Originally posted in February 2014
Beta: Enbi. I am so grateful for her help because this chapter was a mess despite me editing it countless times over the years.
Starting Out at Six Feet Under
Prisons without Walls
If I'm correct about what's happening to me at the moment, I'm essentially an aspiring make-up artist and hobbyist writer trying to make it in the Narutoverse that I stupidly did not pay as much attention to as I should have.
This is going to end well.
"Time's almost up," Guruguru said, observing the still forms of Madara and Obito from a distance. They stood with their eyes locked together in a trance-like state, deep inside the elder's genjutsu.
"Yeah," Zetsu replied, conflicted, "Madara chose him, though. If Obito thinks Rin is alive, he might abandon Madara's plan. We can't have that."
"But Obito is our friend, and he loves her," Guruguru sighed.
"He doesn't believe us."
"I don't think I would believe us. What kind of human recovers from that sort of thing?"
"Apparently her," Zetsu shrugged, stroking his chin in contemplation. He thought back to what little jargon his clones had heard from the Kiri-nin; Kirigakure testing something, needing to experiment with human bodies. Could whatever Kiri had done to that girl potentially saved her?
"We should find out what they did. It's certainly interesting, a human that can recover so flawlessly from a fatal wound," Guruguru said. Speech between the clones was unnecessary due to their telepathy, but they enjoyed it all the same, and in time would gain appropriate nicknames from it.
Zetsu hummed in agreement. His thoughts were elsewhere, however. What if Rin were to agree to the plan? Hadn't she seen enough death, going so far as to offer her own life? Wouldn't she want to see a perfect world too? Why couldn't Obito and Rin see that together?
Guruguru tilted his head curiously at the thought. Slowly, a growing amusement filtered through their link. A person like that was useful. Their plan had merit and it would be entertaining. Humans really were so entertaining.
"Has she gone past the perimeter yet?"
"Nearly," Zetsu reached out through his network of clones. "Eh, but chakra like hers isn't hard to track down again. Not that that would ever be a problem for us."
"True, but I'll go anyway."
"If Madara questions your absence, we'll be caught…"
"Not at all." Guruguru began to sink into the ground. "Obito's still mad at us. Madara won't ask me to return yet, and by then I'll already be back."
Would they keep this a secret from Madara?
After all, it wasn't like it was something bad, right? And if it became detrimental to Tsuki no Me, well, that could be dealt with easily too.
The Zetsu would keep it their secret.
"Son of a bitch," I breathlessly repeated again, staring intently at my/her—
Yours. Nohara Rin's. You. Rin.
—reflection, at the face that simultaneously was and wasn't mine. Tentatively, I reached out to touch it, needing some sort of confirmation that this was really me. Her hand followed the path mine made, shaking as it came ever closer. She wore my expression of numb shock that was quickly diffusing into a glassy-eyed fear.
Where was the grown woman with a sickly face, grey eyes, and a shaved head fronted by a bright purple plumage of bangs? I'd always needed glasses, and yet here I could see clearer than I'd ever been able to.
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when my hand broke the water's surface, distorting the mirror image. I flinched at the sensation of the cold water. Though the ripples made it hazy, the reflection of a dark-haired, dark-eyed girl with purple rectangles on her cheeks remained.
I made a noise of surprise. To describe the moment as sobering would have been an understatement.
All Mulan jokes aside, why the hell is my reflection someone I don't know?
While all cues pointed to this person really being me and this body mine, good ol' stubborn me just wasn't going to accept it so easily, so I started thinking (strictly) hypothetically. Say I really am a Naruto character now—which particular one I still have no idea—what do I do from here? Where do I go? I just chucked my headband—
—into the river and declared that I wasn't going to play ninja, which I most certainly intended to stick by. Espionage, seduction, and murder? No thanks, give me back my boring life, please.
Well—I don't want to be dead either, so axe that last part unless I'm actually in a coma headed towards a remarkable recovery...
(Yeah. I know it's too much to ask for.)
Absentmindedly, I cupped water in my hands and began splashing it over my face and neck, scraping at the dry blood there. The sensation did nothing to alleviate my feelings that there might be an off-chance that this could be a dream.
What, exactly, did I know about Naruto, beyond the basics of the show and the main characters? All of the main characters are probably in Konoha—still not going—so that's out. After them, all I know are the Akatsuki and Madara.
Please excuse me while I go laugh my ass off over how well that would turn out. Have the Akatsuki even formed yet? Is the real Uchiha Madara still an old man, or is he dead, or Edo Tensei'd? I need some help here. I doubted any of these people would help me, besides, they were still all shinobi, still all people I didn't want to associate with if I was going to shoot for normal.
But what civilians did I know? The Ichiraku Ramen father and daughter duo?
Goddamnit, did Konoha really have to be central to everything?
