Title: Fire Rebirth
Summary: Obligations, expectations, all made heavier by a young village standing on shaky legs. The gigantic construct that is the Clan is greater than I, and failure is not an option. I am headed for greatness - provided the world doesn't come crashing down on me before I get there. /OC Self-Insert, slightly AU
Author's Notes: This idea came up while reading an amazing self-insert called Dreaming of Sunshine by Silver Queen. It's obvious that said work was my inspiration, and if you're reading this you should really read that one if you haven't already - it's awesome.
This is not the Naruto Canon-verse. There was a slight change in the past that had a rather big effect. Attentive readers should notice it rather quickly.
I don't want Kasai to be a Sue so I'll do my best to keep it all balanced. I'll need some input to know how it feels to the readers.
And now - enjoy :)
Update 4/7/2013: Corrected (a lot of) typos.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Obviously.
The story of my death is a quick one. Me, a train and some unfortunate circumstances. No, it wasn't suicide, just a very unfortunate step in the wrong direction along with very bad timing. How ironic, I was always so cautious to never get too close to a train, and see what happened.
I was never particularly religious - to be honest, I actually abhorred religion because I believed that it caged and confined free minds. Even today parts of that sentiment still linger, even if death has put things into perspective. In many ways.
Perhaps some kind of god or supernatural being out there decided to punish me, specifically me, just because it hated me and I apparently deserved it, but the reasons of my circumstances no longer matter, the result is the same.
I was reborn. In death, I expected nothing. Quite literally, absolutely nothing. Death meant the loss of awareness to me, of self and of existence. As I've said, I wasn't religious. To me there was no afterlife. And yet, yet... Fate chose me, the always lazy, always failing, ever self-loathing me. To this day I don't know if it wanted to give me a second chance or truly just punishment.
Rebirth isn't fun, I am, unfortunately, able to prove that from my own memories. It's confusing, terrifying, unnerving. You leave your beloved, familiar body behind to get squeezed into a new, fresh one - unfamiliar, weak and untrained. If your mind gets rebooted, like it should, there's no problem. If you're unlucky like me and actually remember what happened before your rebirth you have to adapt to a new body, family, environment, language and culture.
From my birth I remember little. Despite having the mind of a sixteen year old girl my body couldn't save all my memories. Those first few years of my life gave me the impression that memories are matters of both the body and what we perceive as soul, so both have to be on a similar level to match up to each other.
I did what any newborn would do, I screamed and cried until exhaustion caught up with me and blissful sleep claimed all my senses. The first thing to ever cross my vision was the face of the midwife, nothing but a dark spot to block out the light at the time. Colors were few, the red hair of my mother was apparent just barely.
I learned quickly that I can think separately from my body, but tasks that involve learning challenge both. After the initial terror of my birth I either slept a lot or tried to get used to the sensual terror that was chakra.
Imagine being able to feel oxygen like you feel warmth on the skin. It's everywhere - in the air, your body, the water. It was a strange, unnerving feeling. And itchy before I actually got used to it, but I didn't know what it was until much later.
The first few days after my second birth I refused to be fed or held or anything you'd normally do with a baby. Going from independent teen to helpless infant was a bit of a shock, and I had to be force-fed for a while. What a terror that must have been for my mother. Back then I also refused to acknowledge her as family, though that faded pretty soon.
Memories from my old life began to disappear left and right. With my old body gone the sub-conscious part of my soul apparently decided that they weren't that important anymore, so it made space for new things. Pictures, skills, languages - those things stayed, as well as memories of entertainment media like my favorite Manga Naruto. Faces and names of real people, though... they faded. Today I think that fate had mercy on me, because mourning the loss of all those people would have destroyed me inside.
It didn't take long until I began to wonder where exactly my father was. My mother I knew as the woman who held me and whispered to me when sleep wouldn't come, with a voice as smooth as the water she was named after. The woman whose hair was silkier than anything I've ever felt, who let me play with those red curls of hers when my mind couldn't find rest, who fed me and kept me warm and comfortable. But for a very long time I actually thought I had no father at all - that maybe he was dead, or that he didn't even know I exist. Maybe he didn't care. Those thoughts, the implications, the consequences - they scared me. Here I was, with such a wonderful, loving woman as mother, a circumstance I was entirely new to, and to her I might actually be more the remnant of a tragedy than anything else.
