Posted first on Ao3, but I like reading the reviews on fanfiction more. This is a femNatsume is Tsuna, so enjoy!
Waking up in your eight year old body with no idea what happened or how you got that way was never fun. Especially when it quickly becomes apparent that she was not only eight, but had somehow time traveled to roughly a year after her grandfather's funeral when she was still getting used to being shipped from family to family to hide the "black sheep".
She did not appreciate the fact she was treated as a freak growing up all because she inherited Reiko's gift.
Checking the time, Natsume "Takashi" Setsuna rolled over and went back to sleep.
She could start preparing to leave in the morning when she was actually awake.
A few days later...
If there was one thing she hated, it was having to deal with her 'relatives' who all believed she was a boy who saw things that weren't real.
None of them bothered to understand her or even check that she was in fact a boy. She had lost count the number of times she got yelled at for using the 'wrong' bathroom in school when she couldn't hold it in.
To the extended family she was nothing more than an annoying burden they had to hide from the world at large until she was legally old enough to leave and never come back.
Natsume sighed... sometimes she really hated time travel, and with how often she was de-aged this was more of an annoyance than anything.
It was always such a pain having to adjust her fighting style for a smaller, weaker body...
Some time later...
Natsume still felt like hitting herself for missing the fact that she now had a new weird addition to her life. To be fair, she was so used to weird things happening that she had learned to simply roll with it.
Case in point, her life had now become a weird sort of video game. Made it easier to prepare for her eventual vacation though.
A small figure went up to the ATM machine and withdrew as much as they could without being told off by the machine. Normally she might have felt some guilt, stealing money from someone's account like this...but the senile old woman they had stuck her with until some other family was willing to take her in liked to beat children who didn't fit her narrow world view.
Besides, she was due to croak within the week. Might as well make the old bat useful for something, even if her 'children' would bitch about the massive drop in their inheritance after. It wasn't like they'd be able to find her anyway, considering everyone in the family automatically assumed she was a boy and called her by a nickname.
Natsume looked at the bundles of cash she had stored in her Inventory and briefly wondered if this would be enough... then recalled what a complete bitch that old woman had been the second she learned that Natsume had been "lying" about her gender and was always making up stories about monsters that didn't exist.
On second thought, better to hit a few more ATM's until the computers figured out someone was deliberately draining the account. Besides, money had a habit of disappearing quickly with living expenses.
The second the card refused to work three times, Natsume took a pair of scissors to it, before melting it. The last thing she needed was trace evidence leading back to her.
Armed with a rather large amount of cash and no desire to be caught via bank transactions, Natsume immediately left town. It wasn't like the old bat would bother filing a missing person's report.
By the time anyone discovered her missing, she was long gone.
"Well, at least this 'gamer' thing makes it easier to gauge my abilities," said Natsume to herself.
Not to mention made it far easier to avoid the hidden paths that lead to the Ayakashi realms... or use them to avoid humans.
Seriously, adults looked down on kids way too much.
Natsume was heartily glad she possessed a deep well of good old fashioned common sense. It made things so much easier, especially when combined with her life experience.
Case in point, she spent the 'school hours' practicing her limited martial art skills and increasing her stamina and control. Once the schools let out, she would hit the library for a few hours until it started to get dark, by which time she would go and either catch dinner (her skills were limited in that, especially since over-hunting would lead to interference with adults) or more often buying something that would last the night and almost into the morning.
One thing she was very glad was that in the underworld, age was relative. She was already establishing herself as a wandering pickpocket and thief. While her reputation was low, that was something she could live with.
She'd only bother increasing that when she needed weapons or hard to get ingredients. At least they were good for fencing the random things that the ayakashi kept leaving her in 'tribute'. Honestly, she knew Reiko was a bit of a bully in her youth, but this was plain ridiculous.
Sensing someone approaching, Natsume promptly took to the trees. People so very rarely looked up for a small child, and with how closely the trees were clumped together it made jumping between branches relatively simple.
"Are you certain you saw the child in the area?" asked an adult voice. Natsume scowled.
"Positive. The lad has not attended school once, I've checked."
Natsume inwardly cursed, before a quest window appeared.
Due to your actions in taking money that wasn't yours, a "Bounty" has been placed on your head by your relatives. Beware of well meaning adults!
Quest Reward: 1500 EXP, 5000 in Yen, +100 to Evasion/Disguise skills
Quest Failure: 100 EXP, Vigilant Relatives and Loss of Freedom until majority
Of course they were after the money she took. Greedy bastards. Then again she had pilfered quite a bit of it before the banks caught on two days later, and with how small she was it was doubtful the cameras even caught anything. They were set to adult height, after all.
