My favorite Night
A/N: Edited this chapter just slightly, the rest of the chapters will be back by... I dunno, next week, hopefully. No worries-- for those who already reviewed for this chap, I'm totally grateful, and don't worry-- by the time all the old chapters are up, I'm sure I'll be officially finished with his fic, and the updates will come as continuously as my current on-going fic 'Let's back up' in which I update like what-- once every three days--yeah, it's crazy fast compared to all of my other stories. Lol.
"Hinata-san, the Kazekage will see you now."
My head finally jerks awake and I feel a knot of pain blossom at the base of my neck. I lightly apply pressure to it while observing the person that appeared in front of me to guide me back to the large office. My head felt as if it was bent for the past two days of treading through the sandy desert, my eyes could barely adjust to the brightness, and whenever I tried to look up, the sand would try to scratch my eyes and brush my teeth. I didn't have the best first impression of this village, I must admit.
The woman who called me out intimidates me—looking strict and unpleasant. Her wild golden hair was taken care of with not one, but four pig tails on the back of her head, while she wore a sharp black ninja garb that seemed to lean toward the old fashion style with a edgy modern collar. Her eyes told me that she held no sympathy for the new transfer who left all her friends to teach the children of the sand, nor did they tell the story that she wanted to warm up any time soon.
"Any time now." She barks, turning her heel and walking into the office without me.
I am definitely not in Konoha anymore.
The travels took me longer than expected, thus the reason why people seemed to be so tight-lipped the moment I arrived. Either they were very eager to have me as their new transfer, or they just thought I was being rude when I couldn't make it on the average of three days. I must admit, the pregnancy slowed me down a lot more than I expected. The weight didn't matter much, but the nausea kept me asleep for longer hours, and the need for more water led me to bring a water jug that I knew would be too heavy for me to drag about.
My feet, still stinging from the miles of sand that it had to work it's way through, shook. I tried to compose myself with the flutter of my fingers adjusting my hair into it's proper place, picking lint off of a hem here and there, distracting my shaking knees with a pat, and finally poking each other as it awkwardly found nothing else it could do. The walk from the small waiting room to the Kazekage's office was just as long as any trip through a dessert. The closer I got to the office, the more I dreaded the fact that the large windows provided the sunlight that I had to curse at for three waking days.
Blinking from the extreme light from his office, I found the woman arm outstretching to shove me into a chair. Narrowly dodging her arm which could have easily realized how much I was shaking, I took my destined seat in front of the Kazekage. I finally realize that I was sitting next to two other ninjas once I settled down with my hands clasped on my knees.
The first thing I saw when my eyes finally adjusted to the extreme light, was the shadowy figure of the Kazekage himself in all of his dark splendor. Bandages wrapped the whole length of his right arm, which was caked with his own blood, obviously was a result of an extremely gruesome battle. His piercing mint eyes were remarkably cool once it touched mine—all the hot energy I felt seemed to steam out from underneath me as I fought a shiver going up my spine. Lastly, his dark red hair caught just enough sunlight on it's tips to look as if it were on fire—all at once, he looked like some sort of god or demon that didn't want to be disturbed with the likes of me.
"A woman." His voice carried out to be just like everyone else's—probably a little scratchier, but the chills from his stare lost its initial freeze once he started to speak. "Godaime said I would be surprised, but quite frankly… I'm not."
I look at the two other ninjas sitting next to me to discover that they were also females. I didn't see why the Kazekage seemed to be irked about this. I turned to look back at him to see him pinching his temples and muttering something.
"You three came here voluntarily to help the Suna, and for that—we thank you." The blond woman stepped up to say, her arms open as if welcoming a small hug. "My brother here doesn't know his manners when greeting women."
I hear giggles distantly coming off of the two other teachers, my eyes doesn't need to be pointed toward their faces to see their flush and their excited fingers twisting as they looked over at the young Kazekage. They must have been pleasantly surprised by the way he carried himself. A true 'Sasuke Uchiha' façade with cold eyes, neatly clipped nails, a fierce scowl—everything girls seemed to flaunt over—this Kazekage seemed to have also. Of course, the fact that the Kazekage is the greatest ninja in Suna also must've helped boost his popularity.
