The distant sound of birds outside the open window received the little toddler into the waking world. Said child laid there, wrapped snugly in an assortment of blankets and mattresses. She didn't want to wake up, didn't want to face another day in this alien reality.
Alas, the pressing need of a bathroom made itself known as well as her ravenous stomach. Both reminding her of how much maintenance a rapidly growing body had, she needed small portions of food at constant intervals. Thankfully not every three hours as she hazily remembered from her first year. Another annoying fact was how energetic she was at waking hours, she either had two modes: sugar-high and zombie. Hence why she was trembling full of energy wanting to be set free even if her adult mind protested loudly.
Sighing, Tsunae let go of her warm pupa of blankets and made her way to the bathroom. It was after pulling the footstool and reaching to clean her face and teeth that the little girl paused to examine the reflection.
It was always a shock even if she knew what she looked like, saw and touched everything from a perspective closer to the ground. Too small, too young, too pale, too round, hair too fluffy and eyes too orange. The once-woman would be hard pressed to lie if someone asked if she liked her new body. She didn't even feel guilty of robbing someone from their rightful life or taking the innocent child that should have been her new mother's. In fact, Tsunae was resentful.
A bubble of ugly emotions rose up from her chest, throat and almost escaped her mouth if she didn't clench her teeth to contain it. Tearing up, big orange eyes closed as the young reincarnation did her morning calming exercises.
One breathe in, one breath out, in, out, in, out…
Finally, her mood under control, the fluffy haired kid reached for her toothbrush and mechanically washed her mouth without truly seeing her reflection.
Tsunae contemplated how her coping mechanisms weren't healthy at all. But it was hard to find your footing when your very life and body were swapped with another's. As it stood the only things that she could control were the preparations before Tsunayoshi's destiny squashed her.
First up: Hibari Kyoya.
The girl wasn't arrogant enough to believe she would be able to sway any kid's future if she tried. As an adult she understood that people were more complex and willful than she used to believe, and that in the grand scheme of things it was hard to sway one's course of action when they decided it. From what she remembered Hibari was the epitome of bullheaded alpha male with a violent streak full of animal kingdom philosophies.
That said however, she refused to be a doormat. Like hell will she let a crazy brat beat her up for fun. If anything she will teach this kid that if he pushed, she would push back. With interests and in other nonviolent ways that would smart for weeks.
And who knew, if he got stubborn he could prove to be a useful… outlet.
"Ah!" Tsunae dropped her toothbrush at the positively fiendish expression from the toddler in the mirror.
Hand over her racing heart, for a moment she had thought before her was one of the Arcobaleno.
˜ x ˜
It took a few hours before she felt ready enough to come down to the kitchen where Nana was happily sipping tea at the table, an open book and some photos spread around it.
"Good morning, Tsu-chan! Come here and help Mama choose the best pictures for the new album." Without waiting for her response she swept her up by the armpits and sat her on her lap. It turned out the book was in reality a photo album of cartoonish designs of animals and plants around the empty picture slots, new if the plastic wrapping on the trashcan was any indication.
Nana turned to the first page where she saw in place of honor a photo of herself and yesterday's brat rolling in the dirt and for all intents and purposes looking like they both were doing their damnedest to cat fight it out. And when she said cat fight it really was: the boy was pulling her hair while she was biting his arm.
Tsunae felt herself blush to the roots of her hair and down her neck.
The next pictures were other artistic snapshots of the fight, them looking dumbly at the camera in shock and finally a photo of both standing side by side mulishly looking away from each other scuffed up and dirt caked. Suddenly she heard what Nana was saying.
"You were so cute, Tsu-chan, I'm glad you finally connected with someone else." At this Tsunae had to look into the young mother's face. Nana was looking at her with a soft smile that constricted her heart. It made her mouth feel dry and her eyes moist. Words sprang free without her brain's consent.
"The pictures look good, like from a magazine." Where did that come from? The girl thought in confusion. True, they were amazing photos coming from a camera a few years before they could be digitally focused, especially capturing such a blurry scene...
"Oh, you think so? I admit it was the first time I ever used a camera for something like this." The woman seemed delighted at her child's compliment.
It suited her, the fluffy haired toddler decided. Did she ever do anything other than cook and clean? Maybe a hobby that could turn into a profession should be in order. Being a housewife for an absent husband was a waste of her talents.
It definitely was a waste for her to do nothing else for a child that was not even a child.
Maybe it was the sudden exhaustion of the past couple of days, the emotional roller coaster that threatened to crush her. It was kind of liberating though, with her plan of the past three years in ashes at her feet and with the uncertain but bloody future ahead of her it felt a lot like she had hit rock bottom. There was nothing else to do but to go up.
"I want to see more of your pictures." Said so with a small smile she knew Nana would do it, no parent could resist showing off to their eager children. With a squeal, the woman hugged the kid close to her bosom and peppered kisses on the top of her fluffy brown hair.
Maybe she could allow herself to get attached, thought Tsunae as she returned the hug with a hidden timid smile, it truly was unfair the distance she put between herself and Nana. And even if she never could bring herself to call her 'Mama', she could still call her 'Ka-chan'.
Time would catch up to her, but when the time came she would struggle and never yield to destiny. This was her life, unwanted though it was, she would make the most of it.