Genesis: Uchiha Hashira
What the Hell? — Not the most charming first thought to have, nor the most graceful. But charming and gracious never quite did it for her, and they probably never would. Not in this chaos, they couldn't.
But that's for later.
Laughter echoed around her when she was born, blurry faces clouding her vision.
Her chest tightened as she looked around wildly. Was this Hell? Could it be?
A firm smack! clapped across her skin, and she broke out into panicked screams, flailing desperately for some sort of support but finding nothing to hold on to. Nevermind the chills racing across her skin, she gasped and wheezed and cried some more because — this? This was Hell.
The cheering voices mocked her tears in a foreign language.
Something like a whisper sounded from above her, ringing in her ears.
She bawled for mercy.
Maybe normally, in another life, she'd have considered it weak to cry. But panic gripped her in its gloves and squeezed, and she sobbed for grace because this was Hell — it had to be. And everybody laments when they go to Hell. So she cried and cried and cried and hopefully these demons would release her.
A warm breath and a soft murmur brushed across her forehead, and then she was handed over.
It was gripping — Terrifying. Confusing. Frustrating. — being passed around like a baby. She jerked and whined but no one listened.
"Ichi, ni, san! Ossu!"
Then came a shriek of pain from somewhere in the room. As if on cue, the arms carrying her stiffened momentarily.
"Biru-chan, daijōbu ka?"
"Ochitsuite kokyū, Biruda-san."
Above the worried murmurs and cries it induced, she tried to locate — at the very least — whoever had decided that the best course of action to take was to scream bloody murder almost directly into her ears.
What's happening? — She didn't know. She felt the people bustling and chattering all around the room and didn't understand why. She couldn't pinpoint anything at all, including herself. Her muffled ears strained to catch the tail end of the short conversation and maybe make sense of what was going on, but the girl found that she couldn't.
Then, as if to deliberately make matters worse, another wail starting ringing through the air.
She tried to catch her breath and focus but this entire ordeal was way too strange; she was bound and couldn't move, completely helpless; she was in danger. Her throat tightened again against her will. Her face scrunched up and, back on autopilot, she sobbed. She sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
Two wails. Two children — and one of them was her.
Too much that she didn't understand.
There's life after death. That was the first revelation she came to. One way or another, those religious nuts were right…
Before she was old enough to speak, Hashira was only able to regard the world and those of it with wide, startled eyes.
What was going on, honestly? As much as she tried to ponder on it, she couldn't be too sure. She wasn't able to think very well.
Flashes of a past life echoed in her mind, but they didn't connect well with the newfound information of today — of this life. It was all information that her brain just couldn't seem to contain and it all slipped from her mind like sand.
Life felt like an incomplete puzzle: Should I be alive? Am I breathing?
Yes, she was breathing. In and out, and in and out, and crying, and gasping, and then being force-fed milk or something, then repeat. She wasn't dead. Why? She didn't know.
Then, onto the next conundrum: I'm shaking. Why am I shaking? That's not normal!
But the trembling was there to stay, it seemed. Another side of her felt the quivering of energy blooming in her veins and thought nothing of it, even when it shook her to the core. Somewhere in her instinctively found it normal and she didn't know why.
Onto the next enigma: "Hashira, Hashira, Hashira"! My name's not Hashira! It's… It's something else.
But she couldn't remember what.
So when her mother called her by that name again, she glanced up responsively.
"Yacchan, Hashira-chan? Are you two hungry?"
Hashira's face twitched and scrunched itself up. She was still befuddled in a world of mystery, but she'd been conditioned to recognize the sound of her (new?) name as the promise of food, and she was hungry.
You're Pavlov's dog, an echo in her mind joked.
She briefly felt amusement, and then it flickered into confusion. What in the world was Pavlov's dog? Where did that come from? She didn't know. She couldn't remember what she'd been thinking of by the time she started suckling.
Time passed slowly.
Hashira took long naps during the day. It was easiest for her that way, even if it worried those around her. She had her other things to worry about, like having no control of her bowels, or being breastfed every other hour, or not being able to pick up her own head. Or strange reoccurring dreams.
There was always a teenager in her dreams, one with dark skin and tight braids. Her eyes were deep brown, and she wore—strangely over-pocketed pants? No, they were cargoes, one leg completely burnt off, and the other one scorched at the knee, where it cut off. Her white tank top was bloody, but her skin was clean. Not a single scratch or bruise, and she was calm.
Cradled in her arms was a crying baby, one with pale skin and dark hair. Every night, this baby cried. It cried and cried and cried.
The teen would mumble, "Sorry, sorry. I didn't mean it," and she would rock the baby slowly, tensely, as if preserving something sacred. She probably was.
