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Heart on a Pedestal


They say that home is where the heart is, and if Mikoto had her way, she would have made a small burrow somewhere in Kushina's heart and died with her. This is the tale of a woman only mildly broken.

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Mikoto and her home...

Home: A conflicting word for Uchiha Mikoto.

They say that home is where the heart is, but Mikoto never did quite understand it. She figured that it was nonsensical to take out your heart and prop it on a pedestal somewhere in a wooden house. It was a very silly notion.

When she was four years old, her mother, strict and poised, told her that her father wanted to speak to her in 'his chambers'. Never mind that it was a single-storey three-bedroom house and that the 'chambers' was where the woman herself slept as well.

Her father had never actually spoken to her before then, so she was quite excited. All she could remember of her father was a hazy image of power and prestige and a rather stiff back. In later years, she supposed he had had a back problem, but at the time, it just added to his mystique presence (or lack thereof).

She wore her best clothes and pinned her short hair with a sapphire encrusted clip and daintily walked the four foot distance from her room to 'his chambers'.

She had a healthy amount of respect and adoration, tempered with fear and awe, for her father – until he decided to open his mouth and tell her that she was engaged.

Never had she felt the oppression of her household more than when he recited the monotonous and rather well-rehearsed speech. To be wed to a complete stranger was not a newly instated tradition in the Uchiha clan, and as such, no one expected any opposition.

There probably wouldn't have been a single hitch in their plan had they waited at least three more years before telling her she was bound to a random man. Too bad they were a little hasty. Too bad Mikoto was still at the age where she believed in fairy tale happy endings and prince charmings and a golden sunset and true love.

She screamed and yelled and told them quite seriously that 'I'm saving myself fo' my twue wuv!'

The clan was in an uproar. It was unprecedented that a four year old would rebel, that a four year old would reject tradition, that such an idiotic reason was the catalyst for their failure.

They tried to persuade her to see reason, they tried to bribe her with ponies and dollies (she stated quite frankly that 'You'le gonna hafta do bette' than that!' and besides, she wanted a mermaid, not a silly pony!), they threatened her and mocked her and ostracised her, they even tried to guilt-trip her ('Mommy really wants you to do this for her sweety.' It would have worked had her mom ever called her sweety before, or if she was a little less observant.)

Eventually, they came up with a compromise. She would have her 'gi'l wights and fweedom!' by getting enrolled in the ninja academy, and in exchange, she would never wear pink again. (The clan head and elders were severely traumatized as it was...)

She went into the ninja academy and through her powers of 'obse'vation and pewsevewence!' got promoted twice.

It probably helped her case that the Uchiha wanted her to get out of the academy as fast as possible, so that she would be unprepared, so that she would quit faster so that they could finally get the marriage over and done with.

But we digress.

Mikoto was by all means a very straightforward girl. It was a real pity that she never did quite interact with people close to her intellectual level - shyness was a given.

She didn't make any friends in her first two years. Of course, she had the customary Uchiha fanclub and posse, but she didn't have friends.

Until that red-head showed up.

When that girl yelled to the class that she would become the first female Hokage, Mikoto was filled with so much maternal pride (she swears it is not a fanciful crush) and admiration, that she knew that Uzumaki Kushina would definitely be her friend.

Gone were the days that Prince charming and white horses mattered. Now all that was left was a one woman female revolution. NO WAY WAS SHE GETTING MARRIED AND BEING A LAME HOUSEWIFE!

So anyone who shared that belief was an idol in her book, but unfortunately for her, the feelings were not mutual. Kushina did not like her.

She found Mikoto too girly. Now, Mikoto had pride. Maybe not Uchiha pride, but she still had it. She did cry, but since it was the first time in her memory that she cried for a reasonable thing, she didn't even notice the tears cascading down her face.

When she touched her face and did notice (she was helped by the fact that everyone was staring at her and Kushina was staring at her wide-eyed), instead of excusing herself and running away, she simply wiped the tears off of her face and smiled gently as she had been taught to do, and sat down on her seat. There was no point, she reasoned, to leave class in the middle of the day. Those stuck up Uchiha elders wouldn't let her live it down.

Mikoto would love to be anywhere but home.

For some hurriedly explained reason that didn't make any sense to her, Kushina was now opening up to her.

Humiliation notwithstanding, Mikoto just didn't have it in her to ignore the taunts and jeers she received from others for such an open display of emotions. She refused to be friends.

But unlike herself, Kushina didn't give up. She persisted for a whole year and beat up all of the bullies for her and talked to her nonstop and she was just so damn happy and open that it was all she could do to not fall on the floor and cry her eyes out in front of Kushina; no one had ever been this nice to her in her entire life.

Granted, she was only nine years old, but to Mikoto, that was long enough.

Soon, they were inseparable. There was no Mikoto without Kushina, and there was no Kushina without Mikoto.

Even though they got put onto two different Genin teams, and even if they took the Chunin exams six months apart, they were still best friends. They always found time for each other, and for Mikoto, this was home.

The messy, sweat-smelling one-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette and toilet side by side. Gross, disgusting, borderline unhygienic, but still home. Exactly the place she was perfectly okay with ripping her heart out of her chest and placing it on a pedestal somewhere near the bonsai plants (Kushina's most prized possessions).

She advanced to Jounin faster than the Uchiha elders could blink and she excelled and exceeded her idiotic, rheumatic father's expectations.

She was exceptional, hard headed and loving in the kind of way that made you wish you were better off being her enemy (or so Kushina says). She was beautiful on the battlefield and worked her Sharingan to death but never had she felt prouder of herself than the day she saved Kushina's life by stepping in the way of a poison-laced kunai aimed at her best friend.

At age sixteen, her clan decided that enough was freaking enough.

