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Hear the Silence

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“All the girls will gather in the field outside the Academy,” Souma-sensei drawled the moment he had stepped through the door.

Kyo finished tucking her empty lunch box away and then stood up with the rest of the kunoichi-to-be.

She didn't think much of the long glances and occasional snicker, and it wasn't until their kunoichi sensei arrived that she realised just why her classmates were making such a big deal of this.

“Sensei, why's Kyo-kun here? I thought Souma-sensei said only the girls should attend?” One of the girls, Sayuri, asked importantly, sending Kyo a superior look.

The kunoichi, an older woman who could possibly be retired, raised one poised eyebrow. “Your mother speaks very highly of you, Kyo-chan,” she said, voice smooth and cultured and combined with the beautiful kimono she was wearing, made her look like a proper lady.

“Thank you, sensei,” Kyo returned, though she hadn't known this woman knew Isshun.

“Wait,” Takeko said, looking shell-shocked. “Kyo-kun's a girl?”

Kyo blinked, taking in the way her female classmates were staring at her.

She would like to say that the fact that they'd all mistaken her for a boy was surprising, but... Well, in her last life, the last time anyone had mistaken her for a boy had been when she was nineteen.

And that had been post-puberty with boobs and everything!

So it wasn't anything new.

“Settle down, girls, and follow me,” their sensei said, leading them to a nearby flower field, which had clearly been set up for today's lesson.

Which turned out to be flower arrangement.

Kyo stared with budding disbelief.

Okay, she could vaguely remember something about Sakura and Ino doing flower arrangements during their Academy days but seriously?

There was a war out there!

And if this now was so very important to their education, why weren't the boys here with them? Kyo's inner feminist was highly offended.

Managing to keep the frown off her face, Kyo sat down to at least listen to what Tomoe-sensei had to say. It felt more like this was an excuse to play with flowers than anything else, though Tomoe-sensei did have a few interesting insights into life as a kunoichi to impart, if you knew what to listen for.

Kyo suspected she was the only one who caught the subtext, though.

“That is one ugly bouquet, Kyo-kun,” one girl told her with a sniff, giving the small handful of flowers Kyo was holding a mildly disgusted look.

Kyo blinked, wondering why the hell Kikyo was even talking to her. “I'm not trying to make it pretty,” she explained patiently.

“Why not?” Kikyo asked, looking genuinely baffled by the concept of not making things pretty. As if it was their duty as girls to care about such things.

Kyo kindly refrained from rolling her eyes.

“These were the only flowers Tomoe-sensei gave us with any sort of poison,” she explained with a shrug, absently rearranging the foxglove.

After a beat of silence, Momo shrieked and threw her own flower bouquet away from her, bursting into tears.

“Some of these are poisonous?” One girl asked in a hushed, horrified voice, staring at the bundle of flowers in her hand as if it could turn into snakes or spiders at any moment.

“None of them are very dangerous, though,” Kyo continued, picking at one of the petals with a mournful air. “The most dangerous one could only kill someone if they've already got a heart-condition, or is really little.”

And why the hell would that even disappoint her? Kyo had always known she had a proclivity for being something of a nerd, but this was ridiculous. Why was she sad about none of the poisons being lethal, she wondered.

“Most children aren't used to poisons, Kyo-chan,” Tomoe-sensei said amusedly, and then launched into a slightly more interesting lecture on a slightly different aspect of kunoichi life.

Which was how Kyo got her first sex-ed class. Sort of.

Tomoe-sensei kept it very basic, general and merely informing them about the fact that the subject existed, but it set Kyo thinking.

The next time Isshun came home, Kyo took the opportunity to ask her something the first kunoichi lesson had made her contemplate.

“Kaa-san?” She spoke up during dinner, making both her parents look at her. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course,” Isshun said, putting down her chopsticks and giving her a curious look.

Kyo took a deep breath, gave her tou-san a brief glance before she turned her full attention on her mother. “Have you ever been on a seduction mission?”

Kou stilled, seizing to move as if he'd been turned to stone.

Isshun tilted her head, giving the question the due consideration it deserved. “I have,” she answered slowly, “though not one of the traditional ones, I suppose.”

