Disclaimer: when it's raining doughnuts, then maybe.
Today is a particularly bad day. Jackson is crying again because the morphine is wearing off and they can't give him any more until later. Mum and Dad won't be back for another hour–this is the first time they've spent a considerable amount of time away from my little brother.
I feel the unshed tears burning in my eyes but I don't dare let them escape. I need to be strong for him; I can't let him see me being weak.
I stroke his hair softly, trying to soothe him with words but in a fit of anger, Jackson lashes out with a bony hand and strikes me in the throat, knocking me breathless for a few painful minutes. Fear creeps into my heart when I can't get enough air, can't focus– Purse, inhaler, where? There is something like desperation and dizziness fluttering in my mind and I can't breathe, I can't breathe! while my chest is burning. And Jackson just looks on, horrified and then I can't see anymore because the tears are finally escaping and there are splotches of black–
I woke up with a choked gasp, clutching at my throat and chest. I sat up, trying desperately to draw air into my lungs. Was…was that a memory from Before? I touched the side of my head lightly (which was damp with sweat), still sucking in gulps of sweet, precious air. I'd never had specifics from my previous life come to me; the memories and feelings after the Iwa incident was as much as I'd gotten, and even then, I think they were there to stabilize my mind. So…why now?
The mild fear I'd felt when I'd first woken disappeared and I frowned as I wondered what it meant. Before I could dwell on it too much, there was a knock on my door and then Papa poked his head in. There was an alarmed expression on his face and I couldn't help but wonder why.
"Are you okay?" Papa asked. "I heard you wake up…" His eyes were focused on mine and I realized my vision was a little blurry. Embarrassed, I rubbed away the tears that had gathered.
The concerned expressions on Papa's face didn't change. And then I remembered that I had woken up like that often in the first few months of my life here, always gasping and choking. I'd never stopped to consider that Papa knew about it. I suddenly felt guilty. That must have been terrifying for him, hearing his baby struggling to breathe. The guilt grew.
I drew a deep breath and gave him a small smile and a thumbs up. "Y-Yes, tou-san, I just had a bad dream."
Papa looked at me for a moment and then nodded. "Wanna know what's worse?"
"What?" I asked curiously.
He made a face at me. "Grocery shopping on a Saturday morning."
I giggled. "Shisui-nii is going to be so mad." None of us particularly liked shopping on the weekends since that was when there were the most people around, especially in the morning. We did have shops in the compound but my family preferred the village's shops since they had more items and variety. We didn't go too often but if we were out of food, then it couldn't be helped.
A half hour later found the three of us in Konoha's shopping district with sticks of yakitori in hand.
"I'm bored," Shisui whined as he threw his bamboo stick away.
"Tough luck, son. We're not done yet," Papa said as he rolled his eyes.
"But whyyy? Who needs food anyway? It's not like it's the most important thing in the world…"
I stared at my brother as I clutched my yakitori closer to me. "You're a monster," I said, eyes wide. "It may not be important to you but I love food."
"B-But why? That's weird," Shisui spluttered.
"Yeah, silly imouto."
I sniffed and turned my nose up at him. "That's fine, we'll see if tou-san ever cooks for you again, dearest nii-san."
Papa laughed at that and shook his head.
"Come on, tou-san, can I go home?" Shisui asked. Papa's laughter faded away as he sighed.
"I suppose so, since you're not being particularly useful," Papa said dramatically.
"Hey!" Shisui puffed up, ready to defend himself.
"It's true, though," I pointed out. He deflated almost instantly.
"Mirai, did you want to go home, too?" Papa asked.
I didn't answer. I'd caught sight of a flower stand and it gave me an idea.
"Tou-san, w-would it be okay if I went to the Memorial Stone?" I asked, ignoring my brother.
Papa looked taken aback for a moment.
"Are you sure?"
I nodded. "Yes. I'd like to take some flowers to Obito-kun."
"Then that's fine. Shisui, would you accompany your sister?"
"You can go home after we get there," I added quickly. Shisui smiled at me.
