Alone Anymore

A Naruto Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Note: Based on the Naruto LiveJournal role play community I was in. Events in this story do not take place during Naruto the series or the RP.

 

     “I’m sorry… I have to do this alone,” was all she said as Uchiha Hitoride back-flipped off the ledge into the abyss of the unlit alley below. Gaara heard Leaf hunter-nin bounding across the roof tops behind him and with a flick of his wrist pulled up a wall of sand, stopping them in their tracks.

     “Omae!” their squad leader barked. “What do you think you’re doing? She’s getting away!” He ordered his men to attack.

     “Yes… She is.” Gaara agreed and brought the sand down on them.

 

     There was no reprimand from Kazekage. Relations with the Hidden Leaf had fallen apart months before this event. The Leaf hunter-nin who sought Hitoride brought Gaara’s wrath upon them when they attacked him. As for the girl, she was not of the Hidden Sand; Kazekage had no responsibility for her. If she ran to the Hidden Sound, it was none of their concern.

     Gaara hardly ate for days. He was rarely seen. Finally his sister caught him and tried to talk to him. He pretended she wasn’t there and walked past her.

     “It’s not like she’s dead, Gaara,” Temari whispered as he passed. “You can get her back…”

     “She’s gone,” he said, not a hint of emotion in his voice. “Never mention her again.”

     And she never did. Not till several years later…

 

     “Kazekage-sama!” Hisato cried as he lunged in front of his leader. He was too late, but Kazekage was no slouch. She pulled her fan open and using a huge wave of chakra blew the lone Sound Anbu tumbling away. A log crashed into the far wall.

     “Shit, kawarimi no jutsu!” Temari’s eyes flicked back and forth across the room looking for the enemy. Hisato flinched as he spied a flash of black cloth, but it was just a cloak. In a heartbeat the white mask was in Temari’s face. Much to her surprise, there was no physical attack. The Anbu flicked her mask up and stared into the Kazekage’s eyes.

     “You…” Temari managed to croak before her legs gave out and she crumpled to the ground.

     Hisato threw kunai and charged the Anbu. His hands flew into seals. To his horror, the seals were instantly duplicated by his enemy.

 

     A large plume of dust and smoke drew more attention than she had intended. The Anbu dashed down the halls, looking for a way out. She heard Sand-nin everywhere. A left, then a right and suddenly she stopped dead in her tracks.

     “That’s as far as you’ll go,” Gaara muttered. The cork flew off his gourd.

     The Anbu took a step back but knew there was no way out. She stopped, stood up straight and stretched her arms out at her sides.

     Gaara smirked. “Good. Stay just like that.”

     “I’m sorry…” Hitoride whispered and watched the sand fly towards her.

 

     The next thing she was aware of, she was lying on a bed. She looked up at the ceiling, then over at the dressers, wall of books and the large window seat to the east. “Oh God… why didn’t you kill me?” she asked the figure in the window.

     “I ought to. You tried to kill my sister.”

     “Do it. Finish me.”

     “Why? Because Orochimaru will when you report back a failure?”

     “It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to do it. If you hand me over to the Sand, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to.” She sat up and rubbed her face in her hands.

     “What about Orochimaru?”

     “I wouldn’t know,” she mumbled.

     Gaara raised a brow. “But, you left to…”

     “I never made it,” she sighed. “I work for the Mist. This is a disguise.” She removed the jutsu concealing the true nature of her forehead protector.

     Gaara frowned deeper and crossed the room. “It’s been a long time, Hitoride.”

     She looked up and noted that the black circles around his eyes were still present if not far worse than they were years before. His face was in shadow. Through the window the sky was slowly brightening. “I still don’t have the courage… to do anything right.” Hitoride lifted her hand and touched his face. He drew in a quick breath, but let her fingers graze his skin. Slowly, Gaara lifted his hand and covered hers.

     “I’ve never been very good at doing what’s right, either,” he whispered and followed her pulling hands as she took him down.

 

    

     “You should go,” he said, pushing her gently away.

     She kissed the meeting of his neck and shoulder again. “I may never see you again.”