“There are different kinds?” Kyo frowned. Seduction mission sort of just sounded like you had to sleep with someone to her.

“I'm an assassin, sweetheart,” Isshun reminded her gently. “So I've been sent on a fair few missions where I had to 'seduce' my target to get him to a private location so I could kill him without making a scene.”

Kyo nodded. That made sense, really.

“What's it like?” She couldn't help but wonder. Being female, she couldn't see a scenario where she wouldn't be sent on a similar mission if she made it past puberty.

Unlike many of the girls in the manga, she wasn't part of a precious Clan, with a valuable kekkei genkai, and she wasn't an heiress.

Isshun hummed. “It's part of the job,” she finally said, looking thoughtful. “Not particularly enjoyable, but far from the worst thing you could do.”

Kyo grimaced involuntarily, because that wasn't exactly encouraging, but-

“Aren't men sent on seduction missions?” She wondered. There would definitely be people attracted to their own gender here, just like it had in the Before. Not to mention there had to be ladies someone might want seduced for one reason or another.

Kou made a small noise like he might be dying.

Isshun ignored him and gave Kyo a small smile. “They are, though most people aren't aware of that until they at least reach Chuunin.”

“Why?” Kyo frowned, feeling genuinely perplexed. “It's not any different from kunoichi being sent on missions like that, and it feels like everyone knows about that.”

Which was why her kaa-san had been openly called a whore a few times in her presence.

“You shouldn't have had that lesson yet!” Kou finally said, unfreezing enough to put his chopsticks down. “Isshun, it's not funny,” he snapped when kaa-san chuckled. “She's five.”

“She's also going to be a kunoichi, Kou,” Kaa-san sighed. “It's just as well she starts to get used to the idea, the possibility, right now, rather than the day she's handed the mission scroll.” She raised a pointed eyebrow.

Kou rubbed a hand over his face, but clearly conceded the point. “Just, if anyone ever tries to do anything to you, you stab them with one of your needles, Kyo,” he told her, and there was real worry in his eyes.

Kyo bit her lip and nodded, slightly freaked out and a bit worried herself, now.

Was that something she'd have to be on the look-out for? Okay, she knew ninja were touted to lack morals and everything -her grandmother talked of little else whenever shinobi in general were brought up- but she hadn't really believed it. Not all of it.

Paedophiles had been an issue Before, too, around the world, so it wasn't that she had been unaware of the problem. She just hadn't thought it would be... common.

“It shouldn't be an issue for quite some time yet, but it's good to keep in mind,” Isshun agreed, returning to her dinner.

Having lost some of her appetite, Kyo pushed her food around for a moment before she determinedly resumed eating.

She was just five; she wouldn't be going outside the village walls for quite a few years yet.

And it wasn't like she could actually do anything about it, so, why worry about it now?

After dinner, she still crawled into tou-san's lap with one of her extra assignment scrolls.


They got to spend more time together as a family for a while.

Kaa-san and tou-san seemed to need it just as much as Kyo, and even when either of her parents went on mission, they got back relatively quickly and she hadn't actually spent any time at her grandparents for almost two months.

Kou eventually had to go on one of the long missions to the border; he'd finally told her that's what happened when he went away for months at a time.

Which made a whole lot of sense.

Regardless, kaa-san was slotted to leave in just a few days, and Kyo had begun to gather the things she wanted to bring to her grandparents' house, from a couple of books to school assignments.

“Kyo?” Isshun called out, and Kyo could hear the front door click closed.

“In here, kaa-san!” Kyo called back, looking for the scroll on mission procedure Souma-sensei had handed her the day before yesterday. She'd been so sure she'd put it in the drawer of her bedside table, but she couldn't find it.

“Kyo,” Isshun said, and she sounded slightly breathless.

Kyo looked up to look at her mother where she stood in the door to her room, wide-eyed and a small, disbelieving smile on her face.

“What is it?” She asked, a spark of worry lighting in her stomach, despite the fact that the woman's expression was far from indicating bad news. “Did something happen? Kaa-san?”

