If you've stumbled across this story and have more than average expectations, be forewarned that I may either exceed said expectations by a mile, or fall rather short.
I can, however, promise you above average grammar, spelling and punctuation, if you'll forgive the occasional typo.
I wrote Akito as an antithesis to the hideously prevalent angst-ridden SI's this fandom is cluttered with. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing it when it's well done, but I'm sick and tired of reading no happy ones, only morally ambiguous or on-the-verge-of-mental-breakdown ones. So, in short, she's a mainly happy SI/OC. Of course, she'll have problems later on, but again, she's not going to angst for too long.
I initially began this as a fluffy, lighthearted thing, and then my muses ran away with me, so this ended up being a political, social and moral mess, with cute babies and asinine character quirks mixed in to even out the surprisingly heavy themes. I've been told it gives people whiplash.
I've rather enjoyed writing this, far more than I thought I would.
A bit about the character you're about to follow: she is, as one reviewer described her, a hero. She is loving and caring, sweet and funny, kind and affectionate, quirky and just a tad bit insane.
Akito's also a genius, and it comes with the premise of believing she isn't clever enough, believing she isn't doing enough, and feeling inadequate. These are her flaws, though she's already learned to accept them. They come back occasionally, but are fairly subtle because I'm not writing angst more than I can help it.
HOWEVER, I've received reviews concerning her advanced vocabulary as a one-two year old.
I'll attempt to explain this.
The minute she gains a modicum of motor function, she begins urging her carers to teach her the words. When she figures out the language is Japanese, she gains context. I haven't made it too clear in the chapter, but she'd already learned basic Japanese in her previous life, and simply needed to brush up, and then add a polish to it that can only be gained through full immersion.
I've used advanced vocabulary to show that she's speaking the politer form of Japanese - keigo - which is what her entire clan regularly converses in.
Also, as it's her point of view, she doesn't believe she's making any mistakes. I promise you that she's using the sentence structure and words wrongly - she just doesn't realise this. The people around her don't point it out because she's a child.
I've also received reviews about the problem with Akito being a bit of a MinaKushi fangirl. If you've seen the rest of my previous work, you'll know that I have a...very great fondness for the Yellow Flash and the Red Hot-Blooded Habanero. I promise that it only adds, rather than detracts, but of course, you may be the judge of that.
My view on shinobi: the mediocre ones notice when things are out of place. The geniuses don't. Akito's extremely advanced for her age. If she associated herself with moderately intelligent people, they would notice something was wrong. However, she's surrounded by her genius clan, associates herself with geniuses (more by sheer coincidence than anything else), and they believe that that's normal or they put it down to a quirk. The only ones that notice are kids who don't know any differently.
Now that I've bored you with the semantics, I hope you enjoy the rest of Welcome to Tomorrow! :)
'The only limits of your life are the ones you create with your mind.'
It was abrupt.
The sun was sweltering hot, the asphalt seemed to be melting in the heat, and the dust had a scent of its own as I inhaled the world, waiting for the school bus with my brothers.
It was seven in the morning and I was still half asleep when the bus pulled over, screeching to a halt and kicking up the dry dust.
The bus driver smiled at me - he was practically an old friend, and by old I mean might-as-well-have-walked-out-of-an-Egyptian-mummy-exhibit level old - and I smiled back at him, stopping at the stairs. It was nothing out of the ordinary, so he shut the door and the bus took off. There weren't any seats left so I'd just stood where I was - I'd done it before and I was doing it again.
I was inventorying as we sped past the melting landscape, teachers and students chattering and bemoaning their unfinished homework or the state of the government, or both, figuring out what time my mum would finish her day shift at the hospital and what I'd have to cook when I got home, what all I'd reviewed for my chemistry exam, what exactly a nargle might look like…
You know, everyday stuff.
We got to the school and everyone disembarked, me, as per usual, being the last one. And then he shut the door, and I hadn't moved away far enough.
There were a lot of horrified exclamations and beeping, but the driver didn't know why. We were kids, we were rowdy, he had no reason to suspect that the bag's strap had been caught by the door, twisted in such a way that, not only could it not be unfastened, but that I couldn't take it off.
It was abrupt, so abrupt.
Because one minute I was holding onto the bus for dear life, and the next, I was flying.
The walls were trying to squeeze me, pulsating and constricting, and I tried to push the walls back.
You know the feeling you get underwater and you can't hear anything but a weird humming and the beat of your own heart? Yeah, that was a constant reality in this little dark space. It was the first thing I noticed, and for a long time it was the only thing worth noticing. There really wasn't anything else, at all.
I didn't like enclosed spaces, so sometimes I used to squirm. One time I squirmed too much and I was suddenly upside down and I think that was even worse. Something hard pushed me and prodded me and suddenly I was straight again. I stopped squirming after that.
I kept on pushing the walls intermittently, futilely, because they kept squeezing me back tighter and tighter, so obviously, like any sane person with healthy self-preservation, I tried kicking.
That's when I heard the humming. And the screaming. Also, the tap-tapping of the wall, like a leaky faucet, or a drum.
I heard indistinct voices a lot too— there was a lot of yelling and barking. I was used to that, I know I am but I don't remember how. It was soothing in a way, because silence wasn't something I enjoyed unless it was voluntary, and this most definitely was not. I wanted to speak, I knew how, but the movements just wouldn't happen. Instead of panicking like I thought was the normal response, I simply didn't bother.
By this point I'd realised that here, wherever here was, I wasn't allowed to do anything until there was more stimuli. It wasn't scary anymore.
Sometimes the walls were poked, sometimes there was humming. More often than not, I felt utterly bloated, like I'd drunk way too much water in one go, but the warm feeling I got from it made up for the discomfort. I didn't know what it was, but it was okay, because I was safe here.
