So, some of you will know from my tumblr post that a family member died of Covid recently. It hit me pretty hard and I wasn't even able to be with any of my family because the aunt who died lived in Mexico and that kind of travel is understandably difficult at the moment. I spent a lot of my childhood visiting her and other older family members in the village where my grandmother grew up, but now there are no members of our family who still live there, as the younger generations all left for the city or emigrated to other countries. What is essentially our ancestral home is now empty, and I don't know if any of my family in Mexico will end up claiming it for the sake of the land or to live there. Either way, it won't be the same.
I've had a hard time writing even for school because of this, but I managed to get this chapter done. Kyou is 9 years old here, but she'll be 12 or 13 in the next one, so it's a big time skip. I laid all the groundwork I wanted to, so now more of the plot will start showing up. I hope you like it.
Go to the latest chapter of the Shinobi Isekai!: Artwork collection on AO3 to see what Kyou looks like as of the last three-ish chapters.
The late winter sun reflected off the glistening snow, the warming air melting the white blanket that had draped over the forest for months. The river, no longer frozen, was babbling happily, providing a full underscore for the symphony of birds intent on rebuilding their springtime nests and the general hustle and bustle of a land revived after a long winter's nap.
Kyou shifted her weight where she sat cross legged on the river's evermoving surface. Her entire body was encased in a thin layer of yin chakra, the viscous energy swirling as she maintained its circulation. She inhaled steadily, feeling the way her chakra interacted with the water in the air around her and the river below. Slowly, she exhaled, the water beneath her moving to answer her call. When she opened her burning red eyes, she was sitting on a pillar of moving water, the power of her yin chakra more than enough to divert the river's flow in such an unnatural way. She let herself smile, careful not to let her elation break her concentration, lest she fall ass first into the frigid waters.
With another slow breath in and out, she lowered herself back down and stood, stretching her arms over her head with a loud groan and a satisfying pop in her spine. Under her sandals, the river returned to its natural course as she pulled her chakra back into herself.
"Hehehe," she laughed, the joy bouncing around in her heart finally finding release. "Mwahahahahaha!"
Her sudden outburst sent birds flying for their lives, leaving her to chuckle alone like a madwoman.
Finally. Finally! How long had it taken her to lift her own bodyweight like that? Only all fucking winter! Too long! Way too long! Her pride could only handle so many reminders of her own mediocrity, ok?
She grinned down at her clenched fists, water manifesting in slender streams which wrapped themselves almost lovingly around her wrists, solidifying into bracelets of solid ice. Though they sat against her bare skin, they didn't feel could. Instead, Kyou smiled even wider at the hum of power contained within them.
She was getting stronger. Soon, she might even be strong enough to leave the Uchiha Clan for good, without fear of retaliation. Of course, even then she wouldn't be ready to leave. She still needed to be strong enough to take her mother with her, after all. And maybe baa-chan, too, if she could be convinced.
"I thought I heard someone making a fool of themselves."
Kyou turned around, the smile on her face losing its sad twist as she looked upon her sudden guest. "Tobi!"
The instant she looked at him, she immediately looked away, a hand cast over her eyes to protect them. How? How could someone be so goddamned pretty!? Tobirama's white hair and pale complexion had him looking like one of those guys in a Chinese fantasy drama, the snowy backdrop adding to his mystical allure. Over the past season, he'd had another growth spurt, what little baby fat he had transforming into muscle. Every time Kyou met him 'coincidentally', she had to beat herself over the head with the fact that he was a thirteen year old boy! Bad Kyou! Bad!
Ah~! But he's so pretty!
"What are you doing?"
And he doesn't even know it, the jerk! Here he is, blinding her preciously evil eyes, and he has the gall to ask such questions?
A clueless beauty is truly the cruelest of all.
"It's nothing," she said, finally getting ahold of herself. "The light was in my eyes."
The look he gave her made it abundantly clear he didn't believe her, but he didn't pursue the issue. Instead, he clicked his tongue in what Kyou had come to understand was his way of sighing. Really. This boy was too complicated. Couldn't he just emote like everyone else?
Unless…unless he couldn't?