“You don't have to pack; I'm not leaving the village,” Isshun admitted and her smile grew. “I had my pre-mission check up today, and-” she took a deep breath. “The medic discovered I'm pregnant!”

Kyo stared.

Then, she dropped the book she was holding to bounce up to her mother.

“Really?” She asked, unable to stop herself from checking her kaa-san's stomach, despite the fact that she rationally knew nothing would be visible for quite some time.

“You're gonna be a big sister, Kyo,” Isshun laughed, picking her up and twirling around as she held her close. “Kou's going to be so surprised!”

Kyo couldn't help but be carried away by her mother's exuberant happiness.

“So you're going to stay home with me until the baby's born and I'm going to get a sibling?” Kyo asked, feeling like something was slowly unwinding in her chest.

It felt like pure, unadulterated joy. Excitement.

“If I manage to carry to term,” Isshun said, smile dimming a little. “And I won't be able to help as much with your poison lessons for a while.”

“That's okay,” Kyo beamed, wrapping her arms around her mother in the tightest hug she could manage. “I've always thought the lectures are really interesting, too,” she confessed.

Isshun laughed, kissed her cheek and buried her face in Kyo's slight shoulder.


Three months later, Isshun was still pregnant and the look on Kou's face when he came trudging into their apartment and kaa-san threw the news in his face with a wide grin, basically doing what Kyo could only describe as tackling him to the ground in a fierce hug, was something Kyo would treasure and remember until the day she died.

“We're pregnant?” Kou finally managed, Isshun sitting on his stomach and Kyo leaning over her mother's shoulder.

“Yup,” Kyo chirped.

“But- How?” Kou's hands slipped around Isshun's waist, giving her stomach an intent, focused look, as if he was trying to see through to the tiny little growing embryo inside.

“The contraceptives failed.” Isshun shrugged, as if that part wasn't really of any concern. “The medic caught it before I did.”

And Kyo didn't know how she felt about her parents having an active sex-life. not to think about it.

“We're having another baby?” Kou finally asked, gaze flicking back up to Isshun's eyes, a smile growing on his face.

Isshun nodded and leaned down to give him a kiss, not caring one wit about the dirt on his face, or the smell of old sweat and what was probably blood.

Kyo let out a small squeak when her support disappeared and she ended up on the floor next to her dad.

“And how do you feel about this, kitten?” Kou asked next, seemingly perfectly content to lie on the floor.

“I'm gonna be a big sister,” she told him seriously. There was still a wide, proud grin on her face.

“You are, aren't you?” Kou grinned, snaking out one arm to pull her into the cuddle pile.

The familial bliss could only last so long, though.

The war didn't go on hold just because her mother happened to be pregnant.

After a few weeks, Kou was sent back out, though he promised this meant he had even more incentive to come back.

And despite the major shift in their family, Kyo still had to go to the Academy, leaving her mum home alone for most of the day.

Isshun was doing a few administrative duties during the first one and a half trimesters, though she liked to watch Kyo train after the Academy let out for the day.

She treated it almost like a picnic, bringing food and everything.

Kyo loved it.

She'd never had something like this before; she'd been too young to remember her Before mother ever being pregnant, though she had one vague memory from the birth of her then-younger brother. She'd just been two, so she figured that was still pretty impressive.

Kyo was moved up another class.

She wasn't quite sure how her sensei had come to that conclusion, but Souma-sensei had seemed quite sure of himself.

So, Kyo took a deep breath, steeled herself and knocked on the door to what would become her new classroom.

“Come in,” a deep, self-assured voice answered.

Kyo gathered her courage and pulled the door open and got her first look at her new class.

“Souma-sensei told me to come here, Takuma-sensei,” she said.

“Ah, yes.” He frowned minutely, gave her an intent once-over that made her feel spectacularly lacking, and then turned back to the class. “This is your new classmate, Shiranui Kyo. Go take a seat,” he said, waving her into the room.

Kyo closed the door behind her and walked to the closest empty seat; front row, the seat the farthest away from the window.

At least it was close to the door, she mused.

Takuma-sensei continued with his lesson, launching straight into a lecture about a test they were supposedly having next week. Dedicated to tactics and what sounded to Kyo as logical thinking and almost a form of IQ test?