Kakashi would help you. Konohagakure would help you.
"Hell no!" I declared, then shoved my head under the water. Although I didn't have any shampoo, I was sure I could dislodge the disgusting, caked-on blood with enough force. I clawed and tugged at it like my life depended on it.
I had to think harder. Surely there was an answer among the plethora of random trivia I knew about Naruto. Any information fresh in my mind would be from the newer episodes I'd starting watching weekly with Claire, and those all had to do with the Fourth Shinobi World War.
Shit, where am I in the timeline? Is this Pre-Time Skip or Shippuden? If this is actually happening to me, I am so, so screwed right now! How am I supposed to live through this when I don't know WHEN and WHERE I am?
The Third Shinobi World War has only just ended.
I raised my dishevelled head from the river with a sharp intake of air.
Elegance. I radiate it.
In all the fanfiction I'd proofread for Claire, her characters usually headed straight for Konoha, or wherever their favourite boytoy happened to be stationed, to get answers. I didn't want to go to Konoha for reasons previously stated and had no favourite character, male or female, to follow around.
Hmm, I guess I'm a bit of a liar since I did disclose Kisame as one, but wasn't the village he came from hailed as the Bloody Mist? Um, no thank you (but thank you Claire for drilling some facts about the series into me)! And I can only imagine he'd be scary as all hell in person. That, and he's potentially in Akatsuki at the moment.
Our meeting would probably go as such: Hey, yeah, I'm from another world where you're a cartoon and I kinda know the future, but not really because I'm the noob that didn't pay attention. Wanna be BFFs? I can be the token helpless female that follows you around, and maybe we'll fall in love and live happily ever after? Insert corny sword and penis joke here. Oh, you're not cool with that? Okay, I'll just leave—whoops I'm dead.
Sounds fun, right? Yeah, no, not for me either. I don't think I'd have the metaphorical balls to go through with the dick joke which takes most of the hilarity out of that, anyway. If I'm going to do everything in my power to avoid being noticed, then the following someone around idea isn't a good one at all.
But really, how insane am I for considering that I'm now a Naruto character? Who am I supposed to be anyway? With my luck, I bet I'm some sort of minor character, I thought wryly. Ha, I'd be okay with being a minor character, though. Is she significant to the plot? Am I the important one now?
(Sweet Jesus, I really hope not. I'm not good at being important.)
I don't think she was, not with what little screen-time she got. She did appear in that last episode, though. Ugh, why wasn't I paying attention again? Who is she?
You are Nohara Rin, chūnin of Konohagakure.
Shoving the wholly sarcastic and totally useless thoughts aside, I put my attention back where it belonged: on anything that would help me get out of this mess. And speaking of messes, I certainly looked like one.
My skin itched like hell. I needed to wash off the gunk that covered me.
So, you will listen? The scent of blood is strong, distinct. The way you are now, no one would have any issues tracking you.
With a shiver, I realized not because it was uncomfortable or gross; I needed to wash it off before someone picked up the scent and tracked me down. This was another thing I somehow just knew, and I was going to follow my gut on it for now; after all, it hadn't steered me wrong quite yet. So far, it was unpleasant being a ninja.
(Note to self: get out of being a ninja.)
Unlikely. This is a necessary part of achieving your goal. Will you give up after you've come this far?
While the air was warm and humid—thankfully; I had no illusions that if it had been any cooler I'd be dead—the river wasn't warm by any means. It was in no way a good idea to just go jumping straight in in case the current was stronger deeper in. I would need to be a little creative here. The front of my skirt was the only part of my outfit that wasn't (mostly) drenched in now dry blood and viscera, so I tore it off entirely and dunked it in the river.
After several minutes of furiously scrubbing my skin raw, I realized this was about as good as it was going to get. While I was no longer completely crusty with dry blood, I looked far from normal. I still appeared like I'd just walked out of a war zone—which, in all likelihood I did. A quick look down at my reflection told me my hair remained filthy, though. Even through the vigorous wash, some parts were still matted with blood.
I'm in Naruto. I'm a Naruto character. I'm in Naruto. These words ran through my mind almost non-stop as I continued to try to figure out what to do next. No matter how I swung it, it made absolutely no sense. How does one just become someone else entirely, let alone an anime character? How was I so sure this wasn't some kind of coma-dream? I was all but struck by lightning. Maybe I was really alive in 'my world,' and all of this was a product of my increasingly insane imagination.
Since I'd already determined I wasn't dead, therefore this wasn't any form of the afterlife, I needed to figure out what was going on. I mean, I didn't die, right?—though I was sure hundreds of millions of volts of electricity surging through my heart should have killed me. I feel like I would definitely know if I did.
Yes, and no.
