We've been searching for a long time now. Sasuke doesn't seem to be in any one of these rooms. Sakura-chan seems to be very worried, but also anxious to see the Uchiha boy. Door, after door, after door. I have actually begun to lose hope. That is, until I found this room.
When I opened the door, I expected to find nothing, like the others. But, that was not the case. There was a figure laying on the bed to the left of the room, their body facing the wall. They were curled up in the fetus position, and their body looked as if it were locked in place. I was curious, so I approached the person slowly as not to startle them. As I got closer, I tripped on something piled in the middle of the floor. I bent down to perform further inspection, and found that it was hair. Although, it looked like there were two sides to the hair. One side was blood red, and the other was black.
I followed the hair with my eyes and saw that it did indeed lead to the figure laying in the bed. Half of their hair was red while the other was black. I stood back up and continued my mini investigation of the mysterious person. I noticed that the figure was a woman as I got closer. She was sleeping soundly, though the noises she made in her sleep were like those of grunts, and they sounded as if they hurt her to even produce them. Now I was standing right next to her bed, watching her sleep.
I kind of feel like a pedophile.
I shook the thought from my head as I noticed the girl was stirring from her slumber. She rolled over, causing rattling noises. My eyes traveled to her arms, where cuffs
attached to chains laid. The cuffs covered most of her hands, making it almost impossible to see her fingers. The woman twitched again, this time opening her eyes. They, too, were mismatched. On the side her hair was black, a red eye lay, and the exact opposite for the other side- red hair and a black eye. The said eyes widened when the girl noticed that I wasn't someone she knew. She quickly attempted to sit up, at least, to the best of her abilities while chained up like that. As she sat up, the blanket covering her fell down, revealing that she was wearing a light blue sweater, shredded from wear, and dark blue pants that looked almost the same. Her eyes seemed to question what I was doing here, yet she spoke no words. I simply raised my hands in defense, though she flinched back, eyes still open, as if she assumed I was about to strike her. Though, there was something strange about her eyes, besides the mismatching colors. She wasn't looking exactly at me.
It was as if she was blind.
I murmured, "No, I won't hurt you. I was just looking for someone."
Her eyes returned to their normal size, and she sat up a little more. She moved her legs, causing a rattling noise. This caused me to believe that cuffs were attached to her feet as well. I was certain that living here was not comfortable for this girl. I leaned over and grasped one of her arms, inspecting the cuff. She looked surprised at first, but then relaxed as she realized that I was not going to hurt her, true to my words.
The cuff was made of brass, and was chakra enhanced so that I couldn't use a jutsu to break them. I took a kunai from my pouch and tapped the point on the brass, testing it. It seemed like the brass would cut easily, so I pressed harder. The girl lifted her head up, her eyes trying to find me, I guess.
"It'll be fine. I will not hurt you. I just need you to trust me." I stared into her unseeing eyes, waiting for a response. A slight nod came after.
I took a deep breath and sliced the brass cuff with my kunai, sending it clattering onto the floor. Her mouth opened, as if to gasp or let out a scream, but no sound erupted. Her eyebrows were furrowed in a way that showed she was scared. Her mouth closed and she took a gulp, closing her eyes as a means to calm herself. She let out a sigh, opening her eyes once more. She looked in my general direction.
I was startled. Bamboozled. Shocked to the core. She just spoke to me with her thoughts. Her voice was soft, but somewhat deep for a woman. The tone told me that she must've been around 20 or so.
"Wha.." I mumbled. She said nothing, only lifting her other arm. I repeated my actions, tapping before slicing, and the brass fell to the floor just like the other one. I then moved to her legs, destroying the ankle cuffs and freeing her completely. She thanked me again, but was interrupted by the door opening.
"Captain Yamato! We can't find him!" Naruto exclaimed. Him, Sakura-chan, and Sai walked through the door. His eyes moved swiftly towards the girl sitting next to me.
I hadn't realized I'd sat down, my hand resting on her arm.
He said nothing, much to my surprise, while Sakura simply raised her eyebrows. Sai was unemotional as always.
I sighed. "Well, we'll have to report back to Lady Tsunade then. Let's move out," I commanded.
They nodded, leaving me and the girl alone once more. I turned my head to her.
"Will you come with us?
She looked at me- not really at me as much as in my direction. Her head tilted, as if to contemplate, before she nodded. She sat up more and got ready to get off the bed when she stopped, thinking about something again. I followed her gaze to her hair. It was very long, and we'd have a tough time traveling if it was to stay at its current length.
"Do you wish to cut it?" I asked softly.
'Yes. Just a few feet, though.' Her face twisted in pain, and when I asked what was wrong, she replied, 'My family was placed under a curse when I was very young. If and when I cut my hair, it hurts me. But, since Orochimaru has ensnared me, if I were to cut my hair, it would harm him as well. So, please,' she looked in my direction, 'cut a few feet off.'
