A/N; THIS STORY HAS NOT BEEN UPDATED EVEN THOUGH IT SHOWS UP ON MY PAGE THAT IT HAS. I only deleted a chapter.
The day had been a normal one.
The sun was hardly present due to the clouds and rainfall, but that was just fine for the family of four as they ate their breakfast quietly. They were hardly the chatty type, mostly comfortable in clean silence, save for rare occasions when the two daughters would get excited. That was to be expected being as they were still at the young ages of immaturity and prone to odd outbursts. Their parents didn't mind much, however. They just smiled and listened on with tired, yet shining eyes as either the oldest or the youngest would go on a tangent about something they'd found interesting today.
After all, hearing stuff like what new folding technique Konan had learned, or what kind of fighting techniques the youngest one wanted to learn but couldn't due to her age, was much better than hearing about the war raging on outside. Kyoumi, who had left being an active duty shinobi in the weakened, sloppy Ame forces, had stayed with her two daughters at home, taking care of them despite her body being frail, and sickly. She wasn't that affected by the war, save for the dangers of traversing to the market alone but she was still able to handle a few stray shinobi even with her current condition. However, the way she was most affected was by way of her husband, still in the active rosters and leaving on frequent missions to serve. He usually came back home, tired, weary, and shaken by the horrors he had seen. Last night hadn't been any different, so being worried for his healthy and sanity, Konami searched for something to say that would distract him.
"Daddy," she started out with hesitantly, trying for a smile as his eyes met hers, "Konan taught me to make a lily, did you know? I really want to learn how to make a hydrangea but Konan was saying how it's too hard for me right now," She pouted, looking at her blushing sister, who wasn't expecting to be called out like that, "Why does everyone think I'm too young to anything?" Konami inquired the room, only receiving a small smile from her mother, and a lazy smirk from her father. Seriously, she thought to herself, they should just let me start learning the shinobi arts soon. It might be weird, given her fore-ward knowledge of the escalating events that would occur in this world, that she was so ready to start fighting and training. But to her, it wasn't so black and white. She didn't particularly want to be born into a village that would be ransacked by war. She just knew that this was her situation and she would have to prepare herself for the worst to come. Konami also knew that she would have to do her best for her older sister, to help her gain her happiness. The only thing was that those memories of a distant past were fading to the outskirts of her subconscious.
She wasn't particularly pleased with that, but she knew that had been something she would have had to be ready for. Which was probably why every time she awoke from a nightmare, she would write it down in English. By now, being she had been two when she had first managed to write down a sentence, she had three completely filled brown leather notebooks that she kept it in doors so that it wouldn't get wet. So far no one had asked her what any of it meant, even when Konan had come into her bedroom why she was still recalling the vivid scene of the Yondaime Hokage's death. She had probably looked troubled but Konan was a patient soul and was probably waiting for Konami to talk first.
It was something she had greatly appreciated at the time, and even today she hadn't spoken a word about anything. She didn't want them to know she had another set of parents and siblings in the past because it would just cause trouble. She no longer thought of that old life as something to do with her, and now it was just a helpful guide-book from some other girl who had lived in another dimension or world. It might have been odd, but that life felt other and not hers. This life right now was hers. It didn't matter much to her that she hadn't been alive in the story version that girl had obsessed with. To the best of her knowledge, Konan never had a little sister but she was here now.
Konami was curious to know if anything else was different but she had yet to see anything substantial.
"When do you think I'd be able to learn how to fold a hydrangea?"She had asked Konan, continuing on the conversation as if she had never been lost in thought in the first place.
Konan considered this, "Hmm, probably when you turn six."
Konami huffed out a sigh, "That's like," she counted in her head, "six months away!"
Her older sister just giggled, "That's when I learned it, silly. Aren't you always saying how you'll follow in my footsteps?"
She pouted but before she could open her mouth to reply, she and her father froze, the three chakra signatures being easy to pick up even at a distance. They met each others eyes before he said slowly and clearing, taking time to make every syllable clear and concise, "Go to the hideout, both of you."
Knowing better than to disobey, Konami hopped down from her seat at the table, tugging on Konan's shirt hem to release her from such a stiff form. The two then traversed the halls of their tiny home before heading into their parents bedroom, heading into the spacious closet as they lifted the loose floorboards gingerly before slipping into the hole that was revealed. There was more than enough room for all four of them she noticed as Konami took special care in placing the floorboards over their heads. She ended up needing Konan's help but after they were safely hidden, a candle lit in the tiny space, she found herself leaning against her older sister for support.
She suppressed her chakra and waited for Konan to respond in kind. It wasn't something their father had taught them. It was just something that came rather easy to her. Chakra was fun to play with after all, and as a baby she'd been particularly bored most of the time. Thus she learned to suppress her chakra early on. It had been something that had alarmed her parents at the time, but it had come in handy from time to time in such a dangerous time. Seeing for what it was, their father promptly taught Konan to suppress her own.
Distantly, as the two waited for their parents to join them, there was a shriek, jolting them out of their thoughts.
"What do you think that was?" Konami asked in a whisper only to see Konan shrug. She felt her blood freeze as her stomach dropped. She felt she was going to be sick but decided that staying put was the best plan of action.
Again, someone shrieked and seemingly fell to the ground as she distinctly heard the sound vibrations carry their way over to them. She found herself shaking and with wide eyes, she realized that the chakra signature of her mother was fading. It was too slow for it to be that she was just suppressing it. Like a slap to the face she realized that Kyoumi was dying.
She listened in more closely, assuming from the way that the vibrations traveled that there was a skirmish occurring. From the way her father's chakra spiked up told her that he was struggling in his outnumbered match. Konami very nearly left the hideout to help him but she had to sourly remind herself that she would be useless to him. Neither of them could help him now. They would just be getting in the way.
With a muffled cough, Konami found herself sitting with her knees to her chest. Konan mirrored her but sat besides her as she draped an arm over her little sister. That cough seemed to be, like most times, a mere prelude to a coughing fit as she covered her mouth with both hands and begged her body to stop.
Her body was shaking with how powerful they were and only after a minute or so did she finally calm down, pulling her hands away to see the barest traces of blood. She ran her tongue through her mouth,decidedly tasting her own blood. Quickly she wiped her hands down her indigo skirt, glad that her sister wasn't looking at her. Konami couldn't bare to tell her the truth of her illness. Even after her parents had managed to pay for a doctor's visit some time ago, it had proven to be useless as they diagnosed her with a sickness that hadn't been treated yet. It was rare, apparently, so rare that most people her age with it hadn't lived as long thus making developing a treatment difficult.
Apparently her innards were deteriorating due to her cells being slow to replace themselves. In theory, she could possibly speed up the process with chakra, by converting them to cells but she hadn't taken any steps to find out if it was possible, nor did she know how. Perhaps, even in the actual story, Konan had a little sister that had fallen prey to the illness.
Did that mean she would die soon?
The thought of death never really scared her, even if she had forgotten what was meant to happen directly after one died. It was just a simple thing, when one's body just gave up and the soul it caused sorrow around the world. She supposed that was a good thing. How was one to grow if they never experienced any hardships?
Konami decided that she would do her best to live long enough to secure her sister's happiness.
She shook her head. This wasn't even such a time or place to get lost in thought. She felt for her father's chakra, finding it waning as her mother's had. With a grimly set jaw, she realized that she would have to take care of her older sister alone. This was the day Konan had become an orphan.
Surprisingly, she felt very little emotion for her parents death. They had shared good memories, yes, but their time had come, as regrettable as it had been.
"Konan," Konami murmured softly.
"What is it? What's happening?"
"They're dead. Our parents are gone," Konami's voice was so soft it didn't allow for any other emotion aside from regret. Their death wouldn't be in vain, she decided. Konan, at the very least, would get out alive.
The muffled sob that came forth urged the younger her to scoot in closer, eyes dark as she wrapped her arms around Konan's shoulders.
Let it be said again. The day had been a normal one. After all, death couldn't even be considered a tragedy in such a place where it was common.
"Run," Konan ordered, her voice calm even as the small girl wasn't. Still, the girl couldn't do what her older sister wanted of her. She had taken a vow, after all. She couldn't just leave her big sister to fend for herself.
