Choumei watched through Unko's eyes as the adult humans all turned to regard her. Kurama's prison looked particularly scandalized and he let himself take some pleasure from that. If he couldn't blame her village for a dead man's actions, he could certainly blame her for hers.
His joy was somewhat short lived, however, as he soon found himself wallowing in his human's panic and unease. Hmm, yes, she was rather outnumbered, wasn't she? Under normal circumstances, she might have been able to count on Son's human to stand beside her against Kurama's, but her words, while amusing, had made it clear that she was aware of his host status, as well. After living inside two adult humans, Choumei knew that they tended to be fond of children, even ones they hadn't made themselves. Roshi had spent a lot of time around little Unko-chan, and his attachment to her should have been amplified by Son's feelings toward his student. And, yet, Unko was still afraid he would betray her.
This was clearly a hold over from her last life, where even her blood kin were a potential danger. If he could cross the divide between worlds, he would raze that backward nation to the ground. He supposed it was only natural, after living with such fear for her entire adolescence, that she would expect Roshi to attack her after revealing such a secret. Being suspicious was a good trait in a world like theirs, especially now that it was at war—again—but preemptively guarding against her allies was a good way to live a lonely life.
And she'd been lonely for a long time.
Would you like me to fix this?
Surprise flooded her mind. The humans were speaking to her, he realized, asking questions she didn't want to answer. She hadn't yet mastered speaking to him within her mind—she hadn't needed to before Roshi took up residence in the temple, but it was a useful skill for her to have so he wasn't too bitter about that—so he had to parse through the mess of her emotions to find an answer to his question. From what he gathered, it was: PLEASE.
Fufufu~. His human was so fun!
Alright, but you don't get to complain!
A̶̡̡̟̫͈̍̒̂͆͑̎̚͝͝ͅs̸̘̙͆͊̐̎͋̕͝͝͝͝ş̴̝͉̥͌̈́͜͝u̷̺̹̻̩͎̥͑́̀̽̋̀͠͝ͅm̴̨̲͙̗͙̲̤̰͋̌̂̎̋̈́͑͒̕͝į̶̢̛̛̹̹̤̰̝̱̭̘̥͚̞̩̯̒̇̊̚̕n̷̞̫̙̅̏͋̉̿̉͒͘͝͝͠g̸̡͉̫̥͇̠̝̜̺̱̙̬̙͚̓̈́͑̆̍̌̑́ ̶̛͖͓̬͎̤̰̖̭͙̯̼̻͓̤͉̽̓̄̇̐̔̿͛͂̓̏͗͘͝Ḑ̸̮̘̼̘̭͉͓̑̅̔͋͊͂͋͒i̶̛̝͒̏͊̀͗̐̔̾̿̾͋͘ṟ̷̢̡̼͚̝̜̮̺̭͎̎͌̓̀̋̊̉̆͜͝e̸̘̣̱̱̦̤̼̓̒͋́̉̐̾̂́̏̀͊c̶͔̱̙̺̲͒̃̀̌͐̚ţ̶̫̼͎̖̜͙͈͎̖̳͕̳͎̪̄͗ ̵̡̭̦̠̦͖̺̤̭̲̭̿̍̃̍̈́̾̎̚C̸̢̛̙͙̱͉̱̝̼̬̠̭̼͊̓̒̀̊́̓̃̏̓̚͜͝͠͝o̶̫̠̤̹̪̎̀̂͛̏̓̈́͊͒̈́͝n̷͔͎̘̟̼̻̳͈̯̈́ţ̶̪̺̪̗͎̘̖͓̝̝̼̓̐͂̅̂͗́͌͑͗͌̆͝ͅŗ̷̨̨͈͖͇̣̩͖̟͊̈́̇̒͂̌̽͝o̷̬̦̙̤̻͚͖̟̩͕̥̅͊̃́̈́͜ͅͅl̶̟͙͔͚͚͔̈̽̈̋̏̏̾̆̑͝
It was different from the last two times he'd done it. Unko-chan still lost consciousness, falling into a chakra induced sleep as his mind came to occupy all the space in her skull, but he didn't immediately lash out with his chakra like he did before. There was no need to, since their lives weren't in any immediate danger. Still, there was too high a risk that other lives might be lost and that would make Unko-chan sad, so he channeled his chakra into the stones beneath her feet, the temple welcoming him like a long lost friend. The other two hosts reacted as they became aware of his power surrounding them, but it was too late for them to do anything. It would have been easier if he was inside the temple, proper, but he could still do what needed to be done from where he was.
Reaching through the stones carved for just that purpose, he touched the chakra networks of the old man and the blond, sending them to the ground in a pair of unconscious heaps. The woman cried out in shock and caught her lover before he could hurt himself, but the fool who'd brought so much misfortune upon Unko-chan hit his head with a satisfying thump.
