Shinobi Isekai!: Round Three! @morrowyn
How to Save a Life

I've wanted to write this chapter for a long time, now! I kept pushing it off since I felt like more time needed to pass, first. I hope you like it! I cried, lol.

Beni stopped dead in her tracks, Han stumbling to a halt beside her. His questions echoed in her hollow skull, bouncing around like a 90s screensaver. Finally, one of them aligned perfectly with a corner and she turned to him, the Nyoi Bo and the baskets hanging from it falling from her shoulder as she grasped both of his in her hands, pulling him down until their faces were uncomfortably close.

"What month is it?"

His orange eyes regarded her with concern, but he answered all the same. "It's February, why?"

Shit. When was Kakashi's birthday again? It already passed, didn't it? Fuck!

She picked up the Nyoi Bo, not even bothering to shrink it as she leapt into the trees, leaving a startled Han behind. A small part of her felt bad for abandoning him like that, but it was tiny compared to the rest of her, which was too busy panicking to remember he hadn't completely memorized the way back to the temple, yet.

Shit. What was she gonna do? Was she already too late?

What are you going on about?

Sakumo! Sakumo was gonna die! If he died, then Kakashi would become a total asshole who played by the rules and he would bungle that mission where Obito gets crushed under a boulder and then Obito would be brainwashed by his evil grandpa Madara and become Tobi after watching Rin die and then he'd kill his sensei and release Kurama only for him to be sealed inside a baby Naruto and lead to a lifetime of suffering for an innocent child and then he'd murder the Uchihas and the Sasuke would become a total asshole and then—.

Woah! Woah! Calm down, grasshopper.

How could she calm down? She completely forgot about his tragic death! If she'd remembered sooner, she could have kept him at the temple and spared him his fate! But no! She was stupid! One of her favorite characters' tragic backstory was unfolding before her eyes and she hadn't even recognized it!

Now, that's a little harsh. It's not like there's anything you can do about it.

Yes, there is.

She landed in the middle of the courtyard with a roll, maintaining her momentum as she stormed through her house to her bedroom, falling to her hands and knees as she pulled out one of the storage scrolls Kiba's mom's team had used to gift her a bunch of cooking supplies. That was ages ago, now, but the scrolls looked to be in good shape. She'd figured out how to open them, so it should only take her a few minutes to pack up a few essentials.


Choumei's chakra filled her veins, freezing her in place. He hadn't seized control of her body like this since the beginning, and she found she still didn't like it.

Calm down! You're letting your fear control you. What are you going to do? Run all the way to Konoha? Then what? Hmm? What will you do? Sakumo is a high ranking shinobi and you're a foreign larva! How do you propose to even reach him in time? Do you know how far away Konoha even is?

She knew that. She did. But she was officially incapable of thinking rationally. If he died, then all the same dominos would fall. Nothing would change.

And? Who cares? It doesn't have anything to do with you.

"Yes, it does," she hissed aloud, no longer willing or able to keep her thoughts inside her head. "They come for us, Choumei. They come for all of us! The Akatsuki only start hunting bijuu because of Tobi and Obito only becomes Tobi because of Kakashi, and Kakashi only gets like that because of Sakumo! If he lives, we won't have to worry about that!"

You don't know that, he admonished. Madara's been around a long time—Zetsu even longer. It's naïve of you to think they don't have other plans set in place.

"Well, at least this one will be foiled."

Yes, but if you do that, then we'll lose the advantage your memories afford us! Choumei actually sounded angry, his batman voice really coming in handy, for once. We know what will happen. Because we know that, we can plan for it. The instant you change things, we lose any chance at predicting the enemy.

"We should just eliminate the enemy now, before they become an issue," Beni insisted. "What about Isobu? If we just sit by and do nothing, he and his jinchuriki will be under Tobi's control for literal decades! Is that what you want?"

Don't you use my brother to threaten me!

"Your inaction is the only thing threatening him, here! We have the opportunity to completely avoid that outcome, but you want to just sit on our hands and do nothing!"

