Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. It all belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
Stamping on Butterflies
I was the first Hyuuga in five generations to be born without a Byakugan. Arranged marriages and clan conspiracies were only the start. In stamping on a few too many unsuspecting butterflies I managed to change more than I bargained for... but, I mean, the Uchiha massacre wasn't that significant, right? SI/OC
I lay beside the dead man, adrenaline pumping through my body mercilessly and causing my heart to race a mile a minute. This, frustratingly, caused more blood to pulse out of the cut across my neck and I held my hand firmly on the wound. I knew I was also injured on my foot and without medical attention I didn't stand a hope in hells chance in going anywhere. So I just lay in a slowly growing pool of my first kills blood and waited for the help to arrive.
It wasn't long until my designated ANBU operative appeared but this time without his mask.
"The snake broke your mask?" I asked the man with exhausted humour and a croaking voice.
"In a manor of speaking," Itachi said wryly as he briefly assessed my blood soaked condition. I just forced a smile of reassurance.
I don't know why but I thought my first kill would be cleaner and that I'd feel less… defeated. Exhaustion? Yeah. Horror? Maybe. Hey, even accomplishment.
But not defeat.
'Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive' - Elbert Hubbard
I don't remember anything from my first few years. I mean, do you remember your time as a tiny baby? The brain of an infant isn't yet developed enough to retain substantial amounts of detailed information and therefore, even though I had the memories of a fully grown women hidden somewhere in my subconscious mind, I didn't become self-aware until I was around two and a half years of age. But when I did suddenly remember everything, it was a sensory overload which had me reeling in pain and clutching my tiny head in agony. I screamed and cried for hours and could hardly register anything other than all the useless facts from a life long ago. Yeah, I know, a full grown woman crying her eyes out from a little head ache. But it really did hurt!
Is this what happens when you lose your memory? I wondered idly. This pain never happened in the movies when the character who had lost their memories suddenly got them back again. Hollywood depicted it as if an interesting thought had suddenly occurred to them and they would blink a few times in pleasant surprise. Or horror, I suppose, depending on what they remembered. But I guess this wasn't a case of amnesia on my part; there was obviously something much larger going on.
There was always the chance that I had finally gone crazy, because quite frankly for me that could definitely have happened. The pain was near unbearable in my head but in my body it felt as if something was burning me from the inside out. But whatever the pain was it was causing me to become super-aware of everything around me.
Human sonar, I giggled to myself in my pain induced delirium. But quickly that fiery feeling abated and I could no longer sense my surroundings.
After a while, when the images started to fade and my wailing sobs quieted down to soft whimpers, I realized I was not alone. Someone was holding me.
I looked up with effort and met the pupil-less eyes of a young boy, hardly much older than three or four. He was hugging me very tightly, his little arms wrapped around me and his hands twisting in my clothing. He had tears running down his face and was looking at me with fear and trepidation. Why's he scared of me? I wondered dreamily. He's bigger than me. It hardly occurred to me of why he might be bigger than me, my mind still recovering from the vicious onslaught of memories.
The pain in my head was slowing down to a dull throb. No new information was entering my mind and I sighed in relief. I closed my eyes and lent into the boys reassuring embrace, suddenly exhausted. I had no energy left to question anything; I was too tired.
"Nanami?" the boy almost shouted, his voice hitching in distress.
Nanami? I wonder what that means. But before I could ask the boy, I had slipped into unconsciousness.
The next morning I awoke and found the same little boy who had been cradling me from the night before, now hovering over my face with a severe look of concentration.
"Ahh!" I exclaimed in shock. Obviously this boy had no concept of personal space.
"Nana?" asked the boy hesitantly. It was then that I noticed his eyes of pale lavender and the fact that they were, quite disturbingly, lacking any pupils. I felt my jaw drop in childish wonder and as if of their own accord, my hands moved to touch the little boys face. He didn't flinch away, instead a smile erupted across his expression in relief and before I knew it I was pulled into a near bone crushing hug.
He started mumbling things as he picked me up and spun me around. I couldn't help it, I laughed. It was fun! I wasn't worried that this stranger was swinging me up in the air and near crying into my hair. He felt familiar. I felt like I could trust him. He was obviously a harmless child anyway – I didn't think I had much to worry about.
