Taisetsuna : Precious

A Naruto Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Chapter 8

 

            “Hikari? Hikari please open your eyes.” Sasuke tried to force her lids open with one hand. “Come on, please?” She twitched and muttered as the waking-nightmare ate away at her sanity. Finally she cracked them open just enough. Sasuke stared into her grey eyes and her body relaxed. He slumped down to the ground beside her.

 

            A few minutes later as dawn broke and pale sunlight filtered through the trees, Hikari came to. The first thing she saw was Kisame’s dismembered body. Her befuddled mind could only just remember taking him out. She sat up and gasped. To her right, Sasuke lay bleeding into the earth, one hand clasped over a large wound on his chest and the other still gripping the hair of his older-brother’s severed head.

            “Sasuke?” she asked and crawled over to him. “Sasuke!?” Her heart sank as she saw how pale he was already. “Please, don’t die, you can’t die now!” The ginko leaves shivered in the breeze and she felt someone’s presence just to the southwest. Hikari hovered her hand over her shuriken holster and waited.

            “Hikari-chan!” a familiar man’s voice boomed as the shinobi emerged from the undergrowth.

            “Gai-sensei.” She sighed and relaxed. “Please hurry… Sasuke…”

            “It’s ok, Hikari-chan.”

            Anko appeared at Gai’s side and rushed over to them. “Gai! Look.” She tried to pick the severed head up, but Sasuke’s grip on it was like steel. “It’s ok now, Sasuke-kun. Let go,” she whispered and his fingers uncurled slowly.

            “Is that…?”

            “Mm,” Anko nodded. “Uchiha Itatchi. That one over there is Hoshigake Kisame. The Akatsuki terror is officially over.”

            Gai picked up Sasuke and Anko helped Hikari as they dashed through the forest for the hospital.

 

.x.

            Footsteps echoed out of rhythm down the caustic white halls of Konoha Hospital. Hikari opened her eyes, pulled into consciousness by familiar voices.

            “Kaasan,” she whispered and felt her mother’s hand squeeze hers. “Sasuke, is he ok?”

            Oururi nodded, tears in her eyes. To her left, Yume rubbed her hands methodically. “You lied to your sister. Hokage-sama said that you didn’t have a mission,” Oururi stated.

            “I’m sorry…”

            “Don’t you ever do something so foolish again!” the woman shouted and kissed her hand, clutching it even tighter.

            “Kaasan, I’m so sorry, I promise.”

            “You know,” came a voice from behind them. Anko leaned on the doorframe and nodded to the girl in the bed. “If you hadn’t cried out, we mighta never found him, that stupid kid.”

            “Anko-kun, please do not encourage my daughter.” Oururi shot her an icy look. “She has enough of her father’s bone-headedness in her already, thank you.”

            “Maa ne,” Anko sighed, shrugging and moving on. “But she also has all of your courage, Oururi-sempai.”

.x.

            Sakura heard the nurses as they passed by and her heart twisted in knots. She shot a glance to her companion to see if he had heard the same thing. “Go on ahead, Sakura-san,” he said, clutching his cane. “I’ll catch up.”

            “Lee-san…”

            He gave her a thumbs-up and she ran down the hall.

 

            There was a large gathering of nurses, doctors, media reporters, and onlookers outside Uchiha Sasuke’s hospital room. Sakura tried to look in, but the way was totally blocked.

            “What the hell is this mess?” a woman’s voice boomed above the din. “Get out of the way; this is a hospital not a sideshow.” The crowed parted for Godaime Tsunade as she pushed her way in, a chart clasped in her hand and a stethoscope swinging across her more than ample bosom. Sakura followed and when the door closed Tsunade changed back into…

            “Naruto!?” Sakura cried.

            “Sasuke,” Naruto whispered and approached his bedside. “He did it, Sakura.”

            “Did what?”

            Naruto looked up to her with a peaceful, relieved smile. “He ended his quest. He’s free now.”

            Sakura sank into a chair and with her fellow teammate, waited for Sasuke to wake.

 

.x.

            Temari walked into the sitting room and shook her head sadly. “I’m so sorry,” she apologized again. “I can’t get him to agree.”

            Kakashi got to his feet. “Don’t worry. We said we’d stay for a week. There’s still time.” His eye smiled at her like a fresh breeze fanning the ember of her hope. Yami put the book she had been reading down and stood as well.