I want you to be safe! Choumei's rage filled her body, but it was tempered by serious panic and concern she couldn't ignore even if she wanted to. If you go there, you know how they'll treat you. How you'll suffer. Even if they don't know what you are, you're still different, and the phrase "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down" comes from the Land of Fire. They'll be cruel to you, worse than they might be to Naruto, even. I watched as Taki worsened its treatment of your mother, punishing her for bearing a child whose father they didn't choose. I saw how they treated Keiko-chan and how she suffered for it. All her life, she said not a single word. I don't want to watch someone I care for suffer like that, again.

She knew that. Not everyone was like Sakumo, or the Ino-Shika-Cho trio. It was more likely that Fugaku's stiff attitude was the norm in his village and she'd be the butt of scorn and ridicule simply for daring to exist.

In her mind, that was even more reason to try and save Sakumo if she could. The world needed more men like him in it.

You're not even being honest with yourself, Choumei groused. Tell me, do you want to save him because of all the things that will change if you do, or do you want to save him because you like him?

Well, he was pretty hot. And patient, always taking the time to answer her questions even when he knew she was being an ass. He really was a good adult for a child to have, nothing at all like her father from Before…

Alright, fine, she was being selfish. So what? He was the first human she met in this new life who didn't immediately try to kill her. That kind of shit leaves a permanent mark, ok? It wasn't her fault.

Tears welled in her eyes as she pictured him dying, alone in his home with a blade in his gut, his son finding his corpse and being traumatized for life. Sobs began to shake her body, the sound ugly and the tears plenty.

Yes, yes, get it all out, Choumei sighed, his chakra seeping out of her muscles and back into the seal. You humans imprint on anything that shows you the slightest kindness, it's ridiculous.

She felt like she ought to be insulted, but she was too busy crying to retort.

Really, he continued. If you'd opened up with your affection instead of all those other reasons, I might have agreed sooner.

What? He was agreeing?

Well, it's not like I have a choice, now do I? You like the old man and you'll be sad if he dies. I get it. Human lives are too short to be spent alone. Still, I had to make sure you were aware of the potential consequences of your actions. If you do this, his tone was deathly serious. You might not be able to come back to the temple for a long time. What about Roshi and Han? Are you willing to leave them behind for your silver fox?

A fist closed over her heart as she thought about that. She loved Roshi and Han. They were integral parts of her life. She wasn't willing to leave them, at all, but…She had to. Even if she was too late, she had to go. It was unfortunate, but Konoha was the main setting. Everything and everyone of consequence were there. The actions of one Konoha shinobi had rippling consequences which affected the literal rest of the world. It was stupid, but it was reality. By saving Sakumo—or, God forbid, cleaning up the mess caused by his death—she would be able to protect her fellow jinchuriki from Tobi's wrath, hopefully by keeping Tobi from existing, at all.

Choumei sighed again, long and mournful. You're not wrong. Already, your presence has changed my siblings' lives for the better. In the 'canon', Roshi went forty years without learning Son's name. Now, he will probably learn it before the end of the year. That's a serious improvement. Still, I'd much rather you stayed away from that village. You know what they've done to us. They're the reason you're even a jinchuriki in the first place!

If she wasn't a jinchuriki, she might never have met Choumei.

Ah. Oops. I forgot about that.

So did she, sometimes. Those were the best times. Still, her nightmares were keen to remind her of the past she couldn't erase.

"I need to save him," she hiccoughed, wiping tears from her eyes with the sleeve of the red kimono Roshi had stolen for her ages ago. "Please, help me save him."

Choumei sighed again. Fine. I hope he's worth it. Take off your kimono. You'll need to cut out the back.

She did as she was told, letting Choumei's chakra flow through her hands to become claws as she cut through the fabric without an ounce of guilt. Why was she doing this?

Well, you want to get there as soon as possible, right? Walking will get you nowhere and you'll just get lost. So, I'm going to get us there!

Wait. Fu had wings, right? Was he giving her wings!?

Fufufun, I am indeed. But you need to hurry. The window of opportunity is closing fast.

She wasn't sure what that meant, but it lit a fire under her all the same. She cut a sizeable hole in the back of her kimono, setting aside the patch of fabric before putting her clothing back on. Her back was bare, but it wasn't cold. If anything, it burned as Choumei channeled chakra through the seal. Her upper back hurt like hell all of a sudden, but she didn't have time to stop and think about it. She resumed stuffing things inside her tattered scroll, grabbing her collection of cool exoskeletons and smooth stones as well as her blanket and the woven mat which served as her mattress. When she was done, her room didn't look all that much different. She didn't own a lot of things. Stepping out into the hallway, she considered taking the green jade idol of Choumei, but decided against it. It belonged in the temple, whether she was there or not. Reaching above it, she pulled her makeshift cross down and added it to her scroll.

