Summary: Being reborn into the Uchiha clan before the massacre was a one-way ticket to disaster.
Chapter 1: Rebirth
I wasn't sure exactly when I became aware. It wasn't sudden like waking up. It was more like dreaming. My sense of touch came first, my face, my lips, my nose. Then I felt other things, like a body but not. I couldn't move.
I slept, I think. I wasn't sure how much time passed or even if time was passing at all. I was aware and not.
I had fingers. When did that happen? I flexed my hand, the movement ungainly and awkward. I had feet too. I kicked once, just to test the muscles, but the movement was hindered, like I was in a thick, elastic bag.
There was warmth or maybe sound. But not. It wasn't heat exactly, but that was the closest comparison I could make. It was all around me, like a curtain of white noise. And it was inside me. It ebbed and flowed like water, and I found that if I paid particular attention, I could move it back and forth. It was like a game, pushing and pulling the warmth from my chest into my toes.
But it was also tiring.
I was so tired.
I could move more easily. I kicked and reached out often, seeking anything in the dark.
But there was nothing. I settled back eventually.
And I slept.
And then I was awake.
The warmth, which had, up until this point, been a pleasant stream, surged like a burst dam, the sudden violence nearly scalding me. I reached out for nothing, the warmth crackling life fire, like lightning all around me.
I kicked. But the warmth still pulsed and crackled. It no longer flowed into me in a steady stream. No, it flowed around me. And I was suddenly tired.
So, so tired.
I was cold.
I had eyes. Of course I had eyes.
But something was wrong. Everything was blurry.
Why had it taken so long to remember that I could see?
And why had I never thought to open them while in the place with the warmth?
There was warmth here too, but it was different, not like the comforting warmth that flowed into my belly. This was different, alien. It flowed into my arms and neck. It felt strange.
My muscles were weird too. I'd been flexing my limbs and kicking, but in the warm place there had been no up or down, as if gravity had no hold over me.
Here, though? Here was different.
I couldn't even lift my head. I tried to call out, but my lips were too puffy and my tongue was unwieldy in my mouth.
Somewhere, a baby cried.
When I woke, there were giants around me, monolithic things whose shapes I could barely make out. They were able to pick me up and carry me around as if I weighed nothing.
I cried out in terror, but again all I heard was the screaming of a baby.
I stopped to listen, and so did the baby.
Then it finally, finally clicked.
After one minor panic attack and one major existential crisis, my next priority was figuring out where exactly I'd been reborn. It wasn't easy since my infant body wanted nothing beyond food, sleep, and warm cuddles, which made it hard to focus on anything long enough to really think about it. I gathered that something must have gone wrong in the womb, because I was housed in an incubator. There were several IVs attached to my arms and neck to provide nutrients.
I was also vaguely aware of the giants (adults) that came and went. And with each passing day my vision grew clearer until I could recognize faces. Most of the adults had obvious nursing uniforms, and all were of Asian descent, though many came with wild Technicolor hair.
Despite the rotating cast, there was a small group of people that came to visit me regularly in those first few weeks. They were obviously a family, a mother and father and their two children. They had classic Japanese features including dark hair and eyes along with pale skin. The woman was young-ish, perhaps mid twenties, and pretty with a kind, sad smile. She was always carrying a small bundle, a baby. The other child was also young, perhaps four or five. He had shoulder-length black hair and wide, intelligent eyes that tracked my smallest movement with attentive curiosity. The man was older and stone-faced when he looked down at me.
After just over a month in the hospital, they were the ones to come and collect me.
Life outside the incubator was…difficult.
As a baby, I didn't have a lot of mobility. When I tried to lift my head, I found that I didn't have the strength. When I tried to move my arms, they flailed around like limp noodles. When I tried to speak, my tongue remained infuriatingly unresponsive. I was left with no way to move or communicate beyond crying, which my pride wouldn't allow unless I was truly desperate. I was left with long hours of sleeping and boredom, though it did allow me to observe the world around me.
Oddly, the warmth I'd noticed in the womb wasn't just inside me. It was inside everyone. When someone entered my room, I could sense them before I could see or hear them. The sense was dim, like feeling the warmth from a candle, but if I concentrated, I could feel their warmth and the way it flowed through their bodies. If I concentrated really, really hard, I could even sense them in the hallways and downstairs, but the feeling was so faint that it might have been my imagination. I wasn't able to experiment too much, as it inevitably left me exhausted.
When I wasn't napping or trying to get comfortable in my new body, I was carefully listening to the words spoken around me, desperately trying to pick up sounds and string them together into something resembling a coherent word or sentence. My brain, still technically that of a baby, was like a sponge soaking up everything. My parents weren't actively trying to teach me anything yet, though the man sometimes said "Tou-chan!" Daddy slowly and with exaggerated mouth movements. I tried to mimic him, but the closest I could get was "Ha-Ha!" And that was little more than a pair of sharp exhalations. The woman tried with "Kaa-chan!" Mommy. But the best I could do was a "Haa-Ha!" Despite the failed attempt, she beamed and said something to the man, who smiled, a sharp contrast to his normally stoic expression.
I shared a nursery with the other baby, who turned out to be a boy. And, if my guess was correct, his name was Sasuke. The older boy was named Itachi, which was weird, but I supposed there were people who got really into anime, a fact which was verified when I noticed the Uchiha fan on the boy's back. Apparently they were really into cosplay too, but there were worse fates, I supposed. I also picked up on my name, which was apparently 'Kiyo'.
Itachi had his own room down the hall, but he almost always gravitated to our room to play or take us out to the back garden, which proved to be somewhat hazardous. I hadn't even been out of the hospital for a week when I caught a cold and was placed right back into it again. My family left me there overnight for observation.
And that's where I was when it happened.
I jolted awake, shrieking at the nightmare, at the roaring monster whose anger cut through me like a knife, drowning me in raw terror. But as I flailed around, dizzyingly awake in a way I hadn't been since my rebirth, the nightmare did not fade. The roars grew louder, and there were crashing sounds and screaming coming from outside. My shriek cut off as I froze helplessly in my crib. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't even think.
All I could do was lay there and wait to die.
Eventually the terrifying presence vanished, gone so completely that it might have been a dream if it weren't for the lingering sense of dread hanging in the air like a thick fog. I waited there all night, still and quiet and alone until a nurse came by to check on me. She was frazzled, her wide eyes sweeping over me once before nodding and rushing out.
Her white uniform, normally pristine, was speckled with reddish-brown.
I was very, very quiet.
With daylight came my mother and brothers. She looked over me with anxious eyes and patted my small tuft of hair. Itachi also looked relieved, and he poked my cheek gently by way of greeting. I whimpered, the first sound I'd made since it happened, and he looked sad.
They came to visit me every day for my two-week hospital stay until my cold cleared up and the nurses sent me home. Itachi took me and little Sasuke for a walk among heavily laden wagons being driven by oxen through the streets toward some unknown location. That alone sent alarm bells ringing in my head. Who used oxen in this day and age? But that wasn't the only thing I noticed now that I finally had a chance to look around. The buildings were strange, all curves and odd angles with graffiti and posters slapped in the most inaccessible places. It was as if the builders had only passing familiarity with architecture styles and many of them looked like they were still standing by the power of hopes and dreams.
My confusion bled to worry, but it wasn't until Itachi rounded a corner and the Hokage monument came into view that the truth reared up and smacked me across the face.
Oh, oh no.
I had been reborn into the world of Naruto.
Into the Uchiha clan.
Before the massacre.
And I was completely-