Chapter V: The Beginning of the End
AN: I look at my hands, and they don't hold any documents. So no Naruto rights :(
Naruto screamed. Really, he screamed.
"ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT SICK BASTARD IS SAKURA'S FATHER?"
Kakashi nodded. Naruto felt sick. Sasuke looked shocked, then the smallest inkling of sympathy rose within him.
So... she too has a freak for a family member….
"I know, Naruto. I understand how you feel. Imagine my shock when Tomoe told me this. I almost choked to death on my sake." Kakashi said reassuringly as he patted Naruto.
Naruto was half laughing, half sobbing.
"God… poor Sakura-chan." He whispered.
Gaara stared at her. Was she insane? Perhaps the virus swimming around in her system was clashing with that chakra-stopping fluid, thus causing some type of temporary insanity…
He shook his head. No, chances of that happening were one to a million. Still…she could be that one in a million chance.
"Gaara-san?" she ventured.
Gaara was vaguely annoyed. She's acting timid again. It doesn't suit her… Silence settled over the room.
"Why?" he finally asked, turning his head to look at the wall. Sakura blinked.
"…Huh? I don't understand what you mean…"
Sakura raised her eyebrow. "I hardly find that a stone wall will lend me warmth, Gaara-san."
The 'Gaara-san' thing is really starting to aggravate me… "That's not what I meant."
"Oh? Then I'm afraid that I still don't understand."
The silence grew heavy. Eventually, Gaara turned to look at Sakura; fathomless jade met luminous emerald.
"Why would you be willing to come in direct contact with a creature like me?"
Sakura was speechless for a moment. Gaara continued to look at her intently.
"I… I…" Gaara snorted and looked away. Several tense moments passed by and Sakura had failed to come up with an adequate response.
"What were you expecting, that she actually wanted to be held by you? YOU? The plague of humankind, a mere vessel of mine? No, she would have nothing to do with you, my boy. No one would. Remember that." Shukaku sneered as Gaara fisted his hands.
"I see…" He muttered to Sakura. "You only want to come close to the 'monster' because of necessity, perhaps even to satisfy some type of egotistical curiosity."
Sakura balled her fists. No…
"Your fear of attack forces you to make the decision between death and sharing your body with a monster. Therefore you choose to make the choice between the lesser of the two evils, that being the temporary heat exchange. You have no regard for---"
"It's because I trust you!" she cried.
Gaara's eyes widened.
"Tomoe told me that there was a high possibility that Sakura could also be a Tennyo. She could surpass all others simply because Orochimaru was her father." Kakashi sighed, rubbing his forehead in anxiety.
Tsunade unfurled a fan and waved it lazily back and forth. "So… Sakura is a direct descendent from a Tennyo line. Her biological father is the most feared man of this time. It is not for a small matter that she has been kidnapped. Therefore, I have come up with three possible explanations."
She slowly rose from her reclining position, her attention arrested by the birds sitting outside the window.
"Scenario One: Someone has kidnapped Sakura for her power. Perhaps they have heard Tomoe's story and wish to use that same almost-rape situation with Sakura. Thus causing Sakura to trust the man almost immediately. They would hope that the trust would turn to love and the man will then sire Sakura's children. Consequently, he would gain both a powerful ally and subordinates."
The men frowned. Yes…it was plausible. A loving wife and children would sacrifice anything and everything to ensure the survival and happiness of the father figure. But Sakura would not betray her village…
"Scenario Two: Sakura was taken to atone for her mother's past. It was said that Tomoe was not an innocent person. Under Orochimaru's influence, she killed many under the belief that 'it was for the betterment of the village.' It was not difficult to believe, Orochimaru having a honeyed tongue of a serpent."
Naruto grimaced at the combined effect of the words 'honey' and 'Orochimaru'.
"However," Tsunade continued, "This explanation is weak. If the attackers wanted atonement, then surely they would have been satisfied with killing both mother and daughter. Which leads me to Scenario Three…"
A tense silence filled the room. Everyone's attention was focused on Tsunade, whose eyes were closed in fierce concentration.
"Scenario Three: Orochimaru planned to confuse us by placing weak, replaceable information and casting rumors that the information was a vital part to his plan. The information will draw our strongest jounin team, thus leaving Sakura unprotected and easy to capture. He will then send troops to capture her, eliminating any standing in their way. By using her, or turning her against us, he will be able to destroy the entire village."
Tsunade snapped her fan and tucked it away inside her sleeve. Everyone in the room was quiet, reflecting on the possibility of scenario three.
"You said that Orochimaru could… use Sakura as a destroyer. How could he achieve that?" Sasuke asked quietly.
"The Tennyo clan is not just a pretty fairytale, Sasuke. Everyone has reason to fear them. Ah Iruka-sensei, great timing." Iruka nodded in greeting as he closed the door behind him. "A history lesson about the Tennyo if you please."
Frowning slightly at the subject, the academy teacher positioned himself in his orator position and began to speak.
The Tennyo Clan members were indeed, beautiful as rumored. It was also said that these women were the pride and joy of the Goddess Marisha-ten herself. Of course, the clan could not survive with only just females. Sometimes, they allowed themselves to be caught at the bathing spots. Then birthing their children, they would take back their hagoromo and their children back with them to the heavens.
