When she was five, something terrible happened. She didn't remember what exactly was done to her, but the aftermath was impossible to miss.
Sakura Sawada used to be a bright cheerful girl who loved being around people.
After that day, she never saw the sky again. In fact, she never saw much of anything after that.
The first clue Nana had that something was terribly wrong with her daughter came less than a week after her husband brought the "kindly" old man to their home along with his guards. She asked Sakura to bring her something from the kitchen...only to find her little girl looking around in a daze with her eyes unable to focus properly.
It only got worse from there. Within a month, Nana was given the grim prognosis from the doctors, all of whom said the same thing.
Physically, there was nothing wrong with her child. However it was very clear that Sakura had suffered some form of trauma...the result of which was that her mind shut down the parts of her mind that controlled her ability to see. Her child was declared legally blind at the young age of five years and four months from psychosomatic trauma.
With luck and a lot of love and care, Sakura might be able to regain her sight again...but that was a big if. After all, the little girl's mind prevented her from remembering what caused the issue, and the adults were unwilling to force her to remember for fear of making it worse.
Nana cried herself to sleep while hugging her child tightly for weeks after hearing the news.
With time, Sakura learned to adjust to her new situation. She was young, and while her sight was gone her personality seemed more of a shell of what it had been before.
Sakura was crying. While she had learned to adjust to her situation, that didn't mean her classmates understood or accepted it.
Some of the meaner girls had grabbed her and shoved her into a locked room...one that was right next to a really loud machine that was sending her poor ears into sensory overload. She found it easier to get around by using her hearing.
Hearing the door slam open, she flinched from the noise.
A callused hand about the same size of her own grabbed her. She whimpered, before it loosened a bit and became much gentler.
"Small herbivore, I won't hurt you," said a voice.
Sakura slowly opened her eyes, not that it really mattered.
Except she saw something. It was so warm and protective, yet aloof. Like the clouds she was starting to forget. The violet color was so very bright that when she felt the other child, a boy from the voice, take her hand, she gently squeezed it.
Feeling that gentle hand ruffle her hair, she relaxed. She was safe, protected. This person wouldn't hurt her.
She followed the boy out of the room, keeping close to him until she heard the familiar voice of her mother.
"Wao. You'll be fine now little bird."
Her mother hugged her tightly, thanking the little boy... Kyouya-kun... for finding her missing child.
It wouldn't be the first time Kyouya would be sent to find her.
"Wao. Little bird, did you get lost again?" asked Kyouya. His voice was uncharacteristically gentle around her, unlike others. His voice would grow hard and almost bloodthirsty if he was talking to anyone else.
She nodded shyly. Since losing her sight, she had become more introverted and not very outgoing. Having to adjust to 'seeing' with only her sense of hearing made her scared. Kyouya didn't complain, didn't take the fact she instinctively sought him out once she got lost in the mall out on her.
Instead he gently took her hand and started to look for her mother. She flinched whenever they got too close to crowds... she learned that loud noises hurt and nothing was louder than a large group of adults. Especially girls.
Fortunately Kyouya didn't like crowds much either. He lead her far away from the large groupings of adults and to someplace much quieter. Within half an hour her mother found them, and she was openly relieved to see Kyouya with her child.
The boy was supposedly very violent towards others...but he was kind to her child and that was all that mattered.
Considering Sakura seemed to instinctively seek out the older boy, Nana made a decision. She gave Kyouya her phone number, which he accepted with a great deal of maturity.
Apparently he had noticed the girl had a sixth sense for finding him in a crowd. Oddly, he didn't seem to mind. It was hard to feel like she was crowding him, especially considering she couldn't see.
She felt more like a little bird who had her wings cruelly clipped too young, and now was denied the freedom to fly. She could hop around and walk, but the Sky was out of her reach.
Nana had clearly entrusted the safety of the little bird to him. And Kyouya would not fail in keeping her safe. After all...she was his to care for.
Sakura, age seven...
Kyouya was in a bad mood today. Someone from his mother's family was supposed to be visiting, and Sakura's mother had recently gotten a letter from someone that her Mama was really mad at. She didn't want Sakura to stay in the house while he was there, but she had no friends to spend a few nights with.
