Hehehe...I felt alot like writing this weekend and I had already had a good chunk of this done so I decided to finish it.
Someone had requested that I do a Kaede centric story, which I had wanted to do for awhile. I love ghost stories and I figured I would do one about Kaede trying to figure out who she really was now. And with it being Halloween soon I figure this would be the perfect time to post it!
So, sorry FoD fans who came here looking for GaaNaru stuff. The Uzumakis aren't even really mentioned in this one. But...we all love poor screwed up Kaede-chan as well, ne? (sweatdrops and hopes people agree with her)
I really tried to go for a creepy atmosphere with this one. Here's hoping I succeeded. And yes, I've played too much Fatal Frame. Nyah. XD
The Hidden Village of Konoha had a new generation, and as with every generation, things changed. Events and People who had been truths for parents became stories for children. Time eventually changes these stories into something a little more. The years erode them. Twisting them and warping them until what had started out as a truth had become an urban legend. The tragedy of a girl who left everything she had for a boy who hardly acknowledged her became a romantic fairy tale girls told with dreamy sighs. The suicidal mission of four genin lead by a newly promoted chuunin no older than themselves to battle the strongest of the Sound became a thrilling adventure story that boys told with gleeful shouts.
Such evolution happened to people as well. The demon boy who gave up everything to protect those he loved became a warning that mothers used to bully their renegade children into behaving. The once human Yondame became a god-like figured worshipped by much of the village.
Yes, urban legends had a way of forming and attaching, and overall generally becoming quite dark in the process. Take for example, the Uchiha clan. Once the proud, strong keepers of the law within Konoha. But with the slaughter of the clan by one brother and betrayal of Konoha by the other, the Uchiha name became known as cursed. You didn't dare say you had any relation to the cursed clan, whether it be blood from a marriage so far removed no one remembered or that you had sold them rice at the market. Uchihas were dark, and angry, and would betray anyone. The old Uchiha section of Konoha was closed off, also cursed so it was said, and no one ever went there.
Stories, rumors, and urban legends would stick and never let go. Which was why the last surviving member of the clan, Uchiha Kaede, was having a difficult time adjusting to her new life. Oh, the Inuzukas were nice enough. Hinata-san was very sweet and gentle with her and Kiba-san always gave her the solid, silent comfort she sometimes needed. But when all was said and done, they were still Inuzukas and she was still an Uchiha.
The Last Uchiha.
It was always something she had been proud of, her clan name. Something they had taught her to be proud of. But now, in the midst of Konoha she found her self almost wishing she could change her name to Inuzuka. However, her pride and her memories of her parents would never allow that. Ever.
Therefore she ignored the hushed whispers that followed her, the fear and distrust that most had in their eyes when they looked at her. Her own sensei even seemed to have a wary sort of sadness when he looked at her. That did make her a bit sad, she liked him. He was a bit goofy, but he was a nice guy.
She ignored the legends that the other students whispered about her. That her veins ran with ice instead of blood. That her sharingan could see into your very soul and destroy it. That she would betray you simply because she was Uchiha. She was use to it, after all; Konoha was just another place that thought her inadequate. And she had been thought inadequate all her life. She had never been the son her father had wanted. Never good enough to save him or her mother and brother. Perhaps the Uchiha truly were cursed. If that were so, she simply would go on and ignore it as she always did.
However, one day this all changed as she walked to the forest glad where her team met for training and missions. Kaede had never really expressed an opinion of her teammates before. She barely knew them, one being some Hyuuga from one of the minor branches and the other an Aburame she believed. They didn't seem to express any interest in her either so things worked well. Or so she thought.
She approached upon the tail end of the conversation that she obliviously was not supposed to be hearing.
"I'm telling you, one of theses days she's gonna eat our souls with that thing. Dad said it was ripped off from the Hyuuga bloodline, so she's obviously a hereditary thief already." Said the Hyuuga...Taka-kun, she remembered.
"That's not the only thing. She gives me the creeps. Why'd they have to assign her to us? I mean, everyone knows Uchihas are nothing but murders and traitors. I don't even get why Hokage-sama let her back in. I heard tell that she was the one that put the katana through her dad and mom. Just like that other one...Uchiha Itachi, right? The one that massacred the rest of the clan." commented Aburame Mushi, sending Kaede into a cold shock.
