I know, I know it has been forever, hopefully I can do better with updating this time but I make no promises. It's difficult to find time between everything else, but I am trying. I know there's been a lot of jerking around emotionally wise, but hopefully things will calm down soon enough.
I am thinking of writing a sequel… I'm still trying to work it out, but yeah there may be more.
Beta read by Kuro Mitsu (worship this wonderful woman!)
Chapter 33: In living memory
Naruto had been in pain before, pain from the cold, starvation, beatings, but none of that compared to the pain he is in right now. He whimpered and whined, wishing above all else that he could simply pass out from the pain, but his body wouldn't let him. His chakra was working hard to fuse the cut and torn muscles back together; he could feel every movement in his lower abdomen. The discomfort brought on by his healing process would not allow him to rest properly. He would also not allow any of the human healers near him because he didn't trust any of them. The way they looked at him only added to his suspicions.
There were moments though, moments of lucidness where he could gather his bearings and concentrate. Blue eyes looked around the large ornate room, for the first time realising how opulent it truly was. It was baronial, with high ceilings and decorated Corinthian columns , so different from the wooden huts in Konoha. There were wide windows letting in plenty of morning light, a fireplace to keep out cold, there was even a bathroom attached to his room that he had yet to use.
The bed was huge, nothing like the comfy compact futons that he was used to. This bed was elevated above the ground, grand, with many cushions; there was fur layered underneath and over him, to keep him warm. Next to the bed was a small table that had some uneaten soup and herbal tea that was meant to relieve his pain, but he didn't dare to drink it. Juugo stayed beside him, ever the silent giant. His pups were much calmer now, their little noses only bumping against him when they wanted feeding or the occasional cuddle. He cradled their swaddle against his side, watching their little heads poke out from underneath the cloth to nuzzle him.
"You need to eat something," came a deep voice from his other side.
It was the blonde human he had been trying to ignore since he had been brought here; the man had been visiting him regularly, always bringing in a new bowl of soup and warm herbal tea, each time Naruto refused to touch it. It was probably a mistake, he knew he needed the nourishment, but he simply couldn't bring himself to do so.
The human sighed heavily, "Naruto you have been here for two days, your chakra is depleting rapidly, you won't be able to hold out long enough. You need to eat," he pleaded.
Naruto shook his head, his gaze never leaving that of his whimpering pups. He had yet to even name them, the plan had been for Sasuke to be with him through this. But he wasn't here, and that only managed to upset the kitsune youkai even more than the human's presence. He heard a defeated sigh from behind him, a creak from a chair that he slumped into.
"You're just as stubborn as he is, but even he wouldn't have refused food when he needed it."
There he went again, this human talking about his sire as if he knew him. Acting so familiarly with him, as if he knew who Naruto was, knew what he had gone through all of his life. It made him angry, so damn angry!
"STOP IT!" he shouted, startling the other blonde. Even Juugo was shocked, but he quickly turned away and went towards the window, giving them some privacy. The pups in their blanket whimpering louder. "Stop talking to me as if you know me, stop it and just leave me alone!"
"Stop calling my name!" he hissed, baring his teeth in threat. "You don't know-"
"I do," the human replied firmly. Naruto paused, his breathing came out ragged and tired. "I do know you, I named you after all."
The blonde blinked a few times, not really understanding what the human was saying. "You named me?"
Minato sighed and leaned forward, his blue eyes projecting comfort. "Well I suggested it to Kurama. The first month of the pregnancy he wouldn't stop craving fishcakes, I joked about it, said that with the amount of fishcakes he was eating he should name our child so, and then he said that's exactly what he would do…" his voice quivered. The Kitsune could tell that this was difficult for him. "I'd never thought I'd be able to see you after he left."
