She should have fixed the roof. Like, actually fixed it. If she had, she would be drowning.
Water poured in through the gaping holes in the lazy thatching she'd put up at Choumei's insistence, soaking the stone, her food stores, and her soap berries! When he warned her about the oncoming monsoon, she'd brushed it off. She grew up in the desert. Her only experience with the rainy season was a week of light rain, maybe a thunderstorm or two, but nothing like this! This place was green! She should have known it wouldn't be just one storm.
Well, it was one storm. It just hadn't stopped in over a week.
Luckily, the temple was on high ground and wasn't as flooded as the rest of the forest. The sacred pool was overflowing, but there were apparently drains hidden along the walls somewhere, since the water never came up higher than her ankles. The snapping turtle was most pleased with that development, the little beast. She took refuge on top of the stove, the woks filled with water and the stone bitterly cold where she huddled in the corner for warmth. Mushi, her little beetle friend, squirmed under her shirt. Many of the other insects had fled the oncoming storm, but Mushi stayed. She couldn't help but feel guilty, since she knew he was only staying for his precious 'larva'. He should have flown away when he had the chance.
She should have fixed the roof when she had the chance. Then, she wouldn't need to worry either way.
Lightning flashed overhead, surrounding her with the sound of rolling thunder. It was so loud, she could almost feel the temple shake. It wouldn't fall on her, would it? It stood for so long, one measly storm wouldn't bring it down, right?
What little roof there was caved in, water pouring in and splashing everywhere. She buried her head in her arms, bemoaning her fate. She only had herself to blame, but it was too much! She should've listened. Now she was gonna drown.
No, you aren't, Choumei sighed, somehow verbally conveying an eyeroll. He might, though.
Poor Mushi! If he died she would never forgive herself.
I wasn't talking about him.
The snapping turtle? He would be fine. He was probably snacking away on poor, unsuspecting animals caught in the flood.
Not him, either.
…A monkey? Had one come down from the trees?
Thunder roared in her ears as she tried to figure out what he was talking about. The horses and cows had left for higher land ages ago, along with the insects and monkeys. She, the turtle from hell, and the slugs were the only ones sticking around—oh! and Mushi!
Well, if you'd look.
She lifted her head, looking blearily at the water all around her. It was cascading in through the roof and flowing down the slight decline and out the doorway into the courtyard where the pool had taken over. At first, she wasn't sure what Choumei meant, but then lightning flashed, illuminating her home for a split second and leaving after images in her eyes.
There was a thing on the floor. A thing that wasn't there before.
She froze, unwilling to move unless whatever it was proved hostile. So far, the only major predators she'd come across were the foxes and tanuki, and they mostly ran away when they saw her. The monkeys might have been a threat, but she wasn't, so they were content to ignore her. The thing on the ground was bigger than the monkeys—bigger than her—and she had to talk herself down from a panic by reminding herself that nothing was bigger than Choumei. Lightning flashed again, and she got a better look.
It was vaguely human shaped, if a human's arm could bend that way. The possibility that this was a person did nothing to assuage her fear. The last time she saw humans in this world, they'd tried to kill her. Was this a ninja from Taki? Had they sent someone after her, again?
Should she just let him drown?
That was a terrible thought. An evil one. But she couldn't bring herself to dismiss it. She liked being alive. If all she had to do to stay that way was not do anything, then that was fine. Perfect, even. She wasn't sure if she could kill someone herself—yet, she knew this world would one day ask it of her, but she wasn't ready—but standing by as they died on their own? That was totally doable.
Of course, Choumei had to go and make her feel like a horrible person.
He's not from Taki. The wards keep anyone with violent intentions out.
Guilt filled her, then. She would have let an innocent man die.
Well, I wouldn't go that far. His chakra is too strong to belong to a civilian, but the fact that he's lying face down in the water tells me he's probably too injured to do anything to us. If you want to leave him like that, I won't blame you. There's no telling what kind of person he'll turn out to be.
No. She couldn't. Not when there was a possibility he'd turn out perfectly nice. With a fullbodied shudder, she uncurled stiff joints. Mushi buzzed in protest against her skin, reminding her he was there and giving small but necessary comfort.
