Chapter Nine

Genious' point of view

"I'm home-" I said in a hesitant voice rang out into the dense echoes of an abandoned apartment. There were no signs of life. Dirt and graffiti form streaks on the walls and the wooden floor. Furniture was covered by white sheets as if time stood still to bury the memories of the living.

"Genious, are you sure we are at the right place?"

I could only stare into the dark eyes of comfort, my husband Iruka with the bitterness of disappointment manifesting at the corners of my eyes. It has been months since that day when I saw my only constant got taken by the smoke of shadows into the pits of the unknown world. I remember the crying and uncontrollable nightmare of seeing her face as she waves goodbye to me in my dreams. It was as though I really lost her. Lost hope. It was a gamble that I took when I asked Tsunade-sama to let me come back into this world I once called home. The world I inextricably left a long while ago. And some things have definitely not changed. It's still as filthy, grimy and as miserable as ever including the old place that we were standing in.

I look around at my companions, Iruka and Kakashi who were sent to guard me. I watched as they wandered through the very apartment I thought everyone would still be here. I thought that I would come back to see a Ruby lounging on the couch with newspaper, Cali in the kitchen getting dinner ready and da jie on the armchair with her lanky legs hanging over the arms. I was expecting to see normalcy instead I see desolation and still memories dancing in front of me.

Tears fell and they spotted the dusty ground.

Warm arms embraced me as I cry.

Everything's gone.

"Where did they go?"

"World Central Towers." Kakashi said most calmly. He was holding up a piece of crumpled paper with scribbles. I immediately jumped to grab at it. It was an address. It was a clue.

"You guys wait here." And I dashed out and started banging the neighbour's door down. Thumpings later, the old man finally came out. He stared and cursed verbally and with hand signals. Yeah, yeah I know I am a pain but I don't have a phone. I need a phone I said, mouthing the words slowly. He muttered more curses before he unlatched the door to let me in. Argh. It was just as filthy but it had a phone. A working phone which is what I need to call the number on the faded and crumpled piece of paper.

"Hello?" A familiar voice rang.

"RUBY!"

"WHO THE F(bleep) ARE YOU?"

I paused.

"It's me Genious."

He paused.

"Oh."

And the rest is history. The next I knew I was sitting in his new apartment. A very nice apartment that is fully furnished with really nice stuff. It was in the middle of the CBD and one of the newer places that was just built. The glamorous side of the big city.

"You've finally did it! I'm so proud!"

"Yeah. Ha-ha!" He laughed weird and he knew.

"I'm sorry. It's just that it has one a year since I last saw everybody especially since Rayn said that you were not going to come back. Then Cali moved out after she got married. Then Rayn and I decided to move too. It was too expensive to stay with only 2 people in that place-"

Right. And this fancy place wasn't?

"Where's Rayn? Where's Cali?"

"Cali is overseas with work the last time I checked. As for Rayn, she sort of disappeared-"

"What nonsense are you talking about?"

"I tried contacting her a while back. You know, for old times sake to catch up and talk shit but her mobile line is cut and the army said she is MIA."

"WHAT?"

He merely threw a cushion at me. "Stop yelling." And Iruka pulled me down to sit. Kakashi merely stood at the side watching the world go by like the regular cat staring out the window. "She's gone. They said that she had a bad incident at the borders. The company she was posted to was attacked and the place was bombed to nothing. It was on the news even. There were a lot of casualties. Cali and I went to see her at the hospital-"

I stared at him. He sighed.

"She was in a bad shape but alive nonetheless. But that was also the last time we saw her. The next thing we know she was missing."

"I don't understand how could that happened? Wasn't there people watching or nurses?" Iruka asked.

Ruby shook sadly.

"She looked sad and dejected that day. With a huge patch of bandage over her right eye, she only stared at us quietly. She looked old and tired. Like as if she haven't slept for years or something. She looked as if she had something on her mind that she couldn't let go. But when asked, she refused to say anything, except that she was tired and was asking for all the painkillers known to man. Then the next morning she just vanished."

