A/N: Oh look here... a new fanfiction. Wait... shouldn't I be working on my Fullmetal Alchemist fic? Hrm.
To be honest, I'm having a bit of writer's block on that one and I've thought the plot line to death... so it's going to be on Hiatus for a while. That being said... I've had this Naruto fic rattling around in my brain case for a while now and it just won't leave me alone.
Be sure to shoot me a review to let me know what you think, I love me some constructive criticism. :3
Like the Blade of a Knife
Chapter 1: Intangible from Sky
Song theme: Ivan Torrent - Icarus
Beginnings are always hard...
And with time passing as it has, it's difficult to assess all that came before... the world... that came before. Only foggy glimpses remind me of where I came from, of who I was, and even still it's akin to trying to catch sunbeams on the surface of a stream.
But what I can tell you, is on a thundering rainy day; not too dissimilar to this one, something strange occurred.
Darkness enveloped her vision and she could feel herself rapidly being pulled downward by an unseen force, shards of tile flooring slowly falling with her. She felt sluggish, her body was heavy as if submerged in water and she couldn't breathe. Time did not give her the chance to think about why this was happening or where she was going, all she could do was slowly close her eyes and let oblivion take her.
The threshold of shadows broke and her body tumbled into open air, moisture breaking upon her face as she fell through clouds. Thunder crackled around her and lightning arched across the sky like white veins, rain falling in tandem with her sleeping form as she descended to the earth.
Below by the port harbor of Kamaboko Gai, a woman working to stash away her wares from the imminent storm tugged on the sleeve of one of her female companions and shouted, pointing feverishly at the stormy sky. "Someone is falling! Look! Look there!" Faces turned up, searching for any indication of what the woman was talking about, eyes squinting against the wind and rain. Several people gasped and shouted, pointing their own fingers to the sky and watched with bated breath as the small humanoid form plummeted into the rolling waves of the village harbor.
Sudden silence rushed around her as she smashed sidelong into the frothy waters, pain laced through her left arm and she abruptly awoke, air bubbling out of her mouth as she silently screamed. Clamping her mouth shut, she tried to swim upward her mind roaring in panic, but the left side of her body shrieked in agony and she couldn't even lift her left arm to stroke.
An audience was gathering along the shore, fixated as fisherman pulled their boats close to where this sky-fallen figure had landed. One of the men searched about and dove overboard, his two other fishing partners keeping their oars in the water to help him back in the boat when the time came.
She struggled to kick her feet and sweep with her right arm, her left tucked against her side uselessly. The water was dark all around her but she forged ahead none-the-less, not wishing to die in such a pathetic way. Her lungs began to ache and a few bubbles forced their way out between her lips... and floated the opposite direction to where she was swimming. Her throat constricted in fear and she felt her body brush up against the muddy bottom of the harbor.
It was the worst nightmare of sailors and swimmers alike: Getting lost in black water... She tried turning around, but now her body felt sluggish and her lungs cried for air. Her mouth opened and took in water, before her throat shut tightly and she started to choke... Pain burned in her chest and what was left of her vision spun. She felt herself look up, her hands held around her throat and watched as a bright flash briefly broke through the darkness of the water outlining several dark silhouettes and her chestnut hair drifting like a veil around her face.
Unconsciousness found her once more.
Minutes passed and the people on the beach started murmuring restlessly, looking to each other with worried expressions. "He can not have drowned.." One man uttered, "Ryouichi is one of the best swimmers in the village..." Some of the people quieted down at those words and gave each other foreboding looks.
Suddenly, the surface of the water broke and the one called Ryouichi lurched to the nearest fishing vessel and grabbed on as tight as he could, hoisting beside him a rag-dolling corpse. But the people on the beach didn't clap or cheer, whoever this person was had been submerged for a while... Ryouichi's oar toting companions helped him crawl his way into the boat, one of them focusing on helping him aboard while the other helped with the body. More time seemed to tick by as the two men worked to get the boat to shore.
