Rei stood up. His chakra might be only ten percent full and he might be kinda tired because of that but he could still move. He had to get to his target first!
Rei exited his shack and found himself on a muddy road, soft drizzle falling onto the streets, preventing them from drying up. He saw more worn-out wooden shacks all around, clearly, the area was for the poor. Rei quickly walked along the street, noting an old man with a dog, a young housewife leaning out of one of the windows as she tried to reach her laundry hanging on a branch, kids playing in the mud with a ball. It was poor but quite a nice view of such a war-torn, depressed, rainy country as Ame.
Rei suddenly turned to the left and walked into a side-alley.
The nice view... was completely destroyed. The entire side-alley was strewn with starved shivering forms of homeless people. They eyed Rei with their hopelessness-filled eyes, looking for any valuables on his person. It was only when they saw his torn clothes they disregarded him with a woeful sigh. They realized it was just another homeless orphan. Not worth even talking to, much less steal from.
Rei disregarded these people as well. He could not and would not help them. He came to the middle of the alley when he saw a shivering form of a small six years old girl, lying in the mud clutching her hands closer to her chest, trying to find warmth as the rain fell on her. Her cheeks were sunken and she was thin as a twig but her cautious amber eyes followed him warily as he stepped closer to her.
Rei crouched down in front of her and smiled.
"Hello. I am Rei."
He introduced himself and the girl was observing him for a minute, shivering, curling into herself before she decided to answer.
The girl whispered in a quiet, unsure voice as she was unsure of Rei"s intentions for approaching someone like her. Someone who had nothing to offer. It was quite a sad spectacle. Six years old but already wary and suspicious of others.
"Would you like to come with me?" Rei asked her as he reached his hand towards her in the invitation.
The people around looked at the pair of children and shook their heads. In this god-forsaken land, children had to band together. Shruggingly, they ignored them as this was quite a common occurrence. Just... more violent usually. If it was an older girl, she would be beaten to submission to serve older homeless teenagers. After all, no matter how low they were, even they had their hierarchy.
But the girl was but a child, and her body could not be sold for food or money. No elder kid was interested in making her serve them. At least a.d.u.l.t women could sell themselves willingly to earn money for themselves rather than some opportunistic kid. Boys didn"t have it any better though. The strongest were leaders and the weaker ones were underlings. But nobody was interested in dead-weights like the starved shivering girl. Except, other deadweights. That"s why the sight of Rei inviting Konan was really nothing out of the ordinary. The others just wrote them off as the next unfortunate corpses they would see a few days later.
Konan was torn. On one hand, her current spot was quite nice. It provided at least some cover from the rain, no matter how muddy it was. She was also close to dumpsters where the other people threw their trash. It provided some food for her. She would loathe to leave it, only to find it already taken later.
In the end, it was the boy"s warm eyes that made Konan timidly take his hand. She didn"t know what her future with him held but she knew at worst she would finally die. In her mind, it was worth the gamble.
As Konan took Rei"s hand, he pulled her up and started slowly, gently dragging her back to his shack. He was no saint to provide the girl shelter for nothing. Konan was... investment.
Even Konan, after her time on the streets, knew nothing in this world is free and if the boy really gave her something, he would want something in return.
Rei took her because he knew exactly what the girl would offer him in return for his kindness.
Konan was worth the trouble. She might have been just an underappreciated side-character that died off to further the plot and didn"t really have much screen-time but...
She gave Yahiko and Nagato everything she was. No matter their dreams. No matter their methods. She followed.
And when a girl like her is willing to become an S-ranked murderer, a worst-sort of a killer to support a friend in his dream...
Yes, Konan would give herself to Rei. He would make sure of that.
He won"t exploit her gratitude. Instead, he will make sure she gets stronger and lived a happy life. But life by his side, nevertheless.
He wanted to secure the loyalty of the only paper-user in the entirety of Elemental Nations. A paper-user who he knew would die for him and adore him if he cared for her. If he showed her she was important. If he made her feel appreciated.
Rei finally pulled Konan into his shack and was amused at the wide-eyed girl.
She didn"t think the boy would have a house! She meekly looked at the floor, shuffling her legs nervously.
"What"s wrong?" Rei asked her.
"I... I am dirty."
Rei looked over her muddy form and nodded. With some difficulty, he brought a bucket of rainwater to the girl.
"Strip and wash." He took out his father"s old cloak and put it near the girl.
The shack only had one room so Konan was plainly visible as she washed with an old sponge and the water from the bucket. Rei could clearly see bruises on her body and could only shake his head with a wince.
Really, what madness gripped me to wish for living in this world... He wistfully thought.
But... he could only soldier on, harden his heart and survive. If it meant making others suffer... so be it.
He also stripped, startling Konan momentarily. Rei"s mature mind knew he was acting childish. He should blush, be bashful and yet… he was a child now. Their n.a.k.e.dness didn"t bother him at all.
When Konan saw him take another sponge out, she bashfully made a place for him near the bucket. Rei, instead of washing himself, started to wash Konan. The girl looked at him in confusion but then just shrugged it off and started washing him with her sponge, a small smile marring her face. Even she didn"t know when she last smiled.
As the kids were done washing each other. Rei handed Konan a slice of hard bread and watched as she gulped when her hands clasped it. She looked at Rei, her eyes expectantly asking for permission. Konan started nibbling on the slice only after Rei nodded at her and Rei smiled as he started eating his slice. He could not afford to waste food but Konan looked as if one slice of bread per day was a heavenly meal. Maybe... his provisions would last her half a year if she ate frugally like this. But he was a man from the modern era! He needed his three meals a day!
"Why?" Konan asked Rei timidly as they finished eating, tears of happiness starting to fall from her eyes.
Seeing Rei tilt his head, she asked more in detail as her eyes repeatedly darted from Rei to the ground.
"Why take me in?" Konan looked to the floor and tried to wipe her tears.
"I want you to become mine!" Rei exclaimed. In hindsight, maybe not the best-worded answer.
Konan lived on the streets. She knew... saw what it meant for a girl to belong to a boy. She was always frightened by the screams. But no matter how she tried to close her eyes or cover her ears when night came, many older girls did... things with boys. For money. For food. Or... other reasons.
"Uuuuu." She clutched her head in embarrassment and Rei could only wonder if the steam would start coming from her head.
Konan decided. No one was so kind to her. Her childish mind decided she will give herself to the boy, not even understanding what it meant. She may be mature and saw many things on the streets but she was still a child. In her mind, if she received a slice of bread and a roof over her head, she wouldn"t mind... doing that painful-looking thing with Rei!
Rei slowly realized the girl was somehow misunderstanding him. So, when he had his fun due to her embarrassment and actually saw the resolve flick through her eyes, he elaborated.
"Of course as a friend!"
Konan blinked at Rei, her mind stopping short. She slowly nodded, her eyes trying to avoid Rei.
But even if this meant she wouldn"t need to do... that with Rei... yet, Konan gained her resolve. It was plainly obvious to Rei. In her eyes, he started to become someone important. He doubted she even realized it yet, but for Rei, that was a start. A start of getting his first loyal S-ranked ninja.
And have no doubts, Konan was more than capable of becoming much stronger than just an S-ranked ninja. Rei decided he would make sure of that...
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