Chapter 1: I Want
Reality was still a foreign concept for her. She just couldn't believe, couldn't believe that he had died. Her sensei, Kazama Arashi, who she shared six entire years of her life with, growing, living, and having fun with, died.
As she looked around her, she could see just about the whole of the village here, mourning for the dearly departed Yondaime Hokage. This was the first occasion that she had ever seen more than one or two clans at a funeral together; usually they were bickering over useless politics or fighting over whose clan was the strongest.
She looked up into the face of the man next to her, and she saw that he, by some miracle, had stayed perfectly composed, hardly batting an eyelash at the mourning and grieving people around him. She envied him for this, for she couldn't help but cry for Arashi. She couldn't help but regret all the times that she had shown up late for practice or all the times that she had ignored his advice in her stubbornness. All she wanted was to look into the face of her sensei one last time and apologize for every wrong thing she had ever done and tell him that she loved him like the father she never had.
"Be strong Rin," the voice tickled her ear like the wind and was just as calm. But she heard something in it, something else; something broken.
"He's probably crying on the inside," Rin thought to herself as another person stepped up to the podium completely draped in deathly black satin to talk about the man they would say they've known for all of their lives. "He's just….more used to this than I am." And it was true; Hatake Kakashi had to attend the funerals of his mother and father, his best friend, and now his sensei also.
She tried to see who it was that was speaking, but the glare of the sun obscured the vision.
"It's not supposed to be sunny out; it's supposed to pouring rain out. The sky is supposed to be dark and gloomy and cloudy. Why are you out here? Why are you so bright out? You shouldn't even be out! You should be mourning in a veil of jet black clouds and crying for him!" Rin mentally yelled at the sun. But it didn't seem to take any direction from anything; the sky was still blue and cloudless and the sun was still as bright as ever.
"Rin, are you sure you're up for this?" Kakashi asked her as he reassuringly placed a hand on her shoulder. The man who had been speaking walked down from the podium, an emotional wreck.
"Jirayia," thought Rin empathetically. It had been the Gama Sannin that had been in the glare of the sun and broke down during his speech. "It must be even harder for him; losing all three of his former pupils in the span of a year," she thought as the podium was empty, no one stepping up to it.
"I'm positive," Rin answered as strongly as she could, smiling weakly at her crush and former shinobi. "After, all, it's the least I can do for him, right?" Kakashi gave a slight nod of his head and pulled his teammate into an embrace.
"You always did think of others before yourself," Kakashi commented quietly before releasing the girl, whose cheeks were powdered with a light blush.
"Thank you, Kakashi," Rin said as she made her way through the small amount of crowd that was in front of her, she had woken up before dawn to be near the front, until she was finally walking up the small set of stairs to the podium where countless others had already spoken.
And as she stood in front of it and gazed at the congregation of people waiting for her to speak, she knew for the first time in her life every word that she would say.
"Hello, my name is Inuzuka Rin," she tentatively started. "Kazama Arashi had been my sensei for the past six years, and this truly was heartbreaking to hear. I wish I could say that I knew him well, but in reality I never truly knew who he was. Every time I'd think I know what kind of person he is, he'd contradict it and show a new side to him. I may not have known him well, but Kazama Arashi has been like a father to me.
Every time I'd cry I would know that he'd accept me with open arms, and every time I'd do something right he'd congratulate me with a smile. But more than that, he was always there to help me. Every time I was injured he'd always be there to bandage me up, always be there to heal the pain.
That is why I decided to became a medic-nin, actually. So that, maybe one day, I can heal the pain of those close to me. And I asked him, one time, why; why he did everything that he did for us. He could have told us that it was because he was our sensei and it was his obligation to do so. But that's not what he said.
But, instead, he told me that Kakashi, Obito, and I were his family, and that's what a family does; they protect each other and heal the pain. I began to realize just how lucky I truly was at that moment.
I had an entire clan as my family, a mother, cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and dogs to make me feel needed; to make me feel alive.
He only had three fourteen year olds. And that, I believe is true strength; to make the most out of your current situation, no matter how bad it may seem. It makes me cry, even now, thinking how he would go to a home where there weren't laughing children or a caring wife for him to say "I'm home" to.
