Disclaimer: Naruto and all Naruto related stuff is (c) Masashi Kishimoto. All OCs and original storyline/plot/imagination (c) of ME!!!!!
A/N: Yes, I have started a new multi-chapter story... which means, my oneshot collection(s) is(are) on hold for the time being... I'll still post from time to time, but for the most part (as I always do with multi-chapter stories) this will be my priority. I'm a little swamped with school and a bunch of other stuff right now, but I promise I'll update as soon as possible...
DEDICATION: I'd like to thank everyone who voted in the polls to help me decide on how to proceed with this story. I dedicate this story to all of you; especially to fmorgana for all her help and allowing me to bounce around a lot of the ideas that are going into this story.
Everywhere around her, the cherub-faced little girl could hear faint and distant screams; coming from nowhere in particular, but surrounding her nonetheless. She knew they were not real; knew they were not happening in the present.
They were real; and they would be happening. Happening soon… very soon.
Thunder shattered the silent twilight; sending tremors of fear down her tiny body. Small tears began forming at the corners of her eyes, as she saw the slender form of the priestess rushing into her room. A worried expression hidden within the woman's emerald eyes disclosed to the girl that something was terribly wrong.
The woman standing before her never showed emotions. To see her so anxious only further added to the young girl's concern.
"Shhh." The emerald eyed woman silenced the girl.
Pulling her out of bed quickly, the woman took the young girl out into the hall. "Stay quiet." She instructed in a small whisper.
Together, they swiftly sped through the corridors of the large estate. In the stillness of the night, with little more than the occasional flash of lightning to illuminate the way, they quietly rushed through the halls until they reached a familiar bedroom door. The woman swiftly pulled the girl in; closing the sliding door behind them.
As she stood in the center of the sparsely decorated room; waiting patiently for the priestess to conduct whatever business she had in the room, the little girl's eyes followed a shadow flittering on the interior wall that separated this room from the master bedroom.
From the other side of the wall, where the master slept; she could hear the screaming start up again. It wasn't real either, but she knew it was closer than before.
"Maki!" The emerald eyed priestess called out to the girl; breaking her from her trance. "Here." The woman whispered as she handed the girl a small bundle of what appeared to be blankets.
She didn't realize at first what it was the woman had given her; but when the bundle began to wiggle in her arms, the girl knew…
And she knew what it meant.
"Why?" The little girl desperately questioned, as she looked upon the bundle she'd been given; a burden much too heavy for her tiny arms to carry.
"Can you not hear what is coming?" The woman gravely replied.
It wasn't a question. She knew the priestess knew about the screaming; they could both hear it. And they knew there was no way to stop it.
"…" The girl looked down at the bundle; unsure of whether she could really do what was being asked of her.
In her short years of life, she had proven her self time and again to be strong and intelligent beyond her years. She was responsible and hardworking, and the pride of her clan. By many, she had already been deemed the strongest to have ever been born to the Getsuei clan. (1) And all this, she had accomplished at the tender age of eight. But that was just it; she was eight. A child; not much older than the infant girl she held bundled up in her arms. How could she possibly be expected to take care of them both?
"Leave now and you should fine." The emerald eyed woman whispered, as she began opening a small wooden panel along the exterior bedroom wall.
"But-" The girl began to protest, as the woman guided her and the infant toward the exit.
Why was it she had to go alone? If they all left, wouldn't they all be saved?
"Keep low, and to the shadows." The priestess instructed. "Be silent and quick." Were her final instructions, before handing the girl a small bag of provisions, as she came toward the opening.
"I-" Tears began welling up in the girl's eyes, as she stood, staring at the secret door; terrified of what lay far beyond that wooden panel. "I…I ca-"
"You must!" The emerald-eyed priestess scolded, before the girl could even put to words the fear she harbored. "It is the duty of the Getsuei clan. Your duty."
"But…" The girl fought back the tears.
"You must." The woman repeated; though in a much softer tone than she had previously used.
"…" Reluctantly, the girl nodded.
Yes; it was her duty. Though she was just over eight years of age, she was already well educated in the ways of her clan. There was, of course, still much for her learn and experience, but the most important of duties that the Getsuei clan held, was to serve the infant girl she held in her arms. The Hiryuu clan was to be protected. It was her duty. (2)
Seeing the resolve in the little girl's eyes, the priestess handed her one last small memento; the teardrop emerald heirloom that hung around her neck. "Be safe." She whispered solemnly, before placing the necklace around the girl's neck and then planting a soft kiss on her forehead.
