A look back at what might have been.
This is the first part of a two-shot. This section is in Fugaku's viewpoint, and the second part will be in Mikoto's viewpoint.
Disclaimer: Naruto is property of Kishimoto-sama. I am just playing with his characters. However, Inuzuka Shikon is mine. All mine. Take that, Kishimoto-sama!
The first time they met, she made him cry.
She was only one at the time, and he a self-confident six year-old. His outo-san had taken him along on a visit to Uchiha Yoshiro, one of the clan elders. Yoshiro's granddaughter had been left in his care while both her parents were on a mission and in the adults' minds it made perfect sense to leave the two children together.
Once the door slid shut behind the men, Fugaku scowled at the little girl. She was crawling across the floor and...was that drool running out of her mouth? He shuddered, taking a step away from her. She had been focused on catching the dust mites floating in the shafts of sunlight, but his motion drew her attention. Like a shark scenting blood, she moved toward him. A few feet away, she plopped onto her diaper-padded bottom and gave him the most charming, gap-toothed grin she could muster. He crossed his arms and scowled back at her. Her smile didn't waver. She held pudgy arms up toward him in appeal.
"Up," she demanded.
His scowl deepened and he shook his head in mute refusal. Her lower lip trembled in frustration at being denied and it was then that the war truly began. Apparently giving up, she crawled off to amuse herself.
"I can't believe otou-san left me here with a baby," the boy grumbled, turning his head to look toward the doorway.
He could, very faintly, hear the two adults conversing behind the thin paper door. He bit his lip for a moment in thought. His otou-san hadn't told him to stay put. Therefore, there was no harm in him doing a little reconnaissance. He eased toward the door, consciously lightening his footsteps and concealing his chakra.
He was half-way there when the first projectile collided with the back of his head. He spun just in time to be nailed in the nose by a stuffed animal. Fugaku managed to catch the next toy thrown his way, scowling at the baby on the other side of the room. She met his gaze with dark eyes that were wide and innocent. After a long, tense silence, she lifted her arms again.
"No!" the boy stated.
Her lip wobbled, a small whimper leaving her throat. Her dark eyes screwed shut and her mouth opened impossibly wide. Fugaku wasn't ready for the volume of the scream she created. How could such an ear-piercing noise come from such a tiny creature? He heard footsteps on the other side of the door and ran for his tiny cousin. He swooped the girl up in his arms.
Instantly, her wails stopped.
The door slid open and Yoshiro poked his head out. Fugaku could see his otou-san just behind the clan elder. Both of them looked disapprovingly at the children.
"Please keep Mikoto-chan quiet, Fugaku-kun," the elder said.
"Yes, Yoshiro-sama," the boy replied.
The two men nodded, apparently satisfied, though his father gave him one more warning glance before they shut the door behind them. Fugaku started to set the baby down, but the instant her feet touched the wooden floor, she started to whimper. He let out a sigh of frustration.
"You have to be quiet," he told her.
She looked up at him with those innocent eyes and he fell for it. He moved back toward the door and pressed his ear against it, directing chakra to his ear to hear what the adults were discussing.
"-Sounds like an excellent proposal, Yoshiro-san. After all, my son needs-" his otou-san was saying.
The boy's curiosity was piqued. They were talking about him? However, he didn't get to hear what he 'needed,' according to his otou-san, because a small hand was pulling at his shirt. He lifted his ear from the door to scowl at the girl.
"Fu..." she said.
"Quiet," he scolded.
He pressed his ear back against the thin paper. The two men were saying something about a contract that would be signed as soon as Yoshiro's son returned from his mission. The tiny hand was tugging at his shirt again, but he made the mistake of ignoring it. He had no warning before a hand was tangled in his hair and yanking at it. He yelped, dropping the baby. She still had her hold on his hair, so his head was jerked down sharply before the delicate strands gave way. They stared at each other, a chunk of his hair clutched tightly in her chubby hand. Tears of pain filled his eyes. The boy resolutely blinked them away, though one managed to escape and run down his cheek. He wouldn't let this girl see him cry.
