A friend e-mailed me, and told me to write a-certain-Sound-kunoichi/someone-who-isn't-a-boy oneshot. Um… yeah. Fail.

Disclaimer: NOT. MINE.

Dedication: To all my crazy Italian relatives. They've driven me to this.

She doesn't remember a time before she is three. It is too early, and her always-sharp memory is simply a blur.

She is three, red-crimson hair curling around her ears, and short. Her mother sings her to sleep at night while playing the piano, and her daddy smiles when he plays the violin.

She likes it when they play together. It sounds sweet, and she is safe from harm.

She is four, and still short. The other girls in the little village she lives in are her friends, and they laugh together at the playground. Together, they play tag with the boys, because when they're that young, it doesn't really matter what gender someone is. They are all dirty, hot and genderless in the summer sun.

She builds a castle in the sand with the help of a girl with purple hair and violet eyes, one who is much older then she and wearing a trench coat, even though it's so hot. She does not know the girl's name, but she smiles happily at her.

The girl smiles sadly back.

She is five, and her brother is born. He is pink and whiny and annoying and ugly, but since her mother seems to like him, she supposes she will like him, too. Her daddy tells her that his name is something-she-can't-really-remember-now, and he asks her to take care of him.

She promises she will.

She is six when they first give her a flute. She clutches at it, because it is something precious, or so she is told.

She lines her fingers up the way her mother tells her to, and blows carefully in the mouth-piece. A small note springs out, crisp and clear. Her mother cheers, her baby brother claps happily, and her daddy beams like nothing else.

She is proud, for the first time in her life.

It only takes her two weeks to learn how to imbue the notes with chakra. She learns this on her own, and does not see the terror in her mother's eyes when she shows it to her.

She is seven, and is covered in blood. Her fingers shake as she clutch-clutch-clutches at the flute-that-was-mother's. The people in front of her look horrified, and she doesn't understand why.

Has she done something wrong? Is that the reason mother won't move? Is that the reason the brother-whose-name-she-can't-remember-now stopped crying? Is that the reason daddy isn't smiling?!

She doesn't know, but when a woman offers her a sad smile and free arms, she runs into them, crying like never before. She is passed off to a man, but she doesn't even register it through her tears.

She doesn't know why mother told her to run-and-hide-because-Konoha-is-coming-to-take-my-angel-child-away. She holds on to the flute in her grasp, because mother said it was precious, and daddy said it was as important as brother.

She doesn't understand. She doesn't understand why the man holding her is rocking her softly, singing a sad tune that calms her down some. She doesn't understand that she is dangerous.

She won't understand 'til four years later, when Orochimaru-sama finally explains.

She is eight, and is facing her fist school-yard bully. She is in Otogakure now, and is training at the Academy there. She feels it is all she can do for the man-who-took-her-in-who-she-calls-'father'. 'Father'. Not 'daddy'. She refuses to call him 'daddy'.

But she stands her ground, and takes the verbal blows about her looks, her hair, her heritage, but mostly about her height.

She flares to life like fire, and she screams at this annoying little boy who thinks he is better then her. He is not better then her, and she refuses to bow down to him. She can play Mozart and Brahms and Chopin, and she is only eight. How dare he think that he is better?!

She beats him into the ground, and the next day, her teacher promotes her to Genin.

She is nine, and still short. She knows she can play the flute better then anyone in the village now, but it is annoying that there are some who still think that she is inferior. How dare they think she is inferior?! Orochimaru-sama picked her personally to be a part of a new, special squad.

She is to be part of this special squad with four other boys. She swells with pride, because privately, Orochimaru-sama tells her he wasn't expecting to pick a girl, but that she was the strongest one there.

They wait for a day. And then another. On that second day, she meets the boys that are to be her team-mates. They annoy her to the nth degree.

They wait a third day, and she is finally called to see Orochimaru-sama again. He waves her closer, and his gaze catches hers. She feels sleepy. He tells her that he is sorry for what she is about to feel.

A pinprick of pain at her neck wakes her up. Hot-fire feeling rushes through her, originating from there. It hurts. Then, it doesn't just hurt. It burns, and she is screaming with the pain, trying to get away from the fire that is consuming her body.

It burns for three days, and she finally passes out. When she wakes up, she is in the dark and the cool, and she feels better then she ever has before - stronger. She feels like she can take the whole world on.

And so she does.

She is ten, and bitter. She is the strongest female in Otogakure now; she knows it, Orochimaru-sama knows it, everyone knows it. And in many ways, they bow to it.

But the boys on her team do not bow to it. They make fun of her hair, her looks, but mostly her height. So what if she is short?! It does not matter, in the long run! She can still blow them all away with a few short blasts on her mother's-magic-flute.