"Well, then," he said with a smile—though he had a feeling he wasn't doing it quite right. "Shall we talk?"
"What did you do?" The woman demanded, cradling her companion's head to her chest. Her face was twisted in an angry scowl and Choumei could feel her trying to channel Kurama's chakra.
"That's enough of that. This is my domain," he said, popping Unko's neck in that weird display of nonchalance humans often did in the face of potential violence. "I won't have you using my brother's power against me."
In an instant, the chakra she'd managed to steal from Kurama was siphoned away, joining his own reserves like a lost limb. How long had it been since he felt his eldest sibling's power? Had heard his voice?
Not since that Uzumaki bitch sealed him away.
He had to take a moment to calm himself before he did something he would regret. It wasn't the woman's fault, it was Madara's. By sealing Kurama away, she was saving her people from what she thought was just a rampaging monster. If Madara hadn't robbed him of his autonomy, nobody would have made that mistake. And if Zetsu hadn't taken advantage of Madara's unstable mental state, he…well, he might have done it, anyway. There was no telling with Madara.
"You're not Uu-chan," Roshi said, crossing his arms over his chest as the Uzumaki woman floundered without access to Kurama's chakra. This was another person Choumei wasn't sure he liked, but he didn't hate him as much as he thought he would. As far as humans went, he wasn't so bad. Unko-chan was right when she said he could have treated Son much worse than he did, too. "I'm gonna go ahead and guess that she's like us?"
Choumei nodded. "Indeed. I am Choumei, but your people have reduced me to Nanabi."
He watched Roshi's face for any sign of the betrayal Unko-chan feared at the revelation, but he actually seemed to relax. The short man sighed, tension leaving his shoulders.
"That explains a lot, actually."
Ho? And to think, Choumei thought he hadn't noticed.
"You're a jinchuriki, too?" The Uzumaki asked, incredulous. "What's going on?"
Choumei exchanged an exasperated eyeroll with Roshi. "I'm taking you to task, bitch, keep up."
"Do shut up. I promised Unko-chan I wouldn't kill you, but it's becoming rather difficult."
The woman dared to look confused. "Why would you want to kill me? What have I done?"
Choumei cocked one of Unko's eyebrows at her. "Are you serious? You mean to tell me you haven't been torturing my brother literally since the day he was sealed inside you?"
She really didn't get it. She was just staring at him, completely baffled that he would have a problem with the way she treated Kurama.
"The Nine Tails is a beast," she said with slow, measured words, clearly not understanding that she was no longer speaking to Unko-chan. "It can't be reasoned with. None of the bijuu can, that's why they were sealed away!"
Choumei sighed again, running a hand over Unko-chan's face. Wait. He had the perfect come back! Oooh! How did that song go?
"You think the only people who are people are the people who look and think like you," he recited, just barely resisting the urge to sing. "That's your problem. My father built this temple for me thousands of years ago, and I stayed here, for thousands of years, until your Hokage decided to pry me out!" Again, he had to take a breath, lest he kill her just for existing. Kurama would survive, just fine, but Unko-chan's respect for him…
"You know what, go to sleep. I can't deal with you."
Her eyes rolled back in her head and she slumped over, her body draped across her lover's like a shadow of that play from Unko-chan's world with the daggers and the poison and the civil hands made unclean.
"Huh." Roshi reached up and scratched at the beginnings of a beard. "You gonna do that to me, too?"
"Do I need to?"
The human shook his head. "Nah, I don't think so." His dark eyes were serious as he looked at Choumei. "Uu-chan's ok in there, right?"
"Of course!" How dare he think otherwise?
"Then we're good." The red headed man crouched, his arms propped up on his elbows. "So, Choumei, was it? I didn't think you guys had names."
Ah. Ah! Yes, this was good. The woman was a dutiful cog in the machine called Konoha, heir to the literal first jinchuriki. She was stuck in her ways, but Roshi! Roshi was already a cynic, mistrustful of his government and taking action to avoid his duties as a bijuu's host. Didn't he also defect in the 'canon'?
"We do," he said, trying no t to come across as too desperate. "Our father gave them to us."
"Huh." He looked up, sucking at his teeth as he mulled over his words. "You know, I don't think I've ever heard of your parents. As far as anyone knows, you guys are just natural disasters made real. Or the product of human hatred corrupting natural chakra."
Choumei scoffed and almost said something derogatory, but reconsidered. "I can see where you might get that idea," he began. "Ku-The Kyuubi can sense human emotions and has always been sensitive to things like anger and hatred. He made a habit of attacking battlefields just to get it to stop. The Hachibi is rather...eccentric. He used to go around challenging strong people to duels. The Yonbi, too, actually. It wasn't very surprising to hear they had been captured."
