Te No Shikyo

One

Her first memory involved darkness. In fact, it was entirely darkness. Everywhere she looked, there was no light, to the point where she wasn't sure she even had eyes. Her body seemed to be floating, not feeling anything, even gravity. She could hear nothing, either. It was like being trapped in space, in the farthest reaches, where nothing at all existed.

Her second memory was of light invading the darkness she lived in. Out of nowhere she saw a flicker of light, which stayed for as long as it liked, then left. It happened repeatedly for a very long time, so long that she grew tired of it, and came to expect it.

Her third memory is of her awakening, at long last. One day she opened her eyes, found herself knowledgeable of who and what she was, and could see the area around her at last. She had sat up, stood up, and walked with the difficulty given to all newborns, trying to form words in her mind.

Being conscious isn't an easy feat.

Touching things such as trees and grass was a very strange thing, almost as strange as the first sound she registered – a river. The water was very cold, startling her as she began to understand temperature. She saw her reflection in the river, with skin so pale it was white, and ebony hair that seemed to suck up the light that was reflected off it. And her eyes, lightly glowing, a bright lavender that frightened her.

It took her a very long time to understand everything around her. She saw the brightness overhead fall into darkness then rise again, many, many times, where she simply wandered and fell into bouts of unconsciousness from time to time. Her first hunger pains made her cry, completely unused to the sensation of pain, and she very nearly starved, not knowing what to do to live.

She found her way to the edge of the woods she woke up in and found nothing but tan ground and cloudless skies, everywhere. At nighttime she walked, during the day she slept, and she gradually noticed her skin turning bright red and becoming painful to the touch.

She was in great pain, and wanted to return where she had awakened, except that she didn't know which way to go anymore. Some sense of survival kept her walking, kept her moving, until she fell unconscious one night and knew nothing for a long time once more.

The next time she awoke, she was in darkness, but not the kind she knew so well. The brightness of the day had receded, and now she lay in something warm and comfortable, with a strange sky above her head. She could not see the stars any longer, and she wondered what had happened to them. She heard something to her left, a very soft kind of murmur, like the sounds she made – but not as stumbled. The sounds she heard were that of communication between creatures much like herself.

She saw them there, standing near her, wearing different kinds of skin than she had. They didn't look anything like her, so she guessed they were a different species. She tried to sit up and remembered with a shock that she was still in pain, probably from her skin being red.

One of the two creatures noticed her moving and looked at her, speaking what she didn't understand to her, making her wonder what the creatures wanted with her. As she felt over her limbs for pain, she realized that she didn't hurt as much anymore, and her sharp, growling pains were gone now. Did these beings make the pain go away?

Over the next few weeks, she managed to tell them – mostly in gestures – that she didn't know anything. In return they gave her things to wear, things to eat, and tried to teach her their language. She picked up on these things fairly easily, and began to understand what they were telling her.

They were suggesting she got hurt enough that she forgot everything, and that she was found in the desert, almost dead. When she was brought here, to their building, she had been asleep for more than a week. During that time, they had tried to help her, fixing her sunburns and feeding her regularly. They told her that she was a young girl, guessing her age at five or six, and that she was a very pretty girl at that.

She learned that both of her caretakers were girls as well, but they were both adults – which meant they were big but weren't going to get any bigger. They called it being women. They told her that years from now, she would be a woman, too.

Then she learned about where she was. They called it Sunagakure, and they had built this place in a desert. They lived in a constant struggle, fighting the sun and living off one underground river. They taught her about ninja and their Kazekage, how they gained money and about the other people. Then they introduced her to the one who had found her in the desert.

His name was Kankuro, and he had very strange skin. He talked to her for a long time, this "man," the opposite of the women who were teaching her. He explained that men and women were both necessary for every species except plants, and he told her that he was worried for a while that she was going to die.

At her questions, he then told her about life and death, and how once you've died, you can never come back.

She stayed with them for a long time, those two women, meeting Kankuro from time to time and talking with him. She had many questions, and it was rare when Kankuro or the women didn't have time to explain things to her.

One day she woke up and couldn't find either woman. She dressed and went outside looking for Kankuro, but couldn't find him, either. It started making her scared, wondering if "death" had taken all three of them, but received no answer.

And then she felt herself pulled up, finding that she was on the back of a giant bird that didn't look quite like a real bird. It landed on top of the Kazekage statues, letting her off. As she looked around, she spotted the three ones she knew, and just about burst into tears at knowing they were safe.

Then Kaori, one of the women, put a cake in front of her. Yuiji, the other woman, told her to make a wish, and Kankuro encouraged her. At her questioning looks, they explained about birthdays, the cake, and making a wish.

So she made her wish and blew out the candles with a puff of breath, and all three adults began cheering for her. Kankuro picked her up and knelt on his bird, letting her sit on his knee before using the puppet-bird to fly them back down.

