AN: Okay, so it's been… what, a YEAR? Yes.. seems like forever to me too. Life has changed, I've moved on a bit, don't really watch Naruto anymore.. –feels guilty for admitting it- but I feel worse for not finishing this story when all the grand ideas were fresh it my mind. Curse curse curse. Anyway. So I don't want to leave this unfinished. Especially after all of the amazing reviews from my loyal fans. Guilt trip, much?? I owe you guys an awesome chapter. I just hope I deliver adequately.
Btw. Sorry for any spelling or incoherence, this is a RAW COPY, only having gone through one read and edit after 4 hours of writing it, at 4:30 am. Tell me if you catch anything I missed. Enjoy.
Konan's eyes fluttered open and the first thing she was struck with was the pain—and… emptiness? Confusion settled on her features as she tried to sit up with alert quickness, only to nearly double over on her side. An unladylike curse slipped from her mouth and she sat up slowly, shaky from the trauma her body had suffered the last day or two. How long had it been? She'd lost track of time after realizing Pein was gone.
'Pein?...' She looked around, everything slowly coming back to her through a fog. "Pein…" She whispered the word, the sacred caress of her lover's—and leader's— name.
Getting up, she drew in a ragged breath between her teeth, reflexively clutching her belly to protect the child, but then feeling her blood run cold when all she could feel was the flat abdomen close to what it had been before she was with child. Her throat couldn't even work up a scream. Lifting up her shirt, she saw a jagged scar running up her belly. Panic morphed into terror as she stared at the ugly puckered pink line.
'What had happened??? Where did he go? My baby!...'
Panic stricken, Konan left the room as quickly as she could, her muscles straining from soreness. Finding her voice, she started to work up a yell for anyone but then stopped herself. …Why was the hideout so abnormally quiet?...
She paused and looked around. This wasn't the hideout. The layout was different. It was emptier. She faintly remembered Pein speaking of a backup location once, just as an errant thought. That's where they must be… But why? What had happened to the hideout? There was no way it could have been found. She'd helped set up the seals herself.
She felt a certain unease creep at the back of her neck, sending a chill down her spine. Someone was watching her. She could feel it…
Taking in a breath, thanking the Gods her skills had not left her through the waiting period of childbirth, she spun around to look behind her.
Nothing. No one.
And then, there was an intake of breath at her back as instantaneously as there was a kunai at her throat.
"They call you Blue, I've heard… Can't understand how they came up with that name, huh. Creative." A gravely masculine voice hissed at her ear sarcastically, pressing the kunai to her skin harder, a small drop of blood trailing down across her collarbone.
"Who are you…" She asked to distract him, curling her hands around her waist as if huddling into herself for protection.
"Don't move!" He growled at her, enraged.
"Please… Who are you…" She faked a stuttering, frightened voice.
"You can't fool me, Blue.. I know just who you are. And what you can do. Make one move of those hands of yours, and I'll turn you into shreds."
Konan's face showed no reaction to the words, but she thought smugly. Thank goodness he didn't know that much about her. Whispering a word so silently it was inaudible to anyone's ears, she felt the chakra swell within her, breaking up now into tiny shards as her body shattered as quickly as a porcelain doll into pieces of razor-sharp paper onto the floor.
Surging upward at the attacker, she sliced three dagger-sharp lines into the man's throat then drove several pieces through his chest, leaving no doubt to his untimely death. Letting the paper flutter back to her form, she reappeared just as he fell to the floor behind her.
Her eyes were cold, calculating. Walking through the hideout, she finally heard a noise—a soft coo. This immediately softened her expression and she raced toward the noise, thinking she knew just what—or who—that was.
Bursting through the door, she was met with Itachi holding a small bundle, a tuft of blue hair atop the little head. Her eyes widened as her hand ran absentmindedly over her stomach, just to check. Just to make sure of the connection between her and this… small fragile thing in Itachi's arms. She wiped the blood away from the small cut on her neck absentmindedly.
"Konan." Itachi stood, bowing slightly in courtesy. "You've woken up. Good." Itachi's failing eyesight wasn't sharp enough to catch the small cut in Konan's flesh.
"Itachi?..." Konan trailed off, her mind cluttered with confusion again, but she watched herself as her body walked toward Itachi, arms outstretched for the child reflexively. What was she doing? What was this.. little blue thing? Was it hers??
