Chapter 74: Loss and found
Amaya pushed the door open with her foot. In her hands she was holding a tray with a meal for her father. Lately he had been eating less and less and she was getting worried. Maybe she should tell her mother. A few days ago, when she came back from the chunin exam, she was shouted at by him. How dare she take part in such a terrible event? Why was she doing this to him? Amaya didn't get a chance of answering. She did this so she could protect the ones dear to her. Also she earned quite a bit of money with it. Now they finally could start paying back loans and still have enough to buy food.
She placed the tray on the desk. Something felt off. There really was something wrong here. She noticed the window and curtains were open. Her father hadn't done that in years. Wait, where was he? Amaya looked around, but couldn't find him, not even in the small bathroom the room had. She then looked at the open window again. Had he gone outside? Had he finally realized locking himself up in his room wouldn't help anyone? Before realizing she had jumped through the window and was using the tracking skills she now had thanks to Mitsuki to find her father. It took some time and she was getting close to the cliff she once fell off. When seeing a figure near the edge she slowed down. It was her father. What was he doing here? An odd feeling of fear took over, making her unable to speak. Was he about to do what she thought he was doing?
He was looking down. Amaya knew that falling off there was deadly, she was just lucky to be alive. Did she properly thank Minoru for it? She wasn't sure anymore.
Then her fear became real as her father lifted a leg and fell forward. A few seconds. A few in which she couldn't move nor breathe. Then she dashed over to the edge and kneeled down. "Dad!" she shouted as tears rolled over her cheeks. But it was already too late.
There was knocking on the door. Sasuke lifted his head up a little. "It's open!" he shouted and dropped back down. He was laying on an old dusty couch. It was his old house. A few days after Tsunade had returned to Konoha, he was released from supervision. Naruto wanted to take off the chakra seal, but Sasuke didn't let him. After he gained his freedom he decided to go to his old home and stay there to sulk about his stupid actions.
"What are you doing?" It was Sakura. "Nothing. Nothing at all," Sasuke replied, but wasn't looking at her at all. "Sasuke..." He decided to look at her and rolled to his side. "What?" "You've been inside ever since you got your freedom back." "No-one wants to see me walking around alone. To them I'm still a criminal." Sakura slapped his cheek, though not with such force that it would hurt too much or sent him flying. "Did people calling Naruto a monster ever stop him from going outside?!" Sasuke stared at her. She had a point. He sat up and remained silent. It wasn't like he planned to stay inside forever, he just didn't know what to do right now. Sakura sat down beside him. "Don't you have to work?" he asked her. "In a bit. I was worried about you so I left a little earlier than necessary." "Sorry, I didn't mean to worry you," the Uchiha mumbled. Suddenly he felt Sakura wrap her arms around him. Sasuke was dumbfounded by her action and before he could react she already let him go. "When you feel like talking about it, let me know," she whispered and kissed him on his cheek. Then she left. Sasuke let out a sigh. Talk about what? That he didn't know what to do now? He shook his head and decided to go for a walk. He wondered how the villagers would react to that, but felt a little more willing to take the risk after hearing what Sakura said about Naruto.
A short while later it he figured they had mixed feelings about him. They didn't exactly glare, but they were talking softly right after he passed or when he was about to pass people. When Sasuke came up to the playground he slowed down. He saw Sakura's father playing with Takashi. The small boy was having great fun as he slid down the slide. Then Sakura's father noticed him watching and walked up to him.
"It's rude to stare you know." "Sorry, I never meant to stare. I was just..." Sasuke's face wandered off to Takashi, who now decided to build a sandcastle. "When are you going to take responsibilities for your actions?" the man then asked, making Sasuke turn his attention back to him. He was a little taken aback by the sudden question. "I know he's your son. I know my daughter strangely enough still loves you. Have you any idea what you put her through?" "I could say yes... I do have an idea of what it must have been like... but what it really was like... I haven't the slightest clue. I know I did something terrible, but I really have no idea how to make up for that." Sasuke felt a hand on his shoulder and looked at the man.
"The first step would be right over there." He looked in the direction of Takashi. "He might have been born because of your jealousy, he is your child and that of the person you love, right."
Sasuke stared at the boy. Amazed by the fact Sakura's father knew so much about the details. Slowly he started to understand what the man had meant. How could he not have seen? How could he think he had no idea what to do now in life? It has been there all along. That boy, his son. Sakura. He had the responsibility of taking care of them. Protect them. That is what his path was like now.
