Bubbling Water Spiral
A Naruto fanfiction
Anko stared at the little entry in the slim black book she held in one hand. "This... is it?" She asked, frowning. "My entire entry into the Clan charts?" She smirked and flopped down onto a conveniently placed chair. "Seems a little small doesn't it?"
"Of course it's small!" Exclaimed a wizened old man who stood opposite where she sat, next to a giant rack of scrolls - some of which were new, while some were going brown with age. "You're one person in, what, a few thousand? Unless you have done some great deed for the village, that tiny entry is all the space we can spare." He nodded to himself as he stalked across the room, his dark blue robe trailing along the floor and leaving great furrows in the blanket of dust that lay there. "Ahhh... so many people and so little space to record them all. The Hokage should really put some thought into allocating more funds for the recording of populace."
"Yeah, yeah," Anko waved one hand at the old man as she stared at the little booklet - a much simplified copy of but a small section of one of the scrolls which sat in the rack that dominated the room. "She still has to allocate for the damage done during the exam remember, heck, even the ANBU are taking pay cuts to help pay for it." She paused and smirked. "Not very big ones of course, but enough to make me wonder why I never bothered to go into teaching or something."
"You? Teach? Feh. The dead would turn in their graves at such a thought." The old man, the Recorder as his job title was known, puttered around the room for a while before eventually coming to a stop at one small stone box placed against one of the few empty walls in the room. "Speaking of the dead, you wanted this as well did you not?" He asked, pulling out a small stone tablet. "Mitarashi 'Taro'"
"... Don't... don't call him that." Whispered the black-haired jounin as she stood up and gently plucked the tablet from the old man's wrinkled hands. "He was gonna be named Naoki." She stated, staring at the little hewn stone object.
Next to her the Recorder patted her on the shoulder. The small tablet was one of the many that were stored here. Tiny, stone-cold reminders of those children that either never had a chance at life or had that chance snatched away shortly after being born. They were stored in the stone box simply because... well. Actually he didn't quite know why they were stored there, only that they had always been stored there since before he had even begun to work here himself.
"I was gonna quit as a jounin you know." Continued the curvy black-haired woman. "I'd continue to bring in money of course, just at Chuunin level - so that I could refuse a mission if he needed me to be there with him." Anko muttered as she cradled the tablet like a baby and gently rocked it from side to side. "... it's unfair." She whispered. "He never even got the chance to live... and it was all my fault!"
"Come now Mitarashi-san," Stated the old man, his voice quite and comforting. "You couldn't have known. No-one predicted the coming of Kyuubi, no-one could have guessed that the hospital would have been the first place to be hit."
"I should have died with him, I shouldn't have let them drug me!" Anko swore furiously for a few minutes as she replayed the terrible night of her child's death in her head...
She stumbled, half blind, through the thick smoke that filled the building. From the feeling of heat hot enough to make her sweat she guessed that at least half the building was on fire. Stumbling along, still weak from having given birth not too long ago, the fourteen year old kunoichi made her way down the long corridor that led from where recovering mothers stayed to where newborn infants were cared for until they could leave.
Mitarashi Naoki, for that was what her baby had been named, had only been born that morning and had spent his first hour of life being anxiously held by an ecstatic mother and a proud father. Whilst fourteen was a perfectly acceptable age to begin a family in the fire country, it being a year over the minimum allowed by the Daimyo's laws, many of the leaf village's people considered it to be far too young. As a result Anko had, for the past nine months, been subjected to the disapproving glares of the older female populace.
It had all been worth it though, the pain, the difficulties of living with a child growing inside her, the views of those around her... All of it was as nothing now that she held this tiny child, her son, in her arms.
Her husband, or rather husband-to-be, had been as proud as anything. His friends, his team-mate and a few of his fellow shinobi, had all gathered around to congratulate him on the birth of his son. Their girlfriends on the other hand gathered around Anko in order to congratulate her instead since, as they were younger women, they didn't understand why the elder women disapproved.