Itachi quickly handed her over. "This is Kimiko, your daughter. You've been through quite a lot. I imagine from your clueless expression that you don't remember much. You hemorrhaged and Kakuzu had to rush to get the baby out before it drowned it its own—well… You can imagine." Itachi didn't like discussing this subject. It was not his responsibility.
'Save that for her beloved Pein.' Itachi thought in mild disgust, quite disgruntled with his leader at the moment because he was the chosen 'guard' for this child. Everyone else was absent. They had left him here.
As if she read his mind, she looked around. "Where is everyone? Why are you the only one here? With… with this.. My, …Kimiko?" She couldn't help but stutter at the name, her motherly side inwardly dreading this because she wasn't feeling the warm acceptance of motherhood to this small bundle in her arms. She couldn't understand why. What was supposed to happen?
Neither of the ninja had any idea of the turmoil going on behind each other's eyes but Itachi answered her question honestly.
"They're all over, right now, actually. In different countries, fighting different parts of the war." Itachi looked at her with a blank expression, glancing down at the child for a moment with an uncaring gaze.
"The… War?" She breathed, holding the child closer to her chest as it squirmed.
"It broke out days before you delivered. Kakuzu believes you hemorrhaged from the stress of finding Pein gone that morning. He came back in a rush and unknowingly led a group of rogue ninja to the hideout—Wait. You don't remember any of this?"
Itachi was not aware of the trail she had been going through at the time of the blood and gore he had taken part in outside that little room.
"No… Not much… It's all a blur. Where is Pein, then? When will he be back?"
"Tomorrow." Itachi said curtly.
Konan nodded slowly, noticing the edge to his voice. "Why are you here? Why not Deidara or Sasori?" Those were the only other candidates she could imagine looking out for a child. Kakuzu… maybe. Hidan and Kisame were just too… violent. She couldn't imagine it.
"Kisame mentioned my failing eyesight and the convenience that my strongest defense, Sharingan, was hands free." His lips turned down in a frown, that being the most emotion Konan had ever seen Itachi display.
"They agreed that I should stay behind to watch out for the child and for you—"
Konan interrupted him, her mind remembering through all of these sudden, scattered hairpin turn of events. "Oh! Who was that???" She hissed.
"Excuse me?" Itachi questioned.
"The man in the hallway. His remains are still on the tatami mats. He assaulted me." She said, looking down at the baby and feeling like it was a prop, her lips turning down in a frown. This baby didn't seem real to her. It didn't feel like her baby. Just an object in her arms, weighing her down.
Itachi wheeled over to the door silently, peering out. "And you just decided not to mention this when you came in, WHY?" He whispered to her angrily.
"I.. The baby. You. I was caught off-guard." She knew this was a pathetic answer. She didn't understand why her mind didn't seem to want to cooperate right now.
Slinking out the door like a jungle cat stalking his prey, Itachi drew a kunai from the pouch within his cloak, listening for even the faintest breath or shuffle.
Nothing. No one.
Turning around to face Konan, he checked her expression. Reserved, fearful—but not like there was someone right behind him. Checking over his shoulder one more time, he knew there was no one there.
"I'm going to go look at the body." Itachi muttered, stalking off down the hallway.
Nodding once, Konan shut the door, feeling that if it were open, it would mean there was too much space for her to guard. She felt overwhelmed.
Sitting in a chair and studying the child once again, she felt cold drops of fear pool into her stomach like venom spreading from a snake. Who was this child? Why hadn't she felt the pull of motherhood when she saw it, like she had felt in the hallway when she heard it coo?
Her forehead creased delicately in confusion and frustration as the baby squirmed again. It was as if it was unhappy in her arms. This made her feel even worse. Even the child felt it. Was she even its mother?
Then, everything changed. The child rolled a little so it could turn its head weakly and peek up at her through its tiny fragile eyelashes. Konan's breath hitched and the child opened its eyes a little more.
"R-rinnegan…" She stumbled over the simple word, tears pricking the corners of her eyes. The little blue-haired infant cooed softly, reaching a small hand up, helplessly trying to reach for its mother.
Feeling tears fall down her cheeks, Konan lifted the baby closer, holding its soft little hand to her cheek.
"Kimiko…" She whispered, closing her eyes and repressing a sob. Everything was starting to piece together. This was her child… But more, this was Pein's heir.
The baby murmured softly, its little fingers pressing into Konan's cheek as if it desired to be closer.