They forcefully took her out of the ninja program on the basis of how emotional she was on the battlefield (evidence was that she always saved a foreign shinobi instead of her own comrades - never mind that Kushina was her comrade - and being mentally unstable).

The case was fought tooth and nail, but without the Hokage's support (or her non-Uchiha comrades) she was overruled. (They couldn't very well interfere with clan problems, now could they?)

Seeing how angry Kushina was on her behalf, Mikoto realized it was time for her to grow up and shoulder her responsibilities as clan heiress.

On her wedding day, Mikoto thanked Kushina with all her heart and cried, the same way she did at the academy, but this time, instead of herself mechanically wiping her face, Kushina softly did it for her.

She got married and moved in with the damn Uchiha prick and tried to make that dreadful place livable. She cleaned the damned dishes and laundered the freaking clothes and ironed the idiotic socks and basically acted like a slave.

The prick had no qualms about making her do all the work and simply sat at the futon and watched her work her ass off as he sipped the green tea that she'd made.

And the worst bit was, he didn't like tomatoes!

She loved tomatoes and especially tomato stuffed sushi. That damned Uchiha prick only liked rice and wasabi. What was wrong with him?

Then she fell pregnant after they had another go at the whole sexual intercourse thing.

Really, you couldn't call it sex because sex is supposed to be fun. Suffice to say, it wasn't.

Five months into it, she received word that the vanguard forces were suffering heavily and they were going to be annihilated and there were no teams to spare.

Kushina was on the vanguard force squad.

For the first time since their union, Mikoto asked Fugaku (the Uchiha prick) to let her be the reinforcement.

Instead of acting like a completely normal husband who would disallow her, considering the danger of the battlefield and the risk on their unborn child, he smiled slightly (it really did strike her that it lit up his features beautifully. She vowed she would get him to smile like that again someday) and told her 'I was wondering when you were going to ask. I expected it a lot sooner to be honest.'

He sent with her a six-man team (comprised mainly of Uchiha elites) and silenced all protests calmly and sent her off.

That is where she got her name as one of the most fearsome mothers in all of Konoha.

She was fighting off a high level Jounin with just a kunai, when other one came up from behind and was about to stab her in the stomach. Before anyone could react she grabbed the first shinobi's hand and swung him into the other one and stabbed their hearts with rusty kunai in quick succession. 'No one touches my baby!'

Some people feared that she had been possessed. Kushina beamed and hugged her and told her 'you are freaking amazing Miko-chan!'

When she came back to the clan heads' house, she made sure to thank him. She even took the initiative and kissed him.

He was wide-eyed and speechless and she decided that was a nice change from unchanging and stoic.

And so they became a family.

Itachi was born. He had Fugaku's everything (except for that disgusting love for wasabi...) and Mikoto's laugh and un-Uchiha-ness (plus he loved sushi!).

Mikoto loved him to death. Fugaku loved him to death. Those stuffy Uchiha elders loved him to death and Kushina was godmother.

Itachi was a quiet and sweet baby. He never caused too much of a fuss, never cried overly much, was always curious and eager to learn, listened when he was told something, obeyed rules and loved his family a lot.

Mikoto could honestly say that this four-bedroom house with a separate sitting room and kitchen-cum-dining room and two bathrooms was home.

Because it smelled like baby powder and strawberries and tomatoes (Fugaku once had the audacity to argue that tomatoes didn't have a smell. Mikoto gave him a look and he was forever silenced on that topic) and thrummed with happy memories, and a song that only she could hear followed her all day long and hummed as she went to bed.

Fugaku wasn't so much of a prick and she had come to love him as much as she could (which was quite a lot mind you) and she had now taken to ordering him about the house and telling him to iron his own damn socks. There was a sharing of laundry duties and on every special occasion, Fugaku was to cook.

Itachi learned his jutsus from his dad and weapon-handling from his mom (Yes, Mikoto could very well teach him weapons better than half those lame brained Uchiha!)

He excelled at both and more.

He learned Taijutsu from Kushina-nee-chan ('If he calls me oba-chan, I'll castrate him before he even knows how to use that damn thing!') and genjutsu from Shisui-chan (turned out Shisui was quite a prodigy).

He exceeded all of their expectations.

Mikoto was so proud of him that, on her twenty-third birthday, she decided that she would give Itachi a little present. The kid was already a Chunin and well on his way to Jounin. She told him he was going to have a baby brother.

Itachi smiled.

Its rarity made it more precious than anything in the world.

Sasuke came along and she couldn't stop smiling herself. Fugaku had never been happier and Kushina was going to have a baby in two months' time.

Mikoto was all set to go back to the ninja program after all was said and done, but the Kyubi attack destroyed her.

Kushina was gone.

Kushina was gone.

Kushina was gone.

She lost the will of fire, she lost the will to live and she lost her fiery spirit.

She truly became what the elders wanted her to become. The perfect wife.

Sasuke never knew how much she had changed. Itachi smiled less. Fugaku became harsher and colder. The Uchiha clan became more Uchiha-centric.

And everything went downhill from there. To the point where they started planning a coup d'état and she went along with it.

Her heart was no longer home. Half of it was with Kushina - on a pedestal in her afterlife.

Itachi murdered them all.

In that rare moment of panic when Fugaku snapped from the stress, she went back to the time when Kushina had been pissed off at the Uchiha clan for caging her in. She felt the same emotions again, but differently.

She thanked Fugaku for all he had done for her. He nearly cried.

And when Itachi was about to kill them, she and her husband told him that no matter what he did, they would always love him.

It was what she had wanted her father and mother to say to her when she was a child.

And Itachi cried.

She died.

She was home, ready to rip her heart out and place it on a pedestal once more.

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