Shinobi Isekai!: Round Three! @morrowyn

This is where I say I am not a person of color. Someone called me one, once, and I sat there in shock 'cause, really, if I'm your standard for a POC, you need to diversify your life, sis. Christ.

I am a White Hispanic who grew up in a majority Hispanic community. My entire extended family are on the darker side of the latinx spectrum, and only me, my siblings, and my mother came out white, lol. My experiences with prejudice and racism (both of which are tagged for this fic) are more vicarious, as people tend to look at my skin and my name and think it's safe to express their prejudice around me. So, when I write about xenophobia, I draw from my own experience as a second generation American Citizen whose grandparents and great grandparents were at one point illegal immigrants.

I'm telling you all this because our OC is a POC. Her skin is much darker than mine, and her hair is of the 3C-4A variety. My sister, ever my muse, also has hair of this texture. She's the only one in our stereotypically large family with hair like this, and I was witness to her changing relationship with her hair over the course of her transition. I am once again using her and what she tells me as a basis for how I write this character, but she's even paler than I am, so I literally can't use her for the eventual struggles our OC will have regarding colorism and racial prejudice. So, I want to invite you to point out any issues you see in my writing. Educate me! Call out my own prejudice! Hold me accountable!

I am using the Writing With Color Tumblr to help me out. If you know of any other resources for writing POC characters, please let me know!

Originally posted Nov. 4, 2020

The child in the water was adorable. She was little on the heavier side, baby fat giving her a cherubic look that the halo of golden curls only amplified. Her skin was dark with a warm undertone and it would probably get even darker now that she was living above ground and had access to proper sunlight. It was hard to tell without a proper mirror—and because the snapping turtle kept making his displeasure with her known, sending ripples over the surface of the pool and wrecking her reflection—but it looked like her eyes were fairly light.

So, she was a living trope. The POC with conveniently pale hair and eyes. Yue, Harribel, Tsume, and Scar came to mind, and she shook her metaphorical fist at Kishimoto for following that trend. Coward. *

She reached into the surprisingly clear water—careful to avoid the evil turtle—and splashed her face, washing off the dirt and grime that clung to her. She tugged on one golden curl, uncoiling it as far as it would go and smiling a little when it bounced back. Then she grimaced.

She had no idea how to take care of curly hair.

Her hair before was straight and she had to wear it heart wrenchingly short or else risk her father's ire. She was glad to have longer hair now—even gladder that she didn't have to struggle through growing it out herself—but she was more than a little scared. Suddenly having curly hair in her own world would have been hard, and at least there she had the internet and products made especially for it. Here…

Don't worry, Choumei's guttural voice cut in. I know a few things! Look for these!

An image of berries flashed in her mind. They were big and yellow, the kind of thing that might be used as decorative plants in front of a fancy building or on a university campus only to be immediately dug up for poisoning the local fauna.

They're soap berries! You can use them to clean!

Oh, how useful. She'd never really thought about how things got clean before the advent of chemical products. She'd just kind of always assumed that soap was a thing. It was so integral to her life; she couldn't imagine her ancestors living without it. But obviously they had. Right?

She pushed herself up onto her feet, relishing the feel of the stone under her toes now that she'd discarded the sandals. She was pretty sure the weird dog things—Tanuki, Choumei supplied—had dragged them off, so she abandoned any hope of seeing them again. The temple was full of animals, each group a representative of the nine bijuu. There were tanuki, cats, that menacing snapping turtle, a clan of monkeys, a mixed herd of horses and cows, and, of course, lots and lots and lots of beetles. She hadn't seen any foxes yet, but they were apparently more skittish than the rest. The slugs she noticed for the first time as she began pushing through the foliage in search of the soap berries Choumei promised. A visceral memory of Ron Weasley vomiting into a bucket rose unbidden in her mind and she had to muscle down a gag before the poor, naked mollusk was baptized in the cruelest of fashions.

Luckily, they weren't nearly as numerous as the beetles. Those, she had to force herself not to swat away, especially when they insisted on clinging to her and whispering in teeny tiny voices that would never give her nightmares, no.

She was gonna have nightmares.

She actually had to leave the courtyard to find the berries, stepping out into the moss covered forest through the hole in the wall. There was a well worn path where she imagined the ungulates travelled between their pastures and the pool inside the temple, and she followed it gratefully until she found her quarry. The bright yellow was a splash of color against the sea of green, hanging from the edge of a long branch high above her head. So high. Way too high.

How was she going to get them down?

The trunk of the tree was tall with not low hanging branches to help her climb. Maybe, if she had a running start, she could use her momentum to reach the lowest branch?

Or you could use chakra.

Or she could use chakra.