Sure, I've just been through an entirely traumatic experience, but to consider myself in another world, in another body? Come on. If I really died, this wasn't how reincarnation worked. You don't suddenly get dropped off into an already living body, interrupting somebody's life experience.
But you haven't, not really.
"No, I'm pretty sure I have," I said, annoyed, while closing my eyes and rubbing my temples. It felt like something inside wanted out badly, clawing and tearing inside of my head.
My voice remained rough and choked, any words I spoke bringing pain. Why was I talking anyway? Was it perhaps an attempt to keep myself from going completely off the deep end? That I kept talking to myself spoke volumes about how well the tactic was working.
Grimacing, I stroked my throat and wondered if I could heal it the same way I had my ankle. I seemed to be trained heavily as a—an iryō-nin, after all. It was hard to believe I was seriously thinking that's what I was. Then again, I'd been convincing myself out of meeting canon characters...
You never want to see your family or friends ever again?
Ignoring what I could only describe as lumpy noises in my brain, my eyes caught my reflection as I went to make the seals for my healing technique. I paused. It was hard not to gape at it as I had been doing for god knows how long now. I couldn't tear my eyes away from it every time they glanced across the shimmering water.
One hand hovered over my chest, where according to my memory I should have had a fist-sized, round hole. How was she alive? How was I alive?
I would very much like an answer to that too. N-not that I'm complaining, though!
My whole body froze at the words right next to my ear, and then whipped around wildly, on my feet in a nanosecond. Without thinking, my hand darted to the holster strapped to my thigh, whipping out a knife—
—a-a kunai, that I twirled between my fingers to position correctly. I wonder what disturbed me more, that I could wield a weapon with such ease, or the voice echoing around me.
They had said it right in my ear, and now they were gone? Could anyone move that fast? It simply wasn't possible.
How many times have you seen Minato-sensei do it? This is nothing new.
"Who's there?" I called, instantly regretting how utterly stupid it was of me to do so. Who asks the bad guys if they're out there waiting to pounce? Me. Sigh.
I stood there with my weapon ready, in a fighting stance, ready to lash out at anyone that came my way. My breathing remained harsh and ragged, chest heaving and throat burning.
Too loud. Calm down.
The hand clenching my knife—kunai shook. Yeah, I sure looked real threatening. The light of the moon sitting so brightly in the sky made the point of the kunai glint dangerously. Frankly, it looked more imposing than I did.
Holding it too tightly; you'll overthrow your balance when you thrust, and when you throw it will have minimal accuracy.
But nothing happened. No badass enemy shinobi burst out of the trees at me, or demons, or that little girl out of The Ring, or any other wacky things I could think of. The night remained as silent as it had been, the only sound the rushing of water beside me. That feeling deep in my core that had made me instinctively want to run before wasn't there. Inexplicably, there was no one around that could have said that to me, least of all right in my ear.
There are no chakra signatures. They're gone. Are you listening? Listen, listen, LISTEN! Why won't you listen?
What was that? What in the ever-loving hell was that? Somebody had said, crystal clear and stern and angry, that they wanted to know how I was alive as well. And that they weren't complaining about it, that part said like a child not wanting to be reprimanded. It actually confused me enough to break through my panic. I mean, what? I wasn't complaining either. Not yet, at least.
I felt like I might begin, now that there was a bodiless voice surrounding me.
So, I'm apparently a Naruto character, schizophrenic and/or being haunted? Maybe both? Maybe all? Is it okay to prefer death to this weird reincarnation now?
I'm not ashamed to admit I sat down and tried not to cry. I had no clue about what was happening to me. It was funny at first, the thought that I might have been in an anime, but it was becoming too real. I wanted to go home. I wanted to go home.
It was all wrong.
"Rin, get it together, what are you even thinking?" I slapped my cheeks twice, dragging my fingers down them. The shape of my eyes warped comically as I tugged on the skin there.
Getting caught in this, you're pathetic, the same voice I'd heard moments before told me, sounding loathing and self-loathing, furious and afraid all at once. It was distinctly male. His tone had changed completely. Let me out.
It wasn't in my ear. It was in my head.
Yours is the lesser will. You will free me.
The kunai slipped from my hand as I stared vacantly into the brilliant night sky.
No, cut that shit out, Rin. You're losing it!
I raked my nails down my face, leaving stinging trails in their wake.
Let me out, pitiful vessel. The amount of rage in those five small words was mind-boggling. His words drummed across my consciousness, growing louder and louder as they reverberated against the inside of my skull, a cacophony of malevolence and hatred.
Does a little girl presume to cage ME? The more the voice spoke, the more idiotic it became to me. Giggles started to burble up from my ruined throat, high-pitched and bordering on manic.
My life as I knew it was over. This was insanity at its finest: a voice in my head, fighting against me. Claire once said not to worry about arguing with voices in your head—to only worry when you started losing.