Boys are stupid, she thinks, and vows to never let them near her the way. She means the way she has seen the older girls with the older boys. It sickens her, the way they bat their eyelids and smile so widely, so fakely.

She will never break her vow.

She hopes.

She is eleven, and is screaming again. She screams often.

Jirobou is being annoying again (he has eaten her chocolate. How dare he?!), and she has stopped caring what anyone thinks. She and the boys always fight, even though it's rare to see Kimimaro. She is annoyed by the fact that he thinks he's too good to spend time goofing off with her and the boys.

She goes off in a huff, and plays Mozart to calm herself down. The soft-quick notes are not imbued with chakra, but the more she plays, the more she can feel it slipping in. It is habit.

So she plays and plays; the notes rage like wild fire, consuming everything in their path. She will rule, she thinks, and she will be the strongest there is. She will not be weak. She refuses to be weak.

She reaches second-stage curse seal that night for the first time, and it takes her a week to recover.

She is twelve, and bored. Orochimaru-sama has nothing for her special squad to do, and so she sits at a window, and plays Chopin until late at night. Jiromaru and the boys are annoyed at her for it, because they like sleep. She doesn't really care.

She has heard whispers that something big will be going on, because Orochimaru-sama is antsy. He only gets antsy when something bad might happen. But she doesn't worry, because Orochimaru-sama is strong.

She can only wish she were so strong.

She is thirteen, and she smiles at the girl in the mirror. She is pretty, with long red hair and dark, smoky, slanted eyes.

She touches the mirror's surface, and wonders what the girl thinks of her.

Then a messenger comes, and tells her that Orochimaru-sama wishes to see her. She freezes for a moment, before going with the messenger to see her god. He tells her that soon, soon she will be needed. So she needs to train, to be strong.

For the next two months, she trains non-stop. She nearly keels over from the exhaustion.

She doesn't know that every time she passes out at the training field, one of the boys picks her up, and takes her home, and tucks her in. She knows she falls asleep at the training ground, and wakes up at home, so it must be one of them.

Even so, she never thanks them for it. They are her team-mates. Not her brothers.

She is fourteen, and she meets the new trainee for the first time. The girl's name is Kin, and she immediately doesn't like her. Kin is fragile, and she doesn't like it at all.

No one under Orochimaru-sama should be so damn weak.

So she trains the girls personally until late at night for a long time. Every night, for weeks and weeks, she trains the stupid kid.

Finally, Kin is strong. She is proud. Kin hugs her, and, for a minute, she wonders what it would be like to kiss a girl. She shakes the thought away, and growls at the younger one to get off, or die.

She does not know that the girl is fated to die within the next year. Nor does she realize that she will actually miss her. She sends her off with a satisfied smile.

She is fifteen, and finally of use. She finally understands why Orochimaru-sama (she spits the name now, disgust thick on her tongue) wanted her in the first place. She is a girl.

She is beautiful.

She is, apparently, to escort someone named Uchiha Sasuke to him. She was to seduce the boy. The boy is a boy. He is twelve, and she is disgusted.

However, she is fairly amused when Sakon glares at the kid, and lowly tells him to stay away from her, dude. She's off limits to you.

She smiles a secret smile, and pretends that she has not broken her vow. Sakon is still her brother, but that night, his lips are hesitant but graceful (because he is Sakon, and Sakon is always graceful) and hot-like-fire on hers, and she thinks she loves him.

She is sixteen, and she is barely alive. Orochimaru-sam- no, he is not -sama, not anymore, because he used her, and she hates being used. She is the only girl of her squad left alive. Wait, she was the only girl in the first place… That shadow-boy and that wind-girl, they didn't kill her. They just left her to die.

It's really the same thing, but she thanks them softly for not checking. She knows they could have, but they chose not to. She doesn't know how long she lays there, bleeding. Sakon finds her, Sakon without Ukon and less graceful then usual, but he is there. That is all she needs.

Her fingers hurt. She does not want to know that every single one of them is broken. She cannot play anymore. Suddenly, she is useless, because if she can't play, what can she do?

She still has the flute-that-was-mother's, though, and she swears that she will play again.

She is seventeen, and tired. They have been traveling together as a twosome now for almost a year. She is half-thankful, but he's not really Sakon anymore. Ukon is dead, and so half of his soul is missing.

She decides that she'll have to make up for the lost bits of soul, and so she puts her scarred lips to her flute-that-was-mother's, and she plays. She is amazed that she still can. Her fingers were all broken, but they healed, and she can play again.

Sakon raises his head from across the fire, and she can see part of his old self there.

And Tayuya knows, for the first time, where she truly belongs.