Being a ninja is hard enough when you work for the good guys, let alone when you get reincarnated into a family of psychopaths.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a small tropical island, which I am stranded on. Please send help, I'm out of coconuts and the seagulls are learning.
Chapter 1: The Desert For The Sand
At first, I thought I was in a coma. Get hit by a car, go into a coma. It seemed logical, considering I could still nearly hear the screech of tires, practically feel my body contorting over the hood as nature had never intended, the final sight of the thing seared into my memory. In the indeterminate time that followed, it bothered me that I couldn't figure out the make and model. I'd never been a car enthusiast, never considered them important for more than carting people around, but felt that knowing the precise cause of my current predicament was important.
Ridiculous attention to detail was always something of a flaw of mine.
No matter what it was that hit me, definitely some kind of SUV, too big and boxy for anything else, I thought, the result was the same: Darkness, warmth, and an indecipherable murmur on the edge of hearing, any and all of which I attributed to my brain making things up in response to total sensory deprivation. When the pain started, a crushing sensation from every angle, it was almost a relief. It meant that everything was still hooked up. Even if I'd broken every bone in my body, it was an improvement over paralyzed and a huge step up from comatose.
Some time later the crushing stopped and, with a thrill, I could feel distinct sensation. There was softness all around, something firm beneath, and the air was comparatively chill and dry. The last was the first I noticed, because breathing was more difficult than I could ever remember and more precious than I could ever describe, the greedy lungfuls stolen from the air both painful and glorious. I could scarcely think amidst the excitement.
Long minutes later I managed to pry open my eyes and my elation died. Even with my vision blurred beyond usefulness, I could tell the scale of everything was off, giants looming all around. I realized the firmness below was not a bed, but a set of arms. I knew then I hadn't woken up. My brain was merely becoming more creative in it's lies, playing what must have been the first moments of my life out of boredom.
Pain I could take, but this? No, this was too much. Panic rising in my tiny chest, I let loose a wail.
It was impossible to say for certain when it was that I decided that this was as close to real as could reasonably be hoped for, but the cracks in the replay theory appeared as soon as my vision cleared beyond blurs. I'd visited the hospital of my birth a few times, and was pretty sure that it wasn't made of sandstone.
As if to underline the revelation that everything I knew about the world was wrong, I was carried through the compound gate and saw the outside for the first time. Stone and sand and, most of all, heat were all around me. Everything was new and unfamiliar and, in trying to take in everything, I paid attention to very few specifics. If I'd taken a moment to focus, I might have figured things out a little sooner. As it was, all I knew was that this seeming fantasy was no longer bound by past experience in all but the loosest ways, and that the few signs I saw were in Japanese. Moments later, the gentle rocking motion of the woman I would come to call my mother's arms and the unfamiliar warmth lulled my tiny form to sleep. By the time I was aware again, I was already tucked away in the nursery of what I would come to call home.
The next few weeks began my reputation as a rather strange child. I was, by turns, almost unresponsive and enormously inquisitive as I tried to shake off the dream. One day I would do my best to block out the world, hoping my subconscious would take the hint and get me out of there. The next I'd struggle to get my tiny, weak limbs to cooperate as I tried to push the boundaries of the fantasy and take some measure of control. And while I resolutely failed to make any progress on those fronts, I did manage to learn a few things.
First and foremost, I learned that if I wanted something, my only real option was screaming. Well, crying, really. There's very little difference for an infant.
I learned that I had a sister, who took great joy in alternately playing with me and taking my toys. The former I soon became enormously grateful for, because being an infant is possibly the most boring thing that an adult mind can be subjected to. The latter eventually started bothering her more than me, because there were plenty of toys, and none nearly as fun as seeing her get flustered when I flat out ignored her.
I also learned that my father was someone important or wealthy. Being carried through the house daily revealed the massive scale of it, and the size of my nursery assured me that I was no servant's child. My father was also obviously wealthy enough to afford and require security, as my mother and I were often accompanied by the most terrifying man I had ever laid eyes on. The man never threatened, at least that I understood, and was rarely unkind, but moved with a swift, purposeful confidence that said he was safe anywhere, because he was always the most dangerous thing in the room.
An embarrassing amount of time later, I learned that this man was my father.
Finally, after much strained listening as I attempted to decipher the language, I learned that my name was Kankuro. I also learned that however adult a mind I might have had, my mouth wasn't clever enough to obey it. Speaking any language, let alone this new one, was going to take awhile.
All the while, I'd done my best to ignore the constant itch running through my veins. The sensation was never quite painful, but it was often uncomfortable and always unfamiliar. I tried to assure myself that it was some small level of feedback from my actual body as it complained of it's condition, but my resolve that this was fiction was wearing away. Occasionally I would humor the idea of reincarnation, and wonder if this was just what babies felt as they got used to having bodies.
Around six months after my arrival I was sitting in the nursery flipping intently through a picture book. No words, which was mildly disappointing, though I doubted I'd be able to get much out of them since I'd barely grasped the basics of the spoken word. Despite having gone through the slim bundle of pages a number of times already, there was still the possibility that I could glean a little more information by going through it again. Not particularly enlightening, I considered, but I might get a few cultural clues out of it. Men breathing fire at giant scorpions, after all, certainly wouldn't have qualified as baby book material back where I'd come from.
In any case, with my sister, whose named I'd discovered to be Temari after teasing it out of conversations between she and my mother, was gone at the moment, so there wasn't anything more entertaining at hand anyway. Most mornings were like this, my mother reading in the corner while I did the best to amuse myself, having proved to be a fairly self sufficient child, and Temari was off doing what I'd eventually learn was training.