I fell asleep a lot, and it was on one such interval that the little place I was in began squeezing me even worse, and the warm water around me suddenly began to overflow. I wanted to scream, because I felt like I was drowning, and something hard hit me, and it hurt and I wanted to cry, and I started squirming again, and I could hear screaming, but it wasn't like before, it was like death and dying and I hated it, so so much.
The feeling lasted a lot longer than I cared for it to, and then there was a flood of green warmth, and I felt sleepy again, and the hurt vanished and I didn't want to scream or cry anymore. I fell in love with that green.
Another long while passed, but not as long as the 'before'. The Green Warmth flooded me again, and I wanted to smile or laugh, but just like crying, I couldn't. I wanted to reach out and grab it but I couldn't and this time, I wasn't ready to sit there docilely and let it escape.
I began kicking and squirming and doing all sorts of complicated yoga poses, and the Walls, not something that would take abuse lying down, proceeded to treat me like toothpaste and squeezed.
The Green Warmth touched my head, and then pulled, helping me escape the Walls, and then, like breaking the surface of the ocean after a near-drowning experience, I breathed.
I was so focussed on breathing, everything else stopped mattering. All that mattered was in, out, in out in out in out.
It'd been such a long time since I could breathe, and only now did I wonder how I'd survived without doing it.
Then someone slapped me, and I flinched, startled. I didn't cry, because I never did, and it's not like it hurt much. Then I heard voices clearly, without it sounding like I had a bubble around my brain for the first time in forever, and I wanted to smile, but I couldn't. You wouldn't believe how hard I tried, but I just couldn't.
It was scary, but not too scary.
I opened my eyes and everything was a blur, but that was alright because all someone had to do was hand me my glasses and I'd be able to see. Still the voices talked, and then someone held me, carried me and plopped me on a bed.
The Walls weren't there anymore and for that I was grateful. I was tired, so I went to sleep.
You know that little instant just before you go to sleep, and you've got the tail end of a thought, a very important one, and you know you're going to forget it in the morning? Just before I really fell asleep, my nose picked up something, something that smelled a lot like when mum left the oven on and the apple pie was burned to a crisp, like the wood we burned outside when we went to the family home in the winter, like the chemistry practicals to make orange liquids.
Sulphur. Smoke. Ash.
I fell asleep before I could think anymore.
The next time I felt awake enough to do anything except whimper and groan because I was hungry…
Or feel utterly humiliated when someone held me and burped me and I vomited all the milk they gave me onto their clothes…
Or when I had to go to the bathroom but I couldn't move and I held it in for as long as possible but my bladder had decidedly other, less palatable plans and I had an 'accident'…
I began to actually wonder where on earth I was, why excessively tall people were bathing, clothing, feeding and burping me, what demented sort of situation I'd gotten myself into, and whether there were any murder charges pressed on the driver. I also wondered where on earth the walls were, why no one was handing me my glasses, why I was gurgling instead of asking questions, and why the smell of sulphur and ash still clung to me like a second skin.
I had a lot of questions and not a lot of answers.
There was also a lot of hunger, and not always someone to feed me something. On occasion, I was fed when I wasn't hungry, and very often, I was transported from one soft blanket to another, and the people—there were way too many to count—carrying me would usually snap something indistinct to the people around them.
I was sleepy so often that I didn't have much time to get bored.
Eventually, the smell of sulphur faded, although the ash still clung to the air and the people and me, and would stay with me until the day I died.
There were a lot of trees, and many a time I heard birds, and I sort of wondered whether I'd been abducted by forest nymphs, or the Erl-king. Senseless thoughts like these flitted across my brain for a very long time, but I can't tell you if it had always been like that, or if it only began after the Walls evicted me.
I'd never once thought I'd died, because there was never a time I couldn't remember, except for when I was asleep. It might seem silly, because even though I knew I was far too small, far too dependent and far too helpless than I'd ever been before in my life, I didn't so much rationalize it so much as just not think about it.
I wasn't in denial, I was just really sleepy. All the time.
I was in the same place now, I could tell. And by same place I mean I hadn't been moved to a different location for a while now, longer than ever before.
There were always strange coloured blobs coming in and taking care of me, and I appreciated it, I really did, because I'd always thought it would be brilliant if someone else could wash my hair for me and this was just an extension of that.
I think, with all that, it took a surprisingly long time for me to realize that I was a baby.
More importantly, a baby that apparently didn't have any parents because not once had I seen the same people take care of me.
Or, well, blobs.
But if I squinted, I could sort of make out some of their features, and while quite a few of them had black hair and eyes and pale skin, none of them were the same.
On occasion I saw the same faces and so I named them Pretty Face, Frowny and Absolutely Smashed.
I saw them a grand total of six times in the last few months, by which time I could roll over and establish some sort of sleep cycle that didn't mean sleeping all hours of the day. The blurs started to become clearer without squinting till I could see perfectly, and that hasn't happened since I was ten years old, so I freaked out.
Like, proper screaming and yelling, no crying as usual, and generally acting like a normal baby.
Pretty Face and Absolutely Smashed came rushing into my nursery and began panicking, but by then I'd already calmed down.
Not a lot scared me because my personality was far too laidback to take much seriously, and I was used to not crying because of, not only the ideals I was raised with, but also because of the fact that I had two brothers who depended on me, and while you could argue that that was just me being strong for them, it had simply become a part of my personality.
But this clear vision actually made me start thinking, and then I actually tried to listen to what Absolutely Smashed was saying, but I couldn't understand a thing beyond 'aglarbaglurbagayufafa', which I was fairly certain wasn't a word.
For the first time since Green Warmth, I was scared.
I was not okay with being incapable of understanding and moving and smiling and eating solid food and talking and clothing myself.
