Taisetsuna : Precious
A Naruto Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
Written March 24th – April 4th 2003 Revised December 27th 2004
Note: The events of this fanfiction diverge from the Kishimoto plot essentially after the Zabuza arch and just before the Chuunin Exam arch.
The Ichiraku ramen shop was packed as usual on a Friday night. Three young ninja only just found room at the bar.
“Three gyuudon, please.”
“Coming right up.”
A nervous silence fell over them. The white-haired boy on the right tapped his un-cracked chopsticks against a soy sauce bottle.
The girl of the group’s hand smacked his so fast no one saw it. “Stop that!” she hissed.
Oururi put her hands behind her head and smoothed her deep blue hair idly. She stared into space for a moment. Her soft grey eyes unfocussed.
Three steaming bowls of beef and noodles were placed before them.
Iruka laughed. “It’s hard to believe you guys are nervous. It’s me who should be pissing my pants. I’m the one taking the exam tomorrow, remember?” He smiled at his friends. “But you know what? I’m not nervous.”
“Iruka,” Oururi sighed heavily. “Would you stopped being so frickin’ melodramatic? How can you set yourself up for failure like that?”
“I’m trying to be realistic!”
“Pessimistic is more like it,” 15 year old Hatake Kakashi grumbled as he put his chopsticks down next to his empty bowl. “That was good,” he muttered through his facemask.
“Damn! I will never get tired of how amazingly fast you eat!” Oururi clapped her hands together and marveled.
“That’s just ‘cause you’re the only one who’s seen his face for more than a second.” Iruka pouted.
“Awwww…” Oururi pinched his cheeks. “Ikura is sad!” She giggled, calling him ‘salmon eggs’ instead of ‘dolphin.’
“I RU KA!” he shouted, correcting her.
“Oururi…” Kakashi gave an exasperated sigh. ‘They’ll never change, but after tomorrow everything will change,’ he thought as he watched his friend and his girlfriend pull at each other’s cheeks. ‘Oururi and I are already Jounin but Iruka…’ he stared at his friend. ‘He will never make it.’
“Seriously, you guys,” Iruka rubbed his cheek. “Thanks for your support. You don’t know how much this means to me.”
“You’re never going to make it with that attitude,” Oururi said before slurping up a slice of beef. “Ya big softy!” Oururi grinned and gave him a huge hug.
A year before, Kakashi had never imagined he would smile ever again. It was a few weeks after the nine tails attack. So many nin had died senselessly. War was one thing. War had a cause. This demon killed everything in its path regardless of age or ability. Konoha was very quiet. The remainder of October had been set aside as a period of mourning. The few people he passed as he headed for the bridge were dressed in the same black clothes. Their eyes sought his out as he walked by, but he didn’t lift his head.
On the bridge where his team had always met, Kakashi stopped and leaned over the railing. The stream still flowed by, the birds still sang. The sun still shone, but his heart was broken. ‘I can’t do this anymore…’ he thought. ‘Everyone I’ve ever cared about is dead. I’ll never care about anyone every again.’
“Hey kid. Don’t do it,” a voiced called with little enthusiasm as a set of footsteps sounded on the bridge. Kakashi looked up, but didn’t recognize the girl. She was about his age and height. She was wearing a black kung-fu gi with her hands plunged deep into the pockets and Chinese slippers. Her hair was long and so dark it seemed blue. Her face held the same tired sad expression that Konoha wore. “This bridge isn’t nearly tall enough.”
“I wasn’t going to kill myself, stupid,” he snorted.
“Coulda fooled me,” she commented. He was leaning pretty far over the railing. Kakashi pouted under his mask and pushed away from the rail. He looked up at the blue sky as perfect clouds ambled by. “Seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it, that we’re still here?” she asked no one in particular. “But like they say, life goes on.” She too turned her eyes to the sky and stared. “I lost my mother, the last person in this world who cared about me.”
“I lost my sensei and last member of my team,” he said in reply; the first time he had vocalized this fact. “I have nothing left.” He didn’t know what to expect next from her. She nodded slowly and rested her gaze on him.
“Well, I’m going to get some tea,” the girl announced and didn’t wait for him to respond before shuffling along.
Kakashi stared at her as she went, and deciding he had nothing better to do, he followed.
At the sweets shop, they sat in silence at a table and drank genmaicha out of earthenware mugs. A plate of mitarashi dango sat before them, untouched. Across the way, a younger boy sat in front of a cup of tea and stared at them; not so much at the people as the treats they weren’t consuming.
