Disclaimer: I do not own anything except the expanded sections not seen in the anime.

Clouded Heart

He'd hit her.

The reality of the fact sank in with all the force of an anvil falling from the heavens. Yet it touched her only ever so lightly, as if she herself was no longer there, as if her material self had shrunk away from the absolute, damning fact that...

He'd hit her.

The silence following the sharp slap, the pain of the contact burning her cheek. Her eyes widened, rounded almost imperceptibly as the searing sensation, so miniscule and overwhelming at the same time, torched a way into the depths of her soul, unlocking memories she thought she had long since dealt with and left behind.

A little girl, kneeling by the bedside, keeping vigil over a sleeping body. The tapping of familiar footsteps coming to halt just behind her.

Without looking back, she whispered dully, her hand cradling the cold, limp one of her mother's, as if finding some cool comfort, a reassurance in that solid contact.

"Mama...died..."

In an instant, she was back to when she was as a child, feeling very far away from the man who claimed to be her father. He had not come when Mama needed him. He had been distant, away from her, away from both of them. Her conscious mind shied away from the trembling crack in the bridge of emotions that bound father and daughter together, a crack caused by that fateful moment of contact between hand and cheek. Except, this time, it was not comforting like the cold, dead hand of her mother lying in silent repose, the notion of death shrouded in a semblance of life, the warmth still faintly lingering in pallid cheeks. This, this was harsh, cruel, severing. The trembling crack shook further as she fled to a place within herself, and with a dead moan it gave way, a yawning chasm opening up between her and...the unfamiliar man before her, as she locked herself up within a safe haven of happy memories.

Eyes at once distant and vacant, staring far away as if she had someplace else to be. She spoke, certain in the firm safety of memory's embrace.

"Huh? I must have come to the wrong house..." Her voice trailed off into space, her body kicking into motion before she was fully aware of it, mechanically putting on shoes, rounding past the man and another girl (his daughter perhaps? her mind suggested), and stepping out into bright sunshine, away from the house where shadows gathered, so different from the light of a home she was used to, as her memories shifted and blurred into a heavy fog of blanketing security and warmth.

Her footsteps rang steadily on the pavement, her mind and soul serene as she made her way out of the stranger's house. As she padded placidly towards a destination she was vaguely aware of, she faintly heard the rush of footsteps from the house she had just recently vacated, and the whisper of a name floated on the wind to her sensitive ears.

"Jubei..."

She smiled, her mind already wandering. She was not this 'Jubei'. Her name was Nanohana Jiyu, and she was going back to find her mother, who loved her and cared for her. A mother who would protect her, not hurt her.

Jiyu hummed to herself as she walked off into the blinding sunshine, her path unseen, wreathed in the growing shadows which no one could see.


Short drabble on the end of episode 9 in Jubei-chan 2: Revenge of the Siberian Yagyu. I was feeling angsty and needed an outlet, so I leapt on this opportunity because I didn't want to angst up my other work-in-progress. Please read and review!