AN: Sorry for the long wait but look at this way, it's a three page chapter, be happy. That is until you get to the end(insert evil laugh here)

Fire Storm narrowed his eyes as he watched a man, shrouded in dark clothes, place a small bundle before the doors of the Arashikage clan before departing quickly. "Why here?" He asked, as the door opened and a young Storm Shadow appeared, looking down at the bundle with, at first, a look of contempt and then his features softened to acceptance.

"This is where it begins, Fire Storm. I suspect that while you accepted us as your family you never forgave your original family for abandoning you. The unknown reason why you were left on our doorstep plagues you, do you know why?"

Fire Storm blinked and looked at Snake Eyes, "I have no idea."

Snake Eyes shook his head, "No, you do, but you are not facing it."

Fire Storm looked back to watch his younger self being held by Storm Shadow, who brought the little boy to the Hard Master. "I suppose I don't like the fact that I was abandoned?" It came out as a question so Snake Eyes nodded, waiting for his brother to say more. "I mean," Fire Storm sighed, replaying the scene of him being let by the shadowy figure, "I was unwanted, wasn't I? That's why someone left me in the cold outside the fortress with nothing but a thin blanket. Someone didn't want me. Why? Was my birth an accident? Did my parents die? Did my mother die and my father hate me? I have no means in finding the answers to these questions and so I never will know the truth."

"No, no you won't, but since you cannot find peace through the truth you can find peace another way." Fire Storm looked at Snake Eyes and the older smiled. "You are looking at the situation as an abandoned child, who is starving for knowledge about his parents but you can look at this another way. Do you know how?"

Fire Storm looked back to watch how the Hard Master bundled his younger self into a warmer blanket and helped him eat a bowl of hot rice. Storm Shadow and the younger Snake Eyes were sitting around their father, both of them looking at the new addition to their family with acceptance.

"I…I suppose I can think of it in another way. If I had not been left at the fortress then I would not have met you or Storm Shadow or the Hard Master. In fact, I could have been abandoned anywhere: on the street, at an orphanage, dumped in the river but I wasn't."

"And therein lies one of the answers you seek, brother." Fire Storm looked at Snake Eyes questioningly, "If the person who left you at our door didn't care for you then that person would have dumped you somewhere where you being cared for was not a guarantee."

Fire Storm mulled that over in his mind, "Yeah, I guess you're right. Perhaps that person was unable to look after me anymore? There's a whole case of scenarios on why that would be but because I was left at the fortress I met all of you and was welcomed into a family that could take care of me." Fire Storm drew in a breath,
I am glad I met all of you, including Jinx, and that we became a family."

Suddenly Fire Storm felt something lighten within himself. The memory appeared less dark and with it Fire Storm felt the rest of his dark memories cease to weigh so heavily on his mind.


"Remember Fire Storm that this memory was the root of the darkness within you. By accepting what happened you have also lessened the burden of your other memories."

"So, we're done?"

Snake Eyes laughed, "Not even close I would imagine but we have made progress. Now, lead us to the next memory."

Fire Storm sighed and closed his eyes, feeling a shift around him as the temperature warmed considerably around them. Fire Storm opened his eyes to see the burning of the Arashikage fortress and the Cobra troops slaughtering or capturing the ninja clan's members. Together the brothers watched as the eight-year-old Fire Storm was captured and taken away to the Cobra base. Fire Storm wished that he could look away, that he could close his eyes and not see what was happening but this was his memory and he knew how it began and ended.

Snake Eyes watched the brutal treatment inflicted on his little brother by the Cobra troops and did his best to remain calm, for the sake of Fire Storm and to keep the mind connection open.

"Well, o wise brother," Fire Storm spat, angry at how he was treated and that his brother was seeing it all, every grizzly detail. "What do I have to do here?"

"Remain calm for one," Snake Eyes replied. "None of this," he gestured at the memory, "was something you could have prevented Fire Storm." His brother looked at him in disbelief. "You were a child, Fire Storm, is there any possible way that an eight-year-old child could have fought off three heavily armed Cobra troopers?" Fire Storm opened his mouth and then closed it with a snap. "I thought not. What they did to you was horrendous, little brother, there is no denying that but your body has healed and it is time to let your mind heal as well. This will always be with you, you will always have these memories but you must not allow them to haunt you."

"Easy for you to say."

Snake Eyes nodded, "You're right, it is easy for me to say. It's easy for me because I haven't experienced anything as close to what you have. I didn't see my father killed in front of me, I didn't feel betrayed by Storm Shadow, I did not grieve for you, I did not suffer pain at how our family was sundered apart, and I did not feel an empty pit inside myself for the past ten years because I thought I had lost both my brothers. You're right, it's easy for me to say."

Fire Storm looked at Snake Eyes and then looked away in shame, "I am sorry."

"Do you know why you're sorry?"

Fire Storm scrunched up his nose, he hated how Snake Eyes wanted him to look into everything he said; perhaps it would be better if he became mute as well. "I am sorry because I have realized something. You had to slap me in the face but I did realize it. It's not all about me, I've got issues but I'm not the only one who does and I'm not the only person who's experienced what I have. Other people have walked away from this and I can be just as strong as them."

"You won't be alone, Fire Storm, your family is here with you."

Fire Storm sighed and closed his eyes, pulling himself away and when he opened his eyes he was sitting once again in front of Snake Eyes, "Not all of them."

Snake Eyes looked up from his spot on the floor and reached out a hand to Fire Storm, who accepted it gladly.

Fire Storm drew in a deep breath, "You never said what mission you're preparing me for."

Snake Eyes withdrew his hand so that he could form the signs; Fire Storm missed the sound of his voice in his head already. 'We are going to make our family whole.'

"You mean—"

'Yes, we are going to rescue Storm Shadow.'

The End.

To Be Continued…?