Chapter 1


ME BEFORE BECOMING UCHIHA SIATA

I remember when I was very young my mother told me

"I don't think I love you, I don't know why."

My skin would crawl like it was on fire when people tried to hug me. Especially my mum because it didn't feel right for her to try to be gentle after she'd hurt me. She was like a switch and I was always too slow or too bad to get it just right to keep her bad switch off.

"You know I don't think I could keep a baby if I knew it was disabled." she would tell me sometimes.

I knew then even though I wasn't, because I was a bad child and faulty. That was why she couldn't love me. I was just a burdensome responsibility she had to keep because I was her child.

When I couldn't sleep at night one time I was humming a lullaby to myself. It set her off. She dragged me up into the attic and told me to stay there and

"Don't you dare turn the lights on or I will make you regret it."

I believed her. But it was so cold and dark. And I was scared that the ghosts will come and eat me so I cuddled my limbs in so they wouldn't eat them. And I held my breath so they wouldn't hear. I prayed to God to not let them eat me to help me not be scared. But I was still scared because I realized my heart beat was so loud I knew they were on to me. I tried smiling wide. Wide until I could feel my cheek muscles stretching even as the tears fell. There. If I could make myself smile then that meant I was going to be ok. I was strong enough.

That was the first lesson I learnt from a bad situation. Smiling meant I was still ok.

I stayed like that shivering in the cold until midnight. It was because my dad had came back home so she had to put me back in the bedrooms before he found out.


I liked how everything melted away when I played sports. When I ran. Or chased after a ball. Or laughed with my friends while biking in the skate park.

I learnt if I didn't cry she would continue to hurt me. Sometimes it hurt my pride to cry so I'd hold it out. But then I'd get painful and I'd go on my knees and rub my hands together and beg to her stop. And sometimes she would stop faster. I'd feel numb after that because I felt like I had to give up a part of myself for her. A part of my pride? I don't know. Like I was worthless. But when I took out my scooter to dash and dash and dash along the skatepark I found it melted away with the feel of the wind on my skin.

That's the second lesson I learnt. To protect myself that part so it never breaks again even if it comes to begging so I still remain me no matter what happens to me. And the third was that it was good to forget quickly. Forget and not feel and I could turn that day ok again.

So during those days I would stay out late with friends I found on the street. I wanted friends who liked me back. Friends who were safe. I knew I was a bad kid so I tried to be as good as possible so they would love me back.

I found they liked my jokes. And liked that I was sporty. So I did that and I liked watching others laugh and making them laugh and thought. Being a comedian would be the happiest job in the world. I remember making my friends pee their pants from laughing at my impersonation of a teenager. I was happy outside the house.

Once she got started I knew I couldn't do anything. I knew if I stayed very quiet and didn't respond to anything it was the fastest way to make her finish. But I'd feel angry or agitated and defensive. And maybe a little sad when I cried back in my room. But if I looked at the mirror and smiled I would surprise myself that I could still do it. It made me think maybe I was going to be ok. I'd pray because I liked that someone else knew what was going on and listening to my side of the events. And maybe God was protecting me. I'd ask him what was he trying to teach me. I'd never get a response. But I'd think and nod that this was one of those lessons again to make me stronger somehow. I would do that while crouching against my door in case she comes crashing in and breaking things like last time. The picture frame of grandpa she threw was chipped and I'd carefully put him away beneath the mattress.

We had a radio at home and I knew the channel that had Christmas songs. I would put the volume up so it might make her feel more peaceful sometimes and maybe he was going to protect me from her. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. But it was ok, I knew I was a bad child so sometimes he couldn't answer my prayers, just some of them.

I hated how I sought her approval and love even though she hurt me. I don't know why I needed her love when I was all grown up now.


I was in high school when my friends told me one of their boyfriends that liked me was fake.

"What was that for?" I asked on the concrete floor we sat for lunch.

One of them laughed, light and bubbly, taking my hand in hers. "it was just a prank. Did you really not notice?"

Maybe it I'd misunderstood them. Maybe they didn't really like me.

Wasn't a prank only suppose to be for a day or two? But

"Why did it take more than... a month to stop it?" I asked smiling. I was smiling so I knew I was still doing ok.

"Oh... It was just so fun."

Fun.

I felt something was going wrong.

"Your reactions were so intense! And it was so fun watching you not figure it out, if it was me I'd be on it by day one. But not you your a bit slow about noticing stuff like that." they said. They glanced at each other and smiled like we were discussing the weather.

And it was true. I was not blessed with the average attentiveness of most people. More like an ox that liked to trudge on with my business. Sometimes unaware or forgetful. I'd often walk to school on teacher's only days. Or lose my glasses or phone somewhere.

I hated lies. Pranks. I wish they were genuine. They were, they were good people.

"She ruins the mood sometimes." my friends said, "Like she's so serious or depressing when we're trying to have fun." I remember overhearing them saying that.

I tried not to flinch. But I was forgetting to smile now.

I wanted to be a fun friend they like very much. I wanted to be the best friend. I had to smile and keep it together. But I felt so tired these days. Tired that I couldn't make smart jokes or laugh or small chat anymore. Or smile.

They were right why was I depressing? This was fun. I just need to hurry up and smile.

"I need to go" I told them getting up. Standing up from that slab of concrete floor we always sat at during lunch.