"Sure, that's fine."
"Okay, let's buy some flowers…"
Fifteen minutes later, Shisui was squeezing me tightly while reminding me to stay in the area since Papa would be coming by to get me when he was done shopping.
"Be a good girl and don't talk to strangers, okay? And you're sure you don't wanna just come home?"
"Yes, I'm sure, nii-san. I'll see you later," I wheezed.
"Okay, fine. Bye, Mi-chan!" Shisui let go of me and waved as he left. I waved back and then turned around.
The Memorial Stone was unexpectedly pretty, pure white with inky black characters etched into its surface. It was tall, too, which made finding Obito's name difficult. There were so many names on there (I couldn't read the majority of them since they were written in kanji) and in the end I finally gave up, setting the flowers Papa had helped me to buy at the foot of the stone.
I knelt down, closed my eyes and bowed my head, focusing on my heartbeat for a moment. I'm sorry, Obito.
I opened my eyes and slid the goggles he'd given me up and over my head, staring down at them pensively. They looked pretty good condition for the most part, though the right side was scuffed up and the ear pad on that side was cracked. The plastic was dented but still intact and if I looked closely, there was a faint brownish-red stain around the top of that right side, with more of the same colour around the strap and ear pad. Obito's blood. I swallowed hard. I hope you didn't suffer too long.
"Hey, what's a kid like you doing here? This is no place to be playing."
A stern voice drew me from my thoughts and I saw three older kids standing there, frowns on all of their faces.
"I'm not playing here," I said politely as I stood up.
The tallest and only blond of the three gave me a scornful look.
"Yeah, right. You don't even know what this stone is for, stupid kid."
I opened my mouth to reply but the leader shook his head. "I don't wanna hear your excuses. This is for the people who've died, you understand? So show some respect!"
"I-I'm sorry but–"
"That's what I thought, kid. And I bet you stole these from someone, didn't you? Shoulda known, you probably just got away." The tall kid snatched Obito's goggles from my hands while pointing at my torn sleeve. I frowned. Right, this is the shirt from that day.
"Those are mine! T-They were given to me by my friend that's on this stone," I protested.
"Oh, really? Then show me their name on here. I'll give these back if you're telling the truth," the kid sneered.
"Leave the girl alone, Nobuo. We're going to be late," said one of the blond's friends.
"Well? Who is this so-called friend?" Nobuo said, ignoring the boy that had spoken.
"His name is Obito," I said quietly.
"And where is he on here, hmm?"
"I don't know," I admitted sadly. "I couldn't find his name."
"Then it looks like you're not getting these back. Too bad for you, little miss liar." Nobuo walked away and over to the trees that were in the area.
"W-Wait! Please stop!" I ran after him but he drew his arm back and then threw the goggles up into the branches.
"C'mon guys, let's go."
Nobuo brushed past me and left with his friends. Not one of them looked back but I didn't care.
I stared up at the goggles dangling several feet above me in despair. How was I supposed to get them down? I didn't want to leave and risk someone taking them but there was no way I could jump up and grab them either. Hmm… I bit my lip as I eyed the thick tree trunk. Well, I did have chakra so…maybe I could try tree-walking?
Okay, I decided as I took several steps back and sank into a crouch. If it had worked for Naruto, then it could definitely work for me. Heart thumping, I lurched into a clumsy sprint, my eyes locked on the tree ahead of me. I need to send chakra to my feet as soon as I make contact with the surface of the tree so I don't fall off.
As soon as I'd finished that thought, a second one followed almost immediately, one that had me slowing down as the horror of it dawned: I don't know how to channel chakra to any part of my body. Sure, I knew the theory behind it but I'd never made an actual attempt to do it. I had never tried to find my chakra (though I knew it was there) and it wasn't something we'd gone over in the Academy so it was with that realization that I stumbled and smacked headfirst into the tree.
