now on?”
“What, are you trying to kill yourself through starvation? That never works, trust me, you’ll start eating everything on your way, even rocks. And that’s not funny. Here, let me get you a fresh cuckoo egg from this nest. I’ll even give you some proper meat.” She held the egg to his face and wiggled it in front of him. Famine was evident on him and he started eyeing the egg and wiggling his head to the compass. He swallowed it whole with little to no care for her fingers. “See? No reason to be a little bitch. Let’s head to the house.”
Her life with a pet snake wasn’t so different, it was just as silent. Kurodoku hadn’t even looked her way since they got stuck together by the destiny.
She was lying down lazily on the sofa looking at the ceiling as she emptied her mind:“… and that’s what happen when you eat aconite, basically you die. I feel like you aren’t listening to me. Don’t look at me if you are interested. Ah, I knew you liked it. Anyway there is this red mushroom that can also be partially green…”
“Why don’t you fear me?” He hadn’t spoken in hours and he chose to ask that stupid question?
“Like, in general or…?”
“You heard I was planning to murder my summoner, why aren’t you upset?”
She was tempted to think her answer through but the cascade of nonsense was already leaking from her mouth. “I mean, sure, you are a big boy and your criminal record definitely intimidates me but the chain-y oath helps a little. It, however, brings some questions to my mind. Why didn’t you oath to never harm your old summoner?”
“The hatred came both ways, he was also looking forwards to killing me as I no longer was fooled by that cunt’s false promises of loyalty.” He had this intense look, even for a snake. She couldn’t help but to believe him.
She angled her heat to look at his direction. “Okay, lesson number one, if you are going to speak so formally the only insults you can use are fool and… fool, just fool. Maybe follow it with a highly descriptive adjective: gruesome or abominable or something like that. If you want to say cunt just simplify it, making it colloquial: he hated me too, that fake cunt, yes that’s a lot better. Or…” She sat on the couch abruptly and smiled at him. “...just call him a son of a bitch.”
He stayed mute after that and so did she. Hours passed and day became night. She could help to reprimand herself to have called the dinners with Kakashi awkward, these were a lot worse because a snake couldn’t really sit on the chair.
Now, today was going to be a problem. In the morning she just worked out and walked Kurodoku through the woods letting him observe her socializing with other animals, she was sure it arose new questions. Yes, she could speak to animals, for as long as she remembered, yes any animal. Moving on.
Now came the tricky part, since she was supposed to attend school the next morning she would have to take him to a room full of children and she didn’t know how he reacted to children. The main problem is that he was a stubborn little shit. “I need to get you around the city so I have to carry ou.”
“C’mon, it’s not that bad. You’d just have to chill in my pocket or hold yourself on my arm, just as if it was a branch. You’re just contradicting me to annoy me. It’ll be a couple minutes.”
She rolled her eyes and let out an impatient breath. “Oh, c’mon, baby, don’t be like that. It really won’t be that bad. I’ll give you a treat or something.”
“…” He looked away from her, ignoring her hopeful face. “On your arm, like a branch. I leave when I want to.”
She smiled widely at him “Deal, deal, deal, whatever. Let’s get going.” She offered her am and he took it. She had some problems placing her hand, since his head was on her wrist she couldn’t keep her hands down but couldn’t hold him up without looking ridiculous. “What if… how about… like a scarf over my shoulders… yeah like that.”
“Are you sure you I should be around your neck?”
“I thought you’d have realized I am a complete idiot after spending two days with me.” She rolled her eyes. “I’ll just pretend you are the most expensive necklace I’ve ever worn.”
She clicked her tongue” An exotic snake skin? “She asked rhetorically. “ Probably…wait there was that time I pretended to wear a lost Water Daimyo flower necklace. Then I sold it, like really high price. My mom made it for my birthday but she wasn’t as upset when she heard how much. It got us so much we had to give some money away just to avoid suspicion .Too much money for merchants, imagine. Good times.”
“Now, don’t communicate to anyone in town, pretend to be another regular animal, not a semi-gigantic snake.” She asked him as she started walking down the deserted street. She planned to start from the outskirt to dive into the city and divert to the outskirts again. This way she could see how bothered he was by humans.