Konan wiped her cheeks lightly and held the baby close to her warm chest, rocking softly. "Our Kimiko…" She cooed softly to the child.
The doors opened quietly as Itachi slipped in, interrupting the breathtaking moment. "Where exactly did you say the body was located?" He asked in a cool voice.
"In the hallway between the room I was in and here. Just past the right turn. Why?" She said, confused.
"There was no body there. I checked everywhere."
Konan just stared. Impossible! "Its… gone?..."
"It must have been a selective attack…" Itachi probed at the possibilities. "One man inside for the dirty work and one out to make sure the mission was carried out."
Konan swallowed nervously. Obviously, the mission had not been carried out. Were they under attack and just didn't know it?
"How did they find us?... We're not even at the hideout."
"I don't know. But they did." Itachi answered in a chilled voice.
Pein felt his chakra draining as another one of his bodies took a blow, his Rinnegan weakening in its assault against his current enemy. It was, however, enough to finish this elite fighter off.
Trudging back to the headquarters of the war branch for the Village Hidden in the Wind, he collected his payment for fighting in their service. Thanking them hollowly, he started the long run back to the new hideout, taking all of the necessary shortcuts, scenic routes, and double backs to lose any followers.
Weary from fatigue and worry, he felt like half the man he knew he was when the hideout came into view. Konan was in there… He needed to find this other half of himself before seeing her. He couldn't let her know that this war wasn't turning out in his favor right now. The Akatsuki weren't getting the recognition he had expected them to. All of the countries were taking it in stride.
Taking a breath and drawing on the last bits of chakra he had right now for strength, he entered the lair and went to the back room where they had left Itachi and the child. He heard Konan's feminine voice and Itachi's unaffected one.
"It's Pein." He announced himself with unnecessary caution. They could read his chakra signatures, but he felt rude just barging in.
The door opened almost violently and Konan stood in its wake, her eyes locking with Pein's. So many emotions flashed across Konan's features all in the same moment. Pain, denial, love, longing, rage, uncertainty, distrust, all wrapped up in confusion. Itachi stood in the background, holding the child.
"I missed you…" Was all she could come up with.
"I missed you too." He answered softly, opening his arms to her.
She stepped into them and hugged him fiercely. Nothing could keep them apart—not even this. Their hearts were bound to each other too strongly to be separated.
"Pein-sama." Itachi addressed his leader respectfully with a curt bow, not allowing this love-fest any longer. There were issues to deal with.
"Konan had to assassinate a ninja when she woke up, leaving the body in the hallway. That means someone knows we're here. The bigger problem, however, is that when I went to go examine the corpse, it was nowhere to be found."
Pein did a reflexive sweep around the room with his eyes, taking a slow, measured breath. "I see." He said, looking to the child in Itachi's arms to assure himself of his daughter's safety and then a glance at Konan to make sure she was unscathed. Everything was demanding his attention all in the same moment. This war, his lover, they're child, and the missing corpse within their protected walls.
"Itachi, I'll take Kimiko. Do a sweep of all the rooms, then the immediate perimeter. Come back to me for report. Please." He added the polite end out of courtesy, understanding Itachi wasn't complacent with him at the moment.
With a bow, Itachi handed him the child and quickly started his task, leaving them their much needed privacy.
"You're hurt…" Pein said, running a finger just under the cut on her neck.
"It's nothing. He's dead now.." She waved it off but didn't recoil from his touch.
"I don't remember anything." Her voice was suddenly firm and direct.
"I was afraid Sasori's medicine would affect your memories of the event. He warned me they would. I must say, I'm almost glad they did. It was… a bloody affair to say the least." Pein said, studying their child, who had overcome such risky odds.
Konan snorted with distaste for his words. "I'm an S-ranked kunoichi. I find it insulting you would desire to shield my innocent eyes from the sight of violence." The last sentence practically dripped with sarcasm and she took Kimiko from Pein's arms as if the possession made her the higher power.
Pein's eyes lit up with anger and dominance as he studied her. "You don't see it, do you?—How much danger we're in. How much we are risking, carrying out the plan I formed years and years ago—our dream. And here you are, acting as if I have made all of this up to create a pretense for my absence. Has childbirth affected your mind, Konan?" He nearly spat the words at her but still kept his voice at a low volume.
Konan's jaw clenched as she held back a mess of curses and insults that were dying to break free. "No, Pein-sama." She said, knowing the blow would hit low under his pride. He still wouldn't stand her calling him the distant title of leader.
