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Pink Carnations and Zinnia

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Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~Marcel Proust


Precaution

When Shibi-sama requests that you spend time with Torune, you can’t find it in yourself to refuse. Torune, as a poisonous person due to his inability to control his insects, is an isolated child. Even though he has Shino and Yoji as adopted brothers, the latter two can’t play with him due to the risk of his poisonous insects coming into contact with them. Even his clothes and bedding are carefully washed separately in case any linger in the cloth. Basically, Torune is very much alone and lonely. He does well to bear it, or so Shibi-sama says, but it could only do him good to have someone around that he can’t hurt.

Honestly, you wouldn’t mind so much if Torune hadn’t declared that he would marry you someday. As it was, visiting him twice a week was always slightly tiring. He seemed so certain that the two of you would get married. You hated that he operated under that delusion, but your protests fell on deaf ears. If anything, your denials just seemed to make him more determined. Resigning yourself to having to repeat yourself whenever he brought up the subject, you moved on to trying to distract him with other activities.

On the subject of Torune and the necessity of keeping him away from populated areas, you asked Father to begin teaching you how to utilize chakra in order to expand your hive similar to a jutsu. The reason was that you wanted to be able to deploy your Shapers anywhere Torune has been in order to make sure none of his insects were left behind to make problems for anyone who touched the same surfaces he did. You wanted him to be able to go to a park to play on the swings and such, but he couldn’t if there was a risk of the next child or children contracting his poisonous insects and possibly dying.

At nine and with basic chakra control, Father felt you were ready.

(you both knew that after the Shapers, next would be the Carnivores, that flesh-eating darkness that looked so much like a Nara’s moving shadow)


Teammates

Itachi had graduated from the academy. At eight years old, he was now a shinobi of Konohagakure.

His father and the clan elders were upset at his ‘late’ graduation. They felt that he should have graduated earlier, but while he would never say it aloud, Itachi was grateful that he had had time with his peers. He was glad that there were at least two extra years in his life so far that he had been allowed to be a child. With the engraved leaf upon his forehead, he was now considered an adult and would be expected to carry out his missions no matter what.

The thought of having to kill a living person is… perturbing. In truth, Itachi didn’t want to have to take lives, but he was the clan heir. He can be no less than the best shinobi his skills allowed him to be. As a genius, he was expected to be one of, if not the best. He is not looking forward to his career, but he knows there is no other path open to him.

His genin team consists of an Inuzuka girl named Hana and a civilian-born boy named Kurita Daisuke. The Inuzuka girl is the clan’s heir, but there doesn’t seem to be anything notable about Kurita. Their sensei is a jonin named Minazuki Yūki.

His father has made it clear that he expects Itachi to ascend to the rank of chunin as soon as possible, and there is no policy set that Itachi could take advantage of in order to stay a genin. He obeys and goes on missions with his team, displaying that his skill level is far above that of an average genin. When the chunin exams come (having finally been reinstated less than two years ago), his sensei gives them the application forms. He and Hana have no doubts about taking the exam, but it takes Hana talking to Kurita before the other boy decides to go for it as well.

The exams are taking place in the Land of Wind.

(he tries to keep them alive but in the end he can’t save his teammate from poison

his father gets a son with the rank of chunin and his female teammate would live to see another exam

but it is little consolation for the fact that Kurita’s dying face is now permanently etched into his memory)


Learning

Father instructs Tsubasa to teach you how to tree walk, and your three teachers at the hospital have been given permission to teach you medical jutsu. Of the two, you get tree walking a lot faster than you get the basic medical jutsu Amano is trying to teach you. In fact, Tsubasa moves you on to water walking long before you get the Mystical Palm Technique even partially up to Amano’s standards. You won’t be too broken up about it if it turns out that you’re just not capable of learning medical jutsu, but you will admit that it will be a disappointment. Past you couldn’t use your Quirk to heal herself, so you had been looking forward to having that ability even if it was from outside of your Quirk’s capabilities.

You aren’t a genius and you are only nine, so they decide that they will keep honing your chakra control for now. Since chakra control is a vital skill for those with small chakra reserves, you can only agree with their assessment. Besides, chakra control can only help you, especially with your various kikaichu.

You are so focused on developing your skills that time seems to fly by. Almost before you know it, autumn is ending and the first snow of the year is drifting down from the sky as you exit the hospital one day. Your first instinct is to grimace at the sight of the frozen rain, but you manage to keep your face straight. Tsubasa, who knows you hate winter, probably suspects your displeasure anyway.

Father isn’t home, so you know that you will be dropped off at Kaede’s if she’s still home, but you don’t feel like practicing your flute today. You’ve made progress with the instrument and are actually making simple tunes now, but you feel the time is ripe for a new hobby. After all, a person can have more than one, right?

Taking a detour to go window shopping, you spy a display that makes you pause to stare. It’s a simple thing, sharing the small store front window with other items, but you only have eyes for it. ‘It’ being a knitting display with knitting needles, a partially finished scarf, and a book of instructions on how to knit. Deciding that that is what you want as your new hobby, you enter the store with purpose.