The rain was pouring down heavily, the very sound of it blaring as anyone caught under it was instantly soaked. The two girls hadn't been an exception. Around the two of them was slick mud, forcing them to huddle close together for warmth, having found shelter beneath a tree. Anytime now, however, they would be caught and killed by the men who had just murdered their parents. It wasn't a situation she wanted to be in, but she was too shocked to feel much of anything at that moment.
"I can't do that," The small, azure haired girl whispered back, coming to grasp on to Konan's shirt hem as if it were the only thing that could keep her sane. It most likely was. The very act of escaping their old home had sent her nerves into a panicked, disarranged mess.
"Don't be silly, Konami," The older one murmured, brushing aside the bangs that had been plastered to the small girl's forehead. Konami shuddered, suddenly feeling the chill of the biting cold. Ame was always such a cold place. If she was honest with herself, she held no hopes for it ever being anything different.
"I'm not," She spoke softly even as her voice shook, "I'm not being silly. We both live or die. There is no other option."
Her sister sighed, before nodding, her amber eyes soft, "Alright, but we have to hurry. They're close by."
"I know," Konami winced, she had always been able to tell when people were there. Their presences practically begged for her attention, the way their chakra signature invaded her senses.
Her calm older sister surveyed their area before pointing to what looked like just a huge pile of rocks that were slowly being decayed over time due to the acidic rain. She cleared her throat, "If I remember correctly, there should be a hide out over there. Father was very adamant about us going there if anything were to go wrong."
"Something went wrong," Konami muttered with dry humor. Something had gone wrong - horribly, tragically wrong.
"Then let's go."
With determined footsteps, the smaller girl held on to her sister's hand tightly. The two of them were silent while Konami kept a vigilant watch for the men pursuing them. They had felt like shinobi, by way of how intense their signatures felt but she had never gotten a good look at them. Well, if she were thinking this through, they would have had to be shinobi if they managed to tear up her parents like that.
Konami could still see it now, in her head. She winced, thinking of how their blood had spilled around their bodies, they're once azure hair dyed with red. They're eyes had looked so...lifeless. Which, Konami thought, was the point. She didn't feel much of anything that she thought she was supposed to feel when someone close to you died. There was no heartache or regret, just...
She felt hollow about it, and that somewhat terrified her.
Or she was just afraid of the men chasing them, knowing her sister and her wouldn't stand a chance.
Soon, the two girls had managed to find an opening to a tiny cave, one which had been hidden by shrubbery and bramble. She felt an odd sense of satisfaction when they fit inside of it, only to find two bags. They were both filled to the brim with non-perishables, a med-kit and a pack of kunai that both of them had been trained to use. There was also some folding paper, curiously enough. But it only rang true to how much their father had known of them, and cared.
That was when Konami felt a hint of the sadness, the ache, she had known she was supposed to feel.
Her older sister grabbed on to the paper, taking a sheet before handing it to Konami who also took one. The two got to work on their folding and before long, they each had a second piece in hand, two beautifully crafted flowers to the left of them. They were only a tad bit soggy.
The rain outside was still thundering and the two of them were still completely soaked, but the air felt lighter there, safer.
The paper was getting wet by her hands and dripping hair.
"K-Konan?" Konami asked, her voice coming out as a whispered croak.
"Can you braid my hair like you always do?"
"Come here," Konan patted her lap, having put aside her half-finished paper bird. Slowly, Konami came forward and was soon rested between her older sister's legs. They didn't have a brush, so they substituted it with her fingers, making careful work of the long blue locks of hair. Soon, her long hair hung in two long braids. Konami had been known, after all, for her hair in their tiny village. But...that was before the Second Shinobi World War had started. Now, things were all different.
She didn't move away from her sister and instead leaned into her warmth before picking a piece of paper, "I'll make you a pretty lily flower for your hair," she murmured softly, quietly. Konan nodded against her head, eyes watching the younger ones hands. They were smaller than the older ones, being as she was still five, on the cusp of her sixth year (if you counted in months, that is). Konan was older by an entire year and a couple of months, making it so that she was six at the moment, but would soon be turning seven a little later than she did six. Konami had used to resent the distance of age every time their father had taken Konan aside for her training. Apparently, for one to start learning how to be a proper shinobi in this world, you at least had to be five. Her father had fallen prey to puppy eyes when he allowed her to at least start throwing kunai when she turned four. It was the only thing Konami knew how to do and without a teacher or someone to help, what were they to do?
Her hands paused.
Konami didn't recall very well what had happened to her older sister but she had the feeling it hadn't been good. Aside from the traces of memories from her past life, Konami was relatively unaffected that her sister was a character in a story she read a long time ago. It just didn't matter when you loved someone as much as she loved Konan.
"Something wrong?" Her sister had asked and Konami shook her head. Aside from what just happened, was the unspoken addition to her words.
"I'm thinking," She replied with, but just to be sure that was it, she expanded her senses and found that the only chakra signatures around were the animals taking cover from the still falling rain. She was half-amazed that there were things that could live outside in such weather. Sure, Ame had rare sunny days but most days were clouded or raining. The best they could get when it was raining was a soft shower, but never anything less, "They're gone...I think. But they might be back."
"We should stay here for tonight than and head out tomorrow into town. We'll need to get jobs," Konan decided and Konami nodded before realizing that there was a problem with that plan.
"I wonder how we'll get jobs being this young. We're tiny and clumsy."
It felt like her sister was hesitating to reply, probably just finally seeing how precarious their situation was, "We have enough food to last us a week, if we ration it properly. If we have to..." Konan sighed, "Let's just at least go to town to see what they have to offer."
"Okay," Konami agreed, before leaning away to face her sister. With a bright smile, she showed her the folded lily, "Let's put this in your hair first though..." She bit her lip as she placed the stem behind her sister's hair, arranging her hair to cover it up, "Beautiful."
At Konan's cheerful smile, her amber eyes lighting up, she knew that her sister liked it, "Thank you."
"As long as we have each other, everything will be fine," Konami informed her confidently before sliding back to rest on her sister's chest.
"I think so too."
"Get out! Get out," The matron of the restaurant shouted at the two frazzled girls, as the woman held a pan, ready to chuck it at them, "We don't need rats like you around!"
The words stung and she nearly winced outwardly but instead, she grabbed hold of Konan's hand, who stood still, a frightened expression on her face. Even with her being the oldest in physical age, Konami had dealt with more than a fair share of harshly spoken words. Though it had been awhile since it had happened, she couldn't help but recover faster as lead her sister away from the woman and lead her to an alley. It stunk with the smell of rotting, molded food but she didn't mind.
"We just need to try again, Konan," Konami insisted as she watched her sister begin to shake, tears in her eyes.
"We've already tried six shops, three restaurants, and two-," Konan cut herself off as she shook her head, pulling her sleeve up to wipe the tears away, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to bring you down. I'm sorry."
With nothing to say, she ended up just gripping the older girl in a hug, "I know, Konan, I know." Her voice was still soft as ever in a soothing manner, "We need to figure something out, we're almost out of food..."
It had been exactly five days since they had been on their own, coming to town everyday but heading to their hideout every night to sleep. They hadn't stepped foot into their family home, knowing that their parents bodies were still there, rotting in its moist environment. It almost made her nauseous to think about it and suddenly she was coughing again. She brought her tiny hands up to cup her face as she tried to contain her fit.
She ended up bending forward, the pain spreading out from her torso and into her very bones as she continued to cough. Konan had come around to rub her back but it didn't do much in terms of helping her. Konami struggled to breathe through her nose as tears reflexively built up in her eyes. Her older sister ended up having to lean her up against the wall of the establishment to the their left. The rain continued to pour, making Konami shake not just from her coughing fit but from the cold as well.
"I'm going to go get help," Konami distantly heard stated by Konan as she was left, still trying to contain her coughing. With wide eyes she felt her hand be covered in something thicker than rain after one final cough. She pulled her hand away to see blood pulling over her palms. She knew instinctively that her lower face was most likely covered in it too. Looking around with what was assuredly a dazed expression, she searched something to rub it onto, so that her sister didn't see.
"I'm f-fine," Konami stuttered out in a thin whisper. Talking seemed to only agitate her throat more and she winced because, no. She was not fine.
"I'll take you guys to my hideout then," an unfamiliar voice claimed, "It's close by."
"Th-Thank you," Konan's voice replied and at the sounds of pattering footsteps, Konami looked up to the alley entry to see her sister and a slightly familiar orange haired boy come close to her.