            “I’d like to go out for a bit, is that all right?” she asked her hostess and her father.

            “Of course,” Temari answered. Kakashi nodded and the girl made her way out of the palatial house. She flopped down the steps and was about to walk down the street when suddenly, Yami stopped. Turning and looking three stories up to the roof she saw the silhouette of the person watching her.

            “Afternoon,” she greeted him, shielding her eyes from the sun. She heard him scoff as he turned away. “Hey, wait! Wanna come to the marketplace with me?”

            Gaara stopped and looked behind him. “What?”

            “Do you want to come to the marketplace with me?” Yami repeated slowly.

            “You don’t want me with you.”

            “Yes I do,” she replied quickly.

            Gaara’s face wrinkled in confusion. “Who the hell does she think she is…?” he whispered to himself.

            “Come on, let’s go.” Yami waved and started walking. It took him a few moments to appear, but she knew he was in tow.

.x.

            Just as the sun was setting, Yami turned down a narrow street.

            “Hey, Leafgirl. You’re going the wrong way.”

            “Just one more stop, please?” she asked over her shoulder and came up in front of a tenement building. The stairs were crumbled and some of the windows were broken, but it was still inhabited; five stories of apartments stacked as close together as possible.

            “This is a disgusting part of town, no place for a tourist,” Gaara grumbled.

            “Of course not.” Yami pointed up. “Third floor on the left, number 302.” She sighed and clutched the bag of trinkets from the bazaar for her sisters to her chest. “It seems so much smaller and crappier than I remember it.” Gaara raised a brow. “Ok, we can go now. Thank you for putting up with me.” Gaara looked up at the darkened window.

            As they walked back to the palace Yami grinned and waited, but not for long.

            “So…” Gaara muttered. “You lived there?”

            ‘Gotcha!’ she cheered internally. “Uhuh. I was born in the Sand.”

            Gaara stopped walking for a moment. “You’re from the Sand? And you let me call you Leafgirl?”

            “It’s ok, you didn’t know. Besides, that’s what I am now that we live with our dad in Konoha.” There was another pause, but Yami was patient.

            “What happened to your mother?”

            ‘Crap,” she thought. ‘Touchy subject. His mom died giving birth to him.’ “She was born in the Leaf, so we all moved there to be with Dad almost seven years ago. You might have heard of her, the famous Neko Anbu, Aono Oururi?”

            “The same one that took out our Anbu upper echelon a few years ago?” he asked.

            “They had kidnapped us. Kazekage-sama was unwilling to let us go. It all ended up ok though, obviously.”

            Gaara snorted at the mention of his late father’s name. ‘Crap. Way to go, Yami-chan,’ she scolded herself. Before she knew it, they had reached the house. No time to brush that subject aside. Gaara went up the stairs ahead of her and disappeared into the house. “Well, I’m not giving up now!” she muttered and followed him.

 

.x.

            Sasuke woke to the feeling of hands on his chest. They were warm. Too warm. Still groggy, he snapped to attention and tried to grab the person.

            “Oho, we got a live one,” a woman’s voice purred. His vision cleared and he looked up at the impressive cleavage and smiling face of the fifth Hokage. “Good morning,” she said and continued to heal him as he relaxed.

            “Excuse me, Hokage-sama.” He winced and lay back down.

            “How ya feeling?” she asked.

            “I…” Sasuke’s eyes went wide. “Hikari! Is she…?”

            “She’s fine. I haven’t been to her yet, but I’ve been told she’s awake and in good health. Now, explain everything to me. Why did you act like a total retard?”

            “Eh?!” he asked.

            “Why did you lead that poor girl into something so dangerous?” Tsunade finished her ministrations and sat back in the chair at his side.

            “I…” Sasuke squinted and thought before he spoke. “Yes. It’s all my fault. She’s not responsible for her actions, I am.”

            “Baka.”

            “What?!” he choked.

            Tsunade smiled. “I know she followed you. You shouldn’t have gone after him alone. I know you’re almost a Jounin, but there were two of them and one of you. You could have asked for a team.”

            “No. I didn’t want anyone else involved. I didn’t want… I didn’t want him to hurt anyone else.”