"Ow, ow!" I whimpered as I bounced off of the rough surface. Gingerly, I touched my hands to my face, flinching when it resulted in sharp pricks of pain. I drew them back and gazed at the bits of wood and blood on my fingertips. Good luck explaining this one, I told myself sadly, turning to stare up at my goggles. They were swaying lightly in the wind, almost mockingly. I frowned. Did I really want to wait for Papa to come help me?
"No way," I sighed as I turned back to the trunk of the tree. I'd climb up somehow, even if I couldn't use chakra to do it.
Suddenly, a voice spoke up from behind me.
I whirled back around.
Kakashi was standing there, my goggles clutched tightly in his right hand.
"Oh!" When had he shown up? I stepped closer to him and then stopped when Kakashi's fingers began to tighten further over the plastic. I stood, frozen, but he didn't even glance at me as he continued squeezing at the goggles.
Panicked, I said, "Hatake-san, stop! Please don't break them!"
Kakashi paused and lifted his gaze from the goggles in his hand and looked at me blankly for a moment, then slowly loosened his grip. He held them out to me silently. I hesitated before taking the goggles back.
"T-Thank you," I said, surprised. I looked down and cradled the goggles in my hands carefully. They'd gotten a little dirty but that was easy to take care of. If they'd been damaged further though… I clutched them to my chest with a sigh of relief.
"What were you doing?" I heard Kakashi ask, surprising me further. I wasn't expecting him to still be here. I looked back up as I considered his question.
The thoughts of my failed tree-walking attempt filled me with embarrassment and I looked back down, feeling my face get hot. Wasn't it obvious to him what I'd been trying to do? But maybe he'd shown up after I'd run into the tree…
"I was going to run up the tree, with chakra," I mumbled. I risked a glance at the silver-haired boy.
Kakashi had an eyebrow raised before his expression flattened and he shook his head once. "Stupid."
"Eh?" I blinked, confused, but he'd disappeared. "Okay…" I shrugged and slipped Obito's goggles over my head, fiddling with the strap until they rested comfortably against my collarbone.
Sighing, I wiped my hands on my shirt and began making my way back to the Memorial Stone. It had been unexpectedly nice of Kakashi to get the goggles for me, even though he'd acted weirdly about it. It did make sense though, since they had been Obito's, after all.
Huh. That might have been the reason for Kakashi's odd behavior. He might have thought I didn't deserve them and if that was the case, then… He probably hates me, I realized glumly. Obito had been his friend and I wore a reminder of that mission around my neck (and really, it hadn't been that long ago; it'd probably been a week, two at most). Why didn't I notice it sooner? No wonder I never saw him.
Then I stiffened. Did… did Rin feel the same? Did the goggles bring back memories of that day? But that had never been my intention! I wore them because Obito had given them to me but if it caused Rin and Kakashi pain… Then maybe it'd be better if I put them away for a while.
The thought made me sad but I didn't want Team Minato to see the goggles and be constantly reminded of what they'd lost.
I looked up at the sky. Still… I'll keep your stuff safe. I promise, Obito.
That voice… I looked away from the sky and saw Rin walking towards me, Kakashi following behind her sullenly. I mentally face-palmed. Of all the luck.
"Hello Rin-san," I said, cautiously. I fought the urge to touch my neck.
"Are you all right? Kakashi-kun said you ran into a tree." Rin gave me a small smile as she sank to her knees. She placed a gentle hand under my chin and tilted my head upwards. I tried not to wince as she brushed the rest of the wood off of my face. After a moment, I felt the soothing sensation of medical chakra seep into my skin.
Kakashi had gone to get Rin? Why? And did he have to tell her what had happened? Face hot, I avoided meeting the girl's eyes as I muttered, "I'm okay."
"Mirai?" And that was Papa's voice, sounding concerned as he presumably caught sight of me and the people I was with.
"What happened, Nohara-san?" he asked as he watched Rin finish up.
I wasn't sure how my father would react to my botched attempt at tree-walking but I didn't want to find out so…
"I tripped," I said nervously, glancing once at Kakashi (who looked like he wanted to be far, far away from here). It wasn't exactly a lie.
"She ran into a tree, sir," Rin said at the same time I answered.