"She looks in bad shape," the boy murmured, eyes widening as he took in the sight of blood on my hands and face, "Do you need me to carry you? I'm taking you and your sister to my place to get out of the rain. This area isn't so good for a tiny kid like you."
Konami mutely shook her head at the offered hand and instead used the wall as support as she clawed her way up to a standing position. She was stronger than looked, even despite her sickness and was able to stand this much strain on her body.
"Someone who can bounce back on their own, I see," the boy before her grinned, "I like it."
"Yahiko-san..." Konan sounded softly hesitant as he spun on his heel, "I don't know how we'll repay you for your kindness."
Yahiko... Now, why did that sound so familiar to her? With a jolt, Konami realized that this was the boy who teamed up with Konan to help her survive in this village. It might have been funny, but Konami instantly trusted him, assured that she had at least made it to live to see her sister in safe hands.
"We..." Speaking hurt but she went on, "should go."
"Right!" Yahiko cheered, even as he gave slightly agitated stare toward Konan, "You don't have to repay me. Also," his expression softened, "Drop the honorifics. By the way your clothes look, you've been on your own for awhile. I have too. It's a given that us orphans have to stick together in times like this."
As he had spoken more, being the chatty type, Konami was surprised by how quickly she had taken a liking to him, even more so surprised by how companionable he was so quickly with the two girls.
Not long after, as the three of them trudged someplace out of the tiny village and back into the rocky, mud filled outskirts, they journeyed to an unsuspecting little cave, which had been hidden by an artfully made blanket out of wildly growing vines. When they took a step inside and Yahiko lit up a candle it became clear that this place had been lived in for quite a bit of time. A pile of dried, wrinkly clothes sat in the corner, a wide pot with a grilling plate set on top of a pile of stones with charred sticks inside looked to serve as his stove, and the wide futon looked like the most comfortable thing in the world to Konami as she thought back to the past days of sleeping on rocks. Her back ached just recalling it.
Yahiko pointed to a corner of the cave with two sheets creating a makeshift room, "I put those there to dry but you both can use it to change out of your wet clothes. I'll get you something warm..." The orange haired boy looked busy as his chocolate-brown eyes roved over his pile of clothes. At that, Konami wasted no time in heading to behind the curtains as she slipped off her soggy, dripping clothes. Konan followed quickly after with a pile of new clothes in her hands. She held it carefully out to the naked girl and the younger one took it.
She was soon dressed in a periwinkle blue shirt and black shorts. Being as it may, Konan was in a similar outfit of a light green shirt and indigo shorts. The two girls revealed themselves to Yahiko as he busily set up a fire in the pot.
When he laid eyes on Konan, a slight blush on her face, he responded in kind, cheeks flaming as he fanned the sparks in the pot. Then, with obvious difficulty, he looked at Konami, brows creasing as he took her presence in.
"Are you okay?"
Konami nodded, working her dripping hair into a sloppy braid before coming to relax comfortably on the futon. It felt warm in the cave, warmer than she recalled any other place being. There was a glow in her heart as she saw that Konan could be happy with Yahiko here, even if she were to pass sometime soon.
"Does that happen a lot?" He was asking as he sat next to her on the futon, brows still furrowed in concern, "I don't have any medicine to help," he rubbed the back if his neck, "Sorry about that."
Konami shook her head and forced herself to speak, "There isn't a treatment to my condition."
"It could be out there somewhere, you know," Konan murmured softly as she settled herself behind her little sister, pulling the hair out from her messy braid and going through with her fingers to comb it out.
Konami just shrugged, passive about the whole thing. She just cared if her sister made it in this world. It didn't matter that she could die at any moment. In a way, it was like that for anybody else. Her situation just made it more obvious.
"Konami," Konan murmured in a warning tone, causing the young girl to sigh, wincing as it strained her vocal chords. After a moment of silence, her older sister cleared her throat, "We'll be gone as soon. Sorry for the intrusion."
"There isn't any need to be so formal," Yahiko frowned before leaning back against the futon, releasing a groan of comfort, "Can you imagine that I lugged this thing across the mud at night, while it was raining? It took days to get it cleaned and dried but it was well-worth it."
"Admirable," Konami simply tacked into the conversation.
"It gets lonely out here, you know," Yahiko continued on as if she hadn't spoken, "I'm by myself all day unless I go into town but even then it isn't like I have any friends. You two are lucky, I guess."
Konan's hands paused in Konami's hair, and she heard her swallow, "I'm sorry about that."
"Is this your roundabout way of saying the two of us are welcome here?" The younger one asked, a slight smile dancing on her lips. It felt nice that it was there. God only knows that she hadn't done enough of it lately.
"I guess so," Yahiko sounded shy, his voice muffled and Konami looked back to see him covering his face with his arm, "I guess what I'm trying to say that I think we should give a partnership a try."
"A partnership?" Konan sounded surprised, but not against it, "What would that entail?"
"We'll share our stuff with each other," he suggested, sounding thoughtful and Konan resumed the braiding of her little sister's hair, "and you guys can help me with fishing, hmm, and cooking. When we go into town, it will be to steal things."
"St-steal things!?" Konan was alarmed but slowly melted into understanding, "I guess that makes sense. We can't seem to get jobs and yet we need things to live... I'll help you in any way I can."
"Me too," Konami softly added on.
"So... Then, I guess we're sort of like family, right?" Yahiko laughed, arousing a small grin out of Konami, "First names. You're Konan, and the little one is...Konami, right?"
"What's your ages? Oh, yeah, birthdays?" The orange boy seemed ready to tack on more questions but stopped himself when Konan finished up the braid and Konami was able to turn and look at both of them.
"I'm five. Konan is six."
"I'll be turning seven next month though," Konan added on as an after thought to his second question.
"Really?" Yahiko sounded and looked excited, "Me too! What day?"
Konan went on to tell him as Konami laid down, getting comfortable in the middle of them as her head suddenly felt heavy and clouded. Out of habit, Konan came to stroke the sickly girl's hair which only seemed to add to her sleepiness as the sound of their talking voices lulled her to sleep.
Konan gazed at her little sister with slight worry before she met the gaze of the strange boy before her, "It seems she might have a fever."
Yahiko looked thoughtful before murmuring softly, conscious of the sleeping girl, "How long has it been like this?"
Konan shrugged, "She's been sickly since she was a baby. Apparently she wasn't meant to live longer than a year but she ended up beating the odds and here she is." Usually you couldn't see it, thanks to her vivid and lively amber eyes, but her little sister was very fragile. Kind of like a paper flower was to the rain.
She looked outside the tiny window of the cave and Yahiko's eyes followed her gaze.
"She should have been born in a place with a rainless sky," she whispered.
"I'm going to... I'll stop it, you know," Yahiko murmured to her, almost desperately as they met each others gaze, "I'm going to stop the rain one day."
It might have been a ludicrous thing to say, being as the rain never truly stopped in such a country, filled with destruction and death. Yet Konan felt chills go down her spine as she smiled despite herself. She gave a nod before laying down next to her sister, keeping a watchful eye on her before Yahiko blew the candle light out even as the fire crackled on in the pot. The flames licked the sides of it, casting playful shadows on the walls and with that, the first time since her parents had died and her whole world had shattered, she fell asleep with a smile.
Konami awoke, startled as she sat up quickly and surveyed her surroundings with wide eyes. It took her a moment to recall what had happened last night and she self-consciously felt her throat, swallowing before giving a slight cough. Her throat hurt as usual and she felt thirsty.
Debating in her head over the right course of action, she shook Yahiko awake, who groggily opened his eyes and yawned. Then he blinked once more as he sat up just as quickly as she had. Expect no one had been leaning over her and he did. Biting back an expletive as she cupped her forehead in pain, she squirmed as she refused to vocalize anything as she worriedly looked back at Konan, who was still sound asleep. Good.
"Sorry!" Yahiko whispered to her and she shook her head as she gaze one last rub to her forehead.
"Water," Konami winced at how scratchy her soft voice sounded as she swallowed in hopes that her saliva would beg off the sore pain.
The orange haired boy blinked before smiling as he pointed to the bucket at the entrance of the cave, "That's the clean water I collect."