     “I know,” Gaara whispered. “But even this time was more than I ever thought we’d get. You never know.” Hitoride opened her mouth to protest, but Gaara covered it with his. “Go, now. Use my likeness as a disguise. No one will stop you.”

     “Gaara, I...”

     “Go, Hitoride. I cannot keep you safe. Not anymore.”

     Her face was pale and sad in the morning light. She nodded and before she transformed into Gaara’s shape she hesitated. “I love you.”

     “I love you too,” he replied and she walked out of the door, down the hall, down the stairs, outside, into the streets and out of town without trouble.

 

     On the eastern border, Hitore (back in her own form) sensed trouble. At first, being well rested and armed with the Tsukiyomi Sharingan she didn’t think she’d have a problem.

     “Kokuangyou no Jutsu!” a shinobi called out from behind the rocks that jutted up from the harsh terrain of the Eastern Desert. Suddenly the noonday sky was engulfed in pitch black.

     “Kuso… Genjutsu…” Hitoride cursed. She tried to dispel it, but it was far too high level a technique. Whoever was behind it was quite strong. In the blackness, her Tsukiyomi was as good as a torch under water. In moments, a half dozen ninja were upon her. The fight was brief and one-sided. They had her bound, gagged and blindfolded in ten minutes.

     “Good work, team.” A voice came close to her. She was lifted up and made to walk with them. “Orochimaru-sama will be pleased.”

 

.x.

     Several vassals and half the council kept vigil outside Kazekage’s hospital room. Rumors abounded about the terrific psychological damage the Tsukiyomi inflicted on its victims. There were remarks among some of the council about the young woman’s ability as their leader. Suddenly the hushed conversations buzzed.

     “Where’s Gaara?!” Temari shouted. She sat bolt upright in bed and tried to get up.

     “Please! Kazekage-sama, go easy on yourself!” someone shouted.

     “But I’ve got to tell him…” She calmed herself as she saw the multitude of people who were crowding around the door. “About my vision…” A hand touched her wrist. She looked up.

     “What did you see, Kazekage-sama?” the doctor asked eagerly.

     “Oh, Kabuto…” she sighed. “I saw… all of us together again. You, me, Gaara, Kankurou, Hitoride and Sasuke. Just like old times. It was… wonderful.”

     “A pleasant Tsukiyomi vision?” he asked.

     Temari nodded. “I’ve got to tell Gaara. Hitoride didn’t want to fulfill her mission. She just wanted to see us again.”

    

.x.

     A few weeks later, Hitoride remained alive. She couldn’t think why. Her hands were kept bound away from her face and her eyes were kept blindfolded. Otherwise she was in no discomfort. She had plenty of time to think, but thinking made her angry. Would she ever see Gaara again, or even the light of day? Was Sasuke floating around somewhere? Perhaps he was close by. Did he know she was there? Would he care?

     The door to her cell opened.

     A timid man’s voice echoed off the bare walls. “I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. Orochimaru-sama needed my attention. I’m afraid I can’t remove your blindfold. You understand, don’t you?”

     “Who are you?”

     “Your forgiveness. I am Shoutotsu Kie: your doctor.”

     “Doctor?” Her heart twisted a little remembering that she used to know a certain former Hidden Sound physician quite well. “Why do I need a doctor?”

     “Orochimaru-sama has plans for you…” He reached out and gently touched her stomach. Hitoride jerked away, but there was only so far she could move with her hands tied down

     “Masaka…” she whispered.

     He pulled his hand back slowly. “Yes. He’s going to see if he can acquire more ninja with your advanced bloodline. It happens all the time around here. Please endure it.”

     “No…”

     “I’m very sorry. This won’t be pleasant, but these are Orochimaru-sama’s orders.”

     As the doctor prepared Hitoride for insemination, tears soaked her blindfold. ‘Gaara… why couldn’t you have killed me…?’

 

.x.

 

     On a bright, mild afternoon inside the tight security of the Hidden Sound, all the birds in the area went silent. A heavy, tense aura hung in the air.

     “Katon Karyuu Endan!” A huge plume of smoke and flame billowed into the sky.
    
Sakon and Ukon rejoined slowly. Parts of his clothes were smoldering slightly. Sakon laughed. “Very, very nice, Sasuke-sama!” he cheered.