“I am gigantic.”
“Mmmm” She hummed, judging him “Not really.”
“I am several feet tall.” He spoke to her ear as the streets became more crowded. She walked on stern and periodical pace to avoid overwhelming him. She could notice how tense he became when people passed a little too close to her shoulders. She wasn’t getting as much weird looks as she expected.
Somehow it wasn’t hard to pick out the pineapple shaped hair between the mass of people. “Hi Shikamaru. How are you?”
“Hey” He said lazily as he looked at her collar and then turned to her face. “New friend?”
“He’s a snake.” Before she finished speaking, two more kids and an adult appeared in front of her too. Asking for just Shikamaru was too much, his teammates were unaffected, well the fat kid was, the blonde hid behind him making him blush as he chewed a chocolate bar. Their teacher, an intimidating jounin was, the biggest problem. Hopefully he wouldn’t know anything about snakes, and judging by his face, he didn’t. “His name is Kurodoku.”
“Where did you get your pet? That’s a nice snake.” The man didn’t seem suspicious but it would be better to be careful, she could be fooled, he was a jounin after all and she was barely a genin, if so.
Kurodoku hissed at him and she found herself correcting him. “He’s a friend, not a pet. He came to me. He’s nice to have around, I was bored.”
“Chst, it’s probably going to be a drag but you can come to the compound to play shogi whenever.” She smiled. He was a good kid.
“Wait a second!” The blonde’s voice chimed in, “you want to give your girlfriend Kurenai-sensei a snake as a gift for your anniversary?! Are you crazy? She’s going to leave you.”
“Everyone knows it, Asuma-sensei. Don’t bother.” Shikamaru cut him off. It was kind of fun seeing a grown man blush, kind of cute. She decided to offer her advice.
“Flowers, diner and…” She couldn’t say condoms in front of children…she didn’t even know how to say it, “something sweet.”
“Yes” The blond said exasperated, “Yes, yes, yes. She gets it.” She pointed at her teacher. “Don’t forget to give her a goodnight kiss she won’t forget.” Her teacher choked on his cigarette and Arabella couldn’t help to wonder, did she know what she’s implying?
Her giggles didn’t help the situation much. “Yes a good kiss, but I wasn’t going to say that.” He got so red faced he couldn’t say anything. Shikamaru looked amused, but the blonde was just confused.
“Men are so immature, they always react like this?” The blonde huffed “I already know how to kiss.”
Arabella bit her lip. “You really shouldn’t, this is my advice: avoid trying it so young. Believe me it’s better if you wait a couple years so you don’t regret it.”
“I’m not going to regret it, besides I’m saving it for a special guy. There’s no way it can go wrong.” She daydreamed and Shikamaru shook is head.
“She’s always Sasuke this, Sasuke that.” Shikamaru sighed.
“Yeah” The fat boy, she assumed he was an Akimichi, spoke for the first time. “We’re also here, you know. “
“Sasuke’s so talented he could kick anyone’s ass. He’s the strongest.”
“Sasuke?” Arabella asked more to herself and made a sound of disapproval. She didn’t really know what to think about him. He had help her but he was also an asshole. On the other hand, he was twelve, everyone was an asshole at twelve. “ He’s always on a bad mood and he’d not that pretty.”
“You are lying.” A voice whispered on her ear. She had forgotten about Kurodoku.
“Yeah the kid is cute but he’s an asshole” She answered in her old language. “Besides, you don’t- wait you haven’t met him, how’d you know?”
“ Ssnakes are trained liars, we can sspot a mediocre one almost immediately.” He moved and she had to raise her hand to avoid dropping him. “I didn’t know you could sspeak the ssnake’s language. I undersstimated you.”
“I can speak to animals” She informed to both the snake and the people in front of her.
“Ah” Said Shikamaru” Makes sense, I thought you just really liked animals.”
She smiled at him.
She finished her poorly cooked eggs absentminded while she went through her vocabulary notebook. She rose her head to look at the position of the sun through the glass of the window and left the plate on the sink with the rest of dirty dishes. She was in a hurry.
