It was the merest thrum of energy – the smallest patch of light among pure darkness. Although the energy was only there for a moment, it was enough to inform her that he was close. She had to be careful. The slightest of mistakes could give her away. Despite her hint of anxiety, a smile spread across her face. After all, even if only for a moment, she had been able to sense her opponent.
The wind blew, rustling the bush the girl hid behind. Although it hid her well, it also took away her ability to view the clearing before her. If the purpose was not to remain hidden, this would prove a great problem. The girl leaned forward. Her eyes widened when she noticed a figure in the clearing. When she had sensed him, he had been much farther away. She should have known better. Her opponent was extremely fast.
He stood completely still, letting his head fall back and closing his eyes. The wind blew his hair, sending it dancing behind him. Nobody would guess he was in the middle of a fight.
The girl shifted uncomfortably. It was when he was calm it was most dangerous. Should she attack before he located her? No, she decided. If she even began to use chakra, he’d know where she was. It would be best to wait. Escaping a fight was always better than unnecessary conflict. As long as she was noticed second, she actually stood a chance.
Once again her view was taken away by the bushes as the wind calmed. She chewed on her lip, lifting herself ever so slightly. When she saw the teen over the top of the bush again, he had slipped his hand into his kunai pouch. She flinched. Either she had been found or she needed to be ready to dart. In both cases it was necessary to be ready to move.
Her answer in what to do came a second later. The boy’s eyes opened. Onyx orbs flickered in her direction only a moment before a kunai flew toward her. She leapt from her hiding space into the clearing. Rather than move, though, she remained still, her eyes darting between the boy and the kunai marked tree playing as their base. Again the boy chose what she was to do next. He rushed forward, grabbing the girl by her shoulder as she cried out in surprise. Without any effort, he sent her flying to the side.
Right into an object that fell down to the ground with her.
“Sasaui(*1),” the object whined.
The girl, Sasaui, giggled as she rolled off. “Sorry, Sasuke, but it’s not entirely my fault, you know.” Both children rose to their feet, redirecting their attention to the teen who had thrown Sasaui. “Think we can make it to base?”
Sasuke grinned. “No way, but we can go down fighting.” He suddenly rushed forward, going for his left side. With a sigh, Sasaui followed his lead and took off the opposite direction.
The teen barely glanced at either of them. Having moved before Sasaui, Sasuke reached the male first. Sasuke slid to a stop, lowering his hand to the ground. A quick spin on it sent a powerful kick at their opponent’s legs. The teen jumped to avoid it only to find Sasaui in the air attempting a punch to his face. Smirking slightly, he twisted in the air, barely avoiding the girl’s punch, and then shoved her back.
Sasaui nearly slammed into Sasuke again as he scrambled up. Before she could, though, the teen kicked him in the chest to send him down a few inches from where Sasaui hit the ground.
“Or we can just go down,” Sasaui grumbled, rubbing the shoulder she’d hit upon impact. While she remained on the ground with her legs crossed, Sasuke charged forward. Against her body’s protest, Sasaui prepared to attack again after he was sent to the ground a couple more times. Once on her feet she pulled out a few shuriken. Her eyes narrowed, watching as Sasuke fought the older boy. If she wasn’t careful, she would hit him as well. Sasuke jumped back, breathing heavily while the teen just watched him with a smirk. Seeing her opening, her shuriken were sent flying.
One barely missed Sasuke. “Hey, Sis, watch it!” he shouted, twisting slightly to glare at her.
“I was,” she said, sticking her tongue out at him.
The teen, who had easily batted away the shuriken with his kunai, smiled. “I think I’ve given you enough of an opportunity to go for the base.” His movement was so sudden neither saw it begin. A second kunai suddenly in his other hand, the teenager shot into the air. As he moved above Sasuke, he flipped so he was upside down over him, throwing one kunai down so it just barely missed Sasuke’s nose. He completed the movement by landing in a crouch in front of Sasaui, the second kunai resting against her collar bone. “I believe I win.”
Sasaui blinked, still trying to comprehend what had just happened.
“Not fair, Itachi,” Sasuke complained. “If you’d only given us a little bit more time, I’m sure we could have won.”
The eldest of the three chuckled. “Really? Because the objective was to run for base,” Itachi reminded them. “Which neither of you two was even trying to do.” He straightened from his crouch, returning his kunai to his pouch. The one Sasuke tossed back to him soon followed.
Sasuke crossed his arms as he walked over to join the other two. He was still convinced he could have won given more time. “We still could have at least done a bit of damage if you hadn’t killed us.”
“Sorry, but I doubt that, Sasuke.”
Finally snapping out of her dazed state, Sasaui frowned a bit herself. Had they really been defeated so quickly? Maybe they were only eight and facing, well, Itachi, but he’d been going very easy on them. “Did we do any better than the last time we played?” She yelped, swiping at Itachi’s hand as he ruffled her hair.