I wasn't used to parental care, of any kind. In my past life neglect was part of my normal day routine. I had to take care of myself, and because I couldn't a lot of things in my life had gone very wrong. Maybe that's why I took to my new family so quickly.
In baby terms a very long time translates to about a week, and I didn't realize this until much later. It seemed more like a year had passed until I finally met the person who had sired me.
My ability to feel chakra made it possible for me to identify people in my room by their chakra signature alone, provided they weren't masking it. Even without knowing what chakra was I could associate certain signatures with people. My mother's was smooth, full of life and energetic. The midwife's was low, almost non-existent. Civilian's chakra. Next to nothing.
When I was but one week old I managed to sense a strange disturbance in my environment. A moving vacuum of chakra - a phenomenon that occurs when a shinobi fails to adjust his chakra to the level of his surroundings. Most sensors would notice this fairly quick.
I felt them long before they had the chance to enter my room, which probably saved my life.
What followed was fear. Horrible, utter, paralyzing, choking fear. The kind that grabs you and won't let you go. I didn't want to die again, and for some reason I thought that whoever was coming for me didn't have any good intentions - might have been the stench of weapons oil lingering above me while the shinobi held a kunai to my throat.
I stopped screaming the moment they entered, out of fear mostly. That didn't really faze them, though.
Throughout all of this I also felt another, new chakra signature, the one I would come to associate with Father. It was... hard to explain, really. One cannot explain how chakra feels, but if I had to put it into words... His chakra was dense. very, very dense - like, much much tighter than any other chakra, and heavier and swirling and so incredibly powerful. And cold. It was cold. Not uncomfortably could, just like... like he had gone outside and come back in and the cold air still lingered and radiated off him. Soothingly, even.
I remember voices, I remember hearing his voice for the first time, and panic. It didn't occur to me that he had taken down the attackers - just fire and fire and heat everywhere.
I once said that my infant memories are a blurry blob to me, and that's not a lie. But there is something I remember very well, even to this day. I remember feeling two strong hands reach around me, resting my body in the comfortable nest that was his arm.
I cried and cried and cried, but eventually my tiny infant brain registered that he was safety and oh I would be alright, no one could hurt me now. I tried to pry my eyes open, but the lids felt incredibly heavy - I only caught a glimpse of the world around me. And of him. I could only see a few color blobs at the time, so all I could really recognize was the unruly black mess that was his hair.
In this very moment something occurred to me. This man was safety. He was a wall, and I'd do best to hide behind him as often as I could, because this life would be rough. Someone had tried to murder me with stunning seven days of age. By plan or by opportunity, I didn't know and even to this day I don't know who had decided that it was a good day for me to die.
His voice was very deep, and maybe just a little bit on the rough side, but somehow also clear. It reached you, and it made you obey. He commanded power like that. It seems as if he demanded absolute obedience just by being there.
Despite the terrifying power of his voice the words he spoke, though incomprehensible to me at the time, were soothing, calming. A gloved finger traced my chin, then my cheek, all the way over my forehead to the tip of my nose. The tickling sensation made me giggle.
Not soon after that my mother's voice echoed through the room, her chakra drowned out by the other presence's truly massive reserves. She sounded distressed and maybe just a little bit scared, but it seemed as if the man managed to calm her down just by being here.
After that he was around pretty much all the time. He sometimes would leave for the entire day and only come back in the middle of the night, but he never stayed away for longer than a day.
It occurred to me that he probably was my father and whatever had kept him busy and away from me had been resolved. Knowing this was incredibly relieving - it meant that my new family didn't build up on some kind of tragedy that would haunt my mother till who knows when.
Father wasn't with me often, solidifying my impression of him as a busy man, but whenever he hung around he made it worth it. His presence was that of power and of safety, and somehow the demons of my mind seemed just a little bit smaller whenever he was there.
After a while I just accepted the fact that I was a baby and would be for a very long time. Boredom was imminent and would probably drive me halfway insane until I reached an interesting age, but I decided to deal with that when the time came.
After coming to peace with my situation I turned into a very quiet and silent baby that slept half the time and regarded its surroundings with astonishing interest the other half. I wonder what my parents thought about this - perhaps they assumed it was related to my father. And I guess that was partially true. Knowing that I had a father calmed me in ways I couldn't imagine.
