Disclaimer: I don't Naruto or any of its characters.

Warning: child abuse, bullying, some dark themes, too much fluffiness sometimes. A real rollercoaster (or, at least, it's supposed to be).


Hello, guys! It's been a long time since I last posted anything. For the "A Bird Still Flies in a Gentle Rain" followers, I haven't abandoned it. It's my senior year and I have a real important university-acceptance exam coming up in September and I'm studying like crazy. However, winter break has just arrived and I found a little time to type a story-plot that's been in my head for a long time.

I've never written a SI before and, actually, didn't even like them a few months earlier this year. No idea if they sound too Mary-Sue-ish. I hope he doesn't, but for each their taste. It's also the first time I post a yaoi story, so, gosh, I'm nervous. It's written in the point of view of a boy (obviously) and I'm girl who has, like, four or five male friends, so it's gonna be a challenge in many ways. Hope you guys at least like the idea of this story.

All Things Are Difficult Before They Are Easy

By Amaryllis Namikaze

Chapter I:

The Beginning

"I've been trying not to think about the things I wanted, but couldn't have. I thought that life was all about things you couldn't have. Some part of me had given up wanting anything."

Doushitemo Furetakunai, vol. 1, chapter 3, pages 38, 39 and 40

I didn't have very high expectations during life, so – of course – I also didn't have big wonders about death. When one lives like I used to do, there isn't much left to ponder. Dying is unavoidable and, if you're lucky enough, welcomed.

Reincarnation, however, wasn't considered even in my wildest dreams. If I were being truthful to myself, I didn't want to live once more. Being alive brought a whole lot of problems that I wasn't prepared enough to face. I didn't kill myself in my first lifetime – I wasn't brave enough to do so – but I certainly didn't fight against this unstoppable force called Death.

Everything had been fast. Swift, not unlike taking a Band-Aid off. Except ripping these little buggers off wasn't painful. Being crushed and pierced to death by shards of glass was. Still, it could've been much, much worse. At least, it was an inanimate thing that killed me, instead of a human being. Humans were much crueler than a broken glass panel.

I would know.

My new life started like my old one ended – in peaceful silence, in warming acceptance. I closed my eyes and they burnt and suddenly I opened them again and there was a whole world to be seen. It was bright, cozy and unexpectedly calm. There were soft murmurs, but they didn't faze me. It was much better than the screams I used to hear all the time.

I was being held and cleaned. I should be ashamed of my naked little body, but something in my brain numbed everything – the sticky and prickly feeling over my skin, the sudden cold as opposed to the previous warmth, the urgency in the murmurs. I sighed and there was absolute silence.

"Thank God!" Someone shouted and I frowned. Were the people here capable of shouting too? I had resigned myself to these new sensations, this new life, but not so much if sound was part of this place too.

"He's a healthy lad," a masculine voice commented and with sluggish surprise, I noticed that this was the person holding me against their chest. His arms offered me to someone else and I mourned the loss of familiarity, before being enveloped by a sense of security.

"He is so…" a now feminine voice breathed in my ear. I felt like a baby bird imprinting on its mother, because there was no other way to describe the incredible rush of love that came over me.

This. This one was my Mother here.

"Beautiful?" The male voice spoke once again. "I know. There's no other word."

The woman must have acquiesced, for I felt her neck and chin softly move against my cheek. Their Japanese sounded weird to my ears, I realized. Not only because my part-Asian family hadn't spoken the language inside our own home for years, but also because it was worded in a different, perhaps more ancient, manner.

"What do you wish to call him?" Another feminine voice asked with a tint of happiness, like she was observing a most gleeful scene. I wonder what she saw.

There was a pause.

"Kumi," the feminine voice said and it wasn't a suggestion. "Namikaze Kumi."

This new family of mine was what I dreamt of having in my first life. There was a loving mother, a strong father and a more-than-happy-to-see-me big brother. There was a beautiful house and kind neighbors.

However, nothing could calm my desperately beating heart. It had been a feeling of wrongness at first, then a confirmation when my brother's face appeared over the bars of my crib.