Just as I was watching everyone in the room with my Hyuuga bloodline, the blond found herself enraptured by something on my face—I blink, instantly shaking off my blood limit off, and touching my cheeks just in case I had something on my face.
"Was that a blood limit I just saw?" the woman asks in her harsh voice—pointing squarely toward my eyes. I found her stepping up toward me, I had to lean back on my chair to keep her finger from poking one of my bloodlimit's gifts out of it's sockets.
"Ah, so this is the surprise Tsunade-sama was talking about." The woman cheerfully turns toward her brother, who still doesn't seem all too impressed.
"I don't think she would make a big deal over a pair of eyes." Grumbles the Kazekage catching the attention of his brash sister. "You—come here." He instructs, and just as he commands, my legs stretches out onto the floor and I take my steps cautiously toward his desk—all the while my fingers twisting themselves together as if trying to screw them out of their joints. My nervous habit catches the Kazekage's attention almost instantly, while the other two ninjas look at each other behind my back with eyes of interest and curiosity.
"How old are you?"
The Kazekage's sister slaps her forehead as if frustrated by her brother's manners. I, myself—don't see the big deal in the question and answer truthfully—
That's when I finally see a slim smile. "So that's my surprise."
"What? What is it?" the sister demands.
"She was the one who attended the Chuunin exams with us."
"Not surprising." Snorted the sister, "There were a few hundred kids who—"
"That wimp who fought her cousin till she was practically drowning in her own blood. This is she, am I wrong?" The Kazekage informs casually to his sister as if I wasn't standing there in front of him at all. Now alive and perfectly well with an extra life in my belly, I didn't like being thought of a frail girl that was tipping toward the edge of death. The insult makes my bad habit of touching my hands finally stop; the limp limbs fall to my sides as I force myself to glare at the Kazekage.
"Oh her." The sister chides, instantly referring me in third person, and stepping toward her brother's side to get a better angle to look at me square in the face. The attention made me uncomfortable, but I forced my fingers to simply pry at my baggy jacket. Just as I was about to voice out what I remember of my first encounter of them, an honest smile broke out on the sister's face also. "What a nice surprise."
"Yes." The Kazekage agrees, "You're the proper age to have attended classes with Uzumaki Naruto."
I didn't expect to hear his name so soon. And all of the sudden, the room was cold again.
"Yes." I glare at my feet.
"I requested the transfer to be Uzumaki Naruto's former Academy instructor. Iruka-sensei." Admits the Kazekage, which was probably why he was disappointed to find three young looking women in his office who took the misguided job. "I want all of the students in our Sunagakure Academy to be taught the Konoha way… to be able to create more spirits such as the one Uzumaki Naruto has. Will you be able to recreate it?"
"A… A class that Naruto-kun attended?" I force my voice to sound casual, "That's… a great task…"
The blond sister gave a pleasant laugh that wasn't expected from her rough and tough demeanor. "You can say that again," she tosses a look to her brother before lovingly pulling him into a one-arm embrace, "We were all taught the traditional ninja way—you know, with bricks and bruises… and we were dying to get a good Konoha teacher to bring some… quirks into our teaching program… for the students, of course."
Slowly, I found myself smiling as well—the Kazekage and his sister—though they've acted tough in the beginning, slowly turned into harmless people in less than seconds once they mentioned Naruto's name….
It's amazing… the effects Naruto has on people.
"Let me ask you why you came to Suna, first." Asks the sister casually—unhooking her arm from her brother's neck and getting straight back into business. I look over at the Kazekage, and saw that he was not at all affected that she was taking over his job.
"I'm here mostly from coincidence, I suppose." I start quietly—lying wasn't part of my expertise, "And partly because I… I just found myself unhappy in Konoha for the past year. I wanted a change."