            Tsunade pursed her lips. “Well, he won’t hurt anyone ever again, thanks to you.” She got up and went to the door. “Good job, Sasuke-kun. I’ll send your friends in. They’ve been waiting for you.”    

            He looked up with a confused face. “My… friends?”

            Naruto who ran when he heard the news, Sakura and Lee who were there for therapy, Ino who was delivering flowers, Shikamaru who was with Ino, all poured into the room to wish him well.

            “My friends…” Sasuke whispered.

 

.x.

            Just as she thought, Yami found Gaara on the roof. “’Scuse me,” she called down from the eves of a window in the third floor hallway. “Is this roof taken?”

            “Yes.”

            Yami pouted. “It’s a free country!”

            “It’s my roof. Go away.”

            “No.”

            “No?” he asked and looked at her over his shoulder from his perch on the ledge. “It’s my house.”

            “Not really, it’s the State’s.” She replied and stuck out her tongue. Gaara growled a frustrated sort of snort and folded his arms.

            “Why don’t you two go home. I’m not interested.”

            “We’re not here for you.”

            “What?” he asked and looked to her again.

            Yami stared straight into his eyes. “Your sister and brother hired us. We are here for them. They want to help you, even if you don’t want to help yourself. They love you.”

            “Che,” he scoffed and looked back out at the lights as they came on all over Sunagakure and twilight descended.

            “Does that really sound weird to you? That someone could love you?”

            “They don’t love me. They fear me. I’ve gotten much stronger than I was at the Chuunin exam. They fear for their lives.”

            Yami clenched her fists, trying to keep herself from shouting at him. “Is that why they stay by your side?” She seated herself next to him. The killing intent around him was palpable. She focused and secretly used tai-chi breathing techniques to calm herself. “And since that is their wish, and they have hired my father and I, I’ll do the same. I’m not going anywhere.” She smiled at him.

            Gaara’s eyes went wide. “You…” His mind’s eye suddenly saw a playground and an unafraid, friendly little white-haired girl swinging by his side.

            Yami looked out at the first stars of evening. “They want you to do this for you, not for them, but if you don’t care about yourself, then maybe you should do it for them.”

            “Baka,” Gaara breathed as he stood up. “My name means ‘he who loves only himself’.”

            “What’s in a name?” she asked and let him go without protest. Yami was confident she’d made progress. ‘Now it’s your turn, Gaara,’ she thought. ‘You have to reach out… to us.’

 

            The next night, Yami was surprised to find Gaara waiting for her in her room. She dropped the plastic cup holding her toothbrush and it clattered to the floor.

            “Quiet. I need to speak to you.”

            ‘Well well,’ she thought. ‘That was easy.’ “Sure.”

            He leaned against the far wall. “This sealing method, have you seen it performed?”

            “No. Tousan is the only person alive who’s seen it in hundreds of years. His sensei used it on Naruto. You know, the blond kid with the Kitsune inside him?”

            “And he is able to use the Kitsune’s chakra at will?”

            “Well, you fought him, you should know,” she replied and folded her arms. ‘What is he getting at?’

            “And it doesn’t control him at all?”

            “Not that I know of.” Yami bit her lip. ‘Aha! He’s thinking about it!’ She looked to the clock. “Is it true that you don’t sleep?”

            He stared at her for a moment before answering, “yes.”

            “I’m not super tired right now. Would you keep me company for a while?” Confusion wrinkled his eyes again and she giggled. “Talk to me.”

 

            Several hours and many stories later as dawn crept through the window, Gaara stretched and went for the door.

            “See you tomorrow,” Yami smiled and pulled the covers up to her chin.

            “If I do this,” he asked quietly. “Will you be there?”

            “Tousan already said I can’t. It’s too dangerous.”

            “That… that’s not what I meant. I mean, afterwards.” His clear, blue eyes stared at her, but his face didn’t give anything away.

            Yami nodded. “I promise. I’ll be here.” And without another word, Gaara left.

 

.x.

            On the last day, Temari came into the sitting room again. Her eyes were red-rimmed. She shook her head slowly. “I’m so sorry. I haven’t seen him in a few days,” Temari’s voice was low and soft. “You will be paid for your time. I’m… I’m so sorry…”

            “It’s all right, Temari-san,” Kakashi reassured her. “You tried.”