Eventually, the baby would squirm down to rest and finally settle into her arms.
When it finally did, Hashira would wake up.
She'd would stare at the ceiling for hours until her parents came to feed her.
She remembered the dreams, but she couldn't remember which one she was.
Days slowly blurred into weeks, into months, into year after year quickly forgotten in the recesses of her mind.
But as soon as she grew enough to overcome her goldfish memory, Hashira knew to be bored as hell.
Every time she opened her eyes, she was met with the sight of yukatas, kimonos, and wooden walls. Wooden floors. Wooden ceilings. Shoji doors. It was a daily yawn. If she had to describe what made up her setting, those words would prefix her report, right after the words Uchiwa Fan. The blasted thing was plastered everywhere.
She should know what those fans everywhere mean! She should recognize them from somewhere. But she didn't. Something somewhere inside of her has seen them before — so she ruminated over it over and over again, but right before she could make a connection, the fans slipped from her mind.
The only time she truly had to herself, if she ignored the snoring child by her side, was at night. She could muse to herself silently for hours on end, and so she did:
This couldn't be Feudal Japan, right?
No, it couldn't. Feudal Japan didn't have high-collared shirts. That much she was sure of. It also probably didn't have working fridges and western bathrooms. Here, wherever here was, there were modern courtyards and sidewalks, alongside decent dirt roads, but after more than two whole years Hashira had still never seen even a single car or bike. Here, in this strange setting, there also were running water and modern western stoves, but no western foods whatsoever.
In short, nothing about this place made sense.
So Hashira was annoyed.
If she'd ever known what it was like to be high, she'd imagine this to be how it felt. An irksome sense of confusion while sluggishly trying to orient herself. And it was hard to. It was very hard to. The quivering in her veins went unexplained, just like everything else. It was frustrating.
Did all babies have that? Did they all feel trembling in their bodies? Were they all so eerily aware of the world around them? Is that what kept them up and wailing at dusk — annoying their fathers, tiring their mothers, and startling their siblings into crying too?
Hashira didn't know and it aggravated her.
She didn't know if she was alone in this feeling, this fear.
Why could she feel people walking from behind the walls? Why did she know what was happening outside?
Logic intoned that an owl's hoot was natural. It wouldn't kill her in the dead of night. But having to feel as the bird swept through the trees in the quietness outside, having to know as its aura collided with a rat's or mouse's — and, in the dead of night, having to lie there, chillingly aware as the creature's life faded… that's what scared her.
She wasn't even three years old and Hashira was afraid for her life. She felt the world dying around her, and she hated it.
Time passed even more slowly than before, now that she had a hold of her memory.
Her first solid memory was of vague excitement and intense panic. Odd mixture, but yeah. Finding out that you've been born into a world of magical ninjas did that to you.
She felt something like a force, huge and tense, building up like a huge balloon ready to pop. Balloons popping tended to be scary. She didn't really feel up to finding out if this would be too. That was what woke her, like sunlight hitting someone's eyes and rousing them right before their alarm clock rings.
Only, the alarm was her mother. "Yacchan? Hashira-chan?"
Ah, Hashira-chan, the promise of food. Unfortunately, she wasn't too hungry at the moment so she ignored her mother's voice.
It called again, laughing softly. "Come on, wake up."
I'm awake already. And the toe-curling sensation that had woken her was still there, a long ways off yet all too close. But with Mother there, Hashira felt safe to ignore it too. Mother had a very comforting aura about her. Hashira pulled her sheets up over her shoulders, turning.
"Wake up, c'mon, c'mon. Yacchan?"
The sheets beside Hashira shuffled and a head peaked out from under. This was Yanemaru—or, to mother, Yacchan. She and her knack for nicknames were the whole reason why Hashira only recently learned his real name. He yawned widely, his flailing arm catching Hashira in the gut.
"Hi Shi!" He flashed a gummy smile with a line of drool on his cheek, before reaching for their mother's hands and making curious noises.
She pursed her lips and glanced over at his plushy face. It'd been three years already and he still did that every time he woke. "Tsk…"
When all Mother did was gasp and clap her fingers against her cheeks, crying "I have the most adorable children in all of Fire Country!" at a volume much higher than entirely necessary, Yanemaru opted to switch focus from the loud cheering and chew on his sister's arm instead.
Hashira curled in onto herself but didn't bother trying to fight him off. She was used to him by now. It'd already been years of this daily occurrence, some things were just fruitless. (He was also admittedly cute, so there was that. Black eyes, blunt bangs, and a pixie cut.)
Mother squealed even louder. "Kuro-kun! Look!" And the aura around her, her ambiance, her energy or whatever it was flared giddily.