There were a million reasons why he would have difficulty expressing emotion, his asshole father among them—or maybe Hashirama and Itama got all the emotion genes. Without knowing the specifics of his situation, she really shouldn't be so judgmental. Besides, she understood him just fine, right?
"Have you learned anything cool?" She asked, turning off her sharingan. Though they often met like this and discussed the jutsus and techniques they were working on, there was a tacit understanding between them to never ask directly about the fundamentals behind a technique—or use the sharingan. "If you'd come a little sooner you'd have seen me finally make that break through I was whining about before."
"Oh?" He raised one pale eyebrow. "So, you admit you were whining?"
Her face lit up with flaming embarrassment. "Sh-Shut up! It's not my fault whining at you solves all my problems!" She turned away from him, crossing her arms over chest in a theatrical pout. "You listen better than my dumbass cousins, ok? Hmph."
She didn't have to be looking at him to know his expression hadn't changed. He was a stoic kid with the most micro of micro expressions. If Kyou didn't have fancy magic eyeballs, she'd think he was angry all the time. His default expression was a narrow eyed scowl that made him look way too much like his dad, but Kyou was starting to think he just needed glasses or something. His brows always unfurrowed when he was working on something up close, after all.
Poor guy. His vision must be shit.
Just another reason to give him her eyes, should misfortune befall her.
That was one of the reasons she played up her actions around him. She wasn't sure and she didn't want to piss him off by asking, so she just took the initiative to project her emotions so he might pick up on the social cues better. Sure, she probably looked pretty stupid, but it was kinda fun. If only she could figure out how to stop doing it with Izuna, too…
"I should hope so," Tobi replied, tone flat and unamused in the way Kyou knew meant he was totally amused. "If they took the time to understand your problems, they would be much more formidable as opponents."
True, true. If more people listened to Kyou, they'd be smarter by association!
Ego sufficiently stroked, she turned back to Tobi with a wide grin. "Tobi, you're the only one who understands me!"
Aha! There it was! Her guiltiest of pleasures! A brilliant red blush spread across Tobirama's face, down his neck and even over the tops of his ears. He turned away from her, clearing his throat and scowling.
No! Bad Kyou! He. Is. A. Child!
"I," he said, clearing his throat again when his voice broke, renewing the heat of his blush. "I have also had a breakthrough."
Ha. Smooth transition, there, buddy. "Ooh! Really! That's so awesome! On to the next project then, yeah?"
That….should have sent him ranting and raving about his newest off the wall experiment, but instead it seemed to…make him sad?
"Tobi? What's wrong? Is Hashibaka being extra stupid again? Do you want me to get Mada-nii to beat him up while extolling the virtues of brotherhood, or something?"
He snorted, lips tilting upward in a rare smile, but the expression faded as swiftly as it came. "No, that won't be necessary. Kyou," he hesitated, the nervous look on his face completely out of character. "I don't think I'll be coming back."
"Oh." She shifted her weight. "Is that it? I mean," she said in response to his wide eyed shock. "We always knew this might happen, Tobi. Yeah, I'll miss you and, yeah, it'll be boring without you, but what did you expect? It's already a miracle we got hang out as often as we did, you know. In another life…well, we should just be grateful we got to pretend we were friends."
As she spoke, Tobi looked more and more constipated. Finally, he just reached out and placed a hand over her mouth, stopping her.
"Would you listen," he said gruffly, voice cracking again. "I wasn't finished. I probably won't be back because my sensei has returned and I won't have the same amount of free time to spend with you."
She stuck out her tongue and licked his hand, leaving a lavish heaping of saliva on his calloused skin. He pulled his hand back with a grimace.
"I see how it is," she said with a dramatic sniff. "I was just a replacement, huh? Now that your 'sensei' has come back, you have no use for little ole Kyou. Is she pretty, Tobi? Should I be jealous?"
Ah, what was she doing? Tobi was looking at her like she was insane, face scrunched up and eyes wide. How easy it was to forget he thought she was a boy—he could be gay, though…that was a very real possibility. He never got married in canon, right? Never had kids? Damn, in a world where Sasuke and Naruto were consistently labeled 'bestest friends', being gay was probably…not ok?