We continued like this for a few more moments before footsteps could be heard coming closer. The boy collected himself immediately in an almost panicked state. Quickly, he put me down on the floor and held my hand firmly. I was unstable on my feet and almost fell over but the boy held on tightly and I remained standing. While I had the chance I looked around the room curiously. The style was Japanese with hardly any furniture save a desk, a chest of draws and a futon which we had just been jumping all over. Not only this but in the typical oriental style the walls looked like I could jump right through them, giving the illusion of privacy and security, but really anyone passing would be able to hear the most intimate of conversation. Where am I? I wondered. But before I could investigate any more into my surroundings or ask the young boy, the paper wall opened and in stepped a giant.
Okay, it wasn't a giant. But I was obviously a small child again and so everyone taller than four foot looked like a giant. The man looked very similar to the young boy with the same eyes and sleek black hair. His nose, however, seemed to be turned up in distain and his lips turned down in a permanent position of unhappiness. I figured that they must be close relatives at the least, if not father and son.
As soon as his eyes turned on us the young boy bowed in respect. I watched him do it and attempted to bow as well, not wanting to seem impolite. There was obviously something going on here that I had yet to grasp and I figured that the smart option was to go along with it until I had figured it all out. Unfortunately it seemed I had yet to grasp the concept of up and down and I felt myself begin to topple forward. Thankfully, the boy was still holding my hand and managed to catch me before I hit the floor. I felt my cheeks blushing red as he steadied me again. When I looked up I saw a look of astonishment on the young boys face and an expression of deep interest on the elders. The elder man studied me critically for a few moments before turning to the boy and addressing him, as if forgetting I was even there.
"Blah, Blah, Blah," The man said sharply. Well, maybe that's not exactly what he said, but it might as well have been for all that I could understand of it. The young boy replied in a formal, polite manor, his tone hinting no opinion or emotion, his whole countenance completely different from when he had been throwing me around. The two conversed for a few minutes and then the elder left as quickly as he had come. The boy at my side didn't move until we could no longer hear footsteps in the corridor and then turned to me with a grin. I felt privileged that he would show me his smile. He didn't seem the type that would give them out freely.
The following weeks were some of the most confusing of my life; both past and present. At first I had to get my head round the fact that I had been reincarnated; which I can tell you is not an easy transition. Once I had figured this out it didn't take me long to realize that I was in the Naruto-verse. At first I had a typical fan girl moment because, let's be honest, who wouldn't? I wasn't obsessed with the anime and I never really read the manga, but that didn't mean that it wasn't absolutely epic to be in another world. However, the first hurdle I had to cross was the language barrier. They all spoke Japanese. Annoying but unavoidable I suppose. Learning new languages was never my forte but I couldn't really attempt to communicate in English either. So I had to learn, but as it turns out grasping language as a child is relatively easy compared to when you are a fully grown adult and set in your ways. So soon enough I could at least understand the basics of what people were saying to me even if I couldn't yet talk back.
Unfortunately, this wasn't anywhere near my biggest problem. You see, it would seem as if I had been born as a branch member of the Hyuuga clan. Oh and what a bundle of laughs they seemed to be.
But it wasn't all bad because, as it turned out that, the boy that had been looking after me was my big brother; none other than Hyuuga Neji himself. Of course, I fangirled. When I realized who he was I refused to let go of his hand, and bless his little heart, he didn't seem to mind at all. I think I must have been a really unresponsive baby because every time I did something even remotely intelligent he would look at me excitedly and get me to do it again. I wondered if this was how all babies felt.
He was around three, about a year older than me and if I remembered his personal history correctly at this point in time he still had his father – or rather our father. It turned out to be the rather miserable looking man that had found me and Neji the day that I had woken up after regaining my memories. Let's put it this way; he wasn't a doting father. The man was all about formality and boundaries. He never once went to hug either of his children. Instead, he had Neji report both of our progress once a week in a meeting in his study. After a detailed report which Hizashi would listen to intently, for he never did anything half way, he would send us away with another branch family member who acted as our surrogate mother; her name was Suki. Of course, Neji would often whisper to me that she wasn't our mother and that our real mother had died shortly after giving birth to me. I knew it couldn't have been in child birth because I wasn't even supposed to exist in this time and in the original timeline she wasn't around either. So I saw no reason to be guilty.
Whenever we would present ourselves to Hizashi, Neji would try so very hard to please him. He would listen with devotion and be ecstatic afterwards when our father would say that he was happy with our progression. I wasn't quite the same, no longer really a young child which needed their parent's approval every few minutes. But I did appreciate that he really did care about us in his own way.
I found out what my name was as well; Nanami. I liked it and thought it was sweet but I also wanted to shorten this down to Nana. Nana sounded more like me. However I didn't think telling anyone this would change things as the Hyuuga were very formal and they wouldn't agree to calling me anything other than my full name. So I settled with the thought that although it would be doomed to be known as Nanami inside the compound walls, outside these walls I would make my name as Nana only. I couldn't wait to go to school for this simple reason alone. However, I found that when Neji was in a particular mood he would allow himself to refer to me as Nana. But these occasions were far and few between.