Before she could stop herself, she had a kunai drawn and was diving at Aburame with a screech. She straddled the startled boy, punching him in the jaw. "You take that back!! Take it back!!! My father died protecting me! He gave his life for me!!"
The boy kicked her in the chest trying to force her off of him as the Hyuuga grabbed her arms and held her. She still flailed wildly, trying to attack her bastard of a teammate.
"You are psycho! Just like the stories say. The insane, cursed Uchiha." Mushi spat, wiping away the blood from his face with the back of a hand.
"The Uchiha are not cursed! We're better than any clan in this shitty village!!"
"Oh, yeah?" Taka said next to her ear, as he still held her back. "Then why are you the last one, huh? Why is it that anyone who gets involved with an Uchiha ends up in pain? Why is the Uchiha section of the village abandoned? Everyone knows that place is haunted."
"It is not! You're lying!"
Mushi adjusted his dark glasses and smirked at her. "No, he's not. Everyone knows it. It's been closed off since the massacre, but kids started daring each other to go in there at night, to prove how brave they were. But then they started getting hurt really badly, or dying. No one goes in there anymore; it's haunted and cursed by all the spirits of the psycho Uchiha clan."
"I don't believe you."
Taka and Mushi grinned at each other, and the Hyuuga boy then released her.
"I dare you," he began. "I dare you to stay the entire night in the Uchiha section. You survive the night and we'll never say a word against the Uchiha ever again. We'll also take back every thing we've said about them."
He extended a hand, and Kaede looked at him warily with her crimson eyes before reaching out and shaking it.
"Tonight then. 10 o'clock at the boarded main entrance."
"I'll see you tomorrow morning and you're going to eat those words."
The boys just smirked and then, their sensei appeared in a puff of smoke.
Later that evening, she quietly snuck downstairs only to find Kiba-san sitting at the table with Shiromaru asleep next to him.
"Bit late for training, isn't it?" he asked casually, sipping at the tea in front of him.
Kaede said nothing, but let her bangs shadow her eyes and cheeks so her foster father could not see her expression. Kiba, however, merely set aside his tea and gave Shiromaru a scratch behind the ears.
"Tsume already headed home for the night since Neechan is back in town. And Hinata got an emergency call from the Hospital so she probably won't be back until late if you're waiting up for her."
The Dog Ninja eyed her for a moment before speaking in a more serious manner.
"...I know you don't think of us as parents yet. And you shouldn't, because we're not your parents and you should never forget your real parents. But, that doesn't mean you can't come to us with your problems. Don't think that we just took you in out of pity and that we don't really care. You are a part of this family now, like it or not. And Hinata and I are hoping that its more to the like it part rather than the not."
Kaede allowed herself a small smile. "You've both been very kind to me."
"But?" Kiba raised an eyebrow.
"But...I need to figure a few things about my blood clan before I can truly feel at home with my adopted one."
She watched her Adopted Father nod and a great feeling of relief swept her. Moving towards the door she overheard him call out from behind her.
"Just make sure you don't get hurt finding out whatever it is you need to. Otherwise Hinata'll kill me."
Kaede grinned and disappeared into the night.
The full moon hung brightly over the village with wispy clouds causing eerie shadows every now and again. She switched her eyes over to the Sharingan as she raced through the darkened streets to the warded and graffiti riddled boards that marked what had been the entrance to the Uchiha sector. The cloths that had once had prestigious fans printed on them were now faded and torn, the fans barely visible.
Taka and Mushi had arrived ahead of her and were looking slightly disappointed.
"Che'. And here we were thinking you had chickened out." Mushi grumbled.
"Uchihas never back down from a challenge." She replied stoically.
"Whatever. Okay, so this used to be the main entrance into the sector. It's been marked off ever since the massacre. Even before the kids started using it as a courage tester, a couple of businesses wanted to renovate it and use the space. But weird things happened and the projects were always abandoned." Taka gestured at the gates.
Kaede sniffed. Mushi and Taka smirked at each other.
"Well, since you're the sole heir to the Uchiha, go claim your Kingdom, Kaede-sama. Here's hoping the ghost of Uchiha Itachi doesn't carve you up too badly." Mushi gave an exaggerated bow.
Kaede glared at both the boys, her sharingan glowing crimson in the darkness. She stalked forward and grasped two loose boards, pulling them off. Pausing before she pushed open the wooden gate behind the boards, she glanced over her shoulder at her smirking teammates. "Tomorrow morning, you will take back every lie you have ever said about the Uchiha. You will apologize on your knees and never speak a word against my clan again. I'll see you at the usual spot."
