I wrote this as a continuation of sorts for the first chapter. I don't really care for the way it turned out, but I thought I'd post it anyway. Please read and review.
Pein didn't regret things. Once he did something, he never worried about it again because it was over. He figured what was the use of worrying over something you couldn't change?
But deep inside, he knew there was one thing he regretted. Only one, but it was still there.
And the guilt never went away.
He leaned back, willing the thoughts to disappear, but they didn't. They never did.
It had been ten years ago -three months after he had kept her at her word to "do anything" to stay with him- but he still remembered it as clearly as if it were yesterday. He didn't regret doing that. If he had, he wouldn't have kept going back to her. Once he had gotten a taste of Konan, he couldn't keep away. At first, she cried, not understanding what was going on. But in time, she grew accustomed to it. She never cried about it again.
He could tell that she wanted to tell him to stop, but knew she was too afraid. That made him feel more in control over her. As a result, he would use more force than necessary, as if telling her he was the boss. She never complained, though one time, she had a sore leg for a week.
Pein continued on this way for some time. Not once did he ever think that something -or, more appropriately, someone- would come from their union.
It was not until a former medical ninja pulled him aside that he realized just what had happened.
He and Konan had been in town, gathering weekly supplies like they did every Saturday. Nothing was out of the ordinary that day. Except that Konan had been sick off and on for the past few weeks. Pein had written it off as a flu bug that refused to leave. Konan, of course, took his word for it and believed him.
The young girl was lugging the basket around, the intense sun beating down on her. It was fall time, but an Indian summer was upon them, with the sun once again showing how merciless it could be.
She fainted without warning, crashing to the ground before he could break her fall. The food they had bought spilled all over the road, and was trampled by feet as villagers crowded around her.
Pein had forced his way through the crowd and lifted her effortlessly into his arms. Someone gave him directions for the nearest doctor -although he had lived here for some time, he'd never had to see her- and off he went.
Five minutes later, he was pacing the floor, waiting for the doctor's conclusion. When at last she appeared, he looked at her, his gaze clearly stating that she had better not beat around the bush.
"She will be fine. The sun just got to be too much for her. I've had three cases of heat stroke come in today. It would be best for her if you keep her inside where it's cool." The old woman hesitated.
"What else is there?" He had replied, rather impatiently.
"Did you know that...she is with child? About two and a half months along?" She leveled her cool gaze on him.
He didn't flinch. "No, I was not aware of that. I will take care of her." He interrupted when she began to speak.
Her eyes told him that she didn't believe him, but she allowed him to take Konan with him.
He had not let himself think about what the medical ninja had said until Konan was at home, a cold compress on her forehead.
She is with child.
She is with child.
She is with child.
That phrase kept repeating through his mind, haunting him. He tossed and turned that night, unable to sleep. When sleep did claim him, it was almost time for him to get up.
Two hours later, he had awoken to the smell of food cooking. He rose, dressed, and walked into the kitchen to find Konan there, scrambling eggs for breakfast. His nose twitched appreciatively at the aroma filling the room.
"Good morning, Pein." She had greeted him. "I hope you slept well."
He had grunted in return, and sat down at the table, watching her. He noticed her hands shake slightly, and briefly wondered if his scrutiny made her nervous.
She swallowed hard. "Pein, would you like something else to eat?" She turned her face towards him.
He studied her. Her eyes looked clear and bright, and her cheeks were full and rosy. His gaze dropped to her waistline. Yes, he could see now that she had gained some weight. However, this weight would not be so easily shaken off.
"Pein-sama?" Her soft voice brought him from his thoughts.
"No. Just eggs are fine." He had nodded.
She had smiled in response, turning her attention back to the stove. Two minutes later, the spoon was snatched from her hand. She gasped. "Pein, the eggs...they'll burn..." She sputtered.
"Let them burn." He whispered harshly. He easily switched the stove off. It would do no good to have a fire. Gripping her wrists, he shoved her against a wall, his lips seeking the skin of her neck.