I sighed, it voicing my stressed emotion, and gripped my kunai. I straightened out her hair and noticed just how long it was- about seven feet long. My rows furrowed in concern for this girl I'd only just met before I closed them, slicing the hair in half. I heard grunts coming from her, and instantly felt terrible. I quickly stood up and took the hair in my hand, moving my fingers to braid it and place it in a bun.
I was finished before she could open her eyes. She lifted her arm and touched the elaborate bun, smiling slightly. Her hand retuned to her side, and she went to stand up when she suddenly stopped, a a scared grimace filling her features. Her mouth opened to scream, but only a small squeak escaped. Her unseeing eyes filled with immense pain.
There was a snake.
A snake sent by Orochimaru.
I grabbed it in a fit of rage, ripping it from where its teeth sunk into this mute girl's arm and tossed it to the other side of the room. Its guts splattered onto the dark wall, the blood camouflaging perfectly with the red paint. A small wood jutsu took care of the rest of it. I took a deep breath, trying to control these raging emotions that I've only recently begun to have.
I turned back towards the girl, only to find her clutching the bitten arm so tightly her knuckles became white. Her breathing was ragged, her eyes were wide, and the blood was trickling down her arm slowly.
I wasted no time, picking her up into my arms like a husband would his wife. I ran out of the dim room, seeing the cave crumbling and collapsing continuously. The bleeding girl was hyperventilating, so I pulled her closer to my chest. I jumped out a small fracture in the ceiling, and stopped to take in the fresh air and sunlight I'd been missing for a few hours. Looking back down at the girl, I noticed she was no longer in pain, but her breathing was still labored. She looked as if she were going to pass out at any moment.
'My name...' she started.
I saw my team nearby, so I walked over to them while waiting for the girl to finish.
'Rozu no Kotonaru. Of the Kotonaru clan.' She sighed in her mind as her eyes finally closed. 'Looks like I'm joining my family.'
I was extremely worried for a second before realizing that she'd only fallen asleep thinking that she was dying, not actually dying. I picked my head up and reached my squad.
"This is Rozu no Kotonaru. She is gravely injured, so we are taking her away from Orochimaru's experiments to Konoha. Onward march everyone."
The darkness was so welcoming, though I was unsure as to why. Maybe it was because I have spent the last fifteen years in Orochimaru's cave. The room I was kept in never seemed to be lit.
There's a noise. What was it?
My curiosity is at its peak!
My eyes shot open, not that I could see anything anyways. My earth nature chakra could pick up on where the ground was and where people were, but buildings are man-made.
I tried to move my hand, but found that I couldn't. I attempted to pull against my restraints in a sense of panic, that I was still in Orochimaru's grasp, when I heard a voice.
"Rozu. Stop. You'll only injure yourself even more."
I knew that voice. I slowed my actions, trying to remember. It was that guy . . . from the cave. I didn't catch his name . . . Or did I? His team, I presume, came in and a blonde boy shouted his name. What was it?
'Captain . . . Yamato?' I asked him.
"Yes, my name is Yamato. I took you away from Orochimaru and brought you to my home. You are now in Konoha. I promise you that you are safe now."
I smiled slightly. Safety. I never understood what that was. I felt something inside of me when I sensed him for the first time. Yamato. It has a nice ring to it. I . . . I feel . . .
I feel as if I can trust this Yamato.
'Are my injuries serious?' I asked him, remembering that a snake had bitten me.
"Not entirely, but the snake did have venom in its fangs when it bit you, so you were poisoned. Our medical ninjas extracted it and you are completely fine now, although . . ," he trailed off.
My eyebrow rose. 'Although?' I asked him, tempting him to finish his thought.
"They noticed your blindness and muteness are not natural. Your eyesight, as they concluded, was taken by an extremely powerful fire jutsu, and your vocal cords were burnt out by all of the poison that had entered your bloodstream." His voice had a sad tone to it, as though he were sorry that those events had happened.
I sighed into our minds. 'My friend and I were training one day, and we kind of got out of hand. She was practicing a fire jutsu that her older brother had recently taught her, but she hadn't mastered it yet. Thus, it spun out of control and my eyesight was the price. With my Earth nature chakra, I can see things like the ground, caves, mountain formations, trees, and people. I cannot see buildings.' I remembered when I had first become blind, and I had walked into every wall at least twenty times a day- and that was on my good days.
"And your voice?" I realized that he wanted my whole life story, basically.
'Orochimaru kidnapped me when I was nine. I was already blind at the time, but he had told me that it didn't mater. He only wanted me as a test subject. He tested all of his poisons on me, and eventually, I lost my voice at age 12.' I stopped. Should I tell him?
I noticed him looking at me with some emotions clear on his face. Anxiety? Concern? Impatience?
'I was held captive for fifteen years.'