Now she had to convince her new ‘partner’ to come with her without making a flush.
“I’m going to class, you’re staying in the bag with my books without making a sound or I’ll throw you in my toilet and I’ll keep flushing.”
“Get that finger out of my face.” The snake hissed at her. “Can’t I just stay here and sleep? Bringing a criminal to a room full of people sounds ‘fucking stupid’.”
She opened the bag and shook it “The toilet Kurodoku, it’s not as fun as it sounds.”
“Whatever.” He said slithering to the bag.
“Let’s go, this are going to be the most bring hours of your life.” At least that was easy. Hopefully the classes would go as smoothly as this conversation.
She was pretty excited for the classes, to be honest. This was the first time she could understand most things the teacher said and she was ready to absorb this kind of information. Ninja history, while clearly biased to keep the rest of countries as evil and the enemy and Konoha as a proud hero. She couldn’t check the veracity of the textbook because she hadn’t known a thing about this. This was like finding a new world with a civilization that has their own culture, exciting and immensely interesting. She was so surprised when the Book mentioned trade treaties with the Land of Birds and their war with Land of Rain. And she knew about that. She’d read about it when they travelled there.
She hadn’t been exactly schooled as that would leave trace of their travels but sometimes she bought books from different places. The life of a traveler is not as fun as it sounds, she used to question everything they did. But the funny part is, that in none of these places they ever mentioned shinobi or were any books about them, there were fantasy stories about them, placed in the past and portrayed as lone heroes who could invoke gods and create gigantic samurai to protect themselves.
Ninja History was parallel to Political History which wasn’t taught. When two governments had the same interest that either caused an economic and diplomatic tug-of-war or a war itself. This was easy to put together on her own, but maybe 8 year-old wouldn’t.
Geography was also a ride, she couldn’t count with her fingers how many countries she had lived in but she noticed that none of them had a Ninja hidden village. She had been in the Land of fire before, traveling along her parents and selling herbs, on the far south, next to Tea country where Cilantro and Rosemary grow best.
Ten minutes into writing class, her chair started to shake. She didn’t waste a second to stomp on the tail that was tangled on the table legs. Not a second after, Kurodoku used his back to shake her chair and the kid sitting next to her was looking at her weirdly. “What the FUCK do you think you are doing?”
Whispering to her bag was getting more kids to play attention to her. “I was getting bored” He shook her chair, alerting the teacher. She had a couple ways to direct this, trying to hide him and making the teacher suspicious or giving Kurodoku attention and getting her kicked out of class. She couldn’t punish him in front of the kids and her teacher and she couldn’t take him back to Manda for a stupid thing like that. He knew what he was doing, but so did she.
“Sorry.” She said aloud to the teacher and put Kurodoku on the table, getting back to work. The snake was shocked enough to stay on his place for some seconds, while the girl on her right screamed. “It’s just a snake. He won’t do anything to harm you, I can speak to animals, remember?”
The kid calmed down but Izuma-sensei cleared his throat to catch her attention. “Arabella-san” F-U-C-K she only hoped this didn’t escalate to the Hokage office. “You’ve improved your vocabulary, congratulations.”
“Thank you Izuma-sensei.” Now that someone had seen Kurodoku she couldn’t pretend to hide it anymore and she had made very clear that he had to accompany her everywhere, that little bitch.
At least he seemed fine with staying on the desk critiquing her calligraphy, he was learning insults very quickly, she was almost proud but somehow she was offended the most when he called her kanji ‘mediocre’. It wasn’t. It was near damn perfect, these snakes were too snob.
She could tell that he was bored on math class, so was she because she already knew the math and science bits. By the start of reading class he had curled up and was trying to sleep while the kids learnt.
She didn’t have Bukijutsu and Taijutsu until the last period so she started petting him through theoretical Genjutsu because he was starting to interrupt Izuma-sensei with his complaining hisses.
Sweaty, tired and slightly achy from Taijutsu she confronted the snake: “You know, I’m supposed to punish you for being a little shit today, but I actually like that and you didn’t cause me any problems, so whatever. Do you want to grab a milkshake before training in the woods?