Konami nodded, making a mental note to ask how he had gotten it before hopping off of the futon and padding her way toward the bucket. After taking a generous gulp of the lukewarm water and setting it down, she made we way back but not before tripping over a wayward bundle of clothes. She went down with a yelp and landed on both of Yahiko, who took in a sharp breath, and Konan, who jolted awake with a gasp.
"Sorry," Konami muffled out a response as they rested like that for a moment before there was the small sound of laughter resounding in the tiny cave.
The youngest of the three scrambled off as she sat up, looking as serene as she could, her hair in a glorious tangle of knots and her amber eyes wide as she watched as the older kids be taken in by the laughter. She was too afraid to join in, but she would have if it weren't for her throat. Konami was merely thinking of keeping their laughter a treasure, the influence of a coughing spell nowhere to be seen. Still, she found her eyes softening as her lips tilted up into a small smile.
"You're so clumsy Konami!" Konan burst out with as she rubbed stray tears from her eyes.
"Heh," was the barest chuckle she could manage as she simply smiled on before bringing a gently rolled up fist to bonk her head. She supposed it was meant to be cute when other girls did it but it seemed to send the two kids into a renewed laughing fit. She might have actually broken them?
"Clueless!" Yahiko managed out as he clutched his stomach and Konan rolled on the futon, her laughter silent as she struggled to breath.
Konami pouted, "I'm not clueless." In fact, she seemed to be the only one in the room with her head on straight.
With a resigned sigh, she sat back on her knees and waited patiently for them to calm down. Soon after, they had managed to reign it in the form of a warm smiles and bright eyes. It made them look their age, for once, and not the war weathered orphans they all were.
"What are we going to do about food?" She was asking, her frail voice never above a whispers. She wished that she could speak as she once could in the past, freely and without strain. Yet by mixture of the biting cold and her disease, it didn't bode well for her body, which felt weaker by the day.
"There's a lake I fish at. We can bring my tarp so we don't get wet," Yahiko suggested, "I'm not always lucky in catching fish but when I am, it usually results in a feast," Yahiko looked sheepish as he went on, "My dad didn't really teach me to fish so I'm kind of just guessing about it," He grinned, eyes glowing with confidence and the two sisters exchanged looks before nodding enthusiastically. It had been far too long since they had eaten fish, being as for the last year or so, they had lived off of a type of mush that their mother had called porridge.
"Isn't fishing illegal?" Konan was curious about it and I shrugged, with a helpless nod.
"That just means we have to be quick about it," the younger one was saying blithely, only gaining a pat on the back by Yahiko.
"Any means for survival, right?"
With that, Konan nodded.
"Alright, but for right now," Konami pointed to their bags after her stomach grumbled dangerously, "We have some canned food. There's only enough to last two more days, I think."
Yahiko seemed to pump his fist with excitement, as the young girl got up from her perch to go retrieve the dirty bag and pull it forth.
After their meal, they got ready for the weather as Yahiko handed them ill-fitting rain boots and coats. They had apparently been used by his dad, who had been a fisherman before the war had started and had died transporting weaponry to an island in dire straits. His eyes lit up when he talked about his father. He went as far as to call him a hero but as he worn that conversation thin, the three of them just settled for comfortable silence. They then just trudged their way through rain and mud, Yahiko sometimes muttering under his breath about something being a crybaby. The rain perhaps? That was an odd way to look at their country's weather patterns but it was probably just another oddity about Yahiko, she supposed.
The three spent their day lounging underneath a propped up tarp, fishing pole in the water as they told each other stories about their life. It was usually Konan speaking for the both of them as Konami relaxed and listened to their voices. Yahiko had apparently lived a tough life before he'd found that cave. It seems he had been living off scraps from people's garbage, which was few in size from the way their entire nation was starving. He spoke of how he had expected someone to help him, some sort of home to protect children from the war but he had been bluntly disappointed when he found that the nation was in too much trouble as it was just to help some measly brats off the streets and into warm homes.
He spoke of a change, how he dreamed of a shift in this nation's views and beliefs, affected greatly by his father's old tales of other lands where it didn't rain everyday and the sun shone brightly in the sky with not a cloud in the sky. It was a such a fantastic idea, a fantasy that didn't seem real after living in such a place for the longest time. It had been so long since she'd seen a clear sky, and she knew for a fact that Konan and Yahiko had never seen it for themselves. It was something regrettable but true. If only the rain would stop and say good-bye.
"Our dad always told us that we would need a savior for us to go back to the way it was before the war started," Konan was saying as Konami lazily peaked an eye open.
"A savior, huh...Like a Deva?"
"Those are stuck in Samsara, aren't they? Besides, it isn't as if they're better than humans."
It was a curious thing, what the two had spoken of. Apparently religion existed in this world as well, in the form of Buddhism and Shintoism. Which had to mean that Buddha had been alive in this universe. It was something to mull over, especially with Buddhism's standing on rebirth, but it wasn't something to be stuck on, pondering over her existence in this world that she couldn't truly shake off. Although it hadn't been as if Konami had done anything of note in her past life. Certainly not enough to be reborn as a human being. The most she should have been reborn into would have been an animal but as a human being, it looked like Nirvana was possible for her. Not as if she would try for it, that is. Despite her circumstances, she wasn't a true believer in religion. Then again, maybe the Sage of Sixth Paths was the Buddha to this universe, along with the Bijuu's being the Devas. If Konami remembered correctly, Buddha was known as the teacher to these Devas, which would certainly fit with the relationship the Sage had shared with the bijuus. It was an interesting thought.
"That's right," Yahiko was saying, a cheeky grin on his face, "We have to help ourselves, don't we?"
The two girls nodded, hopeful grins on their faces as they waited for a fish to bite.
However, they weren't so lucky.
With drawn out sighs, they headed back to their cave once the rain picked up wind, resulting in shower that swept up underneath their tarp.
It was evening by the time they headed into the cave, speckled with mud and water drops on their clothes and legs. They quickly took of their boots and coats before gathering on the futon with similar looks of dissatisfaction.
"This just means we'll have a feast tomorrow, for sure, ne?" Konan murmured, attempting to keep the moral up.
Konami nodded before murmuring out, "It's been a long day. We should get our rest so that we can catch a lot of fish tomorrow." Her head still felt fuzzy and hot, almost like her consciousness was barely there at all. She fought through it and managed to tune into Yahiko's next words.
He was agreeing with her and as she sneezed, she looked to see the evident worry in his gaze. It was very strange. He was feeling such emotions for a stranger but she supposed it was an oddity to him. Perhaps for her too, because that entire day she had felt a sense of camaraderie with him, and as if she were in safe hands.
"I'll be relying on you both then. I'll go get some fresh wood and start a fire. It's pretty cold in here," Yahiko was saying as he stood up and headed to a new corner of the room that had totally been blinded to her. A crate was there, one which he opened up to reveal a stack of salted wood. That was a curious sight, but it made sense. Salt was used to sap the moisture out of things for things like preserving food and she supposed it was good enough to work on wood. She wondered how he had gotten a hold of such a quantity of salt but then answered her own question when she remembered that Yahiko wasn't a stranger to stealing for survival.
Either way, Yahiko's prepared ways had come to be immensely handy. It must have been because of his father, she assumed. Konami watched with blurry, hazy eyes as the orange boy worked on getting a fire started. When he was victorious, he pulled down the sheets that had made a separate room and tossed them to her.
"I'm going into the village to see if I can grab a compression pad," he murmured before tossing back on his boots and coat. He left the cave with a flourish and Konami busied herself in getting comfortable beneath the sheets of cloth.
"We're going to be fine," Konan was saying as she joined her little sister under the covers.
Konami nodded, thinking to herself what a fine idea that was, even if it couldn't be true for her. She would be dying soon, if her newest side effects were of any indication. She was breathing heavily as she suddenly felt an intense stab of pain through her gut. Was it hunger or her disease? Her breath hitched, causing her to sit up in bed, coughing once more.
Konan rubbed her back even as the young girl tried her best to keep her away. Konami didn't like making Konan worried but after her coughing escalated to full on hacking, she didn't even care anymore as she leaned into Konan's body. She felt alternately dizzy and aflame with pain.
Yahiko came back sometime later, after Konami had managed to get it down to a simple cough here and there and rushed to her side with a wash cloth ready at hand to clean up the blood from her hands. She gazed at him with heavy-lidded eyes as he brought a cool compress to her suddenly heated up forehead.
