DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN NARUTO! MASASHI KISHIMOTO DOES! I also do not own any of the characters within this fan fiction, save for the ones that I have claimed as my own!
Chapter Forty: Konohagakure is Crushed. We Are Shinobi!
"The damage is tremendous, Lord Hokage, we also lost count in the death toll as there are bodies yet to be found. Several families are still trapped in their homes with children. A large amount of shinobi are critically wounded. We hardly have enough medical ninja to assist the civilians and shinobi all together." Mayu informed as she looked down at a report with a grimace as Hayai stood beside her, one of his bluish-lilac eyes covered with gauze. Naruto stared out over the village as he stood on the beat up rock cliff with the Hokage Faces etched deeply into their forms. Flames were started all over the village, homes and buildings destroyed in heaps of rubble, the red rain from earlier dried up or running with rivers of water from previous rain.
"We need assistance," Naruto turned to Mayu and Hayai, both of them looking up at attention, "Have someone send a messenger bird to Sunagakure for help. List all the supplies and ninja we'll need to help the village. Work quickly."
"Yes, Lord Hokage." They both bowed at the waist before turning and shooting off through the rubble.
"Sunagakure," Hayai echoed dryly, "Personally, I'd be fetching help from Kirigakure or even Yukigakure since they owe us a debt for saving their prince. He only chose Sunagakure because he and the Kazekage are practically joint at the hip." Mayu frowned as she tucked the file into her weapon's pouch.
"Hayai, Sunagakure has done some good for us in the past, more than just the kages being close."
"Just being honest."
"Some things are better left unsaid."
"Then why think them?" Hayai asked rather sarcastically. Mayu rolled her eyes and shot further ahead. Hayai sighed and rushed to catch up, both of them shooting past a collapsed alleyway. The alleyway made up of two buildings crushed together with a small, dark space as one person scrambled out, doing a little spin as he exited, a hand over his heart as he panted.
"Jeez! That happened way too fast!" Inuke gasped, blinking his blue eyes harshly against the dust that he kicked up. He brushed off his Anbu uniform and turned to see Kaede moving out of the alley after him, shaking out her medium-length orange hair, the braids at her temples flipping.
"Kuh, what a place to hide, kya! Well, come on, we still need to look around for my son-"
"Wait, wait," Inuke murmured as he listened, his eyes flying over the destroyed village, his eyes twinkling, "I just had a thought… We're working for Master Nozomu, he wants to destroy Konohagakure."
"I bet he does, kya."
"But, the village is in a weakened state now! He can easily just come in and take over!"
"Hm? Huh, would ya look at that, kya." Kaede mused and stood up straight, her eyes scanning the village thoughtfully. Inuke clenched his fists in front of him, looking rather proud of himself as he went up and down on his heels.
"Ha! So all we have to do is return and-"
"No, no," Kaede insisted, stomping a foot and pointing a finger in Inuke's face, "Hold up, mutt, we're not going anywhere until I find my baby!"
"Eh? You're still set on him? Kaede, I don't wanna burst your bubble, but if half the village was killed in Haruke's attack, what makes you think your son-"
"Oi," Kaede barked and grabbed Inuke by the front of his Anbu uniform, making him yelp in surprise, "He's my son! Call it mother's intuition or whatever you want, but I know he's alive! My baby's out here in this horrible village and I want him back! I want my baby back and I'll kill anyone to do it!" Inuke stared at her with wide eyes before he managed a shaky laugh, pointing at her.
"Hey, you didn't say kya at the end of your sentences." He pointed out weakly. Kaede blinked, then twitched and gave him a shove, huffing as she turned, folding her arms over her chest.
"Ugh, I don't have time for this, KYA! Come on, we need to keep searching. What we need to do is find that Hatake family, kya. They were heading the rescue of civilians earlier. They've got to have my son around there somewhere, kya."
"Do you even know what he looks like?"
"Of course! … Most of the way, kya."
"I haven't seen him since the prison guards took him away from me," Kaede muttered bitterly, digging her nails into her arms as she gritted her teeth, "Those bastards, kya. I hope they were killed in this whole mess, if not, I will do it myself, kya!" Inuke blinked, then beamed as he adjusted his Anbu mask to hang around his neck as they began to run down the street.
