Taisetsuna : Precious

A Naruto Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Chapter 4

 

            The sun was at its apex in the sky as Oururi led her girls away from the high walls of the Hidden Leaf Village. As they walked, each nine-year-old would turn her head and look wistfully back at the open gates. Iruka and their father had turned away long ago. Thoughts of mutiny boiled in their brains as their mother trudged on, unwaveringly.

            “Kaasan,” Hikari clutched her backpack’s shoulder straps and whined. “I don’t wanna go back to the Hidden Sand. It sucks there.”

            Oururi kept walking.

            “Kaasan,” Yami joined in. “I wanna spend more time with Otousan.”

            “Kaasan.” Yume stopped in her tracks. “Please don’t make us go back.”

            Finally Oururi stopped. “Guys,” she whispered. “We don’t have a choice.”

            Hikari wrung her backpack straps in her hands. “But Hokage-sama said…!”

            “He said he’d see what he can do!” Oururi barked. “Even he may not have the power to free you guys from the Hidden Sand. When a ninja is born into a village it is nearly impossible for him to change sides without spending the rest of his life being chased by hunter-nin.”

            “But Kaasan…” all three whined.

            Oururi spun around, her mouth in a tight frown. “I’ve never told you about your grandparents. Do you want to know why you don’t know much about them?” she snapped. “My mother was of the Leaf. My father was of the Cloud. Together they came to live in Konoha, but the Leaf could not protect my father from the Cloud’s hunter-nin. He was killed before I was born. I couldn’t bear it if you were killed. I’d rather live the rest of my life in the god-forsaken Sand than lose you. Do you understand!?”

            Tears came to their eyes, but they nodded. Oururi apologized for being so angry and told them how much she loved them, but the girls still hung back a few yards as they continued their journey.

 

.x.

            Three days later, their team arrived in the Kazekage’s court. They knelt and presented the stolen scroll to him.

            “Well done, Oururi. You have truly proven yourself a fine asset to the Hidden Sand,” he smirked and unfurled the scroll. As sickeningly as his smile had appeared, it vanished, just as the seals written on the paper faded away. He pulled and pulled the paper until it was all out, but the entire length of it went blank as soon as it hit the air. “This is most disappointing,” he growled.

            Oururi and the girls did their best to look shocked and similarly disappointed. For the woman, it was easy. She focused on the thought that she would most likely not be paid for the effort.

            “I-I don’t know what to say, Kazekage-sama. Damn it! I knew it was too easy. They must have switched it on us during the scuffle!”

            The village leader waved his hand, excusing them. His attention was not on them but the blank scroll. They would not be penalized for having a trick played on them by Konoha. As they left, Oururi was handed her pay. She thanked the clerk and left silently.

            “Feh,” she scoffed. “15,000 lousy ryou, what am I supposed to do with this? Burn it for warmth?” She met up with her girls and headed home.

           

.x.

A few months later…

 

            Three Jounin chatted idly amongst themselves in front of the Sandaime’s office. One of them leaned against a wall and rolled a toothpick against his teeth with his tongue. “Here comes our team leader now,” Genma muttered.

            “Oh, man, anyone but him…” Raido commented quietly. Aoba chuckled. Finally the doors opened and they were allowed in.

            “Ah, good, you’re all here,” Sandaime began. “This mission is one of extreme delicacy and I know I have selected the best men for the job.” They nodded appreciatively. “You are to go into the Hidden Sand, present this agreement to Kazekage-dono and once he has signed it (which he has assured us he will) escort our people back out.”

            “Consider this mission successfully completed!” their enthusiastic team leader grinned widely. Everyone was suddenly distracted from the brilliant shine of his large, white teeth as the door opened.

            “Sorry I’m late,” Kakashi bowed apologetically to the village elder who waved his hand. “Oh, so you’re leading this mission, eh Gai?”

            “You better believe it, Kakashi!” he grinned even wider. “Don’t you worry, we’ll see that Oururi and her sweet children make it back safe to Konoha!”

            Kakashi sighed quietly. ‘They must not have told him they’re my kids yet,’ he thought.

            Sandaime cleared his throat and handed the official scroll to Gai. “Kakashi will be traveling ahead of you. He is to protect Oururi and the children until you settle things with Kazekage-dono. You know nothing about this, is that understood?”

            “Of course, Hokage-sama!” Gai agreed enthusiastically, but his rival could tell that underneath the glossy exterior, Gai was fuming at being one-upped once again.

 

            They were excused. Outside the door to the office, Kakashi picked up his pack and headed down the hall.

            “Kakashi!” Gai called after him. “Don’t do anything foolish, now. Heroics will only put those sweet babies in danger!”

            A large sweat drop formed over Kakashi’s head. ‘Does he even know they’re Chuunin?’ he wondered. “Ok, Gai. See you later.” He sighed as he left the building and started his journey. In a perfect world, he would reach the Hidden Sand a day ahead of Gai’s team, sneak in and hang out with Oururi and the kids for a while and wait for Gai to pick them up with the clearance papers. “Why do I get the feeling this isn’t going to be so easy,” he muttered.  