They looked back at me and nodded smiling, some shrugging or glancing at each other. It was that same bland look I'd get when I tried to make them laugh with some of my jokes. I couldn't even make my friends laugh now. Why was I so awkward and tired these days?

I'd say something and there would be no response. I'd try something else and they would say it was annoying or give me that same bland laugh then look away. They would talk about movie stars and make up and how they looked instead. And I didn't feel connected to them talking about something like that. I wasn't even interested in those things. No one really sat close with me and it was just. A part of me didn't even want to admit what was going on. Not even to myself.

After that I started going to the library more during lunch. I'd make excuses that I had Judo practice and I'd sit and read my favourite manga instead. Naruto. Sometimes I'd just imagine what it would be like living in a country full of so much trees, or how the wind might feel when you jump through the branches.

When I got offered a choice to move schools I didn't hesitate. I told everyone it was because I wanted to be a doctor and wanted specialised teaching methods.

I didn't.


When I joined university I was still tired, inside. But better. None of my high school friends were in my courses and I made new ones. But I still never socialized using texts or social media after that phone prank incident. I didn't like how different people were online so I'd meet up or call to socialize.

I remember my mum telling me some time that she thought when I was born she had something called post-natal depression. I liked that I was grown up now had a different relationship with her – almost like flat mates. She was still tired and angry at times. But now I knew it wasn't personal. I knew she'd never be like that mum that comes out in card capture Sakura with that angelic smile. But I still liked that she was my mum. I liked doing mundane life that was peaceful with her. I felt like in those moments she really did need me. And maybe even love me.

I'd work night-shifts. And go to lectures in the morning. I'd cook and clean. Try to study and rest a bit and fit in sleep somewhere.

I was tired most of the time. But I'd still smile and know it was going ok. I was really tired though. Really tired. I blinked and realized I was still on the motorway and had slid onto the other lane.

The truck on the other lane crashed into me and I remember blacking out.


There was something wrong with me.

I couldn't remember how I got here or how old I am. All I knew was that when I woke up I was a different age and person. I knew from what they were calling me.

"-alive! Dad, mum look! Siata's not dead. The baby's not dead." said the young boy holding me. Me, the baby. He tried to hand me over to someone but stopped as voices around him turned serious and rapid. Something bad was happening.

I'm given to someone eventually and they sound weak. My eyes are unfocused for some reason but still recognize the person in front of me and I am shocked. Because that was my mum who was holding me. But she was younger. The same black hair and pale skin. But she was different somehow. With softer eyes and a smile. She was smiling. I stared at her smile unable to look away. Because I could see just so clearly they loved me.

"Akane...? Please... No. Akane don't leave me...!" someone was shouting next to them.

I felt tired but wide awake at what was happening to me. At what was happening around me. Her ears were hurting from the man's screams but she could tell the woman- her mum had died.

Hands pushed me out of the way, and a boy with dark locks held me- the boy that had been holding me first. And there was another boy next to him too, watching everything. The man, the man who looked like my dad but not my dad because he didn't have curls. He was holding onto my mum while I was being held because I was a baby. This felt too real to be a dream. And I realized then I was screaming. Baby screams from emotions. From everything. This was impossible. IMPOSSIBLE.

"AKANE UCHIHA OPEN YOUR EYES RIGHT NOW!"

I don't remember how long I cried in that dark cold room. I think I cried even as the man and the two boys stopped moving or breathing or saying anything and just stood where they were in that room in the quiet. I cried until I fell asleep.


UCHIHA SHIKI

Konoha was at war. The Shinobi world had turned to chaos years ago and all the ninja in the village had a face that knew death.

Except for Uchiha Shiki.

He wanted to go to fight for his village, along with Fugaku, his most trusted friend, protecting his back. But both him and Fugaku were away from the fighting for a rare moment. Because at the hospital, his child was being born.

Uchiha Akane, who Shiki had met and married years ago, was in his arms shuddering in her final breaths of labour.

They had met under a cool palm tree and he had been taken by her smile and kindness.

Akane, one of Uchiha's talented sword masters- Akane who's laugh was like tinkling bells. They had fallen so fast for each other and she had said yes when he asked for her hand in secret. He came bounding through Fugaku's gates. Smashing doors open and frightening poor Itachi in coughing tea out his nose. This was when he heard his beloved was pregnant.

Shiki had to tell his best friend from childhood, Fugaku the news first. He made Mikoto swear to him she would promise to help babysit. Shisui excitedly talked to Itachi about his new sibling. They exchanged ideas on what it was going to be like being an older brother.

Shiki too, wondered what the child would be like.

A beautiful girl, like her mother. The very idea of a baby girl, he knew would be his weakness, his preciousness who he'd love with everything he had. She would be safe, and be strong like him. But maybe wouldn't need to fight never. Not like he did. He couldn't be able to bear it if anything happened to her. And she would charm the boys like her mother if she grew up. But maybe she didn't need to grow up even. She would be with Daddy always.

Fugaku's brows twitched at Shiki's while slowly shaking his head. Mikoto and Akane giggled sipping their tea when he relayed his thoughts. Akane whispered to him maybe it was a boy like him. Who was cheeky and cleaver and very charming. He'd protect her with you always and he would be as ruthless and fearless as his father in his battles.

Shiki hummed, snuggling into the side of his very now pregnant and locked in wife. I should start learning how to braid girl's hair. He replied

Mikoto burst out in laughter at his stubbornness.

