幸運= Koun = Good luck :)
恵子= Keiko = Lucky child
恵語= Keigo = Lucky words
I'm gonna ask that we be respectful and not talk about her deadname. She may be fictional, but the people she represents are not. Thank you. ( ◡‿◡ )
Also, I keep forgetting to say how long she's been at the temple. As of the last chapter, she's been there six months.
It sounded like a Japanese name, from what she knew. Lots of girl names ended in 'ko', since it meant child and that was cute, apparently. Her 'ko' didn't, though, and she was quietly lamenting letting Choumei take the reins in that moment of panic.
Unko. An inversion of Koun, meaning good luck. Keiko's name had also meant lucky, and their grandfather Keigo's, for whom Keiko was named, mean lucky words! Luck was a family tradition only her mother had apparently skipped out on—although, Hotaru meant firefly and in her culture, they were pretty lucky—so she wasn't mad at having a lucky name, herself.
It's just…luck luck? May as well call her moon moon.
Besides, she'd had a name! A nice one! She picked it out herself after long, restless nights spent pondering which name would piss her parents off the least while also being one she liked. She'd finally settled on her grandmother's name, Ursula, since it kept her deadname's first letter and paid homage to the family matriarch. Plus, it belonged to a bombin' Disney villain. And meant bear. Hell yeah.
Unko was similar, she supposed. It also started with 'u', but the vibes were completely different. She knew nothing about Japanese names outside her limited experience in anime, so it was definitely better than anything she could have come up with. Ursula would have stood out too much.
Really, the only issue she had with it was that she hadn't chosen it. She'd gotten attached to Ursula over the years, had put time and effort into getting her friends used to it. Now, none of that mattered.
It hadn't mattered anyway, given that none of her friends were even here, but still.
If he dies, you can pick a new one.
Yeah, no. He was alive and hadn't tried to hurt her, so she wasn't gonna go out of her way to hurt him, either.
And yet, here you are, going out of your way to help him, instead.
Well, yeah? She wasn't gonna just let him die now that he'd survived the flood. She stirred at the soup bubbling in the wok with a wooden stick she'd boiled clean, pulling out the bones she'd used to make the stock. The Anbu was sick, sniffling and coughing wetly in his sleep—and the best way to treat any illness was with caldo and VapoRub. Anyone who said differently was being paid by big pharma. She didn't have any of the ingredients necessary to make a proper caldo de pollo, but she had rabbits, nutty potatoes, and onions. It wouldn't be the tastiest of soups, but it should be filling.
It was a welcome change of pace for her, too.
Something scraped along the floor and spun, holding her stirring stick aloft, only to laugh. It was the turtle. She'd noticed he was missing from the pool after the water receded, but she was too concerned with the person lying prone on her kitchen floor to worry about him. Now, he was crawling across the floor with slow, methodical steps, evil eyes locked on their unwelcome visitor.
"Don't encourage him," she chided Choumei as she ran over to the monstrous reptile, hooking her hands underneath his belly and lifting him up with a heave. God, he was heavy! His clawed flippers flailed around in the air and he let out the most hideous hissing noise in protest. "Bad turtle," she told him breathlessly as she carried him out into the courtyard. "No eating ninjas."
He hissed even louder and she was eighty six percent sure he understood her. She slowly lowered him into the sacred pool, quickly yanking her hands out of the water before he could vent his anger on her innocent fingers.
You should have let him do it, Choumei pouted as she returned to the kitchen. Can you imagine his reaction? It would have been hilarious.
"That's not a reason to let someone get hurt," she admonished. "He can't even defend himself."
"Defend myself from what?"
Oh, shit. He was awake.
Sakumo took in the child standing before him with clearer eyes. It was a girl child, he realized from her clothing, and likely from the western tip of the Land of Earth, if he recognized the cut correctly.
This time, he'd awoken to the smell of food. Before his brain could fully catch up with his tongue, he'd thought he was back at the inn, before the ambush that sent him running through the forest during the worst storm of the season. Then, his injuries made themselves known and he remembered himself.
The girl shifted her weight from one foot to the other, verdant green eyes glancing from the stove to the floor and back as she visibly considered her options.
Right. He was in her kitchen.
He smothered a groan as he got to his feet, the dizziness which had felled him before much weaker this time around. He was able to stay on his feet, at least, though he did sway perilously.
The child looked up at him, her mouth opening and closing as she debated speaking. Then, she turned toward the stove top—an ancient thing he was surprised still functioned—and filled a bowl with whatever she was cooking. She offered it to him with both hands, eyes wide and imploring beneath short golden brows.
He pushed the bowl back gently, smiling behind his mask. "No, I couldn't possibly take your food. I have my own rations." They were probably inedible, now, but he'd survived off worse.