“Yeah, you two did pretty well. Your teamwork was also better with your combination back there.” His gaze flickered between their two young faces. “Did either of you sense my chakra?”
Sasuke’s frown deepened. “No, not yet. I know I nearly had it, though!” A small grin from Sasaui changed his face to one of shock. “Did you, Sasaui?”
Her grin widened to a full blown smile. Although she had been told not to brag, when it came to Sasuke, it was impossible not to. “I sure did. I finally managed it for the first time today,” she replied.
Itachi nodded approvingly. “Very good, Sasaui. How long could you manage it?”
“Only for a few seconds,” Sasaui admitted. “But I was able to track down your chakra before it stopped.”
“Can we stay here long so I can practice it, Itachi?”
He smiled slightly, gazing between the two and the sky. “Sorry, but you’ll have to practice on your own at home. Dinner should be ready soon.” When Sasuke opened his mouth in protest, Itachi poked him in the forehead. “Maybe next time, little brother.”
A slight glare of annoyance met the action. “Not fair.”
Sasaui rolled her eyes, pulling slightly against her brother’s arm. “Come on, Sasuke. I’ll race you home,” she offered.
His competitive side instantly kicked in as he grinned at Sasaui. “You’re on.” He didn’t even give her time to say another word before he darted off, calling over his shoulder, “I’m going to beat you home, Shrimp!”
“Hey!” Although they the same age, Sasaui was a couple inches shorter than Sasuke. It just wasn’t a subject she enjoyed. With a new drive to beat her brother, Sasaui ran with all her might in the same direction Sasuke had gone.
The forest quickly blurred past, stone streets replacing the earthy path. Sasaui darted through any openings she saw, earning a couple of rude remarks from some of the Leaf Village citizens. She ignored them. Her gaze was narrowed on the dark shirt Sasuke wore as she struggled to catch up with him.
Her luck suddenly picked up when Sasuke glanced back to see how far away she was. Even if he grinned, it didn’t last long before he slammed into an adult. Sasaui laughed as she ran passed them. She could hear the other’s apologizes to the elderly woman for a couple of seconds before it changed into hurried footsteps.
“Don’t think you can beat me, Shrimp,” Sasuke huffed, managing to catch up to her with his slightly longer stride.
Rather than waste her breath, Sasaui simply stuck her tongue out. Things grew more complicated as they ran through the more crowded part of the village, but by the time they made it out of the shopping area, they came out nearly right next to each other. With Sasuke slightly ahead.
Drat, Sasaui thought, straining to go faster. In only a few more turns the compound would appear. A stitch was already forming in her side. But she pushed on, and only a few moments later the large Uchiha compound came into view. Just gotta keep on pushing!
Calls from family members were mostly went unanswered. Neither child had the time. They were completely focused on defeating the other. As a familiar house came into view, each picked up their speed to as fast as they could go. Both stumbled over and over again, but they refused to go down. Only a few yards between them and the entrance. A couple of feet. Mere inches….
“I win!” both cried simultaneously as they lunged through the entrance. “No way, I did.” Once again they spoke together, but were too tired to push on anymore. They doubled over, grasping their sides as they gasped for breath.
A small chuckle drew two shocked pair of onyx eyes toward the porch. “It took you two long enough.”
Their mouths fell open. “How….?” Sasuke voice drifted off as he continued to stare. Thoughts of their previous race left either child’s mind. “Itachi, you were still standing there when I took off!”
Sasaui added, “Same as for when I first moved. You hadn’t even taken a tiny step.” Their brother didn’t even look like he’d run. If they didn’t know better, he could have been in the same spot for an hour or so.
Rather than give an answer, Itachi smiled. He nodded in the direction of the door. “You should get in and clean up. I believe dinner is supposed to be done soon.” There was no time for them to protest. He rose to his feet and entered the house themselves.
With nothing more to do, the still tired duo followed behind him. As Itachi had said, dinner seemed close to being done. The smell filled the entire room. Sasaui inhaled deeply, her mouth watering at the thought of eating. Her stomach rumbled. All the activity had left her hungry. As Itachi had mentioned, though, they needed to clean up after training.
“So, we never knew the winner of our race,” Sasaui mentioned. “I bet I’ll beat you to the bathroom.” This time she took off before Sasuke could truly understand what she had said. She rounded the corners, a wide grin on her face. It vanished, however, when she ran into something. “Ouch.” The young girl stumbled back. Seeing who she had run into, Sasaui innocently smiled, rubbing the back of her head. “Hey, Mother.”
The woman in front of her placed her hand on her hip. “Sasaui, how many times do I have to tell you not to run in the house?”
