Taisetsuna : Precious

A Naruto Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Chapter 6

 

            Inside the stronghold after nearly a half an hour of twisting and pulling with only her fingertips, Hikari managed to loosen Yume’s bonds enough to free her. In moments, the others were also free, but they remained seated and as still as possible through the whole thing, knowing there were eyes on them.

            ‘Now?’ Yami tapped on Hikari’s wrist.

            ‘Now.’ She tapped back to both. They grasped the backs of the chairs and stood up, throwing the chairs over their heads. Several lesser Anbu soldiers waiting in the wings leapt out at them, brushing the chairs aside. Still with their eyes covered and their backs to each other, the sisters linked arms at the elbows and made seals with their hands.

            “Power of Three no Jutsu!” they shouted in unison and a large puff of smoke surrounded them. When the dust cleared the Anbu backed off, unsure of what they were seeing. Three blindfolds fluttered to the ground. “We’re out of here!”

 

.x.

            Inside the last enclosure a rather broad-chested woman wearing a heavy leather trench coat stood with her arms crossed. “Oh, Oururi. You’re trounced,” her captain scolded. “You’re not going to be any fun to fight at all!”

            Kakashi stepped forward. “Too bad you won’t get a chance. I’m going to take you out.”

            Tancho laughed. “You’re in no better shape. And that funny eye of yours isn’t going to help you one bit.”

            Kakashi nodded. “So I’ve heard.” He pulled his forehead protector down over the Sharingan and raised his right hand. His left he folded behind him. “Let’s go. I don’t want to waste any more time.”

            “You’re on!” Tancho shouted and flew at him. Kakashi vanished and seemed to reappear just behind her. He struck at her with his elbow, but she too faded. “Maybe you should use your Sharingan, pal.” She planted the base of her palm between his shoulder blades, sending him crashing to the ground. She threw several kunai at his fallen form as she flipped over him. They struck wood.

            ‘How the hell did he find wood out here?’ Oururi thought as she watched the fight. He was good, but he was tired. She knew it was only a matter of time before he could no longer keep up with Tancho who had been doing nothing but waiting for them. She watched the clouds race across the sky. The raindrops were getting larger by the moment. The wind was also picking up. ‘Soon,’ she thought. ‘I can do it one more time. I can…’

            Kakashi’s eye widened as he saw Tancho’s grinning face in front of his own. He doubled over as her fist landed in his gut.

            “This is no fun,” she mumbled and watched him fall to his knees. Kakashi snorted, his own grin hidden under his mask.

            He held his hands together. “Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!” Three clones appeared on either side and started laying in on her. Tancho was startled that he had the strength to pull of a high-level jutsu. She dodged and retreated.

            “All right. It seems I need to up the ante.” She held her hands together.

            “What?!” Oururi cried. “Ninjutsu? Since when do you use Ninjutsu?!”

            Tancho laughed “A good Ninja never reveals what he is truly capable of!” She flashed her hands into many seals. “Suna Bunshin no Jutsu!” Five human forms massed themselves from the surrounding sand and launched themselves at Kakashi. Within moments his shadow clones were popped and his own body was being batted back and forth among the sand clones.

            Oururi clenched her fists. ‘I know your not going to like this, Kakashi,’ she thought. ‘But I’m not going to lose you now…’ She raked her cheek, opening a second wound. The blood trickled down and was wiped onto her first two fingers. “Aono Ichizoku…!” she pointed her hand to the heavens. “Lighting Call Second Strike!” the bolt tore the air open as it crashed down, startling Tancho enough that the clones stopped their attack momentarily. Fully charged, Oururi ran to Kakashi’s side.

            “Can you jump?” she whispered urgently.

            “Yeah.” He nodded, only having sustained a cracked rib or two so far. “Oururi…”

            “Shut it. I’m ending this now. On three!” she commanded.

            “Ok…”

            “Oururi,” Tancho growled and opened her arms. “You were holding out on us, were you?”

            “Just like you were!” she spat. “One,” Oururi counted softly.

            “You could have been captain one day.” Tancho’s grin widened, waiting for her attack.

            “Two,” Oururi whispered. “I’m leaving the Hidden Sand and I’m taking my family with me.”

