Two Rivers Meet

Disclaimer: I do not own any character used or mention from Naruto, which is owned and created by Masashi Kishimoto. All other characters as well as the story plot are created by me so they are mine and mine alone. I make no profit from this.

Author's Note: I write for the pleasure of it and do enjoy constructive criticism. I refuse to acknowledge whiney, inarticulate, and stupid comments. If you cannot write with some intelligence do not bother to review. If you want to make suggestions, give me constructive criticism not just you spelled something wrong or you missed some punctuation. Give me the when, what, where and why. If you don't explain yourself how can I learn from my mistakes? Please review would I greatly appreciate it. Thank you in advance.

Brief Description: This is a tale of a young woman's journey of finding balance between two different worlds.

Rating: M for Language, Violence, maybe Sexual Situations (will decide later with encouragment, we'll see).

Dedication: This story is dedicated to two people that have helped me with this tale and have inspired me greatly. To reverseharemhime whose delightful and fantastic story about Iruka inspired me to create my own Iruka based story. Please if you get a chance read reverseharemhime's story it is really enjoyable and maybe encourage this author to continue the story As The Sun Sets. To ChaCha1 for all her help in editing this tale and for her patience in listening to me whine and complain about it. She selflessly encouraged me to write it and to post it since I'm having major writer's block on my other story, which I will finish when I clear my head.

Chapter 1

The boisterous beauty of the day in no way matched the mood of a lone figure walking the busy streets of Konoha. Deep in thought, she reflected on a life lost hours earlier. Another shinobi lost on another mission. Another team member lost unnecessarily. The risks of being a shinobi are well known and missions can be highly dangerous, but it didn't make the loss easier to accept.

Walking briskly through the village Xiloxochitl, a Konoha shinobi, reflected back on the mission. It was supposed to be an easy one, just a simple exchange of information with another village. No one considered the remote possibility that a roaming band of missing nins would be there attempting to steal the information her team was carrying. With a mix of sheer luck and stubborn determination, her team was able to get away to complete the mission. Unfortunately, it was at the cost of a member. Shortly after returning to the village, the remaining team members reported directly to the Hokage.

The captain informed the Hokage of everything that had transpired during the mission; needless to say she was not happy to hear about it. After debriefing, their team was dismissed and subsequently went their separate ways. Each surviving team member felt the loss of their teammate to some degree, but each would be dealing with it in their own way.

As a team they worked together almost flawlessly, but it felt almost mechanical. They developed no sense of camaraderie or friendship. They did not ask each other personal questions about their lives, nor did they exchange personal anecdotes; they simply focused on the mission. The deceased shinobi did try on one occasion to make the trip more companionable, but the group consisted of two older, veteran shinobi. One was the captain who never spoke unless he was giving orders while the other one was a world-weary war veteran who wanted nothing to do with any of it. Xiloxochitl was the only one who listened to his tale, but the budding friendship was cut short by an order from the captain to shut up and rest for the mission. He never made another attempt after that.

Xiloxochitl remembered him to be kind and friendly. If they had the chance she would have been his friend, but that was not to come to pass. Whenever she told someone about her past, it had been her typical experience that they would either perceive her as a half-breed or as an outsider. As a result, she learned to keep to herself. However, she believed he would've been the exception. She sighed, thinking about how it would've been nice to know him better.

In the back of her mind she knew she should go and pay her respects to the man's family, but was very reluctant to do it. Did she have the right to intrude on them? Would they resent the surviving team members for being unable to save him? Would they appreciate a half-breed paying her respects? Would they be like her father's clan or her mother's tribe, treating her with scorn and thinking her weak because she showed sympathy? Not knowing the answer to any of those questions, she decided it was best to leave the family in peace. She would visit the village's memorial stone after his name was added to it.

As she continued making her way home, Xiloxochitl thought about her life here in Konoha. Since her return several years ago, she never seemed able fit in to her father's village. She was a foreigner to them and they, in turn, were still foreign to her.

Born in Konoha 22 years ago, her father died when she was three years old. Her mother, who was not from the village, took her daughter and returned to her own tribe. Xiloxochitl was then raised in the way of her mother's people, knowing very little of her father's village and barely remembering anything about him. What she did remember was that he had kind hands that made her feel safe whenever he touched her head or picked her up.

