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Hear the Silence

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She didn't realise quite the severity of her situation until a few weeks after her second birthday, which, funnily enough, was still on the last of December.

Interesting how that had worked itself out.

Anyway, back to her situation.

She may or may not have figured out exactly where she had been reborn by now. Maybe. Possibly.

Supposedly.

She had trouble even thinking it, because, just- what. Okay, she could accept the idea of her old self dying; everyone died. She could even accept being reborn, with her old memories intact. It had taken some time to digest, but she could accept it.

The thing that was giving her some real trouble, however, was the small, fascinating detail of the fact that she seemed to have been reborn in the world of a story she'd once read.

Just.

What the hell?

Was this what happened when you died? You were reborn into an alternate reality that had been nothing more than a story in the last place you'd been?

Oh, and also; she hadn't just been reborn in the Naruto-verse. She'd been reborn to actual shinobi parents!

Her new parents were professional killers. Mercenaries. Soldiers. Whatever you wanted to call it.

Her Before mother had been a goldsmith, then an art teacher, and her father had been a waiter before his joints had gotten bad enough he'd taken a job at the local school!

There may have been clues here and there; the way both of her parents tended to disappear a few hours every now and then -not to mention for weeks at a time, in tou-san's case- and how incredibly fit they both were. Things they'd mentioned in casual conversation.

The way her tou-san might have mentioned 'the Hokage' within her hearing when he talked to her kaa-san before leaving this morning.

In her defence, Kyo hadn't expected this.

Being reborn, fine, but she'd been expecting the good old world of back Before! She hadn't seen either of her parents in whatever served as uniform, and she hadn't seen any sign of shinobi around the town.

Village... whatever!

Then again, Kyo had grudgingly accepted that she was more child than adult right now; a child's brain was only so developed, memories of being a grown-up or not.

Okay, so. She'd realised she'd been reborn into a story she'd read and loved back Before, that she now lived in the Naruto-verse. In Konoha.

And thank all the Gods for that blessing. She dreaded thinking of what would have happened had she ended up in, oh, say, Ame. Or Kiri. Enough said.

She had already established that her parents were both shinobi, but they were quite clearly not part of any prominent Clan from the manga. Kyo had had to think back on everything that'd happened since she became aware of herself almost a year ago, and, well.

Her tou-san definitely seemed to be a civilian-born shinobi, what with his parents being as they were. Running some sort of merchant business with her Aunt's husband.

Her kaa-san was a bit harder to figure out, because she hadn't met a single member of her new mother's possible family.

Then she learned her surname, three days after finding out the name of the country she now lived in.

Shiranui.

Her name was Shiranui Kyo.

Shiranui.

The one problem she had with this fact, Kyo mused mildly hysterically, was that her father's name wasn't Genma. His name was Kou.

Had Genma had siblings in the manga? She didn't know. Didn't have the first clue.

And no matter how much fanfiction she'd written about the many and varied characters in Naruto, she quickly realised she didn't remember everything. The author had screwed up the time-line, too, so who knew what the hell could happen!?

And that was even assuming that her birth here hadn't changed something astronomically huge.

...what if she somehow ruined everything and all of humanity was doomed to fall to Black Zetsu's nefarious plan.

Holy shit, she might have doomed mankind. Somehow.

Where in the time-line had she even been born?

Had Genma procreated after the series officially ended and Kou was somehow the man's son? No, wait, she'd already established that her grandparents were civilians.

Fuck.

Kyo was all of two years old and she was having an existential crisis.

With good reason, but still.

She didn't realise she was crying until her mother, Isshun, swept her up into her arms.

“What's the matter, Kyo-chan?” She asked softly, pulling a hand over her short hair in a soothing gesture.

Kyo buried her face in her kaa-san's shoulder, wished it was her mother from Before and sobbed against the dark t-shirt the woman was wearing.

“When's tou-san coming home?” She eventually managed to ask, more for something to possibly blame her somewhat uncharacteristic outburst on, than a burning desire to know.

Kaa-san sighed. “He's not going to be back until next week, I'm afraid,” she said, carrying Kyo into her room.

She pulled out one of the books from the small bookshelf they'd put against one wall, and then sat down in the chair beside her bed.

“Come now, Kyo. I'll read you a story,” she offered, no doubt as a means to cheer her up.

Isshun and Kou had both started teaching her how to read, and Kyo loved it.