(your escort breathes a quiet sigh of relief that it isn’t another noisy hobby)

Heading back to the compound with your new purchases clutched to your chest, you decided that the first thing you were going to make was a scarf for Father. It would be your first effort, but you would give it your best!

(it is forest green and takes several hours each day for almost a week before you are satisfied with the end result and stop unravelling the parts you don’t like)


Scarves

Father calmly accepts your gift with a quiet word of appreciation which would have hurt your feelings after all the time and effort you put into it if not for the fact that he wore it every day and even when he left on missions. It always makes you happy to see it around his neck, though to be honest, it’s more wrapped around the high collar of his jacket, but he’s wearing it which is all you really wanted in the end.

You decide to make scarves for the boys, those being Shino, Torune and Yoji. Shino’s is light grey, Torune’s is dark grey, and Yoji’s is black. You give them their scarves all at the same time near the end of the year, though you do end up giving them separately to each individual boy.

You give Yoji’s to him on the walk to the academy. He is suspicious of the package you hold out to him, and when he grudgingly opens it, he seems speechless after pulling it out to see.

When his silence continues drawing out, you had to refrain from fidgeting. “It is a scarf.”

This snapped him out of his silence, prompting him to scoff. “I know that. What I want to know is why would you buy such a thing for me? I do not need it.”

“I didn’t buy it,” you replied. “I made it for you.”

His sunglasses were directed in your direction so you assumed he was staring at you.

“…Why?”

“Because I know you, and I wanted to. I couldn’t make one for Shino without neglecting his brothers.”

(she made it by hand, and she said he had brothers)

You frowned slightly behind your high collar as he shoved it back into its small bag and started walking to the academy. Well, that was time wasted.

…No, you shouldn’t think like that. Just because you give something doesn’t mean the receiver is obligated to say thanks or be nice about it. You would at least say thanks for gift even if it was something you didn’t like, but that was you. Yoji has always been slightly prickly beneath his usually stern demeanor, so this reaction really shouldn’t be a surprise to you. Besides, now you could give presents to Shino and Torune without feeling guilty about leaving Yoji out of it.

After the academy and after you leave the hospital, you head back home. Father is in the village today but he isn’t at home when you get there. Security around you has become a little lighter while you are in the clan compound, so Tsubasa leaves you alone (though you suspect that either they or someone else is still watching the house).

Fetching the two bags containing the scarves, you soon leave the house and head for Shibi-sama’s. Snow has started to fall in lazy drifting flakes, and you decide that the next time you get a new jacket that you want one with a hood. Also, it’s cold out, so maybe you should make a scarf for yourself, though at the moment you are kind of sick of knitting.

Arriving at the clan head’s house, you knock, hoping that it won’t be Shibi-sama who opens the door. Not because you don’t like him, you admire and respect your clan head a lot, but past-you found such stoic people to be intimidating which in turn slightly colors your perception of the man. To your relief, it is Shino who opens the door, looking almost comically tiny in the doorframe. He says his father is in his study, but you say that you are there to see him and Torune.

“Why?”

You open your mouth, but, as usual, Shino answers his own question.

“Because you are not expected until the day after tomorrow or unless Kaede-san is also out on a mission.”

You briefly close your eyes behind your sunglasses and remind yourself that it is just a verbal tick and you don’t need to get snippy with him.

Opening your eyes, you picked out the package for him and held it out. “I came to give this to you, and I have one for Torune as well.”

He silently took the package from you and opened it up. He stared at the scarf he pulled out and then looked back up at you.

“…Thank you.”

It almost sounds like a question, but you just nod. You asked, “May I come in to see Torune for a moment?”

He cocked his head, considering your request, straightened his neck and nodded, but said, “You should ask father first, though, to be sure your gift is appropriate for Torune.”

That’s a… “Good point.”

Shino leads you to his father’s study and after getting a reply to his knock, opened the door and announced your presence and intention. You couldn’t stop yourself from staring at the back of his head, but you managed to stop quickly. Stepping forward at Shibi-sama’s behest, you offered the package to him and tried not to sweat as he pulled out the scarf.

“I have one as well, father,” Shino said, still in the room as he pulled out his own scarf from where he had put it back in the bag.

“I made one for Yoji and have already given it to him,” you added, then mentally cursed yourself for blurting it out.

Shibi-sama stared down at the scarf in his hands and rubbed the yarn with one thumb. It seemed like an eternity before he folded it back up and put it back into the bag.

He nodded. “You may give this to Torune.”

(he was easily the most expressive of the bunch, and you think that after Father, he was the one who wore your gift the most)


Invited

On Shino’s fourth birthday, you and Father get invited to dinner. It is a formal affair, and you wear a kimono that Kaede has to help you put on. Thankfully, literally no one in the whole clan cares about hair whether an event is formal or informal, so you can settle for just pulling it back into a loose ponytail, though you do wear a hanging bead hairpin. Father wears an almost black men’s kimono, and in your opinion he is very handsome in it.

Arriving at Shibi-sama’s house, it takes all of your training not to smile at the sight of all three boys wearing formal kimonos. They are positively adorable. Shibi-sama himself looks good too.