     The young man’s flame jutsu had elevated to jounin level, but since the Hidden Sound had been banned from all exams, he was still officially only a genin. Sasuke spat and turned his back. “We’re done for today.”

     Sasuke veered left when they entered the main hall.

     “Where are you going, Sasuke-sama?”

     “Infirmary.”

     “Tsk, out of Pepto again?” Sakon chided. “For someone who can breathe fire you sure do have a sensitive stomach!”

     Sasuke walked down the hall, ignoring the comment. He found a new bottle of bismuth tablets in the supply room and started back to the residential wing. As he turned the corner into the hallway, he spied someone passing between rooms at the end of the hall. He recognized Dr. Shoutotsu, the head physician but not his patient, a young woman with a swollen belly and her eyes blindfolded. Sasuke only saw her for a moment as he turned and they disappeared into another room, but the image burned itself into his brain.

     Kabuto used to refer to the garment the woman wore as the “Sharingan Straigtjacket”: a coat made up of belts and straps that hugged the arms to the body as well as covered the eyes of the patient. Once, many years ago when the curse seal was still new he had been forced to wear one for a few weeks. Sasuke’s stomach turned even more.

     Although the image was enough to make him sick, he couldn’t stop thinking about it as he ascended the stairs to his room. ‘She must have some form of ocular jutsu to be wearing that jacket…’ he thought. ‘And it looked like she was pregnant…’ Sasuke shuddered, a few disgusting things Orochimaru might have planned for the poor woman came to mind. His train of thought, as dirty as it was, wrapped back around to Dr. Shoutotsu and a strange physical he had been given a while back.

     ‘That weird ass doctor…’ he thought. ‘Don’t know what he needed a semen sample for…’ Sasuke stopped at the top of the stairs. The woman’s image flashed in his mind for the fiftieth time; her swollen belly, her dark, shoulder-length hair pressed down by the blindfold part of the… “Sharingan Straightjacket. Oh God…”

     Sakon just happened to be coming down the hall at the same time.

     “Hey, Sasuke-sama, did you get your Pink Stuff?” he chimed. “Ano... Sasuke-sama? You ok?”

     Sasuke’s eyes were as big as saucers. He cupped his hand to his mouth and ran down the hall past Sakon to the bathroom and lost his lunch.

     “Oh, poor Sasuke-sama… I TOLD you to lay off the kimchi. But did you listen? NooOOOooo…”

     Sasuke panted and looked up at Sakon who was standing in the bathroom door, rolling his eyes at him. “You wanna spar…?”

     “Eh? But we just did like a half hour…”

     “I need to blow of some steam.” Sasuke rinsed his mouth and commanded Sakon to follow him to the training grounds where he beat the double-headed nin to within an inch of his life.

 

.x.

     “Kazekage-sama?”

     Temari sat behind the curtain with her two closest advisors flanking her. She nodded and let the messenger approach.

     “Gaara-sama wishes audience with you.”

     “Gaara?” she asked and raised her hand to agree to the meeting. “I trust you’ve been well, Ototo,” she said from behind her veil; a formality and a misplaced one at that. She knew very well he’d been more out of sorts than ever in the wake of Hitoride’s visit.

     “No.” Gaara knelt on one knee before his elder sister and leader. “To be honest, I don’t know how much more I can take…”

     Temari gasped lightly, but tried to keep her composure. “What can we do to help you?”

     “I know it’s asking too much…” he began. He looked to the floor and his voice dropped to a near whisper. “But I need to employ a certain Jounin for an A-rank mission.”

     “Nothing is too much to ask, Gaara.”

     “Even if the Jounin is of the Hidden Leaf?”

     The advisors grumbled a bit, but Temari didn’t hesitate. “Nothing is too much for you to ask of me, Gaara. You are my brother. If it can be done, I will do it.”

     “I need to hire Hatake Kakashi. He’s the only man alive who knows how to perform the jutsu used to seal the Kyuubi into Uzumaki Naruto.”

     Temari was speechless. Her heart raced. “You… you mean it?”