The next day Fugaku, Shisui and Itachi was roped in by Shiki to practice braiding on eachother. All under the skilful teachings of Mikoto and Akane. Akane laughed so much she begged Shiki to take just one picture.

He agreed.

Shiki had his Akane in his arms adoringly pointing at the camera for everyone to look. Akane smiling so happy and bright, her hands on both the children's cheeks. A blushing Itachi with platted pigtails. And Shisui was rolling of the ground laughing with his two high buns. In the corner of the photo was Mikoto. She smiled peacefully while dragging her husband into the frame. Just in time to capture the Uchiha clan head's face- serious and wearing two pigtails on his head.

Shiki had prepared for everything. Cooking for example when Akane couldn't after birth. He dragged along Itachi and Shisui as Fugaku taught them with spartan intensity. Fugaku tasted Shiki's miso and threw up the table. Throwing the cup Itachi was about to drink and hurling it across the yard. Shiki sighed. He would have to redo it. Again. Freaking damn it. After many failed attempts he passed a finished product of Donkatsu. It was a bit burnt on the edge and Fugaku scrutinized it.

"Why are you an Uchiha?"

"Why are you my friend?" Shiki replied back.

Fugaku bit into it. He Hnned while nodding and Shiki did a shunshin, snatching up the dish and went running to show it to Akane. Leaving a trail of dishes Itachi and Shisui had just managed to make with perfection. Along with the other 100 more dishes of the failed attempts. Fugaku's brows twitched.

"...SHIIIIKIII!"

Everything was going well. Preparations were going smoothly for the next princess. Or it could be the next prince Akane added. Mikoto would help in the delivery. For Akane's mental support with her calm reliable presence.

But they hadn't calculated a birth complication.

Mikoto's hands carefully lifted the baby girl in her blanket from Akane's arms to Shisui.

Shisui held his younger sister with extreme care, as the doctors and nurses rushed around. Mikoto was doing everything she can to help Akane pull through.

"Akane?" Finding her unsteady breaths stopping, Shiki hurriedly started CPR. Mikoto raced time to try something while her knowing eyes started flowing with tears.

Shiki kept going. Until Fugaku pulled his shoulder back and held him in place. Shiki's voice broke in grief.

"Please.. Akane." Shiki's voice was so soft and desperate, cupping her cheeks as her head rolled to the side.

All the while Shisui and Itachi stood frozen while holding the small baby. He'd never seen Uncle Shiki with those blood red eyes before. But he knew now what it had meant to have those eyes in his clan. What you had to lose. He stared and stared while the sound of wailing in the background grew tired and silent.


UCHIHA SIATA

It was because she had mum's face. And dad's looked the same except the curls. Maybe that was why even though I knew this wasn't the world I was from they still felt the same. Like my family. Except mum was gone. In this world she was dead.

my dad had always been away from home. A neutral person. And it was strange seeing him at home now. But not really here. He wouldn't speak or respond or look. He would just sit next to the window sill for long long hours. Or disappear somewhere, work my brother said. Dad was distant somehow which was too familiar. But sometimes when my brother tentatively handed me to him. Or sometimes at night when I whimpered and my brother was asleep, he'd hold me sometimes.

He still had warm big hands like I remembered and his crooked smile the same smile like mine. So even though he was here but not really there I liked being with him. I liked him here. They called my dad Shiki here. And my mum's name had been Akane.

I remember going to her funeral, carried in my brothers arms. He had carefully dressed me and was also feeding me and cleaning me and seeing to my needs with the help of his friend he called Itachi.

That was one thing I had never expected. I'd never had a sibling before. I'd never been a sister. An older-younger sister. Technically I was older than him and I tried to keep my needs to a minimum for my brother. I didn't know what being a good sibling meant. What was a good sibling?

The new addition to my family. He was nothing like I'd known my distant family members to be. He was vibrant smiling laughing. His eyes his tickles. He was so full of life life life. It made me explode in laughter and my heart as well. Explode in something warm. Safe. Family. Love.

It made me feel like I was finally coming home


"Siata~ Siata-chan~ Shii! I know! I know! Ahahahaha! Did I surprise you Sia-chan? HAHAHA! Itachi look at her!" said Shisui while literally disappearing from one side of the room then appearing in the other. He was teleporting left then right. Then left again. My eyes followed right left. right. Mouth dropping open with drool on the bib he had tied on me this morning.

"Gwoaa. Owaa!" I couldn't help myself blubbering in shock. In amazement. Was it magic? How. I could tell he wasn't just being quick about it. He was literally using some teleportation magic. Shisui-nii continued to jump amused at my reactions.

Itachi checked the temperature of the formula by shaking the bottle and dripping some of the formula on the inside of his wrist (without touching the teat). Then he turned and walked towards us from the kitchen.

"Ah thanks itachi here give it to me-"

Itachi picked me up and carefully cradled my head. I reached out for the bottle and started sucking content.

When Shisui tried to take me off him Itachi said, "you'll disturb her. I'll do it."

"No I wanted to feed cute little Shii! Give me-" Itachi dodged Shisui's hands,

"here," he did that disappearing thing again and Itachi's calm voice stressed "using shunshin to move her could make her dizzy. You should restrict your use of ninjutsu around her."

Shunshin? Ninjutsu? Like ninja moves?

"Itachi, give her here! I want-" Itachi dodged again.

Ninja's like the one in Naruto. Shishin and japanese names and The Itachi and The Shisui in Naruto with the Uchiha clan. Uchiha Akane. That's what it was saying.