“Sasaui, that wasn’t-“ Sasuke had just rounded the corner, but skidded to a stop when he noticed the situation. “I mean, I told you we aren’t supposed to run. Mother doesn’t like us to.”
Mother shook her head. Her scolding eyes switched to Sasuke. “And there’s the other twin, doing the same as the other. Again, how many times have I told you you’re not to be running in here?”
The children found the ground incredibly interesting at that moment. “Um… How many have we ran in the house?” Sasuke murmured.
Sasaui giggled. She mentally searched for some kind of distraction. One of them needed to stop Mother’s scowling look somehow. Finally grasping an idea, she raised her head. “Hey, Mother, I’ve finally come up with a dream.”
Like she had hoped, this made her attention waver as she raised an eyebrow. “Oh, and what would that be, Honey?” Mother asked, a gentle smile replacing her previous look.
“To be taller than Sasuke so I can call him Shrimp,” Sasaui declared, pointing at Sasuke in a form of accusation. It was as if it was his fault she was shorter than her twin. Her mother burst out laughing while Sasuke slammed his palm into his forehead.
Still chuckling, Mother gestured toward the bathroom they’d been heading toward. “You two just go get cleaned up while I finish dinner.”
Sasaui and Sasuke nodded, taking off for the bathroom, their mother calling, “I just said no running,” after them. The two hadn’t had much time to gather speed, but they both still slammed against the bathroom door. Sasuke only a split second ahead of her.
“You butthole,” Sasaui said, punching him in the arm.
“Better a butthole than a shrimp.” Before she could attack him, Sasuke slipped into the bathroom, locking the door behind him. Since they were just washing their arms and face, usually they went in together. Now, however, Sasaui was outside the door, yelling at her brother. If not fearing her mother’s wrath, she’d be banging against the door as well.
By the time Sasuke came back out, Sasaui had calmed down. She still glared at him, though. With an irritated sigh, Sasaui walked into the bathroom to wash off. It was a quick process, yet everyone was already at the table waiting when Sasaui returned to the kitchen. At least almost everyone.
“Where’s Father?” she asked, taking her spot between Sasuke and Mother. The food was set across the table, and Sasuke was pout while rubbing his hand. A red mark was spreading across his knuckles. Sasaui’s guess was he tried to grab some food before everyone had gathered.
“Apparently he just got home a little after us and is changing,” Sasuke replied, still eying the chicken and rice before them.
Speaking of him must have summoned him. A moment later the head of the Uchiha clan walked into the kitchen in his kimono rather than the police outfit he wore for work. Father took a seat between Mother and Itachi.
Sasaui felt her back straighten, her shoulders pulling back. It wasn’t a conscious action, but not one she stopped when she realized it had happened. A quick observation revealed Sasuke had done the same. There was just an air to their father that made them feel like they had to be at their best.
“Well,” Mother said, breaking the slight tension that had built since Father had walked in, “let’s eat.”
His prior eagerness fading, Sasuke waited until after the adults had put food on their plates to do so himself. Sasaui soon followed, and then Itachi. Now that everyone had food on their plate, Father finally decided to speak.
“How was the training today, Itachi?” he asked between bites, barely lifting his eyes.
Any relaxation the twins had gained vanished. A shared look between them verified that both were now worried. Sasaui glanced at her oldest brother. What he said decided what Father thought no matter what Sasaui or Sasuke said afterwards.
Itachi met their gazes, thinking of how to answer. “They both did a great job. While Sasaui managed to sense my chakra-“
“She did?” He didn’t even give Itachi time to continue about Sasuke before turning his attention to Sasaui, his mouth downturned skeptically. “What was it like?” Father asked.
Feeling suddenly bashful, Sasaui lowered her eyes. She slid her food around her plate as a way to buy time. “It was just like seeing little bits of light, I guess.” The silence that followed caused her to raise her eyes again. Both Itachi and Father were giving her a surprised look while Sasuke was examining the older males of their family. “Is that not how it’s supposed to be?” she hesitantly asked.
“Usually people simply sense the person rather than see the chakra.” Itachi’s voice was equally slow, though he was more from thought than anxiety. “It’s not unheard of to see it, just rarer than simply feeling it.”
Too uneasy to say anything else, Sasaui just nodded in understanding. It was weird that she would see the chakra if it was rare. After all, her chakra and chakra control was normal for one her age. But she could only take the stares for so long. “Sasuke did a great job, too. I mean, Itachi sensed me before Sasuke and Sasuke is the one who was always attacking Itachi no matter how many times he was knocked down.”
Sasuke was slightly taken aback by the sudden change of subject, but the approving smile Father turned to him made it worth it. Even if he refrained from showing it on his face, Sasaui could see the way her brother’s eyes lit up.
“This true, Itachi?”
He nodded. “Both did an excellent job for children their age. They even demonstrated some teamwork that, if I had only been going slightly slower, could have ended with their success,” Itachi explained.