Ryouichi looked down upon the strange girl and took out a knife, cutting her shirt open to expose her motionless breast. He felt her pulse, noting that it was beginning to slow and that her complexion was already starting to pale. Tilting her head back and plugging her nose, Ryouichi took a deep breath and brought his mouth to hers, forcing air into her lungs. He then tilted her head to the side and began chest compressions, counting to fifteen with each push, before taking another deep breath and repeating his previous motions.
A wet choking cough sounded after his third mouth to mouth and he rolled the girl over so that the water could escape her lungs. She took deep shuddering breaths and coughed hard, her arms shaking uncontrollably as she attempted to stay up. Ryouichi unwound the cloth belt around his midriff and removed his shirt to drape it over her shoulders. She looked up at him then, her eyes showing what he could only assume was gratitude and exhaustion. Ryouichi smiled down at her, "Are you okay?"
The girl blinked at him a few times, as if not comprehending what he said, before her eyes rolled back and she slumped to the side. Ryouichi reached out a hand to catch her and bring her close to his chest, cradling her to keep her warm. "Well you're still breathing... I suppose that's one good sign." He muttered to the sleeping form.
Standing up with the girl in his arms, Ryouichi waved to the people on the shoreline to reassure them that everything was well. People cheered and started making their way to the dock that the boat was heading for; all too eager to see the face of this mysterious figure. Once the vessel drew near enough, some men threw out ropes to tie it down and pull it closer to shore, as it appeared that the storm seemed to be getting worse with each passing moment.
Jumping to the dock, Ryouichi started to wade his way through the throng of people suddenly surrounding him, everyone wanting to get a better look at the stranger. However, Ryouichi pushed them aside, "Hey! Hey! Everyone out of the way! She needs to see the village physician! Come now! Step aside!" Finally, some of the crowd started to get the idea and moved aside, bringing others with them so that by the time Ryouichi left the dock he had a path clear to the village proper.
Light rain continuously pelted Ryouichi's head as he ran through the village streets and it wasn't long before it grew into a torrential downpour. Lightning continued to clash in the sky above and the man drew the girl ever closer, for fear that the rain would bring her death of cold. The left side of her body tensed and a soft whine of pain emanated from the girl which Ryouichi ignored in his haste. The rain pelting down ever harder.
Soon enough Ryouichi reached the physician's house and was hurried inside by the physician's apprentice Airi. Who had apparently heard what all the ruckus was about; to which she promptly slammed the door in all the onlookers faces and drew the curtains. "Here..." She uttered, leading the burdened man over to a spare bed meant for patients, "Set her down here, Hideki-sensei should be here to take a look at her in a moment."
Gently, Ryouichi complied and rested the mysterious girl on the downy blankets, her young face the epitome of calm, as if she hadn't just been rescued minutes before. He noticed that she seemed to favor her left arm, the limb held close to her thin body just below her chest. The torn shirt seemed to be of standard make, though she must have come from a very arid region as the shirt had no sleeves to speak of... but no tan lines on her pale skin...odd. Her pants were of an unusual material, it was thick, formfitting and seemed to be very durable, but retained water at an alarming rate. It was no wonder she was having a hard time swimming... The shoes looked like they had been well used, but these again were another oddity, they were whitish with some blue designs and had laces like heavy work boots had. Never before had Ryouichi seen such clothing designs before... perhaps she came from across the- Airi tapped on Ryouichi's shoulder and broke him out of his thought process. He looked down at the blonde woman with a questioning look, "Could you wait outside and give her some privacy... I need to remove her wet clothing."
Ryouichi blushed at Airi's tone, realizing that he had been staring at the half exposed girl for longer than necessary, "Ah... yeah of course! Sorry Ai-chan..." He stuttered before promptly excusing himself. Airi just glared at him and slid the door panel closed with a snap.
Ryouichi sat awkwardly in the dining room for a few minutes, not really sure what he should do or really where to go. It didn't feel right to him to just abandon the girl to this strange environment, he was the one who rescued her after all... Though being from another land, because it was very obvious that she was, everything was probably going to be strange for quite a while. 'And honestly,' Ryouichi thought to himself, 'I'm really not being much help just sitting here... my job was over the moment I brought her through that door!' Yet still he sat... and waited. He didn't even move when the physician, Kiete Hideki, staggered in completely soaked from the storm outside.