But most importantly, we should follow his example, and live every day as if life is a privilege, not a gift. We should take this day to work towards a better future not only for ourselves, but for those around us who aren't as fortunate as we are. Maybe, instead of turning a blind eye to the suffering around us and say that everything's fine, we should help heal the pain of suffering.
Arashi Kazama may not have been my biological father, but he is the only father I know, and, while I may not have known him well, I do know this; he has given us this day, this beautiful autumn day to celebrate what we have and to remember all of the good times that we've shared together.
And I know that he's smiling down from heaven on us, just like when he was alive because all of you are here today.
Uchiha and Hyūga, Aburame and Inuzuka; every single one of you, despite who you may be standing next to, came here of your own will. And, that, in my opinion, is the greatest gift you ever could've given him. Thank you, all of you, for coming," spoke Rin. She meant every word she spoke, and as she stepped down from the podium, she looked up to the Sun, and, her eyes blurred with tears, smiled, hoping that, somewhere out there, her sensei would see it and smile back at her, just like before he or Obito died. Everything could be fine then, if he was smiling.
"So, you're leaving us?" the boy asked. He stood in the doorway of his cousin's completely white room that was devoid of any decoration except for a bed and a bureau for clothes and equipment.
"I'm only going on a mission, it's not anything you should worry about," assured Shisui as he inspected his weapon supply. He then dropped a shuriken on to the ground, deeming it unfit for his use and the clang of metal on floorboards reverberated throughout the room.
"You're lying," the boy insisted bluntly. Another clang reverberated throughout the room.
"I'm not lying Itachi; it's only a mission. It's an S-class mission, but that's all it is; a mission," he insisted. He nodded curtly to himself as he reattached the weapon pouch to his waist and then began checking his supply of rations.
"It's because of Obito, isn't it?" Itachi asked, not once averting his eyes from Shisui's back. His instincts were shouting at him to cry, to scream, to yell, to beg him not to leave. To beg Shisui not to leave him.
Like how Obito did. How Obito had told him the same thing before he left for his mission in Iwa. He had smiled at him and ruffled his hair and told him not to worry; that it was his first day as a genin and that it was a day to remember.
And he remembered that day well, when Obito's teammates had come home bearing the bad news; Itachi's cousin, his only friend, had been killed all in the name of war. And despite all of the sympathetic gazes and words his teammates and peers had directed towards him, he only found true comforting from Shisui, perhaps the only other person who truly appreciated Obito for who he was and not his track record as a ninja, which indicated that he was only sub-standard.
But Itachi restrained himself from expressing these feelings, for long ago his father branded into him the knowledge that, as heir to perhaps one of the most powerful clans in the history of the world, emotion was a liability and a useless figment of the human mind.
Shisui felt a disgruntled sigh rise in his throat, but kept it down.
'After all, one of his baby sitters has already died on him; why shouldn't he be paranoid?' Shisui asked himself. He turned around to face his younger cousin, and the boy that his uncle had told him to look after, and, for the first time in his life, he had seen something other than cold calculation in the prodigy's eyes.
Ever since he was young, Itachi had always been able to act emotionless, stoic; just like the Uchiha heir should. But sometimes Shisui wondered if he pulled off the act a little too well; that he acted inhuman a little too naturally.
But as his eyes met the endless dark spheres of Itachi, he could see the beginnings of fear, of sadness, of paranoia, of anger; a glimmer of humanity.
"I'll come back Itachi, I promise you," Shisui gravely told the younger boy. "And I never break my word, ever," he assured as he clipped the bag of his rations to his belt. He then stood up and slipped on his sheathed katana and picked up his mask from next to him.
"I'll be waiting for you," Itachi vowed, his voice still not wavering.
"I want you to do something for me though, when I'm gone," Shisui requested as his vision was narrowed to the confines of two eyeholes. "I want you to make sure that you care for your younger brother, Sasuke. He may seem annoying at times, but once he's gone, you'll miss him. So make sure that you help him become strong."
Even through the wood Itachi could see his cousin smile in reminiscence.
"Goodbye Itachi," Shisui stated, his voice drowned in the memories of the past.
"Goodbye Shisui," Itachi said as the older boy disappeared, leaving not a trace behind.