Father looked at his children appraisingly. Although his face showed little emotion, his lip did pull up ever so slightly. “Very good. Maybe one day they’ll be as good as you.”
Sasaui winced as she bit into her food. Their feel-good moment had quickly faded. Then again, what had she been expecting? Father always did the same thing. Any time the twins were praised, they were also compared to Itachi. Their success would never be great enough until it was on the same level with Itachi. But he was a prodigy, and the chances of that happening were quite slim.
Dinner passed as it normally did after that – only a bit of talk about how their day had been and the sounds of plates being cleared. It was Sasuke and Sasaui’s turn to do the dishes. Afterwards Sasaui was given the task of mopping up the floor. The two had dropped a lot of water on it while splashing each other. Sasuke had to take out the trash while Sasaui did so.
Not too long after they finished the dreaded chores, Sasaui and Sasuke found themselves in their bedroom. And the next ninja war was beginning.
“Take that!” Sasaui cried, swinging the pillow in her hand.
Sasuke dived out of the way, his own ammo tightly in hand. Using his pillow like a sword, he performed a slashing-like motion. It knocked Sasaui off balance. Before she could regain it, Sasuke threw his pillow at her. While she was blinded, Sasuke tackled her into her bed. Once in close range, they fell into a bout of shoving and rolling, at one point falling off the bed with a loud thud.
“Ouch.” Sasaui winced, rubbing her head as she glared at Sasuke. “Butthole.”
“Shrimp,” he retorted.
The two glared at each other for a moment before bursting into uncontrollable laughter. Although failing to stifle their laughter completely, Sasuke and Sasaui climbed into their respective beds, though Sasuke had to turn the light off before doing so himself. The darkness was only occasionally broken by their laughs. Gradually they began to fade into nothing.
Even in the silence, Sasaui found she couldn’t sleep. Her own brain was too noisy. Only moments before their pillow fight broke out, she had spoken with her brother about the Academy they were to start in a couple of days. The reason for it beginning was the two trying to prove who would be the number one student in their class.
What would it be like? Itachi had very easily breezed right through to genin. Would she or Sasuke be able to do that? Sasaui tried to imagine different classes she may have. Aside from those in the Uchiha compound, she didn’t know too many kids. Even less was her age. Although she was nervous, she was also excited to make more friends. Most of all, though, was her eagerness to learn to become a ninja. One day she’d be just like Itachi – bringing great pride to her clan and village.
Even as Sasaui’s thoughts quieted, she couldn’t help but do one last thing before she drifted off. She closed her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she explored the darkness in her mind. A dull throb formed in her temple as her focus sharpened, proving more difficult than the first time. After a few minutes of continual focus, though, she saw the first one spark to life – the light of someone’s chakra.
Sasaui expanded her search, eventually finding three other chakra signatures. The one closest to her was obviously Sasuke’s. It was smaller than the others and very near her. Two close to each other had to be Mother and Father’s. Unsurprisingly, Father’s was much greater than Mother’s. The fourth one shocked her. She recognized it as Itachi’s, but she hadn’t expected it to be so close.
As if on cue she heard the door open. The lights of her family blinked out as Sasaui lost her focus. She heard footsteps walk to Sasuke’s bed. A silent moment followed before they returned, only now walking toward Sasaui now. She kept her eyes closed, trying to feign sleep.
Cold lips pressed against her forehead. A small chuckle followed as a hand suddenly ruffled her hair. “Get some sleep, Sasaui.”
Her onyx eyes opened. “How’d you know I was awake?”
His grin was barely distinguishable in the darkness. “Same way I know Sasuke is awake as well.”
“Not fair, Itachi. How do you know everything?” Sasuke asked. He made some sort of noise that sounded like he was rolling over. “I thought I had faked it so well, too.”
“Just get some sleep, you two. Rest is always important.” Itachi retreated to the door. As the light framed him, forming a mere silhouette, Itachi paused. “Goodnight, Sasuke. Goodnight, Sasaui.”
“Goodnight,” they echoed.
Sasaui finally began to drift off after he left. Sasuke was the same, soft snores coming from his bed. Before Sasaui did, however, she once again searched for the lights, if only for a moment.
The last thing she saw before sleep took her was the three little lights that made up her family.
Story notes: Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and only own my ocs and original ideas.
Chapter notes: From this point on, you shall be reading Uchiha Sasaui's beginning of taint.
Also, as a note, this is a "prequel" to Tainted Guardian as it will go through the life of those important to the series. Kind of a way to avoid having lots of flashbacks and things for very important characters. Some have been excluded from the summary actually because of me waiting until after the "sequel" is published and her full team is revealed. Because, you know, I think I'm being sneaky.
Chapter end notes: 1 - Her name is pronounced Saw-say-you.