"Where could she have gone?" I said, biting my nail. To which Ruby again threw a cushion to stop me from starting the childish habit.

"You want to know something?" he said.

"What?"

"I think she's with that Old man or something. You know that psychotic guy who always tries to kill her?"

"I never she knew she has a sadist side."

He threw another cushion to which I dodged easily.

"Then why didn't you go find her?" I said.

"Crazy person! If I had an address, do you think I would not have tried? And besides, he might be dead by now if he was as old as we are told."

"Wait. I remember something! She said that it was in sector 4."

"Wow. Sector 4 is really small, let's go look for it. ARE YOU REALLY THAT STUPID!"

"Aye! Stop calling me stupid!"

"But you are stupid!"

"ARGH!" I lunged ready to wring his neck. Or rather I would have if Iruka wasn't holding me back. I yelled at him to let go but he stubbornly held on.

"You're pregnant! Can you be careful at least for the baby's sake!" he said blushingly.

"You're pregnant?" Ruby and Kakashi chorused.

"Why? Never seen a sexy pregnant lady before." I said as I strike a pose.

"No. Just wondering how a baby can fit inside such skinny figure that wears such tight clothes like you." They said again in union.


"ARGH!"

Men. You really wonder why there is a need for them.

"ARGH!"

I yelled in frustration as we finally took outside the renowned place of Old Man. The basis for my pent up emotions will have to be blamed on Cali who so kindly forgot to mention that she had the address from before?

ARGH! All the emotional drama was for nothing! ARGH! Can't believe it!

Breathe. I must breathe. Happy mothers make happy babies. Breathe.

Breathe.

"Well, at least we're here." Said Ruby as we stood doubtfully outside this really old fashion Japanese hut complete with a signboard that was about to fall off.

"Is it still open?" I wondered out loud.

"Only one way to find out." Kakashi said as he pushed open the wooden door.

We breathed in deep and held.

"Welcome!" Said a really cheerful voice that belongs to a really petite woman who greeted us from behind the counter.

"Oh my! Customers! Come in! Please come in! It's been around since anyone came around after the last bombing."

Bombing?

We politely nodded before asking her.

"Ano, we're just wondering if there is an Old Man who lives here."

"Old Man? Yes! Indeed there is such a person. The grouchiest thing alive but yeah still alive. Ha-ha!"

We laughed nervously with her as she invited her to follow her into the house that was directly connected to the hut via really weak floor that I swear will not hold my ever-increasing weight.

"She's really small sized." Ruby mouthed to me.

She barely stood above my shoulders even with the high wooden sandals. She is really petite! I wonder how old she is…..

"Old Man! You have visitors!"

"I don't know anybody! Everybody I know has died a long time ago! So tell these ass them to f off!"

She wasn't kidding at all.

"OI! You better be nice! And mind your language around here. You're already so old but yet so uncultured and so damn rude! You're beyond hope!" She yelled staring the old man with her hands on her hips. He merely sighed and blew smoke as he gave in. We settled ourselves at the table at the petite one's insistence.

"Ano, we're-" I began.

"What do you want?"

He was testing my patience.

"We're-"

"Too slow. You there, talk." He said pointing at Kakashi.

"Hey you're too much! Stupid rude and crude Old Man!" I yelled, and he ignored.

"Where's Rayn?"

Old Man eyed Kakashi from head to toe, smoked some and drank some tea.

We waited.

And waited some 20 minutes until I yelled again.

"Shut up." He said.

"What? Who the hell do you think you're-"

"Ok. We can go now. I'm done with my papers."

And he stood up. He had a good built and stood tall. He stretched and yawned before walking out into the backyard that led downwards. Puzzled, we followed.

"Ano, where-" I said.

"Enough, Genious. You'll have your answer soon." He said.

I stood still in my tracks and stared.