"I also managed to steal some canned food," Yahiko mumbled, "Some tomato soup for her."
"Thank you," Konan was saying, "I'm sorry we're such trouble..."
"Don't be," Yahiko murmured as he gazed with anxious eyes at Konami who was just barely holding on to her consciousness.
"I'm sorry," she was whispering as she weakly lifted a hand to poke between his creased brows. He tried for a smile, coming to pat her head.
"There are somethings you can't help. Let us take care of you until your better."
She was about to deny her needing the care but she soon found herself being lulled to sleep by the sounds of sparking fire and Konan's hushed, sweetly soft humming.
Before she knew it, the days carried on like that as she stayed in bed, too weak to even get up out of bed. This was when an idea ticked in her head, during the times Yahiko was out of the cave and Konan decided Konami could be fine on her own (that was mostly due to her ushering her older sister out when she tried to stay). She would play with her chakra and see if she could manage to jump-start her cells growth, or learn how to convert them.
At first, it proved useless as she tried to figure out how to properly wiggle her chakra around and form it, to the increase the difficulty when it came to switching the very nature of it. It was extremely tiring and difficult to try to mold her chakra, making her sister and Yahiko increasingly worried that she would never get better. But she was trying everyday and every moment she found herself alone. Soon, this proved to the key as she came to be able to control her chakra, siphoning it the majority of her measly reserves out to her torso. It was helping her just a tad bit, even if circulating it could get tiring.
About two weeks into their partnership, Konami was finally able to stand up without assistance from her sister. Even if she felt a little woozy and miserable from having moved very little (aside from the periodic bathroom breaks) she still brought herself the determination to be of help. She decided to clean of their cave, which had grown messy over time. She organized their empty cans, the clothes that the three of them were changing into every so often, etc. By the time she was finished, they had arrived back.
Seeing her out of bed, Yahiko and Konan exchanged looks and similar grins before coming forward to gingerly hug her.
"You're getting better!" Konan cheered.
She was looking thin, similar to Yahiko and she recognized the fact that they had been giving most of their food to her. Konami felt instantly guilty as she vowed to herself that she would definitely help out more.
Still, she gave them both gracious smiles, "Thank you for what you have done for me." Especially for someone that's still a stranger, she couldn't help but add in her thoughts as she looked at Yahiko. She couldn't even imagine how indebted she was to his kindness.
"We're just glad your okay," Yahiko informed her, bags under his eyes making him look aged past his years. She probably looked stricken, taking in his expression with a bad feeling. Wasting not even a breath, she pressed herself into his chest, wrapping her thin arms tightly around his torso.
"Thank you, big brother," she mumbled, maybe a bit shy and only pulled back when Yahiko froze in her grip. Did she go past proper boundaries this time? She was speechless when she found that he was simply blushing, his face suddenly alight with emotion.
"I'll protect you and Konan with everything I got, I promise," Yahiko vowed, shaping the words slowly before beckoning Konan forth as the three of them shared a tight, almost suffocating yet warm embrace.
"Keep them distracted for me," Yahiko was ordering her and Konami diligently nodded in reply as he went on, "I'll grab us dinner."
Fishing as of late had proved fruitless, resulting in them being forced to steal from people and the market. In the end, it had become Konami's job to play the helpless child thanks to Konan's inability to act anything but herself. For now, she played look out this time around, instead of helping Yahiko loot as she usually did, keeping an eye out for peace keepers, whose force had grown in size as of late, and for other people. Because of this, the three of them had come up with a sort of system of signals and gestures.
"Got it," Konami replied with as she made her way in front of the shop owner, the look of lost hope stuck on her face as she got into character. Her umbrella was held gingerly in her hands, keeping her dry and intimidatingly cast in shadows.
The man sighed, "I keep repeating this but you rats just never learn. I suppose the lot of you are all fucking idiots," he spat at her, which she easily dodged as she just continued to stare at him. She had come to realize, after an entire month worth of it, that it was best not to say a word. The very presence she gave off was enough to keep them distracted until Yahiko was done snatching food. She figured her gaze was disconcerting to most when she kept it dead and lost. Her golden amber eyes looked lifeless, she assumed by way that the man shrunk slightly away from her. With a grumbled out huff, he raised his hand. "I'm sick of this bullshit," he was saying and Konami just continued to stare, never shifting an inch, "Go now or else I'll...I'll..."
It seemed the man wasn't all that bad. He still couldn't bring himself to beat an innocent child.
"Maa, maa!" Yahiko's voice interjected as he came to her side defensively, "No need to get violent. Konami...I told you not to bother the kind man." He brushed the side of his ear. He'd gotten the goods collectively, "Now, where did Konan go off to...?" He blinked twice, the signal Konan was looking for as she bounced into view.
"I'm right here! Sorry, Yahiko, I got distracted by looking at the flowers over there," she pointed off to the side, at a bush of hydrangea. Konami smiled, always the one to feel joy over the radiant beauty of the large flowers that seemed to thrive in this rainy climate.
Yahiko sniffed for the show, "Don't be so silly, Konan. We should head back home soon."
"Right!" Konan cheerfully said as she came to bring an arm over Konami's shoulders in a familiar way, "Let's go home now then."
The three made their way back to their cave with no problems and when they entered their tiny place, Yahiko dumped the contents of his barrel-shaped bag out on top of a crate, revealing a good helping of fish, along with a bag of uncooked rice. Over the past month, with the team effort, they had managed to stack up a sort of fortune in the form of crates filled with non-perishable food. They were still careful about how much they ate, awfully aware that any time now, they could be found out and then they'd have to figure out a new way to gain food.
Soon, they had their meal cooking as the three gathered around it with raw anticipation. The three of them were still too thin for comfort but they had been making do with what they had. As the meal finished up, they ate it gingerly with their hands.
It hadn't turned out to be enough to fill their stomachs, as even after every grain of rice was gone, they all shared similar frowns and patted their stomachs as if to tell them to be happy with what they had. As Konan and Yahiko started up a conversation, seemingly trying to get their mind off their circumstances, Konami stood up abruptly as she headed to the door of their cave, putting on boots and a coat as she turned to them with a reassuring smile.
"I'm going outside for some air," she informed them, grabbing their lone umbrella, that they had found abandoned some time ago, before lifting up the vine blanket to toughen out the brunt of the rain. She had been walking for quite a bit of time, thoughts scattering as rain dripped over her head, onto the umbrella. While she was on her walk, she played with her chakra, wondering distantly if she had been doing things the wrong way. She was still having coughing fits, although she had gotten over her fever a week ago and hadn't had it sense. Still, there were times that she couldn't help but be doubled over by pain, agonizing pain. It most assuredly wasn't a fun feeling to practically be decaying from the inside out. She could only imagine how grotesque her insides looked just as they were.
Her thoughts shifted away from that visual as she jumped to how much had changed over the past month. Yahiko was more stubborn and hardy, that was for sure, but he was still the same old boy who softened up over being called 'big brother'. They were hardly strangers anymore and he truly did feel like an older brother to her. It was easy to get comfortable with him, and even when he got a little bossy over the food, she had knew he always did it for the good of the pack. Konan had become happier with him, as she got to teach him origami, even if he proved to be a dense student incapable of understanding what different folds accomplished. Even herself had felt lighter with him. Their parents death had been something they had bonded over in the past but now they hardly ever mentioned the people who gave them life. This was their resolve to survive, becoming independent.
She found herself gazing up at the raining sky with hooded eyes...
"Ah!" Konami let out a yelp as she tripped over something, her hand letting loose of the umbrella as it got tossed aside. With quick movements, she scrambled up and away before she found herself facing a dead body. She restrained a scream, she gave her head a quick jerk. This boy wasn't dead. She gulped as he didn't move, laying on the soggy mud as if he'd just given up on life there. But she knew he wasn't dead.
Scrambling for her bag, she reached in and grabbed the loaf of bread that she'd been told to keep there for in the case of emergencies. It was stale a rough, but it would have to do for him. Almost panicking, she grabbed on to the handle of the umbrella before leaning close to the redheaded boy, holding the bread out in front of his nose. Besides him, his dog whimpered. With a small smile, her umbrella balanced precariously in the crook of her neck as she reached out with her freed hand to caress the dog's fur. That was when she noticed that the dog had been shaking.