Shortly after meeting him for the first time someone else came to visit, someone who also became one of my precious people, as Naruto would say. It was my uncle, to be specific.
The very moment he came nearby I recognized him as family and categorized him as safe. Later I would learn that family wasn't always safety, but that was still a long way from then and Father would never let anything bad get past him anyway. At least my infant mind thought that.
My uncle, then still a stranger to me, was definitely easily recognizable as family. His chakra was similarly dense like Father's, but slightly less cold, and just as powerful.
During that time I only tolerated being picked up and held by a few people. I felt that it was an insult to my pride to be treated in such a way, feelings that took quite a while to go away. Only my parents were allowed to just pick me up whenever they felt like it, because they were safety and warmth and I craved their attention, especially Father's.
When this person decided that it was worth the initial trouble of me screaming at him with that annoying wail only a baby can make I went quiet very, very soon and stopped protesting the moment he rested my head in the crook of his neck, supporting my body with his arms around my legs and shoulder. In fact, I think I made some chortling noises. He must have felt so special for gaining my approval so fast.
Father was somewhere in the room as well, though keeping his distance. At the time I didn't understand, but later I would come to know what a big show of trust that really was. Father didn't like others near his children - but this one was different. This one was his brother. Of course I didn't exactly know that at the time, but it didn't matter to me anyway. I knew that he was family and that was enough. He could have been my grandfather for all I cared. Family is family.
My parents must have been delighted. Their little daughter didn't really like strangers, but she seemed to recognize her uncle on instinct. Yeah, no. I bet even then they must have been suspicious of what I could do - babies don't recognize people they've never seen, no matter how stupidly cute that sounded.
I was allowed out of my crib sometimes, even if only under supervision. (And that was, more often than not, my uncle.)
There was a symbol drawn on the back of his shirt that I closely examined once given the chance. My vision was still blurry, but it appeared to be red and white. Something told me that this was important, in the sense of 'girl, you've seen this before!' And I had. I really had, but I couldn't remember what it was. To be honest, it looked a bit like a table tennis bat to me.
I soon realized that the symbol was wherever we went - on the walls, the clothes of nearly every person I got to lay my eyes on. It occurred to me that it was some kind of family crest and that my family must be either really important or really arrogant to have its crest planted on every free inch they could find. Perhaps both.
At about the same time as this revelation came also the realization that my family had to be huge if all those people bearing the crest were part of it.
One day my uncle caught me examining the crest on one of my spare clothes after crawling out of my crib and straight into my closet. I think it took him a while to find me in there - he was just kind of panicking when he entered the room. Well, to me it was a while anyway. For him it probably just amounted to a few seconds.
He saw me softly tracing the outer lines of the crest with a contemplative look on my face, as if deep in thought. Well, as deep as a toddler can be.
Uncle picked me up, clothes still in my hand, and rested my head on his upper arm, cradling me while pointing at the crest with his free hand.
"U-chi-ha", he drawled slowly, his voice soft and low. Suddenly realizing how very important that was, I tried to reach out for the crest with my chubby fingers, grabbing the cloth with my fist and drawing it near my chest. Somewhere my mind tingled and tickled and muttered 'you know this, you must remember!'
And I tried to. I really did. But it would just escape my reach. At least I learned my family's name - Uchiha.
I spent the following weeks trying to figure out what the heck Uchiha meant. I knew that I remembered it from somewhere and that it was actually fairly significant, important. I just didn't know why. To top it off I probably worried my uncle with my shift in behavior, because I became even more silent and quiet, and distant.
When the answer refused to come to me I decided to let it rest and see if anything would trigger the memory on its own in due time. I began responding to my uncle again, even tried to hug him or pull his pony tail when he wasn't cautious. I knew that he didn't really mind, that his scorn was always playful. Well, that and I was a baby - not really a threat to someone like him. Still, I think he might have spoiled me a bit.
With all the time he was spending at my side I wondered if he didn't have any other duties, or if my father had 'honored' him with the special task of taking care of his little daughter. Glorified babysitting. Seems like dear Uncle took it in stride.
I snuggled into his arms, feeling him gently pat my back and rub it in a soothing, circular motion. The steady rhythm began to make me drowsy, until I let out a long-winded yawn and my eyes started feeling droopy.
