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1 Bloom. (solo/private) on Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:30 am

Kirei

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The check-in process concluded; papers were handed in and signed, stern words exchanged from steward to pupil, and they had given Kirei a key. Boy and dog would wearily ascend the stairs to the fifth floor where a spare room awaited, a single bed and a desk with a window overlooking the east. His luggage had already shipped from home and arrived, Uchiha family crest prominently displayed for all to see. Kirei rolled his eyes. These walls would be his home for the next twelve months before he would return to the Land of Fire; right now that seemed like forever away, but Kirei suspected he'd find himself back in Konoha before he knew it.

Exhausted, Kirei sat bedside and stripped to his boxers, discarding everything in a careless heap nearer to the door. With Yūji nestled at the foot of his bed, Kirei rolled onto his back to stare at the ceiling. Thoughts of Water Country filled his mind; they would no doubt expect him to sign up for a squad and participate in missions. For now, Kirei's primary goal would be to find a teacher who would let him learn in private instead of the tedious grind to which he would otherwise see himself objected.

'Some more friends would be sweet, someone to train with, should try and meet the Mizukage while I'm here, should explore the country a little.' Yawn 'Gotta see that mansion, really need to start training, gotta get oranges...'

Yawn.

'It's always the same dream...'

Konoha is still this morning. City reeling in the eye of a hurricane, the village shinobi scramble to make repairs and bolster the buildings for the oncoming half of the storm. In the eerie calm, a tall, dark-haired man picks up debris within the Uchiha compound. He wanders the alleyways alone, dragging branches into large piles (later to be burned). The pink dawn of the village's brief reprieve would have only those who worked throughout the night to see it, the rest of the town safely tucked away in their homes. Just now, throughout the complex, the children under Yara's watch are beginning to awaken.

Kirei opens his eyes in the dark; it's still early, and the soft glow is barely lighting the bedroom through the heavy blinds. At the head of the five-year-old's bed is a long scroll depicting the Uchiha clan symbol. Rubbing his eyes, the boy swings his legs onto the floor while yawning. He stands, makes his way to the window and then opens the left side to look out onto the street. Outside, the compound is soaking wet, drenched in thick puddles of rainwater and mud. The sound of birds is absent from the forest; the animals have moved far away to ride out the storm. There is a sense of urgency lingering that the boy doesn't yet understand. It is a strange day in the Land of Fire.

The boy wanders the mansion alone; the older shinobi have left throughout the night to assist the rescue efforts. The lone elder Uchiha who watches over the children here is elsewhere, and Kirei is alone. The destruction outside is made even more strange by the still perfection inside the house. A teapot boils, there is meat sizzling on the stovetop; an aroma nobody will smell fills most of the house. In the background, Kirei hears the rhythmic metronome of water dripping onto wood. In the main eastern hallway, the roof is leaking. Kirei stands in front of the puddle looking at his reflection.

'Where I'm training with my father...'

Seven children are lined up in the meditation gardens. They stand in front of the dark-haired caretaker, who stares at them with inhospitable distance: he is not typically this cold. The kids can sense this and stand perfectly still, the air is tense, as the string of a harp stretched far too taut. Yara yells, his hands are a blur while he directs the children to train; they have been his students for seven months, sent by their parents for his private tutelage. No matter what happens, their training will continue every day for the duration of their stay here. This morning the training is intense, full length sparring across the entirety of the inner gardens.

Kirei and another boy exchange blows in the sand; one ducks and the other pivots to the left, pulling back then throwing another punch. Together, their hands cross as blows meet and push one another off target. Breathing heavily, each boy withdraws, and circles around the other before charging again, Kirei goes low, spinning for the other boy's knee with an extended left forearm. The strike meets a shin as his opponent twists and drops with an elbow for the blonde's neck. Kirei drops his body into the sand and rolls away, scooping up a handful of grains and tossing them towards the other boy. After a shrill yelp, Kirei has the upper hand and thrusts his fist into the other boy's jaw from the side. Before he can claim victory, force takes Kirei's leg from beneath him, and he feels a weight on his chest. A fist connects above the boy's right eye, another to the left jaw, the third hits his nose before Yara pulls the two apart.

"Watch your legs, Kirei." Kirei. Kirei.

'Dad says 'watch your legs', he always says that...'

It starts raining in the afternoon, earlier than expected. Lessons are over for the day, afternoon turns into evening, and Kirei is sitting in his room alone. The boy stares out his window at the light rainfall; it hasn't picked up yet. The grey skies and the measured beating of water on concrete; these would one day become the symbols of his childhood. He watches blurry shapes in the distance, village ninja hopping across rooftops; he can barely catch them with his eyes from this distance. Yara is gone; he's left Kirei at the mansion again while he secures the rest of their neighbors' properties. Sequestered in this labyrinth, the Uchiha's pupils are safe from the storm.