The elderly man barely gave him a glimpse before he shed his cloak, tottered to the patient's room and quickly shut himself inside, leaving Ryouichi alone once again. Silence reigned, aside from the pounding rain on the roof above and the occasional "s" sounds that slipped between the cracks of the door from the two medical specialists speaking to one another in hushed tones. Slowly he found his mind drifting and his eyes closed, sleep washing over him like the ocean's waves.
A smell of flowers and the saline scent associated with sea air was what greeted her weary senses when her mind returned from blissful slumber. She heard gulls cackling and water dripping, feeling a gentle breeze brush against her cheek. The girl opened her eyes sluggishly, the warm glow of the open window illuminating her pale face and causing her to squint in a moment of pain as the light reached her eyes.
Turning her head away from the window, the girl took in her surroundings and was not terribly sure what to make of them. Her bed was on the floor which wasn't exactly something she was expecting... did the people not have a spare bed? Upon looking around she realized that no... this probably was the spare bed. Evidence suggested as well that it was a medical facility of a sort; a metal cabinet full of ointments and tools stood on the wall closest to her head and right above her on the opposite wall hung a few posters with human anatomy diagrams.
She blinked and tried to sit up, but a sharp stab of pain through her left arm made her gasp and take pause. Looking down at the limb, she noticed that it had been splinted... much to her chagrin. Never before had she ever broken a bone in her body, 'First time for everything I guess.' She reasoned. Fortunately, it looked to be expertly dressed and the piece of wood looked to be well carved and well used. Whoever had done this had been no amateur.
Attempting to sit up again, albeit a bit more carefully this time, the girl gritted her teeth as some of her muscles screamed in protest. Rolling her shoulders and twisting her torso a few times relieved some of the tightness and allowed her enough leeway to stand. Several areas of her spine popped as she stood, making her grunt in approval as any remaining tension vanished. Scratching her head she took another look around the room in a bit of a daze, 'How did I get here...?' The girl wondered, her eyes taking in some of the foreign elements, it all looks so...
A painting that she hadn't noticed before had some sort of characters written vertically down one side, the illustration appeared to be of a mountainous village. And several decorative fans donned another of the walls. The floor was made of tatami mats and one of the "walls" looked to be made of paper and sticks. A sliding door?
Tentatively, the girl made her way towards the sliding door, her legs wobbling unsteadily with each step. 'Looks like it wasn't just my arm that took damage.' She winced as a particularly painful jolt stabbed into her left leg, making her stumble into the wall with a dull thunk. A few deep breaths were needed to regain her composure, as she massaged her left knee and several muttered curses were spoken before she finally slid open the screen.
A man was standing before her.
She jolted in surprise and backed up a few paces, caught off guard by his sudden appearance. Though from the man's similar reaction, it could only be assumed that he hadn't been expecting her to be there either, as he stared at her with wide eyes. For a moment they stood in silence, the girl's eyes darting erratically over the man's features.
At first, it was the clothing that caught her attention... or rather the lack of it, as he was bare from the waist up. He looked to be in his early to mid twenties... possibly; she'd never been a particularly great judge of age. His body was thick but wasn't necessarily lean with a few scars dotting his skin, she could tell he had quite a bit of strength in his frame. The man's face was angular, almost square-like, with what appeared to be five o'clock shadow covering what would normally be a clean-shaven jaw. A mess of short ash brown hair, poked out above a plain bandanna wrapped around his forehead.
Dark, kind eyes closed as the man gave a friendly grin and spoke... the girl blinked in confusion as what sounded like gibberish poured from his lips. Never had she ever before interacted with such a dialect and it hit her with profound force that she would likely not find anyone who spoke her own language. Whatever or where ever this place was, she was far away from home and she didn't know how to get back. Her knees buckled as the world seemed to turn on its axis beneath her feet and she threw out her right hand to catch herself.