Shisui did another shunshin again and I choked on the milk realizing I really wasn't making things up. They were really Itachi and Shisui from the Naruto manga but younger. Which meant the place I was at. And who I was.

I gulped the milk the wrong way and started choking and coughing.

"She got alarmed because of your movements." said Itachi while quickly withdrawing the bottle and patting my back and rubbing it in gentle circles. "it's ok Siata, your brother was just being silly. I won't let him do it again. It's ok."

Shisui flinched guilty but looked seriously at me from across Itachi's shoulder and started softly patting my curls. "I'm sorry Sia-chan. Sorry I scared you. Its ok. I'm sorry." He said and when I finally calmed down Itachi gave Shisui a warning look and then carefully proceeded to feed me again.

"she's cute isn't she." Shisui grinned looking into my googly eyes

Itachi continued to look down on me while I ate. "I might be getting a little sister as well."

"Oh? You sure it'll be a girl? I bet it'll be a boy."

I couldn't stop the automatic sucking as I took everything in. That I was now a baby in the Naruto universe. And that I was an Uchiha. And that Uchiha Shisui was my older brother.

"No, it's going to be a girl." Itachi gave me an innocent smile as I watched him and I knew then that he was human. He wasn't that killer. And I was screwed because I'd already started to love them a bit and they'd probably be the death of me.


UCHIHA SHIKI

A sad yet strangely beautiful story, Shiki had once heard. Was how the Sun created oceans from his tears, to show the Moon every night before he died, how much he missed her.

He always wondered if the Moon would notice how much the Sun missed her, and come back to him.

Maybe the Moon knew. But maybe she just couldn't come back to him.

Because it was impossible.

So maybe that was why she couldn't stay with him too. No matter how much Shiki's tears filled his heart and turned it black. Turned his world red.

With Uchiha Akane gone, Shiki sank into darkness.

He gave his last kiss to Akane's tomb stone. Only two years had passed but it had felt like an eternity. Shiki looked back one final time from the doorstep where Shisui stood. Unable to stop him from going, his eyes full of worry.

"Do you regret it…?" Shisui's young voice called out to him, making something in his heart string twitch.

Yes. If he hadn't met her maybe she didn't have to die this way. Yes, he did when she stole his heart and left him forever like this. When he wouldn't hear her laugh again. When all that was left was one photo tucked under his breast pocket. And two beautiful children. His eyes that were fixed to Shisui, then slid to the two year old girl that had asked. Her eyes looked so much like her it was painful. Like the beautiful woman he had given his heart to. A girl. Just like he'd bet Akane. He almost felt something like warmth before he tore his face away.

"I don't regret it."

And Shiki flickered out to war.


UCHIHA FUGAKU

They had taken them by surprise.

Two elite Mist Ninja units.

Three Jounin Uchiha.

One enemy hidden base to stumble into by mistake.

Fugaku grunted. The enormous boulder lifting inches from his shaking arms, off Mikoto's leg. The bastards had started fighting them in the middle of an avalanche. One of the smaller pieces of the mountain crushing onto Mikoto as she pushed Fugaku away last second.

The mist nin were out for blood. Three Uchiha from Konoha. And the jackpot was Ghost, a flee-on site wanted ninja, responsible for the Carnage of Mist. Who was outnumbered. Defending a distracted person. Said distracted person was his well-known cousin. The one and only infamous head of the Uchiha clan. Distracted because of an injured person, his wife Mikoto Uchiha. It just didn't get any better than this.

For a moment, all hundred of them, they had stopped to smell the sweet scent of free prey. Then they shed their swords and didn't stop to blink before they lunged.

Shiki had been quicker, attacking them first. Leaping like static between them leaving a trail of screams, blood, and carnage.

But the mist unit was huge, just like the tales that were told of Hanzo's elite unit. They would be back for more. Screaming in frenzy like zombies even as their guts and limbs spilled and ripped out.

Shiki gasped as another ripped open his skin with a sword before he tore out the mist bastards throat

"Fugaku please cut it-" Mikoto choked as Shiki skewered the five Iwa ninja in a row who came running at Fugaku.

A hundred real copies of Shiki in body-flicker held them back with precious seconds but not for long. Mikoto's eyes practically begged Fugaku while she watched every second pass. As every copy of Shiki's body sported more blood and injuries.

At this rate Shiki would.

One Shiki burnt a dozen more in explosive wire. Another Shiki blitzed through, glazed-eyed in genjutsu. His sword ripping them to shreds.

Shiki would.

"Fugaku!"

Fugaku stiffened alert and flinched at Shiki's bloody back which pressed his face. Throwing back the mist nin who came swinging a boulder sized sword. He wasn't going to lose Shiki here. Fugaku lifted higher. Or Mikoto.

"No." He grit at Mikoto it was almost-

Mikoto gasped when the weight of the bolder lift, pulling out her knee. And in seconds Fugaku snapped her onto his shoulder.

Then he looked up when he saw the enemy ninja, he was too close, the blades came down.

Fugaku opened his mouth to call out something. But the shout choked into an all-out yell as Shiki stood in front of him. like lighting. With two swords through Shiki's chest, splitting it open.

Fugaku's world froze as his pained disbelieving eyes met with Shiki's.