Biting her lip, she took off her jacket and laid it over the boy before poking him in the cheek.
"Wake up," she was whispering, "I'm giving you food."
The boy seemed to stir, a soft sigh coming from his lips.
Konami found herself smiling softly at the boy as she indicated the loaf of bread in her hand, "Go on, eat this."
He slowly sat up, glancing at her and then at the bread. She patiently waited for him to take it and when he finally came to be leaned up against the tree, his shaking hands grasped on to the loaf of bread. He slowly brought it to his mouth, but paused when his dog whined and whimpered. Konami watched on as he split the bread and tossed a piece to his companion.
"Eat slowly," he told his pet as the brown eyed dog took it gingerly into his mouth, making a meal out of it with the snapping of its jaws.
"What's your puppy's name?" Konami asked as she knelt down besides the eating boy. His hair was a bright red, almost like blood and she was reminded of the times where she coughed it up. She was no stranger to the color but with his rather pale skin, it stood out even more so. She felt tempted to brush it away from his eyes but knew that doing so would only alarm her. She could vaguely remember the eyes that he had, the rings in a lilac tinted base. The Rinnegan, she believed was the name of it. Sorely, she wished to have her books from her old home to tell her what she had known of the dojutsu.
"Chibi," he murmured, wrangling a tiny giggle from the girl right next to him.
"What a cute name," she commented before they fell to comfortable silence. When he was done with the bread, she reached into her bag to pull out a bottle of water, handing it to him with a tiny smile.
"This...why are you helping me?"
She felt her heart give a pang as her smile turned sad, "We're both war orphans, no? We have to help each other when we can...because no one else is going to do it." She recalled distantly that Yahiko had said something similar to her sister and her when they had formed their little trio.
The boy went silent and she stood up, holding out a hand, "Come on, I'll take you to a warm place. Your dog can come with."
The boy smiled, his eyes covered by his hair, but Konami had a feeling that there were tears there. Silly kid. You had to save those things for the important times.
Determined then, she carefully led Chibi and the boy to their hideout, lifting up the vine curtain as they both entered the cave.
"I'm home!" Konami called out, watching as Konan and Yahiko poked their heads out from behind crates. Konan's eyes instantly lit up as she laid eyes on the puppy. Yahiko looked surprised and distraught as he stood up, only to sit on one of the crates in their cave.
"Who are these two, Konami?" He asked, brown eyes assessing the red-headed boy with a cold glint in his eyes. Konami sighed, all too aware of how much trouble it was to fed the three of them. Adding a dog and boy? It would only increase their troubles.
"He was dying," The tiny girl informed him blithely.
Yahiko scowled, "And the dog too?" She said nothing as he hopped off the crate and made his way toward the boy, Chibi having already found entertainment with Konan, who was playing with the paper dog she had just made. "What's your name?"
"Chibi," the boy replied and Konami found herself resisting a snicker.
Yahiko's face shifted into disbelief, "Well, you sure have a weird name. Chibi, was it?"
"Ah, not me," the boy swallowed before continuing, "That's the dog's name. Mine is Nagato."
"Hmm," Yahiko still looked unimpressed, "Well then, my name's Yahiko. These two girls are Konan and Konami."
Nagato turned to her, "Ko...Konami?"
She nodded, attention moving to gaze at her older sister having fun playing with Chibi as she giggled and laughed with a care free expression. Konami found herself relaxing, having only just realized that her body had been stiff.
There was a moment of silence as Nagato ventured further into their gaze, seemingly amazed by their stash of food which they had been careful about collecting and preserving.
"There's so much!" Nagato had exclaimed, causing Konami to laugh but sober up moments later in understanding. She then watched as Yahiko resumed his perch atop a crate.
His face looked bluntly passive, almost dismissing the skinny boy at face value, "If you're planning to stay with us, then I expect you to help with your share of collecting provisions." His statement was blunt and Nagato turned curiously to the orange haired boy.
"Okay," he seemed to pause as he mulled over the words, "But how?"
"Steal...? But isn't that wrong?"
Yahiko leaned forward, a scowl on his face, "Don't be ridiculous. These are hard times. We've gotta fend for ourselves with any means necessary, right girls?"
Konami nodded, coming to lean against a pile of wooden crates. She could still remember lugging them across the mud and bramble and then setting them up in the cave. They had celebrated their accomplishment with eating an entire three meals that day.
"Naive ideal won't cut it here," Yahiko went on to say, a severe expression on his face.
"You're right," Nagato agreed softly, his shoulders lowered, making Konami bite her lip as she walked over to put an arm around his shoulder.
"It's easy. We'll teach you."
Over the next few weeks, the four orphans managed to build up their stock to greater heights, causing them to lug even bigger crates to their hideout. Overtime, they'd been found out (perhaps they'd been spotted in the open terrain?) but there was little that the villagers could do without knowing where they were keeping their loot.
Admittedly, Nagato and Chibi brought a sense of excitement to the trio's life as they had fallen into a pattern. Nagato was able to laugh at their jokes, able to feel a sense of family that he had lost. He had told them all what happened the night his family had been killed by invading shinobi. He had told his new family how scared he had been, and how the shinobi had slaughtered his parents right before his eyes. That was something neither of them had experienced. Sure, Konan and Konami had seen their parents dead body but they hadn't watched it happen. The trio had discern that he didn't know what had killed them but Konami still had that sneaking suspicion that if she just lifted his bangs... Konami had to shake herself of the thought.
She would give him time to open up, even if it was most likely that he truly didn't know that he had the Rinnegan. Her memories were too vague to tell which, or when Nagato would realize the truth. That it had been him to kill the men. Over time, Konami had began to feel emotions for the boy who was her same size. He was malnourished and thus his growth had been stunted, which gave her a feeling that only gnawed on her gut. It wasn't the usual pain that came with her defect. No, this was a maternal instinct to care and to provide.
Konami almost felt as if, because she had been the one to find him, she had to protect him, to eat only after he had, to make sure that when he was feeling down, she was there to cheer him up. With this, she almost developed a new personality, or as if only discovering a new part to herself where she was cheerful, and optimistic. On the inside, she still doubted the world but for him...for him she would believe that the world could be changed. It was different from what she felt for Konan, knowing that Yahiko could be by her side, and resting assured that Konan was relatively at peace with their parents demise and their situation. Nagato was different in the fact that what he was feeling left him raw on the inside and she was desperate to get him out of what ever deep well he had found himself in.
Her worry for the boy had gotten so bad that she'd even taken to copying Chibi in the way that she curled up next to him on the futon that had stayed with them through the months. At first, he had felt stiffly alarmed at her presence (which sort of stung that he wasn't as comfortable as she was) but over time Nagato had come to welcome the company. It might had been a weird relationship to be in, but... Konami needed to keep him safe, that was all she knew. Perhaps it had something to do with her memories? She could distantly recall that the Ame orphans had been apart of a group that had started as a revolutionary band of misfits but sourly turned to something far more sinister.
Something to do with Yahiko...
Konami heaved out a sigh as she got up from her warm spot next to Nagato to go use the restroom, getting on her rain coat and boots. He didn't stir in his sleep, something she was grateful for as she left their cave dwelling and headed to an obscure place that Konan and her had taken to using as a way to relieve themselves. Due to the rain and, there wasn't a residual scent but she was always careful where she stepped in with her new boots. Some time ago Yahiko had led a raid as they swiped articles of clothing from the market, manging to get boots her size, and a nicely colored light purple jacket. Konan's was deep maroonish pink while Yahiko's was an odd yellowish color. Nagato still wore the green jacket he'd come into their lives with.
After she was done, she maneuvered her way through the mud and lifted the vine curtain before talking off her boots and coat. With a deep sigh as she half-heartedly checked her chakra, Konami moved her way back into bed, only slightly taken off guard as she suddenly back to cough. She muffled it with her hands as she removed herself from the futon and found herself moments later huddled in a corner, hidden by gigantic crates. She was still coughing, eyes wide as she tried to keep quiet.
It was still dark out and her four other cave-mates were sound asleep.
This had been...unexpected.
For the past month Konami hadn't been bothered by coughing fits. In fact, she had been relatively healthy for the most part, managing to eat three times a day, albeit smaller portions than they should be. She felt her stomach sinking. It wasn't... Her chakra solution wasn't working anymore. She was afraid to just say, apply more chakra because really, what she had done the first time was risky enough. It wasn't so simple to just convert more chakra into cells because how could she know if she doing anything dumb? Really, she couldn't know.
