The Prisoner

Hokage and prisoner. Konoha and Oto. Ninja and cripple. But it didn't matter, in the end. They understood each other, without and sometimes despite any words between them. Naruto/Tayuya NaruTayu

Tayuya sighed loudly, again, as she leaned against the cold concrete wall of her prison cell. She didn't especially like sitting on the floor, but at least it was a change from the cot that was mounted on the back wall. The stupid thing was not a whole lot softer than the floor, anyway.

She looked at the shadow on the wall. It looked about an hour or so past noon. It wasn't an exact way to tell time, but she was pretty sure he was late. Not that she cared, of course. It was not like she was waiting for him, or anything. She was just wondering if that idiot would be annoying her today like he had every day for years. How many years now? Twelve? Fourteen? Tayuya didn't keep track anymore.

Her tin tray of food, uneaten, sat on the cot, next to her only change of clothes. The sink on the wall across from her was strangely silent. Then she remembered. That idiot had brought a wrench with him the other day and fixed it. What a moron, prison was supposed to be tough. She wasn't grateful at all. She didn't owe him anything.

But although she knew she wished that he wouldn't show today, she couldn't keep the strange tightness in her chest away completely. She found her thoughts wandering more and more frequently back to that blonde idiot of a Hokage.

She couldn't resist smiling. Apparently he had been Hokage for almost a year now, but had neglected to tell Tayuya. It was only when an ANBU had burst into the cell one day last week to let the Hokage know that the Kazekage had arrived early and was waiting for him in the office, that Tayuya had found out about this promotion.

Not that she was really surprised. Just from knowing the guy as a constant visitor to her otherwise lonely cell, (not that she was lonely, of course), she knew that he could have become Hokage on persistence alone, annoying the village until they gave him the position just to shut him up.

Tayuya shifted slightly, uncomfortable on the cement floor, but unwilling to sit on the cot again. Her red hair was still mussed from bed, since she didn't care about her appearance anymore. And it didn't matter anyway. That stupid Hokage always brought shampoo, a towel, and a comb with him, and washed her head in the sink.

She had long ago given up resisting. After the first few weeks of her refusals, Tayuya had found herself led away from her cell for the first time in years. She had already told them everything she knew, and so she had been very worried. Maybe the Hokage had finally decided she wasn't worth the effort, and had rescinded his order that gave her a better cell than any other enemy ninja got. She had learned about this order once when she had overheard some guards talking about it. Apparently she had the same sort of cell that normal civilian criminals got.

When she found herself led into a bathroom, she was informed that they were going to be trying a new, experimental torture method, and she seemed like the ideal subject. Tayuya had barely kept herself from attacking the guards, though she knew that after years of inactivity, and with her crippled legs, she could hardly have hoped to take on a genin, let alone the guards.

Tayuya had barely enough time to wonder why the guards did not seem especially eager to try out this new method, before a certain blonde Hokage walked in with shampoo, a towel, and a comb.

"Hey, Tayuya-chan! You're our first trial for the hair washing torture!"

Oh Kami, what did I do to deserve this?

And so Tayuya had submitted to the stupid torture, since she knew that, sham or no sham, the Hokage was going to make sure that he completed this 'torture.' And after that, she never fought with him about washing her hair. But that was the only reason. Because the stupid Hokage had no skill at all being gentle. It's not he massaged her scalp while he washed her long red hair, making her so relaxed and drowsy that she had fallen asleep in the sink more than once. That had just been a combination of sleep deprivation and that annoying idiots incessant chatter. Yeah.

The only thing Tayuya was almost, but not quite, thankful for, were the new clothes she had gotten to wear. Now she had an extra set of clothing, and all of her clothes were made of some sort of soft material that she didn't recognize. They were extremely comfortable. According to the official story, there had been a mix-up in some clothing orders that got her the clothes, but even the guard sounded like he knew better. And they hadn't taken them away, either. Which probably meant that this was another not-so-subtle gift from that stupid blonde Hokage, abusing his power to mess with the mind of a long-term prisoner.

She glanced at the shadow on the wall again. Damn, he was late. Surely something hadn't happened to him? She dismissed her strong nervousness as being related to the possibility that the next Hokage wouldn't be so kind. That was all. She didn't care what happened to to him. Not at all.

A sudden commotion outside her cell made Tayuya jump to her feet. But only because her visitor might hit her with the door if she didn't move out of the way. She wasn't eager to see him or anything.

The door cracked open, and Naruto peeked in, making sure she wasn't behind the door before he opened it all the way. He carried some shampoo, a towel, and a comb in one arm, while the other hand clutched a folder and a pen. Closing the door behind him with his foot, he set everything but the shampoo down on the cot next to her tray of uneaten food.

Looking between her and the tray, Naruto frowned. Tayuya sighed, knowing what was coming. They went through this a lot.

"Tayuya-chan! You need to eat! You'll get sick or something if you don't try and stay healthy! And life sucks bad enough without getting sick, too!"

Tayuya narrowed her eyes. "My life sucks 'cause I'm in prison, you idiot. Being sick makes no difference. You gonna do something about the prison, too?"

Naruto was strangely silent, and Tayuya thought she saw a cunning smirk quickly hidden behind his usual carefree grin. "You need to eat, Tayuya-chan! If you won't eat, then I won't wash your hair for you. So eat up."

"If only you really meant that," Tayuya muttered, although she picked up the tray and sat on the cot to eat. While she downed her cheap, but healthy meal, Naruto spoke about events on the outside. Tayuya ate quickly, and finished after only a few minutes (not because she was eager for the hair wash, mind you, but because she didn't want to listen to his babbling for any longer than necessary).