So the consequent amount of effort I put into being able to crawl was far more monumental than anything I'd ever done. I managed it, but I couldn't remember how long it took me or whether it was normal, but judging by the deeper scowl on Frowny's face, I'm assuming it wasn't very normal.
Oh well. I'd never cared for other people's opinion of me enough to really be affected by this anyway.
Eventually, I began crawling, and then I went exploring like a good indoctrinated servant of Dora the Explorer, and it was hell on my knees until I began to use the warmth around me to lessen the pain.
In my forays, I found a mirror, but it was too high up and so, using my assumed cuteness, I beckoned one of the many many many interchangeable babysitters towards me and made them pick me up.
He had a nice smile and rough hands, but an extremely familiar face, and not one I'd seen since I'd become a baby. I pondered this as he lifted me easily and held me in front of the mirror. I looked and I instantly began cooing because I was absolutely adorable!
I had wide black eyes and black hair like many of my babysitters and my past life as well. But unlike the me from before, I had completely pale skin, not even the sign of the slightest tanning, and the most pinch-able cheeks ever, with them all soft and round and chubby. I was a pudgy baby, but not horrendously so and I looked so serious it just made me look cuter.
I turned to my human slave and smiled, and I could and it was awesome because finally finally I felt like myself. I was a smiler and a laugher. I always laughed and snickered and chuckled and guffawed, and smiling seemed like the first step. I tried laughing at his cooing face, but it just came out like very amused gurgling.
Still, progress is progress, right?
I've lately taken to pointing at things and tilting my head in a questioning manner to get Lackey #1 to slowly enunciate every syllable of what it was in whatever language these people spoke. On occasion, Pretty Face does the same, but Absolutely Smashed is usually too smashed to be able to help.
Frowny just grunts a lot and seems to despise existence, but he still sits next to my crib whenever he's around and I sort of find that really sweet. He clearly enjoys it when I babble to him, and I'm currently in the middle of recounting The Goblet Of Fire to him in English, but he obviously thinks I'm being an unintelligible baby so we both have fun.
Pretty Face has been around a lot more often than before and I really like her! Sure, she enjoys tickling me sadistically far too much, and she has a habit of feeding me the same mushed up food day in and day out (I like carrots, don't get me wrong, but that much carrot? Even Bugs Bunny can't handle that much!), and she tugs my hair when she's combing it, but other than that, she's awesome!
It's a pity she smells of sulphur and metal, because otherwise she would be my favourite babysitter.
As it stands, Slave (the one who lifted me to the mirror) is my favourite because he keeps giving me solid sweets. He ostensibly isn't supposed to, but when I was a baby the first time around and when my brothers were babies, mum used to feed us chocolate and cheese by the time our first few teeth showed up. Our teeth were perfectly fine and I like sweets, so I shall not complain.
Plus, I have cravings like a pregnant Chi-Chi, and he sates them. Love doesn't even begin to describe my feelings.
Also, as my brain often does, it wanders off topic and begins nit-picking details for later perusal while I blabbered on to him in adorable spastic panda impressions, as he laughed and cuddled me and tried to steal my chocolate.
I've always wanted an older brother…
Anyway, the sweets taste weird but not in a bad way, leading me to believe that I wasn't in any country I'd ever tasted the food of. That ruled out the majority of Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, South Asia and most of Western Europe. They were all mostly pale, so I could rule out nearly all of Africa and most of Australia.
About 65 different countries left to rule out. Joy.
When I wasn't trying to remember all the places on the map, I was trying to walk, (and succeeding, thank God) and by the time I got to my first birthday, I could mostly understand what people were saying and decided to leave the house.
Which was easier said than done because my multiple babysitters, that took care of me in twos and threes, seemed to always know when I was trying to escape, and while I loved Yellow Eyes #4 and Idiot #21, I kicked, pinched and screeched as hard as I could because I wanted to go outside.
Back in my old home, my dad had to force me to leave the house because I did nothing but sit inside and read (which is also coincidentally the reason I wore glasses). Here, I wanted to see the outside, look outside the window and smell fresh air, but the windows in this house were rarely opened and I wasn't allowed to go near them let alone gesture for them to lift me towards them.
I crossed my arms and pouted for nearly two hours before the babysitting guard changed and Slave showed up, bringing with him round doughy balls filled with sweet paste. The girl with him, now dubbed Purple Tattoos, started cooing at me and then said one word that made me want to hit my head on the wall repeatedly for being so stupid.
Japan? I was in Japan?
I'd always wanted to go to Japan and now, I was in Japan! I started giggling madly and clapping like a retarded seal, but I'm sure it was adorable. Slave laughed with me and said something to the effect of "Well, isn't someone excited to see me!"
But he said Ore-sama, and I know that that's a really arrogant way of referring to oneself. Oh my God, life is going to be so much easier now that I have context to work with! I'd basically been obsessed with manga and anime since I was thirteen and, if you count Yu-Gi-Oh, then ever since I was four!
Slave picked me up and sat me down on his lap, tickling my sides and making me squeal in high-pitched giggles, laughing at my happiness.
Give me a few minutes—this is becoming home.
Nearly three months after I realised that I was in Japan, I could understand everything people said around me, I'd reached the bit where Harry, Ron and Hermione escape Gringotts on the back of a dragon in the story I was telling Frowny, and Pretty Face was pregnant.
"Are you excited Akito-chan? You're going to be a big sister!" she said with a beatific, if nervous, smile.
Pretty Face is my mother?
I looked up at her in utter stupefication and Frowny closed my mouth.
"It is impolite to stare Akito-chan."
"Sorry," I responded reflexively.
"Don't apologise," he admonished.
"Sorry," I said, mind doing a valiant impression of a broken tape-recorder.