It hit Hashira straight on and rang through her like a gong. She flinched back, head aching and ears ringing.
Kuro-kun responded to Mother's glee from somewhere Hashira couldn't see him: "You do realize you're hurting Shichū's ears?"
"Hey! Back off, you! Her name's Hashira."
"We agreed that we'd each name one, and you ch…"
Hashira tried to tune the rest out. It was another argument in the early morning. Over names this time, it sounded like.
She rolled onto her other side, shut her eyes, and tried to shut out their voices. But even when their energies had calmed, Hashira still felt a faint itch in the background. The force from before—the one that had woken her, that she'd almost forgotten about, was still there.
There was nothing she could do about it though. So maybe it was just anxiety? But what had her so anxious?
Yanemaru must not have felt it. He shifted to throw his leg over her coiled up body, hugging her tightly.
Hashira sighed in resignation.
So this is what it's like to have a brother. She paused to wonder why she even knew what it felt like to not have a brother. Then Mother lifted him up off of her, cutting off Hashira's line of thought, as she returned his hug him briefly when he latched on sleepily, before grinning down at her.
Somehow, all Hashira could think of it how she didn't have a mom. She wasn't supposed to have one. She shouldn't have a mother, she never has.
But she did. She did now.
This was her mother. She was pretty, her fingers approaching to tuck messy strands of black hair behind Hashira's ears, like she always did in the mornings. Her eyes were a deep black and her long hair hung down like luscious vines, each strand swirling where it landed on her bare chest. Wait, bare chest?
Hashira blinked slowly.
Mother's top was undone. "Don't ignore your mother." She sighed, smiling fondly albeit a bit worriedly. "You too, you know, Hashira-chan. It's time to eat."
Hashira recognized the words "you too" and "eat" and pulled the blankets a bit higher. Was food going to be forced on her again? Was it even okay to breastfeed three-year-olds? When would they get to eat rice and eggs like everyone else in this house? Maybe then she'd be okay with having her beauty sleep disturbed for a force-fed meal.
She looked up again to find black distressed eyes staring back at her, lip being bitten in clear concern. Mother had Yanemaru cradled in one arm, suckling, and with the other she was gently stroking Hashira's face.
Something was wrong with her, probably. She looked sad or something.
Ah… It's not my business. Hashira didn't think much of it.
She did recognize the comforting aura every time it touched her, and she recognized that voice as the voice of comfort, but she still didn't know this woman well. She still didn't know her by name — titular Mother was just a substitute — and she still wasn't hungry. She closed her eyes to drift back to sleep.
"Kuro-kun," called Mother's voice.
"Just leave it. If she's not hungry, she's not hungry," he said.
"She's never hungry… No matter how many times I call her, she doesn't respond at all."
"Then she's not hungry," he repeated. The sound of a chair scraping against the floor cued that he was standing. He audibly strode over to his wife. She gently set Yanemaru down beside Hashira, discouraged. "When she's hungry she'll eat, Biru. Leave it."
Hashira frowned when Yanemaru latched onto her hair, which she pointedly disregarded, ears focused on her parents. When their footsteps drifted away, she almost felt relieved. Almost.
She didn't have enough time to relax completely.
Abruptly, the gathering force from afar got unbelievably tense. The balloon that she'd ignored felt stretched to the limit.
Hashira's stomach tightened and her stomach sank to her feet. It suddenly felt a little harder to breathe, and her little brother's arms wrapped around her weren't helping. "Y-Yacchan… no," she hissed, disconnecting herself from his clingy hug with a rough jerk. Apparently that was the last straw of her heedlessness before fate and that damn balloon decided to explode in her insides and send her reeling for air. A shiver tore through her spine and her eyes snapped open.
A fucking eruption of what felt like pure energy clapped inside of her, blinding her mind with a flurry of white lights.
This was all she could get out before her heart lurched into her throat, effectively choking her down. I don't want to die again. I don't want to die. But she couldn't move. Flashes raced through her mind, the sight of fire, the smell of smoke, a roof tumbling down and burning, burning, burning.
Only, this was much worse than the visions. Even before she saw the fire or smelled the smoke, and even though the wooden ceiling was staring right back at her wide eyes, the tightness in her chest threatened to shatter all her ribs in one go, her lungs were going through the fucking wringer, it hurt.
An explosion sounded from outside, like a literal explosion—a bomb.
She wanted her parents back.
"M…Mo…" A stark gasp cut through her cry when pain shot up her veins.
"Hashira! Yanemaru!" Biruda burst back into the children's room where Hashira-chan was tensely staring off into space (normal), and Yacchan was sulking from her snub (also normal). Both safe and sound. (For now.) She closed her eyes briefly, thankfully, before striding into the room more briskly. There was no time to waste. "We need to evacuate to the other—"
Kuro-kun zoomed in, snatched up both the children, and frantically jumped out through the window. She just barely followed his cue before the escaping right before the house went up in raging and explosive flames.