She'd actually studied a bit of Japanese in her past life, but she hadn't known enough to get by. And even if she had, she had a feeling that there were distinct differences between the languages, even though they were similar enough she didn't have any concrete proof.

But getting to learn real things again made her feel more like a real person and not just some sort of echo of the woman she'd used to be, floating in a strange dream. A very long, incredibly detailed dream.

Kyo sniffled and tried to calm herself down enough to stop the waterworks and even out her ragged breathing.

“Okay,” she managed, sounding truly pitiful, even to her own ears.

Isshun let out a small sigh, but helped her settle down in her lap so that she could see all the pictures. And, more importantly, the words.

She always tried to follow along when either of her parents read to her, to familiarize herself with the characters.

Hiragana and Katakana were relatively familiar, and the more she practised the more secure she became in the knowledge.

Kanji, however, were a bit more difficult.

Listening to her kaa-san's voice, Kyo slowly managed to calm down, even though one of her hands were clenched in her mother's shirt and the other was clasping the back of her hand.

When the story was over, Isshun slowly closed the colourful book and put it aside, giving Kyo a considering look.

“How do you feel about going on a little trip with me, Kyo-chan?” She asked.

Kyo wiped a forearm over her eyes and peered up at her, feeling curious despite herself.

“Trip?” She parroted softly.

Her kaa-san nodded. “A little trip, just you and me,” she smiled encouragingly.

“Okay,” Kyo sniffled again and then decided she was done crying.

Crying could be good, cathartic and emotionally healing, but enough was enough. She couldn't just sit here and feel sorry for herself for the rest of this life. Whether she wanted it or not, she'd gotten a second chance here, and she knew with all her heart that her family from Before would have wanted her to make the most of it and try to be happy.

“Come on, then,” her kaa-san said, picking her up and preparing for this impromptu trip.

Isshun took them away from the apartment complex they called home, walked briskly through town until they reached the Village gates.

They were even larger and more impressive than they'd been in the manga, because these weren't drawn with ink on paper, Kyo mused dazedly as she stared up at the massive wooden constructs as her mother walked through the opening.

“Can you hold on tight for me?” Isshun asked, having moved her from her hip to riding piggyback.

“Yeah,” Kyo returned firmly, wrapping her small arms around her kaa-san's throat, careful not to obstruct her breathing.

One of Isshun's arms was under her bottom, making sure she wouldn't slip off, and it felt almost like something glued itself to her front and, oh, was that chakra?

Kyo barely had time to blink before they were running through the trees, far faster than what should be possible, but her kaa-san didn't seem to find it even mildly physically straining.

When the woman leapt up to a low-hanging branch on one of the trees, Kyo had to press her mouth against her kaa-san's shoulder to prevent an exalted squeal of laughter from escaping her.

By the time Isshun came to a stop in a small, peaceful clearing, she was still giggling helplessly to herself.

“Liked that, did you now?” Her mother asked amusedly when she swung her off her back so that she could look at her.

Kyo grinned, unable to help herself.

It'd been like going on a roller-coaster! Only the roller-coaster could go wherever it wanted and was her mother rather than a machine, bit still!

That was awesome!

“It felt like we were sticky,” she said once she'd caught her breath a little, looking around when Isshun put her on her own two feet on the grass.

The woman hummed, “That was to make sure you wouldn't fall off,” she said after a moment. “I used my chakra.”

“Chakra?” Kyo chirped, staring up at her kaa-san, hoping for an actual explanation. For all that she had read a lot about what you could do with the energy, she couldn't remember reading anything about how to go about it, or what it actually was.

Isshun stopped walking and crouched down in front of her. “Chakra is your life-force; it's something every living being has. It's physical energy,” here, she touched Kyo's solar plexus, “and mental energy,” and she tapped her gently on the forehead, “and with training, you can mix it and use it for things like sticking onto all kinds of surfaces.”

Kyo blinked a few times. “Like magic?”

The question was out before she could stop it, because it had always sounded a bit like magic to her. Not like the kind in Harry Potter, but pretty damn close.

Isshun laughed, low and quiet but clearly delighted.

“Not quite,” she smiled. “What you use it for is rather personal, but you can do anything from walking up walls, to healing yourself and others.”

And she'd conveniently skipped the 'using it to kill people' part, which, admittedly, was rather sensible considering Kyo was supposed to be no more than two years old.

