Title: Reading Totems

By: GrizzlyTeddyBear

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, and this makes me sad. I do own Paige Stone, my OC! All information regarding animal totems was collected from Dancing The Wheel by Sun Bear and Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.

Main Pairings: Eventual ShinoxOC, NaruxHina, SasuxSaku

Rating: M for mentioned adult themes

Warning: AU, Post-series start time. Rookie 9 is 23-24 years old. Fic mentions pagan religions, if you can't handle it, don't read! Also is OC-centric. Hold your pants, all will be revealed as the story progresses. And yes, Shino does appear, but not for a few chapters.

Summary: Paige Stone is your not so ordinary 24 year old woman who suddenly finds herself in a world with ninjas. Will she be able to use her own unique abilities to survive in her new surroundings? Can she trust these people, or her own heart?

Chapter Summary: Waking up in a strange forest, Paige Stone is forced to rely on her even stranger abilities to find safety.

Reading Totems

Chapter 1

'Running is not one of my strong points!' Paige thought to herself. She was running barefoot through a forest she didn't recognize attempting to get away from men chasing her that she was earnestly wishing she'd never have to recognize again. To distract herself from what could have been the men gaining ground, she decided to try and recognize something in the forest. 'Trees, trees, trees. Variation! Fallen tree! …This is probably gonna hurt like hell with those broken ribs.' Paige steeled her rapidly draining stamina to scramble up the trunk of the sideways tree and ungracefully slide down to the other side. Not pausing to catch her already gasping breath she pressed on, hoping the nagging feeling of safety she felt pull her in this direction when she sent up a prayer was actually an answer and not a stomach cramp from her impromptu exercise program.

Paige Stone was looking worse for wear. She was running in nothing but her meditation clothes which consisted of a torn old T-shirt and a pair of cotton shorts. She didn't even know where her glasses were. While she wasn't exactly blind without them; having glasses might have helped her end up a little less bloody and might have helped in leaving fewer bits of her already torn T-shirt behind on the plants that just wanted to reach up and say 'hi' as she was sprinting—now more like jogging—past. 'I could also use my inhaler,' she groused, as she thought about some of the events which brought about her newly dubbed Running to Save My Ass exercise routine.

Paige Stone was your not so average 24 year old woman going to graduate school in New Jersey. She was around 155 cm tall and weighed 57 kgs. She was almost proud of her figure, too. Almost proud because she had a figure, but she didn't have that model figure that all of those magazines try to convince the world they should starve themselves to achieve. She has short blonde hair that stuck out at odd angles, hazel eyes which were viewed through her glasses, and she usually wore clothing that was comfortable. 'To hell with fashion!' was one of her favorite phrases when she got odd looks for her clothes combinations. She was currently seeking a degree to become a therapist and even had a part-time job at the local psychiatric unit to gain some experience. Paige had a deep respect for the mentally ill, and would often tell people that schizophrenics were sometimes the only interesting people she could talk to…at least until they gave her migraines from screaming constantly at her for a whole eight hour shift.

The not so average part of Paige, besides her twisted sense of sarcasm, was who she turned into after class and after work. This was the side of Paige that she held in secret since letting it out once had already caused her to be disowned from her family. She was an empath. It started out small, those nagging feelings people get to call a friend, and when they do, they find out that friend was having a horribly bad day and really needed the talk. Later she noticed during her work to become a therapist, she would often notice she would get migraines after rather emotionally intense sessions with clients. Paige also noticed she would mention things to her clients about their feelings on past relationships or their family, that the client would swear they never mentioned in sessions before. However, the client would eventually admit they did have those feelings.

She was also a pagan, someone not of the mainstream religious world. She decided to adopt a Native American outlook towards the world. So what, you ask? Well, Paige could, for lack of a better word, 'read' animals. It started when she felt the need to honor nature and try to give back to the earth what she took. She decided to work with meditation with a Native American medicine wheel to deepen her understanding of nature. It had an interesting side effect. Through this she began learning about totem animal spirits—animal spirits which have a certain meanings and messages attributed to them.

The world around her exploded into a new view. People had totems, animal spirits which she could now see and communicate with. Nature was without and well as within people. Animal totems could share their knowledge of their charges with Paige. They could tell her about someone's past, present, and sometimes a tentative future. They could be the guardians or protectors of people. Paige was by no means a psychic, but she now had a new depth to her insight into how people worked through communication with totem spirits. She now had to be careful how she shared herself with the world and with whom she shared her insights with, or she might get into trouble.

The kind of trouble she was currently running from.

Paige awoke with a groan at night near a campfire in a forest she didn't recognize. 'This is definitely not one of my normal meditation spots,' she thought to herself. She also didn't recognize the group of three men currently huddled around her, or the one standing more off to the side, slightly away from the fire.

"She's awake, Boss!" the one closest to her yelled.

"Are you always this loud, or is it because you just haven't seen a woman up close in a really long time?" Paige responded to the man's shout. She was having a migraine, damn it! And the world needed to stop spinning when Paige Stone had a migraine! It also meant she should have been more careful of what she had said.

"You're a fresh one," stated Boss as he walked over to wear Paige was busy pulling herself into a sitting position. She then immediately cradled her head in her hands when the earth's axis suddenly tipped. "But, you're also in luck, because we find fresh ones especially…..entertaining."