"What's going on here?"

She froze, feeling very much like a thief caught in the act. She turned around to see Roshi frowning at her over crossed arms, his broad figure filling the hallway.

He raised one red eyebrow at her. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were running away."

She chuckled nervously, looking at anything but him.

"What's with the hole in your kimono? Did you rip it?"

She let out another humorless laugh as she tried to find a way out of this mess. Choumei offered no assistance, no doubt hoping Roshi would convince her to stay. The beetle may have been willing to help her, but that didn't mean he agreed with her choice.

Roshi sighed, running one large hand down his face. "What are you doing, Hime-chan? Where could you possibly have to go?"

She was a little insulted by that, but he was right.

"There's someone I have to save," she said with a small voice, suddenly feeling all nine of her years. Her past life didn't count, not really. Her brain was wired differently now. "I have to get to them right now, or I'll be too late."

There was some kind of time limit at work. She wasn't sure how or why, but it existed and it was counting down.

Roshi frowned at her. "What? Who is it? I can get you there if it's so important."

"No!" They were both startled by her outburst. "No," she said again, calmer this time. "You can't come. It's not safe for you."

"But it is for you? Sage, kid, where are you going? Konoha?"

The look on her face must have given it away because his frown quickly twisted into a disbelieving scowl.

"You can't be serious, Hime. You hate them. Who could you possibly—?" He cut himself off. "It's Sakumo. You're going for Sakumo. Fuck." He ran a hand through his red hair, hissing angrily through his teeth. "You do know that was his mission, right? You realize he was only here to befriend you? He doesn't really care."

It hurt to hear, and she knew he was probably right. Still, all her other reasons still stood.

"I have to go," she said softly, as much to herself and Choumei as to Roshi. "He's gonna die if I don't do something."

"How can you know that? Did you have a bad dream? It's not real, Hime-chan. He's probably fine."

She shook her head adamantly. "No! You don't understand. He's really gonna die. He might be dead already!"

He didn't understand. At all. How could she expect him to, when he hadn't lived a life where Naruto had reached its final episodes? Was anime even a thing in this world?

"I'm sorry," she said honestly, tears again burning her eyes. "I really am. I want to stay here with you, but I can't! He needs somebody, and I'm the only one who knows!"

Roshi stood there in the hallway, blocking her path. Her back was starting to sting, whatever Choumei was doing pricking at her nerves. She held Roshi's gaze, his black eyes stern.

"I can't in good conscience let you go, Hime-chan. You know what they'll do to you."

"I know!" She shouted, once again surprising them both with her vehemence. "I know what they'll do! But I'm not going for them! I'm going for him!"

She sniffled, wiping at her eyes. Roshi sighed wearily before stepping up to her, placing his hands on her shoulders and holding on tight.

"Promise me," he said thickly. "That you'll come back. If someone hurts you or they try to make you do anything you don't want to do, come back."

"I promise." She meant it, too. "The instant I've done what I need to do, I'll come back!"

She conveniently left out how long that might take her, but Roshi seemed satisfied, nonetheless.

He stepped back, clearing his throat with suspicious force. "Alright," he said louder than necessary. "What have you already packed? Does Han know?"

Oh. Han. Oops. She forgot about that.

Roshi helped her stuff food and amenities inside her scroll, insisting she take more than she thought she needed on the pretext that living in Konoha might end up being harder than she thought, despite its access to running water, markets, and chemical cleaners. Her little scroll was filled to the brim with preserved meats, handmade soap, raincoats and hats woven from grasses and reeds, kindling made from dried moss, and all sorts of other things needed for outdoor survival. Did he think she would end up living in the Forest of Death?

Now that she thought about it, that might not be a bad idea. No one would bother her there.

"Beni-chan," Han's voice called out from the courtyard. "What happened? Why did you run off?"

Her guilt about leaving him out there compounded as she realized she would be leaving him behind, too. Roshi, at least, was an adult, but Han was a little kid. She was his only friend in his age group, and she was leaving.

Well, they could still meet through their seals, right? They could, right?