He clearly wasn't expecting that. "I figured you were somewhere in your twenties, but . . . 24? You're so young! I . . ," he stopped to compose himself. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I tried to glance around, but then remembered that I was in a hospital. A building. I sighed out loud, a small puff of breath that sent searing pain throughout my throat. I felt my face scrunch up in a wince.
'Don't feel pity for me. I wouldn't know what to do. I've never been given pity before, and I don't want to start receiving it now.'
I tried to sit up, but I felt the needle in my arm dig and pull in restraint. I flinched, but continued to sit up. Once I had sat up fully, I felt accomplished. I looked over to my left and felt the IV, pulling it out. I sighed to myself and went to run a hand through my hair when I realized that it was up. It was braided in a very complex manner, then pulled into a tight bun. A few locks of black and red hair were falling, but did not escape the black ribbon. I looked up at where Yamato was.
"What would you say if I told you that I could give you back your voice and sight?" he asked.
My unseeing eyes widened. I never thought that was possible. Orochimaru never cared for me, and Kabuto never bothered to heal my wounds. Sasuke was just an arrogant prick who never sent a second glance my way. I never met Juugo, Karin or Suigetsu- only heard about them. To have someone care about me now . . .
'Why do you care?' It came out harsher than I intended.
He visibly flinched, his emotions conflicting. "I care because you're a human being, Rozu. No one should be abandoned in their time of need." His voice was loud, but clam and collected. If I didn't know any better, I'd think he was just trying to get his voice to someone across the field.
'No one has ever cared . . .' I mumbled.
"Then they never saw that there was a lovely young woman suffering- right in front of them!" His hands were balled into fists. His head was down, face scrunched up into a harsh grimace. He was angry . . . but at what? Or whom?
'Why are you so angry?' I asked, only curiosity filling my internal voice.
"Because . . ." He uncurled his hands and walked closer to the bed I was sitting on. He looked at the spot next to me, then glanced back up at my face. I folded my legs underneath me, allowing him to sit with me. His hand found mine and he held it, squeezing it for comfort. "What do you say to having a couple of surgeries? To get you back your abilities to speak and to see?"
I smiled. 'I'd love that.'
A few weeks had passed since the surgeries. She'd survived through them all, and hopefully, they were successes. After her eye operation, the medic nins had placed bandages on them so she wouldn't be too stunned by the light when she opened them next. She had asked me to help her wash her hair and braid it again. I did, and after she had asked me how I was so good at it.
"I used to have a mother and a younger sister. They weren't ninjas. My mother always braided my sister's hair, and when she passed away I took the liberty of braiding Yuna's hair for her."
'You're so generous,' she'd said smiling.
Then, a few days later, the medics performed their skills on her vocal cords, hopefully bringing them back to their former glory as well.
That was about three weeks ago. I waited anxiously for news of her recovery. I had told Kakashi of her staying here, and he agreed to watch over her as she went through her operations. He said he'd tell me when she was discharged.
I felt a presence beside me, and looked over. It was Kakashi.
"Were they successful?" I asked him. I couldn't wait to see my rose.
My rose. I'd started calling her that while I spent time with her at the hospital. She didn't seem to mind, and I wasn't going to stop anytime soon. I always felt this . . . warm feeling in my chest, right where my heart was. I had realized that this was the feeling my mother had told me about when I was a teenager.
It was love.
"I don't know if they were successful or not. Rozu said the first thing she wanted to see was you."
'She said?' Oh wait, I told him about her ability to speak into peoples' minds. Maybe that's what he meant.
He stepped to the side, showing Rozu standing behind him. Her arm was brought up close to her chest, hand balled into a fist. She was frightened, if ever so slightly.
Kakashi nodded to me and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
I stood up and held Rozu's hands in mine, like I'd done so many times before. She smiled at me and brought my hands up to the back of her head, where the tie to the bandages lay. I smiled myself, and untied the white fabric. The layers fell over her face, making her giggle slightly. It took me a minute to realize that she wasn't speaking through my mind, she was actually laughing. My smile grew as I took the bandages and threw them to the side.
She opened her eyes, the mismatched ruby and onyx orbs staring at me, not in my general direction. They sparkled with life and laughter. I stared into them for a long time, soaking up the fact that my love could see and talk just as I could. I wrapped my arms around her, soaking up her natural scent of roses. She hugged me back tightly, smiling and sobbing all together. She pulled back, making me wonder if anything was wrong.
She took my face in her hands and stroked my cheeks softly. I placed my hands atop hers and pet the fingers. We were smiling like idiots, best friends and lovers like they were all one and the same. She brought her face closer to mine, making my heartbeat speed up. I could hear her breath come out hard and ragged, as if she'd never experienced anything like this before. I'd never felt anything like this either, so I couldn't really say anything.
We inched closer and closer, until our lips met in perfect unison. Fireworks filled my senses. This is what my mother described to me. This was love.
This was pure love, given to me by The Different Rose.