And with that, she pushed opening the creaking gate and returned home.
It wasn't as scary as she thought it would have been. It was certainly dark, and the small flashlight she had brought with her only gave off a limited amount of light, but the moon was full and it shone brightly over the cursed area. The buildings were falling into disrepair, but after over 15 years of abandonment that was to be expected.
The way the stories went, she was expecting blood stains everywhere, perhaps a few rusty shuriken or katana lodged into wrecked buildings. Chalk outlines sprawling the streets with large rust colored puddles spilling from them. Something other than this...normalcy. It certainly didn't look like the sight of a massacre.
She passed a store called 'Uchiha Senbei' and peered inside. Stepping through the glass door, she moved the flashlight over the dusty interior and saw nothing more threatening than a few large dust bunnies and some incredibly stale senbei. Sighing, she clicked the flashlight off and had begun to turn to exit when something made the fine hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
"Hello, dear. What did you come to buy today?" an old woman's voice asked.
Spinning around, Kaede thought she caught sight of a plump woman with a dark bun walking around the side of the building with a watering bucket. She dashed out the door and around the corner, but found nothing. No tracks of any sort and no chakra marks with the sharingan. Slightly shaken, she touched the worn hitae hidden under her own kerchief for comfort.
Shaking her head to clear it, she turned and continued to walk down the street pass the senbei store. Perhaps this place was stranger than she gave it credit for, but it still didn't explain all the stories surrounding the...
She froze, feeling eyes watching her. Carefully turning, she saw a figure perched on an electricity pole silhouetted by the moon. Sharingan eyes stared back at her from above. She blinked once and the figure was gone.
Just now that was...And, and this feeling...such intense foreboding...
Forcing her eyes back to the street, she gasped aloud.
Bodies littered the pavement. Blood splattered everywhere and pooled in dark puddles around the corpses. Kunai and shuriken were imbedded deep with walls on either side of the street. Placing a hand over her mouth, her eyes returned to their normal green and widened. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up once more, this time with greater force and she felt very cold all of a sudden.
This was...this was not here a moment ago. Is this what the street looked like after the massacre? Is this what Otou-sama saw? What is going on here?!
And then, the bodies were not just bodies lying on the street any more. There was a low moaning of the wind, a moaning which continued as she watched in horror as the corpses slowly crawled to their feet. Blood dripped off them. Kunai and shuriken embedded in flesh, as well as gaping katana slices decorated the bodies. They moved towards her and out of instinct she pulled a kunai from her pouch and threw it at one of the closest.
The kunai sailed through the body and landed with a thud in the wall behind it. The ghouls continued forward, reaching for her and she found she couldn't move, except to reach for the hitae beneath her kerchief.
Okaasan...help me, please, save me, I'm really scared, Okaasan helpmesavemeI'mscaredhelpmeOkaasanOkaasanOkaasan
"Hey, this way!"
From the corner of her eye, she saw a small child waving at her. She scrambled to him, forcing her legs to move. Still, her movements were sluggish and she felt fingers clawing at her exposed calf, so cold that they burned. She reached the child, a dark, spiky haired boy dressed in a black long sleeved shirt with black shorts.
"C'mon follow me." He said and took off.
He was surprisingly quick for such a small child and she had a difficult time keeping up with him as he lead them through the twisting streets and back alleys of the sector. She would glance around every now and then to see the splattered blood cover the walls more and more. Moans from behind or to the side would warn her that they were near another crowd of ghouls and she would always put on an extra burst of speed.
The boy finally led her to a rather large house. He slid open the wooden door and ducked in.
"In here, quick."
Kaede stepped in quickly and hastily shut the door behind her. Moonlight filtered in through the opened windows, illuminating the house with a silvery glow.
"What...is this place?" she asked the boy.
He looked at her curiously and then continued down the hallway. "This is the house of the Head of the Uchiha Clan."
The...head of the Uchiha Clan? What have I gotten myself into? Okaasan...Otou-sama...
She followed him into the kitchen where a tall woman with long black hair stood at the sink in an apron and a stern looking man in a black kimono with the Uchiha fan on the back sat at the table drinking tea. The boy clambered into the room and sat at the table grinning at her. The woman stopped her work and looked over her shoulder at Kaede as the man looked up and did the same.
"Ex...Excuse my intrusion." She said shakily and bowed slightly.