     “I’m slipping more and more every day. Just talking to you right now is such an effort. Temari…” Gaara looked up, desperation painted on his face.

     “You got it.”

     “Kazekage-sama!” the man on the right barked. “I really don’t think…”

     Temari shot him a look over the top of her veil. “First of all, he is my brother and I love him and I would do anything for him, secondly,” she spat, rapid fire at the advisor, “if he loses control and the Shuukaku is freed from its bonds it will eat this village for breakfast. As Kazekage I cannot allow that to happen.”

     The advisor’s eyes were wide. “Sou ka…” he muttered.

     The one on the left nodded. “We should keep this mission as clandestine as possible. If something should go awry…”

     “I.E. this Hatake person gets himself eaten…” the right added.

     “…Konoha will have more ammunition for its rotten tomato cart.”

     Temari sighed. “I will do everything I can, Gaara. Rest assured.”

     He nodded once and left the chambers for the desert.

 

.x.

     The door to Hitoride’s cell opened and closed. She didn’t move. A few minutes passed and the doctor still didn’t say anything. She heaved a sigh. “Leave me alone. I told you, I won’t eat.”

     “Hitoride…” he said quietly. “If you don’t eat, you’ll die.”

     She couldn’t hear him very well so she turned and faced him.

     He pulled his chair up closer to her and whispered. “You must listen to me. I’m going to get you out of here.”

     “What…?”

     The doctor pretended to be writing on a chart. “If I say “Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself” You’ll know it’s safe to talk to me. If I don’t say that phrase, do NOT discuss anything about this plan with me, is that understood?”

     Hitoride nodded.

     “Good. I’m going to find people on the outside to help, then find a right time...”

     “How do I know you’re not setting me up?” she asked.

     “Why would I do that? Orochimaru wants you alive, yes?”

     She wriggled in her straightjacket. “…Yes.”

     “When I say “it’s over”, it’s over and you can’t talk to me about it again until I say “Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself”, got it?”

     “Got it.” Seizing the opportunity, Hitoride asked, “Doctor, is my brother still alive?”

     “Yes.”

     “Does he know that I’m here?”

     There was a pause before he answered. “Yes.” The doctor got up. “It’s over.” The door clicked shut.

     Hitoride balled her fists under the wrappings of the straightjacket. ‘Has Sasuke given up on me…?’ she wondered. “Too bad, Ototo, I’m not giving up on you.”

 

.x.

     Temari was losing the fight with her exhaustion during the Monday morning meeting. Her posture drooped and she nursed a rather intense-looking demitasse of espresso. As an elder rose shakily to his feet to speak, she motioned for her third cup. A messenger appeared in the doorway and cleared his throat.

     “Excuse me, Kazekage-sama, but you asked to be notified when Gaara-sama and Yakushi Kabuto arrived.”

     “Thank you!” she chimed and followed him out of the room. “Minna, carry on. I’ll return shortly.”

    

     As Temari was shown to the emergency room, her heart slammed against her ribcage. Behind the swinging doors Kabuto was adjusting a drip and giving orders to nurses. Her brother lay on a gurney behind him.

     “Gaara!” Temari shouted and jogged to his side. “Are you all right?!”

     “Temari…” he whispered. His face was flushed and his lips were dry. He rolled his head over to look at her. “Exhausted…” he managed to say. She took his left hand in his. Gaara squeezed her fingers lightly. A bit disturbed by the I.V. sticking out of her brother’s hand, Temari looked to Kabuto for an explanation.

     “Just a saline drip. Standard procedure for shock,” he informed her. “Since the Shuukaku is inside him, it will help him heal. He should be out of here by tomorrow morning.” Kabuto grinned and nodded towards Gaara.

     When Temari turned back she gasped in surprise. Gaara’s mouth hung open slightly. His face held an expression she couldn’t ever remember him having before: relaxation. He snored lightly. Tears came to his sister’s eyes. She hugged Kabuto with one arm and stroked her brother’s hair with the other. “It’s ok, Gaara… You’re gonna be ok now…”

 

.x.

     After what seemed like years, but what Hitoride was assured was 8 months since her arrival, the doctor uttered the code-phrase again.