"That's cool! I wish my mother was as persistent as you are. She didn't bother come looking for me, but it didn't matter." He shrugged. Kaede blinked and glanced at him out the corner of her eye, taking a moment to realize that Inuke had never even spoken of his family. She only knew him as one of Nozomu's, previously Kotaro's, henchmen. He apparently joined at a rather young age, probably in his early teens. Kaede looked back ahead and narrowed her eyes determinedly before she moved faster, Inuke yelping and shooting to catch up.
"I did this…?" Haruke's eyes were wide, staring past the open north gates to the village, revealing the pure slaughter and destruction inside. Kaoru frowned, his arms folded over his chest, tilting his head.
"Consider yourself one of history's worst villains." He responded. Haruke twitched and flashed him a glare before looking back in awe, ignoring the pain in his chest. Something was pounding harshly against his ribs, his heart maybe? It made his chest tight and his breathing hitch.
Ruriko frowned, her fists clenched. She wanted to say something, anything, to wipe that look off Haruke's face, but anything she said would be wrong and hypocritical. Trying to comfort him was worthless because in truth, even she couldn't deny that the destruction was all Haruke's fault. Itachi kept silent as well as he knew the same and Roku merely averted his eyes, clenching his teeth behind his lips.
They began to walk into the village where shinobi were shooting back and forth, all around to rush and meet the needs of other wounded shinobi and civilians. Blood stained the village and the horrific scent of it hung heavy in the air. Ruriko immediately put an arm around Haruke's shoulders to keep him close, grimacing. Haruke was too busy staring at the scenes to feel the warmth of the arm around him.
Kaoru walked calmly, glancing around as if he'd seen much worse before looking back up ahead. Roku nibbled his lower lip.
"I should head straight to the Hokage's place, get him updated. Meet you at the hospital?" He asked them and received a couple nods before he returned it and shot off through the smoke and disaster. Their shoes crunched under gravel and rubble as they walked, the sound of yelling, shouting, and a child crying somewhere. A dog seemed to be howling mournfully and the sound of fire crackling all around.
"It's like some kind of apocalypse." Kaoru murmured, glancing out the corner of his eye to see an arm sticking out from a pile of what used to be a shop. Haruke winced and Ruriko merely put a hand on his ear, ignoring Kaoru swiftly as they walked. Itachi frowned, catching sight of the hospital as they rounded onto another ruined street.
"It looks like they didn't have any luck either." He muttered at the sight of the hospital building. At least two of the wings were completely crushed to nothing, but piles of cement and wire. Bodies seemed to be smashed underneath, blood gushing past the chunks of rubble and pooling around the ground. Haruke felt his stomach churn and he grasped it, in surprise and shame.
"I don't want to go in there." He stated. Ruriko blinked and looked at him worriedly.
"It's all right," Itachi said, putting a hand on her shoulder and looking down at Haruke, who was looking at his feet, "You three stay out here. I'll go into the hospital and see if I can find anyone."
"You guys can go," Kaoru replied, "I'll take care of the kid.""And why should we trust you?" Ruriko muttered dryly, giving Haruke's shoulder a possessive squeeze. Haruke blinked and looked at her hand in fascination as Kaoru snorted and folded his arms over his chest.
"If he wasn't for me, he would be dead… Besides, I don't have a motive to kill him."
"I'll be fine." Haruke said at last, looking up at his parents, who shared looks. Itachi sighed, glancing at Kaoru a bit wearily before looking at Haruke and placing a hand on his head, ruffling his hair.
"Be safe… We'll be back soon, don't go anywhere at all." He added, making Ruriko nod in agreement before she stooped and kissed Haruke gently on the forehead before she and Itachi shot off into the hospital. Haruke watched them go and reached up to touch his forehead where he was kissed.
"What?" Kaoru asked, cocking his head to look at him curiously. Haruke blushed lightly, his eye twitching.
"I don't know. How do you describe kisses?" He asked. Kaoru shrugged."I've never been kissed, unless you count a kitten." He answered. Haruke stared at him and Kaoru looked away flatly, ending the conversation and bringing on an awkward silence. It was interrupted by the sound of a wailing. Haruke and Kaoru looked at each other, then let their eyes move toward the source of the sound. An abandoned trinket shop was creaking under the weight of a nearby fallen water tower, water spraying about.