I imagine that other people would be happy to be reborn into this world. As a fan of the Naruto series, I should be as well. Except for the little fact that I had had a hard enough lifetime already and wished to be in Heaven – or whatever place or spiritual state you go after you die.

My Mother – the first, if normal, one – died when I was seven. My memories are fuzzy, since suffering covered most of my early childhood memories, but I think it was because of breast cancer. She was Japanese and had been responsible for my sister's narrowed eyes and my thick black hair.

My Father, on the other hand, was a British guy responsible for my fair-lighted eyes in my previous life. He used to be a good person before Mother died, I think. I hope. All the suffering he caused to me and my sister couldn't have been… optional. He had a mental problem. I'm sure of it, because no father would cause his children so much pain if there wasn't a mental illness involved.

My sister came to my mind with glaring clarity. She had been one year younger than me, but taller. Always taller, for I had been born premature and my body never became strong enough to grow as one would want. As a child, I envied the others' perfectly healthy – including my sister's – body. I wasn't capable of running for long periods of time or even playing sports. Despite the bitterness her body provoked within me, I had loved her. I had loved her as much as a brother could love his little sister, simply because it hadn't been her fault that I was born imperfect and she, as healthy as parents could hope for.

My appearance should have been good, what with my blue – or were they green? – eyes and dark hair. But I wasn't handsome. I had been scrawny and ugly and weak. No girl or boy would wish for that in a partner. My memories were fading faster than I thought they would, but I was sure I had no friends, because my features scared people off. I wished I could remember what was wrong with my face, but perhaps it was for the best.

It seemed ironic that in this life I was named "eternal beauty".

Minato was the perfect brother, despite being only a silly two-year-old toddler, which absolutely made me cry every time he showed his face in front of me the first three times. Later, I decided that since he was going to be a constant in my life from now on, it would be best to get used to it. Still, the ugly child inside me resented his goodness.

I was used to being ignored. That, however, was hard to happen in this lifetime. My parents – Daiki and Torii – were always giving me attention. They were in love with each other and it showed in each action, even when taking care me.

"He's such a docile infant," the neighbor, Shiranui Airi, commented sometime during my fourth or fifth month of life. It was hard to discern time, but I'm sure she visited almost every day. Apparently, she and my mother weren't shinobi like my father and Bokuo-san, Airi-san's husband.

"Isn't he?" My mother agreed, offering a glass of cold lemonade. I was born in December on a particularly cold winter day, which was funny according to my father's blabbering. Hi no Kuni was a county of warmth, as its name stated.

"Is Minato-kun being a good older brother? I know he was anxious to meet this little guy here."

Through sleepy eyes, I saw Airi-san indicating my tiny body. Sometimes, I found it weird to think of this baby as myself. I wonder if he was supposed to be born before and I had taken over his body, or if he'd have died had I not come to this world.

Mom giggled softly. I used to hate giggles. Girls giggled all the time when I passed, pointing their sparkly-painted fingers at me, and I remember all too well this feeling of shame. In my new life, however, it wasn't too hard to love my mother's laugh. It sounded silly and carefree, which made it easy to understand why Dad had fallen in love with her.

"Minato-chan is adorable, really," she confided. Her eyes were very, very pretty, I had noticed earlier on. "Every time someone comes visit us, the first thing he does is going to Kumi and standing in front of him."

"Ooh," Airi-san laughed too. "I bet he's gonna be the overprotective type."

My mother smiled at me and I tried to be awake for the rest of the conversation, but my eyelids were heavy and I simply plunged into a dreamless sleep.

Chakra was the most curious thing in this world.

It was a walking contradiction: warm yet cold, fluid yet solid, tangible yet abstract. Most of the time, it was like blood – you couldn't feel it moving inside you, despite knowing it flowed like a river through its path. When I knowingly learnt to manipulate it, it was a constant reminder of what this world had to offer.

I could twist it and bend it, but never expel it. Minato spent a lot of my sixth month of life hugging me, claiming that my body was comfortingly hot, and I was aware that it was due to the fact that I spent most of my awake time sending chakra to different parts of my body, testing its flexibility.