I spent most of my time with Neji. He would play with me endlessly, keeping me entertained as well as himself. He seemed to really love me and I saw on many occasions he had a rather sweet protectiveness of me. As a big brother should. But I still found it difficult to see him as as my big brother considering how young he was. He spent hours sitting with me and teaching me how to speak and write. My chubby baby fingers would struggle but I would have fun anyway, throwing ink at the page and laughing merrily as Neji cleaned up as it went everywhere. He didn't seem to mind though.
Where is that quiet, moody, insufferable Neji that we know from his genin days? I questioned. Could his father's death really have affected him so much? This child has no quarrels with an unwanted fate or preconditioned opinions of what his destiny was doomed to be! This thought made me sad, so I stopped it immediately. There really was very little I could do.
I went for a while without talking at all. I didn't see the point when nobody asked me anything directly and I didn't have that natural childhood curiosity about the world around me to ask everyone 'why?' constantly. So, after getting a pretty good grasp on Japanese, mostly from Neji's teachings, I turned to him and said my first word. Or, well, words.
"What's a Shinobi?" I asked innocently. Obviously, he had already explained what it was before and I already knew the answer, but it was as good a start as any to finding out more about the ninja world I had so unexpectedly found myself in. Of course, Neji was overjoyed at my progress and explained in detail exactly what they were, what they did and how great a shinobi our father was. In listening to Neji's ramblings (something I could never picture older Neji doing) I actually learnt some things.
One thing was that our father was in fact in charge of the Branch family. There were load of different jobs within the Hyuuga clan and looking after the Branch family, which made up the majority of the Hyuuga was one of the most important jobs. Hiashi was in charge of everything overall, but it would seem that he had minions. I wasn't looking forward to being one of those minions. No one within the clan ever seemed to look happy; especially the minions.
Another thing I learnt was that children in Konoha seemed to go to the academy at 5 years old. That meant that Neji didn't have long until he was off to learn how to kill people and play with sharp objects. This was when I also realized how very wrong the existence of a hidden village was. To train up children from a young age to become soldiers and brainwash them into following the orders of their Kages no matter what. I entertained the idea of refusing to become a Shinobi, but I knew that coming from a Shinobi clan and one as prestigious as the Hyuuga, would mean that I really didn't have much choice in the matter.
Later that day Neji presented me to our father, informing him that I had said my first words. He nodded in approval and dismissed us. The little bit of praise had me buzzing. Maybe I wasn't so grown out of having my father's approval after all.
I first witnessed the power of the Byakugan when our father took us to witness a spar between two branch family members. We sat on the edge of the training field and watched them fight. They were smooth and skilled. I know my mouth was hanging opening in awe but… wow! It was as if they were dancing with each other; a practiced dance which would take hours to perfect, and they made it look effortless. Graceful was an understatement. I looked on with unrestrained envy. I turned to my father and asked in a quiet voice, "Can I do that someday?"
He looked down at me with a calculated expression. "No," he said flatly and to the point. I mean come on dad, don't beat around the bush or anything. Tell it to me straight! I deflated instantly in disappointment.
Why not? I wanted to say. Neji's going to be a genius. Can't I be too?
As if hearing my words my father continued, "You do not possess the Byakugan." He looked at me with that same expression of mild interest he had displayed the first time I remembered meeting him.
I had never thought about whether I possessed the Byakugan or not; I had just assumed I did. It was a bit of a let-down and I felt a nasty feeling in my stomach at the idea of disappointing my father with my existence. This must have been how Hinata felt all those years. It turned out that I was the first member of the Hyuuga clan in five generations to be born without the Byakugan.
After the spar Neji and I rose to leave, bowed to our father, and waited to be dismissed. Hizashi remained seated and turned to Neji first. "Neji you will now begin to learn how to use your Byakugan. Arrive here every morning at six and I will begin your lessons." My brother looked absolutely thrilled at the idea, thanking our father several times. Hizashi looked uncomfortable at the display of emotion and quickly turned to address me.
He paused before he spoke, weighing up his words. "Being born without the Byakugan means you will have different responsibilities than your brother. But you are no less important." He paused again and looked off across the training field expressionlessly. "It cannot be considered a bad thing that you do not have our kekkei genkai."