As much as it hurt not to call his siblings by their names, he wasn't about to give them away to someone who hadn't earned them. Jinchuriki, in particular, had to receive the names of their bijuu buddies directly from them.
Roshi placed a hand on his chest, clutching at the garish purple fabric. If Choumei had to guess, he'd say that was where his seal was, but he couldn't be sure. Taki had always placed his seal on the back, but he knew that Kurama's were usually on the abdomen. He didn't know much about how the others were sealed. It was a personal tragedy they all had to suffer, and a very private one. None of them brought it up when they reached out to one another. Such rare contact wasn't to be spoiled by such unhappy thoughts.
"Does…does the Yonbi have a name?"
"Hmph, of course he does! But I'm not telling!" He pointed one of Unko-chan's fingers at him. "You'll have to hear it from him, yourself!"
Roshi nodded, accepting that pretty easily. "Yeah, that makes sense." He looked at Choumei, again, his expression more serious than he'd ever seen it. "I don't suppose I can ask about you two."
Choumei cocked Unko-chan's head. "That depends on what you want to ask."
The human shook his head. "Nah. Forget it. That's not something I should ask when Uu-chan can't speak for herself." Well, how kind of him. Choumei would be sure to show her this conversation, so she could dismiss her fears about Roshi betraying her. "What about them?"
Ah, yes. The Konoha bunch.
Choumei curled his lip as he looked them over. He really didn't want to deal with them more than he had to. The woman was blindly loyal to her village and all the lies it fed her. One conversation may have been enough to get through to Roshi, but she was a harder nut to crack. Her man, too, was an enabler. He was already dead by the time the 'canon' started, but his actions made it clear exactly how he thought of bijuu. Really, cutting Kurama's soul in half? Was he insane?
"I'll erase their memories and dump them outside."
"You can do that?"
Probably. He shrugged. "We'll find out. Oh," he turned to Sakumo. "Not him, though. He's fine."
"Can I ask why?"
"He was the first human Unko-chan met after leaving her village. It' annoying, but he's special to her."
Roshi nodded. "Makes sense. By village, you mean Taki, I'm assuming?"
"Don't worry about it. I'm only asking because if Taki is in this area, then the war will get even messier. They're widely considered the most dangerous village, if only because no one actually knows where they are. If we overstay our welcome, then I don't want to think of what they'll do to us."
'Us' being the humans fighting in the region.
"Ah, shit." Choumei looked to Roshi in surprise. "This means I'm gonna have to deal with this pig by myself, doesn't it?"
Ha. Choumei had forgotten about their reason for letting the three foreigners into the temple. Was it really that hard to deal with one boar?
He almost offered to help, but he didn't. He had brains to fiddle with, after all. Hopefully, his skills weren't totally rusty.
OK, I know some of you don't like to read the author's notes where I'm being "PC", or whatever, but I care about my audience, so if reading about that bothers you, feel free to skip this last bit or read another story, idrc.
This is the part where I own up to being a stupid American. I made a mistake. I fucked up. Feel free to flay me alive. I began planning this fic back in June. I spent ages picking out our dear protagonist's name, drowning myself in kanji—their meanings and pronunciation, all of it! When I chose Unko as her name, I thought I was being clever. It's not really a name in Japanese, but it sounds like one, since a lot of names end in the suffix -ko, meaning child. Its kanji (運幸) is an inversion of Koun (幸運) wherein both of the kanji mean good luck, together or separately, so I thought it was a nice play on Choumei's whole 'lucky seven' theme. I've had this name chosen for months. I was so excited to actually share it with you guys, but, alas, I am an idiot and did not do a basic google search of the romaji (unko).
It turns out that this name I worked really hard on has a...less than stellar meaning in Japanese. The first time someone pointed it out to me, I just...kinda...sat there, in shock. I did all that, and I couldn't even be bothered to google it before attaching so much sentiment to it? I'm an idiot. A real idiot. I debated changing the name, but by then I'd already used it in several chapters and you guys were attached to it, too. So, I thought I might use this sudden twist as an element in my story, but I scrapped that idea pretty quickly since I don't think I'm in any way qualified to tell a story with that kind of nuance.
So, my question is this, do you think I should change her name? Or can we accept my stupidity for what it is and pretend her name only means what I say it means in the context of this story? At the end of the day, she is just a fictional character, and I am more than willing to change her name if it upsets any of my readers. I am trying to be as conscious of the groups she represents as possible, and I am ashamed that this mistake slipped through.
Please let me know your honest thoughts. Thanks!