Wow. Just, wow.
So, my new mother was apparently excessively negligent, hadn't once bothered to call herself Okaa-san in my presence and is apparently going to have my little sibling, all before I knew who my father was?
I hope it isn't Absolutely Smashed.
He's, you know, absolutely smashed. Not a very good male role model.
And I'm still confused.
If she's my mother, why isn't she around more often? She can't be working such long hours that I don't see her for months on end! Although I suppose it must be a pretty high paying job considering the number of babysitters she must have hired over the last year and a half…
Either way, she doesn't seem the neglecting type so it must be pretty important, whatever she does.
"Your father and I wanted you to be the first to know, because you're going to have to take care of him, okay?" she said, running an awkward hand through my shoulder-length hair.
I'm actually really excited about this!
I love my brothers and Kami-sama do I miss them. You wouldn't believe the number of nights I've spent just staring at the ceiling and wondering how they're doing and what mum's cooking and what dad's yelling at my brothers for and whether they're okay without me. I could cry, and sometimes I did, but it isn't in me to be a depressed little muppet for too long, so I tend to ignore it and just…
Just never forget them.
And now, I get to have more?
"I will!" I squealed with the brightest grin on my face.
"That's my girl," Frowny said in his rumbly voice.
Pretty Face smiled at me happily, Frowny smirked proudly and suddenly, I wondered how I didn't notice they were married.
Pretty Face—okay, Okaa-san—got maternity leave I suppose, which is good considering she looks like she's swallowed a beach ball.
She took me grocery shopping with her, and I finally saw the outside.
It's like stepping into a picture-postcard happy place, complete with wires hanging from poles, maze-like zig-zaggy streets and houses, bustling market places, freshly-painted-this-morning and chipped-a-century-ago fences and walls, a million little pockets of trees and bushes, and an eclectic, harried, constantly-moving group of people with interweaving agendas and mingling lives.
Okaa-san seems to be pretty popular here, in this overwhelming community of home, because several people stop and greet her on the street.
She asked me to introduce myself to one of them and I did so with as much enthusiasm as I put into everything, except getting things done on time.
"Good morning Oba-san, I'm Akito!" I beamed, bowing and nearly toppling over. Coordination isn't something toddlers seem to have…and if the words were garbled, no one needed to know.
That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
"My, what a happy child," she exclaimed, almost shocked into a stupor.
Is…is being happy not normal?
Okaa-san smiled mysteriously and talked a bit about vegetables before calling out a goodbye and moving along, weaving through the crowd like a veteran. I clumsily kept pace, bumping into nearly everyone like a new born foal.
I'd like to point out that I have absolutely no idea what my last name is; neither Frowny nor Pretty Face seem to think I need to be privy to such pertinent information. I guess I'll find out eventually, probably when they tell my little sibling, whenever he decides to show up.
We get to the market place and I'm hit with a mind shattering pang of homesickness because, Kami-sama, the last time I'd seen the market place was over three years ago! But I blinked and there was no sand, no desert sun blinding everyone, no little brother's hands held forcefully in my sweaty ones…
Instead there was green and so many people and children chasing each other around and…
And people jumping on the roofs. Like ninja.
I tugged on Okaa-san's kimono and pointed at the Roof-jumpers.
"How?" I asked curiously, bumping into someone I'm sure was called Kumishi Kaeri and apologising with wide-eyed sheepishness.
"Ah," she said, turning away from the fishes on Hibiki-san's stall to look at what I was talking about. "They're roof-hopping. They use chakra to push off the surface and then use that momentum to reach the next surface, cling to it using chakra and then repeat the process."
"Oh," I said dumbly.
She tutted at one of the fishes and picked up a parcel, paid for it, and moved on to the next stall. "Don't get lost Akito-chan."
I traipsed after her and wondered at her inability to comprehend that little children aren't supposed to know what 'momentum' or 'process' means, let alone chakra, and the only reason I know any of that is purely guesswork and language patterns. But, well, she looks really young, which is another reason why I never even considered she could be my mother, so maybe she sees children as tiny adults?
A lot of people I knew used to do that, think that children understood as soon as you told them stuff, or that if you asked politely they'd listen because of course, every child understands what 'consequences' and 'illogical' means.
Regardless, I suppose I should be grateful I was obsessed with Naruto or I'd never know—
"Miko-chan!" a loud voice exclaimed. "You look like a whale!"
A beautiful red-haired woman appeared out of nowhere and nearly startled me (nearly, because I had two brothers who loved trying to scare me and I was immune to these kinds of things).
"Kushina-chan," Okaa-san smiled. "I thought you were still at the border?"
Kushina—KUSHINA—waved away her words dismissively. "Nah, my platoon just got back. We won't be going out for a while."
She—Uzumaki Kushina, third Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, my favourite female character and half of my OTP, the Naruto's mother and all around kickass shinobi—finally spotted me and I tried to look a lot less shocked and awed of her because, damn, the anime did not do her justice.
The way her hair caressed the wind and gently rolled down like a waterfall to her waist, the grin on her face that lit up her blindingly violet eyes, and the way she held herself, so calm and bubbly and graceful and right, the warmth surrounding her exuding calm and the laughter in the crinkles around her mouth…
Yep, I can totally see how Minato fell in love with her.
I am such a fangirl.
"And who's this then?" she asked, tilting her head curiously.
"Kushina-chan, I'd like you to meet my daughter. Akito-chan, allow me to introduce you to your godmother, Uzumaki Kushina."
"Yo!" Kushina-ba-chan practically hollered in my face. "She's so small Miko-chan! And she looks so cute too. She doesn't take after Fugu-face at all!"
"Please refrain from insulting my husband in public Kushina-chan," Okaa-san said with twinkling eyes.