“Oi, Nee-chan,” the girl beckoned to the waitress. “Give that kid whatever he wants.” Kakashi raised a brow but said nothing. He watched the waitress relay the message. The boy looked shocked. Rather than order, he came over to them.
“Thank you so much, but you don’t have to do that,” he said quietly and idly rubbed the scar that crossed his nose.
“I don’t have to, but I can,” she said and jingled a bag of coins. “You see, I just came into a small inheritance,” she joked. The bag couldn’t hold more than 100 ryou. “You look like you could use some dango.” She pushed the plate towards him.
“Thank you. My name is Umino Iruka.”
“Aono Oururi,” the girl responded. She turned and prompted her companion whose name she had not yet learned with a small nudge.
“Hatake Kakashi,” he said quietly.
When it got dark, Iruka went back to his cousin’s house where he was living and Kakashi went back to his little apartment. Oururi followed and stayed for the better part of two years.
The sun shone down on another beautiful day in the Hidden Leaf Village. Three Genin waited impatiently in the shade of a large tree next to the bridge for their sensei to arrive.
“10:30,” Sakura said.
“11,” said Sasuke.
“I bet he’ll show 10:15!” shouted Naruto.
“Baka, it is 10:15!” Sakura shouted back.
A calm, smooth voice startled them. “Yo.” Kakashi waved as he came up from behind them. “Sorry, I couldn’t find my keys…”
“You liar!” Naruto and Sakura chimed.
Naruto bounced in front of Sakura. “Ne, ne, what do I win?! I guessed, I guessed!”
“Nothing, we didn’t get to the wager.”
He hung his head in disappointment. A dream of winning a date with Sakura went up in smoke.
Kakashi and Sasuke started walking. “Come on,” their sensei said as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. “We’ve got a long day ahead of us.”
When the sun was just about to sink into the horizon, Kakashi’s team seven started making its way back to town. For once, their sensei walked with them.
‘Boy,’ he thought as he watched them out of the corner of his eye, ‘they’re really dragging today. Perhaps I pushed them too hard.’
“Ne, Kakashi-senei?” Naruto groaned
‘Here it comes,’ Kakashi thought. “Mm?”
“Tomorrow can we do the same exercise again? If I do it a couple more times I won’t get so tired!”
Kakashi’s eye curved as he smiled beneath his facemask. “I don’t see why not.”
“Naruto, speak for yourself!” Sakura scolded. ‘You’re a total masochist!’ her inner voice shouted. Sasuke snorted lightly, a thin grin on his lips.
A light breeze picked up and blew Sakura’s hair into her eyes. “Is it supposed to storm tonight?” she asked no one in particular.
“Don’t think so,” Sasuke added. He noticed immediately that his sensei was on guard. Even though the Jounin kept walking at the same leisurely pace, he was alert. Naruto was too busy humming to himself to notice that anything was amiss. As Kakashi slowed his pace, Naruto passed him. The boy noticed the disturbance just a little too late.
Ten kunai flew from a nearby tree and made a line on the ground only inches from Naruto’s exposed toes. A gleeful, tinkling laugh drew their attention to the attacker.
“I’ve drawn a line. Do you dare cross it?” A young girl with long white braids stood on a tree branch only 100 yards from them. Her forehead protector, which she wore around her waist, was from the Hidden Sand Village.
“Is this a challenge?” Kakashi asked as calm as ever.
“It is if you cross the line. It’s up to you. You can run away like a coward, or you can fight me.”
“I have no fight with you,” Kakashi answered, “but I will cross this line. You see, this is my way home.” His students readied themselves for a fight.
“Hey kid!” Naruto called to the girl. “Whatever you got, we can take!”
“Naruto…” Kakashi groaned.
“Kakashi-sensei. I’m crossing the line,” Naruto said, waiting for Kakashi’s approval. If it were too dangerous, his sensei wouldn’t let him go alone.
Naruto nearly choked. ‘All right!!!’ he thought. ‘Now’s my change to show up that Sasuke!’ “You hear that, kid? I’m Uzumaki Naruto and I’m gonna kick your ass!”
She giggled again. “I’m Hikari, and we’ll see about that!”
Naruto charged the tree using his newfound chakra ability to scale the trunk. When he reached the branch she was on, Hikari vanished, her laugh almost seeming to linger for a moment.
