She's happy, she smiles a lot, and she likes everyone she meets for the first time, again. She's still pretty. Everyone loves her in the Oasis Hidden in the Desert.
Her body is slender, with modest breasts and modest hips, and she's dressed in loose, comfortable clothing. Her face, once sliding into pinched sternness from the stresses of being one of the people who changed the nations, has relaxed. The only wrinkles that will grow on her now are the ones from smiling. All the children smile and laugh and play around her skirts, and they bring her flowers, which they tuck into her hair.
She has no hands to accept them, you see.
She doesn't remember having hands, but the motions of a lifetime, however short, are ingrained, and she reaches for things with stumps wrapped in thin embroidered leather made by her best friend. The flowers stitched into the covers are pretty, but they also provide extra grip for when she does manage to pick things up cradled between her forearms. Sometimes she does it without looking, like at meals, and she knocks her drink over, then stares at it in confusion. Everyone makes sure to laugh when she does that, and she laughs in return and smiles and it's cleaned up and forgotten. Everything is okay in her new world, and a lot of people work very hard to keep it that way, because she had once worked very hard to save theirs.
Hands were the most memorable part about her. She had amazing hands which could crush boulders, dry the tears of a crying child, and save lives without hesitation. Her hands were considered the most dangerous part about her, so her captors removed them.
They forgot to consider the ramifications when they chopped both her hands off, since she was nearly insensate at the time, but they found the truly dangerous part of her when, on reflex, she slipped her bleeding wrist out of the shackles and stabbed one tormentor in the throat with the jagged end of her own arm.
Her spirit was the most dangerous part about her. For someone always praised for her mind, yet considered weak of will and purpose as a child, her spirit had been forged into something truly amazing in the fire created by her two contesting teammates.
Not torture, not genjutsu, not humiliation, lies, deprivation, not false kindness or any of the best efforts of her enemies could break her spirit. So they killed her mind.
She walks and smiles, but she's dead.
They call her Yuki, now, because she was found, quite on accident, in a ramshackle brothel out in the islands that used to be part of the country of Earth, before it was shattered and burned and the ocean flooded the valleys, on a snowy winter day, and also because her hair is white now, bleached of the vibrant pink that used to be her most distinguishing feature.
No one knows how she got there. She was supposed to have died in captivity, though, perhaps in the final days of the war, one of her jailors had seen the opportunity to make a ryo or two off her as he fled his doomed home with all the possessions he could carry, and sold her to the first person who offered. She wasn't easily recognizable, but the young ninja looking for some quick companionship had, like everyone else originally from Konoha, grew up during the legend of Team Seven, and was one of many who had been treated by her personally, for shrapnel embedded in his chest from a doton jutsu.
You don't forget the face of someone who has literally seen your heart. Not if you were awake for it.
She had clearly been taken care of for at least a good while, maybe a year or more. She was clean and fed, and if her kimono was threadbare and she was called on to service sailors and mercenaries who cropped up like weeds in the times following the Breaking, she was simple and agreeable and never had to be forced. It was the only reason the brothel owner survived the discovery, for to find a legend like her in such a demeaning place had offended the Oasis ninja to his core, and he was celibate for the rest of his life.
They decided to stick with the name Yuki, though it was more or less an open secret in Oasis. Too many people recognized her, even the ones originally from Sunagakure. And despite being a nobody, just a poor refugee girl taken in by some of Oasis's leaders, she is celebrated and honored. Every spring, the cherry trees bloom in the oasis, and she is dressed in a beautiful kimono, and she can't go three steps in any direction without being given a candy or a smile or being tugged along to a picnic on the grass where she can smile and laugh and love the people around her. It's her holiday, and everyone knows it.
And the next day is special to her as well, when the ramen stands are all packed and the restaurants all change their menus and people still wait sometimes an hour at a time to get their bowl of noodles, hundreds of flavors to chose from with only one thing in common, and that being the slice of spiral decorated fishcake put on top. Naruto didn't get his face on the mountain, since the mountain is gone now, but everyone agrees that he would have liked Ramen Day better, so Gaara made it an official Oasis holiday. Yuki can't manage chopsticks but she can slurp from a bowl with the best of them.
There's a holiday of sorts the next day as well, though only the Kazeho and a few others know about it. Every year for the past four, the leader of Akatsuki gets the head of one of his subordinates in a box.