            “Kazekage-sama has ordered us otherwise.” Tancho took a step forward, reaching behind her for a handful of shuriken.

            “I am of the Leaf!” she shouted back. “Three!”

            Kakashi launched himself off the ground, jumping backwards. While he was in the air, Oururi reached for the ground. In slow motion, she watched in horror as Tancho anticipated her move and jumped as well. Just as quickly, Oururi smiled as she spied her opportunity. Tancho’s movement caused a stream of rain water to flow from her large protective trench coat.

            She was still connected to the ground.

            Oururi pressed her hand down. “Ground Current Strike!” she shouted and sent the electricity across the wet sand. Tancho screamed long and hard as the energy snaked up the stream of water and stopped her heart. Smoking, her body dropped with a slight splash. The sand clones stood where they were, turned to glass by the heat of the strike.

            “That’s that,” Oururi mumbled and winced. She grasped her right shoulder. It wasn’t far to fall from her kneeling position, but Kakashi still made it in time to catch her. The final arcs of current crackled as he touched her. She wasn’t breathing.

            “Oururi!” Kakashi acted fast. He laid her on the ground and uncovered both his Sharingan and his face. Using a few helpful techniques not unlike the Hyuga’s Byakugan, he looked inside her and gasped. He gritted his teeth and cautiously began CPR. He held her nose and breathed air into her lungs twice. She was unresponsive. ‘Her body should be able to handle the shock,’ he thought, his gorge starting to rise at the thought of not being able to save her. ‘Her heart must have stopped because she ran out of chakra!’ He began chest compressions and in a last-ditch effort, summoned up as much chakra as he could without losing consciousness. As his hands pressed down, he flooded her body with his own power. “Come on, Oururi,” he whispered and gave her two more breaths.

            As he pulled away to check her pulse, she gasped and her body twitched.

            She was breathing.

            Kakashi looked up to the last gate and took a deep breath of his own. “If we make it through this,” he whispered. “I’m never letting you out of my sight again.” Carefully, he picked Oururi up and trudged towards the door, her dead weight all the more cumbersome with hardly any strength left to carry it.

            Just as he was trying to think of a way to open the huge doors, a sharp cracking sound echoed through the enclosure as the hinges were snapped off from the other side.

            The sand-nin standing behind the final gate had her hands up, ready to attack. Her white hair was tied in one long braid down her back. She stared at Kakashi, hard.

            ‘This is just great,’ he thought angrily. He then noticed her bare upper arms were tattoo-less. ‘She’s not Anbu…?’ perhaps not, but she was now running towards him with a strangely worried expression on her face.

            Kakashi was just about out of ideas when the sand-nin shouted, “Kaasan!”

            “Eh?” His eye bulged as he studied the woman more closely. Although she was about his age and roughly 5’3” she bore a striking resemblance. “Girls?!” he asked, flabbergasted.

            “Yeah,” she answered quickly, her eyes not straying from her mother’s pale face. “No time to explain. We need to get her to a hospital. You’re hurt too, Tousan.” Kakashi nodded and didn’t argue when the woman took Oururi from him. “Follow us,” she said and bounded over the enclosure wall.

 

.x.

            They splashed through the empty early morning streets as the rain really started beating down. The people of the Sand knew better than to be outside in such dangerous weather.  A flash flood could sweep a child or pet away without warning.

            “Hospital’s this way!” the woman shouted and turned a corner. Both skidded to a halt as they felt the enemy’s presence. She placed Oururi carefully on the ground. “Tousan, protect Kaasan,” she whispered. “We’ll do our best.”

            Kakashi blinked. ‘Talk about your role reversal,’ he moaned internally. “What is that jutsu?” he asked them quickly.

            “’The Power of Three no Jutsu’,” she stated. “We’re all in here. Three Chuunin combined in one person.” She grinned sheepishly. “But like Kaasan says, even though this body is 27, we’re still only nine years old!” The Sand-nin took the opportunity to rush them. “Don’t worry, Tousan!” she shouted and fought back.

            “Ah, to be young and optimistic,” Kakashi muttered and kept watch over Oururi’s still form. ‘I can hardly stand,’ he laughed as he thought. ‘Let’s see how long I can bluff.’

