This is the final chapter

The day was a warm and a pleasant wind flew through the air, when a startled flock of birds burst from a near by cluster of wild oak. Kaiya followed their panicked flight, their screams pierced the air and their wings pulled them away from the ground-from the danger.

"What do you suppose scared 'em?" Kaiya half mumbled to herself.

"Scared who?" Jiraiya asked.

"Those birds."

Jiraiya turned and looked at Kaiya, "Wait, are you saying that, after pleading and begging for me to teach you something, when we are finally doing something you are looking at some stupid birds?"

"Training? All I'm doing is putting my hands together to make 'negative chakra'!" Kaiya said separating her hands to make quote marks.

"This will help you if-"

"Yeah, I know, but I can practice this in my sleep. I'm going to find out what that racket was about!"

Before Jiraiya could protest, Kaiya was flipping through the small wild oak trees in the surrounding.

A kunai seared through the air landing right behind Kaiya's head, the explosive tag already burning.

Kaiya spun around, grabbed the kunai and sent it back the direction it had come from. Unfortunately, It was only a few yards away from her face when it went off and sent her flying back into the small bush trees.

As Kaiya took a moment to get her breath back she heard the voice of a young boy yelling, "Sis! I told you not to throw anything! That almost hit me! And did you see what that thing did to the trees?"

There was a sniffling sound, then, "I'm sorry, the paper just started to burn, I didn't know what else to do." there was a wavering in the voice that spoke of tears.

Kaiya silently made her way to the clearing to find a boy who could only be in his early teens and a girl who looked to be a year or two younger than him. They both wore earthy color clothing meaning they were most likely part of a farming community.

A bag lay on the ground kunai sprinkling the ground around it.

"I suppose we shouldn't have gone through uncle's work bags, but they were right there on the table." the boy said.

"I'm guessing that you two aren't ninjas." Kaiya asked, then watched as the two siblings jumped. "I suppose your reaction means yes."

The boy quickly pushed his sister behind him. "We might not be, but our uncle is and if you do anything to us he will get you!" he threatened.

Kaiya gave a short, breathy laugh before she said, "He would might be after you for taking his tools before he would come for me, but don't worry, I'm not planning on hurting either of you."

The girl let out a sigh of relief, then said, "My name is Mona."

Mona looked at the blackened place behind Kaiya. "We didn't mean to blow stuff up." she admitted sheepishly.

Kaiya decided that she might be staying in the clearing awhile, so, she sat down on the ground, crossed her legs, and asked, "So, why did you take your uncle's equipment?"

The boy answered this, "We live in a village that doesn't have ninja's, but my dad use to live in a village that did. Uncle Mareku can only come every other year, but he has shone us some cool things and even taught us a little-"

"We want to be ninjas!" Mona exclaimed. "But dada won't let us go to his home village to learn." She looked on the verge of tears

"Perhaps your father has reasons to keep you away from the village, but perhaps you could ask him to teach you himself."

The sibling both looked at each other and smiled, "Yeah, he has never had a problem with Uncle teaching us." Mona said happily.

Kaiya couldn't help but smile as well. I had lived with my father, I wonder what he would have taught me. She thought.

The two siblings were packing the bag back up and getting ready to go when a man ran into the clearing. Sweat covered his brow and the intense look of worry eased the moment he saw the children, he wore a headband from Sand.

Moments later another man burst into the clearing a cry of relief came from his mouth and he knelt before the children and wrapped them in a hug. "Thank goodness you didn't kill yourselves!" he exclaimed.

Mona began to cry, "We're sorry dada!"

Kaiya gave a light cough, before she said, "The only things that were damaged was my head and the trees."

In the split moment between Kaiya's cough and her sentence, the Sand nin was armed and ready for a fight.

"Uncle no!" The boy said. "She won't hurt us!"

Kaiya turned towards the father and said, "I would suggest you let your children learn more about weapons so, they won't mistake a kunai and explosive tag for a sharp object tied to a paper with pretty drawings on it."

"Why you insolent-!"

Before Kaiya turned to leave she spied Mona's thankful smile.

Kaiya left thinking that she would never see that family again, but that had been before she had learned how to make practically indestructible copies of herself, and before she had found herself always looking for the red hair and blue eyed of the leader of Sand.

As her consciousness surfaced Kaiya noted the damp chilly air that surrounded her. She was sitting on an earthy floor and her hands were tied behind her, but the most alarming thing was the fact that nothing was covering her face. Her mask was gone.

Keeping her eyes closed Kaiya rubbed her wrists together until her wood carving knife fell into the palm of her right hand. Now armed, Kaiya decided it was time to open her eyes.

A single candle lit the darkness. From what she could see, Kaiya figured she was in a cellar. Even though Kaiya couldn't see Sasuke, she figured he would not be far, she would have to work her hands free quickly.