Strong naked arms wound around her in a gentle embrace, the sharp scent of masculinity and ocean hit her nostrils as her face pressed against the man's bare chest when he caught her. She stiffened at the intimate position and withdrew immediately, her face growing hot at the unexpected contact, 'Not even my family members back home walked around so... half-naked...' Seemingly unfazed by her discomfort the man stepped forward and put a hand on his chest, saying something. He then extended his hand to her and tilted his head to the side.
'What does he want...?' She wondered, as he did the motion again and repeating the same phrase but slowly this time. Emphasis seemed to be placed on certain sounds and the girl furrowed her brows. He did it again but this time just spoke the emphasized sounds and pointed a thumb at his chest.
The girl pointed at the man attempting to introduce himself, "Soo... key... no?" She asked, positive that she really wasn't saying it right.
"Tsukino." He affirmed, making the 'T' sound more apparent.
"Sookino." She repeated and then frowned, clicking her teeth together as she made several 'T' and 'S' sounds, in an attempt to imitate her new teacher. "Soo. Too. Stoo? No... uhm... Tsoo? Tsoo. Tsu... Tsukino." The girl observed as he nodded and said another word, one that she could only assume meant 'Yes.' or something along those lines.
"Tsukino Ryouichi." The man uttered once more, motioning to himself and then her as he had done before. She would have to be a fool to not know what he wanted.
Nodding in understanding, the girl placed a hand on her chest and announced, "Skylar Mckay." Which earned her a bewildered expression from "Tsukino", who looked to have never heard such a pronunciation of consonants before.
"Su-Kai-Ra... Mu-Kei?" Ryouichi sounded out, his rugged features twisting in confusion, making "Sukaira" blink as the man butchered her name. "Se-kai-ra?" He attempted again earning another blink and a shake of the head.
"S-ky-lar" She enunciated slowly, trying to see if there was any understanding beginning to dawn in the man's eyes as she spoke. There was.
Tsukino nodded and stated with certainty, "Sukaira" and muttered something else the girl couldn't comprehend, but assumed was nice at the man's genuine smile. She held in a grunt of annoyance at the fact that he had barely tried to say her name right, when she had taken the time to pronounce his. However it did seem to be something beyond his spoken vocabulary anyway, so she just shrugged it off and made her way to the dining room. Ignoring the man's offer to help her as she limped all the way there and promptly plopped down into one of the chairs.
The room itself was modest and clinically tidy, with a few sparse decorative elements and some reading material. 'This must double as a waiting room...' Skylar mused, letting her eyes roam over the picture frames and plant wielding ceramic vases. A part of her was aware of Tsukino observing her, like some sort of strange sea specimen, but she ignored him. She wasn't too keen on starting another meaningless conversation with the man.
As for Ryouichi, he couldn't believe that she was up and about already, he had expected that she would at least be bedridden for another day or so. That was what his sister Airi had told him. Yet here she was, walking around as if she owned the place at 7 o'clock in the morning, when she had just fallen from the sky yesterday evening.
Looking at her now, Ryouichi deduced that she was probably not as young as he had initially thought. Sukaira had an air of maturity about her that spoke volumes. She was likely around her early teens if not mid... Though the childlike features suggested she was much younger. Now if only he could communicate with her. It was not lost on him her difficulty to pronounce his surname, not to mention her own strange sounding name. But he wanted to hear her speak, at least to assure himself that he wasn't dreaming and that this girl wasn't an illusion.
Sitting down and opening his mouth, Ryouichi was about to start another one sided conversation when the clinic door opened... Two heads turned to see Airi standing there with a rather displeased demeanor.
Scowling at the two young people the blond woman stomped over and gave a good whack to Ryouichi's head, making him yelp, "Idiot!" The woman barked, "What the hell is the patient doing out of bed! I gave you specific instructions to let her sleep through the rest of the day!" She continued hitting him on the top of the head, until the man was a cowering heap in his chair.
"Ouch ouch ouch! Stop it Ai-chan that hurts!" Ryouichi whined and pouted with a stray tear at the corner of his eye when the woman stopped to glare at him. "You don't have to hit me. Besides, I didn't wake her, she walked out here on her own..."
