When she hits the ground there's a strange ringing in her ears and her eye hurts so bad it feels like it's about to burst. Naomi feels numb all over, can't really believe what just happened.
"Don't fucking touch her!" Akira yells from above her prone body.
"Hey! Hey, bro, stop it! Cut it out man. Jeez, fucking look at her. Bro." Kenji groans.
She gingerly feels her eye, winces when the skin around it starts to swell. It feels so tender. Even the slightest touch hurts. Naomi pushes up into a sitting position and grimaces at the sting of the scrape at her elbow. Akira is glaring down at her, held back by Kenji who keeps talking at him.
"Calm the fuck down, bro," he snaps and yanks him backwards. "If dad sees this-!"
"It was a training accident," Akira snarls at her, brown eyes drilling into her. "Understand?!"
Naomi stares at him, speechless. His eyes narrow dangerously. Akira's joined ANBU already, at only fourteen. On the day of his promotion their father threw him a party. He's strong.
"Do you fucking understand?!" He growls.
"Yes," she replies quietly. "An accident."
Yukiko sneers at her, standing slightly behind their oldest brother with a mean glint in her brown eyes. Naomi grits her teeth and gets up. Kenji tugs him back some more with a frown.
"Bro. Leave her be, c'mon, bro."
"Fuck," Akira hisses and abruptly turns away. "It's the damn eyes. They're like hers."
"I know, bro," Kenji says quietly as they walk away.
Yukiko smirks at her behind their brothers' backs before she trails after them. Naomi furrows her brows and looks at nothing as she wipes at her mouth with the back of her hand. This is new. They've never hit her in the face before. Only places where nobody will see. She goes to inspect herself in the bathroom mirror. Her right eye is swelling shut and the skin around it is growing purple. She can't go to school like this. Naomi swallows hard and thinks. Tomorrow is Monday. Her dad recently recieved a call to the hospital because there is an emergency. There's no way she'll be able to fix this by herself. It's too obvious to hide with makeup. She can't be seen like this. Naomi goes to the kitchen to grab an ice pack. Her mother is there, sitting at the table and reading a book. She looks up when Naomi enters the room and stares blankly. The girl averts her eyes and grits her teeth as she heads to the fridge. She's learned the hard way not to expect sympathy from her family members.
"An accident," Naomi spits bitterly as she roots around the freezer compartment.
"I'm sorry," her mother says softly and there's an odd little tremble in her voice.
Naomi glances at her briefly. She's staring down at her trashy romance novel. Suddenly, unbidden, she feels a surge of rage.
"Where was your sorriness all these years?" She asks quietly with a voice full of venom.
Her mother's lips press into a flat line. Naomi snorts and turns back to the fridge. They've never had much to say to each other. Finally she digs out an ice pack from beneath a bag of frozen spinach. Naomi wraps a towel around it and presses it to her eye. She hears the rustle of paper from the table as her mother turns a page.
"I'm sorry," she says a bit more firmly, but still quiet. "They take after their father."
Her stomach drops and she turns to stare at her mother. The woman, always quiet and unobtrusive, keeps reading.
"You all have his temper," her mother says and glances at her briefly with her dull brown eyes. "I thought it best to let you sort things out among yourselves."
Self-preservation, Naomi realizes with a start. Her mother is utterly focused on self-preservation. That weak, stupid, useless woman! Naomi thinks, enraged. She's talking as if she isn't even part of this family! As if none of this concerns her.
"Yeah?" She snaps. "Thanks a lot, mom."
The woman flinches slightly and closes her book. She casts her a fleeting look and sighs. Her shoulders drop and suddenly, all at once she looks at least ten years older.
"What would you have me do?" She says in a defeated tone.
Naomi grinds her teeth and looks away. "Dad can heal this."
"He'll stay overnight at the hospital. There's a complicated case. A young girl, badly injured from what I heard."
Naomi's heart drops. She vaguely knew this day might come sooner or later, but it still fucking sucks.
"I can't go to school like this," she mutters darkly.
"No. I'll call your teacher."
Naomi nods stiffly and presses the icepack closer to her eye. People would ask questions she doesn't feel like answering. The fires of rage are still igniting her veins, refusing to die down. How dare he! Is all she can think. It feels like the years of abuse have culminated in this. It was never okay before, but she'd arranged herself with the knowledge that her brothers just hate her and adore their baby sister. Now, though. Now the three of them have forged a pact against her. They're using Yukiko to bait her so they have an excuse to push her around. And she's so very good at it. Vain, spoiled rotten and arrogant beyond belief, she manages to push her buttons easily. It was just a light shove against her shoulder. Just a little push. It's unfortunate that Akira and Kenji both came back from long missions at the same time. Naomi is mad at herself for not realizing that they'd use their breaks to go back to playing their favorite game. As she glares at her reflection in her mirror, surrounded by the gloom of her own room after she drew the shutters down, Naomi feels as if she's so very close to her breaking point. Eleven years are a long time, after all.
At half past ten in the morning the phone rings. Naomi just happens to be in the area and goes to pick it up.
"Naomi, where are you?" Tsunade asks in a concerened voice.
"What? Why?! What happened?"
She glances out of the window, where her siblings are playing in the backyard. They look like they're having fun. She won't be able to train there for a while yet.
"Don't worry. I'm just waiting for dad to fix it," she mutters.
"I sprained my ankle during training," she lies through gritted teeth.
"Ohh, I see. That sucks," Tsunade says, full of sympathy. "It's so boring without you!"
"I'll be back tomorrow," she promises quietly. "Tell the others not to worry."
By 'the others' she means Orochimaru. Tsunade hopefully understands what she's not saying. They talk about everything except her friendship with the pale boy. Somehow the subject is too diffcult, too private. The blonde girl huffs into the speaker.
