Author's Notes: I'm not entirely sure I'm satisfied with this, but I'm posting it anyway for your entertainment. I may rewrite it, but that will only be ages from now. My main issue with it is that it seems to meander aimlessly; you may or may not agree. It's also very straightforward – no "underneath what's underneath" here. I suppose it could inspire a sort of bittersweet WAFF, though.
Title: Family Secret
Author: Reaper Nanashi (Lady Shinigami)
Pairing: None Intended
Word Count: 2414
Type: One-Shot (Complete)
Rating: K+ (a few bad words)
Date Submitted: 1/25/10
Disclaimer: Hardy har har. That's a good one! Yes, I own all! Bow before me, mortals! *is sporked*
Claimer: Uh . . . Ha . . . Er, no, I don't imagine, really.
Summary: They've always been there, just out of reach, but they never abandoned me. I used to see more of them, but as I aged they moved farther beyond my range of vision. I doubt it's because I don't believe they're there, but I think they're trying to slowly move away from me, similar to the way a normal kid would see his parents age over time and thus have the chance to come to terms with the fact that one day they'll die. And like any child, I dread the day when I'll no longer see them.
The Reasoning Behind It: Actually more of an artificially-cultured brain fart than anything of value. I was thinking of Naruto fanart, recalled one image in particular, and realized it would be Minato's birthday in a week. That's about the size of it. Sorry.
To love or to be loved is receiving a glimpse of heaven.
They say Uzumaki Naruto's mouth is so big he could never keep a secret.
I love it that way, because with everyone knowing the kyuubi's location it means that I never have to worry about anyone prodding me for my secrets. When they say I love ramen so much that I secretly married Teuchi's daughter when I was sixteen just to get a discount, Ayame – who's actually quite the comedienne when you give her the chance – invariably flings herself at me, even if that means sliding on her stomach across the bar like a penguin, and we pretend to make out while we paw each other and spout outrageous, sappy sentiments. When they say Hinata and I had a love child and Hiashi tried to hide it by forcing Neji – who was married – to raise the child, Neji always stops by the office to hit me for dirtying the Hyuuga name again because I didn't deny the totally false accusation. When they say I'm the kyuubi in human form, depending on the person I generally don't bother to go to the trouble of doing any more than nodding and assuring them that it's essentially true. And when they say I never had parents to raise me, I nod and proclaim that I didn't need them because I'm better than everyone else.
The fact is, I still see him from time to time, but usually only at the very outskirts of my periphery. A flutter of white hemmed in flame-red, or perhaps a shock of lemon yellow and saxe blue. Nothing amazing and probably barely worth noting to most people. But he's been there all my life, and I always feel better whenever I see him. He makes me feel safe when I'm scared, happy when I'm sad, calm when I'm irritated. And if the kyuubi's presence gets too close to the surface for whatever the reason, I see him then, too – just enough to soothe it away.
I'm most likely to see lots of little motions, or sometimes a bit more, on two days – January twenty-fifth and October tenth. Surely very important days to him, and he doesn't hesitate to let me know. When I'm trying to work he'll be just in the corner of my eye, shifting back and forth impatiently and waiting for me to say something; if I don't then he never fails to escalate things until I either wish him a happy birthday or express appreciation for the birthday wishes he can't give me vocally, and that usually takes care of things for a few hours. I make sure to leave him a bowl of ramen on the kitchen table before I go to bed, and it's always empty when I get up.
Every so often, usually on July tenth but occasionally on my birthday as well, I'm able to pick out strands of long red hair and flickers of grey. I don't see much of her, as a rule – she's just there and gone before I can say hi or ask if she wants me to tell her about recent events. I try to wish her a happy birthday if it's July, but I don't often get the entire sentiment out before she vanishes. She simply contents herself with watching over me, I imagine, and that's fine; I just hope she doesn't feel guilty or anything. I leave her ramen also, and thankfully, she seems to enjoy it like he does.
They've always been there, both of them just out of my reach, but they never abandoned me.
