Hello everyone. It's been a while, hasn't it? Almost three years now, probably a little bit over. It took... a lot of effort to get back in, but I think I'm ready. It will take a lot of head scratching and researching, but I intend to continue where I left off and finish this. Not to fear, I have no intention of ending the story that quickly –I had many plans for this story, all of which is going to drag the storyline on. However, with that said; it will take me time. Not time to write, but time to collect my thoughts together in order to plan out exactly what I want so I do not jumble up and cause paradoxes in my story.
It is a shorter chapter this time around, but do try to think of it as a "getting" back into it type of chapter.
Rated M: Foul Language, grammar mistakes.
A Girl Named Yama
… A Naruto fan fiction
A Girl Named Yama © SilverDragon
Naruto © Kishimoto Masashi
Bleach © Tite Kubo
Chapter 27 –
I stared at my wavering reflection in the water and childishly hit the surface of it with the back of my hand. I was on chore duty, finding firewood and retrieving water. Both chores were normally fairly easy, but I had to "pretend" to be pregnant. I never realized this before but, being pregnant is hard work. And I wasn't even really pregnant! Crouching, sitting and standing up were extremely difficult to mimic (mimicking a pregnant person, of course).
Eyes are everywhere.
Minato had drilled that into my head over the past week now. Never assume you are alone, that's just how travelling works in this world.
How long has it been? Since I've been dropped unceremoniously into this world? I think the months were creeping to add up to just over one year now. It's amazing how easy it is to lose track of time. There wasn't anything of big value to keep track of by. Back in Japan, there was the school year, summer months, and then back to school again. That made it so easy to keep track of the months that flew by. Here, it was training, missions, training and then more missions. The missions were never really concrete in terms of time either. Days, weeks, months, and even years.
Needless to say, I was still very much "out of context," despite being here for just over a year.
Okay, now to stand up. Uh... Oh right. I set the filled canteens to my left beside the tied stack of sticks and twigs (I had gathered them earlier). Carefully making sure my feet were in decent locations (by decent I mean not in the middle of some mud spot – I was by the river, after all), I used one hand to push myself off the ground, with the other hand being on my "imaginary bundle of joy."
I have to admit, doing this for the umpteenth time made it so much easier. The first couple of tries were ridiculous. Minato had to remind me several times that I had just "killed his grandchild." I told him I could do one better and make sure he never received the honor of calling anyone his grandchild. He had only rolled his eyes and proceeded to describe how I could do it better. Unfortunately, I had to trust his judgement. He had watched over Kushina during her time, I'm sure.
Just when I had thought I was in the clear, and free to back up from the river, a splash caused me to lose my footing and my arms flailed as I attempted to keep balance. Bring it on gravity!
. . .
Two arms caught me from behind and I felt myself let out a sigh of relief. Falling wouldn't have hurt me all that much... but getting dirty did not have any appeal either. I tipped my head up and back, meeting Hideo's light eyes. His long hair fell around us, covering the scenery view for me.
Let me backtrack and reintroduced our ragtag group.
Hideo – Kakashi in disguise, my "brother."
Arata – Itachi in disguise, my "brother's son."
Atsushi – Minato in disguise, our "father."
And lastly, myself as Jun, daughter of Atsushi, sister of Hideo and aunt of Arata.
We had been travelling through the Tea Country for 2 weeks now. According to Minato, we were nearing the border of the fire country. Our goal? To discover the Uchiha past and mysteries surrounding it. There had even been a "sit-down" to talk about what we were going to do (minus Kakashi of course). There really wasn't much left after we managed to escape Genma and the others. By now... I could only assume they returned to Konoha to report our abandonment.
By now... Itachi would have been re-added to the Bingo book along with a new name – mine. As for Minato, they had no idea who he was. They only know that he was a mercenary hired by the Third. In fact, he had split off before we were supposed to board the ship. This means the council has no idea "Souzu and his gang" were even involved.
To be honest, I was not entirely sure how the council would handle my situation. They would certainly brush Itachi off – they had never trusted him anyway. It was only by the Third's sway that they agreed. However, what we find in our attempt to dig up the past might shed some light on how the council may act when dealing with me.
Nonetheless, the sit-down had revealed that we only really had two paths. The first path was to... live life away from Konoha. This would mean to live life as a missing-nin, always on the move, perhaps working as a mercenary for money. Settling down as a missing-nin would be close to impossible.
The second path was to figure out the mysteries surrounding Konoha and the Uchiha clan. This path would complete both of the intended goals. The first was to find out my past and possibly how the connections between both worlds work. The second... was to protect Konoha. Missing-nin or not, I knew Itachi had to have love for the village. And Minato... well that was pretty straight forward.
