A single moment in our life could change our fate just like a single pebble dropped into a body of water causing ripples to spread out. It was one moment that changed her life. The day Uchiha Itachi stepped in to save her from the grasp of death, Yamanaka Ino had no clue, but her fate was entwined with his and that of his brother. It was the day it all started.
The crisp autumn wind blew with insistence, causing leaves to shudder and trees to sway at its wake. It was a cold night in the large expanse of a forest that separated the Fire Country from the Wind Country. Albeit the cold, it was a beautiful night with the skies clear of clouds and stars twinkling like gems in the night sky.
In a small clearing by the forest, a small child laid on her side on the forest ground staring up at the same clear skies with teary eyes of teal, closing her eyes to wish upon the stars to get out of her predicament. Her wrist was bound behind her, bruised from the tight knot and so were her bound ankles. She shivered from the cold breeze, feeling feverish as the events the last 2 days slowly caught up to her.
She had been asleep in her room when she was snatched from her bed late at night. She felt herself being thrown over someone's shoulder when she tried to scream but felt a foreign feeling taking over her body, making her unable to move or make a sound as she was carried away from her home through the window. It was when they had passed the village gates when the feeling left her and she was able to cry out to her captors to let her go.
She was lowered roughly onto the ground as soon as her captors stopped briefly. The young heiress caught sight of her captors and had gasped at the revelation, confusion deep in her orbs.
"Uncle Fuu? Kai? Kamui?" she questioned with wide eyes, watching as one of her cousins Kai panted as he apologised for not being able to hold the jutsu longer. They ignored her as her uncle gagged her and tied her limps to prevent her from struggling, all while her favorite cousin, Kamui held a look in his face young Ino would never imagine he could muster. It was a look of wicked satisfaction at her fear as she struggled against her uncle, tears falling seamlessly form her eyes.
Eyes of soft teal eyes watered at the memory and she sniffled as her eyes darted back to where two of her captors lay in their warm sleeping bags and to where one of them stood guard closer to her. The small sniffle she made did not fall to deft ears as the captor on guard turned his head to her, platinum blonde locks so alike hers glowing as the light of the fire hit it. He had a smirk on his face, one so familiar to her as he had been one of her closest cousins growing up.
"Ino-chan, why so sad?" His tone lacked the usual loving playfulness she was used to. Instead, it was akin to a snarl, the way he spoke words that should have held genuine concern.
Three of her family members had abducted her, her uncle and his two sons, all of who were a high-caliber shinobi who were part of the Yamanaka clan. They were all specialized jounin. While she, a girl of 6 years of age, had only started to learn how to mold her own chakra. Her only skill was hitting the bullseye with a kunai, a talent acquired out of hours of practice her father had allowed her since she turned 5. She had to beg for her daddy to allow her use real kunai, turn her big blues at him before he agreed but only under his supervision of one of her cousins. She had picked Kamui to watch her in her trainings and he was now standing before her as her captor. Her eyes watered even more of the thought. Betrayal was something she had never felt before. It made her heart ache.
"W-Why Kumui?" she whimpered out, holding back a sob. She was the Yamanaka heiress. Young as she may be, she could not show weakness. However, her voice came out softer than her usual boisterous tone, one usually filled with mirth and joy.
He fully turned to her, his brown eyes fully at her now, narrowed with disdain. His face held a deep frown.
"Ino-sama." He almost spat out the customary extension to her name as he moved closer to her, standing right in front of her. "You have no right to the main branch nor to keep that mark meant for the head of the clan. You are girl. A weak heir."
He drew a kunai out of his pouch, gripping the hilt as he pushed the blade right under her throat. Her eyes were wide with fear as she felt the blade lightly cut her at the small movement, the wound stinging against the blade dug into her skin. As she felt a small amount of liquid at her collar bone, she whimpered ever so slightly, berating herself at the show of weakness as she did. Alas, she was only a child against the male in his early 20s. She wouldn't be able to do a thing if he decided to take her life.
The heiress expected more pain as she close her eyes shut but only heard laughter. She allowed her eyes to flutter open as she stared back at the man in front of her who had withdrew the kunai from the cut at her neck.
He smirked at her as he slid his kunai to the hem of her shirt, sliding ever so slightly as he stared down at the mark at the side of her waist. "Not just yet, little cousin. You have something inside of you that we need. Once we take that, you will die, princess." He snickered as he stared right into her eyes, a sadistic grin on his face that made her insides quiver as the image ingrained itself in her mind.