Other women were not so lucky. They either could not find their hagoromos or their husbands would refuse to give it back to them. The Tennyo women, though strong in certain aspects, were usually powerless without their hagoromos. As a result, they had to comply with their husbands' every wish and will. It was an excruciating lifestyle. Sometimes these women would find escape with the help of their children, sometimes not.
In rare cases, the Tennyo committed suicide, so great was their grief and loneliness. These women were not all grace and tears, however. It was said that if one could manage to enrage a Tennyo, it would mean his death and a curse upon his loved ones forevermore.
One such case was with Nishimoto Sachi. She was a happy woman, blessed with children and a loving samurai husband. She was so happy, in fact, that she had no intention of going back to the heavens. She went out one day to bathe and when she came back, she found her family slaughtered and her home consumed by fire. No one knew how, but the next day, four men were slaughtered mercilessly in the same manner as her family. The only trace of evidence left behind was a burnt piece of her silk hagoromo.
Such is the power of the Tennyo…
Naruto turned to Tsunade. "Hey, hey! Orochimaru… Orochimaru wouldn't kill his own daughter, would he?"
"Naruto…don't underestimate Orochimaru. He has a dream, a crazy dream, but it's still a dream. And he would sacrifice everything and anyone to achieve it. …Even his own daughter."
Sakura breathed heavily. There was no response from Gaara. Seconds crawled by, turning into even slower minutes.
Suddenly, he laughed. Sakura shivered. It wasn't a laugh of joy, nor a laugh of mirth. It was that laugh he used in battles. It was that insane laughter…
"It's because you trust me?" he chuckled. "My god. Do you know who I am? I have killed countless people from your village! I almost killed your teammates! And yet you say you trust me? Are you that naïve?"
Sakura was silent. She didn't dare respond until she could look into his face. Sakura closed her eyes. Mama… Is he shielding himself from me…?
"Sometimes, Sakura-chan, people say things that they don't mean. They do this to protect themselves." Tomoe whispered into her crying daughter's hair as she stroked her back.
"Then…then why do they have to hurt others too?" Sakura sniffled. Tomoe sighed.
"Some people… some people may have been hurt too much in their past. That's why they create a shell around themselves. They don't want to feel anymore pain, Sakura-chan, so they push people away from them. They believe that if you don't have any friends or loved ones, then it's easier not to get hurt."
Sakura was silent for a moment. She clasped her mother's kimono tighter to her.
"So if that should happen to you, Sakura-chan, then brush pass those words. Words are almost meaningless nowadays."
"Then…how will I know Mama? How can I tell?" Sakura asked quietly, looking into her mother's serene face.
Tomoe smiled softly. "Look into their eyes. Then you will see…"
Sakura stood up. Gaara ceased laughing. Slowly, she began to walk.
"What are you doing?"
Sakura said nothing. She continued to move toward him. Gaara inched back.
Ah…now the tables have turned, Gaara.
"I said, what are you doing!"
Now she was five paces away. Three. Two… She knelt before him. Gaara was taking in shallow breaths. She searched his eyes. The color was mesmerizing. Jade eyes… It suits him well…
Gaara was visibly shaking. She…she's close again. Why is she looking at me like that? What does she want from me…?
Sakura stretched out her hand. Gaara's eyes widened. Is she… is she going to touch my mark? The hand drew back a little. Sakura was hesitant.
It was a different story when he was sleeping… But now…
Minutes seemed to pass by, both only staring into each other's eyes. Neither wanting to break this contact. Both were breathing heavily. Warm air was exchanged between them, creating an electrified sensation. She was close to him now. So close that their noses could be touching. So close that she could dive and taste his lips…
Sakura mentally shook herself. She turned her focus to his eyes. Panicked, yes. A little uncertain. She inched closer towards him. Ah…she found what she was looking for. Remnants of pain flickered in his eyes, covered by false self-confidence. Remarkable eyes like his…they shouldn't be clouded by pain… Softly, she smiled.
Gaara was taken back. Why was she smiling? He could smell her fragrance. Sweet tangerine and vanilla… A warm palm cupped his cheek. All thoughts vanished from his mind. All that remained was the warmth…and her eyes. Her brilliant emerald eyes…
"You have…amazing eyes, Gaara-san." She whispered.
Gaara tried to control his breathing, his composure. He forced a smirk. She would not get the best of him. "Drop the 'Gaara-san.' It annoys me."
Sakura returned the smirk. "Aa…then, what else annoys you, …Gaara?"
She was moving closer to him now. The exquisite heat building between them was almost …intolerable. She knelt between his legs and leaned over him, her hair acting as a silken pink screen, obscuring the world around them. Gaara hissed involuntarily. An amused smile graced her lips.
"The way your moods fluctuate. Your voice. Your eyes. Your entire exist---"
Sakura's body pressed completely against his, stopping all conversation. Gaara took in a breath through his gritted teeth. Soft. Supple. Their breaths mingled. Gaara could feel the beginnings of beaded sweat trickle down his back. Sakura gingerly ran her fingers through his hair. They danced downward to his neck, then glided to his chest. Gaara arched.
"You are… the worst liar I have ever met." She breathed.
Then her lips captured his.