Predictably, Kyouya found her within an hour and demanded to know why she was unhappy. Mostly because that generally meant several fools would soon be bitten to death in short order for bothering his little bird.
"You have unwanted family coming into town too?" said Kyouya, translating her quiet explanation.
Sakura nodded, her eyes as unfocused as ever. She had long since acquired a reputation among the children as being something of a "ditzy airhead who was always humming" and some of the adults who didn't know of her condition spoke of her being "not all there in the head". Needless to say Kyouya took great pleasure in disciplining anyone who was foolish enough to voice such things in his hearing. Or the hearing of his quickly growing force of almost-carnivores who had submitted to his rule.
The group quickly learned certain rules that were absolute.
One: when presenting reports do it in small groups of less than three.
Two: do not interrupt Kyouya while napping.
Three: Sakura-hime was to be protected or else, and if she was lost was to be directed immediately to her mother or Kyouya if found.
Anyone who didn't abide by those rules was bitten to death in short order.
Kyouya thought it over, before calling Sakura's mother. Within minutes she had a bag packed and was quietly shuffled off to Kyouya's house. Partly to keep her far, far away from Iemitsu, her so-called "Father", but also to act as a buffer between Kyouya and the one member of the family he could never intimidate or bite to death for getting on his nerves.
His grandfather, Fon.
Fon was strange, in Sakura's opinion. He felt like an adult and his 'fire' was a really pretty color that felt like an oncoming storm, one of the big ones.
Kyouya gently corrected where she looked, and she found that while she was looking up to where the red fire was centered, the real thing was much shorter. He was smaller than she was and rather amused at her reaction to him.
"Who is this adorable young lady?" asked Fon gently in Japanese.
Sakura blinked, before a shy smile came onto her face. Fon sounded kind, and the fire was gentle and warm. Like Kyouya.
"Sakura. Sawada Sakura," she said shyly, holding Kyouya's hand tightly. Kyouya grasped it a little tighter, letting her know he was there and would stay that way as long as she needed.
Fon watched the interaction with open interest.
"Well Sakura-san, it's nice to meet you. I'm Kyouya's favorite grandfather Fon."
Sakura giggled when Kyouya growled something under his breath about "annoying pint-sized carnivores".
Fon seemed to find her endlessly fascinating, and to the ire of Kyouya spent the majority of Iemitsu's visit with her...and by extension his grandson. Unfortunately for Kyouya, Sakura seemed just as fascinated with him and his pet monkey Lichi.
And then Kyouya's temper snapped. Like a brittle twig. With a loud snarl he grabbed his tonfa and went after Fon. The small man smirked and humored his grandson, though he didn't allow the younger boy to get the upper hand. If Kyouya beat him, he will have to earn it honestly.
Sakura, rather than feel afraid or alarmed by the sudden violence, "watched" entranced at the way the purple and red flames danced, almost like it was choreographed.
"So pretty...it's like dancing!" she said when Fon beat Kyouya.
Fon blinked, before a sly smile came upon his face.
"In a way it is a lot like dancing," he agreed. "Would you like to learn?"
Sakura blinked. Kyouya growled menacingly.
"Hands off my little bird you damn carnivore," snarled Kyouya.
"Come now Kyouya-kun. Surely it wouldn't hurt to let your...friend... learn how to defend herself," said Fon smiling.
It was clear Kyouya wasn't happy about the idea...but reluctantly agreed to let his "little bird" learn to fight. However he quickly vetoed anything like a sword or had sharp blades.
Though even Kyouya was caught off guard when Sakura turned out to be a natural at using a staff to fight. Bojutsu wasn't exactly a well practiced art anymore, what with guns becoming so prevalent these days, but considering Sakura was still blind and was still struggling to learn how to use her cane (half the time she completely forgot to bring it with her, and was still working on getting around solely based on what could only be echo-location) perhaps it wasn't that surprising at all.
And if Kyouya's grin was extra vicious as he realized his little bird could possibly be a hawk or other predatory creature in chick form... well, Fon certainly didn't comment on it.