He turned away from her, went back to his post and left her to her own thoughts.
The young girl had an idea of what he was talking about. The mark was on her body after all. Being the coy little girl that she was, she had dragged her friends Chouji and Shikamaru to listen in on her father's monthly main branch meeting. A constant topic would be the mark on her lower abdomen. She had discovered that it was a seal passed down from generations of Yamanaka heirs. Her father was supposed to bear it during his reign however he had decided to pass it to his young daughter a year after she was born. The reasons were unclear however she had heard the power of the seal never manifested during Inoichi's time of owning it. She had assumed, along with Shikamaru's deduction, that had to be the reason.
She closed her eyes, curling herself into a ball to try and get as much warmth as she could. Her shivering never stopped from when it had started earlier that afternoon and she felt as lightheaded as she did the last time she had a fever. That, and she was scared. Her parents would surely be worried out of their minds. They would have found her to be missing earlier that morning. Her mom would usually check up on her as the sun rose before she cooked Ino's favorite breakfast, sunny side-up, bacons and a side of pancakes. She frowned at her stomach growled softly at the thought. Her captors had fed her an apple earlier that morning so she wouldn't grow sick during the journey.
"Too late." She thought as her teeth started to chatter, feeling warm yet cold at the same time. She willed herself to sleep so she wouldn't feel the cold around her, and the fear pulsing through her body.
A sudden movement jolted her awake, and she heard her rustles that had her eyes fluttering open.
"Father! Kai! Wake up!" she heard her cousin hiss in panic. He stood over her, scooping her in his arm before he threw her over his shoulder.
Her uncle was up first, trained alertness with his years as a shinobi apparent as he pulled his other son up as the younger man struggled to shake the sleep away. "Kai!"
They had started to sprint, and little Ino could see nothing but the ground as they hopped upon branches. Her uncle, Fuu, led the way as he always did yet he lacked the usual certainty in his strides and his voice from the words he spoke next.
"A mile?! 2 of them. Powerful chakra. How did you miss this?"
She felt Kamui's grip on her tightened and heard frustration and worry in his voice as he replied. "They concealed their presence so well father. It may have been a Genjutsu."
She understood the disbelief in their tone. The Yamanaka clan were full of top-tier sensors. They should have felt them way earlier before as their senses reached out to at least a 10-mile radius. It was why they were so confident being in a 3-men-cell. Confident enough not to mask their presence at camp. They knew they would sense any group first and would flee the sight long before their pursuers arrive at their camp site.
It seems that their confidence has caused their downfall. The small group of ninjas was currently closing in on them, obviously a team of speedy trackers who were relentlessly at their tail.
It wasn't long until they caught up, her captors caught in surprise as the youngest, Kai, was first to come to a halt as he avoided a barrage of weapons that was aimed at him. He had been at the back of the 3-men-cell they had formed. Kamui and the father stopped seconds after to help their youngest defend.
They were a group of two dressed in black clothes and grey vests with the customary porcelain mask of the ANBU Black Ops who ran straight for the youngest of the captors in blinding speed. The two helplessly watched as Kai fell at the blade of one of them, a tanto sword embedded so deeply into his abdomen that Ino saw the blade exit the back. The one masked as a rabbit, the taller one, had gotten him.
Ino was lowered to the ground rather and she stared up her cousin who was shaking in rage, grabbing onto two kunais at his pouch. Her uncle was no better. They both charged at their pursuers with a cry, anger and grief clear in their voices.
Young Ino watched the battle unfold with fearful eyes, watching the brute strength of her uncle and cousin against the deadly grace of their masked opponent. They faired well against each other and Ino was hopeful her captors would be defeated until she spotted a familiar hand-sign, her breath hitching at her throat.
Mind Disturbance Jutsu!
The two masked ninjas froze in their movement. One in a rabbit mask and the other in one resembling a weasel. Their gear and tanto blade were customary for those in ANBU Black Ops, the young girl noted.
Her cousin, Kamui had turn his attention back to her. He then pulled her in front of him, his blade at her throat again.
The two ANBU had begun to face each other, shakily raising their tanto blade as if to attack one another although resisting with great strength. Ino saw a flash of red between the slits of one of the masks, and too fast for her untrained eyes, one of the shinobi had broken away from the clasp of the jutsu and her uncle was down on his knees, throat slit by a tanto blade.