She pouted and I was in actual proper shock.
No really, horrified shock.
I'd not only learned that Kushina was my godmother, but that my mother was her best friend Mikoto and that means that I'm an Uchiha.
I was going to have a baby brother.
An Uchiha baby brother.
Uchiha Mikoto's son.
"Oi, are you broken?" Kushina-ba-chan poked my cheek as I stood there, frozen in happy stupefication. So of course, I said the first thing that came to mind.
"I'm in love," I said breathily.
And then I smiled, because when in doubt, pretend the problem doesn't exist.
This was so cool!
I am so internally fangirling right now! She's there, and she's there, and they're both there and I can't…can't even…
Quick, distract yourself!
"Okaa-san, th'bunny wars've begun," I intoned solemnly.
"…that's nice Akito-chan."
They looked at me weirdly.
My job here is done.
Kushina-ba-chan then laughed, and it was like the sun was shining brighter.
And no, I'm not biased. What are you looking at?
"I like you kid! I'll come visit sometime. After all, I am your godmother!"
I nodded and grinned widely. "Bye-bye, Kushina-ba-chan!" I chirped, waving wildly and completely without dignity. Okaa-san had to clear her throat to remind me that there was a time and place to fangirl, and outside my room in broad daylight was neither the time nor the place.
We walked away, and Okaa-san began buying cooking supplies left right and centre. She bought enough to feed an army and then some, and then says it "should be enough for a couple of days."
Wow. Just, wow.
We went back home and I helped her put the stuff away.
Keep in mind I am a one and a half year old, so the amount of helping I could do was limited to moving the plastic bag so that Okaa-san had easier access to the stuff inside. She put all the stuff away and began peeling the carrots with a knife. She left the rest of the knives on the left side of the cutting board, where I was coincidentally seated.
Child safety, you're clearly not wanted here.
It's a good thing I'm mentally 19 years old or this would have been dangerous.
Okaa-san began humming a tune and I began humming it with her. I remember it from the time in the Walls, which I'm presuming was the womb. Now that I think about it, a lot of this makes sense.
We finished humming the song and she smiled at me before moving onto the potatoes. I'm assuming we're having beef stew tonight because she's left the meat in a sieve in the sink.
This seems like a good a time as any to play twenty questions.
"Okaa-san, where's I born?"
"On the battlefield." Another potato added to the peeled pile.
"And then you bring here?"
"No, the platoon that retreated brought you here." She picked up a knife and began chopping the spuds into even blocks.
"Oh. You fighting?"
"Yes." She took the meat out of the strainer.
"Was I on'y baby bring back?"
"No, a few others as well. Two of them are your cousins."
She continued chopping and the sound soon faded into the background as I sat down and thought.
Okaa-san wasn't like any mother from my old home, my old world.
She left knives around toddlers, she'd obviously been in battle while pregnant (I remember the hurt back in the womb and I wonder if I nearly died that day) and didn't even seem to mildly care that she'd practically abandoned me for the first year of my life.
I was strangely okay with this. I didn't want a replacement mother and Uchiha Mikoto was quite possibly the best person to call Okaa-san. She didn't feel like my mother, but she definitely felt like family.
I liked that.
Fugaku was like the really nice uncle that got you the most meaningful presents on your birthday because he knew you best, and alright, I suppose I should call him Otou-san.
I loved them both, and Purple Tattoos and Slave and Lackeys #1-15 and Idiots #1-21 and Yellow Eyes and Brown Eyes. They held me and bathed me, clothed me and changed me, endured my burping and pooping and babbling and whining, and for that I loved them.
But now to think about exactly when in the timeline I was.
There's no Itachi, unless I took his place, which would be absolutely awful by the way, and considering Kushina-ba-chan said that she'd been on the frontlines, that would mean the Third Shinobi War was in full swing, doubly so, because unless pregnant women were encouraged to fight (counterintuitive if they needed children to keep the numbers high) then that means that, not only was it necessary for them to have every able-bodied shinobi fighting (meaning they desperately needed the numbers) but if one or more of them fell pregnant, they were to continue fighting because less fighters on the frontlines meant setbacks.
If that makes any sense.
At least, that's what I'm assuming but I don't generally tend to assume wrong.
So somewhere way before an end of the war is in sight, but not too far because Itachi is about to be born, and didn't the war end by the time he was three or four? Unless, that was when it began in earnest.
Why did Kishimoto have to be so vague!?
I was brought out of my musings (read: ranting) by the sound of water being poured into a pot. I watched as she marinated the beef and left it to the side and then marinated the vegetables too. It was like art, how even though by all rights she should have been a bit lopsided due to the weight of my baby brother, she was as graceful as a ballet dancer; no wasted movements, perfectly precise and effortlessly flawless.
It was like watching a cooking show on TV.
I miss TV. And the internet. Especially the internet. I miss my novels and my laptop and my friends and my school (no matter how bad the toilets were or how bad the standard of teaching was) and my family and my room.
Okaa-san put everything in the pot, separating all the different vegetables expertly and then, covering it with a lid, lifted me off the counter and took me outside into the yard where we usually hung our laundry.
Or at least, the babysitters did.
"Akito-chan," she began, leaving me very little time to savour the pleasantly crisp air. "I'm going to teach you how to be a shinobi. It's a very important duty for both our village and our clan. Do you accept?"
Wait, hold on, what?
I only just got used to the idea of being in a world where jumping nine feet in the air is normal and wall climbing is for newbies! You can't expect me to make a decision this big so easily! And I'm one and a half! Honestly, I'll just tell her that I'll think about it, keep my options open…
And now that I've made my decision, let's focus on all the reasons why 'yes' was a better answer than 'no'.