 

            The girls were doing well against the enemy. Several ninja lay sprawled on the wet ground, but more were coming by the moment. Just when it was looking bleakest, a deep, bellowing voice brought the fight to a halt.

            “Cease and desist, by order of the Kazekage!!!”

            The sand-nin looked to the source. Atop a three story building holding a scroll in his hand and striking a pose was Maito Gai. His smile glinted even in the rain.

            “Gai to the rescue,” Kakashi moaned and slumped to his knees. Gai, Aoba, Raido and Genma descended and formed a protective ring around the three.

            “You ok, Kakashi?” Gai asked over his shoulder.

            “Yeah, but Oururi isn’t,” Kakashi mumbled, his strength almost completely gone.

            The ‘Power of Three’ released and the Hatake girls popped back into three separate children again. They ran to their parents. “Please mister!” Hikari shouted “Kaasan needs a doctor!”

            Gai wasted no time and scooped Oururi up. Genma helped Kakashi to his feet and they hurried to the hospital.

 

.x.

            That evening, after Gai and the girls had gone back to their house to pack their things, Kakashi wandered down the hall from his room to the intensive care unit, using the wall as a crutch.

            A heart monitor blipped in an awkward rhythm. An external pacemaker fired occasionally to offset the difference, keeping Oururi’s heart beating. He knew better than to touch her, or he would receive the shock as well, so he sat and watched the pained expression on her face and talked to her into the night.

.x.

            In her dreams, Oururi walked through a forest. When she emerged, she could see the high walls of Konoha. Leisurely, she walked into town and sat down outside a tea house. The sun was shining brightly and although there were people everywhere, it was very quiet as if the scene had been filmed in silent black and white.

            “Mind if I join you?” a strange voice asked. She squinted and saw the silhouette of a large man. She waved to the free seat across from her and wasn’t surprised when she saw who it was: a man whose face she’d only known in photographs.

            “I’m sorry, Tousan,” Oururi began. “I really messed up out there. I think I’ve been really badly hurt, too.”

            He shook his head. “I’m the one who’s sorry. I wish I could have helped you grow up. I could have at least helped you with the bloodline…”

            “The bloodline,” she said rubbing her hand over the two cuts on her cheek. She remembered the name on the coffin Karasu called forth was different than hers. “Otousan, is Aono really my name?”

            “It is your name, yes. My name was different. Your mother changed yours to protect you. If the Hidden Cloud doesn’t know you exist, they won’t come after you. It’s not important to your happiness. Please forget you even saw or heard it.”

            She wanted to ask a million other questions, but this was after all a dream. She was having trouble remembering the word ‘Tsuyuki’ [Rainy Season]. It kept surfacing in her mind as ‘Atsui’ [Hot] or ‘Fubuki’ [Snowy]. They were silent for what seemed like hours yet the dream couldn’t have lasted for more than a few minutes.

            “Am I going to wake up?”

            Her father nodded. “There’s someone wanting to hold your hand. Why don’t you calm your heart and let him?” Oururi blinked at him as he stood up, pushing his long, blue hair back over his shoulder.

            “Tousan?”

            “Yes,” he answered her. “We are watching, your mom and I.”

            Oururi smiled and closed her eyes.

 

.x.

            “What do you think you’re doing?!” the nurse barked at Kakashi that morning. “Are you slow or something, pal? I told you you’ll get shocked if you touch her!”

            Kakashi looked leisurely up at the irate woman. His hand still covered Oururi’s. “I’ve been here for three hours, and in the last two your beat-correction device hasn’t fired once.”

            The nurse blinked, but looked to the reports. He was right. “Well I’ll be…” 

            Kakashi raised a brow as he heard a commotion in the hallway. In moments the door burst open and the girls piled into the tiny room.

            “Is Kaasan ok?!” they asked in unison, red-cheeked and panting.

            The nurse smiled. “It looks like I can safely send her home with you guys today.”

            “Wai!” they cheered. Gai poked his head around the door and smiled, softly. “Tousan! We get to all go home now!” Kakashi groaned a bit as they hugged his bruised body a bit too hard.

            “We sure do.”

            “To-totototototo…” Gai stuttered. “Tousan?!?” His jaw hung open and he pointed at his rival. “These are your daughters?!”