Oasis doesn't forget the heroes or the enemies who made it.
Yuki only knows seven words. When she was found, she knew five. One of them is a dead person's name. Naruto would have been flattered to be one of the people so important she remembered him even with most of her brain effectively dead. Another is a traitor's name, and Oasis's most deadly enemy. People try not to flinch when she asks for him. The last name was her best friend. Ino takes care of her most of the time now.
The other two words were love, and yes. Yuki is very agreeable because 'no' isn't in her vocabulary.
Since then she's also learned Chouji's name, because she really likes Chouji. The last word she knows is really two, much to the amusement and embarrassment of all concerned. Yuki always forgets to say more than the first syllable of Hinata's name, making her 'Hin', which sounds exactly like 'hen', the negative word for different. Hinata always blushes but never scolds her, and is often teased by others for being 'hen'. But of course, with the word coming up so much, Yuki also knows that things she doesn't like are 'hen'. Everyone expected confusion, but it's clear that Yuki knows the difference between 'Hin' and 'hen' because Hinata is another one of her favorite people, so the young matriarch of the Hyuga clan has never felt insulted.
Ino and Hinata share the duty of taking care of Yuki, because Yuki is still a woman and has needs her male friends just don't want to deal with. Most of the time, she stays with Ino, but sometimes Ino has duties or just needs a break, and she'll stay with the Hyuga. With Hinata personally, plus a random assortment of Hyuga retainers, her basic needs are always taken care of, and she's never lonely. Her pure white hair is almost a mascot for the revamped Hyuga clan, which, under Hinata's leadership, became more known for compassion than brutal practicality.
Compassion was in short supply at the end of the war. Oasis, desperate, struggling Oasis, was one of the few places that had enough to export. Now it is the largest and most prosperous of all the hidden villages, and a major city in its own right. The desert is a harsh barrier to invading armies but a source of wealth to the people living there, with minerals and ores thrown to the surface by the cataclysm that shook the elemental countries, and the immense underground river brought to the surface by the combined powers of Gaara and Naruto keeps the crops growing year round. Life there isn't always easy, but it's good.
Not all of Yuki's old friends survived the transition, and there are still casualties now and then. She stays with Hinata for two months once, and even she can sense something is wrong, because she keeps asking for Ino, which breaks her friends' hearts.
And then, one day, Ino is back, and for a while she stays with the Hyuga too. Yuki is too happy to notice anything odd, and she's smart and helpful enough to get things for Ino when asked, even if she's not always sure what Ino actually wants. One day when Ino gets frustrated and mad enough to throw her crutches across the garden and collapse onto the ground, Yuki just thinks it's a new game and fetches them for her. Ino throws them again, and again, but Yuki just laughs and brings them back, and then Ino starts laughing and quickly realizes she's being silly, takes them, gets up, and gets on with her life. Ino teaches kunoichi studies at the Academy now, and can walk with only one cane.
Yuki keeps people from getting angry. More than one heated discussion has been broken by a cooler head bringing Yuki into the discussion. Not only is she a bubbly and happy, not only is she a reminder of what's really important, anger upsets her, and when she gets upset something happens in her head. Her muscles start twitching and she falls down, and for sometimes minutes at a time she just lays on the floor and has a fit. Those occurrences were when people realized that it was actual brain damage and not just psychological trauma that kept her from being who she once was. There is talk of epilepsy and seizures, and possible treatments, but in a sad case of irony, the only person who might have known how to heal such damage is the very person who suffers from it.
Fortunately, Yuki forgives and forgets very easily.
Chouji is one of her favorite people, because he always knows just what to do to make everything perfect. Yuki has a simple mind and understands only simple pleasures, and Chouji understand that simple pleasures can be the most powerful. Most of the time it's as easy as a piece of candy or fruit at the right time. Yuki has a bit of a sweet tooth, and Ino and Hinata try to make sure she doesn't get too much, but Chouji knows how to sneak food past even a Hyuga. The only problem is that Yuki still has hormones just like any other woman, and once a month for several days, she has other wants. Perhaps it was programmed into her during her stay in the brothel, or perhaps it was the only fleeting pleasure she had during her incarceration, however wrong it may have been, but Yuki dimly remembers sex and sometimes makes simple, honest advances on the men in her life.