It was almost laughable at how one-sided the choice was. Path one was impossible for Itachi and Minato. There would be no point. A ninja has to live for something. For me... either path did not look appealing. Like Minato had said before – I just wasn't built for this kind of life emotionally. Training could only build you on the outside. Training the emotions begin once you are born. And I lacked that. My only option was to go with path two and see what I could link together.
I'm no hero. I can't do what Naruto does, what Itachi does, or even what Sakura does. When I first arrived, my mind still considered this a game. I could become acquainted with the magical side that did not exist on the parallel plane. Now reality was starting to sink in. These past few weeks have taught me that. I had been sheltered from the real situation by the Third.
This was life with constant war.
With the Third dead, it was only a matter of time before they had to refill that position. I knew who would take it; the other two likely had good guesses. It was only a matter of time before everything would catch up to us. We can't live path one forever anyway.
And so path two was chosen. With Ari dead, the only other option is to go to the source directly. Up north, there was an abandoned city. There, Itachi had said, is where we would find some answers.
With that, we started our journey – and gained an extra passenger for the journey. Kakashi had never enlightened us to what his purpose or goal was. In turn, Minato did not reveal anything either. But I do know they had talked during that night. I had felt them travel a ways out into the forest. They had not returned for hours.
I felt cloth touch my forehead and I blinked to see that Hideo was resting his lips against it.
Oh. I realized. He has his mask on still.
"Hideo..?" I spoke hesitantly. His closed eyes opened. In the shrouded darkness created by his hair, his eyes were a bright blue.
"Oto-san sent me to find you. It's getting late."
Oh, I see.
"I just finished. I guess we can head back now?" In reply, Hideo leaned back and for a moment I was blinded by the sudden light. His hair really had blocked out a lot of light. Gripping the rope that looped the canteens together, I lifted all three just as Hideo grasped the cloth bound bundle of wood bits.
Now that I think about it, there was another reason my heart was so uneasy. Another reason as to why I was able to relax and be so carefree. Think about it, I'm sure it's fairly easy to point out.
I knew how the story would advance.
I didn't remember small details, names or locations. But I did remember faces and major events. I had remembered enough to put my heart at ease, and was able to "enjoy" life here without worrying that something horrifically tragic would suddenly happen to me. I know –selfish right? Horrifically tragic? A lot of things that fell into that category had already occurred.
A woman that lived down the street had lost her fiancée on an escort mission.
A four year old girl sits by the memorial stone every afternoon because her father died on an Anbu mission.
Iruka still has regrets because one of his best comrades turned out to be a traitor.
Sasuke lost his entire clan, because of higher up orders.
Naruto lost both his parents, and was a hate icon for over ten years of his life.
Kakashi... has lost so many people I can't even count them.
But now... Now I didn't know anything anymore. The wrong people had died at the wrong places. Aoba in place of Hayate. Zabuza and Haku weren't dead either.
And although I was not entirely sure of the situation, I assumed Sasuke's disappearance was different than Masashi Kishimoto had intended. Although my arrival seems to have brightened up Sasuke's overall "mood," I'm not sure if it was enough to deter him from his avenger's path. Granted, I had talked to him about Itachi's reasons, I wasn't sure if it had gotten through to him. Basically, in light of Itachi's actions and between what the council had decided currently, I had no clue why Sasuke is gone. I could only assume the worst case scenario. Which meant... something had happened that settled his decision for going to Orochimaru for power. The only way to find out was to find him and talk to him directly.
His blue eyes looked at me questionably. We had never gotten the chance to talk about this... and I guess now was as good as a time than ever.
"What happened to...? Sasu?" Hopefully that wasn't a complete dead giveaway for anybody who was listening. I didn't like how Hideo's eyes suddenly grew darker.
"He got bit by a snake while looking for Kuro. It's not serious but both of them went to Oto to find the antidote, by themselves." Hideo paused briefly, "Kite tried to go after him to help, but Sasu refused."
My eyes closed in despair. Worst case scenario, meet reality.
"I hope the snake didn't get anybody else." I whispered. Worst case scenario, remember? Hideo's next words almost made my heart stop.
My mind went blank. Impossible. He should have evacuated with the civilians and children. How—? My grip tightened on the rope I was holding. The Third's death I had expected, but Iruka's? As far as I knew he was supposed to live through Konoha's attacks, several times. There had to be a mistake, there's no way he could be dead! All I could picture was Iruka's kind face in my head.
I struggled to form words, "I..."
