Title: Dreaming of Sunshine
Summary: Life as a ninja. It starts with confusion and terror and doesn't get any better from there. OC Self-insert
Author's Notes: If you're reading this, you should read 'Only a Moron' by swabloo, and 'A Cage of Blood and Circumstance' by shadowsdeep instead. They're much better fics than this.
There is no death, only a change of worlds ~ Native American Proverb
My name is Shikako Nara, and I am going to tell you a story.
You see, my name wasn't always Shikako. It was… well, that hardly matters now. If you asked anyone around me, they would tell you that I have always been 'Shikako'. They could take you to my twin brother, or my parents, and they would tell you 'yes, that's Shikako. She was born in Konoha Hospital on the 22nd of September. I should know, I was there'.
And its true. I was born Shikako Nara, daughter to Shikaku and Yoshino Nara, younger sister to Shikamaru Nara by thirty minutes.
But I was someone else before that.
Tentatively, I'll say I was reincarnated. Even now, I'm not sure I believe it. Maybe this is just some illusion that my mind has cooked up - either before or after. I don't know. What I do know, is that it feels real. So I decided to live as though it was. If it's fake, then I have lost nothing.
See, the reason that it was so hard to believe, is that this world, the one I've been reborn into? I've heard of it before. Or more precisely, I've read it in a manga and I've watched it on TV.
This is the Naruto-universe.
Yeah. Imagine my surprise when I worked that one out.
As far as reincarnations go, well, I can't tell you if it's a step up or a step down. I had always been safe before, born into a safe family, in a safe town, in a safe country. Now, here was a world where things were rough and wild and even civilized people hired assassins. Was this a step down the karmic ladder? Had I been a bad person? On the other hand, for all that this world was terrifying, I had narrowly missed a worse fate - I had been born to Konoha, arguably the nicest shinobi village, to a good family.
I mean, in the stories, bad people are always reincarnated as ants and then stepped on, right?
I don't know. I also don't know why I remembered. I was an average person. I had siblings and parents, but no partner or children. I had a basic university degree and an average job. I left no outstanding legacies and committed no unutterable crimes. When I died, I doubt very many people noticed at all. I'm not the kind of person you want to rely on to save the world. Maybe some god up there has a weird sense of humour. Maybe it was just an accident. I slipped through the cogs of cosmic reckoning and wasn't important enough to be noticed.
I like that explanation best.
But like I said before, I was born to Shikaku and Yoshino Nara in the Konoha General Hospital on the 22nd of September as the younger of twins. It sounds so amazing when said like that. A spiritual miracle. The truth was, at the time I had no idea what was happening. I was twisted and squeezed and the comforting darkness in which I had rested was torn away. There was pain and cold and terror. There was immediacy. Things that hadn't seemed important were suddenly at the forefront of my mind; what had happened; where was I; was I alive or dead, hurt or injured; what was going on?
I couldn't tell.
When babies are born, their eyes are incredibly undeveloped. The entire world was a blur to me. It wasn't quite colour blindness, but the easiest thing to see was the stark contrast between light and dark. I could see shapes and edges but the world looked incredibly confusing.
I was scared. Terrified. I didn't know what was happening. I could hear, yes, but not understand what was being said. Had I suffered brain damage? Did I have aphasia? The thought terrified me. I can think few worse fates that to be trapped with no method of communication to the world around me.
But even that didn't explain everything. I was lifted and carried. I've always been on the short and thin side, but even that didn't explain the ease with which I was lifted or how I was being carried. I suppose I must have been held in the crook of someone's arm, but I could make no sense of the sensations at the time. It didn't fit.
I did the only thing I could have. I screamed. I wailed. I cried.
It sounds odd that I, as an adult in mind, should respond that way. But I was, in part, at least, ruled by the instincts of the new body I inhabited. Even had I attempted to speak, my vocal apparatus wasn't coordinated enough to allow it, not to mention the language barrier that was in place. So crying, the ultimate response to any kind of discomfort, it was.
It's hard to convey just how frightening it was, to be helpless like that.
I will admit to being a horrible baby. I was near blind, confused and helpless. My body didn't respond to me. And there was an unbearable itch inside me of forming chakra coils.
In response, I cried. All. The. Time.