Snarling, Airi replied, "As if! The girl fractured her arm and dislocated her hip, Ryouichi. And on top of that she nearly drowned in freezing water and OH! Not to mention she FELL FROM THE SKY!" Her eyes narrowed as she leaned forward to sneer, "You really think she's capable of making a recovery that fast after that traumatic an event? Idiot." Leaning back she crossed her arms to give the man a pointed look.
He glared, "Well then how do you explain that she's sitting right there?"Ryouichi motioned to where the girl had been sitting. "I didn't imagine her walking out on her own Ai- wait a minute..." They both looked to where the girl had been sitting.
Her chair was empty.
"What?! Where did she go?!" Airi and Ryouichi both practically shrieked as their eyes frantically searched about the room. Picking up a minute movement they both looked to the front door.
It was ajar.
Skylar promptly left the two adults to their heated squabbling, she didn't want any part of it, thank you. Not that she would have understood them to being with, but it was clear they were in an argument and she was going to give them space. Besides, there was a whole new place to discover and see just what sort of situation she landed in.
Nixing a pair of someone's sandals she took her first steps into an unknown world; finding herself in the center of a small town... no... more like a village. Stalls were set up before the ramshackle shacks that these people called houses, and the people within the stalls were hawking their wares. Many villagers were milling about, talking in familiar tones to some of the shopkeepers and just seeming to have a very nice morning. Skylar smiled.
One woman pointed at her and spoke loudly. As if in unison, everyone turned their attention to her and the square grew as silent as a graveyard. Those that didn't take notice of her were guided by others and Skyler took one look around at all the unfamiliar faces before setting off in a random direction. A bit anxious of the looks she was receiving...
She never did enjoy being the center of attention, especially if she was the epicenter of awe and wonder.
Though she would admit, that if someone fell from the sky where she came from and then just walked out of a medical ward with their pajamas still on, she was certain that they would get strange glances too. Of course, someone would be called to bring that person right back and by the looks of things these people had more interest in her, than returning her to the clinic. Just... the staring... was too unnerving for her.
Picking up the pace, Skylar tried not to wince or hobble every time her left leg tried to give out on her. She was certain that she hadn't broken anything there, but running was definitely out of the question. Technically, she knew she should be resting and allow that leg to heal properly... but there was something she had to see first.
Ocean scent and the odor of fish became stronger as she threaded her way through the village and past stunned villagers. Whispers buzzed around her and someone tried to get her attention, but Skylar kept walking, her steps becoming more sure as the sounds of crashing waves grew near. Rounding the corner of an old shack, the girl found herself upon a pier overlooking the wide expanse of a harbor and beyond that, the ocean.
A brisk wind right off the water found its way to her, making Skylar clutch her arms close to her body as the air tousled her shoulder length chestnut hair and fluffed her clothes, chilling her body. Aside from the ocean breeze, it was a warm day... a major difference from the evening before. Even now on the surrounding shoreline lay the dregs of debris that the storm had washed up, kelp and bracken riddled the sandy shore haphazardly and the gulls squabbled over morsels of whatever sea beast had washed ashore.
The steady ache of her arm and leg reminded Skylar of how fierce those waves had been and at the same time bewildered her as to how she even survived. Physics state that she should have been pancaked from the force of impact and yet here she stands, with only a broken arm, a previously dislocated leg, and who knows how many bruises to show for it. A miracle to be sure.
Staring out at the foam on the rolling waves, Skylar spoke quietly, "What is this place? Why am I here?" Seeing someone move at the corner of her eye, she turned her head to look at the growing crowd of people around her. She snorted, her hazel eyes glinting in amusement, "And I bet none of you have the answer for me... not that you could understand me anyway." Shifting her focus back to the ocean view the girl ignored the awed looks and tried to piece together why she would be brought to this place.
Just what was her purpose here?
"Sukaira-san!" A familiar voice called, making Skylar's ears twitch. The girl stood her ground as Tsukino Ryouichi, now with a shirt on, came barreling toward her through the crowd of people, the angry woman right behind him using short quick steps to keep up. Both of them stopped close to her and leaned in bursting into a tirade of what looked and sounded like chastising...