'Poor Tobi' sighed, actually sighed, long and heavy and filled with exasperation. "I'll be back next winter, Kyou." And he walked away, clearly all out of patience for her weirdness.
Well, that was fine. Being seasonal friends was fine. Really.
Like fuck it was fine! Who was she gonna talk to about her amazing innovations with yin chakra, now? Who was gonna praise her for figuring things out all by herself? Who was gonna let her talk at them until she realized she knew the answer to her question all along?
She turned on her heel and stalked off, ignoring her Clansmen when she reached the village in favor of stomping into her home and throwing herself face first onto the bed.
"Kyou, sweeting, what's wrong?"
She moaned loudly in response to her mother's concern, refusing to even entertain the answer to that question. She knew why she was upset and she also knew it was stupid. Too stupid to bring into reality.
A slender hand began to rub at her back. "Well, whatever it is, it sounds quite terrible."
Kyou laughed a little and rolled over onto her back, looking up at her mother. Hitomi was much healthier now than Kyou could remember her ever being. Her stupidly slow training and a proper diet had done wonders for her, filling in the hollows of her cheeks and putting a bounce in her step. She took regular walks around the village perimeter, now, and the constant exposure to the sun had darkened her skin far beyond what Kyou's could achieve. She was healthy, glowing, and concerned.
Kyou pouted. "Boys are stupid."
Her mother's brown eyes widened in surprise before squinting shut as a bout of laughter shook her. "They are, aren't they?" She looked down at Kyou with an all too familiar smirk on her face. "Can I ask which boy is being so stupid?"
Once again, Kyou felt her face heating up and she was absolutely certain that, if she were a fire type, she'd have spontaneously combusted.
"Oh? I know what that face means," her mother crooned, smile widening. "Shall I have a talk with his parents, just to smooth things over until the wedding?"
Kyou's good mood soured and her mother immediately caught the shift.
"Oh, sweeting, are his parents stupid, too? Do I need to teach them all the ways my Kyou is better than their wimpy little brat can ever hope for?"
Kyou snorted and shook her head, pulling herself up into a sitting position and grabbing a fistful of her mother's clothing. "No. If you tried to meet his parents, they'd probably kill you."
Understanding crossed Hitomi's face. "I see. So he's one of your Senju boys, is he? Well," she continued, talking over her daughter's indignant squawk of protest. "I suppose there's one thing I could try—."
"Please don't," Kyou begged her, bright red face buried in her mother's chest. "I'm the one who's stupid, so please, just forget about it."
She thought her mother might continue her teasing, but she didn't, instead wrapping her up in a tight hug.
"Kyou," she said softly as she ran a hand over her daughter's hair. "Do you love me?"
Nearly a week later, Kyou found herself being shaken roughly, her still sleeping mind protesting the violent disturbance.
"Get up, Kyou," her mother's voice cut through the haze of sleep. "We need to hurry."
She sat up in bed, blinking groggily as her mother rushed to get her dressed. She made no protests as her hair was pulled up out of her face with more force than necessary, her tired brain calling up memories of her grandmother's soft hands.
"Come," her mother demanded, pulling her out of bed and to the door. "The watch will be changing soon, and we need to get out before the alarm is raised."
Alarm? What alarm?
"Kaa-chan, what's happening?"
Her mother placed a hand on her head, the moonless night casting her grim face in menacing shadows. "Do you love me, Kyou?"
"If you love me, then you'll be quiet and do as you're told, alright?"
Well…she wasn't sure what was going on, but her mother wouldn't be doing something like this without a reason, right?
Hitomi grabbed Kyou's wrist in a bone crushing grip, surprising her daughter with her strength. The two rushed through the village, the shadows of night clinging to them like a second skin. Kyou could almost feel their weight, the new moon darkness somehow deeper than it should be. Her mother had no issues navigating in the night and they were soon in the forest outside the village. Hitomi's footsteps made no sound and Kyou stared up at her mother with quite a bit of confusion. Everyone in the Clan said she was a civilian, but what kind of civilian knew things about yin chakra and kunoichi training?
These were thoughts Kyou had often, but she dismissed them every time. Her mother freaked out whenever her past was brought up, and Kyou didn't want to hurt her anymore than Satan already had. Hitomi was making great progress, the fact that she was stealing away in the night was proof of that.