"You know my name?"

"Rayn talks about you a lot. And you." He looked at Ruby "And of course, her friends from the other world quite a fair bit. I may be old but not stupid enough as to not be able to recognize you from her descriptions."

"Oh."

Damn. Don't you hate guilt trips?

"Let me say this first: she has her reasons for disappearing and so do hear it out first before yelling our eardrums deaf, oh loud and impulsive one."

I hate this guy. He's a-

No! I must have happy thoughts. Positive karma! Breathe…..da jie?

And there she was. At the foot of the little hill at where we were standing, there stood Rayn in all her glory. We stopped to stare. The picture painted looked surreal especially since it has been months since we last saw her at all. She was busy watching over a young boy who was barely learning to walk. He wobbly took small steps towards the open arms of Rayn who was encouraging him.

Da jie looked contented as she smiled at the young boy. She looked older somewhat but at the same much gentler and more woman-like as she cradled the child in her arms. Heck, she could almost pass off as the child's-

"Momma!" The little cried out with glee.

"Momma?" We yelled uncontrollably and she turned in our direction. She looked surprised. Stunned almost.

And man it was awkward as hell as we stood there staring at each other.


Rayn's View

It was so unexpected. Who would have thought that they would find their way here? Who would have thought that Genious, Iruka and Kakashi came into this world just to find me? I mean I know I left in a bad way but there is no need to risk their lives to come into this world, right? It took a while before it sank in deep that they were really here, flesh and blood. And really, it was then that it finally hit me that I miss them all. I mean I never forgot about them but it really slapped me in the face that I haven't seen them in a really long while.

Sigh.

And Ruby, I wonder if he's angry with me for disappearing all the way from the hospital to this isolated place?

Sigh.

What should I do? We're all sitting in Old Man's house but no one's talking. Except Yuta who was busy looking at Kakashi, who in turn was blatantly staring at me with that eye of his.

Sigh.

Someone should say something. Otherwise we'll be here all night staring each other's eyes until something falls out.

"So what's his name?"

Thank goodness for Genious' lack of patience.

"Yuta."

Silence.

"I still can't believe you beat me to having a kid first." She said as I reached over for the pot of tea.

"Hmm… What? Wait a second! I think you got it wrong, I didn't give birth to him!"

"But he called you 'momma'."

I felt the hot flush creep up my cheeks.

"Yes, but I'm only his foster mother. His real mother passed away a long while ago and so the responsibility to raise him fell on me."

"She must have been desperate to have asked you."

Well, yeah. I'm not exactly what the people would describe as potential maternal figure. I sighed yet again.

"No. But I did I caused the death of his parents." I said quietly.

And they stared more intensely than ever. Yuta finally gave in to his curiosity and walked over to Kakashi to play with his mask. Most unexpectedly, the ninja held the little boy and stroked the turf of black hair atop his head.

I had to smile. It was so cute.

But I also had to answer some questions. Why is life so troublesome?

"Yuta' father, Yamamoto Arata was simple with good head and served the army loyally. He was also my right-hand man and a good friend that I came to know after I got back. He was also a family man who lovingly stared at a picture of his pregnant wife night after night. In all, a great guy with a great future. But things never quite go the peaceful way isn't it?"

I sighed and sipped more tea.

"We were attacked one morning unexpectedly. To cut short, we were not having the best of days. Lack of supplies and a sand storm ensured that we were trapped dogs when the first blasts occurred. Amidst live fire and bad weather, a grenade caught onto the tail of one of the winds and strayed in front of me. My body moved and I pushed the idiot away. We were safe but that was also the opening chance for the enemy to take, and out of duty that idiot took the shot. That idiot, that stupid idiot of insane proportions took the shot. And he could still smile with blood spurting from his mouth, to which he begged me to take care of his wife then with one last breathe he pushed me to get me running and like a coward I ran, leaving him to die alone."