"Unhappy in Konoha? What happened, is Tsunade not handing out free candy anymore?" snorts the blond rudely, giving me a time to absorb shock from the first ridicule of Konoha I've gotten at Sunagakure. She saw my face and closed her eyes with a quick excuse to express her apology, "I—shit, sorry, that sort of slipped… it's just… comparing Konoha to Sunagakure, they have a lot more benefits… what made you so unhappy?"
"My family, mostly." It was easier to answer this time, it was pretty true—I consider Naruto family, and I definitely would consider the child inside me family, but he or she wasn't the reason I was truly unhappy. "They asked for things I had to refuse."
"Let me guess," Kazekage cuts into our interview, "An arranged marriage?"
I look at him—he seemed slightly peeved by the mere mentioning of arranged marriage. "No, nothing like that."
"What was it then…? Your eyes?" snorts the sister.
I looked at her with not even a hint of hurt, "Yes. Much like that."
It caused a strange silence to occur—but the Kazekage seemed drawn to uncomfortable circumstances, and strived in it. His eyes were slightly more rounded now, with curiosity, and raised a hand to his sister's wave of questions that would soon be crashing down around me to ask a question of his own.
"They…asked for your eyes?" he clarified.
"…How? How would they…extract it?"
This was when it got uncomfortable. The memories of the Chuunin exam couldn't help but be revisited as I saw the spark in his eyes as he was clearly imagining the gruesome image of tools being laid out in front of me—just as the clan's doctor pulls the eye from my sockets catching it in a glass box and slipping some slippery substance inside the container to keep it…juicy. The thought made me shiver with disgust and remorse, but it seemed to evoke an entirely new emotion in the Kazekage.
"I'm not quite sure." I lie quickly and briskly this time. I was impressed by my own way of answering to the blood-starved Kazekage—just as father would have answered to an objection, cool and composed—not a drop of emotion on his face. Though I think little of my father after years of disagreement between him and I, I think I would have made him proud just this once as I stood in front of the Kazekage. "If you don't mind, Kazekage sama, I would like to go to my room? I'm still a little winded from the trip."
The Kazekage's excitement had died out almost like a blown flame. Slithering back to his seat and shadowy crest in his bright red office—I decide to head toward the door, forgetting completely who the second boss in the room was.
"Wait!" the Kazekage's sister's voice boomed, "What's the catch?"
Catch? I turn around to look at her in curiosity.
"Oh please, don't give me that look." She says in a tone completely opposite to the tone she was giving me when she gushed about how she would appreciate a Konoha's learning environment to spread to Sunagakure… her eyes were suddenly fierce with fire… a fire that Tsunade sama held so familiarly—that it froze me properly in my spot. "What's the real reason you're here?"
My legs pivot me to fully examine her face—my face bent into an even deeper frown, "Excuse me?"
"Come on—we all know why those two chicks are here." Snorts the woman—rudely waving toward the other teachers as if she was sweeping them under a rug. "They're here to catch a glimpse of Gaara and, I don't know—what do worthless kunoichis do… oh yes—drool and hope that he will one day see one of them as a potential lover?"
The two other teachers were too shocked to reply—simply raised their eyebrows and slowly turned their gaze toward me. I was just as shocked as the other teachers, but my surprised expression died out just as quickly as it started twitching my brows.
"I'm sorry." I quickly start, "But I have nothing to hide."
"I remember you now." Snaps the woman—not buying my lies, "You're the heiress, aren't you? The little princess!" she snapped her fingers and grinned at herself for being such a great memory keeper. "I can't believe it—you think we'll believe that they'd want to cut your eyeballs out? You probably have more pure blood in you than an Uchiha! Your family wouldn't have wanted you here…"
"Exactly why I took the opportunity."
"I don't buy this…" continues the sister shaking her head at me, "For the past two to three years we've been needing a transfer—and every year we've got zip from Konoha… we were going to have Tsunade-sama force a teacher to come…but all of the sudden, we get a transfer! I want to know why you're being our teacher—I don't want any drama to start in my country."