I don't want to do this anymore.
"Okay, okay, joke's over!" I said to the forest, trying to suppress some of the crazed laughter escaping my mouth. My whole body shook with the effort. "This is Punk'd, right? Is this the part where Ashton Kutcher and the camera crew pop up and tell me I'm a dumbass?"
As if to mock me, the chirping of crickets answered.
"What? Nothing?" I called, voice growing high and shrill, gesturing with open arms for some kind of sign, and then I realized something. I shook now for a different reason.
A moment ago... did I just… did I just call myself Rin?
The distorted image of what I thought to be me flickered madly against the river's current.
Is this Rin?
Am I supposed to be Rin?
The intense pressure and seething pain behind my eyebrows lifted a little, and for whatever reason this revelation seemed to both soothe and enrage me.
"I—I'm Rin?" I said aloud, stunned. It sounded so wrong (but I'm lying to myself).
"No, I'm Jenn," I said, more firm, but still pretty shaky. "I'm not… Rin." Rin, Nohara Rin is my name, I suddenly realized with horrifying clarity. That was worse than the psycho in my head. "I'm Jenn," I grit out through clenched teeth, louder.
RIN, he spat out the name like it was the most revolting thing he'd ever said.
"I. AM NOT. RIN!" I screamed, slamming a glowing red fist into the ground. It shattered under the force of the blow, and I recoiled. What else could I do but stare at it? Stare at it the same way I'd stared at myself? None of this was me.
Jenn wasn't thirteen years old and capable of wild feats, like healing with a touch and enhancing her muscles to the point where it appeared she was almost flying. Jenn didn't wake up in pools of blood surrounded by trees out of a Giger-ific nightmare, or with memories that weren't hers. Jenn didn't hear voices in her head. Jenn couldn't BREAK solid rock with her BARE FUCKING HANDS!
I did a double-take before confusedly tacking on and I shouldn't glow red? Oh no, why was I glowing red?
A sudden, deep pain in my gut interrupted my pity party (likely the first of many to come). I coughed and gagged, lurching forward. I grasped at my stomach, trying to will away the burning roiling under the skin there. A small scream forced itself past my lips as I rolled on the ground in agony, trying to string enough coherent thoughts together to figure out what was happening to me now.
I warned you, he roared with a wrathful, inhuman vehemence.
"No more," I gasped, scratching at my belly, ears ringing, sanity quaking, "I don't… want… to die… AGAIN!" I shot upwards in a howl, nails ripping through the stiff fabric of my shirt. I felt hot liquid stain my fingertips and smear across my palms and belly. It only made the burn that much more intense across my abdomen. Had I scratched so hard that I'd made myself bleed?
I NEVER WANTED TO BE SEALED! I DON'T WANT TO DIE! I WON'T LET YOU KILL ME!
I looked down to see black and red. My hands dripped black fluid, its smell reminding me distantly of ink. The red. Oh god, the red…! It boiled up from my belly, bubbling and foul. Could this horrible thing possibly be chakra? It crept along my body, up my chest, and oozed in small amounts from my arms and left hand. My right was completely encased in it. I felt it burst from my back in a spectacular wave of fiery pain. Errant tears leaked from the corners of my eyes as I struggled to tamp down whatever this was—
In another striking moment of clarity, through my skin burning and peeling away under the full moon, I understood what was happening. I remembered the Pein Invasion Arc. I remembered Naruto and his jinchūriki forms. A spiky phantom tail, blazing red and translucent, swept out from under me, and I began to scream without restraint.
I was going to die within the first hour of my new life.
2016 commentary: Interestingly enough, it was Silver Queen who advised me back in the day to decide between a humour/parody fic or a more serious one, that the struggles Jenrin (term originally coined by Petrichor in May) goes through can be quite severe and as such she wouldn't realistically be capable of a lot of humour in some situations. As you can see, I prefer writing a more realistic SI to a parody, though please don't forget the notes at the top of the first chapter stating that I aim for humour when possible. I enjoy a good balance of everything.
To whatever questions this chapter gives you—especially everything concerning Isobu; he has a very good reason for not wanting to "die"—know they will all be answered in upcoming chapters. I'm a stickler for details and rarely let things fall through the cracks. Also, you got the first true taste of AU Zetsu.
I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words and support so far! I'm surprised so many remember this and want it continued. It's really given me my spirit back and I've picked up some help from a few people, so this WILL be continuing.
HEADS UP, I am going in for surgery on October 12th. Please be understanding if I don't update immediately on the 14th/15th or possibly miss a week or two as I will still be recovering. Your patience is appreciated. I will try to get chapter three uploaded as soon as I'm able.
Fic recommendations: Ikanaide - Don't go by Iscanox, For Thine is the Kingdom by Enbi, and Cat's Cradle by jiemae