.x.

            Before reaching the gates, he found his path blocked by a belligerent 12 year old.

            “Oh, good morning, Naruto.”

            “Kaka’i-sensei!” Naruto shouted, his arms folded, wearing a heavy pout. “When’s our next mission! I’m gettin’ bored hangin’ around waitin’ all the time!”

            Kakashi put a hand behind his head. “Ah, sorry about that. You see, something has come up…”

            “Dame datte ba yo! That’s no good! You’re supposed to be our sensei, but we’re not learnin’ much if you leave!” Naruto’s voice became more pitiful.

            “I know, I know. I’m sorry, but do you remember those cute girls of mine?”

            Naruto blanched. One of the Sand Triplets, he couldn’t remember which, had beaten him soundly. But she had also said that he was cute. That much he would never forget. “Yeah,” he replied.

            “Well, I want them to come home to live here in Konoha, but I have to go make sure that nothing happens to them on the way.” Kakashi bent slightly at the waist. “They’re very important to me. You understand, don’t you Naruto?”

            “Yeah…” Naruto agreed sullenly. His face suddenly lit up. “Can I come too!? I would be a super help with my awesome ninja skills! Can I come? Can I? Can I?”

            Kakashi sweat a little. “Uh, no. But I’m sure you’ll see them as soon as we get back.”

            “Oh, ok…” Naruto scuffed the dirt with his foot.

            ‘Naruto is 12,’ Kakashi thought. ‘The girls are nine-ish, that means they’ll still be cute like that for a few more years.’ A grin formed under his facemask. It fell just as quickly. ‘Unless they become like Sakura.’ He imagined them all chasing after Sasuke shouting ‘Sasuke-kun~!’. He shuddered.

            “Kakashi-sensei…?” Naruto waved a hand in front of his eye.

            “Oh, sorry. Got lost there for a moment.” Kakashi straightened back up. “I’ll see you soon, Naruto. Try to meet up with Sakura and Sasuke and train on your own, ok?”

            “Ok…” he moped and watched his sensei go through the huge gates and out of town.

.x.

            Oururi dozed on the dilapidated orange couch in her living room. The radio played twangy ethnic music lightly in the background. Yami peeked over the back of the couch and made hand signals to Yume who was hiding in the doorway to the bathroom. She then signaled to Hikari, who snuck in under the blind spot next to the coffee table. A single, worn, white envelope lay on the table. Hikari’s eyes fixed on nothing but the prize. Oururi turned in her semi-sleep and all three girls froze. Yume closed the bathroom door and ran the tap as a distraction. Yami coughed and Hikari lunged for the envelope.

            In a flash the girl was dangling in her mother’s grip. Oururi’s eyes were glowing with evil. “You thought you could out-sneak your Kaasan!?” she bellowed. Hikari screamed.

            “Aw, come on, Kaasan! Read the letter!” Yami shouted.

            “Please~!” Yume begged.

            “Kaasan… I can’t… breathe…” Hikari struggled.

            Oururi let her drop onto the couch, which puffed out a light cloud of dust as she hit. “Ugh.” Oururi rolled her eyes and picked up the letter. “I don’t want to!”

            “Why not? We want to hear what Tousan has to say.”

            “I miss Tousan.”

            “Me too.”

            Oururi sat down. “So do I.” She bit her lip and finally opened the envelope, which she had found in the bag with the phony scroll. It was simply addressed to ‘Oururi and Kids’. She took the letter out and another piece of paper fluttered down into her lap. She looked at it casually, but her eyes grew wide with disbelief.

            “What is it, Kaasan?” all three girls asked, worriedly.

            Her hands now trembling slightly, Oururi read the letter aloud. “Ore no Taisetsuna hito-tachi. My Precious people. I hope you made it back to the village safely and that this letter finds you well. I miss you already, but I am sure that we will meet again at the end of Oururi’s tenure. Enclosed please find a little something to help until then. Love to you all, Hatake Kakashi.’”

            “A little something?” Hikari asked. “Is it that paper, Kaasan?”

            “It’s… It’s a check,” she stammered. “For 600,000 ryou!”

            “Waaaa!” They all screamed and jumped up and down on the couch. “Kaasan, can we get a TV?!” “Kaasan, can I get a nice dress?” “Can we eat at a restaurant, see a movie, go shopping!?”

            “Yes, yes, yes!” Oururi laughed and hugged her daughters. ‘I had forgotten how much Jounin in Konoha make,’ she thought and reread the letter quickly. Her happy smile fell as she remembered why she didn’t want to read it in the first place.

            “Kaasan, you ok?”

            “Yeah, yeah.” She waved her hand. “Go on and get ready to go out. First stop is the bank!”

            “Yay!”

            Oururi stared at the first words of the letter: ‘taisetsuna hito’: ‘precious people’. “I can’t fall in love with you, Kakashi,’ she thought. ‘As long as the girls are bound to the Sand, we can’t be together. I can’t fall… I won’t fall…”

 

.x.X.[Flashback].x.X.