She ignored Choumei's snickering in the back of her mind. She grew up in a world where chakra was either a fictional superpower or part of a religion she knew nothing about. Could he really blame her for thinking of other solutions before reaching for the magic?

It wasn't like she knew how to use it, anyway.

But I do! Here, I can help!

She had a bad feeling things would end up going incredibly wrong.

Hey! That's not very nice. She had never once wondered what Batman would sound like if he pouted like a baby, but now she knew. We can do it. Come on! Just pay attention to how I move my chakra.

Energy surged inside her body, the hairs on her arms standing on end. Was this what it felt like to be electrocuted? It was gross.

You're so mean. Try and copy me! Go on!

How was she supposed to do that?


Whiny Batman is not a nice sound.

She huffed a sigh and tried to do as he said, if only to stop his whining. It was a half hearted attempt. She wasn't expecting much, to be honest. She was a six year old, now, and that was the age Naruto entered the academy, right? An immediate success would be—

Pretty darned awesome, actually.

Choumei's chakra faded the instant she managed to find her own, the energy weak and slippery compared to his. Which, yeah, he was a bijuu and she was a six year old human who'd never used chakra before. It felt a little like trying to catch smoke, the echo of her chakra lingering in her limbs when she failed to hold on to it.


That was a good first try, Choumei said happily. You can try again later. For now, let me help you get those berries.

His chakra filled her, again, and she stepped up to the tree. She placed her hands on the rough white bark and was delighted to find it stuck like a suction cup.

So cool.

Climbing up was really easy, after that, but once she was in the tree she was faced with another issue. How to bring the berries back with her?

She had not thought this through.

Straddling a branch, she undid the wooden toggles holding her once pretty shirt closed. It would make for a decent makeshift bag, and she was gathering the berries so she could wash things, anyway! She wore nothing underneath it and she shivered as her skin met open air. Her hair brushed against her shoulders and she let herself delight in the feeling, shaking her head back and forth with a smile on her face. So that's what it felt like.

Her smile froze when she looked down at her now bare arms. Two black bands wrapped around both her wrists, the ink green with age. Those tattoos raised so many questions, but the biggest one spilled from her lips before she could stop it.

"Um, Choumei? Am I related to Kakuzu?"

Hmm? Oh! Yes. He's your great-grandfather. Your mother's father's father. Surprise!

Holy shit.

Holy Shit.

"Holy shit."

Kakuzu, the immortal bounty hunter who shocked the masses with his startlingly sexy face reveal, was her great-grandpa. The guy so many fanfics wrote as an eldritch monster, who ripped out people's hearts to prolong his own life, who valued money over all things, was her great-grandpa. The second missing nin in the history of the Village system, the guy strong enough to be sent after the fucking First Hokage and live, was her great-grandpa.

Yes, yes, you've made your point. Choumei actually sounded a little upset. He was one of your favorites, I know, but is this really necessary? He probably doesn't even know you exist, and if he does, he doesn't care.

True, but that didn't matter. Kakuzu was her great-grandpa! Sure, he was an asshole fated to die despite all his failsafes, but he was a named, recurring character! Before that instant, she had no ties to the greater Naruto universe. She was just existing in its world, separate from the plot in her temple shaped bubble. She hadn't even thought past taking a bath, but now she was seriously considering her place in the drama that was probably unfolding while she climbed trees. How was she gonna live? What would she eat? What would she wear when she outgrew her clothes? Was she gonna have to learn how to be completely self-sufficient?

Calm down. Choumei seized control of her body, forcing her to slow her breathing and manually slowing her heartrate as heat flared between her shoulder blades. Your clothes still fit, so don't worry about it. There are people out there whose names you know, but they aren't here, so don't worry about it. If it's not a problem, don't worry about it. If it is, but you can't do anything about it right this second, don't worry about it. Right now, we're solving the dirt problem. After we do that, we can think about the others, ok?

Yeah. Yeah, ok. He was right. There was no point in freaking out about things that had no effect on her. One thing at a time.

Choumei let go of her involuntary systems, the burning in her back cooling as he retreated back into his seal.

"Still," she said as she reached out to pick the small, waxy berries and pile them up in her shirt. "Why do I have these tattoos? He got his because he was imprisoned, right?" For a bullshit reason, but whatever. He got his revenge. "So why would a little kid have prison tats?"

She felt his anger pooling in the corner of her mind he'd claimed for himself. Because humans are disgusting.

She kept picking berries, a slight film collecting on her fingers as she waited for him to continue. This was clearly a touchy subject, but she needed to know. If this body was going to be hers, she needed to understand its history.

When Kakuzu left the village, he finally said, voice low and gravelly. He left his wife and child behind. I don't know his reasoning. I've never met the man and all I knew about him came from Keigo's memories. I understand more, now that I've seen yours, but at the time… He sighed. The village was angry. He'd killed their elders and stolen their secrets. They couldn't go after him, but they had a convenient scapegoat who happened to look a lot like his father.

