A Fox in a Cage
Author Note: Answering a few questions from reviews Naruto's seal no longer appears because it was destroyed with his body, Naru's body was forged by the Kyuubi and may not be entirely human. As for Naru using chakra and kicking ass, this fic is destined to contain a super power Naruto. It just won't happen over night as it dose in most fics. Please read and review.
- Chapter 6 -
In silence Kakashi stood against a door frame peering in on the hokage and Sakura who where lost in training. Neither one was coping well with the loss of Naruto and Sasuke especially Tsunade, who even now appeared on the verge of tears. He didn't know much about her past beyond common knowledge but he had heard the rumors of her tragic losses. He only hoped the guilt of sending Naruto to his death wouldn't return and force her to leave once more, the village needed her.
If anything good came from the event it was what he saw before him. Tsunade and Sakura had grown close as the apprenticeship was formed, both desperately in need of an outlet for their feelings. They never verbally spoke about the pains they felt inside instead speaking though their dedication to their duties. Tsunade to becoming a proper hokage and mentor for Sakura, while Sakura pushed herself with a ruthless single-mindedness to become a medic nin. Kakashi was sure the forming bond between them was the only thing holding the darkness at bay.
"What's with the long face?" Kakashi was interrupted from his thought by the appearance of Jiraiya in the doorway beside him. He looked as upbeat as ever and Kakashi wondered how he was dealing so well with the news of Naruto's death. He had been out of the village for some time and probably only recently been given word.
"I'm worried." Kakashi replied looking back at the pair in the room. Jiraiya frowned confused until he followed Kakashi's gaze. It only took a moment to recognize the pain barely hidden behind Tsunade expression.
"What's happened?" Jiraiya questioned.
"You haven't heard?" Kakashi probed, it couldn't be he had not received word even now?
"Heard what?" Jiraiya demanded clearly expressing his lack of knowledge. Kakashi sighed and hesitated as he looked back at the pair in the room.
"Sasuke has abandoned the village. In an attempt to stop him a genin team was sent out to capture him. However they where unsuccessful in recovering Sasuke." Kakashi spoke slowly.
"I see…" Jiraiya frowned and commented after a few moments. "How's Naruto taking it?" Kakashi could only stare at the man a long moment before replying.
"Evidence shows Naruto was killed by Sasuke. I was close enough to feel the battle and the moment Naruto's chakra vanished. From the damage in the area it wasn't surprising there was no body left to recover." Kakashi explained slowly.
"Naruto's dead?" Jiraiya questioned in disbelief, and then began to laugh and slap his hand on Kakashi's shoulder. "I have to say you have a unique sense of humor." Kakashi had not expected this reaction and was thankful he still had Naruto's forehead protector to act as proof. Pulling it from his pouch he held it out for Jiraiya to take and examine. On inspection juries eyes narrowed realizing there was no joke.
"I knew that Sasuke was capable of some dark deeds but I had not imagined this" Jiraiya frowned deeply.
"I'm sorry." Kakashi apologized still feeling it had been his fault for his late arrival.
"Naruto is not dead." Jiraiya spoke slowly as her ran his fingers over the melted forehead protector.
"No one could have survived that heat, not even Naruto." Kakashi sighed.
"Yes you might be right." Jiraiya replied and looked back up into Kakashi's eyes. "But if Naruto died I'd have known about it right away."
"What are you talking about?" Kakashi demanded feeling a spark of hope but kept it under lock and key till he knew more. Jiraiya responded by summoning he great frog contract scroll and rolling it partly out to reveal a number of names.
"You see here?" he pointed at a name several columns back "There is no chakra." Kakashi nodded as Jiraiya continued. "If you look here." He pointed at his own name. "It's flowing with chakra." He then pointed at Naruto's "Naruto's as well. The contract is bound by our chakra and as long as we live it is valid. When we die our chakra will vanish from the scroll. If that had happened I would have felt it. Naruto must still be alive." Kakashi could hardly believe the truth even as he stared at it with his own eyes. He had been so sure, so positive of Naruto's death with the power of the battle still fresh in his mind. There was no possible way for Naruto to have lived but then again he had proven out of everyone, he was capable of miracles.