"I don't think I've ever met anyone else like you in all my life." Sasuke said softly as he stepped into the circle of light. "You trick me . . ." he said quietly. "You're fake."

"Fake?" Kaiya asked, a little confused.

"You hide behind your mask, you hid behind your lies. All that time you made me search for someone that I now realize I should have kill."

Perhaps these words were true-so painfully true that they felt like daggers smoothly working their way into Kaiya's heart.

"I just have one question, why . . ." Sasuke paused, closed his eyes and shook his head. "Naruto, why are you dressed like a girl?" the utter hopelessness in Sasuke's voice made Kaiya realizes that the daggers she had felt only moments before were no longer heading for her heart, in fact, if she had it her way they would be heading towards Sasuke's head very, very soon.

"You too!" Kaiya exclaimed, anger burning in her eyes.

Sasuke's eyes snapped open. "Me too?" he asked.

"Sasuke, I have always been a girl!"

A sneer crossed Sasuke's face, "Then you are even more of a fake than I thought." he jeered.

Kaiya sighed and nodded her head. "Yes, I am. A fake who has always hid behind a mask. A phantom who appears and disappears at will, but I don't mind. Do you want to know why I don't mind?" Kaiya asked, but went on without waiting for an answer. "Simply because wherever I go I challenge myself with a "wonderment": I wonder if I can help improve the lives of those around me and as well as my own? When I keep this in mind it doesn't matter what mask I have on at the moment, all that matters is that my feeling are real and true."

"I don't have to listen to this!" Sasuke yelled and began to turn to leave. "I was planning on taking you with me, but now . . ."

"Wait. What about Orochimaru?" Kaiya asked.

A smirk crossed Sasuke's face, "That worthless person is already dead, I had no more to learn from him."

"Aren't you going to stay?" Kaiya asked softly, the words had spilled out before she was conscious of them.

Sasuke was so surprised by the question that he look her wide eyed and Kaiya knew why, she sounded like Sakura; a love sick girl with no hope. Still, Kaiya waited for the reply.

"No. I've only come to pick a few things up before I go to kill my brother." Sasuke stated coldly as he looked down at the ground by Kaiya's feet.

Kaiya sighed, "Kill? Does he really deserve to get off so easily?"

"What?" he asked.

"I understand that killing your brother has been your goal for years, but-Sasuke-I have experienced that type of revenge since . . . before I can remember. The hurt wasn't always physical, but I learned that in trying to hurt others you are also hurting yourself. Sasuke, I promise you, revenge leaves both participants . . . empty inside." Kaiya said leaning forward to assert herself.

"Let me guess, you want me to forgive my brother and leave everything up to fate?"

"No, I just want you to know that your brother wasn't the only one who planned the attack on your family and . . ." Kaiya sighed. "in the end it is your choice, but you won't be able to control the out come. The happiness of always knowing that people care for you and are willing to help you is still within your grasp. All you have to do is reach for it. So, choose, Sasuke. Will you answer the hopes of people like Sakura and come back to the village or will you go kill your brother on your own?"

Sasuke must have sensed that Kaiya was stalling for time, her hands were almost free-despite the fact that the knife had accidentally bitten into her wrists a few times-as far as Kaiya was concerned it would be easier to convince Sasuke to stay if he were pinned to the ground, because Sasuke answered with a smile and one sentence, "I made that choice a long time ago, Naruto." Then he disappeared into the darkness.

Kaiya sat with her slightly cut hands in her lap. The candle was almost gone, but she couldn't find a reason to move. After all that work, all that worrying that he might be taken by Orochimaru, Sasuke had just left without saying a word of goodbye. Sakura was going to be furious, but even more sad than that the village would have another missing ninja that they would have to deal with. The words that Jiraiya had spoken the second year of her training came to mind, Sasuke was a fallen leaf. The defenses of the village were again in danger because one of the villages' own had fallen.

Kaiya would have sat there longer, but she heard something very strange and it was getting louder with each passing second. As it came closer Kaiya could distinguish the sound as if a hundred plungers were clearing a hundred different toilets.

Kaiya stood up quickly and ran the way Sasuke had gone only to stumble over barrels and crates. She had waited too long to react. Slime covered bodies consumed her arms first then her head until her entire being was encased. Panic coursed through her and adrenaline helped her wrestle until her right hand reach out into the air and in that moment her body failed her and she fainted.

Static crackled in Gaara's ear as the radio receiver came to life.

Gaara was starting to get annoyed. The voice of a very angry, very pink haired girl had been in his ear for hours. While he could gather that her anger was because she cared about that slime of a guy who took Kaiya away.

"I used to be like him. . ." Gaara muttered to himself. In the past he would have taken anything he wanted and crushed anyone who stood in his way. Now he was timid and unsure of himself.

"Sorry, what was that?" The girl in his ear yelled and the radio speaker screeched. "I was getting an update from Tsunade. She says she figures that going to the abandoned Uchiha prefecture would be the safest bet."