If nothing else, lessons would become more interesting again.

Taijutsu continued to be her worst subject, and she wasn't entirely sure it was just because of her size and age. She hadn't exactly been confrontational and aggressive in her past life, which she felt held true here as well.

On the other hand, she had her classmates beat when it came to marksmanship, age gap be damned.

It was always nice to see all that training had been good for something.

Just a few weeks before her sixth birthday, Kyo woke up unusually early.

Frowning up at the dark ceiling of her room, she wondered why she was awake.

She didn't have to pee, the sun wouldn't rise for at least a few hours, and she hadn't had a nightmare.

Too awake and keyed up to go back to sleep, Kyo got out of bed and pulled on the shorts she'd worn the day before.

That done, she padded out of her room to take a look around, see if she could find any indication that there was a tangible reason she was awake.

The apartment was dark and quiet, though.

Frowning to herself, Kyo finally decided to check on her mother; she'd been a bit listless the last few days and Kyo was starting to get worried.

“Kaa-san?” Kyo spoke softly, not wanting to startle her mother if she was still asleep, before she pushed open the door and crept inside.

With the room just as dark as the rest of the apartment -it'd looked like there'd be rain when she'd gone to bed- it was a bit hard to see.

“Kaa-san,” Kyo repeated, a bit louder now, because Isshun still hadn't so much as stirred.

Truly worried, she walked up to the bed and placed her hand on the woman's shoulder.

No reaction.

Feeling her heartbeat begin to speed up, she shook her mother's shoulder. “Wake up, kaa-san,” she urged tersely.

When that didn't get her any reaction either, Kyo brought a trembling hand to her kaa-san's neck and her heart almost stopped when she didn't immediately find a pulse.

It was there, though, fast and shallow.

Staring wide-eyed at her mother for a long second, Kyo wondered what she was supposed to do. She couldn't wake her kaa-san, she was at least alive, but something was clearly wrong.

She pulled down the covers.

Taking one look at what had been underneath, Kyo ran out of her mother's room, barely paused long enough to pull on her sandals, and then raced down the hall to one of their neighbours' door.

An older, rather cranky shinobi lived there, but she didn't even know if he was home, because she hadn't seen him in a while.

Kyo pounded a fist on Yamaguchi-san's door, hoping against her fears that he'd be there.

When ten seconds had passed and she hadn't heard so much as a footstep on the other side, Kyo turned on her heel and ran as fast as she could down the stairs, carelessly jumping two, three, four steps at a time until she reached ground level.

She didn't think she'd ever run as fast in her life. In either of her lives.

She had no idea how long it took her, but she finally burst through the hospital doors, startling the nurse behind the desk into a defensive stance.

“My kaa-san's bleeding!” She blurted, panting hard enough it was a minor miracle she'd been able to speak at all. “She's pregnant and she's bleeding! I can't wake her up!”

“Where's your kaa-san?” A masked shinobi asked, standing beside her when she turned to look for the source of the voice, even though she was sure no one had been there when she'd entered.

“At home, in our apartment,” Kyo returned, chest heaving but trying to regulate her breathing like tou-san had taught her.

“Can you give me directions?” The ANBU -holy shit, that was an ANBU operative- asked sharply.

“I can show the way,” Kyo returned without missing a beat, giving him what she hoped was a firm, rather than panicked, look.

The ANBU tilted his head the slightest fraction, before he nodded and crouched down in front of her.

Kyo got on his back without hesitation.

“Notify the Iryo-nin on duty that I'm bringing a pregnant woman, I want them on standby.”

The nurse gave a firm nod, and then they were back outside in the dark.

Kyo focused solely on giving directions to the shinobi, eventually pointing out the window to her parents' bedroom from the outside.

“I don't think there're any traps,” she finished, leaving the man -she was pretty sure it was a man, at this point- with the choice of what to do.

The ANBU said nothing to that, though jumped to the wall next to the window, managed to work it open in a matter of seconds and then slipped inside.

Kyo didn't make a sound when he slipped his arms under Isshun's listless form and straightened with her in his arms.