"Fine. I'll bring over your homework later."
A stab of unease goes through her. "Okay."
"Yeah," Naomi winces and hangs up.
Then she goes to inspect her eye. Thanks to the icepack the swelling has gone down a lot, but the bruise is still an angry purple. Her father hasn't come home yet. Anxiety runs along her veins and she prays he'll get here before Tsunade does. Just in case she takes her mother's makeup from her cosmetics coffer and rubs a bit over her eye. It hurts and doesn't help a lot. The purple shines through. Once more her thoughts turn to vengeance. Akira is sixteen, Kenji fourteen. They're older, stronger and much better at taijutsu than her. She has no chance against the both of them. Maybe if she traps one of them in a genjutsu and lures the other away.. Naomi shakes her head. She has to bide her time. An opportunity will come. Bitterness and hatred have been festering inside her like a disease for years now. They may be related by blood, but they've never been a family.
Naomi waits until five, when she knows school ends. Her father doesn't come home. She gnaws on her lower lip and hides in her room, hoping that her mother will answer the door. The bell rings and she flinches at the shrill sound. When she strains her ears she can hear voices talking downstairs. After a minute the door closes again. She exhales in relief and leans back in her desk chair. The desk itself is laden with medical books. She read all of them. They're just laying around for reference. Naomi has the theory down, all she needs is practice. That she can only get at the med center. Her father takes her there on the weekends so she can watch him practice. It's fascinating, excatly what she wants to do later on. Now her dream is in danger. Her father expects perfection. Her staying home today will surely displease him. Another thought hits her. What if he doesn't think a black eye is an excuse to stay home? Dread begins to pool in her stomach.
Suddenly there is a peculiar noise at her window. Naomi's brows twitch and she gets up slowly. The shutters are drawn in front of it to keep the heat out. She hesitantly reaches for the drawstring and pulls them up halfway. And promptly almost drops them again, but when her eyes meet golden ones she knows it's too late. Frozen with her hand on the string she watches his eyes slide down and slightly to the left. Naomi puts on a blank look as she slides her window open. For some reason her heart rate picks up speed.
"What are you doing here, Oro-kun?" She asks calmly.
His eyes focus back on hers and he wordlessly begins to climb inside. Naomi is momentarily startled and steps to the side. Hot air and the scent of mowed grass follow him in. She grits her teeth and closes the window before she faces him. It's so weird. They haven't met up like this for almost half a year now.
"Why are you here?"
"I brought your homework," he replies calmly. "Tsunade said you sprained your ankle. Your mother said you're sick."
She carefully doesn't react to the obvious contradiction in their claims and curses herself for the slip up. Her gaze drops to the floor.
"Thank you for bringing it over," she says tonelessly.
A cool hand touches the right side of her face and it sends her heart racing. Naomi's eyes widen slightly and she looks up at him, since he's now a little taller.
His eyes are on the bruise. It makes her throat grow tight. The tip of his thumb brushes over the skin beneath her eye so lightly it doesn't even hurt.
"Who did that to you?" He asks quietly.
"It's nothing," she rushes out. "Don't worry-"
The look he gives her then cuts her voice off. There's such rage in his eyes that it makes her freeze on the spot. It's not aimed at her, she realizes after a second and starts to relax. A very slight wobbly smile grows on her face.
"Akira," she whispers hotly. "He punched me."
"I see," he says and drops his hand.
It lets her breathe more easily. She hugs herself and looks away. She can't bear the scrutiny. He always could read her like an open book. Suddenly she feels like a horrible friend for trying to lie to him.
"Don't worry about it," she mutters. "I'll.. It doesn't matter."
"It matters," he disagrees in a light tone. "It matters a lot."
Naomi glances at him uncertainly. His face is as calm and impassive as ever, but his eyes.. She only catches a glimpse of something dark and terrible before they shutter and cut away. Naomi's smile grows a little warmer.
"Thank you," she murmurs, unsure why she says it, but feels the need to do so anyway.
He nods once and opens the window. She watches him climb out and disappear quietly. For a moment she pauses, breathes the warm summer air, and thinks of nothing. Then she shuts the windows and draws the shutters down again.
Her father comes home around nine. He's surprised to hear that she stayed home. The thunderstorm she expected never comes. He takes a critical look at her eye, uses a cotton pad to wipe away the makeup, and makes green healing chakra appear around his hand. It feels warm and prickles a little when he heals the bruise. Naomi keeps her head bowed and stares at the ground as she kneels before him, waiting for the verdict.
"A little bruise is no reason to stay home," he says sternly. "That is vain, Naomi. Don't do it again."
She nods dutifully and feels the hatred rise up in her throat like bile.
"If you have the time to get into fights then you clearly aren't busy enough. I will take you to the med center after school tomorrow. You'll get a chance to practice what we studied."
"Really?" She looks up excitedly and stares at his grim expression.
"The girl didn't make it. You'll get a chance to study the body under my supervision."
A real human corpse! Naomi swallows dryly and nods jerkily. Her father regards her for a moment.
"It's a grim sight. The kid's around your age. Are you sure you can handle it?"
"Y-yes!" She replies quickly. "I've seen sketches and drawings of bodies before."
"The real deal is always different," he replies. "Since she died in the aftermath of a violent attack there must be an autopsy. I'll talk with my collegues to see if you can watch. It's a prime opportunity to study the human body."
Naomi's lips part slightly and her face flushes with excitement at the prospect. He thinks she can handle it! This is the best!
"I expect you to write down everything you discover, just like before," he says sternly. "I will be reading your report and grading the quality of your writing."