And Itachi smiled as he noticed the sword that Shisui had happened to leave on his bed, with a simple card next to it.
"Itachi, I hope this tool assists you achieve the greatness that you are destined for."
"Thank you, Shisui," Itachi whispered as he felt the smooth sheath in between his hands and the kanji that was carved into it so many years ago.
Small beads of water finally began to assault the glass paned window, taps echoing throughout the air around it.
The buildings blurred past her as her feet pounded against the dried earth beneath them, propelling her forward at tremendous speeds. But she knew that it probably wouldn't be enough speed, that she wouldn't be able to catch him in time. Rin immediately dismissed these thoughts from her head, however, as she pushed even more chakra into her feet.
Only an hour ago the services for the Yondaime had been given, and soon afterwards Kakashi and Rin had found themselves to be alone with none other than Jiraiya, Uchiha Fugaku, and Sarutobi Hajime.
"It's a shame that he never was able to raise a family of his own," voiced Fugaku, his eyes glued to the photo of Arashi that was placed on the memorial. "I remember, even when he was a child, he had always wanted one." He then flicked his eyes over towards the teenage girl standing next to him. "That was an excellent speech, Inuzuka. I did not expect it to come from someone with your…colorful familial background."
Rin was about to retort when a sharp grip on her shoulder stopped her, and she looked to see that it was none other than Jiraiya.
"Now is not the time for debating which clan is best; today we must work on uniting in this time of crisis to rebuild and revive," the sannin chastised, casting a gaze at his own mentor, who seemed to be exhausted. "Sensei, what happened to the kid? I had gotten here as soon as I had heard the news, but, well…I was too late."
Sarutobi's entire body seemed to tense at the question and his face creased into a frown.
"He has been taken care of," Sarutobi answered cryptically, drawing curious looks from everyone around him.
"So he was actually…adopted? And so soon?" Kakashi asked suspiciously.
"No, I cannot say that he was lucky enough to be adopted. However, he is being cared for and taken care of," Sarutobi answered sullenly. He was still on edge from last night and was not up to being interrogated by his own pupil.
Rin slowly balled her hands into fists and clenched her teeth.
"This boy, he had given up everything, not even of his own will, so that this village could be saved and not one person could offer their love to him? Not one person in this village wishes to honor the very man they mourned for today?" Rin asked herself. And idea then began to formulate in her mind; if no one else would offer their love, then that meant that she could. She may only be a kid herself, but she knew that her family would respect her decision as an adult; after all, wasn't it her own mother who had taught her that the greatest injustice was to deny love to those who deserved it?
"Hokage-sama, I…I want to adopt him, the boy with the Kyūbi sealed in him," Rin stated forcefully, her eyes blazing with a determination characteristic in her family. She brought the full brunt of their effects on the Hokage, refusing to focus on anyone around her.
This got slightly varied reactions among the other four, but all of them were of shock.
"Rin, you're only fourteen, you would only throw your life away. Is that what you want; to throw your life away?" Kakashi demanded, anger in his voice.
"I'm willing to make that sacrifice," Rin insisted. "If this child could unwillingly give his life save me, I could at least repay the debt."
"Listen to your friend, girl," Fugaku interrupted, glaring coldly at her. "There is no reason for you to interfere with matters that don't concern you. The Sandaime has told you that he has taken care of the matter."
"How has the matter been taken care of? How could he possibly be happy growing up knowing that he's only being "trained?" How can he enjoy childhood if he has no one to love him? Tell me Mr. Uchiha; tell me how he could be happy!" Rin demanded, her body quivering in rage.
"The girl has a point," spoke Jiraiya, ignoring the hateful glare that Fugaku directed towards him. "It would benefit the boy greatly if he grew up within a prominent clan; after all, why would anyone risk beginning a war with people who could demolish them?"
"Then we Uchiha should be the ones to take the boy," Fugaku spat. "Why let the Inuzuka take him in? He'd become a filthy, good for nothing barbarian and eat dogfood just like the rest of them!"
"Fugaku, enough!" Sarutobi snapped. "You bring nothing but shame to your clan by speaking in such a manner." He then turned to Rin, who still held a fiery determination in her eyes.