The Kazekage didn't even budge or flutter an eye when his sister claimed his country as hers. In a way, it probably was, since they were family, but whatever it was that kept the two from working neck and neck—I'm guessing that the country's assets share were part of some agreement.
"The drama already started once I became a teacher over in Konoha… and rest assured—the three years of being completely ignored from my clan were… dull." I looked her in the face to see resentment and doubt cross her features, quickly hiding it with a stiff smile.
"Very well." She whispers finally—causing her brother to look at her in surprise—was this a rare occasion that she was giving up so willingly? "Go. The lady downstairs has all your files from the Hokage, and she'll tell you where you will stay."
"Thank you, Kazekage-sama…" I stop and hinder, realizing I should also address the young lady who did most of the talking, "And—"
"Temari." The woman introduces finally, I realize her back was straight and that she wasn't going to bow any time soon, "You're new boss—report to me when you have a problem. Not Gaara—I'm in charge of the young ones in Suna."
"Very well, Temari-san." I say with a curt bow. Just as I touched the handle to the Kazekage's office, I could hear the two leftover teachers buzz almost instantly into prattle.
"Wow, that's a Konoha ninja? I thought they were supposed to be…"
"Prettier?" snickers the other one.
"I guess beauty isn't part of her daily routine." She agrees—all the while looking at my back, not realizing I could see them just as clearly as one could see their own hands on a daily basis. I bit my lower lip and forced the muscle in my legs to strain a little harder to keep up my new 'weight'. I tug at my over-sized jacket one more time before embracing the cool shadows from the other side of the door.
When I found out that I would be staying inside the same building I was going to be working in, the first thought that crossed in my head was… what about the baby?
It never occurred to me, till now, of course—of what a serious and harmful step I took when I offered to be a transfer while carrying a child. The baby was locked up in a completely different aspect of my mind when I was signing my papers to go to Suna, and though I felt the morning sickness as I carried on my normal ways, I couldn't help but think of my position first. My real reason I left Konoha for Suna was foolishness and selfishness, but the more I think about it, a part of me was way too afraid of the possibility of ruining Naruto's life. I knew exactly what I was doing, the baby in my consciousness or not, when I confirmed to Tsunade-sama that I will dedicate a good portion of my life in a new country.
Of course the baby quickly came second in my priority list. I assured myself that I was doing the baby a lovely favor by distancing myself from my former family that would only react poorly to the pregnancy—and even abusive toward my future son or daughter. The branch family will take the child in while Naruto and I would inevitably have to break ties with the thought of raising a kin. I've seen it happen before long ago when I was only thirteen, and the more I put my family in the picture—I realized not even Naruto's strong will could protect me from clan politics, because of this reasoning, I found strength to finally sign my name on the end of the paper and hand it to the Godaime.
I had to protect the baby now. Not Naruto.
I remember her looking at me strangely before asking me slowly, "Is this really what you want?"
I had stared at her—my mind completely dazed by the possibility of my family finding out about how close I allowed Naruto to be. How their outrage would force them to squeeze their nasty claws into my womb and remove all proof of my love toward Naruto by a sign of a paper and pen themselves—adopting our bastard child as a servant for Neji and Hanabi's future heirs…
While Tsunade's concerned face peered at me, the only thing I was aware of was the warm hand that enclosed my right hand. The pain I quickly felt afterwards in the pit of my heart made it hard for me to swallow and nod.
"Are you sure?" she pressed again, very gently—a rare tone of voice for the Hokage, "You don't look so good."
I feared she could almost see through my skin and detect the small life that was hidden deep within me. Her trained medical eye looked me up and down.
"Have you been eating regularly?"
I shrug, "I've been busy with the end of semester."
"Unbelievable." The woman finally goes back into being her fierce old self, "Isn't Naruto your roommate?"
I nod, I was still wondering if I should tell him about the kid in my stomach then, "He is."
"Well." Sighed Tsunade, "I guess it doesn't matter if he was or not… now that you're going… well—I'll tell him when he gets a new roommate to keep their health in mind."