He dismissed us after that and we left him sitting at the edge of the field by himself. When I glanced back at our father I witnessed that he had his hand pressed up to his forehead. I couldn't see his face but I entertained the idea that he had his eyes closed in silent regret.
Just less than a year after turning up in this universe I turned three years old. Nothing special happened really. I received a few trinkets from some of the household staff, and a china doll from Suki.
But it was special in some ways. That day my father came and ate breakfast with me and Neji, something he would do on occasion and said happy birthday to me. He gave me a china tea set, saying that because I was almost a lady that I must learn our clans ancient tea ceremonies. Now, I don't know about you, but in my first life I absolutely loved tea. I mean, it was to the point of a near unhealthy obsession which probably contributed to my eventual demise. Not only that, but a significant amount of little girls like to dress up as fairies and pour tea to their teddy bears. I was technically only three, even with the mental age of someone well into my 20s, but my next actions can only be attributed to the fact that my Daddy had just bought me a pink teapot. Without much thought to any decorum, which Suki had been desperately trying and failing to teach me, I leapt at my father and hugged him tightly around the neck.
He's a Shinobi, if he didn't want the hug than he should have dodged. I held on for barely three seconds, not wanting to push my luck and moved quickly to sit back at the table as if nothing had happened. I gave Hizashi sometime to compose himself and hummed happily to myself with an impish grin on my face. No one said much for the rest of the meal but when I looked up at Neji, I could tell he was highly amused.
"I am unaware of how you manage it," my brother had said with a small smile later that evening, "but I would bet you could get away with near enough anything. However, I do not gamble."
Neji had been having a hard time with Hizashi's training. He was a genius, of course, and so the physical side was hardly any issue. But Hizashi was instructing him more and more to suppress his feelings just like a proper Hyuuga should. Neji could do it, of course he could, but that meant a change from a playful Neji who didn't mind me spilling ink everywhere, to sterner Neji which would give me a dry, unforgiving look if I accidently spilt tea down his front. Which I did, several times trying to learn those stupid ceremonies. Then again, sometimes I did it on purpose to try and get a rise out of him, but he never took the bait.
Despite the inevitable change in personality which I had known was going to come for a while, Neji's present was the one I treasured most. He got me a white ribbon to tie around my hair to keep my black bangs out of my eyes. The thought was nice but I decided instead to use it as a hair tie and put my hair in a high ponytail, with shorter bits of hair framing my face. It worked for me quite nicely and no matter how much Suki had wanted to change it, I refused to let her touch my hair – lest I lose the precious ribbon.
In return, when Neji's birthday came around, I bought him a black ribbon so that he could tie his hair like he had done before in the series. He was a bit unsure about doing anything with his hair at first, but once I jumped onto his back and refused to let go no matter what he did, he relented and allowed me to play with it. I had missed his typical hair style and even though I knew he would do it himself eventually, I was happy to have influenced his look in a positive way. The long pony tail really did look good.
As more months past I began to realize that the date of Hinata's kidnapping was coming closer and closer. And with this thought I saw how insignificant I really was. How was a child, a baby, meant to stop a bunch of ninja from kidnapping the Hyuuga heir? It was not as if I could tell anyone about the situation without raising suspicion about myself. I could very well be dragged to the Torture and Interrogation unit to be investigated and given a lobotomy and… okay, maybe not, but it probably wouldn't be a good idea to go round telling people I can remember a past life and that to me they should all be fictional characters. Everything had seemed to work out in the end didn't it? There wasn't really much I could do anyway. Fate or something had already planned out this story and I was just here for the ride.
But what about Neji and Hizashi? Don't they die?
When this particular nasty thought crossed my mind, I almost started crying. I couldn't just sit back and do nothing when the people I cared about were in danger. Neji had already stopped just being some character in a story and was now my big brother. He was the one who tried to teach me how to read Kanji and told me the history of the Hyuuga and picked me up when I fell over. Sure, it had only been only been a year, one in which I could hardly even speak, but God dammit he was family. Hizashi as well. He was not a very good father but I believed his heart was in the right place. I wanted to save them.
I will save them. I will learn how to be a great Shinobi and I will save them.
But really, I could never have saved Hizashi from what he would become.
Before the kidnapping happened something else big took place. Hinata's birthday followed hardly six months after mine and Neji and I were dressed appropriately for the occasion. Suki, our fake-mother, had told us that we were to meet our cousin for the first time and that Neji was to receive his special task as a branch member. I, of course, knew what this task was and something dawned on me in horror.
The caged-bird seal. I had completely forgotten about this particular part of being a branch member. Nobody talked about it, it was a taboo subject, but I should have realized sooner that with Hinata's third birthday came the day that Neji was branded for life.