Haruke started to take a step forward, but Kaoru caught his wrist, making him wince at the burn of how tight it was. He snapped his head to glare at Kaoru and caught the man glaring back at him.
"Oi, I promised your parents I'd watch you, now stay put."
"What? But, there's someone in there. I thought shinobi helped people, some of the time…"
"Well, well," Kaoru mused, throwing Haruke's wrist away and making the teenager scowl at him, rubbing his wrist, "Look who's changing. I thought shinobi were evil worthless bastards?"
"No," Haruke snapped, "They're not… All like that… Most of them are, sure, but Zakuro wasn't." Kaoru frowned, putting a hand on his hip and basically looking down his nose at him.
"Zakuro? What the hell does he have to do with anything?"
"Zakuro was a shinobi," Haruke began heatedly, clenching his fists and glaring at Kaoru, not at all bothered by the fact that Kaoru was at least a foot and a half taller and looming over him, "He fought defensively and he was tactical. He saved me even though I was a complete jerk to him. I'm not going to have him die in vain. Either you're gonna let me go help someone myself or you'll come with me. Take your pick because I'm not gonna leave someone behind." With that, Haruke whipped around on his heel and ran for the building.
Kaoru watched him for a moment with wide eyes before he rolled them and rushed after Haruke, throwing a glance over his shoulder at the hospital in hopes that Itachi and Ruriko wouldn't walk out anytime soon. In moments, Haruke was walking through the cramped doorway, the two frames having hit together, groaning under the building on top of it. The ceiling was crushed low, but not too low. Kaoru only had to stoop slightly, glancing around with a grimace.
Glass figurines were scattered about everywhere, toys busted and jewelry thrown about and blood was splattered in multiple corners. There was only the sound of the building creaking and groaning. Haruke frowned, peering through rubble and fallen beams, crouching to look under things. Kaoru stayed close behind him, frowning.
"See? It was nothing. They're probably already dead-"
"H-Help me…! I-Is anyone out there?" A small voice cried in terror. Kaoru smacked his forehead and looking up at the ceiling, mouthing 'why me' before he looked at Haruke, who had perked up. They turned to the left where a staircase was crushed, a small door that once led to a basement was partially opened, but a beam was smashed against it in an awkward position.
"Where are you?" Haruke demanded. There was coughing and shuffling, a small hand grabbing onto the opened door. A pink eye peered through helplessly, tears streaming.
"Here! M-My mommy's hurt! Please help!" She wailed and sniffled, hiccupping. Haruke frowned and stepped over broken glass, squeezing between smashed together shelves and Kaoru carefully picked his way after. He winced every so often as dust and dirt fell from the mass above. The way the building was creaking, no doubt it was going to give way soon.
"Haruke, you're an idiot," Kaoru muttered, "Forget them. They're trapped in there with that beam like that and if you move it, this place will come crashing down." Haruke scowled.
"Don't be such a coward. You can't die anyway, right?"
"That doesn't matter because you can die and I am so not bringing you back a second time, hear me? I'm beginning to regret bringing you back in the first place."
"Then leave," Haruke snapped, "If you won't help, you're in the way." Kaoru frowned and watched as Haruke turned to the door, getting on his hunches so he was level with the little girl on the other side of the door. The girl sniffled and hiccupped, tears streaming down her chubby little face, a deep gash going over her nose.
"M-My mommy's not doin' nothin'! She's not movin'!" She whimpered. Haruke looked at the beam against the door with a frown, then back at the girl.
"All right… Uh, calm down, okay? Step away from the door." He added and stood up, moving to the beam and examining it. Kaoru watched him, standing there casually before he looked at the little girl, who was trying to peer him before she caught sight of Kaoru.
Her eyes widened as she shifted to get a better look, her caramel hair falling loose over her forehead before she made a whimper sound.
Ugh, this is a fucking waste of time, Kaoru thought bitterly as soon as he caught the girl's terrified look, she's just the same as everyone else. Why save someone like that if she and her dumb mom are just the same as everyone else? They can easily be replaced. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth before he reached up and placed a hand over the side of his face, turning it away and hiding the marks the best he could.
