You don’t stare the devil in the eyes and come out without some of his sin. You can’t beat the devil without becoming like him.
~Nina G Jones
While staring at a wall, the word ‘yandere’ drifts to the forefront of your mind, and it is unfamiliar as you have never heard anyone use it. Sniffling, it takes a few seconds before you realize that oh, that’s a word from your past life. It means… someone who is literally crazy in love? Loving someone so much that you turn crazy? An unhinged person with affections towards another who takes extreme and sometimes murderous actions, basically. And you accidentally made two of them.
You’re so stupid that you can practically hear your past-self lecturing you on how stupid you’ve been since getting your Quirk. You can’t really argue against it either, not when you look back on your actions and see that you’ve been hasty. While you may have the excuse of being disoriented by being four and suddenly having another lifetime’s worth of memories, that still doesn’t completely negate your own foolishness since then. After all, in those lifetime’s worth of memories, you can recall being paranoid about being discovered for your Quirk, and yet here you had disregarded that paranoia.
Basically, your current situation is your own fault, and now you might die down here in this hole because of it. After all, you can’t do the walking on walls thing yet. With your leg chained to this bed which in turn is firmly latched onto the floor, you can’t even practice in preparation for escape. Your arms are pinned to your body, too.
Well, what’s coming is probably inhumane and you don’t really want to be present for it, so you’re going to retreat into the embrace of your past memories.
…Alright, so it turns out that you can’t really retreat into your mind. At least, not well enough to stay there when the trapdoor in the ceiling opens again. The slight creek of the hinges pulls you out of memories of a room with couches, a screen, and people holding a ‘microphone’ in their hands (‘karaoke’, you hear). Suddenly apprehensive, you wriggle on the bed until your back is against the wall.
You’re surprised to see Juhi drop down into the room. After last time you would have thought that he’d be warier about even getting close to you. Then you notice that he’s wearing some sort of contraption, a harness of some kind, and there’s a rope dangling from the trapdoor. Ah, so if you do anything to Juhi, Michi is prepared to pull him out.
It grates, but as long as your leg is chained, you aren’t going to risk killing the only two people who know where you are. That first attempt on Juhi was an impulsive reaction, and if it had actually succeeded then in all likelihood you would have died of dehydration long before starvation. You aren’t glad to be stuck in this room, but you would like to avoid that scenario, thanks.
Glaring at Juhi from behind your sunglasses, you watch as he stares at you from his half-crouched position. When he doesn’t start couching or keel over, he slowly moves towards you. The frown on your face deepens, and you wish you could scoot further away, but there’s nowhere to go as he comes to the side of the bed and reaches out towards you.
He’s wearing gloves now, you note, bristling as he brushes hair away from your face. You want to hurt him, but you are at a disadvantage and outnumbered. All you can do is wait for the right moment.
(it takes one-hundred-and-ninety-eight days before that moment comes
but by then, you have what the memories of past-you identifies as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’)
The trouble with pretending to like and bond with your captors over time is that sometimes it morphs into not pretending and becomes genuine. Your time with Michi and Juhi as their captive necessitated waiting for a moment when you would be poised to escape from The Room, and this in turn meant attempting to deceive the duo in believing that you were becoming compliant. Pretending to slowly become bonded with them… backfired.
At some point, pretending to care about Michi and Juhi became actual concern for their welfare. If they came back from their excursions injured, you wanted to help them. They wouldn’t let you, of course, and in the beginning you could only curse them for being smart, but later it was actually distressing that they wouldn’t accept your help.
And yet, you didn’t notice that your fake-attachment had become actual attachment, as in Michi and Juhi were expected parts of your days. It wasn’t until it was too late that you realized you weren’t playing pretend anymore.
When the moment for escape finally came and Michi and Juhi were lying unconscious at your feet just outside a concealed cave, you found that you couldn’t bring yourself to kill them.
How could you kill Michi, the fellow Aburame who had warmed you with his hive when you were cold? Who bought you the new jacket you are now wearing? Who gave you the new sunglasses on your face with the green tips hidden in your hair?
How could you kill Juhi, the man who fed you meals he’d cooked himself? Who brought you water to wash yourself and did your laundry? Who taught you calligraphy and the Academy katas?
How could you kill Michi and Juhi when they are all you’ve known for months? When they are the ones who taught you about the clans of Konoha and used their Bingo books to teach you about the other nations? When they are the ones who, despite kidnapping you and keeping you captive, have cared for you as best as they can in their awkwardly stunted ways?
(your past memories give you a phrase and the knowledge of why you can’t bring yourself to hurt them)
Sinking to your knees in the dappled sunlight, you tremble from a heady combination of anger, disbelief and relief. At long last, you’ve left that wretched Room, but Michi and Juhi have done their damage, and you can’t believe that you’re actually fond of them.