"Then why didn't we just start there?" He had been trailing after Tsunade's pets' trail as they went all around the village.

"Well, um. . . Let me ask her . . ." Sakura said.

A shiver suddenly went up Gaara's back. He was use to extreme heat in the daylight of the desert sun and the extreme cold of the climatically unprotected sand village that he lead, but this coldness was coming from inside. Like the light that humans must have always close by to feel safe and happy, Kaiya was a bright helper who always calmed him. Even having only a shadow of her close by had brought him peace, had made it easy for him to work with the people who had once hoped for his death.

He had never had unconditional loved so he didn't understand what it meant, but now . . .

Suddenly, in standing in that chill following a trail of slim Gaara realized: No matter what Kaiya did he would love her. It wasn't just her trust worthy actions, but her very existence in the world made her someone to love.

"Gaara!" Sakura screamed into his ear. "We found her! You had better hurry!"

Kaiya woke up a little damp, but warm. Someone was holding her tightly.

The sun was coming up over the ridge of trees and she could see the village waking up along with her. Lifting her arm she gingerly placed her hand on the arms wrapped around her stomach and slightly turned her head to the right to see the face of the man who was holding her.

Gaara's eyes were closed and he was leaning at the crook of her neck. Kaiya smiled, closed her own eyes and just let the warmth of his cheek against hers enfold her.

"Oh no you don't." Sakura interrupted. "I've had to wait for you to wake-up. Which took you longer than I thought considering the fact that this guy is wrapped around you like a koala." Sakura muttered.

Kaiya smiled and breathed out a laugh-as to not wake Gaara-then said, "I suppose you want to know what Sasuke wanted?"

"We both want to know. " Tsunade said, the fifth leader of the village was looking a little worse for the wear. "I was able to give you a little time to talk and I'm hoping you have some good information for us."

"So, that's why you had us look everywhere else!" Sakura hissed.

"I will tell you all that I know, but you might be disappointed." Kaiya said with a sigh.

Kaiya felt a little uncomfortable talking about another guy while Gaara was holding her so she slowly pulled away from him leaving him to sleep on the couch laying down.

"Maybe we should talk in your office Tsunade, since this is the Hokage tower." Kaiya said as she shut the blinds so the room was again dark.
Sakura was crying, "You mean he isn't planning on ever coming back?"

"I don't think so, but maybe he will see the light."

"Then killing his brother is the only objective? How can you be sure that you were speaking to Orochimaru?"

Kaiya sighed, she had left out the kiss for obvious reasons, but Tsunade was right to suspect that it was not Sasuke she had spoken to. "One reasons I believe that it was Sasuke is because the three year time period is not up yet, but that is a technique that I am not aware of so, it might be as you think, but I while I was talking with him I had the impression that I was talking with and Uchiha, not a phsyco path-though they are pretty similar."

"But why did he contact you?" Tsunade asked.

"He didn't know who I was, but I believe that he does now."

Tsunade sat back in her chair and sighed. "I have enough trouble worrying about the ninjas who are apart of this village."

"Pardon me for saying this, but what if we worry about it tomorrow?"

Tsunade gave Kaiya a questioning look. "What?"

"Let's do the best we can today and worry about it tomorrow, then tomorrow we will do the best we can and worry about it the next day. I know that this problem seems really hard to solve right now, but maybe we aren't meant to fix it all right now. We have plenty of time to plan so, when something happens, we can handle it."

Kaiya and Sakura saw the creases of worry on Tsunade's face slowly become smooth, then, suddenly she was laughing. "You know, I use to run away from my troubles, but when I came to be Hokage I decided it was time to face things head on. It might be best to push them before me. I'm loosing years carrying them with me! And I don't have many to spare."

Kaiya smiled and said, "I'm glad you are in a good mood because I have a favor to ask."

Kaiya stepped forward and whispered in the Hokage's ear.


Kaiya found Gaara sitting on the couch in the dark. He was slumped down with his face in his hands.

"Gaara?" she asked softly.

A shuttering sigh of relief went through him before he swiftly stood and turned around. "Kaiya! I was so-"

"I'm sorry, Gaara, I didn't mean to leave you alone."

Gaara jumped over the couch and embraced Kaiya. His sand gourd propped forgotten against the wall.

"Kaiya, will you promise me something?" he asked, still holding her. "Come with me, be by my side as much as you can stand it. I know I may be asking too much, but with you near by I know I will be warm."

Kaiya began to laugh, but said, "Are you implying that I'm just a warm body!"

She let her smile rest against his neck as he said, "No, you are my everything." Then she felt his blush against her own neck.

"Well, then I guess I have to go with you. But" Kaiya said as she pulled Gaara into the light of the hallway. "You have to bring me breakfast in bed every month on the first day! Agreed?"

Gaara smiled before he said, "Agreed."

And they sealed it with a kiss.