"Are you absolutely sure. There is no mistake?" Kakashi questioned quickly.
"Naruto is defiantly alive." Jiraiya confirmed seriously with a curt nod. Kakashi both overjoyed and torn knew this fact could not remain between him and jury alone, with a purposeful stride he quickly entered the hokage's room but was suddenly stooped by Jiraiya's hand.
"We can't let them know." Jiraiya commanded darkly his eyes hard. Before Kakashi could question him Jiraiya continued. "I know first hand how much Naruto means to Tsunade among others but perhaps this situation might be for the best. If Naruto is believed dead, at least for the present time, then he should be safe from Akatsuki."
"We can't know that, we don't even know what situation he is in." Kakashi countered in a hushed voice.
"No we don't but Tsunade, if she learned of this she would send out a team if not two to find him. It would defiantly not go unnoticed by the village or Akatsuki. No, for now its best we keep this between us. I will investigate this personally and locate Naruto. Till we know he is safe we can't let anyone know that that he's out there on his own. He has far too many enemies to risk it." Jiraiya explained and left no room for argument.
"Jiraiya" Tsunade snapped appearing before the two with an angry scow. Jiraiya was fearful they where overheard but as luck would have it Tsunade had not listened in. "How long where you planning on wandering around the village till you came and saw me?"
"I'm here now." Jiraiya laughed scratching the back of his head in his usual carefree manner. Tsunade's expression soured more but then faltered and collapsed into a longing sadness raw with withheld emotion.
"Naruto is dead." Tsunade whispered hoarsely.
"I have just heard." Jiraiya's expression mirrored Tsunade's but his expression was fueled by the guilt of what he was withholding not loss.
"Jiraiya…" Tsunade was unable to restrain herself as she fell against Jiraiya hiding her face in his chest. With the fourth gone Jiraiya was now the only one left that truly knew her and understood her pain and the only one Tsunade felt she could confide in. "Just… Just when I thought things would be different… They never change… How many more must I lose?" Tsunade pleaded softly her voice tight but as a testament to her willpower did not break with tears.
"Tsunade…" Jiraiya frowned and placed a hand on her trembling shoulder. He could not say anything more in fear he would voice the truth. No he had to be just as strong as she was and keep a hold of his emotions. 'I will find Naruto, I will find him and bring him back Tsunade. I promise.' Jiraiya declared in his mind as he soothingly pat Tsunade's shoulder. 'Be strong…'
"Tsunade…" Sakura's uncertain voice broke the silence startling all three. Tsunade recovered quickly stepping back from Jiraiya as if nothing had occurred and turned to her apprentice who held up a large twitching fish. "I..i did it!"
"Good!" Tsunade's smile returned but her emotions dulled its brightness. She had no time to dwell on Naruto; right now she had to continue forward one step at a time. "But that's the easy part. Lets move on to the hard stuff now." Tsunade's smile turned into a grin and Sakura paled at the announcement.
"Harder?" Sakura gawked, the fish exercise having been the most difficult feat of chakra control she had ever encountered.
"I won't hear any complaints." Tsunade back into the swing of things happily lead Sakura back into the room. Kakashi and Jiraiya where momentarily stunned by the change in Tsunade but the change did not last long as the pain began to emerge once more.
"Take me where it happened." Jiraiya finally spoke once the coast was clear and Kakashi gave a soft nod, both turning and leaving the room.
Elsewhere on the edge of a forest Naru sat on a log resting and awaiting the return of Kankuro and Gaara who had gone ahead to scout the city visible in the distance. Temari stood beside her and the silence was as thick as water. Since that morning Naru had felt the best course of action was to completely and utterly deny the existence of the dream she had had. As a result she was unable to meet Temari's eyes and had remained quite for most of the day. Now however with Kankuro and Gaara gone Temari was growing restless with the silence and Naru knew it was only a matter of time before it was broken.