"You knew my sire? But how…"
The man paused, there was a sadness to him that Naruto couldn't quite place. As if he had been hiding years and years of pain. Maybe he had; there was a world-weariness about him, deep bruising under his eyes, a pale pallor to his skin. This man was in pain, and had been for years, as if he had been separated from someone, someone important. The realization almost made him faint; how could he not have noticed it before? He hadn't been looking at him at first but now, he saw it now. Blonde hair, blue eyes, knew his sire.
There was smile on his face now, soft and sad. "You have his markings…" he murmured.
Naruto clutched the kits tighter. "You… you are…" he needed to get up, he wanted to know what was going on.
"Shhh," Minato soothed, gently grasping Naruto's shoulders and laying him back down on his cushions. "You don't need to say it, just know that it is true…"
The fox couldn't help but whimper, "But how?"
"We met during the war, Kurama had saved my life and we connected. We had two years together before he had to leave…" Minato answered, his hands slowly moving up his shoulders, a thumb coming up to stroke his marked cheeks lovingly. "Not too long after we found out we were having you."
Naruto couldn't help but lean into the touch, trying to absorb the comfort that it brought to him."Why did he leave?"
"It was too dangerous for him to stay, we had our own little sanctuary but war was raging just across from us. I knew he couldn't stay with me here, they would hurt him and it wouldn't be safe for you either. So he decided to leave, even though we both knew of the consequences."
The younger blonde took a shuddered breath, "His imprisonment."
Minato nodded, "He was too powerful to kill, we knew what the worst case scenario would be…"
"And that is what happened to him," Naruto replied angrily.
The blonde looked pained, "I know…I know…" he whispered. Then he smiled as if remembering something fond. "But that is how he was, stubborn to a fault." He then picked up the plate of soup and spooned out a bit holding it up to Naruto. "Will you eat something now? If not for yourself do it for your kits, they need you to be healthy."
Naruto nodded and let the man…his father feed him a spoonful of warm soup. The taste of chicken going soothingly down his throat, as soon as it hit his stomach he was ravenous. He eagerly opened his mouth silently asking for more which Minato gave with a smile. After he had finished his soup a cup was handed to him filled with the herbal tea, he winced at the smell but still drank it.
"Why do you call him Kurama?" Naruto asked, breaking the silence between them.
The older man looked at him surprised, but a wide smile bloomed on his face. "That's his true name, he adopted the name Kyuubi from an old legend of the nine tailed fox. It's an old legend but your sire loved it, he would tell me that story every night. Do you want me to tell you the story one day?"
Naruto nodded, any stories about his sire he wanted to hear. He pulled the blanket over his head and focused his attention on his drowsy pups. Minato placed the dirty dishes back on the tray, and picked them up.
"Get some rest, your mate will be with you. I'll come visit you in a bit," he said.
"He's not my mate…" the Kitsune whispered from under his blanket. The older man paused, and turned towards the mountain of a demon sitting near the window. At least that would answer why they didn't seem that intimate with each other.
"…he's a friend," Naruto finished. Obviously not going to elaborate further.
Minato smiled and didn't push the issue, when Naruto was ready he would talk to him. Slowly he backed out of the room, then carefully as to not disturb him closed the door. When he turned he noticed the red-haired woman waiting outside. Her steely blue eyes staring him down. Minato gathered himself and meet her gaze in an equally cold manner.
"Kushina," he greeted, handing the tray to a waiting maid.
"Is that him, is that his son?" she asked.
"He's my son, Kushina," Minato replied firmly.
She bit her bottom lip and looked away. There was anger in the bluish eyes, it was almost palpable in the air. "What are you going to do?"
"I don't answer to you," he deflected.
Kushina turned to him with an icy glare. "But you do answer to the council!"
This threat might have been enough to hurt him years ago, but there were more important things now. He had finally found his son again, he had grandchildren, and soon he would get his mate back. The throbbing bite mark on his neck was a firm reminder of what he had to do. Her words meant nothing to him anymore. So he looked at his 'wife' with calm blue eyes, an uncharacteristic smirk growing on his face. He could see the trepidation growing on her face; slowly Minato stepped towards her, his face coming down to whisper into her ear.