"Why don't you look after him for the rest of the day? I'm sure Sakura won't mind." "Are you sure?" Sasuke asked, he himself wasn't sure if he should do things with Takashi without Sakura knowing. "If she gets mad, she'll have to blame me." Sasuke nodded and after a moment of hesitating he walked over to the boy who was now digging a tunnel through his castle, though it was more like a pile of sand. He looked up shocked when he noticed Sasuke kneeled down next to the sandbox, watching what he was doing.
"What are you building?" "Sandcastle," Takashi mumbled and slowly continued digging. He seemed to be thinking about something really deep. Suddenly stopped digging and looked at Sasuke.
"Is that monster gone?" "Monster?" Sasuke looked confused, what was the boy referring to? He knew they had told the boy that some sort of monster was living in him to cover up what he did the first time he met him. Did he mean that monster?
"Yes, the monster that was there during that battle thing. Naluto-nii-san... did he kill it?" Sasuke blinked a few times. He saw the chu-nin exam? "Kill it... not yet, but Naruto sealed it away," he eventually told the boy. "So... it won't try killing mommy or me?" Sasuke shook his head. "Do you love mommy?" "Y-yes...""Like Naluto-nii-san loves Hinata-nee-chan?" "Y-yes," Sasuke mumbled as he looked to his feet with a red face. Was he getting an interrogating by a three year old? "Why was mommy so angly at you?" Takashi had his eyes fixated on Sasuke, who sighed. "I did something terrible to her." "Did you say sorry?" "Yes, but just sorry in this case is not enough." Takashi eyes widened. With his three year old knowledge he understood what Sasuke had done was really really bad, since the sorry wasn't enough. Then he noticed his grandfather was no-where to be found and he panicked a little. Quickly he looked around.
"What is it?" Sasuke asked, noticing the three year old sudden change of behaviour. "I can't find glandpa." "He asked me to look after you for today. Is that okay with you? If it's not I'll bring you to your grandpa." Takashi looked at Sasuke, seemed to think about it and then went back to digging. "Okay." Sasuke felt somewhat relieved about it and sat down on the edge of the sandbox. He watched his son digging.
Naruto put the plates he just dried off away. Tsu was in her room, probably planning another prank. He then looked over to the drawer with on top a book he got through mail from Jiraiya. It annoyed him that the pervy frog sage thought he would ever start reading one of Jiraiya's pervy books. What annoyed him even more was the letter that came with it in which stood his father really liked the book. Naruto seriously doubted his father had ever read a single perverted book, but then again he never knew him, so he couldn't be sure.
Just when he was about to put the book in the drawer there was knocking on the frontdoor, so instead he walked to the hallway and opened the door. To his surprise he found Hinata standing there. "Hi-Hinata-chan," he managed to mutter as he started to blush a little. He hadn't seen her much lately that his mind went completely blank. He stepped aside to let her in.
"I... I thought you were on a mission," Naruto eventually managed to say as he closed the door. Hinata avoided his eyes and nodded. "I just got back." "Hm," came from Naruto as he grabbed both her hands and pulled her close. "We haven't seen each other a lot lately," he whispered with his forehead touching hers. She made a soft agreeing sound. Just when he was about to kiss her a door behind him slammed open and Tsu dashed out of her room. "Nii-san!... oh you're in the hallway...uh..." Tsu stared at her adopted brother, who looked annoyed at her with a flushed face. "Wh-what?" Naruto asked. Tsu could hear he was trying to sound not annoyed, but he failed that. "We're going on a fieldtrip tomorrow, but I need permission for that. Could you sign something for me?" Naruto let out a sigh as Tsu handed him a small piece of paper. He quickly read it, got a pen from the living room and signed it. He then gave her the paper back and sent her to bed.
"But it's only eight thirty," Tsu protested. "Just stay in your room," Naruto gritted as he pointed towards her room. Tsu snorted and left. Naruto watched her door for moment before turning his attention back to Hinata. Trying to himself under control, because all he wanted to do right now was jump on her, he walked over.
But when he saw those lavender colored eyes staring at him, he lost his control and kissed her as he pushed her against the wall. She didn't push him away, instead she responded by kissing back but soon found her hands roaming over his body.
After a while Naruto had to stop to catch his breath. He placed his head on her shoulder and went with his hands over her sides. He pulled her closer, embracing her now. "Does your father know you're here?" he asked. He knew that if he wasn't going to calm himself down, he would end up doing stuff she maybe didn't want to do. So he tried to change the topic, although it was hard since her hands were under his shirt going over his back. It didn't matter where she would touch him, everywhere would turn him on right now.