"You do realize that by doing this, you will not only be responsible for yourself, but for him also? You will have to provide him a home, nutrition, and love. It will not be an easy road, no matter how you look at it; I know, I myself have two sons. But you will have to bear the hatred of the other villagers for caring for him, but the hardest of all will be watching him be ignored and degraded by those around him for something that was not of his judgment. Are you sure you are willing to give up so much Rin?"
"Yes, I'm positive. How could I live with myself if I was not right there, assisting him along the way?" Rin asked without skipping a beat, the determination in her eyes exchanged for a deep compassion.
"The ANBU who was going to train Uzumaki Naruto, the boy, should be leaving the village soon. If you hurry, you may be able to catch him and inform him that you are now the official guardian of Uzumaki Naruto," Sarutobi informed, smiling at the sight of the girl's eyes light up with joy.
"Thank you so very much Sandaime," Rin thanked with a deep bow before running off to intercept the ANBU.
And now she rapidly began to approach the gates, the chakra usage slowly beginning to take its toll on her. But despite this fact, she pushed even more chakra into her feet as she saw a man in ANBU garb with something strapped to his back appear in front of the gates.
"Wait!" Rin cried out in frustration as the ANBU advanced towards the gates. "You, with Naruto, stop!" she shouted. The ANBU instantly spun around to face her, and then, before she could blink, he materialized in front of her, a kunai at her neck.
"How do you know his name?" the man asked, his voice ice.
"My name is Inuzuka Rin, and I am the legal guardian of Uzumaki Naruto," Rin stated proudly, staring fearlessly into the masked face of the ANBU.
"I don't believe you," he said flatly, putting just enough pressure on the kunai to draw a drop of blood. "Prove to me that you don't wish to kill him."
"Why don't you prove to me that you don't plan to kill him once you leave the village?" retorted Rin.
"I don't need to prove anything to you; if you tried to lay a finger on me I'd kill you," the ANBU answered.
"Then why should I prove anything to you?" Rin demanded.
"Because you're a member of a clan of simple minded barbarians who have no tact or political skill," the ANBU answered boredly, unfazed by the rage growing in the girl.
"Does it hurt to have your family talked down upon Rin? Does it make you angry that someone who doesn't know the people closest to you decide they have the power to judge them?"
Rin couldn't say anything, for she remembered all the times before her teammates and her became family, when she would look down upon Obito and insult him behind his back.
She thought of all the times that she had called him weak because he lost to her when they sparred; of all the times she shunned him because he "wasn't good enough" for her. She had regretted ever doing it once Obito and her passed the Chunin Exam and he had almost died protecting her in the secondary round. She had apologized over and over to him and cried while he was in a coma for an entire week. He had excepted her apologies once he had woken up, and ever since then she held him in high regards. But still, she never gave him the attention he deserved, always saving that special attention for Hatake Kakashi.
"If that is how you treat your loved ones I fear for this boy if you truly are his guardian," the man said, as if reading her mind. He then turned around on a dime and began to walk away from her, but she had grabbed his arm.
"I don't trust you," she stated angrily.
"Neither I you," the ANBU said.
"I'm coming with you," she stated, letting go of his arm and walking up next to him.
"I won't save you if you get hurt."
"No one will save you if you hurt Naruto."
"If you try and hurt him or interrupt his training, I vow I'll kill you in your sleep and throw you into the marshes," the man threatened as he walked towards the Konoha gates, Rin on his heels.
"My name is Uchiha Shisui," he introduced. "I'm disappointed, really. I thought my brother had better taste in women."
"Wait…your…brother?" Rin asked, her eyes wide in shock.
"Oh, didn't Obito tell you that he had an older brother who he confided everything to because no one else would listen?" Shisui maliciously asked, turning his head to face the Inuzuka chūnin, only to find that she avoided any kind of eye contact. "I thought so."
But even though Rin had been humiliated, insulted, and threatened in the past two minutes, she didn't doubt either of her two decisions.
"After all, what harm could it be traveling and training with an ANBU? I wish it wasn't an Uchiha though," she thought to herself as she glanced at Shisui's back. "Especially this one."
What do you think? Good, bad, neutral? Please review.