"They won't be a problem for much longer," he said and then walked past her towards his office, ignoring the shocked look on her face.
Minato closed his office door and slumped against the wooden panel, all bravado from before gone. He hated how things had changed for him, he and Kushina had been friends, best of friends. Yet the council had pushed their decision, ordering him to marry his best friend. He didn't love her… but she did love him. So while he tried to keep his distance she began to pursue him, and it had been through her insistence to the council that finally forced him into marriage. Sixteen years changed things between them. They used to be able to laugh and joke; now, now it was different. They weren't friends anymore, just two people who hated each other, stuck in a horrible marriage. Filled with nothing but hate and regret.
It wouldn't last long though, now that Naruto was finally here he could set things into motion. First subdue the council, and then unseal his mate and make his family whole again. Everything would then fall into place. It had to.
It just had to.
Suigetsu woke up groggy, his head feeling like it got smashed against a brick wall a hundred times, his throat burned. As a shark demon he needed a lot of fluid to keep himself going; his home was near the sea, not this snowy forest. But wait… he didn't feel cold at all, in fact he was actually quite cozy, warm and safe. He opened his eyes, purple orbs roaming around the bare room he was in. How did he get here? He had been outside in the snow, he had been running somewhere, trying to find something… or someone?
The shark demon sighed, trying to think back to before, he knew he had to find some one important, he had to go somewhere… Konoha? Was he it konoha? That's where he needed to go… right? It sounded familiar…
"Konoha… Sass'ke, in Kono-ha..."
"Ah…" he gasped, his voice raspy and pained. It was that Suke guy, he needed to find Naruto's mate.
Suigetsu struggled to sit up but his body was too weak and simply slumped back into the futon. Just his luck; he had pushed himself too hard, and now he didn't have enough energy to move. He needed water. There was a scraping noise and Suigetsu turned to see the screen door opening; a maid stepped through, she was about to place a tray on the floor until she looked up and saw him awake. The tray nearly fell out of her hands in shock, quickly she placed the object down and then ran out the room.
"Mikoto-sama, Mikoto-sama, he's awake!" her shrill voice disappeared out the door.
There was suddenly a thundering sound of running feet, an older dark-haired woman, who he guessed was Mikoto-sama, burst into the room with a busty blonde cougar demon following right behind. She pushed her way forward, in her hand a leather pouch, kneeling down behind him.
"Give me some room, he needs some water," the blonde woman told everyone, pressing the pouch towards his mouth and squeezing the cooling water down his throat.
He coughed and spluttered but drank it all, instantly he could feel his body rejuvenating, cuts and bruises knitting back together and fading away. A water demon like him used needed water as an energy source, being near so much dry land was a real pain for him. The pouch was pried from his mouth, and he was left in a daze. Suigetsu stared between the two women, their faces filled with both eager and anxious anticipation. It was suddenly very overwhelming, but he had a mission to do, he needed to figure out where he was first.
"Do you know your name?" the blonde demon suddenly asked, checking his eyes.
He flinched at the contact, but answered. "I'm Suigetsu… am I in Konoha?" he asked.
"Yes," the female wolf youkai answered, he noticed more wolves trying to squeeze their way inside the small room.
"I'm looking for someone called… Suke? He's from Konoha, he's got a kitsune as a ma-"
"We know that you were with Naruto," a male voice interjected, another wolf pushed his way through, he was younger then the female, but there was familial similarity between them. Possibly her son? "But what we need to know is what happened."
Suigetsu grunted as he tried to get up, the blonde woman grabbed his shoulder and helped steady him against something soft. It took him a while to realise that the thing he was leaning against was actually the cougar demon's humongous breasts. It almost made him forget for a moment that he had to tell them something important. He blinked and shook his head to clear his mind before he turned towards the male wolf, and started telling them what happened.
"Naruto was captured by human poachers; we were put in the same cage, I and another one of my friend looked after him there, pregnant demons should not be out on their own without their mates," he hissed out in disgust. The male wolf flinched but didn't show any other signs of discomfort.