Skylar stared at them with a deadpan expression and then crossed her arms, waiting for them to finish. To be yelled at in a language you can't even begin to comprehend is a whole new experience and one she wasn't exactly ever looking forward to. 'At least they aren't putting a gun to my head and lining me up against a wall... I'm very fortunate to run into some kind people.' She grimaced, 'Even if they are a bit loud.' At that thought, Skylar took her working hand and plugged the ear on the side they were yelling at, noting with amusement that the screeching got louder as she did so.
Few moments passed before it finally dawned on Ryouichi that she didn't know what they were saying. Slapping his forehead he groaned "Ah Ai-chan... I just remembered..." The woman paused in her scolding to look up at him with a scowl. Ryouichi grimaced, "...she... doesn't speak our language... not even a little bit." Airi's eyes widened. "Every time I've tried talking with her, she's always had this blank expression and every time I tried to get her to say my name... she always does it with a weird accent."
Airi gulped and looked at the girl again, her face holding a facade of boredom as she observed the discussion between herself and Ryouichi. Hazel eyes flicked to Airi, taking a moment to stare the blond woman in her own onyx orbs before languidly drifting off to scrutinize the rolling waves again. 'Just who is this girl?' Airi wondered, her palms beginning to sweat. She noticed the rigidity of the girl's stance and glanced at the crowd of people whispering behind them all blatantly staring and pointing at the stranger. Furrowing her brow, Airi turned to frown at the hapless villagers, "And just WHAT are you all staring at? Don't you have somewhere to be? Be gone with you! ALL OF YOU!" Startling a few and causing some to give her annoyed glances, the group started to reluctantly disperse, the women pushing along their mewling children and the men grumbling.
One little girl remained behind, watching Skylar intently.
After hearing the blond woman growl at the villagers, Skylar took a moment to listen to their shuffling feet before taking a curious look, only to find that a child was all that remained of the sizable crowd that had been milling about only moments ago. While the woman and Tsukino muttered among themselves, Skylar watched the child take a tentative step forward and then dash full tilt at her. Skidding to a halt only a couple feet away the little girl shouted in that damnable gibberish at Skylar, to which the girl's only reply was to blink down at her.
"Are you a goddess or a witch?!" The girl shouted at the stranger, a determined visage tightening her face and making her eyes shine. Ryouichi and Airi paused in their discussion to stare down the petulant child, the man with a look of surprise and the woman with a expression of annoyance.
"Chinatsu!" Airi admonished here onyx eyes sharp, "That was very rude, how dare you ask such a question. How would you like it if someone asked if YOU were a witch?"
Turning on her heel, Chinatsu glared at the blond woman her own platinum locks whirling about her like a maelstrom, "I don't think it would matter since I already live with an old hag like you, nyeeeh!" She stuck her tongue out at Airi and then bolted away as soon as the blond woman made a grab for the bratty child.
"You little rodent! Get back here!"
Skylar watched as the blond woman took off after the girl, her sandaled feet kicking up sand everywhere in her pursuit. She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to see Tsukino rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. His lips quirking in a crooked smile as he looked upon the females with fondness.
"Don't let my sisters bother you," Ryouichi uttered, knowing that she didn't understand but feeling he needed to say something to break up the silence. "This is pretty much a daily occurrence so I'm sure you'll get used to it the longer you stay with us." When Sukaira made no motion as he'd expected, 'This is... gonna take some getting used to as well.' the stray thought fluttered by as he raised his left hand for her to take, "Come on, I'll show you the place you'll be staying, I'll get you settled in while those two sort it out."
Seeing his hand offered palm pointing upward in a way that suggested an invitation, Skylar took it, her own hand just barely filling the man's palm. Trusting him to lead her away in a whole new world.
A/N: And so the (hopefully not mundane) adventure of our heroine begins! What is this place? Why is she here? Will the writer ever get back to her other fanfics? Tune in next time to find out! :D