Calm down. I told myself. He did not say if he was dead, merely implied something happened to him. There's a chance he's alive. I couldn't expect Kakashi to say anything more.
The less I knew, the better.
I let out a sigh, and then paused. It really was getting dark. I hadn't realized it, but the sun was almost under the horizon. I scanned the surroundings cautiously and began to start down the worn path that led to our campsite. We should probably start heading back. We hadn't chosen a secluded location. Instead, we had chosen a "general" campsite that looked to have been used many times over the years. We had to keep up the farce of being civilians, after all.
I froze. We weren't supposed to use our real names. And Kakashi isn't one for "screwing" up, so the only reason he used it was to make sure he had my attention. I turned slowly. He was a few paces behind me, eyes searching my face imploringly.
Our situation was difficult.
Sadly, that was a huge understatement. Not in the way such that society would disapprove of our relationship, but more in the way that the relationship seemed impossible due to circumstances. I was labelled a missing-nin by the same country he was still a part of. Emotionally, I was much more immature than he was; physically, as well.
I couldn't expect him to break all the rules just to make an exception for me. I couldn't do it. I couldn't make him choose. I couldn't expect him to come to my rescue every time I needed him.
My doubts must have shown on my face, because he lifted his hand and settled the back of it against my left cheek.
"Do not doubt us." His eyes softened, "I... am not good at expressing myself seriously." I lifted my hand to cover his. "And right now, I don't know what to do. Because for once, I don't know how I can help you. I feel like I'm losing you slowly, because you're travelling down a path that I cannot follow." He rested his forehead against mine and I closed my eyes. I didn't want to look him in the eyes. I think that if I did, I would start crying.
"I don't mean to." I whispered. "I'm just... trying to get things going down the best possible path, if that makes any sense. I feel like I... don't belong with you, even if I want to be with you. I feel like a mess right now. Nothing's going right, I don't know what to expect anymore. And I just know I can't keep relying on you to be an anchor that would be there whenever I need it. That would be too much to ask for, for anyone in this world."
"I don't mind."
I stilled. "But—!"
He interrupted me, "I've never said this to you straight, but I love you. And it's been a very, very long time since I've felt this for someone. I have comrades, I have family," Team 7, "And I've had leaders." Hokages, "But I have never had someone who causes me to become shaken with fear when I think about a life without them. That's you." I felt his lips touch my cheek. "During the past week, I've been thinking and trying to decide what I – We should do, given our circumstances. But right now, a real relationship isn't fathomable."
I squeezed my eyes shut tighter, feeling them water up. I nodded. His next line came as a whisper.
"... But I will wait."
My eyes opened slowly and met his burning ones. They had a question in them. Oh. He left the line open-ended; he never continued to say what he meant he would wait for, or for how long. But he didn't need to.
I managed a watery smile.
"... I will wait too."
It was the most I could ask for, giving our situation. And Kami be damned, I will wait for as long as it takes. It was going to be long, I just knew it.
I heard, rather than saw, him drop the stack of wood and he pulled me close abruptly. His scent permeated the air around me and I buried my tears into his chest. This was the first time he had held me a long time, and I realized how much taller than I he was. The top of my head only reached his collarbone, and I felt him rest his chin on my hair. Dropping the water canteens, I slid my arms around his back and tightened my hold. One of Kakashi's hands was around my shoulders, the other on the back of my head.
I was scared. Kakashi was feeling what I felt. I had never thought about it, but I never realized just how scared I would get when I thought about losing him. I had never thought about it.
"I have to leave in the morning."
I knew it.
I didn't answer. I knew this day would come; he had a time limit after all. He was "on a mission." I had a feeling it was something like this. He probably tried to extend his mission time in order to sort things out, before heading back. It made sense; there was no way he would be able to concentrate on the more pressing matters at hand if it wasn't sorted out.
And it was helping me as well. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
We'd make it work, somehow.
The view was amazing. Have you ever seen those post-apocalyptic movies where modern cities are worn down and overgrown with vegetation? That was what I was looking at. It actually felt a little surreal. The best way I could put it would be that it looked like a plethora of apartments and skyscrapers. Granted, the skyscrapers weren't the skyscrapers back in Japan, but were most definitely taller than any I've seen in this world so far.
It was gorgeous from afar, but up close – it was a mess. It was as if we had arrived in the Sand country. Small dust storms seemed to start out of nothing, and there were loose papers everywhere. Truthfully, it was slightly creepy. Overgrown trees, cracked concrete walls, broken glass – the works.
I felt, rather than saw, Itachi drift passed me. "Pick your jaw off the ground Yama, this isn't a tourist attraction."
