Her head hurts. There is a beeping noise somewhere in the distance and her body feels heavy and sore. She forces her eyes open, wincing even against the dim light of what appears to be a hospital room.
“What’s going on?”
Her voice is slurred and sounds strange to her own ears. Something stirs against her chest.
She looks down in confusion, but the only thing she sees is the dark hair and tiny body of a child she doesn’t know. “What-?”
Her throat hurts. What happened? The child suddenly snaps to attention. “Help! Help, she’s awake!”, the boy yelps, or at least she thinks he does. His voice is urgent and she understands so very clearly what he wants, but his words sound like complete gibberish to her. A woman bursts into the room, with an alarmed look on her face. She is wearing a nurse outfit and seems equally stressed and relieved to see her awake. “Uchiha-chan”, she says with a shaky smile. “It’s good you’re finally awake.”
She stares blankly at the woman, not quite understanding. The woman’s smile wavers. “Uchiha-chan, can you understand me?”
Her brain moves so very sluggishly. She must have been hurt pretty badly, because she could swear she just heard the nurse call her ‘Uchiha-chan’. Also, the woman’s words still sound alarmingly foreign to her. It’s silent for a few confused seconds, before she turns towards the nurse again. “What…did you call…me?”, she forces out, mildly surprised how easily the weird words fall from her lips. Does she have brain damage? The nurse’s eyes widen at that. “Ah – uh, Uchiha-san, I apologize! I mean no disrespect.”
There are so many things wrong with that sentence, she wants to point out. Instead she settles for, “What happened?”
“Nee-chan”, the little boy squawks, huddling nearly forgotten against her side. His eyes are big and teary and for the first time she realizes that he nearly reaches up to her shoulder.
She jerks away from him in shock, looking down at herself. She is tiny. She lifts her hands staring at them in horror. Faintly she hears the nurse calling for her, somewhere on her left the little boy starts crying. Then everything goes dark.
When she wakes up again her heart is pumping as if she just ran a marathon or maybe she had a panic attack while sleeping. Is that possible? It’s completely dark now and she is alone. She flexes her fingers, presses them to her face, then curls them around the edges of the bed. Her arms barely reach that far. Yes, still tiny. Her name is Sarah, she’s pretty sure of that. No, she’s absolutely sure of that.
She is nineteen years old and a college student. Her parent’s names are Sofie and Arnold; she has an older sister called Marie and since two weeks ago she has a gold fish that she still hasn’t named. It was a gag gift from her father because she moved out of the dorms and complained that she’s lonely now. Her best friend’s name is Evelyn ‘Call-me-Evie” and the last thing she remembers…is Evie’s slackened face as she sinks down to the ocean floor.
She takes a deep breath and releases it slowly, shuddering.
It was her birthday. She died on her own damn birthday. Evie had insisted on taking her parent’s little boat out on a joy ride to celebrate. Just them and a few of the adoring fan boys that followed her best friend everywhere. There was beer and cheap, sweet vanilla liquor that Evie had wheedled from her older brother’s girlfriend. It was fun, up until the point they realized that they were lost. It was dark and nobody was in any condition to drive a boat anymore. Grudgingly they decided to sleep on the boat. They dropped the anchor for the night and settled down, until Evie decided it was a good idea to go swimming.
“Come on, Sarah”, she grinned, “maybe that’ll lift the mood a little so we can keep it up for another few hours. I’m not tired yet.”
They had too much to drink and too little common sense. There was no warning, nothing. One moment Evie was there, the next she wasn’t. Panicked silence followed, before an arm snapped out of the water, just enough to whack loudly against the boat and then she was gone again. The boys refused to go after her. She remembers being furious at them. They’d fawned over her, made her expensive presents, promised to fulfill her every wish if she went out with one of them, but they wouldn’t save her from downing. “It’s a shark”, Mark said, “I’m not going up against a shark.”
It wasn’t a shark, of course. It was cold and the alcohol had dehydrated them, it was a cramp, Sarah was sure of it. “There are no sharks here”, she snapped, diving head first after her best friend. Two minutes felt like an eternity before her blindly grasping hands made contact with cold flesh. She pulled, surprising herself as Evie’s face suddenly appeared in front of her, emerging from the dark out of nowhere. Then the current pulled at them. It was laughably weak.
Inanely she’d remembered making a game out of it with Evie; racing against the current. But it was dark and she was dizzy from the alcohol and was enough to disorient her. She didn’t know where up and down were anymore. The last thing she remembers is Evie’s arm being tugged out of her cold, cramping hands and she hopes to god it was someone who saved her and not the current. She herself is obviously either dead and in hell or in a coma.