Said girl, however, had no such compunction. Her eyes screwed shut a second time and she began to wail. The door slammed open in seconds and Yoshiro swept his granddaughter up in protective arms. Fugaku was spun to face his otou-san.
"What did you do to her?" his otou-san demanded.
"I...didn't..." he stammered.
His otou-san's dark eyes narrowed, burning Sharingan bright.
"Were you snooping, Fugaku?" he asked.
The boy debated the merit of trying to deceive his otou-san, but the throbbing in his skull convinced him that truth was the better path to take. He lowered his head.
"Yes," he said quietly.
"We'll discuss this when we get home," his otou-san stated.
Fugaku cast a glance toward Yoshiro and the baby. She had quieted down and was watching him with those innocent eyes that had fooled him so utterly. Seeing that she had his attention, she gave him another gap-toothed grin.
That was when Fugaku first began to suspect that girls--this one in particular--were evil.
The next time they met, she made him frustrated.
He was eleven, nearly old enough to become a genin, while she was six and just now starting her ninja training. He had made plans to go to the training fields with some of is friends, when his otou-san informed him that he was expected to spend time with his cousin that afternoon. Thus, he was already in a black mood as he awaited her arrival just outside the door to his home.
To add insult to injury, she came bouncing down the sidewalk with her dark hair in pigtails. As soon as she saw him, she gave him that same innocent grin that had gotten him in so much trouble when they were younger.
"Hello!" she chirped.
"Hi," he returned in a more subdued manner.
Her smile faded slightly.
"What do you want to do?" she asked.
He shrugged. Her smile vanished completely, dark eyes narrowing as though she were sizing him for a coffin. He shifted uncomfortably at the look, only to straighten with indignation a moment later. No six year-old girl was going to make the heir to the Uchiha clan uncomfortable!
"What would you be doing if I weren't here?" she asked.
He met her gaze head-on.
"Training with my friends," he said.
The smile was back. She snatched his hand with hers and tugged him toward the training fields.
"Let's go then!" she exclaimed.
'Maybe this won't be so bad,' he thought grudgingly.
He would later come to realize that she was very talented at lulling him into a false sense of security.
Half an hour later, she was sitting in the grass watching him throwing kunai alongside several other boys his own age. A crown she had woven from daisies hung lopsidedly from her dark hair, though the matching bracelet had been discarded in the grass. He turned his gaze from her and threw another kunai, grunting in frustration as it flew wide of the bull's eye.
"You're releasing them too late," she said suddenly.
He didn't bother to glance back at her. His skull, where she had ripped out a portion of his hair last time he ignored her, began to throb. Inuzuka Shikon, however, did look back at her. His brown eyes glinted with mischief.
"Like you could throw them any better, little girl," he teased.
Her nose lifted into the air.
"As a matter of fact, I could," she stated.
The boys, save for Fugaku, all guffawed. The Uchiha was feeling a sense of doom as his friends all crowded around the girl. Shikon dramatically brandished a kunai, bowing over it as he presented it to the girl.
"I beg you to show us your superior skill..." he hesitated, lifting an eyebrow.
"Uchiha Mikoto," she supplied.
"Mikoto-chan," the Inuzuka finished.
She took the kunai from him and primly rose, brushing grass from her skirt. She had to hold the large weapon in two delicate hands as she readied herself to throw it. Behind her, the boys were snickering and elbowing each other. There was no way this little girl could throw such a heavy weapon so far, let alone actually hit the center of the target. Mikoto ignored them. She threw her body into the motion and the kunai whizzed from her hands.
The training field fell silent as the kunai thunked directly into the center of the target. She turned to the awe-struck boys with that same innocent smile.
"Child's play," she said.
Shikon was the first to move.
"That was amazing, Mikoto-chan!" he said.
Fugaku's other friends obviously agreed, for training was forgotten as they all gathered around the tiny girl. Fugaku was left alone to sulk. He would never admit that he was also impressed.
That was when Fugaku became certain that females were evil.
The next time they met, she made him speechless.