You know that they’ve kidnapped you, held you against your will, convinced the village that you’re dead, and it’s still beyond creepy that they’re in love with you, but.
You don’t want them dead.
You cry into your knees for a while, lost and confused. You don’t know where you are, but that’s not the immediate ‘lost’ that has you distressed, not entirely, at least. Confusion plays a part in your being lost, mainly in that you don’t know what to think or feel. You know the two bastards near you aren’t good men, that they don’t even love you of their own free will, but the memories of them being kind and considerate hurt in a way you didn’t anticipate.
(this is why they were important, isn’t it?
because they had stayed with you of their own free will, that you had no hand back then in manipulating their chemical makeup)
For close to two-hundred days, Michi and Juhi are all you’ve had. If it weren’t for them, you’d be dead or mad back in the damn Room. Yes, yes you know that they’re the ones who put you in there in the first place, but even that knowledge isn’t enough to make you reach out and kill them.
You know now that being loved most of all isn’t enough to stop someone from kidnapping you (it might not even be enough to stop them from killing you if you altered the wrong sort of person), but that lesson is too late to stop you from being attached to Michi and Juhi.
You don’t want them dead, and you can’t bear the thought of kill them.
But, you also know that you can’t leave them as they are. They’ve already proven themselves capable of going against your wishes and of being selfish enough to keep you to themselves.
You can’t let them live, not after your imprisonment.
And yet, when you lift yourself up on your arms to look at them, fresh tears well up in your eyes.
You can’t kill them.
Their absence would ache, and you don’t want to add them to the faces you can’t fully see.
Stymied by your own feelings, you hiccupped and wiped your wet face.
What were you going to do now?
After pulling yourself together, you decided that the first thing to do would be to get one of them to remove the chakra seals from your body. You select Juhi to wake, keeping a firm grip on one of his hands and making him blissfully compliant, he uses his other hand to remove the wretched seals that have kept your hive on the edge of starvation since the beginning. Once the seal is off, you knock him out again and annoy yourself when you make sure to lower him as gently as you can.
Huffing, you sit back from Juhi and focus on your hive. The queen is already in motion, birthing more kikaichu, and it won’t be long before you will reshape a number of them into the imposter ladybugs that you realize are your favorites. To start with, though, you take four new kikaichu and reshape two each into new swarms of Shapers and Carnivores. You’ll need the Shapers ready in case of attack in order to keep up the façade that they are the reason why you can do the things your Quirk lets you do. The Carnivores aren’t ready for mass deployment, not when you don’t know most of the Aburame jutsu, but even a small swarm can come in handy. You leave the disease carriers and cure-holders for last since they’re not vital (more of an annoyingly complicated lie, really). As your kikaichu become more active throughout your body, you find yourself acutely missing your Father all over again.
A part of you still finds the fact that you are a living hive is abhorrent, but most of you is focused on the fact that you are your father’s daughter. He was an Aburame, and Mother was an Aburame, and you are an Aburame.
You have a home, and regardless of your feelings about Michi and Juhi, you remember that you have a place to go back to.
A person to go home to.
After a time, you open your eyes again to look at your kidnappers. Whatever you feel for them, it is by far dwarfed by your renewed desire to return to your father. You know that he probably thinks that you’re dead, but that just makes you more determined to go back. He, not Michi and Juhi, is all you have in this life. Father is your only family, and you know that he loves you. You’re only six—seven, you’re only seven, but that’s more than enough to be certain that he cares about you. Michi and Juhi, being brainwashed, cannot compare to Father.
Therefore, even if you can’t bring yourself to kill them, you can contemplate your situation with more clarity. The goal is to return home to Father, so these two are just stepping stones. Get home, separate from them while they’re still alive, and you think you can manage to get over them. Yes, okay... but that still leaves the question of how.
How are you going to deal with these two while keeping them alive and useful? Make them smaller? Hm, no, that might work, but one, they would eventual adjust to their new size, two, reducing their size might not affect their skills long-term, and three, you don’t want to do anything too strenuous that would knock you out and thereby leave you once again at their mercy.
If they get you trapped again, you don’t think you’ll be able to get free again.
Alright, so you need them alive to lead you home, plus they need some level of physical threat in order to protect you, but on the other hand you don’t want them to have posable thumbs, or fingers at all. Frowning and looking through the memories of your past life, you discard many animals which you haven’t seen in this life, though mostly because they are too small or too large.
You flinch and recoil from the image of a dog on a street. It is not aggressive and is happily wagging its tail. It’s a handsome dog, but something about it repulses you.