"Damn it," Haruke muttered as he bent to look at the beam, "It's completely stuck… And strength isn't one of my best abilities…" The girl sniffled and pointed past the crack in the door at Kaoru.
"Mister can help?" She asked. Haruke glanced at Kaoru, who blinked and looked at her with a frown.
"Why the hell are you pointing at me? I'm not helping you-"
"Kaoru." Haruke cut off. Kaoru scowled at him. The little girl sniffed and reached out, grasping a hand past the door up to her shoulder, looking at him sadly.
"If you're scared too, you can hold my hand." She offered, spreading her fingers out. Kaoru stared at her in disbelief and Haruke smirked at him, putting a fist on his hip.
"Eh?" He asked. Kaoru looked at him, then at the little girl before groaning and dropping his head into his hands.
"You're both terrible and I hope I never have to see you again after all this." He grumbled, not lifting his face up. Even as he spoke, Haruke watched in amazement as dark purple vines seemed to creep off Kaoru's hands and some slid from his clothes, moving forward. It seemed they almost had a mind of their own, some tangling themselves together to create a thicker rope that pushed on the door, a mumbled warning spoken to the girl, who stepped away and watched as the door shut.
A portion of the vines grabbed the beam tightly, curling and curling, winding itself in a chokehold. There was cracking and groaning as the beam began to crack in half. Haruke stepped away from it quickly to step beside Kaoru, who glance up past his fingers, watching the vines squeeze the beam into splinters.
The structure above groaned and grunted, but Kaoru's marks shot up toward the ceiling and began to weave a heavy blanket. Kaoru winced, sweat dotting on his face as the marks began to pull off the side of his face to assist the rest that were holding up the rubble.
"Damn it, Haruke, hurry up! I'm not that strong!" He snarled. Haruke blinked and nodded, running to the door. He threw it open to see the girl standing at the top of the stairs with wide pink eyes, her mother flopped on the steps beside her, face down. Behind them was a pile of rubble with blood seeping past. Haruke grimaced, but hurried forward and scooped the girl up into her arms.
"Crap," He muttered as the girl cried out to her mother, "Kaoru-"
"I got her! Just get your ass out of here!" Kaoru barked angrily under the stress. Haruke blinked and nodded quickly, running for the exit with the squirming girl in his arms.
"What about my mommy? She's still awake!"
"My friend's got her! Just hang on!" Haruke snapped. The girl gulped and clung to him tightly, squeezing her eyes shut as Haruke easily hit the ground on his knees, ignoring the roaring sting of pain that shot up as his skidded across the dirt on his knees before he rolled outside, skidding through the dirt until he came to a stop.
Inside, Kaoru shot an arm out toward the woman lying on the step unconsciously, dark marks flying from his hands and twirling together, catching the woman up hurriedly and bringing her flying back against him. He winced at the weight of her added to the weight of the structure before he managed to hold her an one arm, turning to face the exit.
He held his breath and the marks let loose, shooting back like a tape measure against his skin as he bolted for the door, the buildings around him grumbling and roaring as they began to collapse around him. He easily skidded out as he turned and hit the ground on his back, holding the woman in one arm and shooting a hand up to use the marks to knock back chunks of falling beams.
Kaoru gasped as he came to a stop outside, throwing himself up into a sitting position with his legs out and the woman lying in his lap. Kaoru coughed as dust flew up around him and the woman in his lap coughed lightly before her eyes fluttered open as the dust curled to a stop against the ground. She blinked and stared, gasping a little as her eyes fell on the man holding her.
"Wh-What happened…?" She managed. Kaoru stiffened and looked at her, his lilac eyes wide.
"Uh, mmph…" He quickly scrambled away from her as the little girl leapt out of Haruke's arms, wailing and running over.
"Mommy! Mommy!" She sobbed and threw herself into her mother's lap, hugging and kissing her mother, who gasped and held her tightly.
"Oh my goodness, Kirako! You're alive! You're safe!" She gasped, holding her daughter tightly before she rose to her feet, still holding her whimpering and crying daughter in her arms before looking up at Haruke, who was looking at Kaoru with a smirk.
"And you said you wouldn't help." Haruke retorted. Kaoru scowled.
"Shut up, you cocky little-"
"Shinobi," The woman murmured and the guys looked over at her as she smile lightly, "Thank you… Thank you so much… I don't know how I can repay you for this." Kaoru felt his face warm up, his eye twitching.