She didn't fight him. She never did anymore. She just let him have his way with her, and then continue on his way.
He cursed, slamming a fist against the wall, causing her to jump. He pushed away from her, unable to hide the disgust in his eyes. But whom was that revulsion for? Himself? Or her?
"I'm going to train." He spat out. She would know that he really meant she wasn't to bother him.
He had returned late into the night. He had expected to find her asleep in bed, but instead, she was curled in a little ball on the couch, fast asleep.
He debated about letting her stay there, but decided against it. He scooped her up and carried her into her room. It was also his room, but he normally slept on a futon, while she had the bed. Tonight was no exception.
He made sure she was comfortable, and pulled a light sheet over her in case she got cold during the night. He brushed some stray hair out of her face.
Blue. What a strange hair color. But somehow, he couldn't imagine her with any other color.
He brushed his lips against hers, amazing himself at the gentleness he showed. He gazed at her stomach, wondering what he was to do with the child growing inside her. Having a baby would only get in the way. Besides, she was only sixteen. She had no idea what to do with a baby.
He had sighed, then gone to his futon. Morning couldn't come soon enough for him.
The next day had started with Konan running to the bathroom every five minutes. Pein had watched, noticing how her face grew pale.
He knew that this sixteen year old girl was not capable of taking care of a baby. He wasn't even sure what to do with a baby.
When Konan dropped to the couch, clearly exhausted, he cleared his throat. "Konan."
"Pein? What is it? Do you need something?" She had asked, quietly.
"No. I have something important I must tell you. Listen carefully."
Her face drained of all expression and color upon seeing the serious look on his face. She fixed her black eyes on him and waited.
"Do you remember a few days ago when you fainted at the market?" At her nod, he had continued. "A medical ninja I took you to said that you are pregnant."
"Pregnant?" She squeaked. One hand went to her stomach. Truth be told, she had always wanted a baby. But now? She was only sixteen. What did she know about babies? Besides, did Pein-sama want this baby? Yesterday, when he'd been about to kiss her, he had turned away, disgust evident in his eyes. She did not speak for several minutes, then asked. "What do you want me to do...?"
Pein had stared at her. With that statement, she was basically telling him that he ruled her life. And perhaps he did. He had opened his mouth to tell her to get rid of it, when he had seen a hand almost protectively on her stomach. He wavered in his decision.
"You'll need to pick out a name." He had finally said. He didn't miss the way her eyes lit up. He realized that, although neither of them knew what to expect, in their own ways, they were both excited about the coming baby.
The months flew by. Two weeks before her due date, a little boy was born. He had let Konan pick out the name. She chose Rikyu.
From that point on, their life was thrown into chaos. Rikyu cried almost constantly, disturbing their sleep. Konan especially became exhausted. Pein had gone back to cooking so Konan would be free to care for little Rikyu.
Four weeks after Rikyu was born, Pein said that he was going to town for a drink or two. He wouldn't be gone long. Konan assured him she would get some rest while he was gone, and with that, he left.
As he walked, he had kept a close eye out for ninja. Rumors had been flying around town for a while now that there were some dissident ninja unhappy with the way that the government was handling things. A small voice in the back of his head told him to turn around and go back to Konan and Rikyu, but he pushed it out of his mind.
Three hours later, he had left town in rather good spirits. Halfway home, he stopped and sniffed the air. Something was burning. Panic welled up inside him, but he forced it down. He took off at a run, running faster than he had ever run before.
When he reached the house, it was engulfed in flames. Thick, black smoke curled in the air, making it difficult to see and breathe. He had been about to enter the house when he felt a presence to his left. He turned.
Konan was lying there beneath a tree, a bundle clutched in her arms. He hurried over, knelt by her side, and checked for a pulse. He breathed a silent sigh of relief when he found one. He then gathered the bundle in his arms and checked the baby for a pulse. He found none.