I felt like crying. Again.
As we walked with our father to meet the main family I was subdued and quiet. Not that I wasn't usually like this around my father, it was just that this time it wasn't an act but a sad realization. I knew how much resentment came from the seal, but I also knew the necessity of it should another village get their hands on a Hyuuga's body and attempt to steal the Byakugan - which they somehow achieved anyway if I remembered the Kiri-nin, Ao, correctly.
My father's voice came to mind suddenly, "It cannot be considered a bad thing that you do not have our kekkei genkai."
I glanced at Hizashi and looking closely, seeing great regret in his eyes, just like I had imagined before on the training field. Unexpectedly I reached out and grabbed Neji's hand. He was shocked and a bit angry at the public display of affection without his consent but one look in my eyes told him not to question it. So he didn't.
We arrived at the centre of the Hyuuga compound and were introduced to Hinata, the clan heir, for the first time. She was very sweet and obviously very shy, as all she seemed to want to do was to hide behind her father. I had to refrain from 'awwing' out loud. But when I saw Hiashi I was almost bowled over by how similar he looked to Hizashi. Not just similar but identical in every way possible. They seemed to hold themselves in the same way and when they spoke even their voices were very alike. However, if you listened closely, there was more of a gentle edge to Hiashi if compared with his twin brother.
"We would like to wish little Hinata a very happy birthday," my father said formally with a respectful bow which both Neji and I followed dutifully. "We would like to present her with a gift. Nanami?" My father turned to me, his eyes gentle. Letting go of Neji's hand I stepped forward with the package I had helped choose earlier that week. I had insisted, respectfully, in accompanying my father to buy the tea pot which we were to give to Hinata. I had found out, as of late, that my father had a soft spot for me and if I knew how to play my cards, I could get away with a lot. That is, as long as I used the proper etiquette and was motivated enough to do it convincingly.
I handed the package to the blushing little girl with a smile. "I helped pick it out," I said happily, not at all fazed with having everybody's eyes on me as Hinata obviously was. What can I say? I was a bit of a showman. So sue me.
"Thank you," Hinata whispered and gave me an unsure smile back. I naturally beamed in return; well aware that I probably shouldn't be showing so much emotion in the presence of so many emotionally constipated shinobi. But I couldn't help it, she was so cute.
"Hizashi," Hiashi said to his brother, the light hearted atmosphere suddenly turning heavy. "I think it is time that I take Neji under my wing."
The younger brother visibly stiffened. He bowed, none the less, in agreement and then turned to his son.
"Neji," Hizashi voice carried without any indication of emotion.
"Father," Neji bowed to his father and then followed Hiashi and the elders into the main compound. Hinata was led away by her mother; a beautiful women with a soft face and obviously very heavily pregnant. You could tell by the way she spoke that she was a gentle soul, much like Hinata would one day become.
She will die as well, I thought solemnly.
With the entirety of the main house now gone from the court yard, the branch family members dispersed as well. The formalities were over and done with and so they could all now go and enjoy the festival being held in celebration of the peace treaty between Kuma and Konoha. The festival, finishing in a weeks' time, would end badly. The feeling of helplessness began to creep into my stomach once again and I needed reassurance, but Neji was not there.
Slowly I reached over to my father and tugged on his kimono gently. He looked down at me absentmindedly, but I could see the deep worry in his eyes.
"Will it hurt him?" I asked quietly. I looked back to where Neji had just left with deep regret. I feel as if I have just let him ruin his whole life!
Hizashi looked away from me, his eye also resting on the main house. "Yes," he said unflinchingly. I had to bite back a sarcastic comment about how reassuring he was. "Come." My father walked away turning his back on his first born. I didn't follow right away, my mind still on Neji and the injustice of the situation.
"Nanami, do not make me ask again," his voice was soft but firm. I nodded absentmindedly and left with my father, taking his hand quickly as I looked for that reassurance that only a parent could grant.
He looked down at me in surprise as he wasn't used to such contact but didn't push me away. Like father, like son.
I thought I should give credit to some of the stories which had inspired me to write my own self-insert, such as Iryo-nin Kasa (医療忍傘) by Vaengir, Dreaming of Sunshine by Silver Queen and Catch Your Breath by Lang Noi. Please read them if you haven't already!
AND JUST BECAUSE I LIKE PHYSICS AND THE CHAOS THEORY IS REALLY INTERESTING I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW:
Chaos theory studies the behaviour of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions—an effect which is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. – Wikipedia Chaos theory
Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future