"Konan…" He said, his rage slowly simmering.
She looked down at the baby, wanting to change the subject. "It has your eyes." She said sadly.
"Yes, she does." He corrected, concerned with how Konan was referring to Kimiko as if she weren't a living person. "She's amazing—already, having survived so much."
Konan nodded mechanically, still holding the child, not letting her eyes leave the blue stands of hair falling like streams of tears down the baby's scalp.
Deidara finally trekked over the final hill, seeing the hideout. 'Thank gods,' he thought to himself.
Pein exited the room when he felt Deidara's unmistakable chakra sign near. "I'll be back." He murmured to Konan as a promise, but she heard it more as a threat.
Pein opened the door to see Deidara, haggard but smiling none-the-less. "I do believe I have 150,000,000 more ryo to add to the pot, Leader-sama." Deidara handed Pein the briefcase full of money his temporary country of allegiance had rewarded him with.
"Thank you, Deidara. Go clean up. I want a full report before you rest."
"Hai, Leader-sama." Deidara said, bowing slightly before shuffling down the hall to his quarters.
Pein sighed softly as he placed the briefcase in the sub-floor vault under his desk in his office. Another country aiding with their taking over the world. That made the day a bit brighter.
Itachi came back into the hideout, finding Pein just exiting his office.
"Nothing out of the ordinary." Itachi said, bowing slightly.
"Very well. You've been called to the Grass Village for interrogation assistance. Be set to leave in 2 hours. You will be gone for one to two days."
Itachi nodded with another bow of exit, going off to his quarters too.
Going back to find Konan, all he found was a note scrawled on a piece of paper.
"Gone to think. Be back later."
This would have been completely fine if Konan didn't still have Kimiko. Pein crumbled the paper in rage and looked around, trying to understand the underlying meaning to her 'thinking'. This was something more. He could feel it in the core of his existence.
Konan was hurrying through the woods, carrying the child delicately in her arms. By her sense of the surrounding foliage, she knew they were in the area just outside of the Grass Village—where she had originally planned to leave Kimiko with a civilian family if need be.
She had made up her mind while Pein was out of the room. She weighed the possibilities with all the logic she possessed. Pein needed her. The Akatsuki needed her as a ninja, not a mother. She would have to part with this child. It would be hard… She could feel that. Even though her emotions didn't come at first, she knew she would miss this tiny warm weight in her arms, the little replicas of her father's eyes peering up at her from time to time.
It made her nervous, thinking about having to pick what house to leave her with. She would have no time to learn of the family within the houses. How crude it was, to judge a family to leave her child with by what the outside of their house looked like. It turned her stomach to even think it.
She resolved. She would not think. She would just do.
Maybe she could check in on her daughter every year or so if thinks went well with the war. She wouldn't ever meet… Always remain at a distance—no. She couldn't let herself even hope. There was no hope. This war was going to destroy life as they knew it if they didn't have all limbs available to fight with. Why would she leave them an arm short?
It was selfish, her mind told her, to even consider motherhood before the loyalty of her teammates. Her heart whispered otherwise but she shut it out. There was only one way. No other option available.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she jumped when a kunai whizzed by her ear, thudding into the tree in front of her.
"Konan!..." A ragged voice yelled—Pein. He had followed her, throwing the kunai to get her attention.
Closing her eyes, Konan spun to face him. "What?"
"What are you doing with Kimiko?" Pein asked, rushing up to her, trying to take the baby from her arms.
She wouldn't budge—and he couldn't force her.
"I'm doing what needs to be done, Pein. You know this. Stop avoiding it." She said, swallowing to assure that her voice wouldn't break.
"No…" He muttered. "You won't. Not our daughter. We will make this work. I'll find a way. You need to stop being so… so…." He couldn't find the words. 'Crazy? Was that the word for her?'
"I love you, Konan…" He breathed. "I don't know what in the world has altered your knowledge of that in the past few days but I can assure you, it has not changed." He said with natural authority.
She swallowed again, a lump forming in her throat. "I won't let this child ruin the dream we've sculpted, Pein. I won't do it." She shook her head 'no' as if to intensify her resolve.