"You tripped…and ran into a tree," Papa said slowly, giving me a dubious look. "And how did this happen exactly?"
"I'm not really sure," Rin said, frowning.
"She thought she could run up a tree with chakra. It obviously didn't work." Surprised, we all looked to Kakashi, not expecting him to answer.
Recognition appeared in Papa's eyes as he looked at Kakashi.
"Really, Mirai-chan?" Rin asked curiously, looking impressed. "You know how to mold chakra already?"
"No, she doesn't," Papa said, turning to look at me suspiciously. "In fact, I'm quite sure I've never even shown her how to find her chakra."
I gulped. Busted. Was Papa angry with me? Disappointed?
"Thank you for healing Mirai, Nohara-san. I didn't realize you were a medic-nin," Papa said, taking my hand.
"Of course! It was no problem, sir." Rin straightened up and moved next to Kakashi. "We'll be taking our leave now, bye Mirai-chan!"
"Bye Rin-san, Hatake-san," I replied softly. "And thank you!"
Rin gave me a smile while Kakashi only made a noncommittal noise.
As they walked away, I glanced up at Papa, ready to apologise but stopped when I saw that he wasn't even looking at me. He was staring after Rin and Kakashi with a thoughtful expression. Whether that was good or bad I didn't know; I only hoped that it meant I wasn't going to be in too much trouble.
I sighed quietly and stared down at the ground. If only I'd gone home with Shisui instead…
"So, where did you learn to manipulate chakra, Mirai?" Papa had his arms folded in front of him, eyebrows wrinkled as he waited for me to answer. Beside him stood Shisui, looking at me curiously.
"Really, Mi-chan? Since when?"
"Shh, let your sister answer, Shisui," Papa said.
"Um…" I couldn't really tell them that the knowledge came from my previous life (I didn't think they'd take that answer so well) so all I said was, "But I don't really know how?"
Papa did not particularly impressed with my answer.
Swallowing hard, I tried again. "W-Well everything has chakra, including me and I figured that you can do different things with it, depending on what you need…"
"Such as tree-walking?" I winced internally at my father's incredulous tone.
"Or using fire jutsu, like that time before…" My voice faded away as I took in the stern expression on Papa's face.
"Mirai, you can't do whatever you want just because you have chakra. Do you understand? It's dangerous. That is something you work up to with training and supervision." So he was both mad and disappointed. I knew he had a good reason to be but I still couldn't fight back the urge to cry. I blinked furiously to keep the tears at bay.
I cleared my throat after a moment. "Y-Yes, tou-san," I said, voice small. "Will you teach me then?"
Papa suddenly looked pained.
"Tou-san?" I said uneasily when he didn't immediately answer. I knew I was young but I was pretty sure my brother had started clan training when he was younger than I was now.
Papa took a deep breath and uncrossed his arms.
"I can teach you the basics but anything beyond that is off limits," he finally said. "No ninjutsu or tree-walking."
"But I'll eventually learn all of that, won't I?" I asked, confused.
"You will," Papa agreed slowly. "But that will be when you're older." I frowned. Why was he being so hesitant about it? It wouldn't be the weirdest thing in the world for me to start my chakra training at my age, right? At least not within this clan… I mentally shrugged.
"Come on, outside we go."
I followed my brother and father outside into our backyard where he motioned for us to sit on the ground, beneath the shade of our tree.
"Close your eyes on and try to clear your mind of everything. Don't think too hard on finding your chakra; just let it come to you. It may take a while, so don't get discouraged if you don't get it today."
I did as he said and sat quietly, letting my mind wander. I'd never meditated before (in either of my lives) and I wondered why. It was pretty relaxing and it would have done me wonders in my previous life, what with all the stress going on…
After what felt like forever, a spark of warmth suddenly popped into existence in the very center of my stomach. Was that it? My chakra?
"I-I think I found it," I murmured aloud.
"Good. What does it feel like?"
"Ah… It's like light, kind of? It feels warm to me," I said slowly as I opened my eyes.
Papa had a thoughtful expression on his face. "I see. Shisui?"