            ‘One-upped three times over, eh Gai?’ Kakashi thought, but kept it to himself. He squeezed Oururi’s hand and hugged his daughters. “Hear that, Oururi? We’re going home.”

 

.x.

            Sometime around five in the morning, five days later, Oururi opened her eyes. The first thing she noticed was that her left hand throbbed like nobody’s business. The second thing was a bird chirping outside a window just behind her. She looked around and took in the books on the wall to her right, the pictures and potted plant above her on the sill and Kakashi’s scraggly white hair to her left. He was sleeping, sort of sitting up and leaning against the bed. His Sharingan eye was covered by a bandana-like eye patch rather than his hitai-ate and he was dressed in his pajamas. She reached over with her right hand and brushed his hair with her fingertips.

            “Kakashi…”

            “Hey you,” he muttered and opened his blue eye.

            “…are we in Konoha?”

            He took her hand and kissed her fingers. “You bet.”

 

.x.

            It was naturally a few days before Kakashi returned to work. His students were very happy to have him back, as their efforts to train together on their own had been futile.

            It was nearly noon before he showed up on the bridge where they usually met. Just as they got to their usual training grounds, Kakashi sighed. ‘What are they up to now?’ he asked himself as he sensed his daughters’ presence.

            “Hora hora hora!” they shouted as one from the trees. Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke spun and stared at the Chuunin pre-teens. “Hey hey hey! Long time no see. We’ve come for your bento!”

            “Their lunches?” Kakashi asked aloud.

            “Hand ‘em over!” Hikari shouted.

            “Or suffer the consequences!” Yami added.

            “Girls!” their mother’s voice made them wince. “Is this why you wanted to run ahead?” Oururi glared at them and they hopped down obediently.

            “Sorry, Kaasan,” Yami apologized.

            “We were just gonna play with them,” Yume added softly.

            Oururi shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I’m sorry about that,” she addressed the Genin. “We wanted to bring you all lunch.” She held out a rather sizable picnic basket with her right hand.

            “Oururi, you shouldn’t have,” Kakashi scolded, thinking more about her recovery than her inconvenience. He took the basket from her.

            Naruto’s eyes squinted down to slits. He rubbed his chin and stared at the woman.

            “Ne, Kakashi-sensei,” Sakura piped up. “Didn’t they say their mother was dead?”

            Kakashi scratched the back of his head. “There was a bit of a misunderstanding. Guys, this is Aono Oururi. Oururi, this is Haruno Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto.”

            Oururi smiled and bowed. “Nice to meet you,” she chimed. “Kakashi’s told me so much about you all. He’s very proud of you.” A sidelong glance to Kakashi said ‘so that’s the Nine-Tails kid.’

            Even Sasuke blushed a little at that statement.

            “Sakura-chan, can you help me set up the lunch?” Oururi asked, holding up her still bandaged hand. “I need to talk to your sensei for a moment.”

            “Hai,” she agreed, wondering what had happened to the woman’s hand. There were tendril-like marks that ran up the inside of her forearm, almost tracing the veins in a dark red.

 

            Once Oururi and Kakashi were out of sight, the basket disappeared from Sakura’s hands. “What the…?” she gasped.

            Three identical laughs resounded from the tree tops. “You want lunch, you come get it!” the girls shouted and the chase began. When it was over, Sasuke, Sakura and Naruto were tied to the posts at the entrance to the training ground. Sasuke looked like he wanted to kill, Sakura looked like she wanted to die and Naruto was still screaming.

            “You guys! I’m hungry! No fair!” His feet thrashed at the air.

            “Ok. We’ll let you go…” Yami cooed.

            “…If you can guess our names,” Yume finished.

            “We know your names. You told us when we met,” Sasuke groaned. “You’re Hatake Yami, Yume and Hikari.”

            “Ah, ah, ah!” they shouted. “Which one is which? And we want the cute one to guess!”  Sasuke and Sakura gaped as they pointed to Naruto.

            ‘We’re doomed,’ Sasuke thought.

            ‘Naruto…’ Inner-Sakura thought. ‘The cute one?!’

 

.x.