Suddenly the room grew quiet. Who would blame them? It is a depressing story and they asked for it!

"I announced his passing to the wife but it ended up inducing Yuta's birth and her eventually death from grief. She bounded me to her last words to take the boy and care for him like my own. She threw off all explanations and said that I owe them and that I was going to be the responsible one to do it. That is also why I had left the hospital so sudden because out of guilt I went to look for the wife. With Yuta in hand, I relocated here because it is just much safer…"

"But you have a job! How could you just walk out and disappear?" Genious exclaimed.

"Because she is no longer deemed fit enough." Ruby said quietly.

"Huh? What do you mean by that?" She said staring at Ruby. He merely looked downcast so she turned to me to stare.

"What does he mean by that? I mean you look fine and you are fine! What rubbish is he talking about?"

"She can't see in her right eye, you idiot! So shut up already!" Ruby yelled out of stress. The poor guy was drying for a smoke and Old Man kindly offered him one.

Genious went into shock.

"No way-"

I smiled. "Yeah, he's right. I lost my sight in one eye." And I pulled aside the curtain of hair that I grew out to cover it. Genious stared and soon started to frantically wave hands and manipulate some weird finger dance around the blind spot, to which I could only sigh at her attempts.

Aye. I really can't see. I really can't see where and what your hands are doing. It's not a trick.

"No worries. I still have one eye so it's fine. Gomenasai for the entire psychological trauma I gave you when Itachi sent me back here but I'm fine really. I have a new purpose in life now and from what I can see, you are doing well too. Right, Iruka-san?"

He smiled and nodded. Ah, still the gentleman as ever.

"You look well too, Kakashi-san."

The jounin looked up from keeping Yuta's hands off the mask. He had no readable expression, just only that familiar mysterious smile of his to infer goodwill from behind the black cloth.

Dang. And he still looks as good as ever.

Later into the night, Ruby and I slipped out to the backyard to enjoy a few drink and he his smoke. It is an old habit of ours to just hang out when the rest are asleep, leaving us two insomniacs for company through the night.

I watched with nostalgia as the swirls of smoke danced beneath the pale moonlight.

"Aye, let me ask you something." Ruby said.

"Hmm?"

"Are you going to confess now that the man himself is here?"

"Confess about what, my dear friend?"

"That you are lesbian. Just kidding! Don't glare at me like that! You know what I'm getting at: You like the one called Kakashi so just say it or else you'll be carrying it into your graveyard!"

I laughed.

"Nah. Two people from different worlds will never come any good ending-"

"But you like him."

"I enjoy the company."

"Oh so you love him!"

"Stop putting words in my mouth!"

"Aye, she does, ah such young love could almost make feel happy."

We turned in the direction of another voice. It was Old Man with his deadpan mood who was bringing sake over. Settling down beside us, he poured out the alcohol and we continued.

"It doesn't matter. I'm happy here with Yuta and you guys. Nothing else matters."

"Stupid girl. You can belong so long as the heart is right. Don't be a dodo and die with regret."

Right.

"To be honest, there is something I ought to say."

"Yes old wise mace windu, pray tell us what the secrets of the universe are?"

"Shut up and drink your sake!" He then sipped some before talking. "People can't just move between worlds. It's not just a simple problem of having the right spell or the right skill but whether in the first place, are you meant to."

"I'm confused."

"You're getting drunk. In layman words: Don't think so much and just go with him! Stop being so whiny and longwinded! Also, there is also something about that sword that you didn't know."

"That it is from that world I just came back from?"

"Smart. Taxpayers' money hasn't gone to waste on you. It's very good to know that you learned something from your education. The sword is from the other world where they say things still go the shinobi way. It was brought over by one of them who accidentally tampered with a forbidden spell. He stayed and the sword was passed through the ages, granting the user power not known to this world. In some sense, those who it has accepted as master are those who are descendents of stray travelers from that world."

"So that's why it was picky with who it acknowledges."

"I saw the extra ability in you. We share the same heritage and perhaps you can say its just destiny at work. And that you are meant to be there, oh stray cat."

Stray cat?

"Don't worry, he's still wants you back. It's written all over his heart."

"You seem awfully confident about this. How can you read a ninja who is always wearing a mask?"

"It's too damn obvious." Ruby said, whilst getting redder in the face.

"Right." And I sipped more sake.

"Sure he does. Right, Kakashi-san?" Old Man said.

And my face flushed as the shadow behind me settled on my left. I turned to find him in causal clothing offered by Petite Woman, staring straight on into my eye. He then greeted everyone before taking a glass from Old Man.

"So do you want her back?" The old one asked most bluntly.

My cheeks flushed red. It felt more as if I was having a fever almost.

"Stop asking him-"

"I do." He said quietly.

And I flushed an even deeper shade of red. Thank goodness for poor lighting and the effects of alcohol on the others.

They laughed. And chatted some before standing up to leave.

"Ok. We're done here and so it's time for bed for the rest of us. Ha-ha!"

I could only stare as two guys who can't drink wobbly walked off into the house, laughing at non-existent jokes before slamming the door shut behind them. Thus, leaving only the two of us behind in a rather awkward situation, sitting side by side under the dark sky of poor lighting.

RUN! That was all my mind could think and I was going to act on it.

"Ano, I ought to go check on Yuta-"

"I was serious."

"Eh?"

"So please, don't run from me." And with that, he grabbed my hand to hold me from running.

Damn it! I can't stop flushing!

"Listen Kakashi-san, things are different now. There's Yuta to consider-"

He merely brushed the curtain fringe aside and leaned in close into my face. My heart raced and I swore I was going to suffer a cardiac arrest or something.

"I love you." He said quietly as he rested his forehead on mine. Moments passed as I sat there feeling his warm breath on my cheeks amidst the cool night air that surrounded us. Some time later, he spoke again.

"Plus I like the boy. He has potential to be a good shinobi, with the right guidance he might turn out to be a genius. Now, no more excuses, Rayn. If you run away again, this time I'll kill you and Yuta will join me in the hunt."

I laughed nervously but found my arms had wound around him holding him close.

Right. Some kind of love he has for me.

But in some sense, I guess it's the best kind of love and all that I could possibly want after all I've seen and gone through. On top of that, from now on I can fulfill Arata's wishes and raise Yuta in a better place with a good man as his father. It especially is encouraging to know that Yuta is the next successor to the sword, thus granting him a passport over. It's a nice ending to all the drama.

I smiled.

"Ay. No more running."

Shutting both eyes, I dragged down the mask for a kiss. I smiled as I sensed the surprise but soon, that smile turned to tears as I ravished the reality in having him here and that it was no hallucination conjured by drugs.

Pulling away, I opened my eyes to find the mask back on.

"Aren't you going to say you love me, stray cat?"

"Don't use that nick on me! You perverted ninja!"

"Say it!" Kakashi said in a low threatening tone.

"No!" I said laughing as he tackled me down on the floor. And the pestering continued and the commotion woke the entire household up, in which we received only much swearing and curses. Thank goodness that the child is a heavy sleeper. I really do not wish that he pick up foul language faster than his ABCs!

As for my declaration of love: I will say it, but not just yet.

­The end.


Author's note:

I'm just so sorry about this update but RL is just getting in the way of writing. Much thanks and support to every single one of you! I do hope that this is a satisfactory end to this fic and that you enjoyed the story as much as I did. Thank you once again for the reviews and encouragement! It will be difficult to continue writing but I will finish up 'The Pages Turn' at least. But otherwise, I am sad to say that I might not have the time for new ones. Thanks once again and Love ya all!

Cheers,

Arte

Ps. A friend did an artist's impression of Rayn! And gosh it's just gorgeous really. So please do have a look and support this talented artist!

w w w . deviantart . com / deviation / 19317587