It happened to Chouji first. It horrified him, he upset her, and she had a seizure. It was the only time he's ever upset her. After that, her female caretakers keep her mostly away from men during certain times.
It's possible that she just wants children. Her instincts run strongly, and she loves kids of all ages. Hinata gets married first, and has her first child soon after. Yuki might not be a responsible adult, but she's gentle, and that counts for a lot. A year and a half later, Ino marries a cute civilian she dated for a while. Neji married Tenten, and they named their first child, a girl, Sakura. Their second they named after a departed friend, Lee. Kiba died during the war, but his sister has three children and they're just as rambunctious as he was. None of her other friends have children yet, though Temari keeps threatening.
The important thing was, there was always room in their lives for Yuki.
Eventually, the knowledge of Yuki's existence penetrates the self absorbed shell of the current leader of Akatsuki, and it does so with the subtlety of a brick to the face.
He actually attacked Oasis personally. No one knew his motivation, though Akatsuki had moved from a goal of uniting all villages under one leader to more of a goal of simply destroying the hidden village culture in its entirety. Sasuke and five of his best infiltrated the village, then unleashed powerful techniques that leveled entire areas at a time. With the Kazeho, Gaara, doing his best to limit the scale of the destruction and Oasis's best fighting Sasuke's minions, Sasuke made his move to kill the village leaders and render it helpless.
He would have succeeded, too, except that Shikamaru had grabbed Yuki at the start of the battle and kept her near where he could keep an eye on her, only to have to run and save Temari, once again fighting a losing battle against the last Uchiha.
Sasuke could have killed them all. But even the predictive abilities of the mangekyo sharingan didn't prepare him for running into someone he thought was long dead. White hair, no hands, different clothes, older, but still her. And she recognized him.
Called him by name.
And Kakashi almost took his arm off with a chidori, dodged almost too late.
Sasuke retreated from the battle, not because of his wound, but in confusion. His subordinates were soon killed and peace was restored.
Oasis was wounded, but not critically. Akatsuki attacks stopped completely.
Yuki's legend grew.
They knew he would come. Yuki was under a heavier guard than Gaara himself. But she fidgeted and got uncomfortable when they kept her isolated from all her many, many friends too long, and ANBU had duties, even with Akatsuki relaxing its pressure. She stayed with the Hyuga, for little could escape the notice of that long eyed clan, but in the end it mattered little.
There were few people who could match Sasuke, and none of them were with her. His mangekyo rendered her caretakers unconscious and Sasuke came to visit her for the first time.
"Sasuke!" she cried cheerfully and greeted him with a big hug.
He let her, though he didn't hug back.
"Sasuke? Sasuke love?" she asked, unused to such a stiff reception from someone she thought of as a friend.
He'd investigated her situation as thoroughly as possible. He now knew that she'd somehow survived when everyone thought she was dead, and it wasn't hard to find out about how she'd been found by an Oasis ninja and brought to their new home. He knew about her medical condition, about the scars hidden by her clothes, and her simple vocabulary and complete loss of memory, long and short term.
She remembered him, though. He could see it in her eyes. She still remembered who he was. Still loved him. Even at the end, neither she nor Naruto had ever stopped trying to bring him back. Naruto had died killing Madara and ending his cursed power.
Power that, naturally, Sasuke had immediately picked up again.
Still, Sasuke was no Madara. His goals were not Madara's. Most of the time he couldn't even be said to have a true goal, just some vague motivations only he could decipher. To most, Sasuke was considered completely insane.
For reasons purely of his own, he used Tsukiyomi on her to draw her into a world that he had complete control over.
"Sasuke?" Yuki questioned. She glanced away, rubbing her forearms together vaguely. Then she seemed to start, then look back. "Sasuke!" she cried again, having forgotten he was there. She hugged him warmly.
That time, Sasuke hugged her back. Not out of compassion or whatever, it just seemed to be the thing to do. He was somewhat in shock that Tsukiyomi didn't work, but he guessed that there simply wasn't enough of her mind left to ensnare in illusion.
"Hello, Sakura," he said.
That set her off. She babbled nonsense words nonstop for several minutes, and she kept touching him with her stumps, which made him profoundly uncomfortable, but other than moving away slightly, which she didn't notice, he just stood there and watched her for a while.