She wasn't going to last much longer at this rate which actually... It actually terrified her.
She wasn't afraid of death, no. She was just... Konami didn't want to give up this life yet. She wanted to be there for Konan, Nagato, and Yahiko. She had to be there to ensure their happiness. She wanted to live for them, she needed to live for them. Because, what else was she to do in this life? She was stuck in the dumps, stealing from others just to get by in life. She was sick, terribly sick and she had a feeling that her disease was attacking much more than her internal organs.
She was trying to quiet her panting breaths as she struggled to regain her usual face but before she knew it, Chibi stood in front of her, licking her cheek. It was oddly comforting to have that support, something she hadn't had in a while. Konami wanted to pet the dog but one glance at her blood speckled hands told her she would just have to make do with rewarding him later.
After about a minute of this, she stood up, padding around the cave to look for something she could wash her hands with. Nothing in sight. With bated breath, she slipped past the others and left the cave once more, holding her palms up to the rain. In moments, the blood had been washed away.
Resisting a sigh, she finally managed to slip into bed with no more problems.
Except for the added fact that her brain was too active to yield into sleep.
Konami sighed before twisting her form so that she could gaze at Nagato. His eyes were closed, his red bangs spilling off to side as it revealed a pretty face. She resisted touching his pale skin and settled for rubbing her fingers into Chibi's fur, who had come to rest between the two children.
One thing was certain, through out all this mess. Konami would protect her precious family with every fiber of her being.
"Get out, you rotten brats!" The woman who stood at the fruit stand yelled, shaking her fist with fury as the four orphans and their dog promptly skedaddled away, their brown bag filled with watermelon, apples, and oranges. They were going to make a fruit salad! Or at the very least, Konami was going to make it for them when they got home that night.
However, just as they rounded the corner to make their great escape, an angry pillar of a man stood in their way. He had his hands on his hips and by way of his muscles, he could easily take the kids off their feet with ease. They took a visible step back, Yahiko standing at the front with his jaw set in determination. Konami looked anxiously on as the man snatched the bag of their stolen goods away. Then, with an intense flash of his eyes, he lifted Yahiko by the collar, grabbing for Nagato next. Resisting a growl, Konami swiftly stepped in, and felt her feet be lifted on the ground. If she wiggled, she wouldn't feel a thing beneath her. It made her squeamish to think about it.
"Let them go, you bastard!" Konan yelled from her place in front of Nagato, who standing shockingly still.
"Learn this lesson, you rats!" The man heaved a grunt as he tossed Konami and Yahiko at the bags of trash next to the wall of the establishment they stood next to. Konami felt the air she had be knocked out of her and she dazedly watched the man walk away as she struggled to regain her breath. With the help of Konan, she was soon standing on her feet but began to cough, with it quickly escalating to a hacking sort of deal. She attempted to cover her face but was too dizzy to do it, coming to rest heavily against her older sister for support.
"Will she be okay?" Nagato was asking, his voice shaking and Konami noticed that Yahiko was making his way towards her, a desperately concerned expression coloring his features.
"It's been awhile," Konan was saying, her voice sounding fuzzy to the small girl's ears. That is, before she completely blanked.
Konami only regained consciousness a little after that, being carried by the teamwork of Yahiko and Nagato. Wordlessly, she lifted a hand up to touch Yahiko's cheek, garnering his attention. She pointed at the ground, causing him to halt in his tracks.
"You haven't been telling us about your condition, have you?" The orange haired boy asked, looking to feel an odd mixture of guilt, betrayal, and frustration. Konami looked away, ashamed. She just hadn't wanted them to worry about her.
You're a meaningless existence.
Yes, of course. After all, she had only been reborn to make sure of their future happiness, that was her only mission for this life. Not even a petty disease could change that.
"Are we... Do you not trust us?" Yahiko sounded pained, causing her eyes to snap to his.
"I trust you more than I trust myself," she whispered, her throat sore.
"Then...why? Why do you hide yourself? We have to make it together, you know... Without you, everything doesn't have the same meaning."
She felt uncomfortable, her thoughts and his words conflicting.
Konami pointed to the ground once more, making Yahiko sigh as he relented, nodding his head toward Nagato, who followed suit. She stood on her feet then, rim rod straight as she murmured to them softly, "I don't want you to worry."
She held a hand up, cutting Konan's next words off as she went on, "I don't think I will be alive much longer. So...I would rather you have happy memories of me, than sad ones," Yes, this, these words were her one selfish wish. She gave them a pained smile, "I just want our time together to leave no scars." I can't be the ones to break you, do you understand? It would be unbearable if she were to be the reasoning to their suffering. It would be absolutely agonizing if they were to never be happy. They deserved that much. They had endured too much for far too long. Yet why was she sick in the first place? There was no rhyme or reason for it except that all she had done when she was put in this body was cause suffering.
"Is that what you really wanted?" Yahiko was asking and Konami nodded.
"I can't..." she began before looking away, "I can't do that to you guys. I can't do that." Biting her lip, she met their gazes, praying for their understanding or at least an acknowledgment of what she had to say.
"Okay," Yahiko seemed to sigh, eyes aged beyond his years, "Okay."
What that meant exactly, she didn't ask.
Konami just smiled at him, as brightly as she could, with as much gratitude as she had in her. Then, leaving the conversation at that, they all fell into step.
It was a few moments later before Yahiko spoke up again as they trudged their way through the open terrain that led to their hideout.
"That aside...how is everyone feeling? I know it may be hard," Yahiko sounded as if he were forcing a bright tone, none of the others commenting on it. He went on, "But we got to keep in mind that sometimes things like that happen."
"I guess," Nagato mumbled, his face turned toward Konami, who looked pointedly away. They hadn't ever told him about her condition, which only made the guilt seep in.
"Hey, Nagato," Yahiko called over to the boy, obviously trying to change the subject in hopes that he could keep the air light, "Do you have any dreams?"
"Dreams?" The red-headed boy asked, seemingly caught off guard by the question. Something about this conversation was beginning to be painfully similar to something but Konami just couldn't quite put her finger on what.
"Well yeah," The orange haired boy laughed, remarkably setting everyone ease, all but Konami. She was still confused, "We sure aren't going to live in a dump like this forever. I've got big dreams to make come true."
"What are they?" Nagato asked, while Konami frowned.
"World domination!" Yahiko announced, garnering a giggle from Konan and a slightly confused, put-off smile from Konami.
"World domination, seriously?" Nagato's voice was filled with disbelief.
"Hell yeah!" Their leader held a fist up as he theatrically came to look at them all with a mischievous grin, "Once I rule the world? We'll never have to go through this suffering again," he declared.
"That would be nice," Nagato allowed, going along with the abnormal dream.
"But if I die like this, without even completely that, then my parents will be rolling in their grave. They'd never be able to rest in peace then, isn't that right, Konan, Konami," Yahiko looked to the two girls when he said this, gaining understanding nods from them. In one of their many conversations, it had brought them to discussions about the afterlife, and if their parents were proud with them. They, in the end, came to the conclusion that everything would be fine if they just made their dreams come true, "If we rule the world," the orange haired boy went on, "then we could do what we want to do, and we would never be hungry."
"Yeah, you're right!" Nagato was grinning by now, at the thought of never going hungry again, "It'd be like we were Devas. Hey," the redhead jumped up excitedly, "do you think we could get rid of war too?"
The orphans were all knocked off their feet, being sent flying through the air. Konami twisted just in time to see a spot just before them be blown up to smithereens. Oh, she thought dazedly. Now she remembered why this conversation had sounded achingly familiar. She could now vaguely recall the same thing happening to her family in the show.
There was a moment of ringing ears and an ache in her insides but other than that, she felt okay. She struggled to breath, ending up inhaling the dust that had been formed from the explosion. She coughed, hearing beyond the ringing as Yahiko asked, "Everyone okay?"
They were still struggling to their feet when somewhere below their cliff, there was another explosion. The air gusted over them, making Yahiko groan. The ringing was slowly starting to fade away but it was becoming harder to get herself back to her feet. She shook with exhaustion and pain, eyes wide as she looked for Nagato.
