Prologue: The Seed

Drowsiness was setting in, making Izumi's head loll forward. The journey had been long and difficult. They did not stop to rest once they arrived at Konoha, but instead, quickly attended to their business. How long had it been since Makoto stepped inside to meet the Hokage? Izumi racked her brain to remember, but her mind responded sluggishly. She stared at the ground in front of her blearily until sleep finally came to call.

It was not long before Izumi heard faint footsteps and immediately, her eyes shot open. They continued in an odd pattern, beating a rhythm on the floor and warily, she glanced around her. An empty street greeted her and the only living thing she was able to see was a fly buzzing lazily around the street light. She cautiously stood up, her shoulders tensed as she darted her eyes around nervously. Quietly, she treaded across the cracked ground to the source of the noise before a raucous cry exploded in her ears. She clasped a hand over her mouth to keep a scream from spilling out, her heart hammering wildly against her chest. Someone was around the corner from her.

Holding her breath and clenching her fists to stop shaking, Izumi peeked from behind the wall to see a golden haired boy stand in the middle of the street. He raised his head upward toward the night sky, his face basking in the pale light of the stars twinkling brightly above. She watched as he twirled around, his feet slapping against the ground as he whirled faster and faster, his arms raised as if to embrace the sky before he tripped and fell down. She watched curiously as he stayed still. Was he injured?

As if in response to her thoughts, the boy began to laugh as he folded his hands together behind his head. Izumi's eyebrows lifted at the sound. His laugh was carefree and full of joy, and she found herself unable to tear her eyes away from him as if she were drawn to his innocent laughter.

She stared at his face scrunching together as he smiled happily at the sky above him, a hesitant smile forming on her own face. It would be nice if this golden-haired boy became her friend. She took a small step forward, but suddenly stopped, unable to approach him.

What would she say to him? She stared at her palms as she trembled in nervousness. What do most people say when they meet someone new? Izumi did not know. She should probably start with a greeting. Hello…but she didn't know what to say after that. "Oh, I'll make it up as I go along!" she thought, exasperated.

Sucking in all the courage she had in her body, Izumi made another step forward. She opened her mouth to speak, her lips forming a small O.

"Izumi!" someone yelled from nearby. Both Izumi and the boy jumped. She whirled around, nearly bumping into someone's chest. He caught her in his strong arms. "Izumi, where were you?! I was looking all over for you when I realized you were gone. Don't worry me like that. What were you doing?! Don't you know how late it is? Don't wander around especially when it's your first time here."

Izumi's eyes were bright, and as her older brother saw this, his words trailed off, his eyebrows darting upwards in surprise. She looked strangely enthusiastic, a change from her usual calmness. "Makoto-niichan, I…I met someone! He's over…"

But her words trailed off as she turned around and the empty street greeted her once more.

The boy was gone.