Uncle chuckled next to my ear, a soft rumbling in his chest.
"Sleepy?" he muttered. Not really thinking anything at the moment, I simply nodded, a soft bob of my still somewhat heavy baby head. It only occurred to me seconds later that I had actually understood what he was saying. Granted, it was just one word... but did that mean that I was starting to pick up the language?
It was my luck that my uncle hadn't recognized my head movement as a nod. How old was I anyway? A few months maybe... I could crawl on my own already but I might have started early with that.
That line of thought was broken when I was removed from my uncle's warm embrace by my mother. I heard her mutter something that sounded suspiciously like 'nap time' before being put into my baby crib and left to my own devices.
When I was eight months old I made first attempts at talking. I could understand most words now, but still lacked the motor control to say much. That didn't stop me from trying.
When I first tried to utter something that sounded like more than 'gugu' I was sitting on my father's lap while he was busy with writing - drawing? - a letter or something. It looked fairly important, but I couldn't read so there was no way to tell.
I tried to reach the characters that were already dried, but my father swatted my rather pudgy hands away before my clumsy learning attempts could ruin his work. To my credit, I sulked for only like a minute. That was impressive in toddler terms. When it came to Father I learned early that no means no, and if you try again you're in trouble.
Back to my talking attempts... this was when my uncle entered the house. I knew because I sensed him. His energy was almost like Father's, but not exactly the same.
Probingly, I opened my mouth, trying to roll the word I had practiced silently for a while now.
"Un... unce!" Oh well... it was close.
He halted mid-character - seemed more like freezing, actually. As if contemplating what to do he stared ahead for a few seconds, probably checking for his brother's presence. Sensing wasn't his forte as far as I was aware, but that didn't mean he couldn't sense people who weren't even trying to hide.
He set the brush down cautiously, careful not to spill any ink on his ridiculously clean working space. Then his gaze drifted towards me slowly.
"Say that again, Kasai."
Kasai was a name that took me a while getting used to. I admit that I rather like it though - it's a nice name.
"Un... Unl-" I desperately struggled with the 'l'-sound, then shrugged inwardly and just dropped it for now. "Unkel!"
Yeah. Close enough.
Father seemed deep in thought as he watched me. It was almost scary. His eyes really seemed razor sharp, as if they could pierce right through your soul. For a second I could have sworn that I saw his eyes flashing red, but that seemed ridiculous to me. Today I knew that it wasn't, but back then I didn't.
"Where?" he said, or rather ordered.
I obediently lifted my pudgy little hand - god, my motion control was so out of whack, but I managed to point in the right direction. He was moving... I think. His presence was rather large after all. When I felt his energy enter the corridor I changed direction to the door only seconds before it was shoved open, a rather disgruntled Uchiha standing in the doorway.
I dropped my hand when I noticed that he was staring at me, then made the most innocent impression I could muster.
Uncle managed a mild but tired smile. "It's rude to point at people, Kasai."
I pouted. "Unkel," was my only answer. His eyes widened - only a fraction, but still. Somehow I couldn't help feeling proud, even though I was technically cheating.
It seems as if his mood brightened a little, and that made me happy. I wanted to feel important, not in general, but to others, not in the sense of... important importance but as in... being an important person... a precious person.
Seconds later it occurred me that eight months old babies don't speak and I had just dropped hints towards 'exceptional' intelligence.
Well, it wasn't like I was dumb. Even in my past life I had been rather smart actually, more on the creative and innovative side of things, quick-thinking. I wasn't good at patterns and logical thinking, but that's because I never trained it. I would not do that mistake again. I never did anything with the gift of intelligence life had given me. Looking back, it seemed like such a shame. What we learned in school I picked up easily enough, but I could have gone so much further had I actually bothered to sit down and learn. Instead I had wasted what little time I had with fleeting things.
There were a lot of things that could have gone better in my... old life. Things that were too ingrained, too old to fix. Things I could now avoid. I felt grateful, in a way - and at the same time it saddened me that the people from my old life seemed a blur to me. It was as if fate itself didn't want me to remember. Was there a reason for this? Was it a protection mechanism?
After all was said and done I curled up in my father's lap, deciding that it was nap time. He seemed to be fairly patient when it came to me - he flew off the handle rather easily when dealing with others, I had seen that much. But never with me. Special snowflake!