Using the rudimentary medical skills he knew, he tried to revive the boy, but wasn't successful. He rocked back on his heels, wondering how on earth he was supposed to tell the young mother her son was dead.
Pein had carefully laid the boy down, covering him with the blanket. The next thing he did was examine Konan. Besides some burns on her hands, arms, feet, and legs, she was fine.
He knew that wouldn't be the case once she regained consciousness.
Two hours later, she had awoken to an unfamiliar setting. Pein had rented a room in a hotel for them until they could find a new house. The bed was comfortable, but not the same.
"Pein?" She rasped.
He glanced over, a flicker of relief in his eyes. "You're awake. How do you feel?"
"Thirsty..." She licked her lips.
He wordlessly reached over and held a cup of cool water to her lips. She drank half of it, then sank back against the pillows.
"Is Rikyu okay?" She asked.
Pein had busied himself with examining her burns and applying more salve to them.
"Pein, where is my baby?" Her eyes were huge with fear, and panic laced her tone.
"Your...Our..." He corrected himself. "Our son...is..." He couldn't bring himself to finish his sentence.
"No!" Konan screamed. "He can't be! You're lying! There's no way he's dead!" She gathered her strength and was able to sit up.
"Konan, you should lie down. You're still injured. You need your rest." He placed a hand on her shoulder and gently pushed her down.
"No!" She shrieked. "I have to see my son!" She struggled against his hold.
"Konan, listen to me. You have to stay in bed." He looked into her eyes, almost begging her to understand. "Please, just stay in bed. I don't want to lose you, too."
She froze. His tone of voice was soft, pleading. Her gaze swung to his. "You...you don't want to lose me...?"
He shook his head. "Konan, when I first took you in, I never expected that you would manage to slip under my defenses. Now that you have, I don't want to let you go..." He breathed against her ear.
She shuddered, eyes closed tightly against the tears threatening to overflow. Pein began to move away, and she latched onto him. "No. Don't go. I-I need to forget. I need you..."
Pein had looked at her, as if weighing his choices. "All right." He said finally. He leaned down, brushing his lips against the skin of her neck.
Three hours later had found Pein staring out the window, unable to sleep. He hadn't meant to lie to Konan earlier, but he'd said what he had to in order to keep her in bed. He sighed. This was complicated. He should never have let Konan stay with him. It was too late now, though. He couldn't abandon her now. He was all she had. And he knew better than anyone what loneliness was like.
He shoved those thoughts away, not in the mood for a trip down memory lane. He glanced back at the young girl sleeping in bed. What was he to do?
Konan rolled over in her sleep, mumbling his name.
He paused. He would continue to allow her to live him. He may not really love her, but he had basically promised he would never leave her. If anything, he kept his promises.
He stealthily crawled into bed next to Konan and listened to her steady breathing. It was a long time before sleep descended upon him.
Pein tore his thoughts from the past. It was still painful to remember. He smiled ruefully. Rikyu would be ten now. He wondered, if the boy had survived, if he would already have exceptional ninja skills.
He stirred restlessly, then decided to get up so as not to awaken Konan. He knew she thought of Rikyu often, especially when she saw a mother with her child, or when Rikyu's birthday rolled around.
He made his way to the kitchen and put on some water for tea. He leaned against the counter, staring into space.
It had been his fault Rikyu had died. Deep down inside, Pein had not wanted a child. He had thought a child would just complicate his relationship with Konan. Instead, Rikyu had served to bring them closer. But then he had died, leaving a hole in his parents' hearts that could not be healed.
Pein pondered that statement. He had been more torn up about Rikyu's death than he had let on. He hadn't allowed himself the freedom to express sorrow, believing it to make him weak.
But maybe he was weak. After all, he had not been able to save his son.
The kettle whistled. Absentmindedly, he poured the water into a cup. It had been his fault. Nothing could change that. Nothing could bring his firstborn son back to him.
The more he thought about it, the more he realized it was true.
If there was one thing he regretted, it was that he couldn't save his son from death.