Her brows furrowed and she pressed the bowl forward. "You're sick," she said, as though mentioning a shinobi's weakness wasn't taboo. "You need to eat."
He took the bowl from her, the chipped red pottery warming his hands through his fingerless gloves. The soup inside didn't look very appetizing, but he knew better than to insult his host, especially when she was being so gracious. She'd even turned her back to him—the action either bold or stupid—allowing him to pull up his mask and take a sip of the broth.
Well, it wasn't the worst thing he'd ever eaten. He'd never eaten taro in a soup, before, and the taste of rabbit was overwhelming, but, with a few seasonings, it wouldn't be so bad. Given her living situation, it wasn't unexpected for the soup to be plain, just that she offered it to him in the first place.
He finished it as quickly as he dared, scalding his already itchy throat. Tugging his mask back into place, he stepped over to the girl and placed a hand on her shoulder. She jumped at his touch and he was about to apologize, when he felt a surge of chakra under his palm. He yanked his hand back just as the girl used shunshin to flee, disappearing to who knew where.
Damn. He hadn't expected her to be trained. He probably should have, given how she behaved around an Anbu level shinobi. Children in his own village began their training at around her age, too. The fever was clearly fogging his mind.
He placed the bowl down on the hot stone of the stove and hobbled his way out of the home. There were no doors and it looked like the roof was currently being repaired. He felt a little guilty about his own contribution to the holes in the thatching and resolved to at least patch up the kitchen before he left.
How long had he been out? Had he missed the rendezvous?
The pounding in his head worsened when he stepped out of the house and into open sunlight. He had to shield his eyes as they adjusted and he leaned heavily on the ancient doorframe for support.
His ribs were definitely broken. His arm, too, if the constant pain and unnatural angle were any indication. He could set it himself but having only one working arm was a liability his mission couldn't allow.
With a sigh, he again pulled up his mask, biting into his thumb and slowly performing the necessary seals. One handed jutsus weren't his specialty, and he'd have to make up for that weakness the instant he got home.
He crouched down and pressed his hand to the stone floor, a sealing array spreading out from his palm. The familiar puff of white smoke didn't come, however, and he sat staring at the failed summoning with mind numbing confusion.
"You can't summon here." He looked over at the girl where she sat beside a square pool, her arms wrapped around her knees. A troupe of monkeys occupied the space beside her, sitting on the wall and in the trees, watching him with dark, intelligent eyes. "The wards prohibit it."
Wards? He hadn't sensed any wards.
Standing was more of a struggle than he cared to admit, his good hand pulling him to his feet using the doorway. The girl watched him solemnly as he made his way over to the pool, her simian guardians staring down at him with the promise of violence if he did anything to their charge. He took a careful seat on the other side of the water, his legs folding into a lotus position, and propped his injured arm on his knee.
"Your name is Unko, right?" His memory was fuzzy, but he could remember that much. "I am Wolf."
She quirked an eyebrow at him, looking his mask over. "Is that what it's supposed to be?"
He stifled a laugh. Really, this child was too bold. "Yes. Who were you speaking with, when you thought I was asleep?"
"And who is Mushi?"
She held out a hand, the lighter skin of her palm facing up. A giant rhinoceros beetle landed on it, wings folding elegantly underneath a shiny black carapace. Its horn was long and pronged. Truly, a fine specimen of the breed.
"I see." He didn't. How could a beetle, no matter how magnificent, hold a conversation with a human? Unless it was a summons of some kind, or else a special nin-beetle, like the ones employed by the Aburame, he wasn't sure it was possible. "And what was I unable to defend myself from?"
She dipped a toe into the water, yanking it back when an obscenely large snapping turtle lunged from beneath the surface.
"He was gonna eat you," she explained. "Ch—Mushi said I should have let him do it."
He noticed her slip up, but he let it slide. She was cooperating with him, and he didn't want to threaten a child if he could help it.
"Mushi speaks to you?"
She smiled it the beetle as it crawled up her arm. Many girl children in Konoha would have been screaming in her position, even many boys, outside the Aburame Clan.
"Yeah. It was a little creepy at first, but I'm glad I have someone to talk to."
That might also be why she was so willing to talk to him. Humans were social animals, after all, and children, especially, needed constant interaction with their own kind. He was a faceless stranger who could potentially prove a threat to her life, but she had treated him with more hospitality than he had a right to expect after tearing a hole in her roof. She smiled at him, revealing crooked eyeteeth, and a pang of parental longing overcame him.
He'd been away from Kakashi for too long. The boy was only a year old; far too young to be in the care of friends. Had his mother lived…
No, that wasn't a thought he'd entertain.