Or just fatherly instincts, who could say for sure.
When I felt a grip on my midsection I knew that I wouldn't have the honor of spending nap time in Father's lap, probably partially because his legs were already halfway numb from sitting around for what seemed like forever. I caught snippets of the conversation between my father and my uncle while drifting off to dreamland.
...knew where you were...
Seems rather intelligent...
Smiling to myself I curled my fists into the fabric of Father's clothing while he carried me to my room, briefly wondering what the hell they were talking about when they mentioned 'Training', but deciding to let it rest for now.
I learned the name of my mother - Umiko. It was a fitting name. I know it was only my imagination, but I always thought she carried a sea breeze with her.
She definitely was a hothead - loud, brash, bordering on obnoxious. I didn't know how my father could stand her, much less the rest of the family - and sometimes I was worried that they couldn't. but mother knew how to handle herself fairly well - I think she knew when to shut up. And despite her personality she managed to tip-toe around Father's... fiery temper. Even now I can't tell how this marriage came to be, but they clearly didn't dislike each other. Or they were good at acting, I was never good at spotting that anyway.
But there were hints. Signs. Things that told a story. 'We didn't come to this on our own, but we're doing alright.'
Mother and Father didn't feel hate for one another. It was hard to express how much of a relief that was to me. The nature of arranged marriages - and this appeared to be one - wasn't always good. They could end badly. Start badly. Those two seemed to be doing alright, sometimes even going out of their way to ensure comfort.
I didn't know why my mind vehemently insisted that their marriage was an arranged one, but it apparently knew something I didn't, as strange as that sounds.
Maybe they did 'love' each other, but they were just awkward in showing it. I couldn't tell, from what I remember my... 'old parents' hadn't been exactly loving either.
One day Father came home injured. I felt like my world shattered - my Father, this mighty, powerful man - a fiery demon like him - injured. He was only human. And that made him less scary, in a way. And told me that I don't need to fear him. Others should, but I felt that I didn't need to.
Mother was the first to notice. It wasn't much, probably not even lethal, but she still bit her lower lip in worry. Mom-... Mother was seldom worried. Not like this. Chewing her lower lip (a habit I picked up from her) was something she only did when nervous.
I wanted to know what the hell was going on, but was ushered away by my uncle before I could protest.
Still, that look of worry in her eyes - it meant that she cared. And that was all I needed to know.
I adapted to walking pretty fast. It was not that hard, I had technically done it before. It felt good to be able to stand on two legs again, go where I wanted to, not where others wanted me to. While crawling had granted me some of that ability it just wasn't the same.
On one particular day my uncle took me outside with him. I don't exactly know what he expected me to do here, but because I was bored and it felt safe enough I began to run. My legs were still a bit shaky but I had gained a bit of a feel for them in the last month, so I just ran - laughing, beaming, feeling wind and freedom in my face. It just felt good.
I should probably have looked where I was going, but hey - toddler. What did you expect? I was allowed to be stupid sometimes.
I crashed headfirst into something rather hard and landed gracefully on my butt. "Ow."
Some shadow was blocking out the sun, at least partially. I squinted a little while trying to look up - sunlight was still almost crashing into my eyes. A tall man - very tall, was standing on the exact spot where I had just crashed into. Well, that explained things.
I only managed a careful smile before hurrying to my feet and toddling back to my uncle as fast as I could. Strangers who were able to walk onto Father's property without worrying my uncle were probably fine, but that didn't mean that I felt comfortable around them.
"Quite a little hellion, I take it?"
His voice was booming. Not loud, just very powerful... and warm. I suddenly felt less intimidated by him than before. Something about him seemed familiar.
"Uzumaki through and through," Uncle commented politely. I somehow managed to pout. While I didn't know what the heck 'Uzumaki' was supposed to mean I certainly wasn't a 'hellion' - those were loud and brash and annoying. I was quiet, polite... and I wore modest colors. Black and blue, sometimes grey or white, and the Uchiha crest proudly on my back.
Mom-... Mother liked wearing flashy colors. White, red, anything that caught attention. She was from a place called Uzushio, so I don't really know if that's normal for her or just a quirk. But I guess there's no harm in wearing that stuff at home and she wore rather elegant attire when going out.