"I told him I was going for a walk. He probably guesses I'm here," she whispered in his ear and then nibbled it softly. Naruto pressed her against him, this wasn't doing any good to his control, but he seriously enjoyed it and didn't want her to stop. Though eventually he moved his head away. "We shouldn't be doing this." "But you like it," was Hinata's defense. 'Why am I even trying to stop her,' Naruto thought. "I do, but..." he looked at her eyes. He knew she had missed him... this as much as he did during the period they had barely seen each other. "Naruto-kun," she whispered his name, as a shudder went through his body. She then kissed him again. "Stay here tonight," he whispered between the kissing. She whispered a soft and quick yes. This reply led to Naruto picking her up and carrying her to his bedroom where he placed her on the bed, still kissing her.
"But I don't wanne go home," Takashi whined as he flopped forward, placing all his weight on Sasuke's head. The boy was sitting on Sasuke's shoulders. "Your mother is going to be angry at me for bringing you home this late. Normally you're already asleep," Sasuke replied, feeling uncomfortable. He was sure Sakura would be pissed off. Takashi rang the doorbell and it was Sakura that opened the door, much to Sasuke's dismay. He grinned uncomfortable at her as he got Takashi from his shoulders. "Your father asked me to watch over him... we kinda lost track of time," he gave as excuse and placed the boy on the ground.
Sakura stared at Sasuke for a moment before kneeling down and facing Takashi. "Did you have fun?" "Yes," the boy grinned, "we were in the park and went to the Hokage mountain and to the toy shop oh and I had Ichiraku Ramen for dinner." She then looked up to Sasuke again. "You do know it's already nine by now?" "Yes," the Uchiha mumbled, "like I said, I lost track of time. Sorry about that. Next time, I'll bring a watch with me." Sakura picked Takashi up, "It's way passed bedtime for you," she told the boy. "I don't wanne go to bed," Takashi whined. "I... better go," Sasuke said, but Sakura grabbed his hand and pulled him inside. She told him to wait there and went upstairs. Ten minutes later she came down again. "He's already asleep." Sasuke smiled a bit. "Sorry for bringing him home so late." "You better be... but I'm surprised too. This morning you seemed so down." Sasuke looked away, "I guess what your father said, made me realize something." "My father? Realize what?" Sasuke looked at Sakura again. He gently grasped her left hand and stepped closer. "That I should take responsibility for what I did." He went with his hand over her cheek, closing the distance. "I love you, Sakura." Sakura started to blush a little as he pressed his lips on hers.
Tsunade was watching at the pond, her thoughts were with her teammate; Jiraiya. After getting a letter a little over a week ago, he wrote he was going after Akatsuki again. She could do nothing to stop him. The letter she held in her hand, rolled up and wrinkled. Would he come back this time? He was going to Amegakure or maybe he was already there.
Unknowingly she had been staring at a frog, who jumped in the pond the moment it started raining.
There was knocking on the front door. "I'll get it!" Tsu shouted and dashed out of her room. Naruto didn't even get a chance to respond. He was cleaning after dinner, some dishes were still in the sink and needed to be cleaned. Yet he dried of his hands and walked to the door although Tsu had opened it by then. It was Shizune standing in the doorway. Naruto smiled at her. "Heya, what's up?" Shizune gave him a short smile, but then her face became all sad. This made Naruto feel uneasy, did something happen?
"Tsunade wants you and Tsu to come over... right now." An odd feeling came over Naruto as he nodded and put his sandals on. Although Naruto was suspecting something terrible to have happened and rather uneasy, Tsu was happily jumping about as they walked to the hokage office. There Naruto found an old frog on Tsunade's desk. He had never seen him before. There were some other's there too, bigger than the elder frog. The elder one turned his gaze to Naruto and Tsu as Shizune closed the door. "So this lad is Jiraiya's disciple?" "Yes, this is Uzumaki Naruto," Tsunade replied. "And the young girl is the other child he trained after him?" "Yes," the hokage replied again. "What's... going on?" Naruto asked carefully, not really sure if he wanted to know.
"Naruto, Tsu. This is Lord Fukasaku. He's one of the great sages of mount myoboku. He's the master who trained Jiraiya. He came here to speak with you and Tsu."
The blond looked from the frog to Tsunade and back to the frog. "For what reason?" "I don't know where exactly to begin," Fukasaku started, "but as you may be aware of, Jiraiya-boy went to Amegakure in order to gain intelligence about Akatsuki." Naruto knew, it was one of the things Jiraiya wrote about in his letter he got a while back, together with the book. "He died during a battle with Pain."
The blonde knew bad news was coming the moment he saw Shizune with a sad face on his doorstep. But something like this he wasn't expecting. On the edge of deing yes he would have expected that... but dead? From the corners of his eyes he looked over to Tsu, she seemed to be in shock.