Towards noon the routine was broken, as it was on occasion, by a knock on the door , the man on the other side dipping his head in respect before asking something of my mother. I listened intently, though all I'd been able to extract from the exchange on any occasion was that my mother's name was Karura.
She answered in the same soft voice she always used, so at odds with my new father's hard, dry tone. Every other time this had happened she had sent for a servant to watch over me while she attended to whatever business had come up, but now, seeing me crawling towards the door (being able to get around on my own, even on my hands and knees, was a recent and much appreciated development), she reached a different course of action. She murmured something that I was sure included the term 'good boy', and bent down to gather me into her arms before stepping into the hall.
I knew right away that we weren't headed to another part of the family chambers that I'd grown accustomed to, instead we descended to ground floor, a set of guards falling into position to either side as we emerged into the streets. Now that I was aware and, more importantly, capable of supporting my own head, I tried to take in everything, my mother giggling as I turned my head this way and that. Sand and stone, as far as the eye could see, even coloring the air slightly as breezes swept up the rough particles. There were patches of color here and there, but they were all dull and washed out, signs and banners bleached under the sun and scoured by harsh winds. Scattered about were a few stalls selling various wares, but it was obvious that whatever place this was didn't get much in the way of trade.
Eventually we came to a strange, almost spherical building, men at the door offering bows after a moment of inspection. After ascending to the top of the building and passing through a set of heavy doors, my mother carried me into what I assumed was my father's office. I frowned in thought as he welcomed my mother and I. I'd seen my father often, not as much as my mother but nearly every day, but I'd never seen him in his robes of office. And yet, somehow I felt I'd seen it before. The hat, in particular, seemed familiar.
Thankfully my parents were used to my odd moods and I was treated to one of my father's rare, small smiles. Terrifying as the man was (sometimes, when he was in a bad mood, I could swear I could feel him long before he arrived), he'd never actually been anything but nice to me, and I felt a touch guilty for thinking him frightening.
The two of them exchanged pleasantries, but my father seemed distracted by something. Kurara shot him an inquisitive glance, but any question she may have had was forestalled by the doors being pushed open without ceremony. The woman on the other side was so shrunken with age that I almost took her to be a child, save for her lank, grey hair and wrinkled face. Despite her years, I couldn't help but notice that she walked with the same sort of deadly grace that my father did, simultaneously guarded and self assured, even if her gait occasionally hitched as old bones protested.
The woman, who filled me with the same dull familiarity that his father's robes had, spoke then, casting a glance my way before grumbling at my father. I didn't manage to catch any of the words I'd added to my vocabulary, but from the glare my father leveled at her I doubted any of it was polite.
The old woman merely tutted at father's disapproval and stepped towards my mother, who held me closer and took a defensive step back. For the first time, I felt my mother was as dangerous as my father was, her stance tensing and waves of hostility rolling off of her. My eyes went wide and I whipped my head about, trying to understand what was going on. In a movement too fast for me to follow, I suddenly found myself in the old woman's arms, my mother letting out an indignant noise even as my father gently restrained her with a hand on her shoulder.
A wrinkled hand was lifted over me and my eyes widened even further as the appendage was enveloped by a green glow which soon expanded to drift over my tiny form. I balled up my fists and made noises of complaint as the strange itch beneath my skin that I'd nearly forgotten about rose to a roar. I could feel it dancing next to my veins, unfamiliar and vaguely unpleasant but at the same time seeming so very right and alluring. For the first time since my rebirth, I felt as though I had power, as if with the strange energy thrumming through me I could accomplish anything. I was almost disappointed when, a moment later, the glow receded and the feeling faded to it's usual background level.
The old woman said something, which seemed to cause a spike of tension in my parents. After reveling in their discomfort for a moment she added something that made my mother relax and father's eyes narrow.
I was handed back to my mother and the conversation continued, but I'd ceased attempting to follow it, far too busy berating myself for somehow ignoring the obvious. The books, I thought, listing all the clues I hadn't picked up on, practically torn from the manga, the headbands on all the guards, the language, my new name... The god damned ridiculous hat! I'd studied every detail, but hadn't placed them in any context, hadn't even considered viewing them from this angle. Maybe I'd been in denial, but now that the experiences had been catalyzed by the old woman's demonstration there wasn't much doubt left.
Whatever the case, whether fantasy or reality (and this most recent revelation had turned that debate up yet again), I seemed to be stuck in the world of a half remembered anime that I'd never particularly loved to begin with. An anime about an escalating series of bloody conflicts and disasters initiated by madmen.
What was more, I seemed to have gotten born into a family of said madmen. Hell, I was one of those madmen, and the fact that I'd turn into a good guy after a particularly bloody battle didn't help much.
But maybe, I considered, reexamining the situation, it doesn't have to happen that way. I effectively knew the future, parts of it at least. Being in a village far away from the main cast meant I didn't have quite as much information as I'd like, but it also meant I was less likely to catastrophically alter the timeline.
I also had chakra, I noted, recalling the giddy sense of power I'd felt when medical chakra bolstered my own for a moment. It had been scary and painful, but also exhilarating and empowering. If the future were like that, dangerous but thrilling, well... It wasn't a life I would have picked, but I thought it was one I could live with.
Suddenly exhausted, I fell asleep in my mother's arms.
A/N: One day, fanfic authors will come up with something better than car accidents to kill our inserts. That day is not today.
I feel I should explain that last scene, as I hadn't quite anticipated how hard it would be to write a scene in the first person when said person doesn't speak the language. According to the wiki, all three of the Sand Siblings were checked for compatibility with Shukaku, and it wasn't until Gaara that they came up positive. I figured that Chiyo, being the one to do the sealing, would be the one most likely to do the checking, and decided it would also make for a decent first jutsu to tell Kankuro where he was.
Reviews are welcome and encouraged.