     “Charlotte Sometimes dreams a wall around herself…”

     “Doctor, I’m due really soon…!”

     “I know. We’re going now.”

     To her amazement he unfastened the jacket and removed her blindfold. “So how did you manage to…?” she began but he held up his finger for silence.

     “Follow me. Act natural. Stay quiet.”

     She did as she was told and soon they were outside the compound. Hitoride squinted in the sunshine; something she hadn’t seen in over eight months.

      “I made sure the way was clear. Now it’s just getting to the border. Orochimaru is out of town on business.”

     “I wish I could have found my brother…”

     “Give up on that loser,” the doctor spat back at her.

     “I won’t. He’s all I have.”

     “What about the Sand nin waiting for you at the border?”

     “Sand nin?!” she asked, her heart pounding and tears coming to her eyes.

     “Aa. Now shut up and keep running.”

     “I won’t give up on Sasuke. You can tell him that for me.”

     “He knew you were here but did nothing.”

     “He probably couldn’t…”

     “He WOULDN’T!” the doctor barked back.

     “What do YOU KNOW!?” she stopped and shouted at him.

     The doctor’s anger showed in the lines on his face. “I know that he knows he’s the father of your child. How does that sound?”

     Her eyes went wide. The shock and horror painted on her face made him sag a bit, but he reached out, grabbed her arm and dragged her along towards the border. “Come on, you’re almost there. You have a future. He doesn’t. Live with it.”

     “No… Sasuke…” she whispered, but followed.

 

     A few hours of bounding through trees and sprinting across plains brought them within miles of the border. Hitoride was starting to get exhausted but the doctor kept dragging her along. “Not much further!” he shouted.

     “Doctor…” she whined, clutching her stomach, but there was little time to complain. A small squad of Sound nin had caught up to them. They stopped in the tree tops and waited for the attack.

     “Chikushou…” the doctor swore and put himself between the nin and Hitoride. “And we got so far…”

     Suddenly one of them was yanked by invisible hands and fell 60 feet to the ground below. At the same time another blocked a barrage of needles, but three of four hit home. The last one left standing charged the doctor. He stood firm in order to protect Hitoride, who in her current condition could do little more than run or watch.

     The Sound nin leapt through the air and just before he would have reached the doctor, something blurred in front of them and landed a flat-palmed punch to the nin’s midsection One could see the chakra explode from his hand and kill the Sound nin in one blow. Kabuto turned and faced them with a pleasant smile.

     “Sorry we’re late.”

     Kankurou descended on chakra strings gently onto the branch beside them. “Yo Hitoride. Hisashiburi da ne?”

     The doctor let out a sigh. Hitoride groaned.

     “What the…?” Kankurou gaped at the size of her belly. “Holy crap!”

     “This is no time to freak out, Kankurou. Pick her up. We don’t have much time if she’s gone into labor.” Kabuto warned. He turned to the doctor. “Thank you so much.”

     “Don’t mention it.” The doctor nodded.

     “You know, you don’t have to go back…”

     “Yes I do. I’m not finished yet. Take care of her.”

     Kabuto nodded and joined Kankurou who had already scooped Hitoride into his arms. They sprinted off for the Wind country border and to safety.

 

     The doctor sighed, stood still for a moment and then punched a good sized whole in the tree trunk. He dispelled the henge and greeted another group of Sound nin.

     “Sasuke-sama!” the leader cried.

     Sasuke feigned exhaustion and pointed due south. “They went that way. Hurry.” The nin sped away and Sasuke strolled back to the compound. “Good riddance,” he mumbled. “Oneechan…”

    

.x.

     “Gaara!!!” Kankurou bellowed as he rushed into the palace. “Where are you, Gaara!?”

     One of the servants stepped forward as Kankurou rushed by. “Gaara-sama is on a mission right now.”

     “He is?! SHIT FUCK SHIT!”

     “Kankurou-sama!”

     “Sorry bout that. Shit. I mean…! Ah, fuck it…” he hissed and ran back to the hospital.

 

     “You’ve got some timing, Hitoride,” Kabuto laughed as she counted to ten again and pushed. “And talk about stamina! Fourteen hours of labor and running the whole time!”