Yes, you can.

Thank God.

With a heavy heart, she stepped out into the courtyard, Roshi following slowly. Upon looking at Han's worried expression, she threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her face in his chest. He stumbled backward from the force of her embrace and she could feel him floundering as he hesitated to return the hug.

"Damn, Hime-chan," Roshi said with a low whistle. "You never mentioned wings."

Ah, they must have come in. Weird. She didn't remember Fu's taking so long. Weren't they just chakra constructs?

I am a chakra construct. You are not Fu. Your bodies are not the same. Stop comparing yourself to her.

Ok. She could do that.

She stepped back from Han, tears once again clouding her vision.

"I'm sorry," she told him, the confusion in his face making her feel even worse. "I really am. If it helps, I promise you'll always be my second best friend."

He cocked his head, orange eyes looking down at her with a forlorn light of realization. "Only second?"

She nodded, forcing herself to smile. "Mushi is first."

The beetle in question was sitting on his shoulder and she realized with another wave of guilt that he must have helped Han find his way back to the temple. She held her hand out to her little buddy, sniffling as he crawled over without hesitation. Roshi walked over, pulling Han aside to explain the situation.

Sad? Larva sad?

She laughed despite herself, those words conjuring up a happy memory. "Yes, Mushi, I'm sad."

Fun? Larva need fun?

She smiled at him. "Not this time, Mushi. I'm leaving, now, and I don't know when I'll be back. I wanted to say goodbye."


That startled a genuine laugh out of her. "What do you mean, no?"

No goodbye. Goodbye bad.

He wasn't wrong. Her smile wobbled precariously as she tried to find the words to explain to a beetle that his human might not come back in his lifetime. It was actually kind of amazing he'd lived so long, in the first place.

You could just take him with you.

Choumei's suggestion caught her by surprise. Could she really?

Sure, why not? He's yours, isn't he? He'll just have to hold on.

Happiness swelled inside her and brought a new kind of tears to her eyes. She pulled open the front of her kimono, tucking the giant beetle between the layers of cloth.

"Stay in there, Mushi. We're going on a trip."

In our favorite rocket ship!

The delighted snort that left her was a hideous sound and it caught the boys' attention. Han walked up to her, drooping with sadness.

"You're really leaving?"

She nodded. "Yeah. I'll come back, though, once my job is done. And we can talk through our seals! So, I won't fall totally off the face of the earth."

That expression was clearly new to him, but he got the gist of it. His bottom lip quivered as he tried to hold in his tears and she reached out, wanting to comfort him.

We need to go. The margin is closing.

She closed her eyes and sighed, mustering up a flimsy smile for her friends.

"I'll miss you guys," she said honestly, struck by the space they'd come to occupy in her heart. "I'll contact you soon."

"You'd better," Roshi sneered, his bluster doing nothing to hide the thin film of tears in his own eyes. "I want a weekly check in, young lady."

"Yes, nii-chan. Whatever you say."

He sputtered a half hearted protest as Beni leapt away, running down a winding path between ancient trees. Once, years ago, she'd followed this same path, a beetle guiding the way as it sought alleviate her boredom.

Now, when she reached the cliffside with its bracing winds, she did not stop, she dove. The winds tugged at her hair and clothing and for a terrifying moment she forgot she had wings, the instinctive fear of falling gripping her body and locking her muscles. Then, the wings on her back caught the powerful updraft, yoinking her up as they moved on their own. They were controlled by Choumei's chakra, pulling her along for the ride as they fluttered, the sound like a giant hummingbird buzzing in her ears.

As she was carried across the vast expanse of green treetops, her mind was filled with one word.


Sakumo sat in his empty home, the winter cold suffusing his body and taking root in his bones. When was the last time he saw Kakashi? The little boy was in his first year at the academy, but it looked like he would be graduating early. He'd made his feelings about that clear, but, then, his words didn't exactly carry any weight, anymore. His son would be put on a battlefield and there was nothing he could do about it. About anything, really. His son, who looked so much like him, who suffered for the sins of his father, who looked at him with cold, accusing eyes, his ears filled with the rumors and gossip which condemned them both.

Ah, Kakashi. He'd really failed him, hadn't he? A child needed a parent, but a war also needed soldiers. He was never home when his son needed him, and now that he was, he was plagued by an earned reputation.