"I don't really know how long we were kept there, but other humans came and rescued us."
"They rescued you?" the female wolf said in disbelief.
"Yes, I know it sounds strange, but they helped us, there were about 30 of us in those tiny cages and they freed every last one."
"Then why wasn't Naruto with you?"
The shark demon sighed. "Naruto was attacked, he wasn't injured!" he quickly added when he noticed the murderous look blazing in their dark eyes. "But he did go into labour, they had a medic with them-"
"You mean he gave birth there and then? We found the cages but we found no signs of them."
Suigetsu shook his head, "No, no we were led to a cabin further north from the campsite, it was somewhere safe. That's when he told me to go find his mate, do you know someone called Suke?"
"It's Sasuke, he's my little brother," the male wolf replied. "We'll go search further there-"
"They probably won't be there anymore, they won't want to wait around in case more of the slavers would come. But I think I know where they might have gone…"
"Where?" everyone came in close, crowding him.
"Kumogakure," said a new voice joined in.
They all turned towards the doorway where a new person who stood in the door way, all the other wolf demons parting to give him a wide bearth. His teal eyes staring down at them, almost wild with barely suppressed rage. "They went to the land of Lightning didn't they?"
Suigetsu was surprised. "Yes, how did you-"
"Temari went with one of your scouts and she found this," he said, holding up a piece of cloth with a symbol stitched onto the material. "It's their symbol, they must have been ninja from Kumogakure."
"Would they have hurt Naruto?" Mikoto asked, her voice frantic with stress.
Gaara shook his head, "The village has a no slavery policy, so he might be alright. It might take us a few days to get through the snowdrift but we might be able to get there in under 3 days, and hopefully find Naruto there."
"Is that our only option?" Mikoto asked, not wanting to tread further into the human territory. The treaty between them was strained at best. A bunch of demons wandering into a place filled with humans could been seen as a declaration of war.
"It is, all the signs point to it," Gaara answered solemnly.
"I'll get a team together," Itachi replied, and got up to leave.
The Kazekage stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Maybe your brother shouldn't be involved."
Itachi paused, his dark eyes not meeting with the tanuki demon's teal orbs. "Sasuke needs to be with his mate." The hand on his shoulder tightened.
"Seeing him again might cause more problems than be of any help," the redhead replied, his voice more of an order than a suggestion. But Itachi shrugged his arm off.
"Sasuke has every right to see his mate, the attack had not been his fault, and if something does happen I will take responsibility," he finished firmly then left the room with an angry aura surrounding his body.
Gaara watched the Uchiha go passively, a silent agreement passing between them, but his teal eyes held a threat that spoke volumes. When the other Uchiha was gone he turned to look at the white-haired demon, he walked towards him and sat down next to Mikoto. Tsunade had laid him back down on his futon, a new water pouch lying next to his head with a straw coming out of it leading to his mouth.
"I need some questions answered, it's about when you met Naruto in that camp," the redhead started.
"Like what?" he asked, "I don't really know what happened while he was in labour."
The redhead shook his head, "No, what I need to know is how he was when you were imprisoned, was he alright? What about his injuries?"
Suigetsu arched an eyebrow, "He was hurt; when they brought him in, he had been injured but they cleaned and stitched him up. He did get more food than us, they want to keep a pregnant demon alive after all. More profit for them," he hissed that last part out in anger.
"So was he… alright? I mean in regards to the circumstances…" he asked. Not sure how to phrase it properly. Gaara felt ashamed; he had only just met his brother, and he had already lost him. There were many things he still wanted to experience with his brother, if he didn't save him now he might never get a chance again.
The shark demon paused. "He was…" he answered.
Gaara let out a sigh of relief and nodded his thanks, before leaving as well. He had to set up a new scouting group to save his brother, and this time he would keep him away from Uchiha.
I hope you all enjoyed the chapter, now review and join the dark side we have cookies!