I do not own Naruto
From the moment Hideki Kaito laid eyes on the girl he knew there was something off about her.
He knew it in the same way he knew the number of kunai in his hip pouch and the way he could recall exactly what he had eaten last night. It was common knowledge, something that seemed to him like everyone should know. Looking at her doll like features and perfectly kept hair, he could see that there was something off.
He knew it in the way he knew when he was being watched and when an enemy was stalking his steps. It was instinctual, on a level that churned his gut and raised the hair on the back of his neck. Hearing her husky voice and clear, blunt wording, he could tell that this was not a child. It was an imposter, a spirit.
The first time he saw her she was seven, fresh from the streets of the red light district, and she walked with a confidence and surety that belonged to no child. Her expressive face was too clean for something from the bottom of the world, her skin too unblemished for a resident of the bloody mist.
She was bred from whores blood and weak willed patrons, stock that refused to defend themselves and could not strike out. He was sure she was just more fodder for the seduction corps, a fresh pound of flesh to add to the stables. The rumors said she was the daughter of a high end harlot and that she would grow as slender and inviting as her mother. A few even spoke of how pretty she already was, how exotic her tan skin was in a sea of white, how fragile and cute she looked. She was a master of wordplay already, a prodigy hidden in plain sight in the den of inequity. She would bat her lashes and people would fall to their knees for her. She had charmed one of the mythical seven swordsmen and captured his apprentices heart.
Other whispers were quieter, speaking lowly of a corpse in the alleyways. These were darker, and Kaito found himself somehow not surprised and deeply unsettled. She fed on flesh, they hissed. She was four and she broke a man with her tiny untrained hands, led him into an alleyway and tore out his throat to taste the blood beneath. She bewitched the swordsmen and played with the soul of a child to bend him to her will.
The boy, the apprentice, the demon little Zabuza, he trailed in after her, and he believed.
The girl was not right, he screamed in his mind. She feels like death and decay.
Still, he observed, and for all appearances, she acted like one. She and the boy grew close, separate from the main group and gangs of young ones.
When they trained, she was slow and lacked endurance. She couldn't throw for the life of her and her strength, while good, was not record setting. Her only high point seemed to be that she could stretch and bend, but never break. He thought that perhaps he was wrong, that he was being paranoid and that missions had been trickling in to fast for him.
Only when he set her against the Hozuki did he cement his thoughts. She didn't need speed or endurance or raw strength. She was running water, flowing around and absorbing strikes, nimbly dodging away from punishing blows. The little whore's girl went up against a clan member, bred and raised for this, trained in the art of flowing like liquid, and she showed him that there was no meaning to the kata's and stances unless he was as she was. Unless he became the river and the seas. She struck him down with a blow to the head, nevermind that he was taller.
The demon boy on the other side of the field left his partner with multiple fractures and stared possessively in the distance.
The unease inside him grew.
The problem was, that by all accounts- the thing, the impostor, the whore's child know as Watanabe Ryuishi,- was an average student. By Kiri standards she was almost explemary, never standing out too hard, excelling only in certain area, easily dispensable. She was good at class work, but not too good. She fought well enough, but not so well that it was a threat. The fact that she was also a good tool and seemingly bullied by the apprentice Zabuza spoke well of her intrinsic knowledge of her place in the world.
The higher ups saw her giving him food and yielding to his demands and thought about how subservient she was. It pleased them to know one of their future swordsman not only could tame such a spitfire, but that she was knowing enough to serve him.
He saw them together and saw a wolf slowly being trained, a silent hunter being bought piece by piece. With every touch, every conflict, every morsel, she made him her own loyal vassal.
They laughed and told him no child could do such a thing, and if it ever came to be, they would dispose of her like the rest. Could he not see the way she catered to him?
Kaito was there the day the boy showed off his chakra and he was stunned like the rest. It was foul and malevolent, poisonous and vile. He flinched and was tossed back to the dying fields and torture chambers in his mind.
The thing beside him did not even flinch and instead controlled her pet, drawing him away and rewarding him with violence.
On a survival exercise, teaching the students to live off the land, she built her lean to and made camp faster than some chunin he knew. The boy settled in before the fire she coaxed to life while she went off to gather food. His fellow instructors laughed and called her little nadeshiko, the perfect miniature house wife. She made shelter and warm meals, made sure the boy was comfortable.
Only, when she came back she was carrying two live rabbits. She smiled sweet and coy for the instructors and snapped the first ones neck cleanly and it died without a sound. Gratified they walked away.