Fugaku and Shikon were sitting together at Ichiraku's, a ramen stand that had recently opened. The Inuzuka was digging happily into his food, occasionally tossing bits down to the massive dog that sat beside him. Fugaku was eating his meal in a more restrained manner, often pausing to twirl noodles around his chopsticks. Shikon set his empty bowl aside and reached over with his chopsticks to swipe some of his teammate's food. Without even glancing toward the other teenager, Fugaku's chopsticks caught Shikon's. The Inuzuka extended his lower lip in a pout.
"Come on, Fugaku. You're just letting it get cold," he whined.
Stubbornly, the Uchiha clan heir finished off his ramen and set the bowl aside. Shikon was watching him closely and, when his friend continued to stare blankly at the countertop, he nudged him in the side.
"So...?" he urged.
Fugaku sighed heavily.
"My father is pushing me to get married again," he mumbled.
"Well, you are twenty-three. It's past time you find someone and start popping out little red-eyed babies," the Inuzuka said cheerfully.
Fugaku slanted a look toward his friend, Sharingan gleaming behind his onyx eyes.
"That is just plain disturbing," he stated.
Shikon shrugged, undisturbed by the flare of killing intent from the Uchiha. He had made an art of irritating his teammate to the edge of snapping, but no further. His grin widened, exposing razor-sharp canines.
"How about Mi-chan? I heard she's supposed to be coming back from her mission soon," he said.
Fugaku recoiled, unable to restrain a shudder. Marry the bane of his existence? Kami forbid that should ever happen. He summoned up a picture of her as he had last seen her two years ago. Although sixteen, she still possessed the body of a child and the wit of someone far older. She had been lecturing him on basic taijutsu moves--apparently his were sloppy. A few days after that, she had left on a mission as one of the ambassadors to Cloud. Truth to tell, he had not missed her a single day of the two years she had been gone.
Wordlessly, he pulled out money to cover their bill and set it down on the counter before sliding off his stool. Shikon hurried after him as he strode away from the ramen stand. He laid a hand on the Uchiha's shoulder.
"Hold up a minute, Fugaku. I didn't really mean that," he apologized.
Fugaku mustered up a slight smile for his friend.
"Yeah...it's just that the elders are really pushing me on this," he said.
Shikon nodded in understanding. Admittedly, the Inuzuka clan was much more laid back than the Uchiha, but clan politics were clan politics no matter how laid back they might be. He could see the strain now, etching lines onto a face far too young for such worries. But that was the life of a ninja, the life of a clan heir.
"You'll find someone," he assured his friend.
They continued toward the Uchiha compound, a silence born of long years of friendship falling between them. Shikon didn't need words to know that Fugaku was simply grateful to know that someone was supporting him--not that the proud man would ever openly admit such a thing. His nose twitched as he caught a familiar scent. He was about to remark on it when his friend stopped dead in his tracks. Shikon followed his gaze toward a young woman walking a short distance ahead of them.
She was clothed entirely in black, from her heeled sandals to pants and a shirt that were tight enough to suggest generous curves. Her long, dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail so that it half-concealed the red and white fan on the back of her shirt. As though sensing their gaze, she turned to face them. Her features were delicate and refined. Dark eyes that were too large for her face spoke of innocence, yet her perusal of them was cold and completely professional.
She was the most beautiful woman Fugaku had ever seen.
Then Shikon opened his mouth and broke the spell, "Mi-chan!"
A smile spread across full lips. She threw herself at the Inuzuka, hugging him tightly.
"Shi-kun!" she returned.
Fugaku's face paled. There was only one person who had ever called his teammate by that name.
But this beautiful woman couldn't be...
She stepped back from Shikon, her dark eyes turning to him.
"Is that really you, Fugaku?" she asked.
"Mikoto?" he questioned.
She nodded, smile fading from her face until she was again the reserved beauty he had been gaping at.
"It is good to see you both," she said, sparing a smile for the Inuzuka before turning and walking away.
Shikon glanced at his dumbstruck friend, baring his fangs in a grin.
"What was that you were saying?" he teased.
Fugaku was staring after her. Was it possible for someone to change so much in two years? She actually didn't seem that bad. Certainly she was beautiful, and she appeared to have matured since he last saw her. If he had to get married anyway...
Maybe females weren't as evil as he had always thought they were.
Please review and let me know what you thought of this!