Da-... Fath-... oh, whatever. Dad wore black and blue as well. They were after all our family's colors, and I was part of that family along with him.
I tried to hide myself behind Uncle without catching too much attention. Seems like the effect was the opposite of my intention, because the man now went down on one knee and extended a hand to me. I locked eyes with him, almost screaming 'Are you kidding me?' but kept my mouth shut out of fear of saying something stupid.
"She's shy," was all my uncle had to say before he shoved me forward with a light push of his palm. I almost lost my balance and literally stumbled directly into the stranger's arms.
I wanted to scream, I really wanted to, but the guy smothered me not just with his clothing but also with his warm nature and oh god his presence. It was powerful, so powerful... and unlike Dad's it seemed warm. Not dense like his, but... extending. Like the roots of a tree.
Tree... I somehow thought that was significant. Tree, leaves... a village. It had to do with a village, right. But what...
No matter what I did, my mind wouldn't comply. I knew that the knowledge was there, I just couldn't access it. Which was really frustrating.
"So, you're little Kasai, hm?" He seemed to be talking more to himself than me, actually.
"You really look like him when he was younger, you know. The round face, the eyes... the hair.
"I've been waiting to meet you, but after the assassination attempts he became rather careful about your safety, so he refused to bring you outside... and I don't really have the time to visit."
So there had either been several attempts at my life already or other children had suffered the same fate. I didn't know which of the two sounded worse.
I made a muffled sound, mostly muted by his really soft haori.
He was carrying me somewhere. Inside, I think. Somewhere in my mind a voice told him to fuck off because I wanted to stay outside and run, but another voice went on how comfortable his presence was and how warm I felt and before I knew it I was asleep.
"It's a miracle she didn't sense you beforehand."
I blinked, feeling dazed and sleepy.
"She seemed to be rather occupied with her newfound freedom."
Again I blinked, slowly adjusting to the light. I felt so warm and comforted... it was almost scary. I usually only felt like that after nap time in Dad's lap.
"She isn't outside often, that's true."
That was definitely my uncle's voice... and he sounded rather accusing, too. I turned my head a little and found myself curled up in the stranger's haori, strategically placed on Dad's spare futon he kept in his study - oh god this was embarrassing. I had fallen asleep in the arms of a complete stranger.
Except... I was a toddler. I could get away with those things and look absolutely adorable while doing it.
"Hm. Poor thing. Children need sunlight to grow. Much like trees, really."
"I am aware. I have smuggled her into the backyard as often as possible."
The displeased grunt that followed after that statement could only have been my father.
I yawned, stretching my stiff limbs a little. My hair was even more ruffled than usual, but for now I didn't really care. My face felt numb, a good sign that I had patterns from the fabric etched into my skin. Probably looked ridiculous.
The entire room likely knew I was awake the moment I had stirred. Why they kept ignoring me was beyond me. When I sat up I finally garnered their attention - and a ton of 'oh look how cute' looks.
I also finally managed to notice that there were several people in here... two which I didn't know. Well, I technically knew one of them by courtesy of falling asleep and drooling on his clothes.
Seems like he took it with humor. Oh well.
The other was a stranger with red hair. Actually, scratch that - she looked like Mom with a different hairdo. And dark grey eyes.
Something told me that those people were really, really familiar and really, really important.
How did that guy know how my father had looked like as a kid? My memory senses were tingling... more like itching a lot. I knew that the memories were close to coming back from the way everything in my mind tickled and itched, but I couldn't quite reach for it yet.
I managed to waddle out of my futon and straight into my father's lap, who seemed rather displeased with my ruffled appearance but thankfully said nothing. He was seated on a pillow... actually, they were all sitting on pillows, and apparently enjoying some tea.
"Nap nap," I mumbled, just to see his reaction while I tried to curl up in his arms.
Ouch. That was cold. I looked at him with big, blue eyes - those innocent, beautiful puppy eyes. Nothing could withstand them.
"Kasai, no. You slept the entire day."
Oh. That explained that then. I didn't even know why the urge to sleep had overcome me so suddenly, but I guess it had to with me running around like a madwoman straight out of the asylum.
My lips formed a silent 'oh', while warm fingers moved through my hair - Dad trying to sort my mess of a mane into something presentable.
"It's a shame she looks so little like you, Umiko."