I glanced at my brother curiously.
"That's easy! It's nice and hot!"
Papa smiled. "And why is that?"
"Because my chakra nature is fire." Shisui looked proud of himself.
"Does that mean my nature is also fire?" I asked, not that I was expecting anything else, really.
"There's a very good chance that that's the case since our clan has a natural affinity for it but we won't know for sure until we expose your chakra to some special paper."
I considered this. I really wanted to know what my nature was even though I wasn't going to be able to do anything with it just yet. "Then, can we do that right now?"
"I'm not sure that's a good idea, Mirai…" Papa's voice trailed off as the smile faded slightly from his face.
"Please, tou-san? I just want to know." I'd never really tried to win anyone over with the old puppy-eyes trick (I could only imagine myself with some sort of bug-eyed expression) so I settled for a wide-eyed stare instead, hoping I didn't look too ridiculous.
"Me too! Then maybe Mi-chan can learn ninjutsu with me," Shisui added helpfully. "Well, when Mi-chan is older," he amended when Papa frowned at him.
We stared up at Papa for several long moments until he sighed and pinched his nose.
"Fine, fine," he grumbled as he stood up and disappeared into the house. He was back a moment later with a few small squares of paper in his hand.
"You're lucky you're both so cute," Papa said sulkily.
"Thanks tou-san!" Mine and Shisui's voices were cheery as we both hugged Papa. That got a smile out of him though it was quickly replaced with a serious look when he held up the squares of paper.
"Here, Shisui, Mirai."
We took our sheets carefully and looked to Papa patiently.
"Now Shisui already knows how to do this, so Shisui, go ahead and channel your chakra first."
I watched, fascinated, as a barely visible blue glow surrounded the hand that Shisui was holding his paper with. It promptly caught on fire and then turned to ashes.
"My turn." Shisui and I watched as the paper in Papa's hand burned away. I was surprised to see that there was no blue glow around his hand and I wondered why that was.
"Fire!" Shisui cheered.
"Yes, but wind is a close second," Papa chuckled. "Okay, Mirai, try to find your chakra again."
I closed my eyes as I tried to locate the spark from earlier. It took me a few minutes but once I had it, I opened my eyes.
"Okay, got it."
Papa nodded. "See if you can guide your chakra throughout your body and down your hand."
"H-Hai…" I frowned as I struggled to move my chakra around. It was an odd feeling, trying to grasp that little ball of energy. Just when I thought it had started moving, I lost my hold on it. My frown grew deeper. Why was it so hard? It'd be easier if it were a physical thing…
"Slowly, Mirai. Don't push yourself if you're not ready." Papa's voice sounded strained.
I closed my eyes again and thought about the little ball of chakra that I imagined was just sitting in the center of my stomach. I let go of the mental hold I had on it and let it swirl for a moment before prodding it to move up towards my shoulder.
"That's enough, Mirai. We'll practice this again another time."
I ignored my father as I imagined my chakra slowly creeping past my shoulder and down my shoulder. It was an odd sensation, but not an unwelcome one. If that's all it took…just willing my chakra without forcing it…
My eyes flew open at Shisui's exclamation and Papa's warning and I looked down at my hand in time to see the bright blue glow around it disappear. I was curious about it but first things first: the results of my paper. I tried to bring it up to my face and then, without warning, collapsed instead. My arm fell limply to my side, heartbeat pounding as my eyes slid shut against my will. Faintly, I could hear my brother shout in alarm, could feel Papa scoop me up into his arms.
"Hospital, now," Papa said to my brother and I tried vainly to shake my head no.
Just give me a moment, please! I want to know what my chakra nature is. But the words wouldn't come and I gave up after a couple of unsuccessful attempts. It might have been silly but I hope my paper doesn't get lost was the last thought I had before I passed out.
A/N: I can't believe it's been two years already, happy anniversary~ I really wanted to upload this before midnight but my internet was being stupid so yeah...
Anyway, I hope the new year has been treating you all well, and good luck to everyone that's going back to school!