"Damn it!" Yahiko grounded out, "Not now!"
More explosions were occurring in quick succession and Konami struggled to see where they were coming from. She was panting by now but followed Yahiko to the side of the cliff at a crawl. Just as their faces peeked over the edge, they watched with something akin to awe as the Hanzo stood on top of his salamander, in all his unabashed glory. Before him stood three other people, shinobi to be precise. This time, Konami had actually remembered their names. Tsunade, Orochimaru, and Jiraiya, the Legendary Sannin. It was disconcerting, watching real actual shinobi in action. Her father hadn't really shown her what it was like to be in an actual fight, which is why she hadn't been expecting to feel such killer intent oozing out of all four of them.
It barred her senses as she took in their extraordinary chakra signatures but noticing how low their reserves were getting. Still, they stood will confidence in their panting forms, expressions filled with determination.
"Konohagakure-nin," Konami found herself whispering, "Yahiko, we need to get away from here. It's too dangerous."
Yahiko looked at her, nodding before the two of them struggled to their feet.
"Chibi!" Nagato's voice came out panicked as he looked up to Yahiko for help, "What do we do? He's not breathing!"
With a firm, set look in his eyes, he bit out quickly, "Worry about him later! We have to get out of here. It's too dangerous!"
Mutely, Konan and Nagato stood up, Chibi in his hands as they all hurried away.
When they finally made it to the entrance of their cave, Nagato gave way to his knees, clutching the dog to his chest. He kept murmuring Chibi's name in horror and regret, causing Konami to instantly be there by his side. She leaned into the boy to give him her warmth, rubbing his back as he began to sob.
Behind them, Yahiko pounded his fist against a tree, cursing under his breath before he shouted out, his voice cracking over the raw emotion in his chest, "Why is it always like this!?" There was silence to his question, the three other orphans quiet, asking themselves that very question, "If all of this useless fighting doesn't stop," Yahiko choked out as he gave one last hit to the tree, "then I'll become the god of this war, and make it stop."
There was something in the way he said it that sent chills down her back. Yes, he would, because Konami would help him achieve that dream.
"We need to get out of this cave," Yahiko's voice came as the three other orphans distracted themselves with burying Chibi. It was getting painful to look at the very dog that had been so loyal to them, having helped them on numerous occasions during their stealing sprees. It had been Konan's idea to bury him in their cave, which Nagato had complied to doing. They were currently wrapping him in a blanket, getting him prepared.
The redhead sniffed, bringing his sleeve up to wipe his tears away.
"Nagato, quit crying all the time,"Yahiko ordered, sounding tired. Konami looked up, alarmed at the tone of voice. He hadn't ever spoken to them like that before, "If you only cry when you're beaten down, then nothing will change... Just like this nation," his words sounded bitter, and before Konami could speak up to defend Nagato, Yahiko went on, "But, I'm going to change this place...and for that I'll need power nor just words."
Silence, as the azure haired girls sat silent. It was Nagato who spoke up next.
"How are you going to do that?"
"We're going to learn ninjutsu," Yahiko sounded sure as he stepped off the crate he had been perched on previously.
"Ninjutsu...from who?" Nagato asked, alarmed.
The orange haired boy came to stand in front of them before leaning in, "The Konohagakure-nin. I checked out the battle field, and I didn't see a single one of their corpses. They went up against Hanzo and they survived it. These guys must be incredibly powerful..."
"Maybe," Nagato allowed hesitantly. Konami was nodding, aware of where this was going. Emotionally, she had been well-prepared for this day, the day where they would set off to find the Sannin. But Nagato's parents had been killed by people of that nation. She rested her hand on his palm, making him jump at the contact but when he looked up to her smile, he relaxed, his lips trying to curve up.
"I hate Hanzo," Yahiko stressed before he stood up, beginning to pace in their home, "He's taken this country and ruined it, making this place a war zone. He's the reason everything had happened to us," The orange haired boy sighed, pausing in his steps, "Anyway, I will become their student. I've gotta find them!"
"B-but what if we go after them and we find out that they've been killed?" Konan asked, her voice soft.
"Then I'll just find the person that did them in and get them to teach me instead!" Yahiko announced with a sturdy grin, "My mind is made up. I'm going to get that power to protect you guys too."
They all exchanged looks before Konami nodded, "I'd follow you anywhere, big brother."
"I agree," Konan said, smiling now, "Let's get powerful. After all," she murmured softly a blush coming to face, "my dream is to help you."
"It's the same for me," Nagato came to say.
"A god needs his servants, right?" Konami asked, as they all stood in solidarity to change the world they lived in.
Yahiko laughed, "That's right!"
Soon after they had Chibi properly buried, having given the dog words of parting in a makeshift funeral, they began to pack.
"Only the non-perishables come with. We'll be having to ration it out," Yahiko ordered as he supervised their work.
"Are we just tossing the rest?" Konan asked, concerned.
"No, we'll be giving it back," Yahiko mentioned blithely as he hefted four re-breathers, gas masks of sorts, in his arms, "You guys never thought they'd live to be useful, but to where we're going, the air will be toxic, so we'll have to wear these," he handed one to Konan, Nagato coming next, and lastly to Konami.
They all nodded and soon the four of them had all of the perishables separated from the non in their packs. Yahiko had made some sort of contraption out of wood that would make it easier to carry of the stuff back to the village. Hours later, however, the four found themselves standing in front of Chibi's grave as Nagato touched the marker once more, whispering a final farewell.
It was with that, that the Ame orphans headed back to the village, finally arriving at the door of one of the market owners. He opened the door, a purely amazed yet shocked face coloring his features. Behind the kids were the packs of all the perishable food they had been hoarding. This man was sort of special to them. Out of everyone at the market, he had been the one to give them a candy once ore twice. They didn't even know his name but anyone with as much kindness to do that should be trusted with the task they would bestow upon him.
"What is this? What are you kids doing here?"
"All this stuff is for you to share with the grocer and the fruit stand lady," Yahiko informed him before sheepishly scratching at the back of his neck, "In a way, we kind of owe you guys," he gave a chuckle before waving his hand dismissively, "Anyway, take care."
Nagato and Yahiko walked away while Konami and Konan stayed behind. The former bowed, before smiling with gratitude at the old man. Konan smiled as well as she said an apology. With that, the girls bobbed their heads once more as they sped up to catch up with the boys.
"We need to hurry up," Yahiko murmured, "It's going to get very dark soon and we won't be able to sleep."
"We should come up with a sleeping schedule, someone to take watch while the others sleep," Konami suggested garnering a nod from the others.
"I guess we can split it into four two-hour shifts. I'll take first, Konan can be second, Nagato, and then Konami," Yahiko decided as they all walked into a forest of trees. Most of Ame was mudslides, open terrain, cliffs and mountains but there was a separate part that was filled with dark, treacherous forests. These place were sure to be the most active war zones. It might have been crazy to just walk in there, but it was what they'd decided to do, and that was good enough for Konami.
"Let's head towards destiny!" Yahiko confidently said into the moist, rainy skies.
Paper Flower - End
Unedited - Beta Wanted
Next On Monopoly: Strength
Just to be clear, I don't follow Buddhism or Shintoism but I did my best to research into those religions. It's evident in the way that Nagato referred to himself as a Deva (gods or deities), after he had come to know true suffering and pain, that Buddhism is a legit religion in this world. However, I won't be writing a lot about Buddhism, or religion in this story aside from how it affects this group of orphans.
Also, oh god describing environments is hard. Hopefully I get better with the up and coming chapter. (06/08/2017 edit: I didn't.)
Edit (06/08/2017): Hello! Some things have changed and I decided I might as well explain them here as I've been getting asked about them.
This story is technically completed, as I've come to be satisfied with ending it (the main story) at chapter five. This is in part due to just how overwhelmed I am with all of my on-going fics and also due to the realization that it was an ending Konami could live with and the best one she could have hoped for with her circumstances as they were.
However! This story has a sort of unofficial continuation in the form of chapter six and whatever chapters that may come after. An "after the story" story, if you will.
Another thing; I desperately need to edit this story. Once, I had edited all of it (with new content and all) but those changes were never saved and thus, I need to do them all over again. Hopefully, with the interest I've recently had in this story, I'll be able to make Monopoly something worth rereading and coming back to.
With all of that said, thank you for giving my story a read!