“So slow,” she said from behind and swept his legs out from under him. Naruto fell, but landed gracefully. As he recovered, the girl seemed to appear again. Her face was very close to his. “Too bad. You’re sort of cute!” she giggled. Naruto gasped and tried to block. He brought his arm up in enough time to catch the kunai she had intended for his throat on his forearm. A drop of his blood splashed on her white costume. She hummed and jumped back.
“Naruto!” Sakura cried.
“Don’t help me!” he shouted back. ‘This kid, she’s younger than me!’ He remembered something Kakashi had said on their mission to the Wave Country. ‘There exist kids younger than you… who are stronger than me.’
‘Oh crap! Is this one of those kids!?’ Naruto thought wildly. ‘I can’t lose to her. I can’t lose in front of Sakura and Sasuke…’ He growled and put his hands together. “Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!” In seconds, the clearing was full of the boy’s duplicates.
“Oh?” she asked. “Shadow Clones, eh?” Dozens of Narutos attacked and were popped in moments. Hikari leapt out of the dust at the real Naruto. He caught her foot, but she brought her other knee up and slammed it into his chin. She twisted herself free, planted her hand on the ground and kicked him in the chest so hard he went flying. Naruto crashed into a tree and slumped to the ground, unconscious.
“Next?” She smiled.
“Sensei?!” Sasuke barked. Kakashi nodded and the boy crossed the line.
Hikari cocked her head to the side. “Oh?” she mused. “All right. One moment please,” she asked in her unflappably cute voice. A small tornado swirled around her. When it ebbed, the girl leveled up her chakra. The dust blew away from her as she did this.
Sasuke grinned. “This is going to be fun.”
“Let’s see how this one does!” the girl shouted. Her smile was more sinister than it had been before, almost matching the higher level of chakra she was exuding. She and Sasuke exchanged blows, but both blocked the other.
‘She’s good for a little kid,’ Sasuke thought as he tried to decide how to take her down. He rushed forward, thinking he was faster than she was. In a heartbeat she was in his face.
“Aw, you’re too slow, too?” she asked, disappointed and slammed her elbow into his collarbone. As Sasuke fell to his knees she grasped his head in her thin arms.
“Sasuke!” Sakura screamed. ‘This girl intends to kill him!?’ Even Kakashi looked a bit nervous.
His opponent looked up. “Very well,” she sighed and kicked him away from her. To her surprise, Sasuke rolled, turned and burst towards her again.
“We’re not finished!!!” he growled and pummeled the girl. She raised her protected forearms and caught all of his blows. The dust was picking up. In the late afternoon sun it became hard to see.
“Fist of Sand no Jutsu!” the girl called out. The dust swarmed at her command and formed a huge fist.
Kakashi and Sakura were still behind the line of kunai. Sakura clenched her fists. She wanted to pick the weapons up and hurl them at the white-haired girl. The sand fist slammed into Sasuke’s chest. He dug up the earth as his body tumbled in the direction of the unconscious Naruto and fell still.
“Two down!” She grinned as the sand fist dissipated. “Come on, you. You are the intended target,” she shouted and pointed at Kakashi. “Are you going to see another one of your students trounced or are you going to be a man?”
“You little girls should go home. What kind of parents do you have anyway?”
“Why you…!” Once again, the girl powered up. Her battle aura made tears come to Sakura’s eyes. Kakashi looked down at her. “Sakura. Check on Naruto and Sasuke.”
At last, Kakashi crossed the line. He lifted his forehead protector revealing his sharingan. “Playtime is over.”
The girl grinned and put her hands together forming a seal. Suddenly, two clones appeared at her side. In unison they shouted. “We will decide when playtime is over!” They charged him, seeming to fly as they ran. Kakashi stared, ready to copy the jutsu with the sharingan, but gasped. “It’s not a jutsu…?” All three girls landed kicks which he was just able to block.
Naruto and Sasuke came to and watched the fight with Sakura. “Kage Bunshin?” Naruto asked, scratching his head.
“She didn’t call it,” Sakura told him. “I can’t believe she’s that strong!” She helped Sasuke sit up, but kept her eyes on the fight. Then she saw it: a large drop of blood on only one of the girl’s clone’s uniform. “Kakashi-sensei! They’re not clones!”
All three came at him again, but he was ready. “I see! I don’t need this to beat you now,” Kakashi asserted and pulled his hitai-ate back down. He took each one out, one at a time.
The girls panted on the ground, trying to get their wind back.