Spotting some lesser ayakashi nearby, a plan formed.
Channeling just a bit of spiritual energy into some of the pine cones, she took aim...and threw.
Lesser ayakashi weren't known for their deductive reasoning skills, she knew. And while it might be petty, her freedom was more important than allowing those people to find her again.
They took one look at the intrusive humans and began harassing them without a second thought. After all, it wasn't like they could tell the difference between a human who could See them and who simply had the bad luck of being in the area.
Natsume had learned that lesson long ago. She had perfected her poker face and a rather useful charm that would repel everything lower than a mid-ranked youkai. It looked like such a simple childish charm that no adult would think twice about it being tied to her side.
Not unless they had the Sight too, in which case she wasn't afraid to make their lives very difficult indeed. Most humans were completely unreasonable when it came to ayakashi. She had lost count the number she had freed from some upstart exorcist who thought that a harmless demon needed to be sealed simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Seeing the humans run from the hidden enemies, Natsume didn't dare let down her guard.
She was still in the danger zone, and the quest hadn't ended. That meant there were more people looking for her.
Fortunately the "Gamer" ability gave her a general warning of potential danger areas by marking them with odd cones colored in red. While she hadn't played many games, she could tell that they were adults or other authority figures by the way an odd exclamation point showed up the two times she skimmed the edge of the "cone". It didn't hurt that the "adult" she was avoiding became slightly more vigilant for as long as she was within range of them the two times it happened.
Using her skills of evading ayakashi and bullies alike, Natsume slowly but methodically made her way towards the mountain. While her camping skills weren't the best, it was preferable to the cities and towns where humans could easily find her.
An unspoken rule of childhood that Natsume took full advantage of was that "Thou shall not rat out another kid to annoying adults". Especially when Natsume played it off as the adults being annoying buggers and that she was playing a prank on her relatives who were mad because she was smarter than they were. The implied mischief and the thought of getting one over adults was more than enough to win the support of the other kids.
Sure, it was manipulative as hell but this was her freedom at stake.
Finally the Quest alert popped up again once she was a few towns away. She had managed to avoid capture, for now.
That had been entirely too close and she did not want to deal with "well meaning adults" again. Nosy bastards.
Well, she did know of one creature who could be...bribed...to help her avoid those idiots. Besides, she missed that mooch and she did have the Book on her already.
Breaking the seal was easy. Bribing Madara was a complete pain in the ass, but fortunately he didn't automatically mistake her for Reiko. Then again he had always been a bit smarter than most, and correctly guessed that she was Reiko's descendant.
Natsume had an odd smile on her face and she calmly held out the Book. She had already removed some of the Names inside, mostly to start building up a reputation in the Youkai realms.
Madara's full attention was on the innocent seeming book of scribbles. At least, to those without Sight anyway.
"You're playing a dangerous game, having that out so casually human," said Madara in his maneki neko form.
"My name is Natsume Setsuna. And I would like to make a deal with you, you fake cat."
Madara sat down on his haunches and gave her a Look.
"I need a bodyguard...my body is still too small and weak to properly defend myself from ayakashi and adults who have no idea what they're really dealing with. I'd be willing to hand over the remainder of the Book of Friends in exchange for protection and companionship. If I die before I return the names, then it's all yours."
Madara's eyes glinted.
"What makes you think I won't simply eat you and take the Book right now?"
Natsume smirked at him.
"Because then you'd be bored out of your mind. Sure, you'd have control of all those in the Book and be able to lord over them... but then you would miss out on all the chaos and trouble I stir up. Besides, this way you'd be able to gain underlings without having to fight any higher level youkai over the Book itself," she countered.
Madara smirked as well. He liked this young human. She was almost as cunning and mischievous as Reiko had been in her youth.
With a loud poof, Madara stood in his true form and looked the girl in the eye. She didn't even look remotely afraid... in fact she reached out and stroked his nose affectionately.
"We have an agreement human. I'll keep you alive, in exchange for the Book when you die," said Madara.
Natsume hugged the demon's head...she was so small she could barely wrap her arms around him properly.
You have gained a permanent party member!
"...Brat, what in blazes is that?" demanded Madara.
"Something both useful and highly annoying that showed up a year ago," deadpanned Natsume. "It's somewhat hard to explain since it's based off a human method of entertainment. I did say I attracted the weirdest sorts of trouble."