"Stop this!..." Pein raised his voice, looking her straight in the eyes. "I love you and I love this baby. I will not let you destroy what we could have because of something dreamed of in the past. This is my dream now. Can you not see that? You say you won't deny me of my dream yet that's exactly what you're planning on doing. But I will not stand by and let you. Please, Konan… I'm begging you. Give me my dream… Just let it happen." His eyes pleaded into hers.
Konan's willpower seemed to have dissolved and a tear slipped from the rim of her eyelashes, her lip trembling. She felt as if her heart was breaking with Pein's every word. He made her feel like the bad guy instead of the lovely heroine. She shook her head no again, clearing her head. "Why did you let the dream change? I don't want… You'll regret this. You'll regret this and blame me."
"No, Konan!.. I won't! Why won't you listen to yourself? You're delusional!" Pein paused, collecting himself.
Konan nearly swayed on her feet, not reacting to Pein's outburst, not letting him know she was affected by his opinion of her. How could she not be?
"Look at this baby, Konan. Her eyes… My eyes. Your hair and skin, our blood, our love. Why can't you love that? Love what's natural for you to love. This is our child." Pein's voice had taken on a demanding tone as he implored for her agreement.
Konan felt her heart sink. She did love her…
"Look at how beautiful she is, Konan. Think of what she could be." He said with finality, staring into his blue haired lover's eyes with longing and adoration.
Konan bit back tears, a raging war going on inside her. She didn't know what the right thing to do was. How could she do the right thing, when the right thing would break Pein's heart? Yet the other way would ruin everything.
"Come back to the hideout. It's dangerous out here, no matter how safe the forests have seemed before."
Konan shifted the baby in her arms and walked back with Pein to the hideout, not muttering a word. Her resolve had been weakened, but not destroyed.
Getting back to the lair, Pein saw Kakuzu and Kisame had returned from their missions. They were both in the living area, writing their full reports.
"That's not necessary…" Pein said, sighing. "Just see me in my office."
Turning to face Konan, he kisses her softly, happily noticing she did not pull back.
"Meet you in our chambers?... Thirty minutes… Please." Pein needed her. He hadn't been able to be close to her for the last week.
Konan nodded softly, carrying Kimiko to the back bedroom she was sharing with Pein.
After hearing both successful and unpleasant sides of Kisame's, Deidara's, and Kakuzu's reports, Pein walked back to the bedroom, rubbing his temples. The thought of the missing corpse was still on his mind. It made him feel uneasy.
Sighing softly, he let it go for now. There could be millions of corpses all around him and it wouldn't matter a bit if he didn't have Konan. She was his main priority.
As Pein walked into the bedroom, he felt her eyes on him from the bed.
"You're tense…" She murmured. She was worried. Pein smiled softly at this, feeling her affection still subtly there as always.
"It's been a hard day. The love of my life tried to run away with my dream." He spoke cryptically, his eyes glancing over to hers with remorse and worry.
"She must have your best interests at heart, then. Sounds like she really loves you." She answered just as clandestine, her face a smooth mask of indifference.
Pein shook his head slowly, letting his eyes fall to the bundle in her arms. "She hardly every cries… Just sleeps and looks around. Is that normal?..." He said, feeling so commonplace among all of the other inexperienced fathers in the world.
"I wouldn't know." Konan spoke softly but with sure footing of her point. "But a family with other children in Grass might." She let her eyes look up into his, it being her turn to beg.
"Konan…" Pein stopped her before she could go on. "I will not let her go... She's our baby. She's not just some object needing routine care… She needs us."
Konan let a soft growl of frustration out and looked away, handing Pein the baby. He took her into his arms delicately, her eyes wandering up to his. Rinnegan reflected between the both of them, his heart warming more than he ever thought possible. His Kimiko—their Kimiko.
His eyes drooped with sleep, already low on chakra and even lower on energy from the battle earlier in the day. Konan caught his weary expression and took the child back, taking his hand and pulling him into bed next to her.
"Sleep… I'll be here when you wake up." She murmured softly, curling one small tuft of fine blue hair around her finger gently.
"I love you…" He murmured, lying at her side with his hand protectively around her waist, feeling the baby rest its hand on his arm lightly for a moment as if it wanted him to know it was trying to protect him too.
"I love you too, my dear…" She said softly, letting her eyes drift in and out of reality, daydreaming until he would wake up.
AN: So I'm slightly disappointed in myself? Tell me what you guys think. Love all of you fans and your opinions! Tell me if I should continue or if this is a lost cause? Please and thank you. I will consider every review I get.