Ichi

Being reborn was something I had never thought I would have to go through. Being raised in a God-fearing household in my previous life, I understood that there might have been something beyond my own realm of living, but after growing up, going to college, and finally growing into myself, I had fallen away from religion. And even then, my parent's religion hadn't even covered the whole reincarnation thing. Sure, I'd heard a little bit about it from friend's religions and research I'd done on my own due to my own curiosity and a need to learn more, but it was a passing focus. I'd read a Wikipedia page on Hinduism for a total of ten minutes before moving on, and that had been years before my death. So it was safe to say I was little out of my depth.

But I soon realized that this "reincarnation" wasn't at all like what I had remembered reading. First of all, I wasn't the only one in here. In my mind, in my body- hell, it didn't even feel like my body or my mind. There was something, or rather someone, with me, and it had control of the body I was born into. And it was an appropriately aged mind for a newborn.

I was a separate entity. I was an 18 year old adult consciousness coexisting with the mind of a baby. How the fuck is that even possible? I tried not to question it too much, even when the girl's thoughts were clearly broad-casted in the black space around me. It was like I was in a dark room, and seeing everything the girl was seeing through a large movie screen. I don't think she could hear me in her own head however, and if she did she probably didn't understand.

It wasn't until the baby was about a year old and finally able to start learning things that I found out I could take control of the body. I was bored, and she didn't seem to have much interest in learning the language, or shapes, and whatever the hell else toddlers had to learn. I knew the new language was foreign, Japanese from what my limited knowledge of foreign languages told me, and I had already had somewhat of a head start, being conscious of what was said around me for that first year. So, when her mother sat her in the high chair for lunch and began to casually repeat the alphabet for her, and the stupid girl paid no attention, I lurched forward towards the screen and was almost sucked into it. There was a flash of light, and then suddenly everything was bright, and very much real. I could feel the sensation of the girl's clothes against my (hers? ours?) skin, the disgusting, unsatisfying taste of mashed baby food in our mouth, and the smell of freshly baked cookies floating into the dining room from the kitchen. I swallowed the food inside our mouth with a grimace, looking intently at the girl's mother, waiting for the next word or letter. She pointed to herself and said, "Kaa-san," I parroted it, clumsy, thick little tongue awkwardly wrapping around the sound. Kaa-san was mother. Good to know. She looked spooked that I had mimicked so quickly and easily, as this was the first time she'd tried to teach us words and letters, but then her face broke into a huge smile, her green eyes twinkling, and then she was off in rapid Japanese, repeating Kaa-san multiple times as if confirming I'd gotten it right. And then she pointed to me- us, and said, "Sakura."

So, Sakura was our new name. Cute.

Lunch time seemed to be over quickly, cut short when a timer rang from the kitchen, probably for the cookies, and since that also meant the end of our impromptu Japanese session, I promptly relinquished control back to the girl, the original Sakura, pulling myself away from our senses (which was strangely simple, more intuitive than anything else). After we had both taken a moment to settle into our normal places of consciousness, Sakura immediately began wailing and screaming, as if she were truly terrified, and it gave me a start. Because it made me realize I hadn't heard her when I took control, I didn't know where she had gone, and if we had just switched places (which was likely), then of course she would be terrified; locked in a dark void of space, with no idea what was going on, but suddenly wrenched from everything that had grown familiar. Shit, I'd probably unintentionally scarred the poor thing.

As our mother rushed back in to calm her cries, I vowed to never switch us like that again. I could learn whatever I needed just fine from where I was, no matter how boring and pointless it seemed to become.

As the days rolled by, we received the same daily alphabet and word lessons from Kaa-san at lunch, and Sakura was just as uninterested in them as she was before. Kaa-san, bless her heart, was disappointed when Sakura point blank ignored her attempts to get us to say "Kaa-san" again, or any other word for that matter, but she soldiered on. Probably thought this was okay, toddlers were fickle after all. I could tell she was still concerned, Sakura was probably her first child. I had suspicions though, like maybe Sakura hadn't even remembered the first lesson, had learned nothing, and that was depressing. This child had no true desire to learn, and she wasn't even aware of it. It was a shame.

Then I thought, maybe, maybe if I could interact with Sakura directly instead of being confined behind a screen, I could help her, kick start a thirst for knowledge that had been so familiar to me in my previous life. And then maybe we could switch back and forth freely, we would be aware of each other. I could take over when she had no true desire to do something, and vice verse. Perhaps it was enabling a pattern of behaviour, and not healthy whatsoever, but who cared. We were practically the same person, I was just a different part of her. It could just be a coping mechanism, if anyone caught on.

Imagine my surprise when I looked behind me and found a completely ordinary wooden door materialize just as soon as I had decided on my intentions. I'd investigated this place thoroughly when Sakura and I had first been born, and that had definitely not been there before. Maybe I'd willed it there. Made as much sense as everything else that I'd been through so far. Without giving myself a chance to second guess, I turned and approached it, leaning my ear against the solid wood to see if I could hear anything on the other side. I couldn't, so I turned the knob, and it flew from my hands as the door swung outwards on its own.

The area it lead to was brighter, more colorful and open, and displays not unlike the screen I'd just been looking at floated about, showing blurry memories of the past year. And there I was, right in the center of them all, the door still behind me, but seemingly unattached to any kind of wall. It was just... There. Maybe it was the deeper part of the subconscious, a more suppressed part of our mind.