He missed his kid. This kid was just reminding him of it.
"You're trained as a shinobi," he began carefully, not wanting to spook her. Perhaps it would be best to treat her the way he did Kakashi. "Did you learn that all on your own? That's incredible."
Her expression twisted into something between a smile and a sneer. "Ah, yeah. It's not there's anybody to teach me." She winced, and he had a feeling she was lying.
Even so, hers was the only human scent he was detecting. It was on everything and layered over itself many times. If another person were nearby, his enhanced senses would have picked up on their traces, but there was nothing. Odd.
He pushed himself to his feet and she mirrored the movement, her beetle friend settled on her shoulder. He bowed stiffly.
"Thank you for your help, Unko-chan. I might not have made it without you. If there is anything you need from me, please ask now, as I don't know if I will ever come this way, again."
He straightened, heart decidedly not pained by the look of panic on her face. She bit at her full bottom lip, green eyes flitting from focus to focus. Then, she pointed a finger at him.
"Stay there! Don't move! The turtle will eat you if you do!"
It was a childish threat, but, a slight chill still ran down his spine as he watched the beast follow underneath her as she ran across the surface of the water. She rushed across the courtyard and disappeared into her home.
He was tempted to disappear, himself, but imagining the look on her face when she came back to find him gone kept his rooted in place. That, and the snapping turtle glaring up at him with a hungry smirk.
She came back out with her hands clasped tightly to her chest. She seemed a little surprised to see him and a pang of guilt ran through him for even considering leaving. This was a child. Not an enemy nin or even an adult civilian. A child in dire need of human interaction.
She ran up to him and smiled breathlessly, holding her hands out. Nestled there was a set of golden earrings, the bottoms of the hoops decorated with fine golden lace in the fashion common in that part of Earth. She smiled sheepishly.
"Can you pierce my ears? I'm too scared to do it myself."
Ah, this was cute. So cute. He was so glad he was wearing a mask or she'd know exactly how cute he found her. Adorable. It was killing him.
"Of course," he said as he took the earrings from her. "I thought you might want me to fix the hole I put in your roof, though."
She ducked her head and pursed her lips. "It was already like that. You didn't do anything, honest."
That was even more concerning. Child. How have you lived?
He knelt down in front of her, using his one good hand to undo the latch on the earring and press it against the delicate flesh of her earlobe. He'd never pierced anyone's ears, but he's stabbed plenty of people with senbon, and the skill clearly transferred. The thin wire passed through her ear so smoothly, she didn't even notice until he started on the other one, her face screwed up tightly against the pain.
"There," he said, stepping back. There was blood on his hands, and he idly wiped it onto his black clothing. "I'll be going now."
She looked a bit disappointed, but she cocked her head, newly pierced ear bent toward the beetle on her shoulder as though listening. She nodded at something Sakumo couldn't hear.
"If you die out there, it's not my fault."
Of all the things to say…
He huffed a small laugh behind his mask. "Of course, not. Have a good life kid."
As he left the ruins behind, it belatedly occurred to him that he could have offered to take her with him. Turning around, there was nothing but trees behind him.
"This is an interesting report, Wolf," Sarutobi Hiruzen said to one of his most elite agents, the report in question sitting on his desk. "A child living alone in the wilds of Earth Country is strange enough, but this potential kekkei genkai you've described is something else."
The masked shinobi nodded his head. "I understand, sir. It is only conjecture based on my conversation with the girl, but with the Aburame Clan standing as precedent for such an ability, I thought it prudent to add."
The Third Hokage nodded, leaning back in his chair and gnawing on the tip of his pipe. The tobacco wasn't lit, but it was a habit he was much too old to break. "You did well to include it, Wolf. I'm not holding that against you. Have you marked the ruins' general location?"
"Yes, Lord Hokage."
"Good. If I have another team heading in that direction, I'll be sure to let them know about the possibility of a child in need of assistance. You may return to your own child, now," there was a twinkle in the old man's eye. "He's quite precocious, that Kakashi. It will do you both good to be in each other's company, again."
"Thank you, Lord Hokage."
Taki is in "an unnamed nation" according to the wiki, but that doesn't make sense. Nobody knows where Taki is except for Taki, so I'm saying that the "unnamed nation" that the Naruto Maps chart out is actually an extension of the Land of Earth. If nobody knows it's there, then nobody can get mad at Earth for having two villages. ╮(︶▽︶)╭
Unko has yaeba teeth! I think they're so cute! (≧◡≦)
Surprise! Unko is older than Kakashi! That man's timeline is all kinds of whack, so I'm gonna do my own thing. I'll explain more when he actually shows up!