The woman smiled warmly. "Nonsense, please come in."
The man eyed her, as if he were deciding if he approved of what he saw or not and then shot the boy a fond smile as the boy giggled.
"What are you doing roaming around here at night, ...?" The woman paused for lack of a name.
"Kaede. I...I...my teammates dared me. If I could spend the night in the Uchiha section of town and survive until morning, they'd take back every lie they've said and apologize."
"Well, that sounds rather serious. They must have been saying some truly horrible things about you, Kaede-chan." The woman removed her apron and sat at the table.
"Not about me. My clan."
The man snorted. "Your clan? And what can be said of the Inuzukas that is so terrible?"
"I am not an Inuzuka!" she shouted, before realizing how rude she was being and stopping.
The man looked at her expectantly.
"Look at me. You already know what I am. I am an Uchiha...the last Uchiha. But I will not have my clan name slandered and called a clan of betrayers while I still live. Otou-sama and Okaasan taught me to be proud of my name more than anything, and I will be. I will survive this night in this cursed place and I will demand the apology and respect the Uchiha deserve tomorrow morning when I meet my idiot teammates."
The man stared at her for a long moment. "That, is what I expected to hear from the last Uchiha. Your eyes may be green, but your heart is that of an Uchiha."
He then cocked his head to the side and listened intently. "It comes."
The woman's face flashed with fear, which quickly turned to determination. The boy sat solemnly, and the man then nodded to him before turning back to Kaede.
"This place is, as you already well know, haunted. The malicious feelings left by the clan when they died still linger here because this is the center of the Uchiha. If any of the living come here, particularly on nights when the moon is full like this, they come to drag them into an untimely death as they themselves were."
"Then, you're saying..."
The man shook his head sadly. "Being an Uchiha probably will not even help you here, my girl."
"I will not run away. I'm getting back the honor of my clan. Even if it is just from two genin. It's a start."
"There is one place where you may be able to pass the night then, and I can not even guarantee it. Nakano Shrine. Take her through the back way."
"But..." The boy hesitated looking from Kaede to the man and the woman and then back.
The man shook his head. "The other way will be surrounded by then, and the back is quicker. She's strong girl, she can take it."
The boy looked at Kaede, then smiled and nodded. "Yeah, she can."
He then scurried out of the kitchen and she quickly followed. As she left, she heard the man chuckle and then say. "Of course she can. She's my granddaughter, isn't she?"
Granddaughter? Then that must mean that they were Otou-sama's...But they were killed by...
The boy slid open a door, and then there in front of her was the same couple from the kitchen. Only this time they lay in the middle of the floor, the moonlight streaming in from the windows. Blood splattered around the room, the man with a large gash across his back, the Uchiha fan on his kimono slashed. He lay across the woman, where he had fallen trying to protect her from their attacker. From...
"Uchiha Itachi did this." She said.
"No...don't say his name...He'll come..." the boy whimpered. "Come on, we've got to cross quickly before..."
"Hello, Little Niece."
The voice was quite, but it chilled her to her bones. Looking pass the couple on floor of the room, she saw a figure in the darkness with sharingan eyes glittering in the shadow. Immediately, she activated her own sharingan but was startled to see an energy she had never seen before. It wasn't chakra, it was far too different.
"Impressive. So young... and you can already control the Sharingan. Very good. Oh, and stop trying to figure out the energy difference. You can't have chakra if you're dead." Itachi took a step into the moonlight; he was in full ANBU uniform with a katana strapped to his back.
Kaede took an involuntary step backwards. This was her uncle? He was every bit as terrifying as her Father's stories had made him. To think that he could...she looked down at the bodies of her grandparents and saw a little past them the boy as the door at the far end of the room. He was motioning desperately for her to come to him.
Keeping her attention focused mainly on Itachi, she circled slightly and watched as he did the same counter circling her. Choosing her moment, she quickly ran past him towards the boy and the door. As fast as she was, she couldn't dodge the cold burning sensation of a shuriken as it sliced across her shoulder in her flight.
Making it to and through the door, she followed the boy quickly through the rest of the house and then out the back. Once again they were in the winding labyrinth of the Uchiha streets and Kaede focused all her attention on the small body leading her so her senses wouldn't have time to become frozen in fear at the details and apparitions around her. They raced through the streets until the stone steps of the Shrine became visible in the darkness, the Torii at the top a welcome sight.
Once they made it up the steps and into the Shrine area, Kaede felt relief flood her. She leaned against the right pillar of the Torii and removed her kerchief to bandage the wound from the shuriken. While she was at it, she touched the hitae for comfort.
Okaasan...I think I might actually make it through this night and manage to regain a little of the Uchiha honor. Just try and help me make sure I don't do anything any stupider than I've already done tonight, okay?
The boy looked at her curiously as she touched the hitae. "What's that?"
"My mother's hitae."
"So that's where it went."
The boy grinned. "Heh! Follow me!"
He then took off running towards the left side of the Shrine grounds.
"Hey, wait up!"
She gave chase, her unbound hair now brushing across her face. Finally, she caught up to the boy just before a grove of cherry trees. She stood there a moment, inhaling the scent and watching the petals dance in the wind. And then it hit her.
Sakura didn't bloom in Autumn.
A gentle voice was carried on the wind, humming, and the boy ran closer to the grove. Kaede followed, entranced. She wasn't sure she could have stopped her feet even if she had wanted to.
The boy smiled brightly. "This way, come on!"
The voice on the wind grew louder and she could make out faint lyrics.
I know this song...This is the song that Okaasan use to sing...
She reached the edge of the grove and the singing stopped.
"Kaachan! Kaachan! I found out why you can't find it!"
Kaachan...? Kaede frowned, puzzled at the child's antics.
"Nobutada, what have you done this..."
There was a woman in the center of the grove. A beautiful woman who sat on the grass combing out her gorgeous pink hair as the boy ran up and hugged her. Kaede felt the strength go out of her knees and slid to the ground.
Nobutada...? Okaasan...? It...can't...I don't believe...I think I'm crying.
Sure enough, she felt hot tears drip down her cheeks and chin. "Okaasan..."
"Kaede? Oh, sweetheart, don't cry...Nobutada! How could you bring your sister here? You were just suppose to keep her away from them!" Sakura swatted her son on the back of the head.
Nobutada rubbed the back of his head. "But Kaachan..."
"Don't you 'Kaachan' me, young man." She said sternly.
"Okaasan...you're...you're dead...you 'n Nobutada 'n Otou-sama...and I'm dreaming again, aren't I? I'm going to wake up crying at my room in Hinata-san and Kiba-san's house. And then Hinata-san's going to be upset because she can't help and Kiba-san's going to be upset because Hinata-san's upset...and I'm going to be upset because you're all still dead and I'm making them upset...and."
"Sweetheart, you're not dreaming." Sakura cut her off, seeing the oncoming hysterics.
"Yes, I am."
"But...you're right here."
"And so were your grandparents earlier, hmm? And that wretched Uncle of yours? And you've been following Nobutada all evening. This entire place is full of the dead. And full moons like this cause very strange things to happen around here. However, you, young lady should not have been here. What were you thinking? Taking a childish dare like that!"
"They were insulting the Uchiha honor!" Kaede pouted.
Sakura rolled her eyes. "You sound far too much like your father. But I suppose that can't be helped, you are an Uchiha, after all. It was too much to hope that we wouldn't have to worry about you tonight or that you could actually get through the night peacefully."
"...I'm sorry....I can stay, can't I?"
A sad look crossed her mother's face as she looked at her. "Not for long. In fact, you weren't even supposed to see me. We...I thought it would be better that way. However, your younger brother seemed to have other ideas."
Green eyes narrowed at Nobutada, who gulped. Kaede almost felt sorry for her little brother. She remembered being on the receiving end of that look more than once.
"But Kaachan...she's got your hitae! That's why you can't find it! Look!" The little boy pointed at the worn blue cloth tied around his sister's head.
"So she does. That explains it."
"Gomen...I took it after...after...it's the only thing I've got of you! You don't...want it back, do you?" Kaede touched the hitae rather possessively.
"It's alright. I'd feel better knowing you'd have it anyway."
"Thank you. ....Okaasan, I'm sorry."
Sakura blinked. "For what?"
"For...for not being able to protect you and Nobutada...or Otou-sama...for not seeing that it was Orochimaru that killed you and not Konoha...for not being a good daughter...for not being a son...for"
Sakura cut her off again. "Stop that. Absolutely none of that is your fault, so you can stop carrying around that guilt right now. Your father and I...we didn't want you to be an elite ninja or a son or to be the perfect daughter. We just wanted you to be our Kaede. Of course, I had to give your father a little 'talk' about the proper way to treat children when I saw him again, but that's a different story."
"You saw Otou-sama?"
"Of course I did. But, right now we don't have time for that." Sakura replied quickly.
Kaede blinked, but her mother continued, pacing the Cherry grove.
"You must get to main temple, and quickly. Once you're there go to the far right side, and underneath the seventh tatami mat is something that may help you."
"But, Okaasan, can't I just stay here with you and Nobutada?" She could feel the hot pricks of tears beginning in her eyes again.
"Oh sweetheart, I would love for you to. But I'm afraid that the Main Temple is the safest place here. There's a chance that they could still get you if you remained here."
Sakura smiled sadly and reached out to touch her daughter's face, her pale hand stopping just shy of Kaede's skin. "I love you, and I will always be with you and watching over you. So you be strong and be good for Hinata and Kiba, okay? Now, go, quickly. I can hear them approaching."
Listening, sure enough Kaede heard the familiar moan of the ghouls carried on the wind. With one last glance at her beautiful mother, she quickly wiped away her tears and ran for the main temple of the shrine. The moaning increased and she could hear the cries coming up the steps just before the Torii. Reaching the Main Temple, she pulled open the door to allow herself in. As she did so, she caught a brief glimpse of the first of the angry spirits passing through the Torii.
Her body suddenly felt froze with fear and she knew she wouldn't be able to go any further. However, a bright glow emerged from the Cherry grove suddenly and she could feel warmth seeping back into her bones giving her the courage to get past the fear. She slipped through the crack in the door and quickly closed it shut behind her.
The Temple was pitch black except for patches of moonlight let in by small windows near the roof of the structure. She made her way to the far right side and knelt on all fours to feel out tatami mats.
"1..." she counted aloud, softly to herself but her voice still echoed in the eerie silence of the temple. "2...3...4..."
There was a slight noise to her left, and she paused momentarily but then continued feeling out the tatami mats.
The seventh tatami mat lay directly under a patch of pale moonlight giving her some light to work with. Taking a deep breath she lifted the mat and placed it aside. The moonlight shone down on a loose panel of wood in the floor and she lifted that as well. There was nothing but blackness beneath that, except for something small that glinted in the moonlight. "Something that may help you." Okaasan had said.
She reached a hand into the darkness, feeling around until her fingers grasped something made of cloth. Pulling the object up, she examined it in the moonlight. It was a hitae. An old konoha hitae hidden within the floorboards of Nakano Shrine.
This was suppose to help her? This is what Okaasan had said was so important?
She didn't understand at all. Her green eyes nearly filled back up with tears of frustration and hopelessness, but Okaasan had said it would help her. And Okaasan would never lie to her. Resolutely, she tied the hitae around her forehead to leave her hands free. It felt a bit odd, having Okaasan's hiate on behind her bangs and another tied around her forehead...but somehow, she felt safer.
And then a cloud passed over the moon, sending the Temple into complete darkness. Something moved to her left and she could feel the hair on the nape of her neck stand up. Slowly turning her head, she saw crimson sharingan eyes staring out at her from the darkness. The cloud passed, and before her, this time in a blue cloak with red clouds, stood Uchiha Itachi.
"Welcome Home, Little Niece."
"You're dead. Otou-sama killed you." She stood her ground. After all, if Otou-sama could stand up against him, so could she.
He smiled. "Yes, he did, didn't he? He hated me and cursed me and gave up his soul for me. Just like I told him to. We were to be the last two Uchiha, you know. Of course, then he had to have children." He snarled.
Kaede glared. She was terrified but she refused to show that to him.
The snarl left Itachi's pretty face and his expression became blank. He stared at her, through her it seemed.
"So, tell me. Who are you?"
She blinked and then glared. He wanted to play mind games did he? Fine.
"I am Uchiha Kaede, Last of the Uchiha."
He moved before she could see him, his fist cold and hard in her gut. She doubled over in pain and felt herself cough up something warm and coppery. He looked down at her and repeated his question.
"Who are you?"
Kaede glared up at him, her own Sharingan eyes flashing in the moonlight. Wiping the blood from her mouth with the back of one hand, she replied.
"I am Uchiha Kaede, Daughter of Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura and the Last of the Uchiha."
He struck again before she could register his movement, this time with a hidden katana. She cried out as a line of fire seared its way from her back. Falling to the ground, panting with pain she glared up at him. He continued to look down at her impassively.
"Who are you?"
Why did he keep repeating that? He knew who she was!
"I am Uchiha Kaede, Daughter of Uchiha Sasuke, who kicked your ass!! And Haruno Sakura, Last of the Uchiha and a Proud Ninja of the Hidden Village of Konoha!" she ground out through clenched teeth.
He struck again and she felt another wave of pain strike from her left shoulder to her collar bone.
"Who are you?"
"I am Uchiha Kaede, Daughter of Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura, Adopted Daughter of Inuzuka Kiba and Hinata, Last of the Uchiha and a Konoha Ninja!!!" she shouted at him. What did he want? If he wanted to erase all of the Uchiha why did he not just kill her? Why did he keep asking her who she was?
She was kicked this time. His foot caught her under the chin and the force of it sent her flying backwards and into the wall. She shook her ringing head and looked up with wide eyes as he walked forward, katana drawn and ready to strike a final blow.
"Who are you?"
"I'm Kaede!!!!" she screamed in desperation as he swung the katana downwards towards her head.
The katana never hit though. There was a clang and she saw a dark figure standing in front of her, protecting her, also wielding a katana. The figure was tall, and dressed in white shorts and a high collar blue shirt with the Uchiha symbol on the back.
Itachi grinned. "Ototou. Here to save your little girl once more?"
The figure growled back. "Piss off, Aneki. I've already killed you once and I will not have you killing another Uchiha. Especially this one."
"I thought you and that simpering wife and son of yours had already crossed over."
"We watch over her. She has both my hitae and Sakura's now, Itachi. You can not touch her. Not with talismans that strong."
"She came to this place of her own free will. I can do whatever I like to her." Itachi snarled.
"She came here to reclaim the Uchiha honor and face her own demons." The figure snarled back. "You. Can. Not. Touch. Her."
The katanas clanged and flashed in the moonlight. Kaede watched the two figures with a feeling of increasing cold coming over her. She was losing a lot of blood and going into shock. How else could she explain the fact that it looked like a younger version of Otou-sama protecting her? The world was growing dark and her vision was tunneling when the clanging stopped a figure stood over her.
She looked up to see the face of her father smiling down at her. Across his forehead he wore a hitae with a stylized leaf symbol instead of the music note she had grown use to seeing. He looked younger...perhaps this was the face of her father before he abandoned Konoha and his hope to go chasing after the power to kill his brother.
"Just rest for now. It's nearly morning."
"...Otou-sama...are you proud of me?" This was silly. He had told her he was proud of her before he died...but she need to know. If he was still proud of her. If she was still being an Uchiha.
"Words can't describe how proud of you I am, Kaede."
"Even if I now live with the Inuzuka clan?"
"As long as you're happy. That's all we want. Is for you to live and be happy."
"Otou-sama...I'm very tired."
"Then sleep. It'll all be better in the morning."
She closed her eyes just as the first rays of dawn filtered in through the small windows.
She awoke to gentle hands on her face and a frantic voice.
"Kaede-san? Kaede-san, are you alright?"
Kaede forced herself to open her eyes. And found large worried eyes and fuzzy eyebrows inches away from her own face.
Lee gave a great sigh of relief. She wasn't gravely injured or dead then.
"Lee-sensei, what are you doing..." Kaede paused as she noticed her surroundings. They were just outside of the boarded entrance to the Uchiha section and she was propped up against one of the columns that supported the archway of the entrance. But...hadn't she passed out in Nakano Shrine? How did she get here? And how did Lee-sensei know she was here anyway?
"The boys told me about your little bet when you were late to the meeting this morning. I was very worried about you, Kaede-san. And with good cause, you got quite beaten up in there. Please don't worry me so much ever again."
Quite beaten up...? Then it hadn't been a dream...? She tried moving her shoulder and winced at the pain that shot through it. The same with the dull ache across her back and the pain in her gut and chin. Lifting her good arm, she felt her forehead. Her fingertips met with smooth, cool metal and she smiled, feeling herself tear up.
"Kaede-san, are you in pain?" Lee asked with concern, as he picked up his pupil.
Kaede placed her good arm around his shoulders and leaned against his shoulder.
"A little, Sensei. But more a little happy than that..."
"Oh?" He looked down as she smiled up at him with those green eyes that reminded him so much of Sakura-san.
"Sensei, would you mind taking me home? I need to tell my parents that I found what I was looking for."