She saw Hashira-chan start screamed. No, not crying. Quite literally, she was screaming in terror. Yacchan imitated her, whooping for joy.
Biruda caught up her husband in no time, racing through the courtyards and avoiding flying weapons. She bit her lip when black dots clouded her vision. "I can't g…"
And the rest was tuned out.
Hashira was pissed. She was flummoxed again — and also twice as annoyed as this usually made her, because this time she was fairly certain that her life was on the line. The details were blurry as always, but she knew just enough to fire her up: (1) Her dad was a miscreant, (2) she was about to die — if not from this attack(?) then from this fucking headache, and (3) her mother didn't seem to care.
She didn't hear what her parents were discussing over the sound of her own terrified cries because why the hell did this idiot jump out the window with kids in his arms, is he crazy? Hashira grabbed at his collar with her tiny hands and shrieked for her life, hoping it'd convey all the words she couldn't form. HELP! SOMEONE! SOMEONE HELP, I'M IN PAIN — I DON'T WANT TO DIE AGAIN! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!
Father passed Yanemaru to their mother briefly. Yanemaru was giggling excitedly at the rush of wind, cheering and flapping his arms. They were running at breakneck speeds and Hashira was about to pop a vessel. Is this even possible?
Flustered, she shifted her eyes to the sight of a mass of people running behind her. And damn, it was a lot of people.
There were multitudes evacuating, and even more going back to… to fight? They carried swords and ninja stars. Each person had a fluctuating aura as they struggled to speed up. These people with were going to combat fucking ERUPTIONS with swords and knives like it's the goddamn 1630s. Hashira gaped at them. Wha…?
Speak of the devil—a second blast detonated in the distance. Caused not by a bomb in sight, just by a flying knife and paper. The dots' struggle to connect in her mind increased tenfold, somehow, she should remember that kind of thing from somewhere, but ultimately failed to due to the raging wave of energy that surged from the flare, momentarily blinding her right after it got done spinning her head in a circle.
Her parents were discussing what must have been fucking gibberish when what they should have been discussing was letting her the hell down. Getting her an aspirin or some shit, her head was killing her.
"H…Hey!" Hashira called, trying to get their attention. They made extra sure to ignore her, Father going as far as to briskly cover her mouth.
"The Senju?" Mother murmured from the recesses of their conversation.
"And the Sarutobi!" Father said. He then leaped onto a tree in his rush, not even stopping. He literally just jumped up there and landed on a fucking branch with his damn infant in his arms, then kept running. What the hell?
Hashira didn't catch the rest. She was busy screaming her ass off. More loudly this time, like please notice her, please let her down. She'd crawl back home and hit the medicine cabinets herself if need be! Because, this? This was INSANITY.
"LET ME DOWN, LET ME DOWN, LET ME DOWN, LET ME DOWN!" she begged, except it came out as a very muffled "AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AAAHHHHHHHHH!" in between gasps for air that she barely pulled in through this sweaty hand covering her mouth.
Another explosion sounded and people died. Hashira felt as their lives faded. Her breath became shallow and sweat poured down her face. One last time, she looked back at the ones going back to fight. That's when she noticed the symbols on their backs.
Those are… Those are the Uchiwa fans.
"Biruda," Father called, turned his head to look at Mother over his shoulder, "hurry! The Senju will catch up at any moment if we lag."
Wait, Senju? Hashira stopped her flailing for a moment. What?
And then Father got busy using his — energy? Aura? Whatever the heck it was — to knock her ass out. She didn't really get how he did it. His aura just flared and then she was fading.
Yanemaru was still whopping. Mother was still rambling about whatever it was they decided merited this attempt at infanticide. Father's hand slipped from her mouth then, right as she was blacking out.
The fundamental particular, the clue she'd been missing all along, something clicked into place, just a little too late, yet somehow just in time.
Just in time.
A/N: It's been a while, yes? If you haven't read this fanfic before, welcome and thanks for coming! If you have, then welcome back! Thanks to everyone who's encouraged me and sent positive reviews and PMs! You've strengthened me before I was able to learn how to stand and encourage myself as well! I'm eternally grateful, and the story still exists because you gave that kind push. Thanks! SH柱 owes you its life!
My planning/writing format has changed a bit (*lot) so I'm confident that I've improved! On that note, plenty about this story from the characterizations to the plot itself has changed! You'd be surprised…!
As promised, here's Supporting Hashira (柱)—better than before! (Hopefully?) Definitely! Cheers!