Putting the towel around her shoulders, Tayuya leaned over the since so Naruto could begin washing her hair. Cool water began running over her hair, and down her face, while Naruto messed with her hair, getting it all wet, and then starting to shampoo.

Tayuya closed her eyes and let the Hokage do his thing. It was times like these that she had the hardest time keeping her dignity. Because the Hokage obviously knew what he was doing. Despite what she told herself constantly, getting her hair washed by Naruto was the highlight of almost every day.

Naruto continued to talk about what was going on in the world as he gently rubbed the shampoo into her hair and scalp. Shikamaru, the shadow-user Tayuya had fought in her last battle outside, was marrying Temari, the sand-ninja that had rescued his ass. Sasuke, who had become Otokage during Tayuya's imprisonment, had decided to ally with the leaf. The details were still being worked out, Naruto said.

Tayuya frowned a little. Although she did like to hear about what was happening out there, it also made her wish she could go outside, even if just for a little bit. She said as much, and Naruto hesitated for a moment, before he finished rinsing out her hair.

Once he was finished, Tayuya dried her hair a bit with the towel, then sat cross-legged on the cot, facing the wall, so that Naruto could comb her hair. It was a relief to be able to sit this way, after so many years wondering if she would ever be able to use her legs again.

Naruto was oddly silent as he combed her hair. Tayuya started to get worried. Maybe this had to do with the details in the leaf-sound treaty, details he had sort of glazed over? Maybe she would have to go back to sound. Her heart sank.

She quickly corrected herself. Maybe she would get to go back to sound. She was just sad that she wouldn't be able to be a ninja, if that happened. Nevertheless, she leaned back and closed her eyes, trying to enjoy the feeling of having a friend who would comb her hair. Not even her old friends from long ago had been that close.

After a few minutes of silence, Naruto stopped combing her hair. Tayuya turned around to face him, and only because she had known him for so long did she notice the slight hints that betrayed his nervousness.

"Just spit it out, Naruto." Tayuya smiled, as she realized that she had not said one foul word in a long time. Years ago, that sentence would have sounded much different. But Naruto had laughed to hard every time she cursed, crediting it to her remarkable 'un-lady-likeness' that she had stopped. Not because she was a lady, or wanted to be. Obviously. She just didn't like his laughter. The reason the corners of her lips twitched when he laughed was because she was angry.

Naruto handed her the folder and a pen. "There are some... stipulations in the treaty that require your agreement."

Tayuya just looked at Naruto. "You don't need my permission to do anything with your prisoner, and Sasuke doesn't need permission to do whatever he wants with his ninja. What do you really mean? Just ask me whatever it is you want my agreement with."

Naruto looked at the ground sheepishly. "Sasuke can order you around, but he didn't. He made it part of the treaty, but said it was up to you whether you wanted to do it or not."

"Just ask me! I don't wanna hunt around some stupid treaty looking for my name!"

Naruto cleared his throat, and pulled out a black box from his pocket. He opened it to reveal a magnificent ring, studded with small diamonds and rubies. "Tayuya, will you marry me?"

Tayuya's eyes went wide, and tears began to fall silently down her cheeks. She grabbed Naruto, forgetting, for a moment, his position as Hokage, and gripped him tightly. "Yes!"

Naruto smiled into her clean, moist hair, and squeezed her in return.

Tayuya suddenly realized what she had done. "B-but, only because it's part of the treaty, y-you moron..." In spite of her words, she held on more tightly, and pushed her face into the crook of his neck, inhaling the woodsy, musky scent that always hung around Naruto.

Naruto chuckled, and spoke right next to her ear, causing her hair to tickle her a little. "Of course, Tayuya-chan. I understand."

She leaned back, and looked into his eyes. She could tell he knew better than to listen to what she said. She knew he was aware of her real reasons, though neither of them said them out loud. It was suddenly obvious to Tayuya what had transpired. Sasuke had killed Itachi. She had heard that some time ago. And now Sasuke was the leader of Sound. He could hardly come back to Konoha, since he was a traitor, but he no longer held any emnity toward the leaf, either. No doubt Naruto had convinced Sasuke to include this little part of the treaty, since that sort of thing was not done anymore, except in fairy tales.

She couldn't help but smile a little as she looked into the eyes of Naruto, now her betrothed. "How long did it take you to convince Sasuke that we needed an arranged marriage to seal the treaty?"

Naruto laughed out loud, pleased that Tayuya was so sharp. "Only a few days. Maybe you didn't notice, since he is rather good with genjutsu, but he was the guard outside your door for the past few days, and observed us. Once he was satisfied that you wouldn't mind, he had no problem setting up this little arrangement."

Tayuya's smile became sad. "So are we going to honeymoon in an exotic cell, or-"

"NO! The second best part of the deal, after getting you to marry me, is getting you out of jail! Since marrying me makes you a leaf-nin, you can't be held as an enemy ninja any longer! We can honeymoon wherever you want!"

Tayuya buried her face in Naruto's chest. She would get to go outside someday! And live outside! Tears soaked Naruto's shirt.

"Tayuya, are you okay?"

Tayuya sniffled, and tried to sound tough even with her cracking voice. "I just got something in my eye, you idiot."

"Of course. Now, if you'll just sign here," Naruto pointed to a spot on the second page of the treaty, "we can be on our way."

Tayuya signed, and only then caught all of what he had said. Before she could ask, Naruto answered her question. "Yes, today. Let's go, Tayuya."

And he led her out into the bright afternoon sun that had, for years, existed only in Tayuya's dreams.

Tell me what you think.