I'm a girl. I'm the eldest. There's going to be a massacre. I don't want to be helpless. I want respect. I want that headband. I like the idea of breathing fire. I want to do those crazy acrobatics.
But then there's the whole problem with being a shinobi: I actually have to work for it. There will always be someone stronger than me. I'll have to kill. I might go insane.
Oh well. Too late to back out now. And hey, I've always performed better under pressure anyway. What's more like a pressure cooker than being a shinobi?
"Good," she said with a nod, face minutely relaxing. "I expected as much. We'll begin with some simple stretches and then I'll teach you to dance."
"Um…" I started, ready to remind her that I'm only a toddler and therefore won't have any coordination.
"Is there a problem?" she asked with a raised eyebrow, and I decided that, you know what? Sometimes, there's no way to argue with people.
I graciously accepted defeat. Craziness wins once more. "None. Let's do this!"
Dancing is useful for a lot of things like balance, flexibility, speed and espionage (in the obviously likely event I have to perform the flamenco for a massive audience). I had to keep reminding myself this as my limbs became more rebellious than Russia in 1917.
We stretched and she danced, she corrected me and I stumbled multiple times, what with being one and a half and all that. My arms and legs were pudgy and stubby, toddlers aren't supposed to have coordination and not to mention, while I wasn't a clumsy graceless leprechaun in my old world, I was never flexible or fast.
She sighed at my inability to compete with her intrinsic grace, so I shall now contemplate seppuku. Or, you know, try again later when the warmth around me isn't working overtime to fix all the pulled muscles, or at least, the ones I can feel. There's bound to be some that I'll miss.
Now that I think about it, I've been doing that ever since I could crawl, using this warmth inside to heal myself. I suppose this would be chakra right? So redirecting it works as a kind of cushion or a really fast acting salve I suppose.
Bears further reading. And by further reading, I mean being able to read at all.
As if reading my mind, Okaa-san lifted me up and carried me inside the house. She set me down on the sitting mat and went off, fetching a mini-blackboard sort of thing and a box of chalk.
"What're you doing?" I asked curiously. Instead of answering like any normal person, she neatly drew what I'm assuming is hiragana because it looked familiar and pronounced the letter. Then she made me draw it out too.
The squiggles and giggles that ensued were both an exercise in humiliation (curse you stubby fingers!) and a fun mother-daughter bonding session.
The stew was ready by the time we finished the 'vowel' row (and by finished, I mean we both gave up) and she cleared away the chalk powder and the mini-blackboard, brought the pot to the table, brought bowls and chopsticks and then proceeded to teach me how to use them.
My fingers ached by this point and no amount of chakra-rechannelling could get rid of all of the pain. Okaa-san then stuffed a napkin in my frock collar and fed me the soft vegetables and then helped me drink the soup.
Insert satisfied smirk here.
For the next few weeks or so, Okaa-san taught me an entire dance sequence and, while I knew the steps, I could barely stumble through them.
She took me grocery shopping twice every week, because we actually did eat a lot, not that I'm complaining. I mean, she must know what she's doing right? She's a kunoichi. That implies a certain level of knowledge for how much we're supposed to eat.
I can only assume it has something to do with our chakra, and how it must metabolise food faster. As I understood it, chakra was energy, so fuel right?
At least, that's how I've rationalised it, and I can't really ask because no one I know eats any less, so maybe everyone in this world eats a lot?
I cannot wait until I can read!
I think we've gotten through the 46 hiragana characters, although I keep mixing up the ne and the mi, and the entire ga and ja row are such a hassle to remember. And I still can't really draw any of them, what with still being a toddler and all. Oh well, practice makes perfect right? Right?
We've gone over some kanji as well, and I can write my full name and introduce myself, although the legibility of it is most definitely in question, because while I know what I'm writing, not everyone does. Case in point, Okaa-san keeps hitting me with her decorative fan.
"I didn't ask you to reproduce chicken scratch, Akito-chan," she chastised mildly, not really expecting more out of me, but teaching me anyway because, presumably, she has no idea what else to do.
"Sorry," I said.
"An Uchiha doesn't apologise."
It's getting warmer now, and the last time the weather was mild and cosy, I'd just begun crawling. Progress!
I can run without falling flat on my face 90% of the time now, and I never thought I'd be excited by this. I hated running before, but now I can't get enough of it. I still fall down a lot, but sacrifices must needs be made.
When we go to the market place I run around like a mad puppy, tripping all over the place, bumping into around a dozen people and apologizing loudly. I love every minute of it!
It was on one such running-bumping-'sorry!' spree that I bumped into the most awesome character in the entire series, and no, I am absolutely not biased. What are you looking at?
Namikaze Minato, Yondaime Hokage, fastest shinobi alive (at least up until everyone was about as powerful as Hashirama by the tail-end of the series, and I never really paid attention after Naruto showed up to save the day in the Fourth War) and the best Hokage ever.
That isn't bias. You know it's true: Hashirama had a gambling problem, Tobirama was discrimination personified, Hiruzen was a closet pervert (as Naruto so aptly put it) and Tsunade was a drunk gambler.
But anyway, it doesn't matter because the minute I saw him I hugged him. Yes, completely irrational, but he's my favourite character of all time. I'm allowed to fangirl just a little bit right?
Taking it in stride like the awesome human being he is, he smiled and said, "And who do we have here?"
"Uchiha Akito, Awesome-sama!" I replied promptly, eyes sparkling and grin threatening to split my face in two.
He looked bemused but still so nice and warm and like sunshine—"Kushina-chan told you about me I'm assuming."
"…Then why are you hugging me?" he asked, now really confused and just a tad bit worried about my stranger-danger senses.
"'Cause you're awesome," I informed him, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, which it so totally is.