Still, none of that really mattered anymore. Not in this choking, smoke filled hell that, only a few hours ago, had been the main maternity ward of this particular hospital. The old child, or young woman as would be more appropriate to call her, staggered further along with one hand against a wall for support as she moved. Behind her she could dimly make out the frantic yelling of highly experienced shinobi as they went about making sure that everyone evacuated the building, by force when necessary. Sooner or later one of the would be following her own trail, not that she was going to let them evacuate her. Not without her son at least.
A deep rumbling sensation caused her to lose her footing, and sent her falling forwards to land somewhat painfully on the floor with one arm, having been caught on the wall as she fell, bent back at an unnatural angle. Grimacing at the pain from what, she assumed, was a dislocated shoulder at the very least, Anko was about to pull herself to her knees when she felt something pass by a short distance above her head. Moments later she was forced to roll onto her good side as slabs of concrete the size of horses or larger smashed down around her, one of them missing by mere inches. Grunting due to the pain caused by having to move with her injured arm, Anko glared up into the sky.
The black-haired girl's eyes widened as she realized that, of this six story hospital, the top three stories had just vanished in a hail of rubble. Gulping in fear, fear of the thing that could cause this much destruction in a single blow.
Kyuubi. The nine-tailed demon fox.
Yes. The thing that had swept over her head had probably been one of it's tails as it ripped the top off of this, now seemingly insignificant, building. A tiny feeling that began somewhere in the pit of her stomach started to work it's way towards her conscious thoughts. Falling rubble was nothing to a well trained kunoichi such as herself, even in her current condition.
To a baby however...
No. No. Her son was still alive! She knew he had to be!
She... She... was feeling somewhat woozy... Looking down her body, Anko noted the presence of a slim black dart stuck into her calf. Evidently someone had come after her in order to evacuate her by force and hit her with a knockout drug of some kind. Even as her vision began to fade, she was aware of being lifted up into the air to be carried away. Above her, still standing above the hospital was the smoldering orange form of the Kyuubi. Evidently it was having some trouble moving away... Almost as if something were holding onto it's heart and pulling it out...
It was, as she had eventually learnt, being sealed away at the cost of the Fourth Hokage's own life.
"... if I hadn't been hit I would have made it to the nursery..." Mumbled Konoha's wildest jounin, though at the moment 'wild' was not a term that would fit very well. "It's all my fault."
It was hard, remembering the past like this. Internally she knew that she could have made it to the nursery had she not been hit, perhaps even had a chance to save her son. On a more detached and practical level Anko knew that, had she made it, then she too would have been killed when Kyuubi's tail ploughed through the building. What made it all the more heartbreaking was that, shortly after finding out about her son's death, her husband-to-be became withdrawn and distant. Eventually he annulled the marriage agreement and fled the village, choosing instead to become a missing-nin rather than to face what had happened.
"Do you really believe that?" Asked the Recorder as he placed one wrinkled hand on the taller woman's shoulder. "No-one, especially not a... a disadvantaged person, such as you were, could have had any hope. Even the Fourth - may he rest peacefully - only managed to save a handful. You know that."
"I... I know that." Anko whispered, her voice cracking slightly as she tried to hold back her tears. "I saw them, wh-when I officiated part of the chuunin exam..." Her lips curled up in a bitter smirk as she continued. "Of course he'd save the Uchiha kid, as well as the Hyuuga girl. They were important, both part of big prestigious clans."
"That wasn't the reaso-"began the Recorder, though he was cut off as Anko merely began to speak louder.
"He saved Choumaru, Shikato and Inoshi's brats - they were the children of his drinking partners after all." Anko's voice was becoming more and more hard-edged as she went on and her eyes were starting to glaze over. "Even Haruno Sakuya got to have her daughter saved, but then that was to be expected, wasn't it? Little miss Haruno was his sister after all, so of course he'd save her daughter, his niece."
The Recorder, knowing of Anko's volatile temper, decided to try and calm her down a little. "Well," he began, "He did save Uzuma-"
The Jounin's hand smashed into the stone top of the tablet box, causing it to rattle rather worryingly. "Of course he did!" She half-screamed, "He wouldn't damn any of the others to that, would he!? They were important! No-one even knows what the Uzumaki brat was called before he was used! How could he pick some kid for that!? How could that bastard hokage decide who was important enough to save and who was worthless enough to damn!?"
