Pain

Setsuko laid on the hospital bed. She was being monitored by several machines as Naruto watched her chest rise and fall. Kakashi looked over at the Hokage. She had made him change his clothes while she examined Setsuko.

"But . . . Setsuko-chan is gonna better better, right? I mean, you can fix it Tsunade-chan, can't you?!" Naruto whispered. Tsunade felt her eyes drop to the floor.

"I'm sorry Naruto. But Uzumaki Setsuko is dying. She only has a few more hours left. At most, she has a day." Tsunade put her hand upon Naruto's shoulder. The boy looked at his cousin in shock and pain. "Naruto, even if we caught this earlier, there is nothing I could have done." She whispered before leaving. Kakashi watched Naruto as he fought back tears for his cousin.

"No . . . Tsunade-baba is wrong." Naruto held her hand to his chest. "Setsuko-chan is just sick. She'll get better."

". . . Naruto-kun . . ." Setsuko whispered harshly, causing her cousin to look up from his inter battle. "You can cry. I . . . I want you to understand . . ." Set coughed before she continued. Naruto tried to help her but she waved him off. "t . . . there are times . . . when it's okay . . . to cry . . ." She coughed out some more blood before smiling at Naruto. "I want you to know . . . that you can cry on my shoulder . . ." Setsuko coughed and pulled Naruto into a weak hug. Naruto clung to Setsuko as though she would disappear the second he let go of her. After a few moments Setsuko spoke again. "N-naruto-kun . . . . I want to go home." Naruto nodded into her shoulder before reluctantly letting go.

"I . . . I'll go talk to Tsunade about it." He hurried out of the room. Setsuko turned her gaze to Kakashi. Her once smooth and creamy skin was now sickly pale and clammy.

"K . . . Kakashi . . ." Kakashi gripped her hand.

"Setsuko . . . Tsunade said earlier that this had been going on for awhile. Your lungs showed damage that was a few weeks old. Why didn't you say anything?" Setsuko weakly squeezed Kakashi's hand.

"Kakashi-kun . . . Orochimaru made this seal. I knew that there was nothing to be done about it. I," Setsuko paused to cough. Kakashi took a cloth and pressed it against her mouth as she coughed into it. After a few seconds she stopped and Kakashi pulled it away. ". . . I didn't want you to worry about it. Kakashi, if you had known, I would have lost any nerve to tell you that I love you. I . . . I would have been scared that you would only say that you loved me because I was dying." Setsuko closed her eyes. "I wanted to live my last few days without you worrying. That way . . . you wouldn't suffer as long." Setsuko leaned against Kakashi. "I'm sorry, but I wanted to spare you some pain." She whispered before letting a tear fall.

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Setsuko laid in her own bed. It was the first time she had ever really let someone into her room. Kakashi and Naruto had insisted that she was not left alone. One of both of them were always there. In a way, she was grateful. She didn't want to be alone. Setsuko looked over at Kakashi who sat next to her bed. Naruto had gone down stairs to help get her some food. He loved her and wanted to stay by her but . . .

"Does it bother you that Naruto doesn't stay by your side much?" Kakashi asked her quietly. Setsuko looked up at him without any energy.

"Naruto doesn't like death." She mumbled as she struggled to sit up. Kakashi helped her sit up and put some pillows behind her to help her. "He . . . he does not know what it is like to truly lose someone." Setsuko coughed before continuing. "This is very new to him. I know he loves me. That is all that I can do for him now."

"Don't you worry that he will regret not being here later on?" Setsuko smiled sadly.

"Death . . . death is the way of a ninja. He is . . . slowly learning that. At first, he might feel that way. But . . . it is better. I would like to shield him from a close death alittle longer." Setsuko coughed once more. Kakashi held a cloth to her mouth as she coughed into it. After a wave if dizziness passed, Setsuko smiled at Kakashi. "I . . . I am truly sorry. I . . . have often been told by Naruto . . . that you have said . . . you would not let those precious to you die. And here I am, dying. I make you watch." Setsuko coughed once more before leaning back into the pillows as the more of her strength drained away from her.

"Setsuko, it's not your fault."

"mmm . . ." It was all she had the strength for. Kakashi brushed some hair away fro her face. "Tell me, what did the Hokage say about it." She muttered as she fought off sleep.

"Setsuko . . . are you sure you want to know?"

"H . . . hai."

Flashback

Kakashi stared at the Setsuko as she rested peacefully in the hospital bed. The Hokage stood next to him.

"Kakashi . . ."

"Tsunade-sama, please, tell me. What is wrong?"