He chuckled a bit and then detached me from him. I looked at him and smiled excessively happily and he smiled back.
"Well Akito-chan, I'm Namikaze Minato and it is a pleasure to meet you." He gave me a little bow and I bowed back, far deeper than his.
"Me too, Awesome-sama!"
"What are you doing out here all alone?" he asked, concerned but not overly concerned.
"Okaa-san's buyin' fish't Hibiki-san's stall. I'm bein' a child and 'scaping while I still have the chance. D'you like fish?"
"Uh, yes I do. Your vocabulary is really good for a two year old."
"Thank you, Awesome-sama!"
"Just Minato-san is fine."
"How d'you know Kushina-ba-chan?" I asked, head tilting. Best not raise any undue suspicions.
He turned a very fetching shade of pink as he squeaked, "Ah, that's…we're, a, friend—ly acquaintances…?"
I nodded sagely."So you're in love!"
I take it back. Red suits him better. "What!? I, that's…maybe?" Much spluttering ensued.
"Ooh, can I come to the wedding?" I asked excitedly. Better secure my invitation now; these kinds of events sell out pretty fast, after all. Yes, that makes perfect sense. Shh. "You make such a cute couple and—"
"W-where did you get the idea for marriage from?"
Think fast, you can't—
"Oi Minato! Are you hitting on my cute goddaughter?"
We both turn around at that loud voice and come face to face with the other half of the cutest couple in existence.
I am definitely not biased. Obviously.
He started fidgeting with the hem of his sleeves as he stuttered, "K-Kushina-chan! No, I wasn't, we were just talking…"
"About?" she asked, narrowing her eyes at his twitching form suspiciously.
"How I'm too young to thinkin' about marriage 'cause I'm not ment'ly prepared for all th'problems 't would...cat'lyse." I nodded, trying to make my words seem more credible than my squeaky voice would allow.
Kushina-ba-chan and Minato-sama just…kind of froze for a second.
"…Yes, that. We were definitely talking about that. I'm glad you've taken it to heart Akito-chan," Minato-sama recovered, pretending rather obviously that what I'd said hadn't caught him completely by surprise.
"Well, you said it Minato-sama, and everythin' you say is true!" I cheered, smiling even brighter as Kushina-ba-chan glared at him and yelled, "What lies have you been feeding here you idiot?!"
Minato-sama protested weakly and she hit him over the head.
Ah, young love!
…I feel like a matchmaking grandma.
As I watched Minato-sama become redder and redder with each passing second in Kushina-ba-chan's presence, and her hair get wilder and wilder until they were standing on end (I wish I could do that with my hair! It looks so cool!), Okaa-san decided to intervene.
I know for a fact Okaa-san doesn't worry about where I wander off to because she always knows exactly where I am.
It may not be because she's a sensor, though I don't know whether she is for sure, or because she has the sharingan, which I haven't seen her use but two of my aunts were discussing something and it came up so I know she has it, or just good old fashioned mother's intuition.
Or, of course, the fact that all the vendors might as well have eyes at the back of their heads.
Point is, I never worried that I'd get lost because, barring the fact that I was eighteen before my tragically ridiculous end and thus actually knew how to find my way back home, Okaa-san always came to find me.
"Having another lovers' spat are we?" she said with sarcastic playfulness.
"Miko-chan!" Kushina-ba-chan exclaimed indignantly, her face trying valiantly to match her hair, "I was defending your daughter from this idiot's brainwashing and I don't even get a thank you?"
Okaa-san quirked an eyebrow and said casually, "Is that what you were doing? It looks more like you just wanted a one-on-one with Minato-kun, if you know what I mean."
They both spluttered.
Have I mentioned how awesome Okaa-san is? You wouldn't think she had a sense of humour, what with her being an Uchiha and everything, but then she comes up with things like this and I have my faith in the clan restored.
Kushina-ba-chan finally managed a, "That's not how it is at all!"
"So, this isn't a result of repressed sexual frustration?" she asked innocently.
"Miko-chan!" Kushina-ba-chan looked scandalised. Minato-sama may or may not have been going into cardiac arrest.
This lovely conversation ended with Okaa-san somehow getting both of them to come to our house for dinner and with Minato-sama to carry the groceries. Kushina-ba-chan let me ride on her shoulders, and it was epic.
We entered the Uchiha compound, which isn't so much a compound as it is a lot of houses with connecting back gardens and shared yards. The houses are just as haphazardly built as all the rest of Konoha, but generally, the front lawns are neater and the porches are usually swept. You could say that the clan has a shared OCD for keeping everything ordered and neat, but that doesn't mean they're organized. Structured chaos best describes the Uchiha compound, and the Uchiha that dwell within it reflect this.
We're a fiery bunch neck deep in traditions and obsessed with our passions. You could call us pyromaniacal nerds with dignity. I look at this clan, those cousins or nephews of mine that are throwing mud balls at each other, those nieces or cousins that are gossiping around the curb about the latest hotshot at the Academy, the uncles and aunts having a lovers' tiff or a nice walk to celebrate another year of bearing each other's' idiosyncrasies, the grandmas lolling on the porch and moaning about the heat, and I wonder how things could go so horribly wrong that a 13 year old had to kill them all.
And then I shrug it off because it hasn't happened yet, but I put a sticky note about it on my 'Things to Plot About' board at the back of my mind.
I tried keeping up with what these three delightful humans with me were talking about, but it was fairly obvious that I'm not going to get anywhere—inside jokes are hard to understand when you're not a part of them. So I tuned out and began waving enthusiastically at all the cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandmas and grandpas I came across.
They invariably replied with, if not equal fervour, then at least comparable spirit.