I feel bad about it now. It must have been an incredibly trying time for my new parents. (I felt uncomfortable calling them 'mum' and 'dad' at first. They weren't my parents, the ones I remembered. On the other hand, I didn't know their names to start with, and I lacked the understanding of the language to pick them out. It left me in a quandary. Of course, that didn't last for that long. It was lonely, being a child. They were the only people I interacted with. They fed me, changed me, determined my schedule. It's impossible to rely on someone like that and not come to love them.) They were, as most ninja parents are, fairly young when we were born. The war had only recently ended and they were probably still trying to adapt to the strange creature known as 'peace-time'.
They tried everything they could. And when that failed, they took me back to the hospital, afraid that something was wrong.
Although I didn't learn it until much later, the medic diagnosed me as 'chakra hypersensitive'. Literally, that my pain was caused by my own chakra system. It was a deathblow to a ninja career. Ninjutsu, genjutsu, anything that required chakra, would simply be too painful to attempt. Even Lee, with his deformed coils, had managed to use chakra to enhance his body. What they didn't understand was that it was neither my body nor my chakra that was causing the issue, but my mind. Chakra was a limb I had never used, a sense I had never had, it was foreign and I didn't understand it. With knowledge and time, I would grow to be as comfortable with it as any other, if unusually aware of it, but at that point, I was not.
At that point in time, I didn't even know what it was.
All I could tell was that there was something inside me that had never been there before. It wasn't just my own chakra, though, there was chakra in everything, including the very air I breathed. Sometimes, when I woke up from deep sleep, I would be convinced that I was going to drown on it. I would cough and choke and hack and flail about in panic until it set in that it was just air.
Of course, just when I was beginning to settle in, That Event happened. I was three weeks old when the Kyuubi attack happened. Of course, I had no idea what was going on at that stage. I barely knew I was a child.
But I remember the chakra.
Evil isn't a word that I want to throw around lightly. But it was overwhelming, it was terrifying, it was malicious, and it was demonic. It was in the air like thick smoke and every breath I took made me choke on it. I was too terrified to scream.
It was nameless and faceless to me, and that only made it worse. I couldn't quantify it or analyse it or understand it. It was an all pervasive horror that I could neither resist or fight. It was like the devil had opened the gates of hell and breathed terror into the air. It was crippling.
I thought it would drive me mad.
For once, Shikamaru was screaming and I was quiet. There was no way I could make a sound. I was beyond that.
That feeling of being helpless in the face of overwhelming terror stayed with me for a long time. It was something that has both terrified me and motivated me ever since.
I am not ashamed to say I have had more nightmares about that day than I care to count.
But that was a single event of terror. Most of my days were filled with mind numbing boredom and a complete lack of control, over myself and over the environment around me.
Most of my time as a baby was spent sleeping, and playing with my chakra, not that I knew what it was at that stage. But I desperately needed something to occupy my attention while I couldn't interact with the world around me. At first I was cautious with it, but when there seemed to be no effect to my manipulations, I grew bolder. Likely, it was enhancing my muscles even then, but since I wasn't mobile, there was no discernable difference. I did, however, get a good 'feel' for my chakra, and probably developed very good control over it. Mostly though, I thought of it was something to occupy my adult brain, that was incredibly starved for stimulation.
There's not really a way to describe how chakra feels. Its like having a second set of veins solely to transport hot chocolate around your body, warm and comforting. Or maybe coffee, awakening and revitalising everything it touched.
Manipulating it wasn't difficult. It wasn't like trying to tame a foreign entity, or herd cats, or direct water from a hose. It was a swirl of warm energy, not just directed by my mind, but part of it. It's so impossible to describe.
My sight didn't fully develop until about six months of age and that was when I started to realise exactly where I was. That was also around the time when my vocal cords were formed enough to begin speaking. I picked up on the spoken language easily, as children are wont to do. I didn't even have an accent, of which I was thankful, since that would have been difficult to explain.
It was frustrating, though, trying to learn a new language like that. No wonder toddlers are famous for their temper tantrums.
By the time I was a year old, the evidence for where I was was mounting. Dad's standard attire was the shinobi flack jacket, and I had seen his headband. It wasn't until we went to the park one day and I looked up to see the Hokage mountain that I could no longer deny it.
This was the Naruto-universe.
Author's Notes: Well. The sin of all fanfiction writers. Self-inserts. I can't believe I'm writing one, but the proof is right there. This kind of demanded to be written, and in first person, no less. I'm probably going to be hitting every cliche in the entire Naruto-verse, but hopefully not. Who knows?