"Kaa-chan, where are we going?"
The snow crunched under their feet as Hitomi whirled on Kyou, slapping a hand over her mouth with alarming force. It stung, but the panic in her mother's eyes overrode any pain Kyou felt.
"Be quiet," she hissed, voice barely audible over the wind rustling through the bare branches above them. "If you love me, you'll be quiet."
Her mother resumed tugging her through the forest, her pace faster than before but just as silent. Kyou's eyes itched, the sharingan begging to be activated as she struggled to see through the midnight black, but she refrained. Her eyes were not to be used around her mother, no matter how much better they made her night vision.
Still, though she kept her mouth shut, Kyou couldn't help but question her situation. Were they…running away? Escaping the Clan? Together?
A flutter of excitement filled her chest only to be mercilessly squashed by a horrified realization. Kyou stopped dead in her tracks, chakra digging into the snow beneath her and anchoring her place, yanking her mother to a halt. The tall woman turned back to her daughter with anger and confusion written on her narrow face, but Kyou cut her off before she could speak.
"Kaa-chan," she said lowly, sharingan itching just behind her irises. "What about baa-chan?"
Her mother looked at her for a long moment before kneeling down in the snow. She placed her slender hands on Kyou's shoulders, gaze locked onto Kyou's eyes with a seriousness Kyou had never seen her wear, before.
"Kyou," Hitomi said, voice barely more than a whisper. "We need to hurry. We don't have much time. If you want to leave to leave that Clan behind, you need to do it now."
Her mother's tone was slow and measured, and some of Kyou's panic was quelled—but not all of it.
She took a step back, freeing herself from Hitomi's grip. "No." Her voice rang out in the silent forest. "I won't leave baa-chan."
The knot that had tied itself tighter and tighter around Kyou's heart had reached a critical stage, cutting off the blood flow and sending waves of vertigo through her mind and body. She couldn't leave. Not without baa-chan. She hadn't even apologized yet.
"It's not your fault," she continued, searching her mother's dark eyes for any sign of understanding. "It's not your fault you weren't there, but you still weren't! Baa-chan was! I can't just leave without saying goodbye. Please, kaa-chan! Let me say goodbye!"
Her mother looked at her, expression as cold as the snow now falling from the sky. "Kyou, do you love me?"
She barely managed to quell the automatic reflex to simply say yes and obey, physically shaking off that mental shackle. "I love baa-chan, too!"
Her mother's expression didn't change, but Kyou more than recognized the light in her eyes. Her rebellious words had triggered her mother's anger, something she spent every waking hour trying to avoid. Instinctively, she tried to step back, out of her reach, but something held her fast.
"Kyou," her mother said as she stood, looking down at her daughter with sharp eyes. "This is not the time to be stubborn. Come," she turned away and began walking, Kyou's body moving against her will to follow. "We'll talk about this later."
What the actual fuck?
Kyou strained against whatever mystical force was making her move, but to no avail. Her legs continued to carry her forward, away from the Uchiha village—away from baa-chan.
She had no idea how Hitomi was doing it, but she didn't have to know how it worked to make it stop. She knew perfectly well that all she needed to do was disrupt her mother's chakra. However, she wasn't entirely willing to go that far. After everything Satan had done…she didn't want to be like him, no matter what.
She also didn't want to leave her baa-chan behind like this, though.
Her mother picked up her pace, again, and Kyou's body ran along behind her as they took to the trees. Honestly, Kyou didn't mind leaving the Clan. It was her ultimate goal, after all. Her issue was with the whole kidnapping thing her mother was doing. Really, it was probably Kyou's fault for not letting her mother in on her plans, but she didn't want to add to the worries weighing on Hitomi's mind. Stealing away in the dead of night was a good plan, she had to admit, but there were a few flaws she picked out right off the bat. She had no idea where they were going, or why, or who might be waiting for them, and there was one thing Kyou hated more than anything: not knowing shit.
Slowly, cautiously, she activated her sharingan, keeping a careful eye—hah!—on her mother's back, lest she turn and find the bane of her existence in her daughter's face. Hitomi didn't turn and Kyou let out an anxious breath. Ignoring the whispering of her Mangekyou, she analyzed the way her mother's chakra moved in and around her body, suffusing the air around—no. Not the air. Something else.