"You know…" Temari spoke up suddenly as if on queue with Naru's thoughts and drew her attention. "You really need to tell me your secret."
"My secret?" Naru frowned staring up at Temari who only glanced at her out of the corner of her eye.
"Yes." Temari purred then slowly circled behind Naru. Naru attempted to scoot away but Temari quickly leaned over her capturing her in her arms before lowering her lips to begin whispering silkily into Naru's ear. "How you manage to have those kinds of dreams so often." Naru's face burst into a rainbow of reds as she stilled in panic. It was one thing suspecting Temari knew, it was another to be directly confronted.
"I..i don't know what your talking about.." Naru stammered childishly voice broken with vulnerability.
"Oh I think you do." Temari's coy smile curled into wicked amusement as her voice dropped to a husky whisper. "If you wont tell me your secret at least tell me what they where about?" Naru swallowed uneasy and tried to jerk away from Temari's grip but was held fast, trapped.
"I… don't remember…." Naru replied in a small voice that her own ears barely heard.
"Come on we are both girls." Temari smiled in amused her lips nearly touching Naru's ear and her hot breathe stinging it. Naru felt that that the fact of Temari's words where the cornerstone to her discomfort and confusion. Why was she having theses dreams in the first place, why did they involve Temari of all people? Naru had not yet found the answers and suspected she never would.
"They where about me weren't they?" Temari purred her voice thick and smooth as velvet and Naru froze like ice. Naru's mind reeled at the fact Temari suspected the truth so easily and she was overcome with blind panic. She didn't want to be in Temari's arms right now, she didn't want to be in them at all. With renewed determination she tried to jerk free once more using all her strength and was startled to find freedom as she was released. Her momentum caused her to tumble onto the grassy ground but not wishing to remain there she quickly rolled to her feet facing Temari in challenge.
"Really, you are so easy to tease." Temari stared back with an arrogant stance, a hand on her hip. Her expression was alive with mirth clearly having enjoyed making her squirm. The sight was enough to make Naru's blood boil and momentarily make her forget just how much stronger Temari was then her. Before she could spring into an attack however the ruffling of grass underfoot announced the arrival of others and Naru paused to see Kankuro and Gaara had retuned. So that was why Temari had released her…
"Did you have any luck in the city?" Temari questioned before her brothers could speak up.
"There was nothing suspicious about the city but I still think there's information to find." Kankuro replied as he came to a stop near Temari.
"Kankuro is correct." Gaara chimed in with his usual indifference and lagged several paces behind. "This city is one of many that has lost trade caravans. It would be easy to discover their routs from here so it's likely the rouge group will have one of their men within the city." Temari thought it over just a moment before nodding in agreement with her brothers.
"Ok, we will search the city and see what information we can find but we can't stay here long. If we don't find anything by tomorrow we will continue south." Temari informed and her brothers voiced no protests. Waiting just a moment they turned together and began to head towards the city. Naru thankful for the change in atmosphere remained silent and followed. It was at least comforting to know Temari didn't want her brothers to witness her teasing which meant as long as they where around Naru was relatively safe.
Entering the city Naru was surprised to find just how busy it seemed to be. Unlike the village of the sand the streets here where crowded with hundreds of people all bustling about shopping and traveling. Merchants and venders lined the streets hawking and selling goods of all shapes and sizes, more then one of which caught Naru's eye and distracted her from keeping pace with her capers. It wasn't long before Temari had grown tired of her distraction and took her hand in hers dragging her along like a parent with a child. Naru tried to break free but a cold warning glance from Temari told her she wasn't going to tolerate a moment of defiance so she surrendered to the situation.
"Me and Gaara have already been over this merchant quarter." Kankuro explained his words almost drowned out by the noisy ambiance of the street. "We can give it another sweep and look for anything we missed."
"Fine, we should split up as well. Traveling together like this will draw to much attention." Temari agreed.