She wanted to mention the women weren't on the bird, but they disappeared into a cave and met them at the bottom.

It was her first "birthday," they said, as they had guessed her age. They say she was seven now, and then asked her what her name should be. She was confused by this, since they had always called her "Chibi-chan," until they explained that it wasn't her name, just a nickname.

She spent the next few weeks thinking of her name, until at last she had the one she felt was right for her: Yone. When she told them her name, they cheered her on again, and Kankuro told her that she could get into Ninja School, now that she was officially a member of Sunagakure.

She agreed, not knowing precisely what it was, and found that she was a huge outcast during her first day. She carried with her a stuffed animal black cat that was given to her by Yuiji, and she had tried to put on face paint like what Kankuro wore. Hers was different from his, though, but it made her feel a little more like he was around.

The day was a disaster.

When she was introduced to the class, she'd had to stand up front while the teacher explained why she was a late start, and told the rest of the students to be kind and let her catch up. Over the break, they were playing a game, and when she asked how to play, they told her she couldn't join unless she already knew the game.

She ran off right then, feeling hurt and humiliated, until she got back to her home. Since Yuiji was out, she grabbed onto Kaori and cried, hating the school already. She wasn't sure how, but within minutes Kankuro had showed up – and he never visited the house directly anymore.

He asked her what was wrong and when she looked up, he laughed. He said she had smeared her face paint with her tears, and now there was a funny swirl on one cheek. Surprised, she'd gone to the bathroom to look in the mirror, and found she kind of liked that one swirl.

When Yuiji made it back, the three of them explained to her that she couldn't just give up on school, that she should go back and show those kids that she was plenty smart. Before Kankuro left, she stopped him and asked why he showed up, and how he got here so fast.

He said that the teacher mentioned she'd gone missing, and he knew she'd come back here. So she went back to school the next day, with her face paint changed a little, and her stuffed cat with her as well. She didn't ask to play games with the other kids this time, but remained in the classroom, reading as much of the book as she could.

She remained silent during the day unless answering a question, and found that the students wouldn't pick on her if she did nothing to call attention to herself.

At first putting on face paint was a way to stay calm, but after a little while, she started really liking it. Every now and again she would change how it looked, but other than that, it was the same, day after day. She even began wearing it outside of school, much to Kankuro's amusement. When she asked him why he wore it, he said because he liked it, and it had become his signature.

When her second birthday party came around, she was much more in control of herself, now beginning to stay calm at all times, and still as white as ever. The three of them offered a birthday present to her, and she requested that she be shown how to use a summoning jutsu.

Kankuro readily showed her, but mentioned that he, himself, has no summons. She told him in reply that she had read about them, and wanted one very badly. Though Kankuro shut her down and told her that she wasn't ready and didn't have enough chakra, he promised to support her when she was fully prepared.

Before the party dispersed, she asked them all how old they were out of curiosity. Kaori was twenty, Yuiji was twenty two, and Kankuro was eighteen.

Five months later, during the summer break, she was tired of not having a summon. She read up as much as she could on it, until she was sure she had everything down. Then she found the perfect place to use the jutsu, and focused on summoning a black tiger, based off her black stuffed cat.

It was a rather horrible failure.

At first she thought she'd succeeded, as a black tiger with glowing red eyes glared at her from within the circle, but then it had shrunk and changed. . . into a small black rabbit. Were it not for her immense control over her own emotions, she surely would have cried in disappointment.

She decided to leave the rabbit there, as a reject, but it followed her as she left. She tried to make it go away for a long time, but it never did, always following her, everywhere she went. In the end she chose to keep it, explaining its existence to those who asked, and eventually named the rabbit. It wasn't until she first was assigned her team later that she learned Kusagi, her rabbit, had a secret.

Her team was with twin boys named Garu and Daru, and their leader was none other than Kankuro, whom she'd been looking up to for her entire life here. Garu and Daru were identical and worked hard to preserve that, becoming mirror images of each other. They both had a problem with their arms, more pointedly Garu's left and Daru's right, and most of their jutsus were them working together. Kusagi was now an official part of her life, and she had graduated two years early, when she was ten.

They all had face paint. In fact, they all had unique face paint, where the four of them didn't look anything alike. As per her habit, she wore a kimono everywhere, and now had her ears pierced and her hair mostly held up in a ponytail. She carried Kusagi with her everywhere she went, and their first mission ever was a true coming of age for her.

- - - End - - -

Notes:

Yone's name is completely made up. It has no meaning.

Kusagi's name is a mix of "kuro" (black) and "usagi" (rabbit).

Garu and Daru's names are also made up; no point, no meaning.

Sunagakure means "village hidden in the sand", hence, sand village.