Then she looked him straight in the eyes, and he saw the nothingness inside her, the hungry call of eternity. He saw darkness that stretched forever and a rage like an endless tide. He stood, frozen, and the furry thing in her hand struggled against her. It's paws made scratches and drew blood, but she uttered no cries and said no words, only clasped it with an iron grip. Inevitably, she moved her tiny fist up to its slender throat and jerked her wrist.
This time, the rabbit squealed, a rasping, shrieking noise. It's neck was broken poorly, bent unnaturally, and it's body helplessly fought against her tiny fingers, gurgling and foaming for breath. The agony must have been incredible, and even as heartless as he was, he wanted to put it out of it's misery. The thing was a marble statue, a phantom made of stone illuminated by the dancing shadows cast from flames.
She stared him in the eyes, and ended it.
He found himself scolding her for the poor kill, and she looked ashamed. Like she had actually felt something for the creature, or that she wanted his approval. Like she cared at all. Like this wasn't a silent message meant for those who looked on.
Struggle and fight, and you may draw blood, but she will make you scream before you die.
Still his superiors do nothing and his coworkers begin to whisper behind his back. They call him paranoid and delusional. They tell him to buck up and stop fretting because she is just a child, a little girl who can be found wearing kimono and playing with make up. They say she likes sweets and steamed food, and that she enjoys playing in water and hates getting dirty. Her handwriting is poor even if she is mildly more intelligent than her peer. It means nothing. She will grow up and become a honeypot, she will sell her body for her country, and then be on her way. Her training begins next year.
He wants to scream.
They take the children to the lake, and teach them how to swim. Only, she know it already, and she moves unseen with the skill of a master. The instructors grin and comment on how they have never seen such natural talent since Hoshigaki Kisame, and isn't he the one that tested her? They laugh and begin betting on which apprentice will grow tired of the toy first.
They are blind, they do not see. She moves like water inside and out of it. She is too at home here, in a way no human be. She leaps and arcs in and out, propelling herself around with abandon. Even the Hozuki is hard pressed to keep up. Kaito sees her thick black hair trailing behind her thinks of legends of snake women and sirens, water spirits who look so natural, filled with the desire to drown and destroy and main. The ruin of humans and the bane of sailors, with hearts full of sin and lives that stretch on forever.
They have forgotten the old tales, he thinks, of what happens when you force a mermaid onto land.
The graduation day comes for the older class and he silently looks forward to getting away and taking normal missions on break. He is stifled by these brats, their loud noises and constant stupidity.
He goes to watch for some sport and the dog appears, wielding a live blade instead of a bokken. He goes on a bloodthirsty rampage and cuts the children down, room by room, neck by neck. It is impressive, if not ruthless. He is sure to be bumped up and graduated after this. Kaito can only hope her corpse is among the dead.
But no, she appears, staggering and teary eyed. He is impressed by how thoroughly wrecked she looks, how stricken by death she is. She stares out at the mangled bodies of children, and she weeps.
Then she roars.
She comes down like a vengeful spirit, pushing her dog down again and again. The boys demonic chakra sings, and hers rises to greet it in harmony. Poison and hollowness compete in the air, and he feels sick as the witch child and demon boy fight.
It is impressive and ruthless, and they tear at each other like rabid animals, but in the end, when she comes so close to killing him, she stays her hand.
She whispers teary apologies to the boy and embraces him, telling him that she should have helped him with this. The higher ups laugh when they hear and marvel about how well the Momochi boy has trained his pet. They coo about how strong she was, how capable of a fighter, and they scrap their plans and fill the hollow in their ranks. They graduate them both and write them down as an assault duo.
Hideki Kaito watches them go and does not voice his protests. Hopefully she will die before the year is out, unsuited for the role she was cast in.
He thinks of empty eyes and doll faces and the sound of a screaming animal struggling fruitlessly in her hands. He thinks of the devotion of a boy who struck when she was not there, and the hollow taint that lurks inside her.
He tries to shove it away, to repress. He has taken enough insults for the sake of the little witch. He moves on with his life and ignores everything but cannot help but feel as if they have created something terrible and that, perhaps, they are the rabbits in her hand.
AN: So remember when I said I had a few ficlets related to the story? Well here they are. This will be snippets related to the Of The River and The Sea story. SOme will be Canon, some crack, some AU idea's I came up with involving the characters.
SO! Here we have the long awaited view of Ryuishi from her academy instructors eyes! This is a canon side chapter.
Also! We welcome my precious, coveted new beta, aturnofthepage! Bless them. Their awesome and totally great and fixing up my clutter.