"Shi-"

Mikoto's whisper was lost as Shiki tackled them both. His battle cry roaring in their ears and he blurs them through the Iwa nin in his flash-step. Disjointed words flew past the wind. Shiki's bloodied steps flicked away in incomprehensible speeds.

"-the blood! You need to-"

"-ut me down you bast-"

"-going to die!"

"-afe now. Shiki!"

"-to Stop Fugaku! Tell him-"

"Enough!" Fugaku's massive roar broke through the Konoha base as he realised they had stopped.

Shiki's body crashed into a tent like a ragdoll. Rolling and stopping in an awkward, lifeless tangle of limbs. His blood and organs, pooling the floor fast. At their sudden appearance, after the momentary shock, ninja started running to help. Fugaku's bloody hands held down on the hopelessly huge gap in Shiki's chest, globing out his blood and guts. Medic nin helplessly trying to attach, assess. Their hands touched then hovered, touched, then hovered. Eyes flicking to each other and shaking in guilt and despair.

Fugaku gripped Shiki's collar, and his head lifelessly rolled on response.

He shouts grew louder and louder 'You... are not. Dying on me!' He shook him. He shook the bastard. The bastard that was supposed to grin and had annoyingly stuck with him always. The ninja around them hovered in grief and horror at what they were seeing. Not sure how to stop the man, so many who had known him so stoic, and never seen broken. Mikoto sat slumped with a frozen look while gripping Shiki's hand that didn't grip hers back. Even though he had always gripped back. Always.

Fugaku fisted Shiki's hair and tightly pushed the corps' face into his arms. He gripped him frozen and silent. Not knowing what to do as the seconds turned to minutes. While Shiki's blood poured and poured endlessly out of his wound.

'What happened?' Shikaku had quickly moved towards them. Not caring right now for the spewed-out scrolls and paper drenched in blood.

Mikoto was barely there and didn't look to see who had asked. She whispered through dry lips "Iwa has a new hidden base up the northern mountains. Approximately 1 kilometre from here. Around three hundred in total, now maybe a hundred left. The intel for Hanzo's units moving through the east… … check… again. The intel… it's a spy-" Mikoto's speech slowed in realisation.

Fugaku's black kunai pinned a neck to the dirt. Blocking the gurgled-out chokes of the Konoha ninja who had begun to take off. All ninja remained perfectly still, as the intel ninja's eyes quickly turned blank. And his forehead protector shifted to that of mist.

Shikaku slouched awkwardly. At the high tension in the room. Then looked back at the composed Uchiha. He hadn't even seen him move, but it was clear the man lost too much today. No one dared bat an eyelid in case Fugaku saw wrong. Or right, Shikaku sighed. He walked closer to Fugaku and placed a hand on his shoulder, Fugaku did not move.

"You can move him inside my tent. I can give you some privacy."

Fugaku briefly glanced at him with, clearly this was unexpected from him. Then nodded. Fugaku wrapped Shiki even tighter to his chest and stood up. His eyes widening as the shift caused more of Shiki's blood to pour down his side and slosh the ground. Fugaku flinched at each splash that was made. Mikoto stared at the blood and clutched Shiki's hands. Tight enough her knuckles turned white. Fugaku didn't take one step further and his eyes shadowed over while he lowered his face to look at Shiki. Then his shoulders started to shake. Shikaku lowered his eyes and the surrounding ninja turned away from the scene. Trying to hold back their tears. Inoichi couldn't look away. Everyone held their breath to not intrude on the Uchiha's. Who were showing more emotion than they'd ever done before.

Shikaku knew the Head wouldn't be fit to be fighting today. Or maybe he would. He watched Fugaku gently hold his notorious cousin and walk. While Mikoto followed beside them, staring at Shiki's face. As if she half believed he would wake at any moment. With shaky hands she stroked Shiki's soft blood-soaked curls

The sight made Shikaku nearly let go his killing intent. The surrounding ninja's lips curled at seeing just how painful Shiki's death was to them. The man who did this, was a dead man.

Shikaku lead them. Fugaku and Mikoto moved silently and quick. He opened the tent flap and watched the pale young man's face. It pressed into Fugaku's bloodied clothes. He looked too young, and at peace. A small smile on his lips as he lay relaxed, leaning on Fugaku's heaving chest. He dropped the flap. Inoichi who had watched behind Shikaku asked for the next step.

"Get all the base operatives to move out from the North region for now."

"And the spy?"

"I want a thorough filing through his brain Inoichi. Have everyone on intel on lock down immediately. Tell the captains to kill anyone who makes a move. Also a report of any geographical information the spy has."

Inoichi nodded, at his commands an intel nin reported in.

'Shikaku-sama! Your command to move out from the northern region. If we lose the northern region it will be critical... Maybe if we hit them now we can still!'

'We don't have enough men to spare-' Another intel nin argued back.

Shikaku calculated all the possible options and priorities and merits. He opened his mouth to say something, but a passing messenger birds cry caught his eye. Reinforcements. Will probably get here in thirty minutes. This was going to be tight.

Shikaku nodded at his team

"I would say no" the room was silent. "But…if we factor in the fact they're a new base. We could take the vertical cliff side of the northern region, with weaker defenses."

The commander paused and turned to his friend.

"Inoichi, ask Fugaku in 20 minutes if he will map out the enemy base. And lead the assassination team."

"Shikaku!"