Cold water enveloped her feet as she slid off the stove, coming up to her ankles. Slowly, she approached the black clad figure, reaching out with shaking hands to nudge at his shoulder, careful to avoid the long pale hair falling free from a ponytail. He didn't respond and she allowed herself a relieved sigh. Gently, she rolled him over onto his back and immediately jumped back, hands over her mouth to smother the shocked gasp that threatened to escape.
Lightning burned the bone white mask into her retinas, the red paint alluding to an animal she couldn't identify. That was an Anbu mask, no doubt about it.
She stepped back warily and crawled back up onto the stove, almost falling into a wok full of water. She pressed her back against the cold, wet wall and watched him, eyes never leaving him as the storm continued to rage.
When Hatake Sakumo woke up, it was to an itchy throat and a fever. His clothes were wet and his mask was still on his face. He took a moment to be glad his nose was clogged. He'd been on enough missions to know exactly what he smelled like, regardless.
His arm screamed in protest as he tried to move, ribs echoing its outrage, and he laid back down. Through the eyes of his mask, he took in the room around him. Old, likely abandoned, and with a Sakumo shaped hole in the roof.
Ah. So that's what happened.
He let himself lay there for a moment, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to rest without fear.
Naturally, the instant he relaxed, a sound reached his sensitive ears. He slowed his breathing and carefully kept his muscles loose as someone stepped into the room. He recognized the sound of bare feet on stone as whoever they were crept toward him. It would be painful, but his injuries wouldn't stop him from bringing someone down. He couldn't die there, he had a kid to get back to.
"Are you sure?"
And a kid in the room with him, apparently. Years of training kept his surprise from stiffening his body as a young voice spoke to no one, responding to words he couldn't hear. The child was older than Kakashi, but still prepubescent, if his ears were right. He was glad he hadn't attacked right away, but he was still on edge. A child meant adults, and he wasn't sure he could survive another battle in his current state.
"I don't wanna wake him up, though. What if he kills me?" The child was silent for a second. "What?"
They ran out of the room, footsteps fading quickly. That was worrying. He settled in to wait another moment for any other movement, but the child's voice called out to him from much further away.
"Hey! I know you're awake. Can you please get out of my kitchen?"
He pushed himself up into a sitting position, looking out through a doorless archway. The child was peeking out from around the corner, big green eyes wide and fearful. Their blonde hair was short and their skin dark, the combination bringing to mind the fierce shinobi of Kumo. He had to reassess his last known location to be sure he hadn't somehow wandered into Lightning, but no, his mission had been in the land of Earth, in the exact opposite direction. Such features were certainly iconic for the mountainous village, but that didn't mean they were exclusive. His first instinct was to ask after their parents and make sure they were alright, but he quashed that paternal thought. He was in uniform, after all.
So, rather than comfort the clearly frightened child, he tried to stand.
Vertigo hit him like a ton of bricks, sending him right back to the ground in a feverish heap. Spots danced in his vision and his heartbeat pulsed in his ears.
"Hey, are you ok? You're not gonna die, or anything, right?"
Despite himself, he laughed, the sound rough and painful. "Let's hope not."
"I thought Anbu weren't supposed to talk?"
The question wasn't aimed at him. In fact, it was whispered and likely rhetorical. Still, it told him a lot about his little host. They knew what Anbu were, meaning they were familiar with shinobi systems despite not living in a Village. They clearly recognized him as a threat, though they weren't nearly as cautious as they should be.
All of this told him the poor thing was likely living alone in what were clearly ancient ruins. No parent knowledgeable enough to know what Anbu were would allow a child anywhere near him. Hell, if the child had family, he'd probably be dead.
It was a sad thing to be grateful for, but he had his own child waiting for him back in Konoha.
"What's your name, kid?"
He couldn't see them from where he lay prone on the floor and for a moment he thought they might have left. Then, after a long moment of silence, they spoke.
"Unko. My name…my name is Unko."
"That's a nice name," he said hoarsely as his vision faded, the fever claiming him. "Nice."
She finally has a name! I'll explain the kanji and why she chose it tomorrow. Tata!
P.s. Mushi means beetle :)