She could see where things were going. She sneered, snapping off a twig with too much force. "So, what? They took it out on him? Tattooed him even though he didn't do anything?"

Yep. And his daughter. And her daughter. All of you have been jinchuriki, too.

Well, fuck.

"That's messed up."


"He doesn't even know I exist, right? Doing that to me doesn't do anything to him."

They didn't care. They needed something to take their anger out on, and after they sealed me inside Keigo they had a whole new reason to hate him. A jinchuriki and a deserter's descendent. He snorted, the sound weirdly human for all he didn't have a nose. Scum.

She agreed. Poor Keiko. She didn't deserve that kind of suffering.

She tied up her bundle of berries, twisting the sleeves and trying to plug any holes. "Ok," she said. "Done. Let's go take a bath."

Choumei helped her leap down out of the tree, but the impact still sent a wave of pain up her legs and across her back. Oh, how she longed for a hot shower. Maybe some bubble bath. That would be nice. Alas, all she had was the square pool infested with an evil, kid eating snapping turtle. She wasn't looking forward to bathing but being clean would be nice.

"Can I use that water for a bath?" She asked as she climbed back into the courtyard. "These berries won't poison the water supply, or anything, right?"


Right. That was so reassuring.

"How do I even use these?"

Here! I know!

Again, she was assailed with images. She looked through someone else's eyes as hands larger and paler than hers with the same tattoos around the wrists poured dried berries into a bot of boiling water, mashing them up after letting them soak, then draining them and collecting the liquid. Huh. It was pretty neat. There was only one issue.

"I have to dry these? You didn't say anything about that!"


She ran a hand down her face as she groaned in exasperation. Madre de Dios. How long would it take her to make some damned soap? It was a basic amenity! Would the fresh berries work?

She ran over to kneel beside the pool, monkeys scattering in her wake. They screamed at her, which, fair, but she ignored them as she tore open her shirt sack and pulled out a handful of yellow berries. She plunged her hand into the water and pulled it back out, crushing the berries between her hands and rubbing frantically. Never mind that she wasn't following the instructions. She just wanted to see bubbles. Just a few bubbles. Come on, bubbles!

You know natural surfactants aren't as bubbly as—.

No bubbles.


She fell backward, wincing as her back hit the stone ground.

"This isn't fair," she complained. "I just wanna wash my hair! Why is it so complicated?"

because chemical manufacturing hasn't been invented, yet?

"Hasn't it, though? What year is it? How long until Naruto is born? He had shampoo!"

ah, well…it's…probably…maybe…t-twenty years? Maybe less? I'm not sure, actually. Kurama is still inside his mother, but that's all I know.

"Then shampoo totally exists! Why am I playing around with berries?"

Because the nearest village is the one that wants you dead?

Oh, yeah. Right.

She deflated, her outrage leaving her in one swell foop. Why? Why was this her life?

She looked at the crushed berry mush in her hands, grimacing as the yellow goop dripped. She really was gonna have to be self-sufficient, wasn't she? That was fine. Really. Choumei could help her, and there was clearly enough food around for monkeys to survive, so she, as a fellow primate, would be fine, right? Right.

There was still an issue.

She sat up and rinsed her hands in the water, yanking them out just before the monster turtle could eat her fingers. She reached up and tugged at one of her bouncy curls. The hair was actually rather brittle to the touch. She was pretty sure it hadn't been bleached, but it was dry and crunchy. It hadn't been cared for, she realized sadly, and she definitely wasn't going to make it any better. The decision she made then was depressing. Finally, finally, she was allowed to have long hair. Even now, it was draped across her shoulders, the split ends tickling her skin. She hadn't even had to wait for it to grow! How lucky!

She couldn't take care of it though. If she couldn't keep it clean, it would be a threat to her health, bijuu or no. She'd had sensitive skin in one life, already, and she didn't fancy having any of those issues, again—especially not without any of the fancy products she used to treat them.

Tears welled up in her eyes and she stubbornly wiped them away. It was fine! Really! The general in Black Panther was gorgeous! Emma Watson's pixie cut was iconic! It was fine! She'd never had long hair, anyway, so it wasn't like she had anything to miss! It was fine!


She looked at her reflection in the water, the ripples from her tears distorting the image as the turtle swam below the surface. It was fine. It was a new beginning. A chance to do it right. Keiko's hair was brittle and dry, clearly neglected along with the rest of her despite her mother's efforts. Her hair would be healthy and happy, just like her. Right.


* Yue is from ATLA
Harribel is from Bleach
Tsume is from Wolf's Rain (DO NOT WATCH UNLESS YOU WANT TO CRY)
Scar is from FMA

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