"Stay back! I'll kill her!" her cousins voice was filled with fear, almost breaking next to her ear. Her eyes were stared into the red eyes staring at her through the mask as she gripped at her cousin's wrist helplessly. The moment those red eyes turned to gaze behind her and she heard her cousin hiss and scream, dropping her to the ground beside him as he began to claw at his throat. She saw the kunai her cousin held beside her and felt a wave of anger overwhelm her.
They had tried to kill her! Take over her family's position and endanger her whole clan. She threw herself over her cousin who seemed to be in a daze, a Genjutsu, grabbing the kunai on the way with a speed she didn't know she possessed and driving it down at his throat. She felt the skin give way underneath the weapon as it pierced through flesh and veins, warm liquid hit her face and she shut her eyes. Feeling her hands coated in blood as she gripped the kunai shakily. She then let out the sob she had held in the whole night, her eyes widening at the amount of warm blood that coated her hands, realizing what she had done.
Itachi had watched as his genjutsu took over the mind of the man, watched as he let go of the young child who had look so frail and scared. Her blue eyes had gazed into his pleadingly as her little hands had clawed helplessly at the strong warms that held a kunai at her throat. He recognized her as the "pretty blonde girl" his brother had told him about when he had taken him to the playground once. She had been so bright and cheery then, as carefree as the spring wind that brew through her hair that day. She was void of all that now, clothes tattered and shivering limbs covered in dirt, platinum locks in a disarray.
He was afraid she would pass out or run after being released from her captor's grasp. At his surprise, she had grabbed the kunai, straddled the man at the shoulders as she drove down the blade into his neck.
The Uchiha's eyes met his partners who mirrored his concern as the child began sobbing, still grasping the kunai in her hands, the blood staining her face dripping down to the ends of her long platinum locks. He took steps towards her, placing a hand on her shoulder and watching her flinch as she pulled at the kunai embedded at her captor's throat, driven by the impulse to defend herself but failing.
There was no need.
"Calm down, Ino Yamanaka. It's okay. We're here at the Hokage's orders to bring you home." She paused at his words and sagged into his arms, her little hands letting go of the kunai that was stuck at her cousin's throat, too slippery with blood to yank out as she had wanted to do. Ino was tired and all she wanted to do was go back to her bed with her father and sleep.
He picked her up into his arms, carrying her with both arms, staring down at her teal eyes that was filled with tears, watching them roll down her cheeks.
"T-Thank you." There was relief in her voice as she spoke those two words softly, wrapping her arms around his shoulder in relief. He tightened his arms around the girl.
She had recognized the red orbs staring back at her, having learnt of all of Konoha's clans in her clan lessons. The Uchiha was the most prominent of all them along with the Hyuugas with their dojutsu. She noticed he was not a full-grown adult, lacking the stature of her cousin who had carried her. He was a little shorter and leaner, the stature of a teenager. Ino could only wonder what skill her savior had to have defeated her cousin with such ease, and to be part of the ANBU black ops.
She closed her eyes, leaning into his warmth and he had set her on his back before they journeyed back to Konoha. Her arms had wrapped around his shoulder.
Somewhere along the distance, Itachi felt the warmth of her chakra through the back of his spine, running up to his neck and to his head. He almost stopped in shock causing his partner to look back at him in question. He only shook his head as the feeling disappeared, shaking off the feeling as the child couldn't possibly manifest such a control of her chakra.
The raven-haired ninja let his mind drift as they traveled, thinking of how the child on his back felt having experienced all she had and how her first kill would leave a mark on the child's mind like it did with him when he was younger. Ino stirred at his back, eyes fluttering open, confusion apparent at the sound of his thoughts.
"I-I can hear you. In my head, Itachi.."
His train of thought paused in disbelief. He knew of the Yamanaka clan's affinity with jutsus and some, like Inoichi Yamanaka being able to transmit thoughts using a very delicate chakra control. But Ino was only a child.
The young Yamanaka had been told of stories of mental bonding within her clan, being able to share thoughts seamlessly without having to push chakra to form the bond. However, it had always been between clan members. She relayed this information and he accepted the explanation, sensing her own confusion.
'Thank you for saving me Itachi-senpai..'
Her voice echoed in his mind and he furrowed his brow at the sensation. It felt like a soft caress on his soul, the way her voice echoed in his subconsciousness.
Her eyes drooped, heavy in exhaustion. I'm so tired, Itachi-senpai.
Will you be there when I wake up?
I'll try to be.
Promise me. Please?
Alright, I promise.