Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

The air is thin, there. It's crisp and clear, much cleaner than the air of Konoha or Iwa or Kiri. The clarity with which the stars can be seen from the inky night skies of Kumo is rivaled only by Suna.

The young woman sits on a roof, her long, slender legs pulled up to her chest as she blinks with glossy eyes at the forming constellations, made just barely visible by the sinking sun.

It was a long day at the academy; when she's not on missions, she sometimes volunteers to teach. She's the terror of the students; they restrain the urge to run when they see whom they call "The tall blonde lady" bounding into the training area. The last runt brazen enough to call her that to her face was treated to an open hand slap; he handles pain quite well, she has to admit.

There's more than one reason they don't want her to come.

Her mother, whose name she's told was Miyuki, died giving birth to her. Her father, Toshihiro, was the Sandaime Raikage; he died shortly after she was born. She's told that she looks like her father. She wonders if, perhaps, her father hadn't died and his clan hadn't fallen into ruin, if her life would have been better. She thinks that maybe it would have been.

Nii Yugito was two years old when the Nibi attacked Kumogakure. She was ripped from the arms of her nursemaid in the dark of night and taken to the Yondaime. Using the blood of a hapless villager, the girl was two years old when she became a jinchūriki, screaming for her nursemaid as the pain of the seal searing her skin overwhelmed her.

The Yondaime had thought that young Yugito's social standing would be enough to protect her from the mockery and torment inflicted on other jinchūriki. The Yondaime was young and inexperienced when he made that decision, and he always was a fool when it came to matters of human nature.

Yugito flinches as she always does when she thinks of the sealing, her first real memory, fingering the chalk blue beads at her arm, feeling pain throbbing around her white throat.

Her bijū has been given many names. Neko, bakeneko, ikiryō… But Yugito calls the bijū by the name it refers to itself as. Nekomata. The Nekomata's real name it hasn't revealed to her. Yugito isn't optimistic about the chances of her ever revealing her real name to her host.

As soon as she was old enough, Yugito was given a place in the Raikage's household. Along with the usual shinobi training, she was given rigorous training to control the nekomata and training to become a member of the Raikage's personal guard, the elite ANBU. She was never on a team with other genin; her mentor was the Raikage himself. However, the training Yugito detested the most was how to become—and she's embarrassed to admit she ever had to take this training—a lady; part of that training was the art of the shamisen. And those training regimens have yielded results in her ability to exert control over the Nibi and her ability to attend state dinners without being the embarrassment of Kumogakure.

Yugito sighs, gazing with slanted eyes at the pale lavender evening sky. She wishes she had the shamisen with her right then so she could play it, the gentle strains soothing her, but in a moment her sanity returns and she knows why she no longer takes it to the roof with her, why her long, tapered fingers can not strum those three silk strings in public.

Yugito's shamisen playing is exquisitely proficient, but the sounds tend to attract a crowd, and Yugito isn't prepared to deal with angry villagers deriding the sweet notes of her shamisen, decrying it as her "foul witchery"—If you want to see real witchery, Yugito thinks with a smirk, wait until you see what I can do with a corpse—and becoming riled against her in general.

The life of a jinchūriki is always guaranteed to be a harsh one; alone every day of your life, with absolutely no one to truly understand your pain… And most don't even try.

Yugito does not deny that she is intensely bitter about her fate as a bijū prison warder. She does not deny that though any feelings of hatred she bore the Yondaime are long over, she still resents him for doing this to her…just a little bit. She does not deny that the lonely nights are long and hard, filled with only the Nekomata's strange dreams for comfort.

The villagers mostly fear and loathe her; when Yugito was little, she had to worry about the intermittent assassin stealing into her opulent yet Spartan white-washed room in the dead of night. She can see the dread in their eyes and recoils from it.

Those who don't fear her treat her with a chilly respect, recognizing her as the Sandaime's daughter (she is his spitting image, after all), calling her Nii-sama, Lady Nii.

The Raikage is a little better. Though he treats her with only distant respect (depending on his moods, she is either Yugito-san, Miss Yugito or Nii-san to him; the servants and the jonin council follow suit), it is far better than the powerfully negative emotions of the villagers, and it is clear that he bares her no abhorrence.