 

            A younger Kakashi darted over the Konoha rooftops in pursuit of his quarry. Dark clouds swept in overhead. He looked up and furrowed his brows. Three kunai flew at him, striking not his body, but a cardboard box he had swapped himself with.

            “Damnit,” Oururi hissed from her secluded position and bounded off, following a flash of black. She came to an alley and spun around, startled that she had been so easily trapped.

            “Saa,” Kakashi’s voice bounced off the walls. “Now, how’s about that kiss?”

            “Baka!” she shouted back. “You think you got me?” Thunder rumbled as the storm came into town. Oururi held her hands up as if to make a seal. Quickly, she sliced her cheek with her left thumbnail, wiped some blood on her index and middle fingers and pointed them at the sky. ‘Aono Ichizoku…!”

            Kakashi’s eyes went wide. “No! Please don’t do that!” he shouted, cutting her off.

            “What?”

            “Don’t. I know how much that jutsu hurts. This isn’t worth that pain.” He put his hands out. “I give up.”

            “What?” she asked again and dropped her hands. “What’s wrong with you?”

            “I… I don’t care to win or lose if it means you’ll get hurt.”

            She blinked and for a moment it seemed that she understood him. This was only temporary. “Sucker!” She stuck out her tongue and approached him. “You gotta toughen up, Kakashi. That sensei of yours put some pretty soft ideas in your head...”

            Her comment struck a sour note. “That sensei of mine also happened to be Yondaime. He didn’t get that position by being weak.” In a flash Kakashi vanished. Oururi scoffed, thinking he had gone home, defeated. Kakashi re-appeared at her side, grasped the back of her head with one hand, pulled down his facemask with the other and kissed her, roughly. “I am the same way.” He wiped the blood still oozing from the self-inflicted wound on her cheek with his thumb. “Like Yondaime, I will protect those who are precious to me, win or lose.”

 

.x.X.[End Flashback].x.X.

            Oururi sighed and looked out the window at the tan, treeless landscape. “How could you love me, Kakashi?” she asked no one. “I was such an jerk. I didn’t deserve you at all…”

 

.x.

            Kakashi wiped sweat out of his eye as he trekked across the sand. “This place does suck,” he groaned. Suna Gakure’s outline shivered in the distance.

 

.x.

            When Oururi and the girls got home later that night, they were exhausted from a long day of shopping and eating out. They put their new clothes away, set up a brand new television set and went to bed. In moments the girls were asleep. Oururi watched them for a moment before crashing herself.

            “Kakashi,” she whispered to the stillness. “I miss you so much. I want to go home. I want another chance. I want to fall for you.” A few tears rolled down her cheeks as she drifted off to sleep.

 

            About an hour later, a foreign sound woke Oururi with a start. She sat up and listened, but swooned. She coughed and groped for the lamp. “What’s going on?!” she cried and tried to get up. Her eyes were heavy and her body was unresponsive. “Oh no, gas!” she looked to the open window and saw three shapes bound away over the rooftops, each one carrying a smaller form.

            “Girls!” she shouted and her vision blurred. “No, not my girls…” Oururi tried to get to the window. She lost consciousness and collapsed on her bed.

 

            Another hour later, Kakashi unlocked the door with a burglar’s tool and sneaked in. Before he could chime a greeting he had rehearsed for the last 100 miles, he saw the scene. “Oururi!” He rushed to her side, took her in his arms and shook her lightly. She was sleeping soundly under the drug’s power. He removed something from of his pocket, cracked it open and held it under her nose.

            Oururi struggled as she regained her senses. At last, she saw him. “Kakashi,” she muttered. “Are we in Konoha?”

            “No,” he said sadly. “Come on, wake up. We’ve got work to do.”

            “Work?” she asked. He helped her sit up. She looked at the empty window behind him. “Girls!” she shouted.

            He clenched his teeth. “How long ago was it, do you think?”

            She looked to the clock. “Not more than an hour. What are you doing here?” She squinted and looked back to him. “Or are you not Kakashi?”

            His eye widened. “Yeah, I guess this looks weird, ne?” He rubbed his chin. “Well, Hokage-sama has sent a team to get a signature on a release form for you and the girls. He sent me before them to keep you safe. I’m sorry. I was too late. Do you think it’s their intention to kill them? I mean, they’re Chuunin, after all. I think they would want to keep them. Well, it won’t matter after tomorrow when the agreement gets signed but...” Oururi blinked at him. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to do to prove to you this is me and not a Sand-nin in disguise.”

            She smiled. “You’ve done it. No one here cares about me. They wouldn’t have thought to say all of those things.” She took his hand and stood up. Her legs were still uncooperative and she stumbled into him. She let him put his arms around her. “We have to chase them,” she said into his chest. “The abductors were Anbu. If they want to keep the girls, they’d only have to brainwash them into wanting to stay. No matter of paperwork will undo that.” She hugged Kakashi back. “Help me get dressed.”

            “Ok!” He blushed and grinned.

            Oururi concealed her grateful smile. “Baka.”

 


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