She takes another deep breath and forces herself to calm down. The facts:
She is a child. Or at least the size of a child; her chubby little fingers are undeniable proof of that.
She is in a hospital but has no apparent injuries. All pain she experiences could be from drowning, so at least that makes sense.
People here speak gibberish. Maybe her brain didn’t get enough oxygen and now there is something wrong with her head – possibly.
The nurse called her ‘Uchiha-chan’, the boy ‘Nee-chan’. That sounded Japanese, which would explain the gibberish. It does not explain why she understood it, because she doesn’t speak any Japanese.
The nurse called her Uchiha-chan. Uchiha.
She quietly slips out of the bed and makes her way over to what she thinks should be the restroom. She has to stretch her arms to reach the door handle and the light switch and the glaring neon light hurts her eyes. Determinedly she drags a little stool from the strange looking shower and pushes it in front of the washbasin. She climbs onto it with her eyes closed, little hands gripping the basin, and takes another deep, calming breath before opening them and looking into the mirror.
She is indeed a child. A pretty child. She still looks like herself but somehow…not. There is undeniably Sarah in the curve of her lips and the regal looking straight nose but also what must be ‘Uchiha-chan’ in her almond shaped eyes and round, cherubic cheeks. She might be eight or nine years old. Her hair is black and pin straight, her eyes so dark she can’t even make out her own pupil. She looks undeniably Asian.
Could it really be? But how? Why?
There is obviously something strange going on but she simply refuses to believe that it is something Naruto-strange. Uchiha-strange. Possibly Uchiha-Sasuke-strange. She briefly thinks of the two Self-Insert stories on her alert list. She isn’t Sasuke. She can’t be Sasuke – she might be dead but there is neither enough emo nor madness in her to make that happen.
She’d probably marry Naruto and end up turning the whole thing into a yaoi comedy.
Then she remembers the little boy. Maybe that is Sasuke?
She wonders if they are supposed to be close.
No, the boy isn’t Sasuke. She shakes her head to get rid of the thought. There isn’t any hard evidence aside from a few words of gibberish and a name, so she doesn’t believe it yet. And as long as she doesn’t believe it, it doesn’t have to be so. How is it? It isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Or, you know, the nurse. She would ask her tomorrow.
The night is, as expected, restless. When the first nurse comes to check on her at around six, she finds a little girl sitting cross-legged on her bed, very deliberately reaching out for the safety bar at the side of it, at first with one hand, then the other. “How are you feeling, Uchiha-chan?” she asks with a frown. “Alright, I believe”, she answers. As odd as this whole thing might seem to the nurse, she is currently testing her own limbs, trying to get used to the much shorter reach. It was disconcerting last night to reach for something and have her hands continuously fall short of it. The nurse pulls up a chair. “Do you remember what happened?” she asks carefully. “Why you’re here?”
“No”, she says, because she doesn’t. Not really. The nurse looks unhappy. She licks her lips before reaching out for the poor little girl, so alone in the world now. She doesn’t quite touch her, but lets her hand rest close by. “I really shouldn’t be the one to tell you this, but you need to know. Uchiha-chan…something bad happened to your family.” The nurse watched her carefully until she nodded. “They are…gone”, she says, “You and Uchiha-kun…are the last of your Clan. I’m very sorry.”
Ah, she realizes distantly, the Uchiha Massacre. She doesn’t have to fake the shock and the hot tears streaming down her face. For some reason the bed is shaking; no, she is shaking. The tears come more violently now, but not for this family, but for the other one. For Sophie and Arnold and Marie, who she’d never see again, because this is really happening.
The nurse finally hugs her close as she cries. For whom, nobody has to know.
It takes about an hour before she calms down, her nineteen year old mind forcing her nine year old body into submission. The hysteric sobbing turns into the occasional, painful hiccup and her body is taut to keep the shaking at bay. The next three days are spent alternately crying and stubbornly forcing herself to accept what happened.
She gives up the hope to just wake up in a different hospital after the second night and then spends about two hours panicking and scrambling for information about her supposed second life. She finds out her own name more or less by accident. Two nurses mourning little Sasuke-kun and little Hisana-chan, who would now have to take care of both of them in the hallway, right outside her door. She vaguely remembers that there is supposed to be some kind of orphan allowance from the Hokage. Taking a deep breath and steeling herself she sincerely hopes that Sasuke isn’t much harder to care for than a gold fish.