At nine her world changed again dramatically when she was forced to return to Konoha after her mother had died at the hands of a roaming band of mercenaries. Since their return to the tribe, her grandmother, the tribal leader, adamantly refused to accept her only grandchild. She saw her as most of the tribe had seen her, a half-breed. After her daughter's death, she immediately sent the girl back to her father's clan.

When she arrived at the village her father's clan made it clear from the beginning that she wasn't wanted. They never accepted her mother and did not see Xiloxochitl as a member of the clan. The Third Hokage had to intervene and they reluctantly took her in. However, they still refused to acknowledge her as their own. For Xiloxochitl's part, she was used to this kind of behavior as they treated her no differently than her mother's tribe. However, her mother was a strong woman who taught her how to rise above such pettiness.

Xiloxochitl's grandmother barely tolerated her grandchild's existence and that was only because her beloved daughter had finally returned to her. The grandmother loved her daughter dearly and was devastated when she chose to follow a shinobi from Konoha. The tribal leader never forgave the shinobi for stealing her daughter, and heir, from her. When her daughter returned, she was overjoyed and granted her the rare opportunity of regaining her birthright as the next leader of the tribe. All her daughter had to do was complete the Trial by Fire.

Xiloxochitl's mother completed the trial, hoping her daughter would have some acceptance, or at least some tolerance. She was well aware of everyone's opinion of her child. If reclaiming her birthright gave her daughter some acceptance, then she would do it. Unfortunately, her efforts were for nothing as their opinion and behavior remained unchanged. Then her mother died.

By all rights Xiloxochitl should have been named the new heir. However, her grandmother remained resentful toward the shinobi who stole her daughter away years before and in turn took her vengeance out on his child. She abandoned her granddaughter, banishing her from the tribe. One of the elder's spoke reason to the tribal leader, stating that out of respect to the memory of Xiloxochitl's mother, the girl should be escorted to her father's people. Crippled by grief, the leader agreed, only for the sake of her daughter's memory and her sacrifice, to allow one warrior to take the child away.

Thus Xiloxochitl came to a strange foreign land belonging to her father's past. The old warrior who escorted her to Konoha was kind to her on the way to her new home. He could not tell her anything for he knew nothing of her birthplace. Instead, he handed her a dagger, which he explained had been passed down in his family for generations from parent to child. It was supposed to be given to his granddaughter when she was of age, but the child had died in infancy. He told Xiloxochitl that he did not agree with the decision of the tribal leader. He went on further to say that her mother would have been an excellent leader if she had lived to take her birthright. In memory of his granddaughter, and to the heir to the tribe, he decided to give Xiloxochitl the dagger.

Xiloxochitl was honored by this act of kindness for she was allowed to take very little from her mother's possessions. Her grandmother said it belong to the tribe, not to the daughter of an outsider. She just had the clothes on her back and a few personal items she was given when she was a smaller. She was able to sneak away with her mother's necklace, which from then on she always wore. Otherwise, Xiloxochitl was left with nothing else.

Shaking her head at the memories coming back from where she had buried them, Xiloxochitl refocused on the present. Passing the Academy, she saw a group of students learning how to throw kunai. Taking a sudden interest in the activity, she entered the schoolyard and sat on an old swing to watch. The thuds of the weapons impacting the posts made a soft rhythmic beat as her thoughts drifted to the past again, to the day she finally arrived in this village.

It was early afternoon when Xiloxochitl and the old warrior had finally finished their long trek to her father's village. At first the gatekeepers denied them entrance until the old warrior took out a wrapped object and handed it to the guards. They were speaking in the language Xiloxochitl recognized as her father's language, which her mother had the foresight to teach her. Xiloxochitl watched as one of the guards unwrapped the object then stared at it in shock for a few seconds before immediately sending the other guard to inform the Hokage. Xiloxochitl assumed this to be the leader of the village that they were here to see. Then they were escorted through the village to the Hokage. It was strange for her to see a man as the leader as she was used to women ruling, but he did seem like a kind leader.

Xiloxochitl remembered the Third Hokage holding the object the old warrior had given the guard at the gate. He stared at it for some time before finally acknowledging the presence of old warrior and the young girl. Xiloxochitl did not understand why the object was so important, but she silently remained seated next to the old warrior until spoken to, just the way her mother had taught her. Instead, she took the opportunity to observe what was going on and gather information about her new surroundings.