To pass the time Kirei checks the house doors and windows; he opens each room as he did earlier today, repeating the same task to pass his afternoon alone. The doors are still locked, the windows are always secured, but outdoors' greyness is creeping in. In a black and white room, Kirei prepares food by himself; there's no color anymore, the dream's haze has taken it away from these altered memories. Footsteps are echoing through the house; Yara is home from the other houses. The blonde boy eats in the kitchen while he listens to the faint sounds of life elsewhere in the mansion; he doesn't bother searching for his father, Kirei knows he won't be able to find him. In the dream, he can never see him. Nobody's home, this isn't real.

At the main entrance, Yara talks with three individuals; a squad with ivory masks each with a beast's facade stand just inside the door, they are soaking wet and covered with blood. Kirei is watching from the end of the hallway; he can't hear more than hushed murmuring. The boy has his eyes closed; everybody has their eyes closed for this part of the dream. The elder grips his skull and collapses to the ground, violently swinging at the three ANBU who surround him to help him up. He pushes through them and storms down the hall; he doesn't see the boy as he thunders past. By now, the sound has gone as well, save for the rain.

It's dark out now, and the rain is hammering down. On the wooden roof, the sound is deafening. Yara drags his hands on the walls as he walks, then slams his fist into the door to the garden, breaking the wooden frame away entirely. Kirei runs through the hall after his father, he's yelling, but there's no sound over the rain. The boy chases Yara into the garden where he sees the Uchiha howling into the storm. Lining the walls of the inner gardens are the other-worldly eyes of Yara's hounds. The edges of their shadows flail about in the wind; they are ill-defined shapes with sharp stares. From the light indoors, Kirei dashes towards Yara, his hair and face becoming immediately soaked by the rain. Even in his rage, the father does not strike his child but places a firm grip on the boy's shoulder, pushing him off his feet into the mud.

This close, even though there is no sound, Kirei knows what his father is screaming at the sky. Tears mingle with mud and rainwater; the boy thrashes on the ground as he tries to will his body to move. He's sinking into the swampy garden; the winds are churning the rain in all directions; hurricane gales pelt Kirei's face. His hands are buried, no matter how hard he struggles he can't break free. The bubbling roil overcomes his ankles and knees; he yells for his father, but there is no response. He can feel it creeping over his stomach and pulling him down; the muck wrenches his shoulders back into the earth, and he lets out a loud, silent scream. When he becomes submerged, the weight on his chest makes it hard to breathe.

It's dark and heavy under the world, but the sound of the rain is still there. If only he could think. If only it weren't for all this noise. There is nothing but this orchestra of useless, senseless, trumpeting, screeching, blithering, needless, bellowing rain. Out of nothing, the boy can see in the blackness; around him are ten plumes of blue flame, nine outer fires connected by flowing strands to the boiling nuclear inferno of chakra at their center. With all his strength, the boy plunges his hand into the dark and grips something there; he pulls and pulls until his hand breaks free into the tempest. Fighting against the force weighing him down, compelled to grasp the warm heavenly flame, Kirei twists and writhes until his face breaks loose from the mire. The dream is in color again, Kirei's eyes are wide and red, bloodshot as well as swirling with ancestral chakra. Dragged into the new dream spluttering and heaving, coughing into the ground, Kirei looks up to the source of those ethereal lights.

Through the spinning hurricane, the world is an intricate web of flowing bonds. Kirei runs forward to his father who turns with his face distorted in grief. He can hear the sound of his footsteps; the hounds who silently watch over the garden are in their true forms. The two Uchiha embrace one another sobbing together. Kirei's face is smeared with dirt and tears and vomit. Yara grabs his son's shoulders, pushing him away to hold him at arm's length. Slowly, the father's hands slide to the boy's jaw, and he grips Kirei's neck tightly, adjusting the angle of his face to stare eye to eye. Kirei screams; finally, he can hear himself over the rain. Yara gazes at the boy's new eyes, crimson red, awakened here in this storm as the two mourn the loss of wife and mother.

"Good, Kirei."

"You will make a fine son."

'It's always the same dream...'

Kirei's eyes never shot open after the dream anymore. The shock of the reoccurring nightmare long since worn off through countless retellings. It wasn't every night, it wasn't even frequently anymore, but Kirei hated that dream. The blurry ceiling gradually came back into focus, lighting up as the Uchiha rose from his restless slumber. As was typical following his nightmares, Kirei awoke drenched in cold sweat, streaks of long, blonde hair stuck across his face and chest.

With a tired sigh, the boy hauled himself from the bed and over to the window. Predictably, the sun had yet to rise, but the eastern facing window would allow Kirei to notice the first few strands of lavender daylight staining the horizon. His head still stung with the lingering stress of his nightmare. Hope for continued sleep had been wholly lost, leaving Kirei with no choice but to let Yūji rest and walk off the headache and nausea.

"God damnit." The boy muttered under his breath, grabbing his coat and heading for the door.

End.

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