That was the strange woman sitting next to Tree Man, the lady that looked like my Mom.
She clucked her tongue disapprovingly. "Really, Mito? look at her! Those are my eyes! And I'll make sure she has an Uzumaki temper to match the hair."
My memories stirred, thoughts racing and pictures swirling in front of my eyes.
"Nothing could be as wild as that hair, sister."
My father made a disgruntled grun-... wait. Hold, wait wait wait. Rewind that... had she just said sister to my mother?
I looked back and forth between the two. Similar face and eye shape, the same expression,... the same fashion sense, as I noted with mild disgust.
Mom gently plucked me from Dad's lap and placed me into Mito's instead. The new position made me feel mildly uncomfortable, as I didn't know the woman at all aside from a few memories I couldn't quite recall.
"This is your aunt Mito. My older sister."
I almost fainted, really. Almost. My gaze darted up to her face and locked on her eyes. They were definitely pretty, even if dark. And she had a nice face shape, and she did look friendly enough.
"Hello?" I ventured forth carefully, never dropping my eyes from her face. The rest of the room probably realized this very instant how wary I was of strangers for a toddler. Not that I didn't just trust them, but the way I watched them like potential predators wasn't normal.
"Hello Kasai," she offered, with a gentle smile to soften her round features into something even warmer.
Her smile rang true to me. She wouldn't hurt me (no one would with my father around anyway), I would be okay.
I smiled back. It was a small smile, but it would have to be enough for now. To earn my trust like Uncle had you had to do a little more than just smile at me.
"She's a cute kid," I heard Tree Man say next to me. Even when speaking quiet his voice felt loud. Or rather intruding. Like Father's voice it compelled you to obey, but I guess Tree Man's made you feel a little better about it than the cold steel in Dad's words...
After a few silent minutes I crawled out of Mito's lap and placed myself in front of what appeared to be her husband. With a chubby hand outstretched, like he had done to me before, I locked gazes with him and allowed another careful smile.
"Kai," I offered. It was a bit embarrassing that I couldn't pronounce my own name, but he took it with humor and a reassuring grin.
the man took my very small hand in his really large hand - rough and calloused - and shook it very carefully. "Hashirama. I'm your uncle."
Boom. That's when my memories basically exploded. I suddenly felt dizzy as a ton of pictures invaded my mind like a wave, pictures and voices and a ton of old and forgotten memories, dusty and seemingly unimportant at first.
I knew that wasn't so. At the name 'Uzumaki' a spiral suddenly flashed in my mind, red and hypnotizing. A red fox, a boy with whisker marks, flaming red hair... the word 'chakra'. When I thought of Uchiha I thought of fire and pain and tragedy.
Mother was an Uzumaki, a clan from the Whirlpool Country specializing in the Sealing Arts. Father was an Uchiha, a clan from the Fire Country renowned for its fire techniques and genjutsu... and its bloodline limit. Sharingan. Suddenly Father's eyes flashing red didn't seem that ridiculous anymore.
Hashirama... Hashirama, head of the Senju clan, one of the two founders of Konoha, the Village hidden in the Leaf, famous for his special ability - the Mokuton. Uzumaki Mito, wife of the First Hokage and the Kyuubi's first vessel. I gulped, checking for her energy. It felt similar to my mother's, but nothing seemed to be lingering underneath. Well, it's not like I should know, I'm not a sensor-nin.
Though, thinking about it... I was apparently able to feel chakra. That was the strange stuff floating around me all the time, the thing I had dubbed presence.
My mind still flooded with thoughts I could barely handle, I carefully turned around, afraid of what I might find, and saw a demon staring back. The image of Father's eyes glowing red, menacing and blood-thirsty - before it disappeared and left me staring at the person I simply knew as Father. In this very moment I realized I would always see this person as Father, no matter what. Because the memories of Papa came first, and the memories of Uchiha Madara, summoner of the Juubi and corrupter of Uchiha Obito, only came second.
"You really look like him when he was younger, you know. The round face, the eyes... the hair."
Coincidently I knew how my father had looked like when he was younger. (Really freaking adorable), and hearing that I looked like him actually made me somewhat happy. Well, I've been told that my eyes are dark blue but other than that I seemed to resemble him a lot. Right down to the wild hair mane that was awfully difficult to tame.
