All I Ever Wanted

Author's Notes: Well, of course it is Naruto based, but it's about one of my characters...a sand nin reincarnated from the reigning member of a lost clan... Maybe someday I'll place her into one of my major stories instead of just this little side-story...

Warning: A/U...

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Gleaming in the moonlight

The shrine rose above her hitai-ate-protected head, appearing out of the desert as if out of the mists of time. She drew her cloak closer around her and continued to make her way slowly through the sand, legs sinking into the soft drifts with every step. As she drew closer, she began to see that it was not just a shrine after all, but an immense structure, and through the main gateway she could see beautiful, lush green trees.

Was it a mirage?

She didn't know, and so kept pressing on, leaving behind the moon as her shape was bathed in shadow.

Cool and clean and all I've ever known

Stumbling inside; she couldn't even bear to stand and make her first offerings of service to the shrine master. She headed for the oasis of water in the center of the sandy plaza, dropping to her knees and plunging her hands into the water.

She raised them to her mouth and drank slowly, relishing the coolness, the purity, and when she had finally slacked her thirst he slowly looked up from her knelt position and looked above the swaying tree leaves to see a statue bearing over her.

All I ever wanted

How long she knelt like that she could not say, but something in the statue's gaze as its lioness head glared disapprovingly down at her kept her on her knees, her hands held up in a silent plea for forgiveness.

Sweet perfumes of incense

Suddenly, the feeling of being watched vanished and the oasis disappeared, leaving her in an enormous plaza with elegant tiles and wall carvings all around the square. She rose to her feet, half honored, half frightened, but all of her ready to walk whatever path her goddess required of her.

Graceful rooms of alabaster stone

Unsure of where to go next, she remembered the words of her shinobi tutors and slowly drew back the headband that had held back her hair, and took it from her head and folded it carefully.

She turned a full circle, searching for the exit, and then she saw a hallway leading off out of the plaza and to the left of it there was a sort of flat place carved out of the rock. She walked towards it, unsteady, but as she ran her hand across it she found it smooth, and gently placed the cloth upon its surface.

All I ever wanted

She wandered into the shrine, through the long hallways with no doorways, past words on the walls and pictographs carved into the floor, and statues of the goddess of rage on altars at every corner. They were carved into the very walls, and the woman felt no need to stop and examine them closer.

She knew them very well already.

This is my home

She had carved them herself; she was sure of it. She looked down at her hands, seeing their rough surface, used to hard labor and not the easy life of a noble lady or priestess. There was honor in work, she knew. She was proud, and finally she found another plaza bare to the sky, and she lifted up her eyes to greet the deity.

With my father, mother, brother

The goddess who ruled this place was not kind or gentle, she knew, but the moon that rose watched over it by night when her rages were the worst, and only his divine light could calm her. The woman watched the moon for many minutes, watching it move every so slowly across the sky.

Oh so noble, oh so strong

She envied the moon. How sure the god was of its place in the universe, and yet the woman felt that her own future had been decided for her already. She just wasn't sure what it was yet...

But she continued to walk, and through the passageways, with no fear, she walked. Slowly, as she moved, her steps became more confident and she found herself turning unpredictably at corners, and at first she didn't understand how she could know where to go, but the final room with an altar in the corner, with the statue, she moved towards with a purpose.

Now I am home

It was small but not bare, a statue of the lioness goddess in the corner, atop an altar that had been carved directly into the rock. It was beautiful, and she knew instinctively it was hers. With a look at the bed, she saw for the first time a beautiful set of clothes.

Here among my trappings and belongings

They were silky to the touch, soft, and she was grateful to exchange her traveling clothes for them. They were perfectly fit, comfortable and as she moved about her room in them, she had the sudden urge to kick something.

I belong

She was graceful, he knew. As graceful as a feline, her kicks were fluid and her punches even more so, and as she moved, tracing long-forgotten forms designed by shinobi masters, she knew with more and more certainty that there were reasons for her existence.

And if anybody doubts it

Finally, a low growl from her stomach brought her up short, and she made sure to carefully fold her traveling clothes before she took up a knife from the altar and held it lightly in her hand. Knives always felt more like claws, she reflected as she moved down the hallway again, feet padding silently, purposefully, as if they, and not she, knew where to go.

They couldn't be more wrong

She found herself in beautiful gardens, and she was sure now she had found a place between the afterworld and the earth, for there was so much here, and it could never fit only in that temple in the desert. No, this was truly divine.

Moving through the gardens, she reached up and took a ripe plum from a tree and bit into it, the taste bringing back memories of days forgotten.

I am a guardian of a last clan

Once upon a time she had run through these gardens, when they were full of life, and love. Her parents had been the guardians themselves, warriors who kept watch over the goddess and god of the shrine. They had taught her everything they knew, and she had served out her life and taught her own daughters.

A daughter of the proud history that's shown

She could remember the days when there were many families, and when they had all lived together in peace, and she found her way back to the main plaza and stared up at the statue, wondering what had happened to them.

Etched on every wall

The hallways told stories, she knew, for she had often etched her own works into them. She went walking down the hallways that had once been empty, and as she walked the plum's sweet taste began to go sour.

Stories were told of friendships and loves and then, one by one, they began to tell of deaths and of children who, in the generations after her own time, found no goddess in the depths of the shrine and left to follow in the footsteps of other clans.

Surely this is all I ever wanted

She read of the desertion, and the eventual disappearance of the shrine from the minds and hearts of the peoples, until only nomadic clans were worshiping the goddess and her consort. And they were not enough, and though they held to the faith, the shrine slipped behind times, waiting there, as if for someone they knew would come.

All I ever wanted

The last scripture on the walls was of a knife held upright by a fist that was half a paw, over a face in the background that was half a feline and half a woman. She stood there at the wall for a long moment, head cocked to the side, contemplating.

All I ever wanted

And then she took the knife and held it up, knelt by the wall, and began to add another story. A story of hardship, a childhood of longing for something unknown, a journey from one end of the world to the other, in search of something half-understood. It was a journey of trust, and it had led her here, and she knew, as her knife cut easily into the malleable shrine walls, she knew there was a call others would answer.

The goddess would return, for those who had kept their faith, and their love, and for all those who believed, the shrine and its guarding clan could be found again. And when it was found, she would be there. Waiting at the doorway, greeting those who entered, and welcoming home old friends.