"There is a hotel a few blocks ahead." Garra added calmly. "We can use that as a meeting point."
"That one we saw earlier?" Kankuro frowned clearly having doubts about it.
"What's wrong with it?" Temari questioned.
"Oh... um nothing…." Kankuro looked away scratching his cheek in a manner that made Temari suspect there was something more to it but as Gaara failed to comment so it was decided.
"We will meet up at the hotel at dusk." Temari commanded and her brothers began to part and mix into the crowed leaving her and Naru once more alone. Thankful Naru found Temari focusing on observing the surroundings as they walked through the streets ever deeper into the city. If didn't appear she had to worry about further teasing and it allowed her to relax and join Temari in scanning the city. It was much different then the sand village and looked much more modern with proper with wood and stone construction as opposed to the masonry used in much of the sand village. Over all Naru found she liked the city with its comforting atmosphere and soon lost herself in the tour Temari was leading.
Temari glanced back over her shoulder at Naru who was absorbed in sightseeing and she smiled. Naru was clearly enjoying herself and was unwontedly squeezing Temari's hand with a soft smile. It was the first time since her capture that Naru appeared so at peace and Temari couldn't help but feel a warmth of compassion towards her. She was so cute trailing behind her like a younger sister as they explored the city and she was sure that's how it appeared to anyone who observed them. It was a fun for a moment to pretend but soon the illusion soon lost its charm as Temari knew the relationship between them could never be so innocent. No their relationship was build upon much darker and more sinister things some of which Temari was reluctant to admit she was losing control over.
Just what was Naru to her, was the question hovering around in her mind as she tore her eyes away from Naru. The quickest answer to appear was prisoner however it was not so simple as a number of other names followed student, rival, and pet. It was on pet that her mind lingered; at first it had been a joke but now its edges where blurred and its meaning mixed. Her power over the younger girl was an addiction and a very real danger. This was not the first time over the past week that she felt she had been given too much freedom in dealing with her. She was sure even her brothers noticed the possessiveness she held over Naru but she did not know how to explain it to them, or her self.
She had been given Naru what was wrong with being possessive, protecting and teaching what was hers. Naru was alone in a world full of enemies without the memory or skills to defend herself and she was not going to let it remain so. She would teach Naru and make her strong enough to survive, strong enough to face her enemies. But Naru was fragile and she had to make her hard, make her understand life as a ninja meant hardship and pain. Or so she told herself but underneath the fairytales and white lies she felt the darkness shifting giving light to her true unvoiced motivations. She could say the pretty things as loud as she wished but in the end the truth was she simply wanted Naru to be hers. Her possession, her property, hers. It didn't matter if Naru was a girl Temari had long since disregarded gender as a limitation in combat or in love. The only thing that mattered was strength and she had more then enough to keep Naru, willing or not.
Glancing back at Naru her wry smile returned, it wasn't so bad to let her have some fun now and then. Maybe she should treat her to the sweets stand she was eyeing so intently, maybe she would even manage to get thanks though she doubted it. Changing direction suddenly startled Naru but as they closed on the sweets stand Naru's eyes widened in hope, the sight amusing Temari to no end. The stand was full of all sorts of teats from hard cadies and lollipop's to toffee and chocolate and Temari found herself trying to guess which one Naru would like.
"Temari?" Naru questioned almost timidly.
"Mmm I feel like a treat." Temari replied smiling, she may be treating Naru but that didn't mean she had to let her know that. Naru looked once more hopeful but then sad as silence loomed on perhaps thinking Temari was going to neglect her. Temari couldn't help but let Naru suffer for a few long moments before reassuring her. "There are too many things to choose from, why don't you pick something first." Like flipping on a light Naru brightened and stared fixatedly at the goodies eyes darting back and forth fully concentrating on just which to choose. Naru was not alone in her conflicting thoughts on which treat was best as a girl perhaps her same age appeared at the stall and lost herself in a similar debate.