"Madara," Hashirama suddenly said, his voice unusually serious. "Is she the clan heir?"
...Clan heir. That couldn't be, could it? Clan heirs were male. I definitely wasn't. Well, most of the time they were male anyway. Still, Hinata had been heir... but that was in modern Konoha. And this here might not be Konoha at all.
Father stiffened, lips tight and brow creased. "The Clan Elders want to pressure me into trying for a boy."
I waddled back into his lap, the place where I felt safest. Mind still swirling and thoughts still racing, but a little bit more at ease now. He softly rested his warm hand on my head, a comforting feeling I hoped I would never have to miss.
Hashirama frowned. "That would be such a shame. She has potential."
Mother snickered. "Indeed. Her chakra is very special, as expected."
I blinked at this and tried to crane my neck to look into Father's eyes searchingly. "Your mother is a sensor-nin," he muttered. "Something you might be able to become as well."
My eyes widened comically, which earned me a few chuckles from the entire room. "Regardless, the clan heir is traditionally male."
I couldn't help but pout at this. Even though I had expected it those words still hurt. Father frowned, then directed a scolding glare at me. I withered away under his stare, sinking into his chest. "Don't sulk," he warned, "My patience is limited, Kasai."
"Yes," I muttered dejectedly. I hated this. Hated being treated differently for being a girl, hated not being allowed to do what I wanted to simply because I wasn't male. I would have rebelled, would have argued - but this was Father. Never, ever do you argue with Father. It was one of those unwritten rules I had picked up quickly.
So I just buried myself into his clothes, hiding that single tear rolling down my cheek and pouting angrily. It's not like I could have done anything else. At that time I wanted attention, craved praise. Regardless of the consequences I wanted to impress, show that I was worthy. The dangers and pains of a shinobi's life didn't even come to mind when I made the decision to impress my father in any way possible.
Father's voice rumbled above me, like a distant thunder. "I am still the one making decisions in this clan." Uncle chuckled somewhere in the corner - it occurred to me that this was Izuna. Why the hell wasn't he blind as a mole?
"You could make her heir just to spite them, you know?"
At this, Father scoffed. "Decisions like this are best not made on impulse, Izuna."
Clan was a word that suddenly seemed very important. The Clan seemed important. It was greater than you, it was greater than anything. It was your goal and your right as well as your reason to exist, it was backup, it was home, it was family, it was expectations and no, failure was not an option.
I was scared, to be honest. Scared of this giant construct that was the Clan, this shadow looming over my head. I wanted to understand it, be part of it. I decided that I wanted to be Uchiha. And I would not hold back.
I had a chance to be strong now, significant, special. I had fucked my last life over so many times I stopped bothering to count, this would not happen here.
Maybe it was a bit unfair. Would it make me a prodigy if I could use my years of experience while others couldn't?
No matter. I had the advantage of a young brain and body now, I could learn much quicker than a teen. But I still had parts of my old mind, meaning I knew what counted now.
Somehow I knew that, in this world, I had to be strong. I would not stay weak and play it safe. Staying weak would only get me killed. Become as strong as possible as fast as possible.
A/N: Before you go all 'Her family ties are ridiculous!' on me - yeah, Hashirama is her uncle through marriage, but it wouldn't have mattered much. Kasai would have ended up close to him anyway because her father deals with him on a regular basis and Hashirama just seems to be the kind of person people feel drawn to.
Why an Uzumaki as mother? Well, firstly because they have Sealing knowledge. I'm intrigued by the Sealing Arts - and this is still a self insert, right? Secondly because it seemed somewhat fitting - to strengthen the ties between Uchiha, Senju and Uzumaki. An arranged marriage seemed most plausible to me, and the clan needs an heir.
We don't actually know if Mito had any siblings, and I took advantage of how little we know of her and just gave her a very large family. The Uzumaki are probably going to appear sooner or later.
The Uchiha clan because it seems to be one of the strictest clans - and if someone with my personality wants to turn into a ninja said person would need a lot of drilling and discipline before that could happen.
Madara... because he's just interesting.
The obvious difference here is that Izuna is alive. Madara is still not the nicest person on earth, but he didn't turn into the asshole we know. Why Izuna gets to live? That's a secret!
Tell me what you think - if it's acceptable I'll keep writing. I'm technically writing this for myself, didn't actually plan to upload it.