Paige's nausea from her migraine doubled when she sensed the waves of lust radiating off of the advancing group of men. It looked like her flippant comment earlier wasn't really off the mark. These guys were definitely not good citizens out to help a damsel in distress. She found herself doing what lots of people do in these kinds of situations. Paige started to back away slowly and sent up prayers asking for help to higher powers. Prayers to Wakan Tanka,—the Great Spirit, the creator of all things. Paige also sent prayers to Father Sun, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, and any of the elemental spirit clans who happened to be listening. Prayers to Waboose—the Buffalo Spirit Keeper of the North. Prayers to Wabun—the Golden Eagle Spirit Keeper of the East. Prayers to Shawnodese—the Coyote Spirit Keeper of the South. Prayers to Mudjekeewis—the Grizzly Bear Spirit of the West.

Suddenly Paige got the loudest and strongest answer she ever experienced in her life. She suddenly couldn't help it; with unfocused eyes she gasped out loud, "Wolf and fox have come for you." She then felt a strange pull towards her left, between two trees standing close together and a feeling of safety down to the deepest part of her being when she looked in that direction.

"What are you gibbering about!?" came Boss's reaction to Paige's strange behavior. "Wolves and foxes have come for us!? Were you left out here as a trap?" Boss reached over and dragged Paige up by her T-shirt. "Answer bitch! Were you left out here on purpose as a trap!? Did someone find out what we did!? Is anyone after us!?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." Paige didn't know how she got where she was, let alone know anything about what happened with these men and what they did. Although Paige was rapidly forming the opinion that it was something bad and running through those trees she was eyeing before was good. They still felt safe to her.

"I think you do. You keep looking over there."

"Like someone is gonna come a rescue you any minute now." Great, now Loud Guy is joining in the conspiracy.

Paige opted to not answer. There didn't appear to be a good way for this to end. When someone has decided they know what you think better than you do, there's not much of a chance of convincing them you know your own mind best. She decided to wait and see what happened.

Unfortunately for Paige, what happened was interrogation. The group of men took turns asking her questions about what she knew and then either kicked or punched her when she didn't reply. This probably lasted for about a half hour, although it felt like an eternity. When she broke her silence to gasp and moan out in pain, she tried to speak, to convince them she didn't know anything but only ended up coughing up blood. They just laughed at her. But at least after they had their laugh, they decided to leave her alone in her pain-filled haze.

It was by some sort of luck—divine or dumb—that the group of men walked a distance from Paige as they decided what to do with her. It was when their collective attention was away from her, that she struggled to stand and made a run for those trees.

Wheezing and coughing was now what her lungs had been reduced to in order to try to gain more of the oxygen she needed, but couldn't get enough of. Paige stumbled into a partial clearing in the woods, unable to go any further. She hoped she had gone in the direction of the safe feeling, but she had no idea. Collapsing forward, on her hands and knees, she called out weakly, "Help….me." Paige continued to gasp for breathe while she thought about how no one would hear her feeble cries.

Suddenly a pair of strong hands rested lightly on her shoulders, causing her to look up sharply. She was met with the strange sight of the man crouched before her—strange dark blue clothing, a green vest with lots of pockets, silver hair standing up at an odd angle, mask covering the lower half of his face, one dark visible eye, and one eye covered with what looked like a headband. Pointing behind her, Paige tried to gain enough breath, "Four men….bad…beat me….chasing….safe?" The last part was a gasped question while Paige gazed into the eye of the man in front of her.

"Safe," was the man's one word reply while he looked Paige up and down.

She smiled unsteadily when she felt the emotions that came with the reply. Concern. Comfort. Anger. Resolve. Paige then gasped aloud when something else made itself known to her then—this was the one with the wolf totem.

She figured he must have mistaken her gasping for a reaction to pain. The man called to others in the area. "Sakura, take care of her. Sasuke, Naruto, with me, get your things."

A young woman about Paige's age appeared slightly behind and to the left of the man now and smiled disarmingly down at her. "My name is Sakura. I'm a medic. Can I look at your injuries?" Calm, concern, caring were Sakura's accompanying emotions.

'Pink hair and green eyes. There are worse things in life than having your injuries treated by a woman with pink hair and green eyes. The physical healing powers of Waboose works in mysterious ways,' Paige thought to herself and then nodded her assent. Sakura rested a strangely glowing hand on Paige, looked at the man holding her by the shoulders, and began to list her injuries.

The two who Paige assumed were named Sasuke and Naruto appeared behind and slightly to the right of the man who still had his hands resting on her shoulders. "Ready, Kakashi," stated the blonde. She now looked at the eyes that went with the new voice. They were a pale blue, and radiated the emotions barely contained within them. Rage. Resolve. Protect. Paige whimpered this time when the knowledge of Fox came after looking the young man in the eyes. She was safe. She found her wolf and fox. Paige closed her eyes sent up quick prayers of thanksgiving and a promise of making offerings when she had the resources.

She reopened her eyes when she felt a slight squeeze on her shoulders from the now named Kakashi. He let go of her shoulders, stood up, and turned around to face the two young men. "Let's go." Looking back and down at Paige, he gave what she assumed was a smile with the warmth that went with the slight shifting under the mask. "Rest. Sakura's the best at what she does." And with that, the three men vanished from Paige's limited field of vision in the direction she had come from.

Sakura took up what had been Kakashi's position at Paige's shoulders and helped her into a sitting position. "Tell me what happened."

Paige's breathing had calmed somewhat during the exchange, but was still rather labored. Just as she opened her mouth to reply to the question, Paige moaned rather loudly, clutched her head with her hands and fell to her side. "Migraine," was all she managed to growl through pain clenched teeth. And, then there was only darkness.

Authors Notes: Please read and review!