Looking at her, the Hokage finally spoke. "Child, can you wait in the hallway while I speak with your companion? There are some things that need to be cleared up."

Looking directly at the leader of the Hidden Leaf Village, she spoke up. "With respect to you as leader, I will remain here, not outside like a child. I have been banished from my home and sent here to live with my father's people. I will know what is being done about me." She spoke with as firm a voice a nine year old can muster.

The old warrior stepped in at that point to explain. "With respect, sir, the child is correct in the fact that she has been banished from our tribe. Because of her father she is considered an outsider. She had to grow up rapidly in an unforgiving environment. This is why she speaks as an adult."

The Sandaime looked at the girl for a moment then spoke. "Yes, she does have very adult eyes for one so young. You may stay little one."

"Thank you." Xiloxochitl nodded once in gratitude.

Looking at the old warrior the Hokage continued. "Why do you come here? And why is this child to be left here? We have very little resources to take care of our people due to a demon attack a few years ago, from which we are still recovering. It may be in the child's best interest to take her elsewhere since we may not be able to care for her. Also, how is it that you have this hitai-ate?"

"Her name is Xiloxochitl and she is the daughter of a shinobi who a long time ago was on a mission in our land. He and the daughter of the tribal leader grew close. She was the heir to the tribe, but chose to renounce her birthright to follow the shinobi back to his home and be wed to him. A few years later the woman returned to our tribe after the death of her husband. She brought her child, but the leader of the tribe, along with most of the tribe, refused the child. The leader's daughter regained her birthright and was allowed to keep her daughter. However, it was decreed that the child would never know of her father, or his people.

All went well until the heir was recently killed defending our land. Now the child is not wanted by the tribe, or by the leader. However, we are not so cruel as to leave her alone in the wilderness. A village elder suggested we take the child to her father's people so she will have a chance to survive and grow. She is a good child and she was taught well by her mother. If it were not for unyielding, blind side of the tribe she would make a fine warrior as well as leader, but that is not to come to pass. That hitai-ate is proof that she is the daughter of a shinobi. I am a proud warrior, but I beg you to take her in or else she will not survive," the old warrior entreated earnestly.

The Hokage remained silent for a very longtime as he weighed this new information. He looked at the child in front of him and knew she had many tragedies in her life, but so did most of the children in this village because of the attack of the Kuubi a few short years ago from which they were still suffering the effects. The hitai-ate did belong to one of the village's shinobi and looking at the child he could see some of the features of the Maeda clan.

Leaning forward he ask the girl, "How do you feel about this child? Do you think you belong to this village?"

"I do not know where I belong. If this village rejects me, then I am lost. I have nowhere else to go. My mother told me many things about my father and what she remembered of his people in secret. She had even taught me his language. I will be a good warrior for your village if you allow me to stay," Xiloxochitl stated with feeling.

Sarutobi was again surprised by the child's adult nature. Although he has met a few children in his time that were just as adult in nature as this child, it still did not cease to startle him. Sighing, he nodded. "We will take the child. She cannot be abandoned completely. We will find your father's clan and you shall stay."

"Thank you for taking the child. Now I must return to the tribe. We will be burying the heir in a few days. All members must be present," the old warrior stated with relief and sadness mixed together.

Sarutobi was shocked at this news. "The child is not even allowed to attend her mother's funeral?"

The old warrior stood up from his seat and turn to look regretfully at the child who had also stood up from her seat. Leaning forward, he placed both hands on her shoulders and gazed into her eyes. Sadly he replied, "No, she is not considered part of the tribe. It is unfortunate, for now the tribe has lost two members when this child's mother died."

Kneeling down in front of her so that he was eye level to Xiloxochitl, he continued speaking directly to her. "You are strong little one, just like your mother. Be brave and work hard to be part of this new environment. I hope we will meet again in happier times." With that he kissed her on the forehead and then stood once again to leave.

Xiloxochitl numbly watched him walk to the door and at the moment he opened the door, her brave front crumbled. She didn't want him to go. She wanted to go back despite being banished. Before she could make a move to stop the old warrior, a hand came gently to rest on her shoulder, stopping her from any action. Glancing up over her shoulder, she saw the Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village standing directly behind her. He sensed that she would try to stop the warrior, or perhaps even try to follow him back. He firmly held her shoulder as they both watched the man leave. Xiloxochitl's shoulders finally slumped in defeat as the last part of her tribe slipped away.