It…it was almost like the way Kyou's chakra moved when she was controlling water. But…what was her mother controlling? Her chakra nature was lightning, but there was no way she was controlling electricity…right? Was she…controlling Kyou's body from the inside!?
Pfft, no. Not possible…right?
Right. Right! Looking at her mother's chakra, it was reaching out behind her, starting beneath her feet and connecting to Kyou's in a vaguely familiar shape.
So. Her mother was a Nara. Huh.
It wasn't…entirely unexpected…
Bullshit, Kyou was completely blindsided. What the fuck? Why was a Nara fucking around with the Uchiha? Weren't they supposed to be smart? What kind of dumbass provoked Satan?
Ok, that wasn't fair. Maybe her mother was sent to the Uchiha against her will by her Clan head and elders. Maybe being an asshole was a universal prerequisite for those positions?
As sad as that made Kyou feel for her mother, it didn't change the fact that she was so viciously ignoring. Her mother—presumably a Nara—was taking an Uchiha child away—presumably into the waiting hands of other Naras—very much against their will.
This…this was bloodline theft…right?
Kyou bit her lip, vainly trying to hold in her anger. Her mother suffered for so long, having so many children only to watch, helpless, as her 'husband' killed them or sent them to their deaths—and for what? Obviously, it was to get a shiny new set of evil eyeballs for the Nara Clan. Shit.
She hated her eyes. They were disgusting. Abhorrent. An affront to basic human rights. Evil incarnate.
Like fuck she was gonna just hand them over to people who would use them like the weapons they were supposed to be! And like fuck she'd let a bunch of old assholes try and breed her for more!
She renewed her efforts to break free from her mother's shadows, but her body continued to follow along, limbs controlled by invisible puppet strings. Was this what her Higan did to people? Robbing them of their physical autonomy, minds watching helplessly as their bodies follow someone else's commands?
Ew. Yucky. She didn't like it. She did not like it, Sam I Am.
Of course, freeing herself would be so much easier if she were a fire type like the rest of her family. One fireball and boom! No more shadows. Alas. She was a water type. No bright lights for her. Though the gremlins were probably grateful.
She'd just have to disrupt her mother's chakra manually.
She reached out with her chakra, absently noting the similarity between the way her chakra moved and her mother's shadow technique. Maybe that was what she was trying to teach her when she first brought up the topic of yin chakra. Hrm. Her water was cooler.
The icy bracelets around her wrists sprang to life, icicles launching themselves toward her mother's back. Hitomi dodged, as Kyou expected, but the sudden movement and the surprise at being attacked by her own daughter disrupted the flow of her chakra enough for Kyou to break free of her shadows. As soon as she felt the grip of her mother's chakra loosen, Kyou leapt back, falling from the treetops onto the soft, powdery snow below. She kept her sharingan trained on her mother as the older kunoichi followed her descent.
Kyou filled the snow beneath her with yin chakra, asserting her will on the frozen water. When her mother touched down, she entered Kyou's domain, her own yin filled shadows dispelled by the gentle blue glow emanated from within the snow itself, the light fueled by Kyou's chakra as the ice awaited her orders.
Lit from beneath by her daughter's chakra, Hitomi's glare was even more severe.
"Kyou," she snarled, looking at the luminescent snow with wide eyes. "What are you doing?"
Kyou didn't respond, stepping back and keeping her distance, instead. When her mother began to approach her, she called on her namesake skill and sent a wave of killing intent toward her. Hitomi stopped, her expression suddenly aggrieved.
"Kyou." Her voice was laden with shock and censure. "Why are you acting like this? Don't you want to leave?"
Kyou's face scrunched up as she considered her answer. It hurt to have her mother speak in that tone, but she couldn't just meekly go wherever she wanted her to.
"My eyes," she said lowly. "Are cursed. They're evil. You know that better than anyone else in the world. So, why," she looked up and glared right at her mother, sharingan blazing. "Why are you trying to steal them?"
Her mother closed her eyes and sighed, a tension leaving her body. "Oh, Kyou, you really are too smart for your own good."