I could feel my cheeks turning red and I hurriedly protested, "I didn't think that!" His left eye met mine as he slid passed and I barely fought back a flinch. His sharingan was on again. I didn't like it – not the eyes! I didn't like how Itachi felt the need to have it activated. It made me uneasy.
As Itachi and Minato disappeared around a bend, I hurried to catch up. I hadn't realized how far behind I had been left and my pace picked up. I skid around the corner, and almost ran into someone's back.
It was Itachi.
"This is as far as I take you." His voice sounded strange. Wait, as far as he takes us?
Minato paused, "I understand. This is where we part then?"
"What do you mean part?" I demanded. Itachi turned his head slightly and I saw his eyes flash black, then back to the intimidating red. He was trying to tell me something, but I didn't understand. Obviously he had discussed this with Minato already –he didn't seem surprised at all. Why do people always insist on leaving me out of the loop? Especially when it has everything to do with me?
"You're... going back, aren't you?" I said in realization. That was the only explanation. Itachi didn't even have to answer, I knew it was so. I knew it, but I didn't get it. Why go through so much trouble to "leave," only to go back? I opened my mouth to ask and I started when Itachi suddenly rested his forehead against mine. His sharingan was off, and his eyes were gentle when he looked into mine. It only lasted a second, but it felt like he was conveying a lifetime of emotions to me.
And then he was gone, leaving only the wind in his wake.
I felt a loss in my side that I never realized was there before.
I pressed my fingers against my left temple. This was seriously starting to give me a headache. I didn't understand why –actually that's a lie. Deep down, I knew why. I just didn't want to acknowledge it. Who would want to?
A hand fell on top of my head.
"It'll be all right."
"What wind has blown you here, Namikaze?"
The room was dark, dim and smelled very musty. We were underground. Minato had followed the path Itachi had pointed out, with me in tow. I'm not even sure how we arrived at this point; I had been blindly following Minato's yellow hair in the dreary darkness. It was so dark that at times, I had to resort to detecting his chakra for a guideline to follow. This was... extremely difficult. Minato was still suppressing his chakra.
"The winds of time, Nekobaba," Minato replied in amusement, "I'm sure you've seen us coming." The Fourth plunked himself in front of the shadowy voice, cross-legged.
I could smell smoke and incense in the air and I wrinkled my noise slightly.
The voice sighed, "Time is passing too quickly, if you have arrived here, that means..." There was a pause, "That's her, isn't it?"
I barely saw Minato's head shift slightly and there was shuffling sound. The sudden light blinded me for a second and I raised my arm to block out the intensity. When my eyes adjusted, I found myself staring at about a dozen cats. And in the middle of those cats was an old lady. Her greying hair surrounding her face like a lions mane and I stared at the black cat ear headband she wore.
She was also holding a smoking pipe in her right hand. That's where the smoke smell is coming from, I realized.
Her eyes squinted at me. "Take off that disguise girl, there are no enemies here." Disguise? "Those contacts." She elaborated. I gave Minato a cautious glance, who nodded briefly. Pursing my lips, I complied and careful took out one contact, revealing a clear red orb. I left the other contact in.
I heard her breath catch, "So it is true, after all. I never expected this day to come." Her old eyes scrutinized my figure up and down. "You know, I can only think of one reason why you have showed up on my doorstep. And that reason is most certainly not what my services are normally for. That would only mean you are here looking for answers."
When something nudged my leg, I stiffened and jerked my head down. It was a cat. It flicked it's whiskers at me, and sat down, letting out a purr. I don't know what it is, but something about this white and black cat seemed familiar. I didn't touch it, despite my fingers twitching and telling me to stroke its soft fur. Something felt off, and I didn't want to risk screwing up.
"We are neko-baba." Minato answered carefully, "I'm not sure if you will grant us the honor, however."
Neko-baba let out a snort, "Minato, I am a bookkeeper, not a gatekeeper. Anyone is free to view the scrolls, given they have the blood to do so. Of course, the blood needs to be fused with chakra." Her eyes landed on me and I suddenly felt very uncomfortable, "Which you have." She took a long drag from her pipe; blowing the smoke out slowly from the corner of her mouth. "Denka, Hina." There were two puffs of smoke and two cats appeared in front of her. One was grey; the other was yellow and brown. Both of them wore tops with mesh undershirts. "Lead them to that room.
The grey one raised a paw as a salute, "Roger!"
As we left the room, Neko-baba's voice followed me.
"Not all answers you find will be the answers you seek."
Completed February 24, 2013