Even if he was privately making bets with his daughter over when Kyouya would realize his obvious crush on the adorable little ball of fluff that was Sakura Sawada. Seriously, her smiles could be weaponized if she ever figured out how to pull it off.
Sakura tilted her head when she heard the odd sound that was completely out of place in her room. Today was White Day, and Kyouya had said he would reciprocate her home made chocolate that she had made with a lot of help from her mother.
Even if she would never be allowed near a kitchen alone until she could correctly identify spices by scent and learned how to use a knife without risking her health...she had been more or less banned from Home Economics class along with most of PE.
Considering she had just sat down on her bed and heard it, it took a few minutes of groping before her hand bumped into the anomaly and the sound rang in hear ears again. It was quiet, and really pretty.
She gave it an experimental shake, and her face widened into a smile as she identified the sound.
It was the tinkling of bells.
She slowly opened the box and her hands touched something metal, with small bells all around the edge of it. It took her a second to register it was a bracelet.
She slipped it on and gave it another shake. The little chimes of the bells on the metal was ridiculously soothing. And more than that, it worked perfectly with her hard-won ability to walk around without making a fool of herself without using that stupid cane that the adults insisted she use.
Dogs were too disruptive and Kyouya wasn't a fan of them unless they were wolves. And she had enough torment from the meaner children who thought it hilarious to take the cane she carried in her bag and hide it so she would stumble around.
They didn't understand why she couldn't see, just that it meant she was an easier target than before so long as Kyouya didn't find out.
Hence why she had to learn how to manage simply by using her hearing. Humming helped, but it made the other children and some of the meaner adults think she was scatterbrained and she wasn't allowed to do it when things got too loud. She could tap her shoes, because upon realizing what her daughter was doing her mother had started buying special ones that had metal in the soles that were mainly used for something called "tap dancing" which was really a lot of fun because she liked listening to the rhythm of the dance when her mother bought a video of it. However that was restricted to outside school, because she had to wear the same slippers as everyone else.
A bracelet, however... that was the perfect solution because she just had to give her arm a little shake to make the bells tinkle quietly without being a nuisance.
After all, the teachers couldn't yell at her for moving her arm. And she knew the other children wore jewelry, as some of the girls had loudly discussed piercing their ears.
Sakura smiled. And then she found the note.
Kyou-chan was really sweet, and his grandfather Fon was really interesting.
Fon was one of the rare people who didn't automatically treat her like an invalid the second he found out she was blind. Instead, he trained her in how to fight and become independent in her own way. Her mother had been alarmed...for all of five minutes...when she found out her child was learning how to hit people with a staff that could easily double as her cane.
Right up until she saw the smile on Sakura's face, because for the first time since losing her sight she felt completely free. She might stumble and fall, but learning how to defend herself gave her a sense of accomplishment that she had lost.
And really, the way Fon taught her to fight felt more like dancing than fighting.
To my Little Bird
This is so you can see your way around and be able to locate people who need to be 'danced' to death. I better not have to send any more search parties because you got lost after this.
Sakura giggled and listened to the tinkling of the bells.
Sakura used the sound from her new bracelet to find the door...it came much easier than before since she could focus on the quiet sound they made.
And then came the real test of the bracelet, as Nana went to turn on the stereo so Sakura could navigate the room easier. After she had mastered the ability to 'see' with sound, music was always playing at just the right volume level in the home until it was time for bed. It didn't matter what genre it was (though some Sakura or Kyouya vetoed outright for being painful to listen too, like heavy metal) music would play softly in the background.
One second there was silence, the next the stereo was blaring because Nana's hand hit the wrong nob. Sakura yelped, before she heard the soothing sound of the bells on her wrist. She immediately concentrated on that sound rather than the blaring sound of the stereo.
Nana quickly turned it down, a hand to her heart. That had been a real shock.
Immediately she checked on Sakura, only to find her child shaking her right wrist so that the bells on her new bracelet consistently made noise. Once assured that the music was at a much more tolerable volume level, Nana served dinner.
Kyouya truly knew the perfect gift for Sakura. Normally she would have been sent straight to the living room where she would try to muffle the overbearing sound with pillows, and Nana would have to talk her down from a sensory overload induced panic attack.