            A short distance from the scene, Kakashi and Oururi stood and looked at Konoha’s skyline. “I’ve been thinking,” Oururi began, “about what you asked me last night…”

            Kakashi raised a brow, but remained silent. ‘Do not get your hopes up,’ he warned himself. A light breeze picked up and played with Oururi’s long, dark blue hair and the cute sun-dress she was wearing. She tucked some stray strands behind her ear. “You know, I never apologized…”

            “For what?” he asked, wary of her soft tone of voice.

            “For behaving so badly back there in the sand.” She ran her fingers over her scorched veins. It had been a week and still she could hardly move her left hand. “I went too far.”

            “You did what you had to do,” he assured her, “to protect those precious to you.”

            She turned and smiled. “Yup. All four of them.”

            Kakashi practically blushed. He was still getting used to the soft looks she gave him. When they were kids, her affection for him had been almost peripheral. He, on the other hand had always stared at her as if she was a flame that might go out any moment. Now, she was more like a beacon, glowing steadily, showing him where home is.

            “I think we should try, Kakashi. See how it works out, all four of us living together.” Oururi scuffed the ground with her foot shyly.

            Kakashi breathed a sigh of relief. “Ok,” he said, nonchalantly. She stepped into his embrace. After a few moments, Oururi pulled back and looked towards the training grounds. “We should get back. They’ve probably stolen their lunches by now.”

            “What?!” Kakashi half-laughed.

 

.x.

            Naruto squinted again. “Even I know this is no fair.”

            “Ok.” One of them folded her arms. “You can have one question answered from each of us.”

            “Ok!” he cheered. “Ano, what should I ask….? Wait that’s not my question! Etou… Ah! You! What’s your favorite food?!”

            Sakura and Sasuke stared, open-mouthed. “We’re going hungry,” they both groaned.

            “Fulwadi,” the first replied, folded her arms and stared back, unblinking.

            “Fura… fuwa… what the hell is that?!” Naruto squirmed.

            “Ah, ah.” She shook her finger. “One question.”

            Sasuke growled. “Naruto! Think of something that will help you guess who they are, Dobe!”

            “I know I know!” ‘Ok, think… Ah!’ “What’s your favorite attack?”

            The second beamed. “Easy! The Power of Three no Jutsu!”

            “Oooooh… What’s that? What’s that?!” Naruto asked, intrigued.

            “One question, Dobe!” She mimicked Sasuke, pulled down her eyelid at him and stuck out her tongue. Sasuke snorted, more amused than disappointed.

            Naruto snarled a bit, but sighed and tried to think of a last question. ‘I’m no good at this…’ he looked over to the last girl who was blushing a bright pink and worrying her hands. ‘Weird. She looks like that Hinata girl…’ “Ano sa,” he began. Her cheeks blushed deeper. “Ahhhh, I give up. I wasn’t that hungry anyway. What’s your favorite color?” he asked drearily.

            “Ano… etou…” she mumbled. Her sisters shot her identical looks of death. “Blue. No, yellow!”

            Naruto closed his eyes. I’ve pretty much lost the lunches at this rate…’ he grumbled to himself. ‘I’m gonna hafta guess. There’s a cool one, a loud one and a shy one, sorta like our team. Their names are Yume, Yami and Hikari. Could that possibly mean something?’

            “Hurry up!” one shouted. “Guess!”

            ‘So, the cool one would be dark: Yami. The loud one would be bright so, Hikari and the shy one is Yume?’ He sighed again. “Untie me. I’ll guess.”

            They untied all three of them and put their hands on their hips. “Guess!” they shouted in unison.

            Naruto raised his hand and pointed to each girl in turn. “Yami, Hikari and Yume.” He pouted and waited.

            “Uso!” they shouted again. “No way!”

            Two puffs of smoke startled the Chuunin girls. “Uso!” Oururi cried as the dust cleared. “I don’t believe it! You guessed right!”

            Naruto beamed and gave Sasuke a loud raspberry. “Yay! Lunch time!”

            “Oi, Naruto,” Kakashi leaned over and whispered. “Can you tell me how you did that?”

            “What?!” the girls shouted. “Tousan, you can’t tell us apart?!”

            He waved apologetically. “You look so much alike…”

            As the girls piled on him, play-hitting and teasing him and his students tried to help free him, Oururi watched and smiled. ‘Thank goodness,’ she thought. ‘They’ll grow up happy now. I’m sure of it. We’re home.’

 


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