     “SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!” she screamed.

     Temari was busy in the corner turning blue. “Kabuto, if you ever do this to me I swear to God I will kill you.”

     He laughed even more.

     In between contractions, Hitoride worried herself into a tense ball of nerves. ‘Is it bad to wish for it to die before it’s born? It’s not its fault my brother is the father… I can’t wish that. Maybe if everything goes all right, and no one knows but me then everything will be fine…’ she thought. Another contraction distracted her again.

     “Ok, here we go~!” Kabuto called and soon enough, a sharp wail of a cry could be heard. “It’s a boy!”

     Hitoride’s tears ran down her face. ‘Oh God… why is this happening to me…?’ she thought as Kabuto finished clearing the baby’s mouth and nose. He brought him over to her.

     “And would you get a load of that hair!”

     Hitoride’s heart stood still. The baby was, as all babies are; red and wrinkly, but his hair was fine, wispy and bright red.

     “Masaka…” she whispered as they laid the baby in her arms.

     “This means that…” Temari stopped fanning herself with her Kazekage hat and put her finger to her lips.

     “Well well well…” Kabuto grinned and watched Hitorde’s confused expression turn into joy. “You were here in the Sand about nine months ago, weren’t you?”

     She nodded.

     “Then… the baby is… Gaara’s?!”

     The doors burst open and Kankurou and his younger brother gawked at the scene. “Look who… I bumped into!” Kankurou panted. Gaara took a few slow steps towards the bed. His face was contorted into a look of complete and utter befuddlement. Kabuto let the nurses clean up, but dragged Kankurou and Temari out of the room with him.

     “Let’s give them some time…”

     “But… Kabuto… This means, I’m an Auntie?”

     “Yes, I suppose it does.” He grinned. “You SURE you don’t want to be a Mommy?”

     “Hell NO!”

     He laughed.

 

     The new parents were silent for a long time. Finally Gaara sat down next to her, reached out and touched his son. Five tiny fingers wrapped around the tip of his index finger and Gaara smiled.

     “I’m sorry...” she began.

     He shook his head. “There’s nothing to be sorry for. Are you all right?”

     Hitoride nodded. “You?”

     “I’m freaking out a little, but not in a bad way… Until just now, I didn’t think I’d really ever see you again.” He pressed her free hand to his lips.

     “Gaara… Your eyes!” She touched his face and marveled at the lack of dark circles under his eyes.

     “Eh? OH!” He stood and pulled his shirt up. “I’ve been sealed,” he said and flexed, making the containment seal visible. She was speechless. “I can’t wait to sleep next to you…” He grinned. “I missed you so much. They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

     She shook her head. “Not really. It’s a long story…” Hitoride looked to the squirming bundle in her arms. “With a really, really happy ending. I just wish I could have taken Sasuke with me…”

     “Yeah. We tried to convince him, but he said he still had something to do.”

     Hitoride remembered the doctor’s parting words and tears came to her eyes. “Sasuke…”

     “Excuse me,” one of the nurses politely asked for the baby. Gaara touched his cheek before letting him be taken care of. “Do you have a name for him yet?” the nurse asked.

     “I think so…” Hitoride answered. She looked to Gaara. “Setsunosuke.”

     He shrugged and smiled. “Setsunosuke it is.”

 

     Outside the room, Temari and Kankurou spied on them through the crack in the door. “And they lived happily ever after…” Kankurou whispered.

     “If you two would just give them some peace!” Kabuto scolded and dragged the Kazekage and her brother down the hallway.

 

.x.

     Sabakuno Kankurou continued to try to contact Uchiha Sasuke for several years before finally giving up on him.

     Uchiha Hitoride waited patiently, knowing her brother would finish what he had to do and join them when he could.

     Sabakuno Gaara always felt that there was a piece to his wife’s happiness he seemed unable to attain.

     Yakushi Kabuto became the Surgeon General at 32, the youngest to ever hold the post.

     Sabakuno Temari managed to lead the Hidden Sand into a time of unheard of prosperity as well as manage three children of her own.

     Sabakuno Setsunosuke wouldn’t meet his estranged uncle until his 12th year… but that is a different story.

 

END


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