"Uh, please, don't."
"If there's anything you ever need, don't be afraid to contact me! Oh, right… Me, haha, sorry," The woman blushed lightly, "My name's Aneko." Haruke elbowed Kaoru, who reached up, brushing at his hair so it fell more over his face, hiding his blush and the curling dark purple marks.
"Name's Kaoru, this is my friend, Haruke… Really, just go find safety, maybe see a doctor." He added, pointing to his temple to indicate a cut near the woman's temple. She blinked and touched her head before nodding and running off. Kaoru watched her go and Haruke glanced at him.
"So?" He asked. Kaoru looked at him with an almost comical look of boredom.
"So what?" He asked. Haruke huffed and rolled his eyes in annoyance before he turned, a sudden thought hitting him, making his eyes widen.
"Manabu! Miwa! Mitsuru," He gasped, remembering the last time he saw them as he turned to look up at Kaoru, who winced, "We have to find them!"
"Hold up! I just wasted my time helping you rescue some dumb little girl and her mom-"
"This is our family," Haruke responded heatedly, making Kaoru blink, "Miwa, Mitsuru, Manabu, Nakusu, Shisui, Sasuke, everyone of them is our family. My family is your family. You can't possibly tell me you're willing to leave the only people who care about you to die." Kaoru stared at him, frowning slowly. He could think of several reasons and examples to back up an argument, but just as they appeared, they vanished at Haruke's words.
OUR family, he says… Family. That's always been an interesting word… He thought as he felt his eyelids grow heavy, as if the thought was exhausting.
"What about your parents?" He asked. Haruke blinked and looked back at the hospital uneasily, pursing his lips before he looked back at Kaoru.
"They'll be fine. I know they will. It's the twins that I'm mostly worried about." He muttered. Kaoru merely nodded in response, turning with him as they shot off through the dust and smoke.
"Manabu! Manabu, where the hell are you?" Miwa's voice rang up over the crushed buildings as she ran around what used to be her uncle's home, her purple eyes flashing about worriedly, her blue hair flying behind her as she searched. The sound of rocks crumbling nearby made her whirl around with wide, hopeful eyes before she gasped.
A bloody enemy soldier scrambled from the wreckage, growling low in his throat with a pair of red, feline-pupil eyes, drool hanging from his lower lip. Miwa took a quick step back as the soldier lunged at her, snarling like a wild animal before a senbon hooked to a wire shot out of nowhere, going right through the soldier's temple, blood spraying before he hit the ground. Miwa looked up.
"Manabu!" She cried in exasperation as she watched Manabu stumble, catching his steps on a pile of cement, landing on the ground. His shirt was shredded and his hooded vest was burnt in several places, blood staining his clothes while cuts seemed etched into every part of his body, what looked like a cultish symbol of a triangle with a circle drawn onto his collarbone.
"Oh my god! Manabu, are you okay?" Miwa cried and rushed over to him, dropping her chained maul to the ground to grab his cheeks in her hands. Manabu winced and looked at her past his bluish gray hair.
"Ow, Miwa, that hurt… What about you? Are you okay?"
"Yea, sure, sure, fine- What did they do to you? Where did you get that symbol? Who did that?"
"Miwa, it doesn't matter," Manabu sighed, giving her a little push so he could breath better, "If we're both okay, we should go find Mitsuru. He's probably still with Shisui somewhere near the Hokage's residence."
Well, yea, but, Manabu! Someone flawed you!" Miwa whined and puffed out one of her cheeks in a comical pout, folding her arms over her chest. Manabu sweat dropped, pointing to the etched in symbol on his collarbone.
"Oh, that? Well, it could've been worse. That guy was harder to fight than you'd expect. Kept screaming about some god named Jashin."
"Who the hell is that?"
"I don't know, but I'm glad I don't believe in him, jeez. Come on, let's hurry up and go find everyone else. And help people on the way, there's bound to be civilians trapped in the wreckage."
"Oh, you're such a saint! You know, I think I'll worship you!" Miwa giggled teasingly as she scooped up her weapon, strapping it onto her back. Manabu rolled his eyes, blushing lightly with an almost stubborn look of refusal at the idea on his face. The twins started to head out of the Uchiha Complex, which was destroyed for the most part.