Okaa-san is the clan head's wife so she has a duty to have what I call Meet-and-Greet sessions with most if not all the families that Otou-san is representing. I like to tag along on these forays into my extended family's domain, and I absolutely adore being young again because I can talk like a kid, babble if I must, and I actually have the energy to play with two to seven year olds, something I'd lacked as a teenager no matter how much I enjoyed it.
I love children. My main goal in life was to get a stable well-paying job, get married and have three children. In the meantime, any and all children that I could play with, I did.
I preferred spending time with children to people my age (I mean when I was 18, not now obviously) so maybe that's why being a kid came so easily to me. I'll bet most people would find this entire thing a bit jarring, but really, I'd spent the majority of my first year sleeping and eating.
By the time I actually realised I was in a world filled with shinobi and bad parenting, I was already used to it. I mourned yes, but I am very good at compartmentalising.
Not to say that one day I might not burst, but I've generally found that screaming loudly in my pillow tends to take the edge off the pain.
Therapists? Who needs them when I've got a fluffy blanket and Sweets à la Slave?
When we reached the house, Minato-sama and Okaa-san put away the groceries as Kushina-ba-chan sets the table. Being as useful as PTS-Sakura, I do absolutely nothing but stand there and applaud her hard work. Loudly.
"Go Kushina-ba-chan! You show those cups who's boss!" I hollered, clapping like a retarded seal.
"Pipe down shrimp! You make it sound like I'm having a spar with'em," she yelled back, embarrassed.
"You'd win," I said, with complete faith in her. "The cups've got nothin' on you!"
"…What exactly are you smoking?"
I giggled infectiously and then tried for a serious monotone. "Don't worry, the crazy's not contagi's. At least, we think so."
I twitched and she held her breath, and then we both burst into uncontrollable laughter for no reason at all.
The best kind of laughter, in my opinion.
Okaa-san had apparently shooed Minato-sama out of the kitchen and he joined us in our insanity.
It was awesome!
We went from talking about the merits of twin braids as opposed to four, the significance of logic versus the awesome powers of anmitsu and, of course, the inevitable 'Ramen is actually Kami-sama' debate that, judging by Minato-sama's long suffering sigh, is a long exhausted and frequently brought up argument.
I loved every minute of it. Slowly, the 2D characters became real people, and I pinched myself because this seemed like a really outlandish dream all of a sudden.
Before I could do any more damage to myself, Okaa-san called both of them to help her carry the serving dishes, and then we all sat down to the most amazing smelling meal I've ever sat down to.
Okaa-san excused herself in the middle of eating, presumably to go to the bathroom (something she's been doing a lot more frequently lately. Looks like baby Itachi is pushing down on her bladder.) The meal was light, fluffy and fun.
They should come to eat with us more often.
They said their goodbyes, with a lot of blushing on Minato-sama's part, denial on Kushina-ba-chan's side and evil smirks of mirth from Okaa-san. With a last hair ruffle from the tall blond man and a hug from Kushina-ba-chan, they left.
Okaa-san cleaned up tiredly.
"I think we'll skip today's physical training Akito-chan." She cracked her neck as she put away the last plate. "Your little sibling is making me very tired."
"Okay, Okaa-san," I smiled, toddling away to get the mini-blackboard and the box of chalk as she sat herself down.
As I wrote down the hiragana she called out laconically, I asked, "Okaa-san decided on name for baby?"
"Hmmm?" she blinked. "If it's a boy, shujin-sama gets to decide. If it's a girl, I do."
"Did you name me?"
"No, he did." She tapped my head with her decorative fan. "Your lines are getting sloppier than usual. Concentrate."
A lull in the conversation and then, when I finally wrote the kanji for 'geki' to her satisfaction, I asked, "If you name the girls, why'd Otou-san name me?"
"It isn't about gender." She stretched a bit, adjusting her position. "Eldest boy and girl he gets to name. I can name the spares."
I tripped over one of the lines at the sexist nature of this revelation, but Okaa-san tapped me with her decorative fan again.
"That's not fair," I said, frowning sadly.
Her eyes grew sad and she smiled at me tiredly, sighing, "Life rarely ever is."
Okaa-san is 18 years old.
Her eyes are ancient.
I worry about her.
Uchiha Mikoto had just finished putting away the laundry when she noticed a kunai wedged in the sliding door frame. Ostensibly, as she had a toddling baby in the house, she should put it away.
On the other hand, it is an Uchiha baby, so it would be fine.
She walked away, wondering what she'd make for dinner. There was some left over soba noodles from last week, but then there was also some tempura in the cooler. Decisions, decisions.
While she stood in the kitchen contemplating this vastly difficult conundrum, she came upon an epiphany.
She was a housewife! Her husband wasn't here! She didn't need to do anything!
Smiling gleefully, she promptly sat down and proceeded to do absolutely nothing. For three hours.
Getting up, the Uchiha matriarch just couldn't take it anymore. She wasn't used to sitting around and doing nothing!
Her daughter screeched and came running into the dining room, panting and telling her that there was a kunai lodged in her foot and could Okaa-san please take it out?
Uchiha Mikoto smiled. And then told the girl to go do it herself after determining that it wasn't too deep.
She was an Uchiha. She could handle it.
Grumbling, the girl left to go find the first aid kit.
Uchiha Mikoto got up to cook dinner.
After all, her daughter could do a lot of things, being an Uchiha and all, but cooking? Please, grown shinobi couldn't handle that.
And besides, Aki-chan had the most adorable face when she ate, like as if every meal her Okaa-san made was the best she'd ever had. Compliments, Mikoto's mother had always said, were to be taken where one could get them.
A/N: My second attempt at an OC, but first at SI. I hope you enjoy! Please tell me whether she's a Mary Sue okay? Shujin-sama is a title for husband. I know that her father's name is Fugaku. J
Edited on 16.01.2017