I used to see more of them, when I was little, but as I aged they moved farther beyond my range of vision. I doubt it's because I don't believe they're there – I know they are, and they're the whole reason I believe in ghosts – but I think they're trying to slowly move away from me, similar to the way a normal kid would see his parents age over time and thus have the chance to come to terms with the fact that one day they'll die. And like any child, I dread the day when I'll no longer see them. Until then I breathe a little sigh of relief every time they appear and find myself smiling regardless of how the day has been up to that point, and I frequently revisit my memories of them to be sure I don't forget. Because one day, those may be all I have.
I can actually remember them as far back as my infancy. I'm not sure how – if perhaps I, however unlikely, really do have an eidetic memory – but I generally blame things like that on the kyuubi and don't think about it any longer. Nevertheless, I remember seeing them – sometimes one, the other, or both – leaning over me and smiling like any other proud parents might, presumably when I was too young to do more than lift my head. Often, at night, when I would cry to be held but no one came right away, one of them would pick me up and carry me slowly around my room until I fell asleep. They couldn't speak even then, corporeal as they were, and though that seemed to upset them they didn't have to do it for my sake. Seeing them, even if I was too young to consciously recognize them, had been enough to quiet me every time.
When I could sit up on my own I was usually left on a soft pastel blanket with some toys and dismissively instructed to entertain myself. There was little to no interaction with my minders, who took care of me because it paid and not because any of the losers gave a damn, but I didn't need such things anyway because they were there then as well. They would settle on their stomachs in front of me on the hardwood floor, their feet sometimes waving cheerfully behind their heads, and watch me either play on my own or nap, and if I laughed and waved my hands at them, they were the ones to give me the human interaction I craved. To this day I don't know if me being able to see them means they can see each other or if they can only sense it, but in any case they managed to not lie in each other accidentally when both were present.
They were there when I took my first steps, though not when I began to speak; thanks to neglect from those who could speak to me but never bothered to do more than was strictly necessary, I'd needed to be sent to a speech therapist to learn how when I was two and a half. And, of course, once I could they instantly became Mommy and Daddy; not because I realized that was who they were but because they had always been there. Those who provided for my physical needs – my food and drink and diapers – were as ignored and forgotten as I had been back then, and when those people actually go to the effort of stopping me in the streets to tell me about it, I have to remind myself to say thank you rather than stare blankly and ask if they expect to get an award. As far as I've ever been concerned, Mommy and Daddy were the ones who raised me. No one else.
I remember him being there most often – as I said, I don't see that much of her for whatever the reason, and I've seen less of her the older I've become – and I remember Sandaime stopping at my apartment to check on me on one occasion and interrupting a monologue of my week. He'd asked who I was talking to and I, five years old and for the first and only time, told someone that I was talking to my daddy. He'd seemed a bit worried at first, possibly afraid that someone was trying to befriend me as part of a kidnapping scheme, but when I described my visitor as asked he had relaxed. I'll never know whether he thought I was imagining things or believed me.
As little as I saw of her, she was the one who inadvertently showed me that the way others treated me was neither normal nor right. I had gotten older and, naturally, went into the village more. I had been shunned, cursed at, spat at, but I had been only vaguely confused until I saw her standing in the street, helplessly glaring spitfire at any who spoke ill words to me. Her behavior had made me pay closer attention, and I had seen that I wasn't treated the same as other children my age; it was impossible for her to shield me from their hatred, so she had taught me revenge instead. Gentle revenge – never permanent damage, either to a person's body or property – but revenge nevertheless. So I painted the Monument, knocked over garbage cans, and left gifts of horse manure just outside front doors. But the one time I, in a particular fury over something I can no longer recall, threw a rock through a window, she had been there. She had shaken her head slowly, her expression solemn, and I never did it again. Still, it was the last time I ever saw her anywhere other than in my periphery.