Beyond that was exactly what I had been looking for; a way to interact with Sakura without stuffing her back in the dark room. I could see everything she could see, feel everything she could, hear, taste, smell- I was connected with every part of her, like I was her, and not just watching from a window. If I looked back however, I could still see the memories, I could walk around the memory scape without having Sakura walk in the outside world too. We were still separate, yet one at the same time. It was a strange feeling.

"Sakura?" I hesitantly called out. We started only slightly, Kaa-san sparing us an amused glance before turning back to cooking as we played with blocks. I compelled her to look down at the block, and then said, "Buryu," slowly and surely.

Sakura paused, an unintelligible thought passing as she tested the word in our mind. "B-b-ber," she started softly.

"Buryu," I encouraged.

"Buru," she giggled. "Buru, buru, buru!" she squealed with delight. Kaa-san stiffened and spun around to look at us. She looked shocked; kids couldn't really talk until about two, and here Sakura was, saying a rather butchered Japanese version of blue all on her own. I knew Kaa-san had only said the color once, and Kaa-san knew that too, and the fact that Sakura had caught on despite that was rather baffling.

Maybe I should have started with something else.

It had been said though, and we couldn't really take it back, and Kaa-san just looked so proud. I sighed, cringing at my metaphorically soft heart. But at least Sakura would fly through her education, now having an adult somewhat melded with her mind.

It was approximately three months later when the reality of what we were both facing was abruptly brought to my attention. Kaa-san had taken us from our crib, and while we clutched onto our favorite stuffed toy panda, she grabbed the shaped block puzzles and sat us down in front of the mirror, leaving the toys to our right. Sakura's attention immediately went to the blocks, mind working satisfyingly quickly to try and figure out which shapes fit through which cut hole in the plain wooden box, but after a while she lost interest, turning to the large mirror before us.

I had been smiling fondly over our flighty behavior until I caught sight of her appearance in the mirror and recoiled so sharply that our physical body followed and Sakura lost balance, falling back onto the floor. I tried to calm Sakura down before she could begin to cry, singing a lullaby Kaa-san sang to us at bedtime as I tried to register what exactly I'd seen myself.

The light green eyes were familiar and average, a matching pair I'd seen on Kaa-san, only perhaps a few shades lighter than hers. But the garish, cotton-candy pink hair was very unaverage and unmistakable. No one had pink hair, it was genetically impossible. Not in my realm of possibilities at least. But this had a distinct note of recognizability, like I should know who the girl was who stared back at us from the mirror.

And I suspected. I was almost positive I knew who it was, who we were, but I just couldn't believe it (believe it!).

I needed Kaa-san to take us outside.

It wasn't like we had never before seen the light of day, but trips outside for sunshine and fresh air were only to the backyard. The only people I had seen or met were friends of Kaa-san, ones that she had invited over. They were unrecognizable civilians.

Unlike all the other times where I had merely sat back and influenced Sakura's intentions and actions and then watched the results, I forcefully took the reigns, still making sure she was in a position to experience everything that was going on. She wasn't panicking, but I was nearly so as I pushed us up onto our feet, stumbling towards the kitchen where I knew Kaa-san would undoubtedly be making dinner.

I ambled to her, crying out "Kaa-san!" so distinctly, so clearly, that if she had been paying attention, she would have given us a victorious smile and coo over how right we were and how well a job we were doing. Now was not the time for that. "Auto, auto," I said desperately, chubby little finger pointing towards the front door. "Out, out!"

She thankfully understood, but to my frustration she only told me, "Ie, Sakura-chan." I stubbornly persisted, and she was confused with my sudden willfulness, though I paid no heed. I repeated my request twice more, demanding she take us outside, so I could see the town and its people clearly. She was exasperated, but finally conceded, picking us up under our arms and settling us on her hip. When we'd gotten outside, I frantically looked at each passing stranger, searching for some type of sign that would be attached to their person. But I found none. I sank into Kaa-san's arms, energy depleting while she fussed at my apparent distress. She turned, intending on getting us back inside when I caught sight of him; the ninja dressed in uniform with a headband tied to his forehead.

"Ah!" I squealed suddenly, unfortunately right into Kaa-san's ear as I motioned at the ninja over her shoulder. She gave a start, turning to see what had captured my undivided attention. "Shinobi, shinobi!" and shit, if I could curse out loud without feeling bad about teaching the kind of language to Sakura at such a young age I definitely would have, because that was a word Kaa-san definitely hadn't taught us yet. She spared me an alarmed glance, but looked towards the ninja running across rooftops, nodding as she spoke.

"Hai, Sakura-chan. Shinobi. Tou-san is Shinobi too. So is Kaa-san."

I knew. I knew what he was, and now it made sense as to why I hadn't seen him as of yet. Long standing mission, most likely.

I knew who Kaa-san was, and I knew where I was. It could only be Konoha, because I wasn't just Sakura, I was Haruno Sakura and damn it all if that didn't make all the difference in the world.

Because I'd had the stunning misfortune of being reborn into the rough and tough, kill or be killed world of Naruto, a world that had only existed in manga and anime.

A world that was very much real, and very much mine.


A/N: BADA-BOOM. Kinda felt nostalgic, and I'd never done a Naruto fic (started plenty, never published any, never finished any) so I thought why not. Dunno how this is gonna go guys, this all sorta up in the air. We're gonna have lots of fun though, trust.

May or may not have Ni up tonight or tomorrow. Might be tomorrow, depending on the response.

-Roe