Series and Character: Naruto: Tayuya of the Sound Four.
Title: Song of Splinters
Summary: Ninjas are meant to survive, and the ninja hidden in the Sound more so than any others. With this in mind, Tayuya survives past her time. (An AU set several hours after her defeat in the Valley of the End arc)
Warnings: Gore. So much of it. Self-mutilation of the practical kind.
Rating: About a (15) in film terms for some swearing and a lot of blood.

The ability to move comes back slowly, shattered nerve by shattered nerve. The first thing she thinks is that she can't feel her legs. Actually, the first thing she thinks is a long stream of curses towards a non-specific but Orochimaru-like entity, followed by a small bout of agonised screaming containing nothing but painpainpain, but they don't count even a bit.The second is that whatever her body is doing doesn't matter, if she can't find her precious instrument. One slim silver shard slices her questing fingertips open, and a bent head joint rolls away from her bruised palm, but she cannot find anything more.

She breaks for another moment, or hour, or day. She's still alive afterwards, anyway. of frantic, desperate yells of anger and hate, as if the bitch who could control the air can still hear her. There's nothing else to do, no one else to abuse, and she's falling quickly into a blood-soaked haze. Tools, she thinks. She needs to call her golems out. They can lift, they can carry. They only respond to the sound of a flute.

The sound of bone snapping echoes around the forest, the first sound she has heard other than her own hoarse voice. She doesn't scream any more, but her curse seal is flush against her skin, trying to strengthen legs that aren't there to fill with its lukewarm, sickly chakra. It helps her to grip the shards of her own destroyed leg tighter, the bleached white slick and slimy with blood and other things that no one other than a ninja or a butcher should ever have to think about. Use everything, even the things so broken and disgusting that they should only be sent to a grave. It's sickeningly autobiographic.

The branch she's holding is straight, and already rotting from the inside, and the centre is gouged out easily, as shaky as her hands are becoming. She's not Kimimaro; she can't rip out her own fucking spine and make a perfectly formed weapon. She's Tayuya, flawed and scratched and feral, and her new flute is the same. She cuts each hole carefully, cutting her fingers an infinite number of times in the process. She hums a tune through the blood filling her mouth, plays the note, and whittles another hole. It's a rhythm. Hum, play, whittle. Turn your head that nauseating few inches away from the safety of stillness, and spit the blood away, where a small insect pokes disinterestedly at the mess.

It's not a flute, it's a pipe in an ugly semblance of a real instrument, but it is crimson with her blood and pumped full of her chakra, and it will do. She begins to play, fingers cracking with the small level of agility required, and nearly breaks off to yell in triumph when the telltale black marks snake – no, not snake. Spiral – away from her, twisting into the familiar patterns. She doesn't say the name of the technique, just watches as avidly as a starving dog as smoke and the smell of warm flesh fill her small space. An A minor, a B. Lilt the phrases, let it trail off, expectant. Her fingers have forgotten the pain, are just communicating in her old way, when the golems she had were smaller and more human, before everything became about Defence and Attack and Formations. She takes them through movement after movement, childish tunes causing them to cavort around her. Finally she finds the music again, the dirges that gave her confidence and power pouring from this warped cylinder.

The trees take all three golems to move, and it's terrifyingly close as to whether one can be moved to dart in and pull what is left of her mangled lower half out with the rest of her. Her seal has faded to the clammy heat of infection; her angry trembling has subsided to weakness. The shortest of the three has her in his arms, cradled in a way that she would protest if it didn't relieve the blinding pain in her back, and she begins to play again, trickles of blood causing pauses and whispers in the tune as they travel with her breath. As one, the towering figures shift, and are gone towards her tune's target.

Her song mimics the drifting leaves, the sudden autumnal flurry of strength. Konoha, the land of the shadow-boy; the optimist. Where they might listen for a second before sticking a knife into what's left of her neck.

She can only think one last thing: That whatever they're going to do, the most violent and freakish ninja they have wouldn't hold a candle to any one of the eager servants a vengeful master could give her to. Blood-soaked, half-conscious, a realist, she hears the stirrings of life, and follows them.