In that moment, as the priestess helped the two young girls climb out through the secret panel, time seemed to stand still. An icy chill ran up the little girl's spin; and then the screaming started.
Distant, but close. And this time, it was real...
"Aha!" Himakai jolted upright; gasping for breath. There were tears brimming at her eyes, as her left hand jerked up to feel for the emerald hanging loosely against her bare skin, beneath the black ANBU shirt she wore.
"Bad dream?" The unruly-haired ANBU tending to the small fire quietly questioned from a across the flames. For a moment she found herself lost in the flicker of the fire's light coloring the intense, yet warm, features of his face; his ANBU mask, sitting besides her own, having been discarded for the night.
"Huh?" Himakai stared questioningly at her mission partner.
At first, she was surprised to see him sitting closer to her than he had been when she'd fallen asleep, but at the same time, Himakai knew she really shouldn't have been. "Hai." She nodded; still tracing her fingers around the teardrop jewel she wore under her clothes.
Though it had been nearly sixteen years since, Himakai could still remember the night she received her necklace. It was the most terrifying experience of her life. The screaming she heard as she escaped the estate; the sights she saw of men, women, and children all being brutally slaughtered. The fire...
She could still see and hear it all vividly in her memory; though she tried so desperately to forget...
The one thing, she couldn't remember, though, was how she managed to get herself and the infant girl out. But somehow she had. They had made it out of the land of the estate and into the forest; slipping carefully through the cracks of the terrifying foe that laid siege to their home. But it hadn't ended there for the two girls. They had been followed, and if it weren't for the lone Konoha ANBU operative who had (according to him) smelled the scent of blood from miles away, and who had decided, on a whim, to investigate, Himakai and the infant would have died that night.
"…" She wanted to cry. Just remembering that night sent tremors coursing through her body. "Mother." Himakai whispered softly; clutching her fist over the covered jewel she wore.
"Was it the one where rabid bunnies try to chase you down a hole?" Ijinu jokingly asked; attempting to ease the sudden tension that had enveloped their small campsite. (4) "I hate that one." He stated with a serious expression.
Turning to face him better, she saw the concern in his eyes. Himakai knew he wanted to ask her to share her pain with him, but as always, out of respect for her and her secrets; of which he knew she had many, Ijinu allowed her the liberty of one more.
"ha." Himakai smiled; grateful to the feral-eyed man's understanding nature.
It was so like him. Ever since Himakai first met Ijinu in the academy, he had always been looking out for others. Like the rest of his clan, he embodied the very essence of loyalty and true camaraderie. He was kind and gentle, and always protective of those he cherished most.
"Don't laugh." He pouted. "Those things can be brutal. With their giant teeth… bet they could chew into a person's thigh and bite off a chuck."
"You have strange fears for an Inuzuka." Himakai smiled gently at the widely grinning shinobi. "Aren't dogs usually the ones who are supposed to chance bunnies?" She uncharacteristically teased; playing along with his intent to change the subject.
"Hey, we live in a progressive society." Ijinu's grin widened; creasing the red fangs on his cheeks, where his dimples indented in."Nothing wrong with a bunny chasing a dog every once in a while." He smirked. "Different kind of bunny of course." He mumbled as way of explanation on the complete turn about from his previous mock-fear of bunnies.
"haha." Himakai laughed softly; she was feeling much better now.
"Just something to keep in mind when we're back in the village." He smirked playfully.
Himakai smiled; relishing in the thought of their return. To the end of their long and arduous mission.
Yes, soon she would be back. Back to the village that had taken her in; the village she now called home. Back to the girl who knew nothing of their past; and who, with any luck, never would...
(1) Getsuei means MOON.
(2) Hiryuu means FLYING DRAGON
(3) Himakai means HELLFIRE
(4) Ijinu means DEVIL DOG
A/N: eeh... not so sure about the ending... but the over all chapter I liked... the beginning of the chapter I REALLY liked... explanations as to who the character are (if you haven't already read my dA journal) will become clear as the stories goes on... so no worries.. and yes this is a NejiTen (like almost all my stories ;P), so no worries, the Nejiten-ness will appear soon enough...
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