Sighing to himself the older man pulled a chair out from under his work desk and carefully guided Anko into it, even as she began to deflate. "How could he save them a-and not... not my son...?" She asked, her anger all but gone now and entirely replaced with depression. "It... it wasn't fair..."
"Life," Replied the old man who, after more than a few years of going through with this was used to dealing with the explosive woman, "- is hardly ever what you could call 'fair' at all."
An unfair life was something that one Uzumaki Naruto, Genin level ninja, knew all too well. Especially today, where unfair things seemed to be piling up on him.
Why, just this morning he had been dragged out of bed by an irate Kakashi and frogmarched into the nearest shinobi medical clinic. Apparently missing twelve years worth of medical examinations hadn't exactly been a good idea, especially since everyone seemed determined to get him to take them all now - with interest no less. Thus far he'd been poked and prodded, had numerous cold metal things put up against his skin and, to top it all off, they'd stuck a thermometer... Well. It didn't really bear thinking about where they'd put it.
At the moment he was stuck in a waiting room that was too small to even do a proper somersault. He'd already tried it once and had received a thorough yelling at over it. Though, that may have been because he had landed on what had apparently been a fairly costly little table covered in magazines. Well, 'landed on' may have been the wrong term, given that the tabletop had given way under him, 'landed in' may have been more appropriate.
"But Sakura-chaaaaan..." he whined, his hands clasped in front of him as he kneeled down in front of the people who had been ordered to make sure he didn't avoid the examinations. His own team seven. The traitors. Admittedly the team only consisted of Sakura and Kakashi at the moment, what with him being the 'prisoner' and Sasuke still... Well, it was best not to think about that right now since merely thinking about how Sasuke had acted in their fight hurt, it hurt a lot.
"No!" Haruno Sakura stood like a prison guard at the only door to the waiting room. Arms folded in front of her chest, the kunoichi-in-training glared at her 'prisoner'. "I'm not going to let you out Naruto, not after Hokage-sama said that all village inhabitants were required to have an up to date medical record."
If there was one thing that Naruto had been thankful for, it was that Tsunade had placed a complete ban on any mention of Sasuke. Whilst he knew that not knowing was causing Sakura pain he knew that anything he could say on the subject would cause even more. They weren't even allowed to say if they had succeeded or not, for either answer could cause an upsurge of resentment or panic in the general populace should it get out. Orochimaru? With access to the awesome power of the Sharingan? Or that a traitor with the power to rival almost any jounin was being held in one of the Leaf's interrogation chambers? Either answer would be the wrong one at this point. All Naruto, or anyone who had been present on the mission for that matter, could tell her was that they had all done their best to bring him back.
Whatever the reasons, they didn't stop Sakura from acting somewhat cold lately. Perhaps from worry, or anger that no-one would tell her something that was so important to the pink-haired girl.
"That," Spoke up the only other member of Team Seven, the jounin instructor Hatake Kakashi, "Would also include you."
Admittedly, Kakashi was somewhat dubious about the point of giving Naruto a medical checkup. It wasn't like the boy could ever be in anything other than perfect health after all. The sheer power of Kyuubi's chakra within him, even when mostly dormant, was capable of burning away pretty much every illness the boy could receive within hours, a day or two at the most, even something as stubborn as the common cold. As to physical health... well, the sheer fact that he'd managed to regenerate almost an entire lung, which had been pierced, burnt and partially-boiled in it's own blood by Sasuke's chidori technique, told more than enough. According to Tsunade's later examination of the lung, it hadn't been repaired by mere cell division and replacement but rather it had been as if the old cells had simply been restored to how they had been prior to their destruction.
In simpler terms, it meant that Naruto's regeneration didn't shorten his life span the way the Hokage's own regenerative technique did. To be blunt, she had said, there was a very high chance that Naruto would be unable to die from anything other than old age or an immediately fatal wound, he'd just keep regenerating anything less, no matter how serious it would be to a normal person.
"But... But..." Naruto stammered, totally oblivious to the thoughtful look Kakashi was wearing, "But Sakura-chan! Kakashi-sensei! If you don't let me leave then... uhm... I'll... I won't treat you to a giant bowl of Ramen tonight!"