Of course, the academy students she regularly trains/terrorizes have a decidedly tempestuous love/hate relationship with her. Yugito refuses to believe that this is on her own merits; instead, she is certain that they have no idea exactly who she is, despite the fact that every single one of them refer to her as either Nii-san or Neko-san, a name derived from her slightly catlike behavior.

But Yugito is no fool. She knows that her lot, though not good by any means, could be much, much worse. She knows that if she were to be attacked and carried off tomorrow, no one but the Raikage would care. But she knows how at least two other jinchūriki are treated.

She knows that Naruto of Konoha, though acclaimed as a hero by the Yondaime Hokage in his final moments, is hated by the villagers. She knows that as a child he had to be tailed by ANBU details almost constantly to keep from being killed by the mob.

Yugito knows that Gaara of Suna's lot is even worse, though he be the Kazekage's son. She knows that he is daily tormented and ostracized by those around him; she knows that the betrayal of the boy's uncle, who claimed to love him then tried to kill him, coupled with unbearable loneliness (a state of being Yugito knows very well) has driven Gaara down the path of madness.

So yes, Yugito has many examples of how her lot could have been worse.

The pupils in Yugito's slanted, shining, shimmering silvery blue eyes begin to round and darken. With a jinchūriki, there is always some physical marker.

Because Gaara of Suna had the Ichibi implanted him while still in the womb (and Yugito is sure that she doesn't want to know just how they managed that), he displays all the physical markers of an Ichibi host, including most prominently the heavily black-rimmed eyes.

There is no basis for what the Kyuubi host would look like with all the physical markers, but since Naruto, the first Kyuubi jinchūriki ever, had the Kitsune sealed inside of him no more than two hours after being born, it is assumed that a pre-natal sealing of the Kyuubi would yield many more physical markers than simply six scar-like whisker marks stretching across his still-baby-round cheeks.

Like Naruto, Yugito is the first warder of her host (it is only the Shukaku who has had regular jinchūriki), so those in charge are unsure of how many physical markers she would have had had the Nibi been sealed inside of her before her birth.

As it is, she possesses the keen eyesight of the cat, with its dilating pupils and the tapetum lucidum that makes her eyes shine like beacons when light was reflected off of them, making assassination missions problematic (Thankfully, enemies usually just see her eyes and assume she is a cat). She is not blessed with the advanced hearing and sense of smell of a cat, but she does have that odd sixth sense that allows her to know of attacks before they come, and like all cats, Yugito always lands on her feet.

Yugito faces the world with her chin up and her eyes straight ahead. She carries herself with the somnolent grace of a cat, her fluid movements deemed too smooth to be human. Though she is not sociable by any means and in fact is quiet reticent and reserved, again displaying catlike aloofness, she never goes out of her way to be rude to anyone. Unlike some jinchūriki, there have never been incidents of death at her hands as a child due to a lack of control over the bijū's power.

Though everyone around Yugito may treat her like a monster, she does not believe that this gives her the license to behave like one. She has few illusions that she will ever win the love and/or respect of the villagers (she would be happy for them to simply treat her as a human being!), Yugito knows that she must try. It helps that though she has developed a liking for the taste of blood over the years, Yugito has never had any cravings for it, and she's not willing to let go and destroy everything, like other jinchūriki have tried to…

The moon shimmers and shines like Yugito's eyes, or like the perfectly round pool in the house where she lived as a child (White-washed walls stained a soft shade of blue by the shape of the windows and a lack of lighting).

A faint smile adorning Yugito's thin face, she leans back on the roof, her arms supporting her head, closes her eyes and dreams…

Nii Yugito is an enigma. If you want to know how Yugito knows so much about Naruto and Gaara, well: The Raikage has very good intelligence agents. That's all I'm gonna say.

My characterization of Yugito, the location of her seal, etc. owes a great deal to Yugito's characterization in Ayien's The Nine Broken Mirrors, though my Yugito isn't quite so…frighteningly intense. My characterization of her has her somewhere between Naruto and Gaara: she's extremely pessimistic about her chances to have a successful life, but she's strong-willed enough that she will exert some self-control.

I hope you enjoyed it; there aren't enough fics about Yugito out there, though most of the ones I've found are pretty good.

I always enjoy reviews.