Madara snorted, before turning back into his fake cat form.
"Bah. You owe me food brat," demanded the cat.
"Whatever you say, Nyanko-sensei. I know a good place that serves manju near here."
"...What did you just call me?" said Nyanko incredulous.
"I'm a kid and you look like a cat. Get used to it," she deadpanned. "At least I'm calling you 'sensei' instead of 'chan'."
Nyanko grumbled, but accepted the new nickname. He didn't seem to mind it much when he realized exactly why Natsume had broken the seal on him. The idea of getting one over on multiple humans who should have kept their nose out of the little one's business was simply too entertaining to ignore. Especially since Natsume turned a blind eye to minor pranks so long as it never came back to herself.
Within a month there were new rumors of "Reiko's Descendant" that had gone practically viral. Benio in particular was quick to track Natsume down and was positively delighted to have a "mini Reiko" to dote on.
Natsume could put up with a lot of things from her friends, and she easily considered the older female ayakashi among that number.
Still, she had plenty of time before things really got interesting.
Natsume "Takashi" Setsuna
A loner out of necessity, Natsume was "orphaned" during her unlucky past. Her parents are still very much alive, but she was sent to live with her grandfather who died shortly before she was eight. When her mother failed to claim her, Natsume was promptly shuffled between families in order to hide the "black sheep" of the family. Thanks to the fact she was a bit of a tomboy, the family is under the assumption that Natsume is in fact a boy by the name of Takashi. No one has seen fit to confirm this fact, leading to several unpleasant confrontations by the teachers in every school she has gone to.
Due to certain factors, Natsume has been given a second chance at childhood and is armed with far more knowledge of the factions in the background that could make her life far more complicated than is willing to deal with.
Natsume currently has a seal on her full powers due to a relative of her father's family, which had the unusual side effect of awakening the full brunt of her great grandmother Reiko's gift of Sight. Due to this seal she is unable to access certain abilities, but has trained extensively to use her spiritual powers.
She is currently capable of minor seals, mid-level warding to deter youkai, and several attacks that are usually combined with her limited skills in hand to hand. At this point she is a semi-well known pickpocket and is slowly acquiring a minor reputation in the underworld as a thief.
Flame Seal: Forcibly restricts Dying Will Flames, is particularly brutal when used on Active Flame types. Can cause permanent damage to Skies when applied. -75 percent growth to Dying Will Flames (FP) and abilities per level.
Sight: Ayakashi and other beings have long since existed side by side with humans, often with disastrous results for the humans. With the dwindling ability to perceive the other realms, those "lucky" enough to be able to See youkai are often tormented and harassed by all sides. For those with a particularly strong Gift, they are lucky just to reach adulthood as some Ayakashi do not take kindly to humans being able to see them. This often leads to animosity towards youkai from the human in question, and often leads them to becoming exorcists. +150 percent boost to Spiritual Power (SP) growth per level.
Not This Again: With repeated exposure to time travel and being turned into a child in general, it's hard to be surprised by minor inconveniences anymore. +25 percent boost to INT and WIS per Quest and level
Lesser Sky Aura: Not even a Seal can fully repress the natural charisma granted to Skies. +/- ? boost to Charisma ranking
Lesser Thief: Pick-pocketing is the most basic of basic skills for thieves. Every successful confirmed theft grants +10 to Underworld Rep, -25 to Rep if caught.
Reiko's Descendant: Natsume Reiko is one of the more...well known...figures in Japan among Ayakashi. Her efforts in creating the infamous "Book of Friends" have made waves among the youkai realms. +50 Rep among Ayakashi/Youkai for every successful show of strength +75 percent boost to SP growth per level
Book of Friends: a Forbidden creation made by Natsume Reiko, it contains the true names written down by the youkai she defeated purely out of boredom. The youkai who's names are contained within cannot refuse a direct order by those of Reiko's bloodline so long as the Name remains bound to the paper. +150 Rep among Youkai
Intermediate Hand to Hand: Not quite skilled enough to be considered a Black Belt, Natsume has more than a passing familiarity in several different styles of martial arts due to necessity, enough to make her a challenging opponent for those entirely untrained. +50 percent boost to learning "hand to hand combat", +25 Rep with "Martial Artists"
Intermediate Spiritualist/Exorcist skills: Repeated exposure to youkai and exorcists in general have resulted in a rather eclectic collection of skills to be used in situations involving youkai. Includes basic seal mastery, basic warding mastery, and basic contract creation mastery.