"Even after he had his throat crushed by Pain, Jiraiya-boy left a message before collapsing," Fukasaku continued and pulled his cape away. He turned around and Naruto saw numbers on the back of the frog. 'A code,' he thought.
It was then Tsu regained her ability to move and she ran away. "Tsu!" Naruto shouted at her, but she didn't listen and was gone. He turned his attention back to Tsunade. "I don't know if you have anything more to say, but can it please wait for later?" Tsunade nodded and Naruto ran after Tsu. She was already outside the building. Looking around he had no clue where to go and ended up in running around in attempt to find her.
"Brat!" Naruto immediately stopped running as he was shocked to hear Kyubi's voice all of a sudden. He hadn't said a single word in ages. 'Wh-what?' "Stop running around in circles like a academy student. You're a jonin!" 'R-right... thanks, Kyubi.'
Naruto tried to calm down and focus on what was important, which was finding Tsu. He jumped to the roofs and thought of where she might have gone to and tried to catch her scent. Soon enough he found her in the park sitting on the slide.
Kojirou threw some garbage in a bin as he decided to take the long route home. He slowly walked homewards. At some point he heard some sniffing and eventually found the source. At the top of the slide he found Tsu crying to her heart's content. "Tsu?" The girl looked up in surprise. "What's wrong? What happened?" She seemed about to answer, but then Naruto jumped down from the roof. She looked at him and Kojirou watched both of them, wondering what was going on. "Don't run away like that," Naruto told the girl. "How could she do that?! How could the hokage just let him go like that?!" "It's not like she could have stopped him, Tsu." "She doesn't even care. You told me they were teammates! Why?!" The blond clenched his fists. "She cares, now please..." "No. And you don't either!" With that she went down the slide and dashed away once again. "I do," Naruto muttered as he wondered what to do. She would just run away again.
Naruto jumped up and then noticed Kojirou. "Kojirou?! H-how long have you been here?" "The whole time... more or less... before you suddenly appeared. What happened?" "We... were just told by Tsunade Jiraiya died in battle," the blond teacher mumbled as he rubbed away some tears with his arm. He then looked at Kojirou and knew aside from the friends Tsu had at school, Kojirou was close to her as well. "Could you... watch over her for tonight? She doesn't seem to listen to me right now and going after her will only result in her running away from me I think." "Sure," Kojirou answered as he saw his teacher in a state he hadn't seen him yet. Then he ran into the direction Tsu went.
Naruto watched him leaving, knowing Tsu was in the right hands. He wanted to go to Hinata, but she was on a mission and he wasn't sure if she was back yet, though she was supposed to be home today. Taking a deep breath he tried to control his emotions and went on his way home. As he crossed the main road he saw Akamaru with Kiba on his back.
"Finally!" Kiba exclaimed. "Kiba-kun, it's late already. Please don't shout," Hinata corrected her teammate who grinned uneasily. "Sorry, it's just that I really want to see Mitsuki-chan. I just hope she's not on a mission." He jumped of Akamaru and nudged Hinata in her side. "I'm sure you were looking forward to see Naruto again." Hinata started to blush a little as she avoided eye contact. "It seems she doesn't need to wait any longer," Shino said. Both Hinata and Kiba looked confused at their teammate who then pointed at a blond boy who was a little further ahead.
Hinata started to smile and ran over to him, but when she saw his face she slowed down and stopped in front of him. "Naruto-kun? What's wrong?"
Naruto tried to swallow his sadness away, but couldn't help it that he started to cry. He placed his head against her chest.
Hinata was at a loss, she had no idea what had happened that her boyfriend was suddenly crying this much. Looking for help she looked over to Kiba and Shino. "Uhm... we will report to Tsunade... you... you stay with him. Good luck," Kiba said and quickly started walking away. Hinata looked back to her boyfriend. "Naruto-kun, what happened?" He looked up and tried to dry of his tears, which didn't work because new ones were still coming. "Jiraiya... he... he died while fighting akatsuki." Hinata was shocked for a moment, but could now understand his grief. She hugged him and he started crying on her shoulder. "How about Tsu? Does she know?" "Yes, Kojirou is with her... I hope," he sniffed. "Let's go to my place," Hinata whispered. In silence Naruto agreed. She grasped his hand and guided the way as he tried desperately to stop crying.
Tsu was sitting against a tree, she was hugging her legs and had hear head buried in her arms. She looked up when she felt a hand on her shoulder. The compassionate face of Kojirou was looking at her. He sat down beside her, yet said nothing. It wasn't needed. Tsu then hugged him and started crying even louder than before.