            “Yes.” Her voice hiccupped slightly.

            “He’ll definitely come…” Yami whispered.

            “Yami,” Kakashi warned, but looked to the doorway as Gaara appeared.

            “All right,” he said, his arms folded across his chest. “You can try, but I cannot promise you will make it out alive.”

            “This is a mission, Gaara,” Kakashi replied. “I am prepared for that.”

            Yami swallowed hard. She was glad Gaara came around, but remembered the danger it would put her father in. She followed Kakashi out of the room. Gaara watched them go, but waited. When they had gone, he addressed his sister.

            “This isn’t for you.”

            “What?” Temari asked with her back to him.

            “I’m not doing this for you or Kankuro.”

            “That’s fine,” she said quietly. “I don’t care who it’s for. I just… I want you to be…”

            “Harmless?” he spat.

            “To yourself, yes!” Temari cried and spun around. Tears flowed down her cheeks. “I want to… It’s been eating away at you all these years. When I heard that there was someone living who could do the same thing that was done to seal that Naruto brat, I contacted the Leaf immediately. I want to save you. You’re my little brother. I want you back.”

            “Temari… I’ll try.” She reached out to him but he brushed her hand aside. “Don’t touch me.” Gaara turned and went to get ready. “Not yet.” Temari collapsed in a chair and bawled into her hands with relief.

 

.x.

            That very afternoon, Kakashi and Gaara set out into the great wastes that surrounded Sunagakure. They stopped in an enormous dry riverbed known as the Wadi Ran.

            Out of earshot and just out of sight, Temari crouched behind a rock and waited. Her brother’s voice calling from nearby made her wince. “Would you shut up!” she hissed.

            “It’s too dangerous, Oneechan!” Kankuro hissed back. “Hatake-san said to…”

            “I know what he said, now sit down and shut up or we’ll both be busted.”

            Kankuro obeyed, but kept his guard up. “We’ve got company,” he whispered. Temari looked around. He pointed to another nearby rock outcropping and drew a kunai.

            “It’s all right,” Yami dropped her cover and made herself visible. “It’s just me.”

            “Sheesh,” Kankuro said and rolled his eyes. “Scared the crap outta me…”

            “Everyone shut up,” Temari shushed them. “He’s about to begin.”

 

            In the wadi, Kakashi told Gaara to strip to the waist. The young man looked offended, but did as he was told.

            “Ok, now do like I told you. Let it out.”

            “And I tell you again, I don’t want anyone complaining when they have to scrape what’s left of you off of the sand.”

            “You let me worry about that. Come on. The sun is setting.” Kakashi took a fighting stance and lifted his forehead protector. The single Sharingan iris looked out at the steadily shrinking daylight as the man before him started to grow. In just a few moments, the thing that was inside Gaara was on the outside. It filled the entire width of the river bed. Gaara’s own form massed itself in the center of the thing’s forehead. “This is it. Once I sleep, I’m out of control. It will try to kill you.”

            “I am more aware of that fact than you can possible imagine,” Kakashi moaned, his left hand glowing with concentrated chakra. “Alright, let’s do this.”

            Gaara formed a seal and closed his eyes. “Tanuki Neri no Jutsu!” [Sleeping Tanuki] His body slumped forward and the Shuukaku became fully conscious.

            “Ninpo Nigiru no Jutsu!” [High-level Ninja Skill, Grasping Technique] Kakashi cried and appeared between the Shuukaku’s eyes. He slapped his palm down and the creature was immobilized. “Henkan no Jutsu!” [Conversion Skill] Much to the thing’s horror, its body began to disappear as Kakashi converted the demon into spiritual energy. The pure chakra gathered into his body and the sweat poured down his face. ‘Just a little more…’ he thought. ‘If Minato-sensei could hold the Nine-tails for an hour or so, I can do this for three minutes…’ Soon the whole thing was changed over and Gaara’s body lay on the ground. Kakashi stepped over to him, holding his left hand with his right. The power arched and crackled all around it, looking not unlike his famous Chidori jutsu, only pinkish in hue. Gaara opened his eyes. “You… you did it?”