He was the one to teach me another way to handle the scorn, which took longer for me to understand but in the end was the better way. The first time I heard the scathing words I had stopped and grown angry, then looked to him for guidance. He had looked at the speaker with a sad, disappointed expression, then turned his attention to me. He had smiled brightly, rolled his eyes at the person and made a yap yap yap motion with a hand, then given a little jerk of his head in the direction that I had originally been headed. He had then started off without me, and after some deliberation I'd held my tongue and followed him. I had gone back to that person's house the same night and egged the front door, but that had been both a lesson in patience and a lesson in moving on. Over time, the memory of him guiding me away from that cruelty helped me understand what it meant to give others a second chance, regardless of any personal insult.
When I was six, I forgot my apartment key three times in one month. The third time it was late at night; a few preteen boys had ambushed me, tied me up, and thrown me into a dumpster. It had taken hours of struggle and rainfall for the rope to loosen enough that I could wiggle free, but I had nowhere to shelter from the storm and at the time I had been terrified of lightning. I could have gone to the Third and gotten his spare key to my apartment, but I hadn't been unaware of the time or the frequency with which I'd recently failed to have my own key available. He was the only one who was nice to me then and I hadn't wanted to aggravate him, so I had wandered around Konoha in the dark, cold and wet and very much alone, flinching from the occasional flicker of lightning and roll of thunder. I didn't see anyone else – the majority of the village had been in bed by then – for quite some time, so I immediately noticed the big patch of white under an awning.
I ran over and he'd crouched down to my level while I explained the horrid day I'd had, then he'd nodded and walked away. I'd followed him back to my apartment, where he reached through the door – rather than walking through it and leaving me alone outside even for an instant – as though doing so was a totally normal thing, and unlocked it for me. He'd let me in ahead of him, locked the door behind us, and followed me around the apartment to make sure I changed clothes and warmed up. Then he'd sat with me while I made myself some ramen and saw me to bed, but the chill I'd gotten wouldn't let me sleep. So he'd picked me up and carried me around my apartment, and though he couldn't speak and wasn't warm I drifted off after a couple of minutes. That was the last time I was ever held like that.
After that was when I began seeing less of him; like her, but much more slowly, he began to drift away. And I say that, but I definitely don't mean they left. They were always there the way they are in my adulthood – just in the corners of my eyes – and when things were particularly bad they would sit beside me on my bed or a park bench or whatever and be there. They listened when I spoke, celebrated my joys, and mourned my sorrows. I think one reason they started to leave was because it hurt them too much to know that Konoha hated me. Still, they were never far from me and always there when I called for them. In that way they were there on my first day at the academy, they were there each time I failed the graduation exam, they were there when Mizuki lied to me, and they were there when Iruka gave me his headband. They were there when I met Kakashi, they were there for my first assignment, and they even tagged along for the whole mess in Wave Country.
They've been there for everything that followed, too; she comforted me when Akatsuki killed Gaara, he pranced like a little girl when I became Hokage. Always they're there – an encouragement and a temperance. They keep me grounded and focused even when I want to scream and rip my hair out. I could never have gotten as far as I did without both of them, and should I die defending Konoha I want them to be there then, as well. No one in the wide world will ever know what they've done for me, but I don't suppose that really matters. I know, and I consider that the only important thing.
They say Uzumaki Naruto's mouth is so big he could never keep a secret.
They don't know me very well, do they?
Answers To Questions You Didn't Even Know You Wanted To Ask:
None this time. As I said, this piece is pretty straightforward; maybe my "problem" with it is that it's written in first person. Which is strange, because I used to write in first person all the time and even if the plot sucked the narrative wasn't so bad. As an experiment, I recently rewrote the beginning of an old and craptastically bad Xenogears fic of mine; it was in first person, and I'm pleased enough with it that I may continue with it after VàV is in better condition (or done). So I don't know why this one seems so strange. Perhaps you all will know – different eyes and all that.
For any VàV readers present, chapter fourteen is coming along. There has been a series of hitches and changes, which I will explain when I post, but I have neither forgotten nor given up. Your patience is, as always, deeply honored and worshipped.
Reviews? Thank you very much.