Eventually she wound down, her babble tapering off as she finished telling him about her day, or how much she missed him, or whatever was going through her mind.
And he nodded, as if it all made sense. "Goodbye, Sakura," he told her. "It was…" he paused, looking for a word, before settling on one that was close enough, "good to see you again."
Sasuke turned to go, then hesitated and looked back at her. "I'll see you again, okay?"
"Sasuke love!" she agreed.
After he left, she wandered away into the rest of the house to find her Hyuga caretaker, whose name she could never remember but loved unconditionally anyway, and cuddled her unconscious body and sang nonsense lullabies until she woke up.
The leaders of Oasis all knew Sasuke visited Yuki and left without harming anyone in the process.
Still, no one was expected major players in the Akatsuki movement to start cropping up dead.
All of the major leaders. And quite a few of the minor ones.
All dead. Apparently in a single night. It just took several weeks to find all the bodies.
No one knew why Sasuke did the things he did. Even Yuki forgot his promise to see her again, but her nature was such that, when he did show up one night, this time at Ino's house, where she was staying for a while. Yuki instantly accepted his reappearance, like he'd never gone away in the first place.
Sasuke told her all about Akatsuki and why he'd decided they were now a hindrance to him and killed them.
Yuki smiled and nodded and laughed and forgot everything he said.
Then he left, promising to come back again.
Oasis quietly went through several periods of security lockdowns and quite a bit of planning. Resources were spent trying to find Sasuke. More were spent warding against him. Some people suspected that he was actually nearby, but the only one Sasuke didn't mangekyo into forgetting about him was Yuki, who wouldn't remember anyway.
His visits went on for several months in secret. Yuki asked for him sometimes during the day, but no more often than she ever did. Even Ino figured that, if he was coming around, SOMETHING about Yuki would have changed. So Oasis cautiously hoped for the best and guarded against the worst.
Cycles come and go, and what goes around usually comes around again. One night, Sasuke visited Yuki at the Hyuga main house, during the period where her caretakers took pains to keep her away from men. Of course, Sasuke would not have cared or even noticed, since he'd never felt the rules applied to him in the first place.
Still, it was a change in the usual conversational routine when she started fidgeting with her clothes and rubbing against him. It was even more of a change when he felt himself responding to offers so simple and undemanding.
He visited again the next night, and there was a new routine. Yuki was happy, and her friends were happy she was happy, and Sasuke was Sasuke. But Yuki's hormones only peaked for about a week, and then one night Sasuke showed up and she was completely uninterested. Not really uninterested, actually, oblivious to his expectations.
Sasuke left early that night. He had some thinking to do.
The next night, he returned again, finding her back at Ino's. It wasn't as if location mattered, so Sasuke went ahead with his decision. He knelt and bowed to her, ignoring her jabber.
Then, he, very carefully, took his sword and made a series of cuts across his stomach, slicing through intestines and blood vessels alike. He was an extraordinarily tough person, and wounds, even as grievous as those, might not have been enough to kill him. But Sasuke had always succeeded at the things he decided to do, and he had decided to die.
They found him there the next morning, bloody and cold, with his head in Yuki's lap as she still sang the wordless lullaby he'd died to, his sins finally atoned for.
After some discussion, they chiseled his name into the stone of the fallen heroes monument, right below his best friend, himself right below his love.
Ino took up drinking rather heavily for the first month after Yuki turned up pregnant. Between her nesting instinct and hormones that agreed with her, Yuki had a happy pregnancy, and many eyes were focused on the child when it was born. It was a boy, a chubby, happy little boy with rosy cheeks and thick bones just like his father. He grew up strong and happy and loyal, and while he was never a great leader, he was a source of constant, unwavering support for everyone around him.
There was some censure, of course. Impossible for there not to be, given the situation, but none of it came from the people who really mattered, so it was okay.
Chouji had never been able to refuse Yuki, after all.
AN: Been playing with parts of this idea for a while and this little thing congealed like grease a couple nights ago. No, it's not more People Lie, but I'm working on that. Sorry for lying about the next PL chapter being released soon, I ran into some problems on it I have YET to fix. But hopefully that will change soon. Also, I'm going back to college to get a new degree which will maybe get me a better job, so I should have more time and inclination to write now.
There may be more Anything and Everything up first, just keep an eye out. I'm not sure what I want to work on first.