"You do that." I agreed.
"That boy is going to be so sad…" sighed Tsunade, "If I have to hear him bitching about you leaving… well…" she was at a loss for words, she wasn't ready to look at Naruto's desperate eyes yet and the thought of it made her grumpy. She dismissed me with a slap of her palms quickly rapping the desk.
This new room, as I observed it from the door… the keys slipping from my grasp as the more reality sunk in—the more I realized that my worst nightmares were coming true.
My stomach felt as if it swallowed too many of my cries, and I felt a new one start to squeeze and choke my neck—rasping for a breath, and ready to take that intake of breath that would surely start a sob. It was no use as the keys dropped and I put a hand over my mouth observing how this small person inside me finally came into mind as my first priority. All of the sudden, Naruto—which was always on the top of my list of concerns had been erased from my life all together, instead, he was replaced with by a new person.
The apartment rooms that housed the teachers a floor above the classrooms contained a washroom, and a sliver of a window next to a large desk that took up more space than the twin bed. Instead of an actual room to lavish yourself, it was like a small cell with barely enough space to keep comfortable in; though I didn't mind the size, I couldn't help but recall my previous apartment. It was full of life in every corner because I spent my evenings grading papers there, and cooking for Naruto after missions. The years I spent living in that apartment with Naruto was the best years yet—even sad times were washed away once I had Naruto's shoulders to cry on.
Naruto was an even better roommate than I gave him credit for; when I just started exploring the fields of cooking—his compliments and reviews on my less-than-edible meals were kind and full of encouragement. When it would rain, he would come into my room to make sure the windows weren't letting any stray drops onto my dresser. He also respected the rule of putting the toilet seat down right after going to the bathroom as if fearing my wrath if I mentioned it again. I always thanked him for his small gestures, improving my own mistakes in cooking and helping him do some of his house chores as way of showing him my appreciation.
Now I have my own things to tend to, and an empty apartment that smelled like musk and sand.
Soon, Sakura will be realizing the wonderful life I've experienced for the past three years.
I bent over to pick up my keys while also kicking the door shut—my sole backpack of supplies and money thrown over to the nearest chair. I climbed into the squeaking bed and looked carefully at my hands.
Now, the only roommate in my company is still too tiny to understand what it means to put down a toilet seat. I feel my hand absently rubbing the steady bulge in my stomach.
"Hey…" I found myself speaking aloud—it was the first time I personally addressed the baby—a baby that was already three months old, and already neglected by his or her mother who was dying to change her awful ways—but too cowardly to do so. This child doesn't realize how ashamed it should be of it's own mother… "Hey down there, baby…"
"Sorry I had a fight with… our roommate a few nights back… that must have been awkward…" I gulp— "Should I have told him?"
The small bulge didn't answer me—in fact, I couldn't imagine a face yet. I only saw my bare stomach… I could barely feel the child inside of me—it was still a part of my body that was so deep inside the mess of my organs that I could only stroke the exterior skin as a way to try to connect with it.
"I should have." I agree to the nothingness in the room that seemed to have disagreed with me. Even the dying sun expressed it's disapproval and hid it's face—the moon, being the only one who could still afford to tsk at me from it's perch in the sky. "But what would he have said…"
Another thought shot into mind.
"How am I going to explain myself to Temari-san… when I begin to show too much?" I demand my baby. "You—you better not grow big."
I sigh and turn positions to finally rest on my side—not even caring if the dust got in my eyes- or that the pillows were unbearably scratchy. My hands continued to graze my small bump.
"Grow big." I change my mind, "Grow as big as you want—just stay in there."
Again, no answer.
"Stay as long as you want…" my shaky voice completely stopped—and my eyes that were shedding silent tears the whole time finally seemed to dry up, "mother needs to work things out around here first."
I turn around—realizing I kept my changing clothes in the bag that now sat across the room, my legs refused to be strained any more, my muscles finally relaxing and the base of my neck stopped it's annoying pangs of pain up my spine.
To be continued…
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