When my muscles finally stopped feeling like jelly, I learnt how to crawl and being a baby didn't bother me as much as before. Dad followed my everywhere when he was away from missions, apparently amazed by his youngest son's growth. I spoke my first word when I was only eight months old, a fact that my Mom boasted to everyone who was within her range of Proud Mama Bear.

Minato was the one with me when I decided to try walking for the first time and this memory stayed with me for longs years to come. I had been speaking for two months already when I finally had felt that my legs were strong enough to carry my own weight. I don't know what I expected when my brain coordinated with my feet and I wobbled a few meters forward, but it certainly wasn't for my big brother to burst into tears and go crying to our mother how much 'Mii-chan was growing and that wasn't fair!'.

All in all, my babyhood passed too slow and too fast. It was a stage of learning, not only because I had to somehow make my tongue not tie every time I decided to speak and my legs not shake every moment I wanted to walk, but also because my feelings from my old life resurfaced at the most inconvenient time. I slept a lot, which made the days pass in blur, but I cried a lot too. I wasn't an easy baby, I knew, but, more often than not, I caught myself comparing Father and Dad, Mother and Mom, Sister and Brother, and was left feeling bitter.

Sometimes, I felt as if my old self broke together with that glass panel that pierced me to death and I was left in shards of what I used to be, only for Minato to walk in and make me giggle that annoyingly cute baby laugh.

I wondered how much longer it would take for me to forget my old life and wondered if I would at all. At times, I couldn't remember what my tormentors at school had looked like, and other times, it was all too simple to picture my Father's enraged face when he kicked my guts out.

The first glimpse I finally got of my new body happened some days after my first birthday. It had been a pretty small affair, with only immediate family. Mom had baked two cakes: one for the rest of them and a smaller one for me. I dived in with the gusto that only babies had when presented with a mountain of mushy chocolate. More often that I'd like to admit, my actions reflected my actual age.

Mom took lots of photos and Dad just sat through it all with a resigned expression. Minato – the three-year-old devil – ate most of the other cake alone, only to feel nauseated later that night. Had it been my old sister – Dinah? Jenna? – I'd say it was to catch our parents' attention, but my new brother seemed to genuinely want all the sugar. It was hard having a perfectly loving sibling.

When Dad revealed the photos a few days later, I discovered how much I fit in this family, after all. I knew that Minato had inherited our Mother's sunny-blond hair as well as her oval face, but his sky blue eyes and thin nose had come from our Father. In a way, my face was a lot like his – despite the baby fat, I knew that my chin would never be as round as Dad's and my eyebrows arched slightly up like Mom's. However, my brother's features came together to form a distinctly boyish face, while mine was – annoyingly – feminine.

My hair was longer than it felt, growing in thick baby curls. It was more of a pale golden than Minato's yellowish blond, which could be attributed to Dad's light brown curly hair. My eyes, however, were big and doe-like – much bigger than the ones in my past life, which almost could have been Asian. They had no exact color, mimicking Mom's kaleidoscope ones. My ivory skin would be no darker than porcelain in the future, I knew, no matter how much time I spent under the sun's rays.

In a way, I could finally comprehend why my parents had named me Kumi. I certainly was very beautiful – in a girly kind of way – in this lifetime. A part of me practically purred in appreciation, but another part – a shier, more hesitant part that I tucked away every night – trembled at the possibilities.

"Mii-chan!" Minato called, waving his hands madly on the other side of the living room.

I was sitting between a giant teddy bear and plushy alphabet-filled blocks, which had honestly kept me entertained for the last few minutes.

"Minato-chan," Mom chided gently from the sofa. "Don't shout so late in the night. The neighbors are probably asleep already."

Now that was a lie if I ever heard one. It was only seven o'clock. It worked, though, since brother apologized with a pout on his lips. He stomped his way to me and sat down with a disheartened expression.

"Mi-chan," I giggled. I felt proud of myself, somehow. I had overcome these feelings called bitterness and resentment for a while now. My brother no longer seemed perfect in every way possible, which made it easier to love him.

Said brother shook his head and waved his finger in front of my two-year-old bewildered face.

"Not Mi-chan," he scolded with all the seriousness of a four-year-old older brother. "Onii-chan."