He did what he thought was right and, he knew, he would do it again if given the choice. Still, he wished the consequences of his actions could be born by him alone. His son had nothing to do with it, so the way everyone insisted on lumping them together was aggravating. A four year old didn't deserve such ridicule and cruelty.

Ah, but he really was useless. The only thing he could do for the boy, now, was something even more shameful than failure. Still, it was better for Kakashi to be the victim of tragedy than the son of Sakumo.

The blade in his hand glittered in the pale light of the winter moon. Kakashi was outside the village for an academy survival exorcize, so he shouldn't be back before Sakumo had finished his death throes. He left the shoji door open, giving himself a view to the outside and, more importantly, the outside a view of him. With any luck, someone would notice his corpse before Kakashi came home and he'd be spared the horror of finding his father dead in their own home. Still, even if he was the one who found him, it would only add to the tragedy and elicit even more sympathy from the village to take the place of the scorn he currently faced;

Ah. This was going to hurt.

He lifted the blade, both hands wrapped around the hilt. He'd spent the last week sharpening it as he wallowed on his decision. Many times, he almost changed his mind. In the end, this was the best course of action. Kakashi deserved to be more than just that man's son.

Sakumo inhaled, savoring his last proper breath. An errant breeze carried the scent of snow, Konoha, and Benihime.

Ah, to be thinking of her at a time like this. What would she say if she heard? Would she even care? Or would she be glad to see Konoha's numbers dwindle by one?

He pushed those thoughts aside and raised his hands even further, struggling not to brace himself against the coming blade.

In the same instant where he brought it down with more than enough force to skewer himself, something collided with him. The blade clattered out of his hands, the shock of being interrupted overtaking his battle honed instincts. He was thrown to the side, the force of impact sending him and whatever had attacked him rolling away. Another set of shoji doors leading into the hallway were ruined beneath their combined weight. They came to a stop with Sakumo on his back. He looked up at his attacker with open mouthed surprise.

It was Benihime, his nose foretelling her arrival with wicked accuracy. She'd grown since he last saw her, but he thought that everyday in the temple, her growth spurts boggling his mind. Other than her height, she looked very much the same. The moon cast highlights in her golden hair, reflecting off her warm brown skin and giving her an ethereal look. What caught his eye, though, were the wings sprouting from her back. As long as she was tall, they pointed out to either side, red-gold gossamer catching the moonlight and bathing the wooden floor in red. As he watched, they began to burn up as though eaten from within. Black ashes fell to the floor as Benihime panted heavily, staring down at him with angry green eyes.

"You," she spat as her pet beetle crawled out from within her red kimono. "Are so lucky."

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. By the Pricking of My Thumbs 2199 0 1 2. The Last Lion Roars 1682 0 0 3. To Be or Not To Be 1423 0 0 4. Reflection 2361 0 0 5. Little Town 1685 0 0 6. Lullaby For a Stormy Night 1670 0 0 7. Luck Be a Lady 2790 0 0 8. Once Bitten 2706 0 0 9. Let's Get Down to Business 1975 0 0 10. Revolution Calling 3140 0 0 11. That Don't Impress Me Much 2881 0 0 12. Other Friends 1879 0 0 13. Irreplaceable 2525 0 0 14. Spreading the Disease 2457 0 0 15. Harbinger 1788 0 0 16. Curious 2092 0 0 17. Hey Brother 1772 0 0 18. Runs in the Family 1666 0 0 19. Pocket Full of Sunshine 1740 0 0 20. Happy Birthday 1949 0 0 21. I Walk Through the Valley 2324 0 0 22. Over the Hills and Far Away 1777 0 0 23. Hot Girl Bummer 1823 0 0 24. Hot 'N Cold 1753 0 0 25. Hey, You You're Finally Awake 1822 0 0 26. PMS Blues 1476 0 0 27. How to Save a Life 3564 0 0 28. Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) 3188 0 0 29. No Money 2343 0 0 30. There's a Party in My Tummy 1700 0 0 31. Temporary Home 4312 0 0 32. Another Brick in the Wall 2535 0 0 33. We Don't Need No Education 2594 0 0 34. American (by Mona Haydar) 3670 0 0 35. In the Woods Somewhere 1542 0 0 36. I Told You So 1553 0 0