However, as you continue focusing on the image rather than shoving it away, you slowly realize that it’s not you as Kaiya that is a mix of afraid and disgusted by it, but rather that those feelings are an echo from your past life. Trying to remember more of the dog, you can see a hand, your old hand, touching it and its changing, like an image rewinding.
That dog was one of the first manipulations and morphing you ever did, at least, one that was a full-body change. The fact that you had done it so easily had frightened you, hadn’t it?
(a small boy with a bloodied limb in your arms)
You pause, seeing more of the memory connected to the dog. You still can’t see that boy’s face, but as the memory plays in rewind, you see yourself grabbing the dog’s ear as its jaws are latched onto the boy’s arm. You see his arm being bitten, the dog moving backwards, but the most prominent thing you focus on is the fact that the little boy is standing in front of you with his arms outstretched. As you continue watching the memory backwards, you see that he leapt in front of you, that the dog was once rabid and charged at you.
From the size of the hand you saw earlier, you hadn’t been a child like him. You had been bigger, but that little boy had protected you with his own body.
Was that why the green-haired boy featured in so many memories despite being younger than the other five?
You smacked your hands against your face.
Regardless of the mixed bag of emotions from that memory, you now have an animal in mind for Michi and Juhi. For the crimes of kidnapping you, faking your death, and keeping you as a prisoner, you were going to take away their human forms.
They were going to be dogs.
It takes over two weeks before you are happy with the work you’ve done on the duo. They are large dogs, mostly since that’s easier than making them smaller. Michi is dark brown and has curly fur. His was the most difficult transformation since you had to keep his hive in mind as you changed his body shape. It’s probably not wise to leave him with his hive (whoever heard of an Aburame or insect-using dog?), but removing his hive felt wrong. And damn it, that’s probably Stockholm Syndrome talking, but depriving him of his symbiotic partners that he’s had since birth just seems too cruel. As an Aburame, you would be devastated to lose your hive.
Also dead, though Michi wouldn’t have to worry about that with you since you could fill in the empty spaces his hive would leave.
You didn’t need to, but you also made him custom sunglasses by reshaping wood around the lenses of his original pair. Basically, you now had a curly-haired dog wearing sunglasses and which could also summon kikaichu.
…You’re gonna have a hard time explaining that when you get back, but that’s a worry for later.
As for Juhi, he was tan and black, with a thick undercoat and a dense, straight outer coat. He sort of resembled a wolf, but you knew that his appearance was that of a dog’s. His ears were pointed up, rather that the floppy that Michi had. Of the two, he was plain in comparison to his partner who had personality in his hive and sunglasses.
Now, you are aware of the Inuzuka clan. They have nin-dogs as partners and use jutsu that utilize that partnership. Toshiro-san, rest his soul, and Jin were the only pair you met, though you have seen a couple others. Given the fact that you made Michi and Juhi combat capable, or rather, as much as you could with them being dog-shaped, you just hoped that the Inuzuka wouldn’t automatically assume you stole a pair of dogs, and you also hoped they wouldn’t assume that you were trying to steal their clan jutsu.
The Carnivores move like shadows, so the Nara are another clan you have to worry about, but! Regardless of how much it looks like you’re stealing clan jutsu, you are not. You’re just very good at copying ideas and appropriating them for your own use. Totally not stealing clan jutsu. Really.
You sigh as you remember the talk you got about eyes and the Uchiha and Hyuuga clans.
Maybe you should stop taking inspiration from the clans in the village, huh? Not that you know much about other clans in other villages. Michi and Juhi had been educating you, but… hm. If you get to keep them, you might give them back their voices.
…But what if you wait too long and then you can’t remember what they sound like?
Well, considering that their voices are flat, it’s not much of a loss. And besides, you only deactivated their ability to speak, rather than taking away their ability to produce noise. A lot of their insides are the same, just shoved into dog form. After all, as long as they’re nearby, you can fix any problems that arise, so yeah, they’ll be fine.
“Alright,” you said, hands clutching the straps of the large backpack on your back.
You were standing at the cave entrance again, having opted to stay here since working out in the open left you all too vulnerable. The hidden base was Spartan, but it had served its purpose, and there had been plenty of plants and trees to work with the few times you needed extra while working on Michi and Juhi. After over two-hundred days here, it was finally time to leave.
Time to go home.
You waved at Juhi and he lowered himself so that you could clamber onto his back. At seven, normally you’d be too big to ride a dog, but Juhi was not only large, he was personally modified by you for strength, not to mention that both he and Michi could still utilize chakra. Carrying you would not slow or wear him down too much.
You grabbed on to his fur as he stood up. Your stomach fluttered from your new riding place, but mostly in anticipation of what was ahead.
Behind your collar, a small but bright smile spread across your face.
They leapt into the trees and you left your heart on the ground.
There is no mile as long the final one that leads back home.
~Katherine Marsh, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars