|Courage Needs You
Author: Eris' Puppet PM
She was sixteen – he was almost thirty. It was as wrong as it was right. It was scary, it was exciting, it was everything she never knew she wanted. There was so much passion, so much pain, so much realization that love was never an easy thing.KakaSakuRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Adventure - Kakashi H. & Sakura H. - Chapters: 17 - Words: 113,807 - Reviews: 629 - Favs: 625 - Follows: 320 - Updated: 10-31-05 - Published: 02-03-05 - id: 2247839
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Courage Needs You - Chapter #17
A New Beginning
It was all so surreal – something that seemed more likely to happen in the movies than in real life. She was a missing-nin now, and she had dragged Kakashi along with her (albeit not by her request so much as it was by his persistence and obstinate nature).
Although she had pleaded with him not to come, she wasn't even sure she could have made it this far without him. There was so much gratitude, so much love, and so much guilt that she was at a loss in how to properly convey it. Words felt cheap for such a situation, seemed so lacking in compare to all that he did for her…sacrificed for her.
The reality of it all would sink in during these quiet moments – these peaceful moments – these moments when they were alone and she was granted reprieve from the day's events. During these times it would bury itself deep within her conscience, whispering in rasped foul words what a horrible person she was – how selfish, inconsiderate, and undeserving she was of Kakashi. She would then have to bite her tongue and hold her breath, fighting off the tears which she promised she would never shed again.
Rolling on her side she tried to ignore the smell of dust and mildew that decorated the room's corners and in between the wood paneling. It was old and decrepit; cracked floorboards and ripped sheets; brown tinged tap water and bright orange rust.
His back was to her but she could tell he was fighting with his contact lenses in the bathroom, trying to clean and get them out. He still wasn't used to them, and a new wave of guilt attacked her knowing it was her fault that he had to bear them in the first place.
She watched with sad tired eyes as he slipped a kunai out and shaved the slight stubble that had begun to grow on his face. It just wouldn't do if he grew a beard that didn't match his hair. Her lips suddenly twisted unhappily, missing his silver mane. She had become so accustomed to it, so used to it and reassured by it, that it was hard to see the new Kakashi in the old. All the characteristics that had made him distinctly him, were covered now – were dangerous and ill promising if seen.
No more mismatched eyes; no more silver hair – only simple green and bland brown, colours which would blend in a crowd and be easily forgotten.
"Why are you frowning?"
She caught the tiny undercurrent of distress in his tone, unpleased to see her looking so glum. She smiled at him weakly as he padded from the bathroom, the floor creaking beneath his feet as he made his way over to his sorry excuse of a futon (not that hers was much better).
"Nothing, just thinking about stupid stuff."
She saw him raise a brow before he crouched down to push his futon against her own; the act always making her feel unexplainably happy. It was comforting to know he always wanted to be beside her – close to her and touch her.
He turned off the flickering overhead light, casting the room in shadows and moonlight, and since it was uncomfortably warm due to the lack of an air conditioner, he slipped off his shirt and chucked it on his traveling bag in the corner as well.
When he lay on top of the covers beside her, she automatically pressed into him; arm draped across his naked torso, and head nestled in the juncture between shoulder and chest. She felt him twirling a strand of her hair in a leisurely manner.
"I miss the original colour," he said softly, she hearing the vibrations in his chest.
She grinned. "I was just thinking the exact same thing, only with your hair," and brought a few of her own tresses in front of her face to scrutinize. "I don't care that mine's brown though. It's just hair colour right?"
A comfortable silence followed, with his hand still threading through her locks.
It had been a long day – a long week more like it, and the fatigue of it all was finally catching up to her. Had it really only been a week? It seemed like so much longer…
Seemed like months ago when she had bought the hair dye and contact lenses – when she had slept in Kakashi's bed – when she had walked down the streets of Konoha with nothing but a pack, Kakashi, and a hidden agenda.
There was so much she hadn't even considered when she fled for the first time, and although she could have blamed it on haste, the act of fooling herself seemed too troublesome at the moment. In retrospect, it had been pretty idiotic on her account thinking she could have done this on her own.
She mulled over the fact that money would have been a wise thing to bring, that unidentifiable clothes would have been smart to wear, that changing her appearance would have been beneficial – but she hadn't thought about any of that at the time, and now she was wondering just what the hell had she been thinking?
Even though inwardly berating herself for her previous stupidity was useless, she still felt the need to do it.
Sighing, she started trailing her finger along the expanse of Kakashi's chest, concentrating on the arbitrary patterns in hopes it would distract her from her current worries.
"Ne, Kakashi? When'd you get this?" she asked, tracing a cross shaped scar, three inches in diameter, a little below his shoulder.
She felt his head shift, no doubt trying to see what she was referring to.
"I got that in my early jounin days."
Her brow creased, tracing the smooth, albeit slightly jagged scar. "Whoever patched you up didn't do a very good job."
Her head bounced beneath his chest as he gave a gentle laugh. "That would be me you're referring to."
"Oh…" and then she felt sort of bad.
"But you're right," he went on. "I did do a pretty sloppy job. That's what happens when you're ten years old and inexperienced with stitches."
Even though it had happened about twenty years ago, even before she was born, she didn't like the picture in her mind of a young wounded Kakashi having to stitch up his own bloody skin. He would probably laugh at her now if he knew what she was thinking.
"So how does it feel walking around without your mask on?" For some reason it felt like a touchy subject to bring up, but impatience, curiosity, and the desire to eradicate the young suffering Kakashi from her mind, won in the end.
"Feels the same I suppose," but she could tell he was lying. He just wasn't the sort of man who would admit to discomfort or insecurity when related to such a thing.
"Seems so unfair," she murmured, still running her finger along his torso, "that all these strangers get to see your face when I had to wait so long."
"Are you trying to tell me you're jealous, Sakura?" he teased, earning himself a poke in the ribs.
There was a relaxed silence after that, he absentmindedly stroking his hand through her hair, she, outlining the curves of his abs. Her eyes closed unwillingly, hearing the rickety plumbing below her, a couple arguing across the hall, the drunken banter bleeding from the streets.
She wondered how much longer they were going to be in this town, lurking from inn to inn, nosing around and asking questions. She realized Shikamaru had been right, there was something unsettling with the inhabitants here, or maybe it was just this town – she wasn't quite sure and she wouldn't find out unless they moved on, which they still had yet to do.
"What's the plan for tomorrow?" she mumbled half asleep, just clinging onto the edge of consciousness.
"The same as today's."
"More questioning and snooping?"
He hummed in this throat, a lazy response of 'yes'. She wasn't going to interrogate him why they remained in this rundown town – faithfully trusting his motives and instinct. His breathing started to even out and the up and down movements of his chest lulled her to sleep.
When she woke up light was seeping in through the curtains, or what was meant to have been curtains but were actually two pieces of puke green cloth, tattered, old, and probably smelly, clinging onto their purpose in life with the most pitiful of threads.
Turning over she was greeted with a much more appealing view of Kakashi's backside – back slick with the morning's humidity and black pants hanging loosely on his hips. She admired him in her groggy state, a goofy grin appearing at the thought that he was hers, but as the morning's sleepiness waned with the passing seconds, she realized he wasn't moving – just standing in the bathroom, hands gripped on either side of the sink with his head bowed so low that she could barely see his dark brown spikes.
There seemed to be an unending supply of guilt waves which would assault her more frequently than she desired during the day. Now just happened to be one of those times.
She sat up frowning, and opened her mouth to say something when she heard him sigh. It tugged at her heart, the sound coming out so tired and strained.
This was exactly how he looked on the night that they had left – abandoning the Leaf for what she felt was a better cause. He hadn't seen her at the time, but she had seen him, looking much the same now as he had then – head bowed, shoulders slumped, hands gripping for support. He had been looking at his hitai-ate, thinking only God knows what, and he had stayed like that for a good half hour…just standing there, gazing at this piece of metal and cloth that rested on his dresser.
She hadn't thought much of hers when she took it off, discarding it on her bedside table to be forgotten, but now looking at him with her memories resurfacing, she felt ashamed. The hitai-ate represented so much more than what she had given it credit for.
She wondered if he was picturing it now – if he missed it and was regretting his decision in coming with her.
Averting her eyes away, she was unable to watch him looking so melancholy; he wouldn't want her to see him looking like that anyway and she suddenly felt like she had invaded something very personal and private. Lying back down slowly and quietly, she feigned sleep, and stayed that way till she heard him move where he started another morning ritual of their new life.
"Hmm?" he responded, eyes focused forward as they sauntered through town.
"I have this eerie feeling that someone's watching us."
"Just ignore it."
Obviously he had felt it too but was otherwise acting very calm about it. She on the other hand couldn't, and found herself peering over her shoulder one time too many.
She wondered what would make someone spy on them, besides the fact of them being missing-nins. It had only been a week though and she doubted any ANBU had been sent for them yet. They were probably still debating what had happened to them…or so she hoped.
No one could recognize them…could they? Not that she was infamous enough to be recognized, but the only thing that might've given Kakashi away was the vertical scar cutting through his eye and cheek. Besides that, she couldn't find anything. His hair was brown; his eyes green; his clothes casual muted earth tones and blacks – looking so much like her own. His reasoning for this was to blend in with the crowd as much as possible. No bright colours, no fancy designs; everything had to be nondescript – ordinary – the goal to be a forgettable person.
She sighed, wondering where they were going. So far what they had discovered was squat, and it was getting on her nerves. They had visited the site of the attack only to find most of the forestry miraculously re-grown with no signs of previous combat.
"I expected as much," he had said, surveying the land. "It doesn't seem like we can find out any information here."
"What do you mean you expected it? How come everything looks normal?"
He had raised a brow at her then, giving her a semi-amused smile which stopped mere millimeters from patronizing. "We are in the Grass Country Sakura. Their specialty is in the manipulation of plant life. They probably re-grew everything to stop people like us from snooping around."
"So they're hiding something?"
"Most likely," had been his reply.
Mulling over that conversation now, she could easily see that yes, people here in Grass were most definitely hiding something. Everybody seemed to be on guard – vigilant and cagey when it came to questions. Every person they asked would always reply in the same clipped tones that, "I don't know what you're talking about. There haven't been any disturbances around here for months," which had been a blatant lie. Of course Kakashi never called them on it and would always politely say, "Thank you for your time," which bothered Sakura to no end.
She was growing impatient, and every day the urge to snip back at these lying buffoons was growing stronger. What was it that kept Kakashi here? It certainly wasn't the people or atmosphere. It was filled with low lives, moronic thugs the kind you would find in dark allies, sleazy rundown women the kind Sakura only ever saw in movies. It smelt of death and grime, the sort of smell a sensitive nose would never grow accustomed to.
So what if this was the closest town to the attack, only a few scant miles away – obviously these people had nothing to say to them so why stay? Why couldn't they head to the main village and prod around there?
"Kakashi, where are we going?" she asked in hushed tones, still on high alert by all the lingering stares.
He jerked his head in front of him, too indolent to point as his hands were as per usual, pocketed. "You see that pub up there? That's where."
She looked in the direction he had indicated and indeed there was a pub, although it was more akin to a dilapidated shack than anything. Just the look of it gave her weird vibes, making her face scrunch in aversion.
"Because," he started, turning his head partly to the side where she saw him smirk, "hopefully we can find someone drunk enough with a loose tongue."
She just stared at him for a beat, still not used to seeing a mask-less Kakashi walking around in the open. It was captivating in a sense. His smirk broadened then, as if he knew what she was thinking.
"But it's only the afternoon," was her delayed reply.
He shrugged. "For some people being drunk is a profession, and this seems like the kind of town where there a lot of said professionals."
She couldn't argue there, and obediently followed him into the pub. The smell of cigarette smoke and booze attacked her senses, making her wrinkle her nose in barefaced distaste. It took a couple moments for her eyes to adjust to the dim interior and when they did, she could see several pairs of eyes on her – scrutinizing her through the dark and the smog.
She shrunk back behind Kakashi and focused on the dirty floorboards, trying her best at invisibility.
"Come on," he said, moseying on over to the bar – her, having no choice but to follow. The place wasn't very big, about ten tables with three chairs per table, with the bar running along the wall at the back. Three men, somewhere in their mid thirties, gruff and sour faced, eyed them from the table they occupied in the far corner. The other lodgers paid them no mind – rosy cheeked and droopy eyes indicating they were to inebriated to notice anything but their next refill.
Sakura used all effort to ignore them. Pillows of nicotine clouds lounged in the air and above their heads, she squinting her eyes as the smoke stung her eyes and burnt her lungs. Kakashi glided onto a bar stool; cool, casual, confident, and rested his hands on the counter while dropping his pack by his feet. Sakura tried to imitate him but found her hands fidgeting with her whole body stiff.
"Sorry, but we don't serve minors here."
Sakura's attention was immediately averted to the bartender, feeling a tinged embarrassed about the whole situation. Not only was she a minor, but the only female as well. She didn't want to cower, but couldn't help it as she lowered her head and shielded her face with mud-brown hair.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Kakashi wave his hand dismissively. "Don't worry, she's not ordering," and then felt the bartender's deep set eyes bore into her a moment longer before turning to Kakashi.
"Alright, what can I get ya then sir?"
"Just a single malt of scotch will do."
The bartender nodded and put down the glass he had been drying. He was burly and stout, a man who looked like he could hold his liquor. He had brown thinning hair, a five o'clock shadow on his chubby face, and a sizeable beer gut hanging over the edge of his trousers. All in all he looked like most of the inhabitants around here besides the dirty white apron tied around his large midsection.
She glanced at Kakashi expectantly, wondering what he was going to do or what he was going to say. If he felt her gaze, he didn't show it, and started slowly nursing his drink when it was placed in front of him.
"So, where you folks headed?" His voice was deep and brusque but there was an air of friendliness about him that didn't make Sakura feel so on edge.
"NorthWest," was Kakashi's simple reply.
"Aa, heading to Kusa are you?"
"Ya, taking my niece here back to my sister's."
Niece? Sister's? Kusa?
She felt her brow crease, trying to make sense of the conversation. Was that how he was going to go around referring her as? His niece? The concept made her feel…funny, not a good funny, but a 'I-have-no-idea-how-to-feel-about-this', sort of funny.
"Aa, so that's who the little missy is. I was wondering since you're too young to be her father, but too old to be her brother. But now it makes sense."
Was the option of them physically being together not even feasible?
"So how are the roads from here to Kusa? Any rumours I should be worried about?"
"Rumours?" the bartender reiterated, stroking his stubbly chin with his index and thumb. "Nope, none that I can think of. It's been pretty peaceful around here as of late."
"Really?" and Kakashi raised a brow, pitch a little higher as if saying 'I don't believe you'. "I heard that not too long ago there was a disturbance along the border just a few miles away."
"Well," and he shrugged, "you heard wrong mister. It's been nothing but peace and quiet for months now." He was avoiding eye contact, making a false show of being busy as he wiped down the countertop with a dirty rag which Sakura suspected was his cleanest.
He was lying, they were always lying, and Sakura had to grit her teeth and purse her mouth less a snippety comment flew past her lips. She inwardly sighed, waiting to hear Kakashi thank the man before they left in search of more lying scumbags.
"Forgive me when I say I don't believe you," Kakashi said evenly, making Sakura's eyes widen a tad before she broke out into a mad grin.
The bartender paused mid swipe before continuing on with his task. "I'm not sure what you're searching for mister, but you ain't gonna find it here. I think you and the little missy should be on your way now," and he turned his back on them, still putting up a front of being preoccupied.
Suddenly the front door was banged open and a bearded robust man barged in, making his way over to the table where the three sour-faced occupants sat. He was loud and gregarious, laughing and talking amiably to what Sakura assumed were his friends. She was glad that there was some noise in the room now besides Kakashi's prodding and the bartender's lies.
"What if I told you I witnessed the assault along the border," Kakashi went on, demeanor utterly serious.
The bartender swiveled around and leaned towards Kakashi, eyes narrowed and posture stiff. "If you did see it, then you would know not to talk about it," he hissed, Kakashi remaining unfazed.
"Awe, so something did happen," he drawled smugly.
"Look m–" and then he stopped, cutting his eyes across the room before hunching down and lowering his voice to an angry whisper. "Look mister, you shouldn't be here and you certainly shouldn't be going around asking such questions. If you care about this little girl at all, you'll turn tail and leave."
Looking beside her she saw a tick in Kakashi's jaw but was otherwise unsure of what it meant.
"Are you telling me that we're in danger?" he asked lowly, capturing the angry bartender's gaze in his own.
"Yes!" he hissed, just managing to keep a whisper.
The man leaned back, letting out a frustrated 'ugh' as if he couldn't believe this was happening, then quickly leaned forward again, placing plump hands on the counter to steady himself.
"Because you keep sticking your nose in business where it don't belong!" he grit out harshly. "People have been talking about you two – saying there's a man and a girl going around asking questions, causing trouble. You're making the whole damn town nervous as hell!" then he abruptly peered his head up, making sure no one had heard him. He sighed, resting his forehead against the heel of his hand. "Look, I don't want any trouble – none of these folks do so please, just keep your questions to yourself and leave!"
"We'll leave as soon as you tell us what it is we want to know and if you don't, we're going to stick around, and we're going to keep on asking questions and we're going to keep on bothering the people of this town."
Sakura leaned back impressed, watching proudly as Kakashi pushed all of the right buttons. She could see the man's bushy eyebrow start twitching, and his fat little fingers grip the edge of the worn-out countertop.
"You don't know what it is you're asking," he said sort of strained, as if an inner conflict was occurring.
"Try me," Kakashi said smoothly, totally unperturbed under the weight of the man's panic.
The two males eyed each other, dark brown and gem green clashing, trying to force the other to break. Finally the bartender relented. "Fine! What is it that you want to know?"
"A group of rogue ninja's attacked a unit of six Leaf jounin's stationed at the border. Three of them are currently missing; a woman with pink hair, a large brown-haired man with a scar along his left cheek, and a man about my height with spiky blond hair. Have you seen them?"
The man shook his head stiffly. "I haven't seen anyone of that description."
"Fine, what about these rogue ninja's? Were they Grass?"
He shook his head. "Not likely. Grass has no quarrel with Leaf."
"Then who is likely?"
He hesitated; teeth gritting, fingers clenching, vein-popping anger, showing through. It looked like he was about to strike Kakashi, and Sakura wasn't so much worried about him hurting Kakashi as it was Kakashi retaliating in defense. "It was Stone," he finally forced out, anger dissipating to a mien of defeat, hanging his head with a look of utter pain written across his soft features.
Sakura saw Kakashi's eyebrows slightly rise with an almost perplexed expression ruining his calm façade. It took a lot to shock Kakashi. "Why would Stone attack Leaf in your territory?"
He sighed frustrated. "It's complicated."
"Well un-complicate it."
Dark brown eyes turned to slits, and the contours of his face tightened dangerously. "We have no control over what Stone does. Our military is one-fifth of theirs!"
"You have Cloud as your allies."
The man snorted; a disgusted contemptuous sound. "I wouldn't exactly consider them allies. And besides, they're Stone's allies as well. There's nothing we can do about them."
"Why would Stone travel all the way from their country to yours, just to attack a half dozen shinobi from the Leaf?"
"They weren't after Leaf, they were after the forming uprising in Grass. The Leaf were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"The wrong place at the wrong time! That's a horrible thing to say! How–" whatever she was going to say next was quickly cut off by the warning glint in Kakashi's eyes. Biting the inside of her cheek and digging her nails into the fleshy part of her palms, she forced herself into quiet seething.
Ascertaining Sakura wouldn't succumb to another outburst and that the other occupants were still nursing their drinks unaware, Kakashi refocused on the man in front of him, seeing him partially embrangled due to Sakura going from a timid kitten to a furious tiger.
"When you say uprising, do you mean a rebellion?" He watched the bartender stare at his livid kunoichi a moment longer before turning his attention back to him.
"Look, I can't tell you anything else – I shouldn't have told you anything at all!"
"If you d–"
"I know!" He was losing patience, frustration and panic making his cheeks burn. Kakashi remained neutral, observing and waiting for the man to dispel his anger. Suddenly he turned away; chest puffed, eyes hard, and pulled out a little piece of paper before hurriedly writing something down. Pivoting back he slammed the paper down in front of Kakashi – waves of resentment circling around him and mingling in with the cigarette smoke.
"Go to Kusa. Look for this man. He'll tell you everything you need to know." Each word was strained – emphasized – forced out through clenched teeth. "Now leave this town! There's nothing more for you here."
Kakashi tucked the paper into his pants pocket and gave the bartender a nod – whether it was a dismissive, respectful, or thankful nod, Sakura didn't know and quickly shouldered her pack as she saw Kakashi do the same.
Outside never felt – smelt – tasted so good, and she couldn't help but pause to suck in a couple deep gulps of air while breathing out all the pollution that had accumulated in her lungs in turn. Even the death and grime stench smelled infinitely times better.
She opened her eyes, not even realizing she had closed them, and saw an unreadable jounin shadowing above her with his height. He didn't look happy, nor angry – just bordering on displeased.
"Next time in the future it will do well if you controlled your emotions a little better."
Her face twisted unhappily, begrudging him for the truth and pointing out her faults. "But h–" and then his finger was on her lips, silencing her and any rebuttal she could make – doing it in such a controlled and confident manner while grinning down at her that she couldn't help but capitulate and let her anger vanish like soap on filth. Kakashi was the only person in the world who could make her hate him then love him in a matter of seconds.
"Come on, Kusa awaits us."
"I don't understand…why would they leave?" Naruto whispered, eyes introverted and unblinking, brows knit in confused wonder. "I mean, all of this isn't confirmed right? We don't know for a fact that they left the country."
"It is still speculation as of now, yes, but I was hoping with the both of you here it might give a better foundation on our assumptions," Tsunade said, looking to each of Kakashi's former students. "Do either of you have any notions of your own to add?"
Naruto looked to Sasuke, his undecipherable black eyes harbouring a deep cavernous loathing. Did he know as well? Had he figured it out?
Sasuke broke the connection and regarded the Hokage. "I haven't seen much of Sakura since the news of her parents, and why she might have left? Your guess is as good as mine."
Tsunade leaned back in her chair, the leather squeaking with her movements, crossing her arms and closing her eyes as if this were weary. "Kakashi came to me on behalf of Sakura one day, asking if I would give her permission to look for her parents. Of course she was denied, but Kakashi said she thought they might not be in the Fire Country."
Blue eyes grew wide. "Are you saying she left Konoha in search of them?"
"That's my assumption so far, but the only thing that doesn't make sense is that it seems Kakashi has also left with her. Any of you want to enlighten me as to why he would do that?"
A respite in their conversation trailed – the atmosphere losing the air of business-like affability and morphing into a cagey crescendo. Naruto's chair suddenly toppled over when he abruptly stood up; starting all occupants of the room and arresting their attention.
"If your final decision is to consider them missing-nins, I demand you give me permission to search for them," he said forcibly, eyes hard with determination.
Tsunade considered him for a moment before shaking her head, disregarding his insolence. "You're too involved in the situation – you're making it too personal. It would jeopardize the mission."
"But because I know them on a personal level I know their habits, their routines, the way they might think. It would help in the search if someone who knew them was there," he countered, the fire of his resolve still burning bright.
She sighed. "If it does come to the conclusion of them being missing-nins, I will consider your proposal Naruto."
"Then consider mine as well," Sasuke spoke up; voice monotone but crisp. "If anyone can find them, it's us," he said, with a resolve and a confidence which one might have considered arrogance.
With that, they were both dismissed, standing outside of headquarters with tense and thoughtful expressions, waiting for the other to make the first move.
"You know…don't you?" Naruto asked; thumbs hooked in his pockets as he squinted at the sun.
He gave a laugh, unsure of where the urge came from. "Strange huh? Whoever would have thought that those two would get together." He continued to chuckle weakly, possibly to stop himself from crying.
"You're hurt," Sasuke replied impassively.
Naruto suddenly stopped his forced out laughter, eyes firm as he glared at the ground. "Ya…I guess I am."
The dark-haired boy turned his eyes skyward, the sun highlighting the indigo in his hair. "We'll find them. Of that I'm sure," and he walked away, leaving Naruto with his doubts, fears, and hopes to stand by his side.
Dun dun dun! So ya, I've finally updated! Shocking eh? Consider it my little Halloween treat! Unfortunately there won't be another update anytime soon.
So besides that, a lot of things happen in this chapter. I've started it out where Kakashi and Sakura have already left Konoha, and are staying in a town in Grass near the border. Oh ya, I've also changed their hair colour, which some might highly abhor, but meh, I find it necessary. And Kakashi now wears contacts heh poor guy; and also walks around mask-less. Also, we find out a little more about Sakura's parents disappearance, and that weirdly enough, Stone is involved. The edginess of the villagers is still a mystery, and ya, I think that finishes the main points in this chapter.
Edit May 12 /06: This story is now discontinued. No more updates. Sorry!