The only sounds were yelling, screaming, crying, and buildings finally caving under the pressure of others. Miwa grimaced and grabbed Manabu's hand quickly, making him blink and glance at her before looking back at the street ahead. They walked another block or so until Miwa's foot stepped on something soft.
"Waaaan!" Miwa yelped and leapt back, grabbing onto Manabu's arm before she found herself staring down at a stuffed toy dog, its eyes hanging out of its head. Manabu felt a shiver shoot through him and he wasn't completely at all having Miwa cling to him as she scowled at the thing, giving it a kick.
"Ugly thing!" She snapped at it in annoyance, folding her arms over her chest now and huffing. Manabu looked at her with a raised eyebrow before there was an odd creaking sound. His eyes widened and he whipped around to stare at a nearby water tower, which was spewing water off into a nearby home, tittering toward them.
"Miwa, move!" He shouted and gave Miwa a shove, making her yelp and flail, darting forward on instinct. Manabu felt the shadow of the water tower fall over him and he jerked his head up to stare at it in horror before a pair of arms wrapped around him and a body slammed into his, causing him to fly forward through the dirt, which was now being flooded with water as the water tower collapsed.
Water gushed through the streets and nearby homes as the tower crashed into the ground as well as a line of shops across the street, soaking everything. Manabu gasped and flung his head back for air as water rushed up to his neck before settling back down and he felt himself sitting against someone's chest.
"Idiot, don't stand there like a stupid rabbit." A voice muttered in his ear. Manabu's eyes widened and he scrambled away immediately, kicking up mud as he whirled around to see Haruke sitting there, wiping water from his face with his hair matted to his forehead.
"What the hell!" Miwa yelled angrily and snatched Manabu's arm, jerking him further away as Haruke glanced up with a slight frown. Miwa glared at him.
"What're you doing here, traitor?" She demanded icily. Manabu just stared, his face drained of all color. He didn't even care as Miwa put her arms around him and held him close to her. Haruke stood up, kicking off one of his slippers so it plopped in the mud before he looked at them.
"What's it look like? I'm saving my little brother." He retorted. Miwa blinked and looked at him more suspiciously.
"What're you talking about? Aren't you the one that-" She was cut off as Manabu finally pulled away from her and rushed at Haruke, who stiffened a little. Manabu smacked him hard across the face without a thought, snapping Haruke's head to the side. Haruke gasped, mini-fireworks going off inside his head as his cheek stung. He clasped a hand on it and looked at Manabu with an almost comical expression of disbelief.
"That hurt! Jeez, you…" His voice trailed as he stared at Manabu's teary purple eyes. Manabu clenched his fists for a minute before he gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to cry anymore. He stepped forward and hugged Haruke's torso tightly, muttering.
"I hate you." Haruke blinked and looked at him in confusion, glancing at Miwa, who stared in as much disbelief as Haruke.
"Jeez, Manabu! I would've done that the other way around if I wasn't more mad at him!" Miwa exclaimed at last, putting a fist on her hip. Manabu leaned away, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly. Haruke rubbed his cheek a little, grimacing.
"I do deserve that, but jeez… At least let me adjust." He muttered. Manabu scowled, then stopped and blinked, staring at him.
"Wait, what? Adjust? You felt that?" He asked. Haruke stiffened.
"You FELT him slap you?" Miwa demanded and there was an unmistakable glint in her eyes that definitely told Haruke he wished he couldn't feel a thing now, but he held up his hands quickly in defense.
"Wait, wait! Kick my ass later, we need to find Mitsuru! Oh, and get back to Kaoru."
"Kaoru?" The twins asked in confused unison. Haruke sweat dropped.
A/N: So sorry this took forever to write, gahhh. xP I lost ideas for a bit there and idk, I feel like this is dragging out, but don't worry! I'm intent on finishing it perfectly as I have some plans that I WILL be sticking by for this story! I'm very fond of all the characters :D! Speaking of characters, I highly suggest that you guys check out my friend's fic: The Chronicles of Kuromura, creator of the Kuromura family (of course xD) Her penname is Arrrbie! It's a really great fic, btw :D! Well, thank you very much for reading, hope the characters are in check, and your reviews are greatly appreciated!