"Her body . . ." She trailed off, unsure of what to say.

"Do you know what is wrong?" Kakashi asked quietly.

"Yes and no. Her body is slowly deteriorating. It looks like that his been happening for awhile."

"Why hasn't she been able to heal herself?"

"It has more to do with her blood. Setsuko has never been able to recover blood faster than any human. Some kind of Jutsu has made it so her blood can leak into her lungs and stomach. I can't do much unless I know what the hell the seal was. I can't give her any blood. Her body would only leak it into her systems." Kakashi nodded quietly.

"But . . . Setsuko-chan is gonna better better, right? I mean, you can fix it Tsunade-chan, can't you?!" Naruto whispered. Tsunade felt her eyes drop to the floor.

"I'm sorry Naruto. But Uzumaki Setsuko is dying. She only has a few more hours left. At most, she has a day." Tsunade put her hand upon Naruto's shoulder. The boy looked at his cousin in shock and pain. "Naruto, even if we caught this earlier, there is nothing I could have done." She whispered before leaving. Kakashi watched Naruto as he fought back tears for his cousin.

End Flashback

". . . I see." Setsuko rested her pillow against her head.

"Setsuko, you should sleep. You need your rest." Setsuko laughed hoarsely.

"Kakashi, I'm dying. What do I need rest for? I'm about to rest forever." She weakly pulled Kakashi's hand to her cheek. "I don't want to lose any more time with you." She muttered. Kakashi pulled her into a hug as she rested against him.

"Don't talk like that." Setsuko coughed alittle before talking.

"Kakashi . . . it's the truth. I just want to spend as much time with you as I can before . . ." Setsuko trailed off.

"I know." The two sat in silence for awhile before Setsuko broke it.

"Tell me a story." Kakashi looked down at her surprised. "I don't like silence. Never did."

"I don't think I know any stories."

"Then just talk." Setsuko whispered into his chest.

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Naruto stared at the pot of soup on the stove. He had come down awhile go to bring it up to his cousin.

". . . Naruto-kun . . ." His head snapped up at Hinata. "W-why don't you spend m-more time with U-Uzumaki-sama?" Hinata asked.

"How . . ." He trailed off when he saw Kurenai.

"How's Setsuko?" Kurenai asked. Naruto looked back to the soup.

"She . . ." Naruto looked back up at them, smiling with his eyes close. "She just has a bad cough. In no time she'll come down stairs and start eating. You know her, she has a bigger appetite than me." Naruto poured some soup into a bowl. He picked up the bowl and a spoon before heading towards the stairs. "But Tsunade-baba said that she should rest a lot. And it's really easy to get too. So she shouldn't be around too many people. But once she's better, she'll be walking around Konoha in no time." Naruto disappeared up the stairs. He walked absentmindedly up the stairs towards her room. He entered the room and heard the last bit of the story Kakashi was telling Setsuko.

"And then Sasuke and Sakura gave Naruto some of their food. That's when I passed them." Setsuko smiled when she saw Naruto.

"Hey Naruto." Naruto smiled at Setsuko.

"I brought some soup to help you get better." Setsuko let a flicker of sadness across her face.

"Kakashi just told me about when he used the thousand years of pain on you." Setsuko laughed for a moment before coughing alittle. Naruto handed her the soup with a small smile.

"Rest. Then you will get better." Setsuko glanced at Kakashi, who in turn, nodded. Naruto looked at Setsuko confused. "Is something wrong?"

"Naruto . . . I'm not going to be getting better." Naruto laughed.

"That's silly. You've got demon healing powers. You'll be better. Don't worry." Setsuko patted the spot between her and Kakashi.

"Sit." Naruto nodded and crawled into bed next to her. "Naruto . . . I'm dying." Naruto shook his head.

"That's not funny. Just eat your soup. It will help." Setsuko grabbed Naruto and held him against her.

"Naruto . . ." Tears leaked from her weak and tired eyes. "I'm so happy I met you." Setsuko coughed alittle before continuing. ". . . you and Kakashi have made me human. Before I came here . . . I didn't know what love is. All I knew was that it was something I couldn't have." Setsuko swallowed the lump in her throat. "I . . . I never cried before. I couldn't. Before I came here . . . I hadn't ever blushed. And now I blushed every few minutes. I never truly laughed. But it seems like I do that a lot here too." Setsuko coughed once more. "I love you Naruto. I came here and finally realized I was human. But Naruto . . . I'm dying." Kakashi placed a caring hand on her arm.