“Can I learn?” She wondered curiously.

If she'd now been born here, that meant she could, right?

“I suspect,” her kaa-san began fondly, straightening out of her crouch to resume walking, “that you've been using it a bit subconsciously for a while now, Kyo.”

Kyo froze.

Because, what?

Isshun paused and looked down on her, raising one eyebrow slightly at what must have been the positively befuddled look on her face.

“When?” She eventually asked, though it may have come out more like a demand.

Isshun eyed her thoughtfully. “Chakra can be used externally, and internally,” she explained.

They had stopped walking again, and her kaa-san gracefully sank down to sit in the grass, mentioning for Kyo to do the same.

Kyo eagerly did her best to copy her mother's posture and position. She doubted she managed it with anywhere resembling the same amount of fluid grace.

“Close your eyes, Kyo,” Isshun instructed in a slow, calm voice that was soothing and comforting all at the same time. “Take deep, slow breaths and turn your focus inward.”

Kyo did her best to do as told, even though it felt a bit like she was listening to one of those meditation CDs that had been pretty popular a while in the Before.

“Now, everyone feels their chakra differently,” her kaa-san explained softly. “Mine feels cool and fluid, like water, while your tou-san's said his feels like scorching winds.”

Kyo took a deep breath.

“There should be a pool of energy at the base of your stomach,” Isshun said after a few minutes, and Kyo suspected that there was a frown growing on her childish face. “You are very young, Kyo-chan. There will be plenty of time for this later, if you can't feel anything right now.”

Her frown grew. Her kaa-san thought she'd already been using her chakra subconsciously! She should at the very least be able to feel something then, shouldn't she?

Kyo was full out scowling by the time she felt a small stirring of... something in her gut. As if there was a live fish in the middle of her stomach that had just flipped its tail.

Kyo was so surprised she almost fell over.

“I felt something!” She exclaimed excitedly, opening her eyes to stare at her kaa-san with eyes as large as saucers. “That was chakra, right?” She added, because what if it'd just been gas or something?

“Hm,” Isshun hummed. “What did it feel like?”

Kyo jumped to her feet and excitedly explained the sensation she thought she'd felt.

Isshun gave her a small, but positively glowing smile. “My little girl,” she said, and quick as a snake, pulled her into her arms for a hug, planting a quick kiss on her cheek while she was at it. “Now, come. Let me show you what we're here to do.”

Kyo practically skipped after her kaa-san, melancholy mood all but forgotten at the moment.

“Ah, here we are,” Isshun murmured quietly, crouching down at the base of a tree and waving Kyo over with a wave of one hand. “Look here, Kyo,” she said, gently running her fingers over the fuzzy leaves of the plant growing in the shade of the massive tree trunk. “We're collecting this plant, but don't put anything in your mouth, you hear me?”

“Yes, kaa-san,” Kyo dutifully replied, curiously watching from behind and slightly to the left of her mother.

Isshun gave her a quick look, withdrew a small, sharp-looking knife and cut off the whole plant a little over the ground.

“Pick the leaves off the stalk, without tearing them, if you please, and put them in this,” she instructed, producing a small basket seemingly out of nowhere.

Kyo wondered if this meant her kaa-san had fuuinjutsu seals somewhere on her person. That was a possibility, right? She was in the Naruto world; anything was possible, wasn't it?

With her instructions clear in mind, Kyo crouched down and began to carefully pull the leaves off of the slightly prickly stalk.

She paused momentarily when kaa-san began to dig into the dark soil, no doubt to get the roots.

A slight itch made her glance down on her palms, and she blinked at the bright red skin that met her sight. Raising one hand to her face to inspect it, the itch grew worse, as if it knew she was looking at it, and the skin definitely looked irritated.

Casting another look at Isshun, Kyo decided that the woman knew what she was doing, and didn't say anything. Instead, she determinedly finished her task.

“Done!” She announced when the last leaf landed in the basket, lifting her gaze and taking in the surprisingly large and lumpy root her kaa-san had just pulled from the earth. “What do I do with this?” She asked, lifting the sad-looking, naked stalk.

“Put it in with the rest,” Isshun said warmly. “Very good, Kyo.”

Kyo grinned, for some reason ridiculously proud of her accomplishment, even though she rationally knew it hadn't been anything special; she'd just picked the leaves off a stalk, for crying out loud.