She tried not to think about the fact that kaa-san should have reacted poorly to a complete stranger trying to pick her up and carry her off. Her mother hadn't so much as moved while Kyo had been gone, either.

The ANBU finally landed in front of the hospital entrance, and a nurse opened the door for him before he could take more than a step. Inside, one of the medics were waiting with a stretcher, which the ANBU placed Isshun on without so much as a pause, and Kyo watched them rush her away, going boneless against the ANBU's shoulders.

She probably would have slid to the floor anyway, but the man crouched down so it seemed like she was just reacting to that, rather than almost collapsing.

“Can you tell me your name?” The nurse from earlier finally asked, giving the ANBU a grateful nod.

“Shiranui Kyo,” Kyo said, blinking blankly at the woman, before she pulled herself together. “My mother's name is Shiranui Isshun, and she's a Konoha kunoichi.”

“Thank you,” the nurse said, looking like she'd been about to march off before she paused. “ANBU-san, could you wait a moment-?” She wondered tentatively, sending the masked operative a slightly uncertain look.

The man gave a short nod, which sent the nurse on her way.

“Thank you,” Kyo said, glancing up at the man, whose mask turned towards her.

And wow, were those masks far creepier than the manga had made them out to be? You couldn't even make out the eyes of the person beneath it, making it seem like there wasn't one.

The man was still for a long moment, before he placed one hand on her shoulder in a surprisingly gentle manner, before he returned to his silent vigil.

Kyo took a deep, shuddering breath and slowly sank down to sit on the floor.

Her body hurt, and part of it was no doubt from running like a maniac across half the village, while the rest of it felt like it was emanating from her heart.

Eyes and lungs burning, Kyo determinedly took slow, deep breaths. She wouldn't cry, she wouldn't cry, she wouldn't cry!

She could cry later, she told herself, stubbornly refusing to give in to the tears burning behind her eyelids.

Taking a deep, trembling breath, Kyo finally managed to press her emotions down enough she could open her eyes and focus on her surroundings again.

Struggling back to her feet, Kyo moved over to sit on the closest chair, trying to remember when tou-san had been supposed to come back to the village.

She was drawing a blank, though.

It felt like she spent hours sitting in that chair, the silent ANBU her only companion, but it was most likely closer to just the one. Maybe an hour and a half, at most.

“Shiranui Kyo?” The nurse from before asked, coming striding back into the room.

“Yes?” Kyo jumped to her feet, feeling like she was prepared to run wherever it was they'd taken her mum.

“The Iryo-nin would like to speak with you,” she said with a small, sympathetic smile. “Your kaa-san is alright, and so is the baby.”

Kyo let out a deep breath, almost collapsing to the floor again from the sheer relief.

“Okay,” she said instead. “Where do I go?” She asked.

Because she didn't have a clue; the only time she'd been here before had been almost three years ago when tou-san had gotten hurt.

The medics always came to the Academy when they had their medical checks.

“Just a moment and I'll take you, dear,” the nurse said, casting the ANBU yet another nervous glance. “Thank you very much, ANBU-san, for your assistance tonight.”

The man inclined his head and then disappeared in a silent shunshin, not even leaving the smallest hint of smoke behind.

“Come, child,” the nurse said, and led the way down one of the corridors.

It turned out Isshun hadn't had the easiest time during her pregnancy so far.

Perhaps not so strange when you took the long-term stress, lack of sleep and rest into consideration, but Kyo was still unreasonably upset not to have noticed.

Complete bed-rest was what was one the menu for Isshun for the rest of the pregnancy.

It felt weird, positively absurd, to be informed of that by a tired-looking, harried iryou-nin, as if she were an adult instead of not even six years old. Kyo had just nodded, though, and asked if it could be arranged for her dad to be informed the moment he stepped back into the village.

She didn't want him to go back to the apartment to find it empty.

Oh, she should probably go back and take care of the bloody sheets, or tou-san might actually have a heart-attack if and when he saw them.

“I will make sure it's taken care of,” the iryou-nin promised, giving her a small, brief smile before he let her into the private room Isshun would be staying in for the next few months.

The moment she was alone, Kyo climbed up on the bed and collapsed next to her mother's sleeping form, burying her face in the sheets.