"If you can't decide then maybe you don't really want one." Temari decided to tease Naru who instantly panicked.
"There's so many, just give me a minuet!" Naru complained and the desperation in her voice was clear to how much she wanted one. The girl that had joined them found it amusing a well and began to giggle.
"Why not try one of theses?" The girl spoke up purposely drawing Naru's attention as she pointed at a large blue lollipop. "I had one of theses the other day, it was so nice."
"Really?" Naru frowned and pondered as she stared at the previously overlooked lollie.
"Mhmm" the girl nodded "it's really sweet but it turns your tongue blue." The girl proved the fact by sticking out her tongue which still had a mild blue tint. Naru looked even more intrigued by the fact and turned back to the sweets, however the girl had not fully convinced her and her eyes began to wander once more.
"Your minuets up." Temari smirked and Naru once more began to panic.
"Oh don't listen to her; she's only teasing you." The girl whispered to Naru and giggled.
"You don't know her!" Naru whispered back "She really means it." Temari smiled as she listened, the two weren't even trying to conceal their conversation.
"Well if that's true you better hurry!" The girl gasped.
"But they all look so good, how can I choose?" Naru pleaded as if seeking advice.
"Times up." Temari spoke loudly but her amusement was clear.
"Wait Wait!" Naru begged as Temari gave a tug on her hand. In a dispirit move Naru snatch the previously indicated treat in fear of losing one all together. Temari laughed softly at the reaction and took one of the hard candies for herself and paid the stall merchant.
"Your big sister really is a mean isn't she?" The girl whispered to Naru again and quickly feigned innocence as Temari turned back from the merchant.
"We aren't sisters." Naru replied instantly without thought and brought about a confused expression from the girl.
"Oh I'm sorry you looked so close I thought you where family." The girl smiled. "Let me guess childhood friends?"
"Not even close." Naru frowned deeply and began to remember just what Temari was to her, her captor. The girl became even more puzzled and even more determined to find out as noted by her expression. Temari unable to resist the opportunity wrapped an arm around Naru's shoulders from behind pulling her close against her.
"Do you want to tell her or should I?" Temari purred silkily and raised Naru's hand that her fingers where laced with and lightly kissed it telling a blatant lie of intimacy between them. Naru was shocked speechless unable to come to her own defense taken so off guard by the act. The girl was just as surprised as her eyes widened and she covered her mouth in realization.
"You have that kind of relationship." The girl blushed before turning her eyes away.
"Now that you have your treat we can head back to the hotel." Temari continued this time whispering into Naru's ear. Naru was as stiff as a mannequin as Temari excused them using the opportunity of the girls shock as leave. Tugging Naru away Temari noticed the girl continuing to stare till she was swallowed by the crowed and hidden from view. It seemed she had gotten lucky and managed to tease two for the price of one. She wondered just what the other girl was thinking at the moment.
Behind the bustling crowed the girl stood, her shocked expression melting into thoughtfulness. Idly her eyes lowered and she ran a finger across her lower lip as if trying to imagine the kiss's the two girls must have shared. Her breath swallowed and her cheeks reddened softly in excitement the thoughts and fantasy's dancing in her head.
"Chenna," A boy's voice interrupted her thoughts as its owner materialized beside her.
"Jenn.. brother…" Chenna's eyes softened and hooded with affection as she turned and suddenly drew him into a deep passionate kiss, her tongue mingling with his. Her brother did not fight it and happily returned the affection sharing a kiss of lovers.
"What have you learned?" Jenn asked softly as the kiss was finally broken and he brushed hair from his sister's face.
"I think they are lovers." She replied and pressing against his chest "But I am not certain."
"Indigo will want to know." Jenn spoke again his voice fading as his sisters longing eyes entranced him.
"Then let us inform him." Chenna hugged her brother intimately as another kiss began just as demanding as the first. Her brother responded in kind and together they shuffled into a ally where their hands meld together creating a combined seal and vanished in an explosion of smoke.
- End Chapter 6 -