Oh, no. That sounded like a villain line.
Yep. Hitomi's hands came together in a blur, hand signs forming faster than the eye could see.
…Well, faster than the normal eye, anyway.
Kyou could see every sign she made and the subtle shifts in her chakra. She was going to use an offensive technique, a big one, too, by the looks of things.
Kyou called on the yin chakra in the snow and formed an image in her mind. Almost simultaneously, the snow shot up and too the form of hardened ice spikes, stabbing straight up at her mother. Hitomi dodged, the movement disrupting her jutsu. Kyou watched with some confusion as her mother cursed before launching into…the…exact same hand signs? Did…did she think Kyou would let her finish this time? Was…was she really a Nara?
Was…was Kyou a real genius, after all?
Once again, Kyou sent ice after her mother, the ground around them becoming a field of spikes. Hitomi attached herself to the trunk of a tree, her face twisted with anger.
"How?" She demanded. "How are you doing that?"
Kyou looked up at her mother, at once confused and disappointed. "You're the one who taught me how to do this, though?"
Hitomi's expression only twisted further. "What are you talking about? This is nothing like—." Shock cleared her face of the vicious anger that marred it, making her look like the mother Kyou knew for a single, precious moment before that anger reignited. "Is this yin chakra?"
"Impossible! Chakra doesn't behave like this! You're not even using hand signs!"
Kyou and her mother stared at each other, both equally confused. Hitomi recovered first, hands falling into the sign of the Rat. Kyou watched as her mother's shadow stretched down the trunk of the tree, crossing the glowing field of ice and snow in a mad dash for Kyou.
Kyou sent up more icicles, refracting the light and making it harder for her mother's shadow to progress. She looked up at Hitomi where she sat on the tree, face grim with concentration, and sent a round of spinning ice shuriken, freshly formed from the falling snow, right at her. Her mother paled and dove out of the way only to run afoul of a fresh batch of icicle blades.
Red blood bounced on the white snow, catching Kyou's gaze and holding it. The striking contrast between blood and snow was only amplified by the blue glow of her chakra, giving the spatter an ethereal appearance.
Blood on snow. Red and white.
Her breath hitched in her chest, memories of a similar scene, blood also spilled by her, rising up from the depths of her mind where she'd hoped to bury it. Alas, hers were eyes cursed to remember and the memory played out in picture perfect clarity.
"Kyou." Her mother's voice was sweeter than summer watermelons, dripping with kindness and concern. "Kyou, sweeting, are you alright?"
Hands. There were hands coming for her face. She needed to defend herself. Water, was there water?
She reached out, seizing control of warm, running water and freezing it, turning it into a deadly ball of sharp ice and launching it at her attacker.
More blood spilled onto the snow, steam rising from the fresh flow. Kyou looked into her mother's wide eyes, Hitomi's face frozen in an expression of horrified surprise. Kyou's face stung where something sharp dug into the thin flesh of her temple, just beside her eye. Her mother fell to her knees, the movement jerking her hand and tearing into Kyou's face.
"Kyou," her mother gasped, breathing ragged and wet. "You…monster."
Kyou watched, frozen, as her mother fell to one side, her chest caved in around a jagged ball of her of her own blood, frozen by Kyou's chakra. Her hand fell open, revealing the wooden comb her daughter used to style her hair, one end filed to a wicked point and stained with that child's blood.
Kyou stumbled back, sinking to her knees before her mother's corpse—the corpse she'd made.
This was all wrong. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. She was gonna get strong, super strong, and take her mother away. Together, she, kaa-chan, and baa-chan would all live happily, free of the Uchiha Clan's stupid plans and evil eyes. How? How did it come to this?
"Kyou-chan! Kyou-chan, where are you?"
A familiar voice broke through her panic and she leapt to her feet, rushing toward the shouting.
"Baa-chan! Baa-chan, I'm here! I'm here!"
She launched herself at her grandmother, sending the old woman flying backward into a snowbank. Kyou buried her face in her baa-chan's chest, weeping loudly. Hands gnarled by decades of hard work pulled her closer as other familiar voices and firelight surrounded her, the warmth of the embrace fending off the chill of winter, but doing nothing for the ice slowly encasing her heart.