She was still proud, though.

“Let me see your hands,” kaa-san said once she'd removed most of the dirt clinging to the root, and then put it away in a bag she'd produced from presumably the same place she'd gotten the basket.

Kyo held out her hands, her palms and fingers an angry red and a little swollen.

They hurt a bit now, pulsing dully in time with her heartbeat, but most of all, they itched. A lot.

Biting her lower lip in an attempt to keep still, she watched her kaa-san inspect her hands quite intently, running her fingers experimentally over her much smaller ones.

It felt a bit like stinging nettles, Kyo mused, but worse, because the rash-like reaction seemed to spread out from the spots that had touched the plant.

She frowned at her kaa-san's hands, taking in the complete and utter lack of any sort of reaction, and her face pinched into a slight pout.

“You didn't turn red,” she pointed out, and she wouldn't go so far as to call it a whine, but it came close.

“I've handled this plant since I was a little older than you, Kyo,” Isshun smiled amusedly. “It takes a bit of time, but you will build up immunity to the poison.”

Kyo's eyes boggled.

Poison?

Well, she thought rationally, stinging nettles were technically poisonous, too, so... that was what her kaa-san meant, right? Right.

“Don't put your fingers in your mouth until we get home and we can wash your hands, alright?” She said next, making Kyo's heart skip a beat.

Silently wondering what the woman who was her mother was thinking, Kyo allowed herself to be picked up so that they could return to the village.

.

Once they were back at the apartment, Isshun sat her down on the kitchen floor, having pushed the table and four chairs to the side to give them more room to work.

“How are the hands?” She asked, throwing a quick glance up at Kyo, before turning most of her attention back to what she was doing with the plant they had left the village to collect.

“Itchy,” Kyo told her bluntly, very determinedly not scratching at her palms.

Her kaa-san smiled, as if it was amusing and not highly annoying and uncomfortable.

“It'll go away before bedtime,” she told her instead, and slightly mollified, Kyo turned her attention to the plant parts her kaa-san was laying out onto the floor. “Listen now, Kyo-chan. The leaves are the least poisonous, while the root is the most potent. The stalk can be added to the leaves to make them a bit more effective, or to the root to make it more slow acting, understand?”

Kyo, feeling a bit wide-eyed, but genuinely intrigued, nodded.

“Go get me the big pot from under the sink, would you, dear?” Isshun asked, and Kyo quickly did as asked, though she struggled a bit with the pot due to the size. “Thank you. Now, this time, I don't want you to touch the leaves, but watch how I tear them, okay?”

“Okay,” Kyo said, leaning forward slightly to watch intently as her kaa-san tore each leaf up into strips that were about as wide as Isshun's fingers. All going into the pot.

For the next hour, Kyo listened intently while her Kaa-san taught her how to brew what she called her most basic poison.

Which was... interesting.

“After it's reduced a few hours, it can either be used directly, or left to dry,” Isshun finished, disposing of the last of the soggy, boiled out plant residue. “Once it's dried, it can be scraped out and made into a powder. I'll show you how to do that once you're a bit older,” she concluded with a small, almost secretive smile.

Kyo blinked, trying assimilate all the information she'd been given.

“What about the root?” She asked, throwing a quick glance at the bag with the mentioned item, lying on the kitchen counter.

“That's a later lesson,” Isshun laughed lightly, lovingly running a hand over her hair.

Which, Kyo belatedly realised, was probably only something she'd done because she'd rinsed her hands quite thoroughly in the sink a while before.

At the thought, she lifted her hands until they were in front of her face to inspect her palms and fingers. They were just an irritated pink now, instead of angry red, which was clear progress. The swelling had gone down, too.

“Look!” She said, holding them out to her kaa-san, who dutifully inspected the offered limbs.

“Very good,” she praised. “You've managed not to scratch them, too.”

Kyo grinned. It'd been hard, but she'd managed. The last hour and a half, she'd been too engrossed in kaa-san's lesson to even notice the itch, but other than that, it'd been nothing more than stubborn determination.

“Let's clean everything up, and then it's time for dinner,” Isshun declared.

Something Kyo was more than agreeable to.

It didn't even occur to her that all thoughts of her situation and everything it brought with it had been chased out of her head. Which had, without a doubt, been kaa-san's intention.

-x-x-x-