Inoichi hated when his friend's brain overrode all human necessities. Yes, no matter the cost and whatever the way, weighing the human like a piece on the board. Yes, it kept them alive. But for how long. Inoichi could see Shikaku stripping his soldiers thin. Couldn't start to begin what people, what homes Shikaku was bringing them back to.

Not Shikaku no... It was war. Inoichi turned from his friend and sighed in deep deep anger. The after effects of what this might have of the clan head. But… they couldn't afford to spare him. Or the Uchiha's. They were the best at front line combat.

Inoichi turned back to face his friend. With determined eyes Shikaku nodded apologetically at Inoichi.

"That's why you're the one who can tell him. Not me."

"Anything else you think in this plan I might warn him beforehand?"

Shikaku paused and flicked through all the information he had from different angles.

"… The reinforcements coming to join him in the raid, Uchiha Itachi and Shisui will be there."

"You son of a-" Inoichi turned and mumbled away moving towards his tent.

Shikaku looked up to the bloodied sky and sighed. He needed his sake. Now.


UCHIHA SIATA

When Shisui came back from his urgent mission that night he'd picked me up from the Uchiha orphanage which looked after some of the babies of people that went to war. I wasn't a fussy baby and didn't require much attention so they loved me. But I hated how long I'd have to wait until they cleaned me after I soil myself and thought maybe I was getting a rash.

I smiled for my brother anyway and clung to him as he bowed thank you for their help and took me back home. It was late and dark the way back and when we arrived at the door and entered the house it was quiet and dark inside.

Shisui stood where the shoe rack was without taking off his shoes, standing at that spot while staring at the empty silent house while holding me stiff. Things were differnt now.

"Maa?" I asked. [What's going on?] Looking at his face and my small fingers brushed against his wet cheek. "Ahhwaa?" [Why are you crying?]

"I'm not," he whispered because he wasn't. Because he was a man now. He looked down at me. "I'll take care of you," he promised me. "You're going to be just fine."

My big baby eyes looked up into his watching him quietly like I usually did. I could see the pain in his eyes. The determined set in his jaw.

"Father's fought for us many times but He couldn't make it back alive this time. But he tried his hardest." he said, and sounded so small.

"Gaaa." I voiced.

"But it's ok because I'm a man now." he assured me. That's all he had to say.


The clan didn't like the fact he died. They couldn't believe it somehow despite Fugaku saying otherwise. Not all of them. But many of them thought he'd done it on purpose because everyone had known Shiki had changed after his wife's death. They had us moved to the outer parts of the clan. A new house. If Shisui died in the war like father had the elders assured him I'd be left in the orphanage.

Shisui smiled and assured he'd return for his sister to them.


He was gone in the middle of the night four days later. I called for him a couple of times but he wasn't there in the empty house.

He apologized to me next morning. He'd visited dad's grave. I snuggled into him to show I was ok and I made sure to never mention it when he left sometimes.


Talking was still hard but I could waddle around now. I stood in Shisui's room one morning after he left to train somewhere. He was training again, training straight after a mission again. His muscles will be hurting by the time he got home.

Sunlight fell through a window on the far wall. Little bits of dust caught in the light. It smelled like him in this room. Like him. I slid open the closet door. One side full of clothes both of us were too small to yet wear. There were things hanging there left behind from him. Like his black thermals. Five of them hanging in the back. I touched one of them and pulled it down from the hanger with great difficulty. Slid it over my head. It was heavier than I'd thought it would be and smelled like fire and wood and dad.

"Touu" I said and started my clumsy efforts to pull my arms through the holes. I gathered the cloth that pooled around my legs and the sleeves that dragged on the floor and buried my face in it. I remembered the rare times Shisui would hand me over to dad and smile seeing him hold me. All three of us together. And other moments. And other moments. I looked in the mirror and saw the baby girl staring back at me and smiled for her.

I can take care of him. I told her in the mirror.

And I knew me and Shisui both. We were going to be ok.

Eventually Shisui came back home and found me in dad's clothes. He laughed at how cute I was blinking fast and put the shirt back in the closet.


Shisui was back to fighting on missions now. And I was back to the orphanage.

They had new eyes in the orphanage when they looked at me. It was colder. As usual they didn't change my nappies, just once a night. It felt itchy and uncomfortable but I bared with it because I couldn't bother Shisui with problems while he was away fighting. What I couldn't stand was the pain.

It started with pinching on my arms or legs here and there. When I wouldn't cry they'd slap me and then leave. I cried out then. I didn't know why at first.

Then the cigarettes started to happen. They burnt the end behind my neck first. Then under my feet so others wouldn't see. I knew they wanted a reaction and I was familiar with this kind of act. I tried not to cry. Keep it together. Make Shisui proud. They knew he wouldn't be back for a few months so they went back to slapping and pinching to allow healing. Still I didn't get why. Why would they do this. Until one of them talked about how my family had "dishonored the clan by being weak." Because they were ashamed my dad had died that way. They believed it that he'd killed himself on purpose. I knew Shisui had told me he hadn't. That dad had fought and lived for us as hard as possible. I wouldn't give them the satisfaction then and smiled. It was going to be ok.

When Shisui came back I gave him my widest smile.

"Siata-chaaaan! I missed you so much come here you"

"Khahaa!" I giggled when he buried his face in my neck. "Shisuuy" I gurgled.

He froze. "Did you hear that Itachi?"

Itachi leaned in to see me closer

"Dachii" I grinned and Itachi's eyes widened a bit.