My air-headed brother had been insisting on the pet name ever since I'd learnt how to speak, but, to his disappointment, I called him nothing except Mi-chan. It was a little retribution for being called Mii-chan myself. It was cute now, but some years in the future people would view me as nothing but a girl.


"Mi-chan," I clapped my hands.






"Boys!" Our Mother shouted, exasperated. Her kaleidoscope eyes held a hint of fondness though her face showed nothing but reprehension.

"Sorry," we murmured, though mine sounded more like 'sowwy' than I'd be willing to admit.

Minato crossed his arms and leant back against the enormous teddy bear. A few minutes were spent in silence before he finally couldn't take it anymore, "Ne, Mii-chan, why don't you call me big brother?"

I paused. I was surprised by the seriousness of his tone. Mom, Dad and sometimes Airi-san talked to me, but never expecting a real response. In their eyes, I was still a toddler, never mind the fact I could read already and had been speaking for almost two years.

'Mi-chan call Mii-chan," I explained.

He tilted his head sideways, "You don't like being called Mii-chan?" How did he even understand from my super simplistic explanation? Suddenly, I was very aware of the fact of how prodigal Minato would be in the future.

"Onii-chan," I crawled the one meter between us, calling him by the holy pet name.

Minato twisted his lips in the biggest grin ever, resembling his future son, Naruto, so much that I was left blinking.

"I love you too, Mii-chan!" He hugged me until I couldn't breathe.

Well, there goes my idea of being called something more boyish. I couldn't bring myself to poke fun at my brother anymore by calling him Mi-chan – not after seeing a smile so warm and happy.

Mom just kept shaking her head at us.

It was easy to forget how much the real world scared me inside my cozy little home. In my old life, my moments of peace were far and between. I used to go to the library during the weekends even if I had read most of the books there by the time I was thirteen. School had been as frightening as my first home. There was never complete silence or security.

I always held Minato's hand for dear life every time Mom took us to the park nearby. He never questioned the action and was more than happy to act as the typical big brother protecting his younger brother. Mom frowned sometimes and encouraged me to play with other children, but gave up very quickly when I showed no signs of taking the initiative. I heard her talking to Dad about it, though they never forced me to do anything I didn't want to.

Being bullied all my old life had made shyness and insecurity an ingrained response no matter which body I resided. Feelings like bitterness were simpler to overcome – throw a little love and care and puff. Fear, however, was a primal instinct and harder to suppress. I speculated how long it would take me to feel less tense around other children my age.

My hair had grown longer, long enough to hide my face when others tried to approach me. Maybe they thought I was weird, but Minato was there to be friendly for the two of us. Adults cooed over my apparent cuteness and children liked to ruffle my golden locks in farewell. My mind never relaxed when an unfamiliar hand came near me, however.

"Mii-chan, let's go to the park today," Minato said and, even though he poised it as a question, it sounded like a decision already made.

I shook my head, pale-golden curls flying everywhere. As I had never cut my hair, it grew thick and curly like a newborn's. Even though I looked really girly with chin-length hair, I couldn't bring myself to get it cut. It was just so, so pretty that a part of me wished for it to remain there. It was old ugly ducky talking.

"Why not?" Minato whined.

"It's too hot," I reasoned with my four-year-old logic. And too crowded outside, I added inwardly.

Minato was much taller than me, who inherited our Mother's petite build, so it was with no difficulty that he gathered me up in his arms and twisted my legs around his waist.

"Mii-chan, it's always hot in Konoha," he countered. "And I promised Inoichi that we would play ninja today."

Yamanaka Inoichi. I could remember the name well enough, despite the years passed since I'd last seen the Naruto series. He's going to be Ino's father and the Head of the T&I Department. Now, on the other hand, he was only a boy with a crooked smile and wicked sense of humor.

I looked than as I felt Minato sigh.

"You know what?" He tried to cheer me up. "We'll stay home today and I'll make up to him tomorrow."

I smiled.

It was good to be here. I didn't know how long this happiness would last, but it was good either way. The possibility of this comfortable life ending frequently left me breathless. All things are difficult before they are easy used to be one of my favorite Chinese proverbs, even if things never got easy in my old lifetime.

I hoped the difficult part had already passed, but who knew? I now lived in the shinobi world.