"Naruto . . . Setsuko is being very strong. But her strength can only go so far. She doesn't have much more time with us. We have to spend every minute with her that we can." Naruto shook his head with wide eyes.

"No! I don't believe you!" He yelled as he scrambled away from the two. "You're not dying! You promised you'd never leave!! You said that you would be here for me! Always!!!!" Naruto ran out of the room. Setsuko stared after him. She tried to get out of bed but Kakashi held her back.

"I . . . . I have to follow him . . ." Setsuko forced out. Kakashi shook his head. Kurenai was standing in the door way with Hinata.

"Don't worry. We'll find him and talk." Kurenai assured her before leaving with Hinata. Setsuko nodded weakly before falling back into the pillows.

". . . Kakashi . . . talk to me some more."

"Are you sure?" Setsuko smiled in pain.

"H-hai. I've told you before . . . I don't like being alone . . . I don't want to be alone any more. I hate this silence . . . just let me hear as much as your voice as I can."

"Alright . . . once, a long time ago, there was a beautiful princess. She was not aware of her beauty though. So she hid away from people, believing she was a stain upon humanity."

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Hinata and Kurenai had split up in the search for Naruto. Hinata was currently running down a path with her Byakugan active. Hinata paused for a moment to call out Naruto's name before running again. He was so hurt when he passed her. She didn't like it. The Naruto she knew was so happy. Tears or frowns didn't suit him.

"Naruto! Please, Naruto! I just want to talk!" Hinata called out once more.

"About what?" Hinata gasped before turning around to look at Naruto. She rushed over to him in worry.

"A-are you alright?" She asked. Naruto paid no attention to the question.

"Hinata, why did you follow me?" Hinata bit her lip for a moment before responding.

"I . . . I was worried, N-Naruto-kun." Naruto stared at her for a few minutes. "Na-Naruto, I know that . . . that you don't w-want to believe that U-Uzumaki-sama is . . ." Hinata trailed off, not wanting to say it.

"She's all I have." Naruto muttered. Hinata stared at him with sorrow. "She understands me. She's my only family." He stared at the ground. "I . . . I remember . . . after I learn about what she lived through . . . I swore I would never let anyone hurt her." Hinata nodded, unsure of what she could say or do. "I . . . I was so set on making her happy . . . making sure she wasn't hurt . . . that I even gave up on being training for awhile . . . because I didn't want anything to happen to her . . . I know I got attached quickly but . . . I never wanted to lose her. Now . . . now she's dying. She's lying in that bed, dying. And I can't protect her." Hinata watched the fox boy with concern. "And what hurts the most . . . is that . . . she chose this. She . . . Kakashi told me after I arrived at the hospital . . . what happened that night . . . she chose him over me . . . and it hurts." He was surprised by Hinata suddenly hugging him.

"N-Naruto!" She held back tears. "Naruto, I-I don't think I'll ever know this pain you feel . . . but . . . no one hurt her . . . she chose it. She didn't chose Kakashi over you. She chose love over her own safety! She would have done the same for you!"

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"And then, she and her knight lived happily ever after." Kakashi finished. Setsuko smiled.

"I . . . I like that story." Setsuko felt her smile fade. "Kakashi . . . tell Naruto . . . that I love him." She forced out. Her strength was fading.

"Setsuko, please save your strength."

"N-no. T-tell him, I-I d-didn't f-f-fear. T-t-tell him I w-was st-strong till the end." Kakashi held her against him as she struggled to say her thoughts. "T-t-take c-care of him."

"Please, Setsuko don't do this."

"Ka-Kakashi . . . w-why . . . why can't I stay?" Setsuko whispered with the last of her strength. Kakashi felt her go limp in his arms. Kakashi held her tighter against him, fighting back any tears. He clutched her hand as her body started to grow cold. He squeezed his eyes shut as he quietly mourned for her. Unknown to him, her open eyes seemed to frost over. They turned a silver color before she stared to convulse. Her body's sudden movement caused Kakashi to be caught off guard. He was knocked to the ground as Setsuko's body fell off the other side. Kakashi was up on his feet in an instant. Setsuko stood up. Her once dark green hair was a light lavender, easy to mistake as a light pink. At the tip of her hair it faded into an extremely dark green. Her lips were a light violet. Setsuko's skin had become a startling white color. Around her hair, down both sides of her neck, down her sides, done the center of her legs, and centered perfectly down her arms to the back of her hands were tiny and thin blue vines. They did not come close to her fingers though. She held her hands out in front of her as she scanned over her body with silver eyes.

"This will do." A cold voice whispered out of her mouth.

End

You have to read the sequel, Uindo Bensha!