"Your a genius! Say my name again Shii-chan. Who's this? Say Shisui-nii!" he pointed to himself

"Shisuuy," I said shyly

"Shisuuy nii" he smiled wider

"Shisuunee" I tried and sighed because my mouth was tired from trying to say it right. Itachi and Shisui laughed at that.

He lifted me up and spun me around again and I gurgled.

Itachi nodded in agreement and smiled. But then he stopped smiling and stared at me harder than I'd ever seen him stare.

Suddenly I was snatched away and Itachi was sliding down the back of my shirt to see the skin behind the neck and froze. Shisui did to.

They were silent for a bit.

"We need to go back." Itachi said, "investigate who did this"

"No." Shisui gripped Itachi's arm. "I'm taking her to the doctor right now." he said. Itachi agreed and they quickly dashed forwards.


In the doctors clinic they checked everything and every time they found some of the bruises and burn marks on my feet or neck Shisui's fists grew tighter and tighter.

"Luckily she dosn't have any damage to her muscles. But the burn marks... will scar." the doctor eventually said. "More importantly she has a bad case of nappy rash. Someone hasn't been cleaning her after she relieved herself regularly. You can see here its badly infected."

Shisui made some kind of choking sound when the doctor showed him. "She'll need to take these medications for it and this cream." he finished.

Shisui carefully wrapped me up in his arms careful not to touch my bottom. I smiled when he looked down at me but he didn't smile back. Itachi stroked my forehead.

"She's a quiet baby. Well behaved and seems to be used to keeping things in. More or less she might have gotten used to the pain or treatment and thought it was normal. I suggest she needs a more attentive kind of care, seeing she's not the type to voice things when she's distressed or in pain like now."

Shisui stilled further.

The walk back home was even more silent.

"My mother is expecting but we'll most likely be available now to look after her when you can't." Itachi said to Shisui.

He was silent for a long time still holding me tight. I was getting sleepy in his arms even though this was a special occasion for having him come back and get me. I was happy I was going home. I kicked my legs in his arms in excitement and cooed.

"Wo aao aaoaa" I mumbled sleepy, excited and grinned up at him content resting my cheek on his shoulders.

Shisui stared at me and laughed with me and laughed until his laugh cracked.

Itachi simply walked beside him without answering.

He grit out, "thanks for finding it Itachi."

"It won't be happening again." Itachi nodded.

"Yeah" Shisui agreed back putting one step in front of the other.


"Up. Uupa"

"Hello Siata."

I smiled because I knew he was weak to it. And he was free now because he'd finished sparring with Shisui in the forest behind our house. Itachi picked me up and put me on his lap.

I chewed on his finger.

Shusui was in the kitchen cooking dinner and they were both discussing trajectory techniques. I could hear the clatter of cutlery Shusui was making in the background and Itachi's lap was very warm and nice. I melted into it comfortable as he touched my curls gently. I closed my eyes and leaned into Itachi finding a fresh green. Almost like an endless green field rippling in the wind. Itachi was curious, alive, fresh. I cooed in agreement with the sounds knowing I loved the Itachi who was this way and I rubbed my cheeks into his lap content. I imagined squeezing against that green in happiness.

"Itachi?" Shisui's voice was strange. "why are you crying?"

Itachi didn't respond. I looked up worried to see if something was wrong and then it was like Itachi broke out of something. He gasped.

"Ah," He looked down at me, shocked. Then touched his tears in growing surprise.

Two pairs of red eyes stared at me.

I froze. It was my first time really seeing them. The sharingan since I arrived here.

"What was that? a genjutsu?"

"It was different. I felt... raw. Like coming in face with myself. I lost conscious thought for a minute or two." Itachi examined what had just happened.

"Her yin chakra use has dropped." Shisui walked over to me and took me off Itachi's arms.

"Siata-chan! Can you do what you did just now to Itachi to me?" He held me close. I kicked in excitement with having him snuggle up and giggled. Then I tangled my fingers into his curls and listened to him inside. And I knew Shisui. He was like a golden sunrise. And warmth. And electric. I responded to him by trying to mimic with he felt like inside me and suddenly Shisui crashed.

"Gha!" I shouted in surprise. Shisui woke up just in time to catch me and stared at me wide eyed.

"Oh," Shisui said like he couldn't process how he felt. "...I don't know what that is either. I know she's definitely sensing something though."

Itachi had analysed the whole exchange with his eyes.

"...It seems. She's able to sense... perhaps the soul. Once she connects to it somehow when she echoes what she senses back to the person it makes them comatose for the duration of that stage. Likely because her reverberations disrupts the part of someones spirit somehow. The person in duration of that period is confronted with their own spirit and Siata's emotional thoughts or responses to their spirit making the person experience a deeply personal kind of emotion enough to jar the person into that blanked out state."

Shisui picked me up and wiped away some of my drool while I cooed into him.

"...my family is known to have specializations in genjutsu and that comes with having certain advantages when we're young but... I've never heard of this kind of thing." said Shisui.

They stared at each other in a stiff silence.

"If the clan finds out about this she'll be fast tracked into the front line candidates as quickly as possible." Itachi stated matter of fact.

"But I can't have her just making people unconscious. She's too young and doesn't have any control of her sensory abilities yet. I need to restrict them somehow." he muttered while rubbing my cheeks. "Who's the genius cute lovely baby? Who's the adorable precious little bubble?!" Shisui made a funny face and I laughed high in reaction to him.

