Life was certainly an adjustment following my mother's death. I watched from the sidelines as I clung to Neji's hand as if he were a lifeline, as several Sarutobi family members walking in the direction of home followed my Grandfather and brother. At first I was rather confused, did my Grandfather not want me anymore? Before I could voice my protest, Hizashi smiled somberly down at me.

"Don't fret, little one. Your Grandfather and clan members are moving your things; you are not being forgotten. I asked that you come with Neji and I, rather than wait around." And so you never have to go back to that house again….

I smiled softly, happy that Hizashi and Neji were here with me. The smile wiped itself quickly from my features though, as I realized I had forgotten to do something very important before walking out of the Hospital. Without giving my companions any room for argument, I sprinted into the Hospital trying to feel where she was.

Momo. She had forgotten to thank Momo before leaving. The old nurse was the only medical ninja that either felt comfortable, or cared enough to help my Mother in her time of need. Not only that, she was the only person who cared about me at the Hospital. Her kind smiles, quick pats on the head, and rolls of sweets made my Mother's death a little easier, if only a fraction. I may be practically twenty-three years old with my combined age, but today had not been easy, and it won't be in the future. I will keep breathing, and hopefully I will be okay. Once the numbness settles, I'm not sure how I will cope with this loss, but I know that if I keep trying I should be okay. One way of trying would be to thank her for her kindness, and service.

Ignoring the calls of nurses in the lobby, my body seemed to guide me to the right of the first floor, where I found Room 112, which oddly enough seemed to be emitting groans. Without a thought I opened the door to find Momo doting on a chubby boy, with small red swirls on his cheeks. The boy, was groaning as he held his stomach, and whined pathetically.

"Ohhhh…my tummy," the boy whined. Is this Choji? I mused, looking on in silence from the door, where no one but the man in the corner wearing full armor seemed to notice me.

"Choji, you simply have a stomach ache, you have to be careful with what you eat," Momo warned sternly, a tinge of a smile at her lips as if she had this conversation on a regular basis.

"But Momo-san, it look tasty…" the newly confirmed, Choji replied, "Can't I…" Choji began, but was cut off by, his clone in the future, his father.

"Now, now, Choji…Momo is correct, plastic is bad for you. However, it seems like we have a visitor, you can come in, child," Choza commented warmly, compelling me to enter the room fully as I had so eagerly wished to. It was so odd meeting canon characters…regardless it was better to thank Momo, and not dwell on the canon, as I had wished.

Momo turned to me and smiled, opening her arms in what I was assured a rare hug, if the looks Choji and Choza shared where anything to go by.

"Mayu…what brings you here," She asked gently, her stern demeanor disappearing as she looked at me with pity.

"I…I…I…" I stumbled, I didn't know why but speech seemed to have disappeared from my mind. I sighed bowing my head, "I…thank you."

I looked back up to see her frowning, "Mayu…"

I shook my head stubbornly; "Thank you for taking care of my mother."

She smiled, before patting me on the head. "You are most welcome, little genius." She looked back to the Akimichis and smiled, "Choza, Choji … I would like for you to meet Mayu Sarutobi, our Lord Hokage's granddaughter."

Choza smiled, while Choji managed a shy wave from his bed. "It is an honor."

I smiled before bowing my head, "I'm sorry for barging in," I mumbled, quieter than usual, "I forgot to say goodbye to Momo. Please excuse me." I made a beeline to the exit before pausing, and offering a halfhearted smile to Choji, "Feel better, Choji. I hope to see you when you're good again."

I quickly vacated the room, only to stumble into Hizashi's legs. With a chuckle I was lifted from the ground, and rested soundly in Hizashi's arms with my best friend trailing dutifully beside us.


Before I knew it, I was waking up to warmth. Opening my eyes, and adjusting to the dark, I found I was deeply snuggled into my best friend's embrace. I stifled my giggles, momentarily forgetting why I was here and not home, simply enjoying the warmth and serenity present on my favorite child's face. Wiping the crust from my eyes, I slowly detangled myself from my slumbering friend, being careful not to wake him from his dreams. Slowly I padded out of his room, a location I had always visited but never truly explored, and felt my way out of the Branch house and into the outdoors of the Compound. The Hyuga compound was something else, beautiful yet tense in the daylight, the same tension was not found in the moonlight. I couldn't help but admire the way the stars shone like fragmented diamonds on the night sky, sparkling even on the pond at night. I sighed happily, the beauty of this world was profound.

"I thought I heard someone prowling around out here," the humored voice of Hizashi Hyuga sounded behind me. I turned to face the man in his dressing robes who smiled down at me as if I were a second child. "What brings you out here, little one?"

I smiled softly, unsure if I would ever manage a large smile again after yesterday. "I felt I needed to be here," I paused, wetting my lips and returning my gaze to the stars, and crescent moon. "The sky makes me seem so small."

Hizashi sat next to me and patted my head, "You truly are a genius, Mayu." He smiled before turning his gaze to the stars, "Yes, the vastness of the Universe is easy to get lost in. It is so grand before us. But," he paused, drawing my attention into his violet gaze, "It can make our problems seem very small in comparison. Do you want to know a secret of both night and life, Mayu?" Hizashi entices, smiling down at me once I nodded my head reverently. "Darkness is necessary to see the glimmering light of the stars and moon. Your young life has been rifled with hardship, but it cannot stop you, Mayu. Instead, like the stars you must persist and dare to shine, even in the blackest of night. Can you do that, Mayu?"

I nearly started to cry again, absorbing Hizashi's wisdom like a sponge before shaking my head rapidly and launching myself in his arms. I could do this.


The morning came all to quickly, as I wasn't quite ready to launch myself in to the unknown. But I needed to persist: I had to. So with reluctance I found myself jolting from the sleepy arms of my comfort, Neji, into the awaiting arms of my Grandfather, who never looked happier to see me.

I walked slowly with my grandfather, matching his pace easily as I clutched his hand in a vice-like grip.

"How are you feeling, Mayu?" My Grandfather asked, concern dripping from his gravelly voice. "You're awfully quiet."

I pondered this simple question thoughtfully. If I could pinpoint my emotions I would be: numb. Yes, I was sad, but I think, or subconsciously at least, I was trying to suppress the memory of my mother's death.

With a small shrug I frowned slightly, "I'm very sad, but I'm trying," I finally mustered, thoughtfully.

My grandfather smiled, "Trying your very best is all that I can ever ask. Life is different now, I will not lie to you, but we will get through this. Pretty soon we'll have a routine, and the days will fly by…" my Grandfather trailed, almost promising me something.

Promise me he did.


Author's Note:

To all of my lovely and sweet readers, thank you for all of your thoughts, feedback, and reviews. Thank you most of all for not giving up on Rebirth. I appreciate you. - TSR