Naruto grinned at his brilliance, everyone loved Ramen! To threaten to deny the near-godly foodstuff from someone would be an almost surefire way of getting them to do what he wanted which, in this case, was to let him escape.
Unfortunately, not everyone did love Ramen. Sakura, for one, was getting particularly sick of the stuff. Having it a few times a week wasn't' so bad, but every single day after every single mission... well. It'd drive anyone to hate it.
Well, anyone who wasn't Naruto at least. Even Chouji of team ten, who ate more than the entirety of team seven combined, would probably get fed up with eating Ramen every day.
This, quite neatly, explained why Sakura's reaction to Naruto's 'threat' was to plant one fist quite painfully in the shorter boy's face. With all her strength behind the blow she succeeded in launching him across the waiting room and into the opposite wall, just inches from where Kakashi was lounging against it.
"Who'd be afraid of that!?" She screamed, "Not everyone wants to eat Ramen every day like you do!" Folding her arms in front of her chest, Sakura glared at Naruto. "The only way I'm letting you out is when you get called up for your blood test, I am not going to lose my payment for this mission because you're afraid of the doctor!"
Naruto's ears perked up. Payment? So, not only was his team against him, but they were getting paid to hold him here too!? Sitting down on the floor, arms and legs crossed as he sulked, the young genin pondered this. Only one person would be fiendishly evil and cunning enough to pay his own team to hold him against his will. And for medical reasons no less.
Oh yes, he was so going to yell at Tsunade when he got the chance.
It was three days later when the letter came, stuffed haphazardly into his letterbox as if the deliverer hadn't cared what condition it arrived in.
Which was, as it happened, exactly the case.
Still, the mere fact that a letter had arrived was unusual enough as far as Naruto was concerned. Well, okay, the fact that a letter that wasn't trapped with bomb, gas or poison had arrived was unusual. Staring at the address on the envelope, Naruto noted that it had been stamped with a hospital seal on the back. Evidently, then, it was the results of all his testing... or an order to go up for more.
Normally the blonde Genin would ignore such a letter but, what with Tsunade being rather touchy over the subject of his medical health, Naruto figured that it would probably be safer in the long run to read it. And so he did, breaking open the seal and pulling out the contents.
He read it.
He read it again.
Then, just to be sure, Naruto carefully placed the letter down on the table he had been sitting at and ran off to have a cold shower. When he returned he read the letter once more.
Given that the contents hadn't changed, it was obvious that he hadn't been dreaming it.
"Dear UzumakiNaruto" he read. Most of the letter appeared to have been typed, except for where a few handwritten words provided names and dates. "The results of your extensive blood testing are complete. As per request, additional testing was carried out to determine genetic lineage."
Naruto wasn't sure what 'genetic lineage' meant, but he was pretty damn certain that he hadn't requested anything of the hospital. Except, maybe, the odd scream to let him go. But nothing else really.
"We are pleased to announce that we have discovered, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that according to your D.N.A, your birth Mother." Naruto's hand's trembled slightly as he read. He knew that the hospital could find out about peoples parents and stuff, but he'd also heard that it was very, very expensive to do so. Apparently, for one test, it would cost him almost as much as he would earn in an entire years worth of missions. Even then, he had been told, sometimes it took two or three tests to get a clear answer.
He'd considered applying for such a test when he could afford it, probably around about the time he made jounin. For him to have the results of a test now could mean only one thing... someone else had paid for it.
He had a pretty fair idea who it had been too.
And if he was really lucky, he may even manage get her to admit that this was one really sick and twisted joke.
End - Chapter 1
Heyho all. ;; I haven't written much recently have I?
Anyhow, Betrothal isn't dead. It's just... in a coma. A coma induced by such things a block, computer games and lots and lots of mecha anime. . ;; oh. And university too.
Mostly though, it's simply because I've tried multiple writings of the next Betrothal chapter and none of them work. O.O; I fear I may have written myself into a corner. Aaaaa but I'm working on it. it'll come out eventually.
Lackey H, who still has no chance of beating Eimii's record lack of update break... But by heck, he's trying!