"I'll train her. Once or twice a week." Itachi said, "You can work with her on the other days. At this rate you won't be able to ask for a sitter for your next mission."

Shisui nodded in agreement.


"Where's Shisui Siata?" Itachi asked while I was on his lap. We were playing hide and seek.

"Shisuuy deyaa?" I pointed to the tree from our veranda. Shisui popped out from behind and waved good job. "Good job. Shall we make it harder?"

Shisui went to the clearing again and disappeared in a puff. I could still hear him though. He was sunrise and warmth and electric. Why was he hiding inside the river? I pointed to it. Itachi's chakra pulsed and Shisui came out of the river again, soaked.

"Good job Sia-chan~!" Shisui grinned. Itachi itched me away from Shisui's dripping hands and smiled down at me instead.

"Her sensory range is quite large. Or does it fluctuate between people?" Itachi talked to himself.

"Sing?" I asked Itachi?

"No. Enough singing for today. And remember no singing outside the house. No singing to anyone ok Siata?" Itachi said slowly and I could tell he was quite serious because his song got more heavy.

"No sing." I nodded and he gave me a kiss on the forehead.


When Shisui was away Mikoto-san would come live in my house with Sasuke. I noticed for some reason I was never taken to Itachi's house or into the inner factions of the clan grounds.

I grabbed and shook a rattle toy in front of Sasuke by flapping my arms up and down. Something I could manage now.

Sasuke's curious eyes would follow it and he would toddle forward to grab it off me. I let him. I picked up a block and put it in my mouth because it felt nice. A moment later Sasuke was pulling at the end of the block and I let him take it away and chew on it.

"Sasuke, you must share with Siata-chan." She lifted me up and beamed down at me. Her nimble fingers had brushed through my head this morning to create some plated pigtails. She picked up a differnt wood kunai toy and gave it for me to chew in her arms so he couldn't get it. I turned my body so Sasuke wouldn't see what I had in my mouth and Mikoto-san nodded saying I was both a kind and smart girl.

I tried not to drool some of the food that she fed me. I grabbed the tomatoes when I thought she wasn't looking, and placed it next to Sasuke's. He ate it nicely getting some red bits on his cheeks. Mikoto turned around and laughed.


Mikoto didn't go back even though Shisui came back from his mission.

He was injured. Huge huge bandages across his chest and he moved gingerly as possible around the house.

I just stared and stared and stared at them and Shisui kissed my cheek and told me not to worry. He was feeling incredible now that I had given a kiss back.

"Siata's kiss energy is so good I can do anything now!" He beamed at me.

Shisui insisted to feed me and clean me despite Mikoto-san's words. Mikoto-san sighed and at least banned Shisui from coming inside the kitchen or doing the house chores.

Itachi would come over a lot more and while they trained in the backyard I would sit on Mikoto-san's lap with Sasuke. She would read to us many books. Some had special different textured animals you could touch. I sighed a lot when Sasuke would cover the words or not let me stare at the letters a bit longer than I wished. Mikoto-san would laugh and move my hand towards the fur on the tiger's tale so I wan't just looking.


After the Kyuubi incident happened Mikoto-san never came over to our house again and I didn't see Sasuke either.

I remember one time seeing Shisui paint over some red writing written across our entrance doors.

Itachi would still come over to spar with him. Sometimes he would do tests with me again or some games which I liked.

Shisui would leave a copy of himself at home when he had to leave for missions now. And he was helping me practice sitting up.

I could tell Shisui missed dad alot though because he would leave to go see him at night a lot more now. He had a tightness in his eyes that didn't used to be there before so I new not to ask him about it. People didn't like to be reminded of sad things.

The threatening words on the door stopped coming some day. It was after he'd come back with a bandage on his upper shoulder and some new gear.

I knew what would happen to him. And I could tell he was getting more involved somehow. Maybe it was ANBU. Maybe it was Dazno.

What was the point when he was going to leave me and die in the end?

It made me cry because I cared about him now.

But I realised I couldn't do anything but watch him do all that.

So I cried even more and Shisui picked me up from the dinner table and promised he was going to learn how to make even more delicious recipes. And he tried to quickly find those mushy yogurt sticks I liked from the fridge.


I could do some basic things while Shisui was away now. Get food out of the fridge and eat them. Or sit in the potty and wipe.

Cleaning myself was still a no. Cooking was a no.

One time Shisui's bubble popped, disappearing. I knew something very bad had happened to him because his copy never popped. Ever. A few minutes later a crow flew inside the house and watched me. I chewed on the wooden kunai toy and stared back at it. Then it left. A few hours later Itachi came to check on me and he stayed with me until Shisui-nii came back.

He looked tired but apologized to me and hugged me tight. "Shisui-nii Ow?" I asked him and he laughed shaking his head

"I'm fine now little Shii. Sorry I worried you. Did Kuro take care of you with Itachi while I was gone?"

I nodded staring at the crow that was on Itachi's shoulder. I reached out for it and it screeched a bit and I laughed.

"It's good she's not scared of him," said Itachi. Shusui nodded and Itachi had to leave now.

I wanted to know what was really going on with Shisui. What was going on in the clan.

"Why Itachi bye? Mikoto bye?" I asked because I wanted to know.

"People don't stay in this house," Shisui told me as he watched me in the bed at night. I knew he was going to visit dad's grave again today.

"There's nothing here."

"Siata. Shisui." I said.

Shisui looked away.