“Very clever,” he said coolly. “We never suspected there were actually three of you.”
“Ha! You’re not so tough!” Sakura shouted. ‘Sneaky little bitches!’ inner-Sakura screamed.
“Guys,” he called to his students. “Would you restrain our friends?”
Each Genin took a girl and held her at the point of a kunai.
“Not so tough!?” the middle girl in Naruto’s hands growled at Sakura. “We kicked you Genin’s butts!”
“’You Genin?’” Sasuke wondered. “You don’t mean…?!”
The girl he was holding smirked. “We’ve all three been Chuunin for two years already!”
“What what whaaaaat?!” Naruto shouted, nearly deafening his captive.
“I thought as much.” Kakashi dusted his hands and squatted down in front of them. They looked nervous. “Now, Sand Ninja. You are trespassers in this country unless you can show me your visas.” They remained silent. “You know, this is a serious crime. You’ll be thrown in prison.”
The girl on the right let out a sharp gasp. The other two glared at her.
“You’ll have to tell Hokage your reason for being here or they’ll torture it out of you.” None of Kakashi’s threats were doing any good. “And he’ll have to call your parents!” he joked.
“Hahahaha!” The middle girl laughed angrily. “At least they won’t have to pay long distance!”
“Hikari!” the one on the left shouted.
“It’s over, Sisters.” The one on the right nodded. “We might as well tell him our reason.” Kakashi raised a brow. “I am Hatake Yume…”
“I am Hatake Yami…”
“And I am Hatake Hikari. We came looking for you, Otousan.”
Kakashi stared, dumbstruck at the three girls. It was about right. They were about 9 or 10 years old. Each had white hair like his and a cock-sure grin just like…
The sound of her laughter peeled through the empty streets.
“You are the loudest ninja I have ever met,” 15 year old Hatake Kakashi groaned as he followed her to the meeting. This simply elicited more cackling, shimmering laughter from his girlfriend.
“You can be so uptight, sometimes!”
“Oururi, it’s five in the morning, at least be respectful to the people trying to sleep.”
To this she stuck out her tongue, but obeyed. They walked along to the meeting hall in silence. Kakashi sighed.
“Pfff,” Oururi put her hands behind her head. “You sound like Iruka. What’s wrong with you?”
“This job…” he mumbled.
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll do fine!”
“It’s not me I’m worried about…”
Oururi stopped walking and glared at him. She pushed her long, dark blue ponytail off of her shoulder. “If you can be Anbu, so can I!”
“I know you can. But being an assassin isn’t like being a Chuunin captain or a Jounin leader. It’s going to be… darker.”
She laughed again. “You are so damn cute, Kakashi! I’ll be fine, you’ll be fine, we’ll all be fine!”
He watched her skip down the road toward the meeting hall. ‘I have a horrible feeling about this…’
Naruto and Sakura twitched slightly and let their captives go.
“These kids…” Sakura began.
“…ARE YOURS?!” Naruto shouted.
“It seems that way.”
Sasuke raised a brow. “It would explain the hair and the fact that they became Chuunin so early. Weren’t you six when you made Chuunin, Kakashi-sensei?”
Now Naruto had something else to stammer about. “S-s-s-s-s-SIX!?”
“Mmmm…” Kakashi hummed. He stared at each girl in turn. “So to what do I owe this visit? Where’s you mother?” he asked, anxiously.
All three glanced at each other and lowered their heads. Hikari started to speak, but her voice was too soft. Kakashi leaned in to hear her better. “Kaasan is…”
All three sobbed quietly, their tears falling on the dusty ground. Yume wiped the back of her hand across her face. “She’s dead.”
Kakashi remained in the same position. He closed his eye. ‘Damn it.’ Somewhere in the back of his mind, Oururi’s laugh, like a more boisterous version of her daughters’, echoed in the empty Leaf Village streets. ‘Ten years ago,’ he thought, his head bowed, ‘I knew one day I would mourn you.’
Kakashi stood up, his eye still closed. “You guys are dismissed.”
Wordlessly, the Genin walked slowly back toward the village. Sakura watched Kakashi’s back over her shoulder for some time. The little girls were no longer crying, but still trained their eyes on the ground. “That’s so sad,” she whispered.
Naruto swallowed hard. “’S not so bad,” he rubbed at a patch of dried blood on his cheek. “They still got their dad.”
Sasuke remained silent as they entered the village proper and split up.