            “Not yet kid. This part’s not going to be any fun. Hold on.” Kakashi knelt next to him and bit his own right index finger. It took him about a half a minute to draw the seals on Gaara’s exposed stomach. When he was done, Kakashi’s vision started to fail him. “Just a little longer…” He held his left hand high. “Close your eyes, Gaara.” He did and Kakashi slammed his left palm into the center of the seal. “Hakke Fuuin Seibutsu!” [Eight Divination Lifeform Seal] Tendrils of chakra snaked off of his hand, over-writing the lines drawn in blood on Gaara’s belly. Kakashi clenched his teeth and concentrated, but Gaara threw his mouth open wide and screamed as the Shuukaku entered him through his navel. It was bound once more to his soul in a contract Kakashi wrote using Gaara and the Shuukaku’s souls as the binding agent for the duration of Gaara’s lifetime.

 

            “Gaara!!!” Temari shouted and made to run to Gaara’s side. Kankuro caught her around the waist and kept her hidden.

            “No! Not yet.”

            Yami wrung her scarf in her hands. “Tousan…”

 

            In about a minute, it was over. Gaara’s muscles relaxed and he slumped back against the desert floor. Kakashi panted and went to wipe his brow, but his hand would not obey. “Heh,” he snorted. “I’m all tapped out. You ok, kid?”

            Gaara didn’t answer, but by the rise and fall of his chest, Kakashi was sure the job was done.

            “Good to hear,” he laughed lightly and collapsed.

            “Tousan!!!” Yami shouted and charged down the bank.

            “Gaara!!!” his siblings cried and followed. They stopped a short distance from his body and waited to see if the coast was clear. Temari was the first to touch him. “He’s alive, Kankuro!” She reached out gingerly and stroked his hair. “He’s ok.”

            “Tousan,” Yami sniffled.

            “It’s ok, Yami. Just tired. Gonna be fine.” He gave her his best masked smile. She pulled his forehead protector back down over the Sharingan eye. Kankuro and Temari picked Gaara up and started back up the bank.

            “Hey, wait!” Yami cried. She held her father’s head in her lap. “He can’t move!”

            “That’s not our problem,” Temari shouted back.

            “Nee-chan,” Kankuro whispered. “We can’t leave him. It’s gonna be 20 degrees out here soon.”

            “I know that, Kankuro!” she shouted back.

            “Here, I’ll take Gaara. You help Yami-chan.”

            Temari growled, but reason told her that she could not carry either of the men by herself and Kankuro wasn’t going to let her be selfish. “Fine.”

            “Thank you, Temari-san.”

            Temari was silent the entire way home.

 

.x.

            Naruto was, for once, not hungry. He stirred his miso ramen around in its bowl and listened as Yume told him the Hatake side of things.

            “Hikari’s grounded, huh?”

            Yume nodded. “At least a week before she can even leave the house at all. Mom’s waiting for Dad to come home so they can decide what to do for her punishment. I think they’re not going to let her take the Jounin exam this year.”

            “No way! That’s not fair!” Naruto thought. “Well, maybe not. I guess lying to her parents is pretty irresponsible.”

            Yume nodded. “This is going to be rough. At least Yami’s not back yet.” Naruto nodded and hummed, which Yume knew meant he didn’t fully understand what was being said to him. She smiled and poked at her own ramen. “They’ve been fighting so much the last year or so. When one of them is away it’s much quieter.” Her vision unfocused as she remembered the last few screaming matches her sisters held. She shuddered.

 

.x.

            24 hours later, neither Kakashi nor Gaara had awoken. Temari called for a doctor after Kankuro asked her to do so for the twentieth time. Kakashi responded to the older, woman doctor’s presence, but Gaara remained still, even when pricked with a pin.

            “I’m afraid this man is in a coma.”

            “What?” Temari whispered and sank into a chair.

            She wrote some notes as she spoke. “This is most likely induced by the extreme shock of the jutsu performed on him. It might prove dangerous for him if the rest of the country should learn he’s indisposed. I will have the required equipment brought here so that he may stay at home. I’ve got a new physician starting next week who I will assign to this case. Everything will be totally confidential, as you requested, Temari-sama.” She bowed and left them. Temari stormed into Kakashi’s room.

            “He’s in a fucking coma!!!” she screamed.

            “He’s alive. He will recover,” came Kakashi’s muttered response. Yami stood against the far wall and watched Temari throw the door-curtain aside as she left.

 


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