Torune is allowed to be present, though slightly removed from everyone at the table, but also closest to you. The whole affair isn’t as stressful as you thought it might be, possibly because that despite how past-you colors your perception of Shibi-sama, you still spend enough time around his family to be relatively comfortable with them.

Although ‘relatively’ is, well, relative, considering they all affect you in some way. Shibi-sama is slightly intimidating, Shino is adorable, Yoji is a potential field of traps, and Torune is, well, Torune.

Still, you make it through without incident and present Shino with his gift from you, a bug collection of the disease and cure carriers for Blood and Decline, completely empty of said diseases and cures. The fact that he seems honestly happy to receive it soothes the fears you had had about it being an inadequate gift. You were glad that you had gotten Shibi-sama’s permission to give them to him.

Returning home, Father holds a parasol over your head to protect your kimono from the falling snow.

(the contentment you feel is at odds with what you vaguely remember from the latter part of your past life, and you promise yourself that this time, this time you will be happy)


Foreboding

Shino is four years old, and this year you will be ten. You don’t remember what you did the last time you were ten years old, but you imagine that you had been attending school. Your past life’s memories show children and teenagers attending school long after most should have been genin or higher, and part of you wishes that were true in this life as well. You could probably pass the graduation exam if you tried, but you don’t.

You know you won’t be able to put it off forever, but you want just a little more time to be a child. You tell Father that you will take the graduation exam next year and he accepts your decision.

Yoji graduates that spring and wears the metal headband over his forehead. By law, he is now considered an adult. In truth, you are surprised that he doesn’t move out of Shibi-sama’s house even as he earns pay while on his genin team. Perhaps his time with the clan head and the boys has undone the damage from the year he spent in Root.

However, later that same spring, new hostilities break out on the border between the Land of Fire and the Land of Lightning. You don’t know all the details, but another war seems to be on the horizon. No one wants that, apparently not even the Kumogakure does as they were sending a dignitary to sign a peace treaty.

You tried not to complain when this news resulted in a sharp uptick in your security and a sharp downturn in your time alone.


Contrary

The Kumo delegation had the clans on alert. No one wanted another war so soon on the heels of the last, and thus the peace treaty had been signed. Tomorrow, the Kumo delegation would be on their way, but for now Hiashi and various members of the Hyuuga clan were on patrol around the village. After the successful kidnapping of Aburame Kaiya, the Hokage had decreed that all clans were to take special security over their younger clan members. He had also tasked the Hyuuga clan with watching over the village.

A precaution which was now seeming necessary as Hiashi and his brother watched with their Byakugan as the Head Shinobi of Kumogakure silently crept towards the Hyuuga clan compound. He declared that they would wait to confirm his intentions before swooping down on him. Keeping sight on him, he direction his younger twin to look for the rest of the Kumo delegation.

He frowned when told that two members were stalking through the Aburame compound, but relaxed minutely when Hizashi added that the Aburame were already aware and watching.

Within the hour the three shinobi from Kumo were assembled before the Hokage in the depths of the T&I department. The Head Shinobi was weakened by Hiashi’s Gentle Fist, and the two caught in the Aburame compound had been drained by the clan’s signature kikaichu. The intel eventually gathered from the Head Shinobi confirmed one thing and corrected the assumption of another: Kumo wanted Hyuuga Hinata alive for her Byakugan, but on the other hand, Kumo wanted Aburame Kaiya dead, not alive as Shibi had thought.

This left Konohagakure with three shinobi from a nation that had just signed a new peace treaty. They had been caught red-handed within the compounds of two noble clans, and now Konoha knew that the real reasons they had come to sign the so-called peace treaty was for the purpose of kidnapping the heiress of one clan and assassinating the girl from another for her part in the epidemics which had ended the war.

Yes, somehow Kumo had found out that an Aburame child was responsible for not only the cures to the epidemics, but was also responsible for them. They did not have hard evidence on how it was accomplished, but they knew enough to paint a target on her back.

Hiashi wanted them dead, and the stern coldness all but radiating from Shibi seemed to agree, however, the Aburame clan head pointed out that killing them would go against the new peace treaty. Plus, predicting Kumo’s reaction to the murder of its delegation party would be difficult at best, but there was no doubt they would make harsh demands of Konoha.

Suddenly, in the middle of their discussion, the door burst open and a shinobi of the T&I department yelled that all three Kumo-nin had taken suicide pills hidden in their mouths. Neglecting to check for that was an oversight on the department’s part, but for now they were preoccupied with keeping the Kumo-nin alive.

Upon hearing that combating the poison was a losing battle, Shibi spoke up.

“I will fetch Kaiya-kun.”

As he disappeared out the door, Hiashi couldn’t find it in himself to disagree with the other man’s decision.

(he brings her back in her night yukata with her father on their heels and she proves her worth by saving the Kumo-nin against their will with what seems like almost contemptible ease

she visibly startles though, when basically told she just saved her would-be assassins)


If you're going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use two feet.

~Keith Richards, Keith Richards: In His Own Words