I'm trying not to write author's note in any of my stories because I don't want to fuck it up and say I'm back. Well, I am back but it's not a definite thing. I've been really busy with life, what with a wife, a home and plans to build a home from scratch, my life has given me very little time to myself. I hope I can continue to update frequently but to be honest, I'd rather you think I won't update for another year than to think I'll be back next week.
With that being said, I have decided to continue this story, even though I did say I wouldn't. See, after all this time, the remake isn't where I wanted it to be either. I just thought that I was making the same old mistakes I always do with this story and rewrote it in the hopes I wouldn't anymore. That failed, and this one is a lot more well liked so I guess I'll give you guys what you want.
I'm still a little rusty and this is the most words I've been able to write for a chapter since my return (slightly over 4k.)
**One last warning in regards to this chapter, don't hate me. Hate the actions of the imperfect world they live in! You've been warned.
"I know there may be universes out there where I made different choices and they led me somewhere else, led me to someone else. And my heart breaks for every single version of me that didn't end up with you."
― Taylor Jenkins Reid - Maybe in Another Life
Chapter 21: Maybe in Another Life
I feel like I need to add one last note: This is and will forever be a Naruhina story.
Naruto sat on a surprisingly comfortable loveseat in Gatō's waiting room, waiting patiently for said gremlin to see him so he could brief him on his mission. As far as he knew, Sasuke was in the other room, still messing with the low-level thugs as if they were children.
He recalled running into Zabuza and Haku again, and it went about as well as he had hoped. He wasn't even a blimp in Zabuza's radar, which was just as well, he didn't want to fight the damned demon anyway. Haku was polite as he had been when they first met but he didn't know they had met before. They were on their way out to restock their supplies before confronting the team of the Leaf Village again. Before he could even walk into the office, one of his goons stopped him and told him to wait.
Finally, after about twenty minutes, Gatō had called for him and he lazily got up and walked in. Once inside, he saw Gatō behind his desk, fingers laced together and in front of the lower part of his face, holding his head up. On both sides of him stood two intimidating thugs, ready to move to attack or defend. Naruto didn't pay them any mind, more interested in getting the mission over with so he could go back home.
"So what's the plan? Go rough up more wanna-be heroes? Go steal some money? Come on, let me know! I'm getting antsy!" Naruto barked quickly, throwing off Gatō and his goons. Clearing his throat to fix his composure, Gatō smirked at his employee.
"Eager to prove yourself to me?" Naruto sneered at his obvious bait.
"Eager to get paid. So what'll it be this time?"
Gatō sat back in his chair, fingers still intertwined together as he hummed in thought. "What I need… is the little bastard who brought these Leaf-Huggers to Wave." He sat up and leaned forward, meeting Naruto's eyes. "Bring him to me by this time tomorrow. No delays, no excuses."
Naruto blinked before smiling. "Consider it done. I'll have the fool here by tonight," he said as he began to walk away. He paused at the door and turned to Gatō. "Anything else?"
Gatō was once again surprised by his actions, but quickly gathered his bearings, enough to reply: "Uh… well, a beautiful girl, I guess?"
Naruto's smile turned feral as more ideas sprung into his mind. "For your human-trafficking?" Gatō's reply was a nasty little glare, but hadn't responded negatively to his question. "I got the perfect one."
"No fucking way! I will not, in a million years, ever stoop so low as to-"
"We don't have too much of a choice here! I already told him I'd bring the snitch and some hot piece of ass."
"Oh, don't flatter yourself. You're the only female here besides Kurenai and Obito will need her once Zabuza shows up tomorrow. Did I mention that yet?" Naruto turned to Obito who merely shook his head with a sigh. Kurenai was glaring at the young Rock Ninja but he paid no mind to her. Neji was also glaring at him but did a better job at hiding it. Why he was glaring at him, Naruto had no idea and to be honest, barely cared. Lee stared questioningly at Naruto before raising his hand. Naruto raised an eyebrow at him.
"So, I am to play the 'snitch'?"
Naruto nodded. "Yes Lee. See, the way I figure, we could give them Inari and I'd be able to keep a clone on him to keep him safe at all times, but, I also figured it would make shutting down Gatō from the inside easier and faster, if we had three moles on the inside, instead of just two. And to top it all off, we'd have Tenten here find out how his human-trafficking works, find out where they go, shut them down and free all those women, too. One freed nation and countless women reclaim their freedom. Two birds with one stone."
At that, no one really knew how to retort. It wasn't as if they hadn't already processed all this but to hear it out loud made it seem like an entirely new thing. Still…
"I still don't like it, but it does make sense," Tenten muttered, reluctant to agree with the now-silver-haired teen. Gatō
"Well, then why can't I be the 'snitch'? I want to lay the smackdown on some lowlife thugs, too!" Kiba declared, earning a bark of agreement from his canine partner.
"Because your Inuzuka characteristics are too obvious, and we don't have enough time to cover them up now. I told Gatō I'd be back before long and all Lee has to do is change his clothes. Which he should go do now!" Naruto said, pointedly staring at Lee, who took a second to get the hint and run back to Tsunami's home. He sighed and then turned to Tenten. "You too, go change." She nodded slowly before heading back as well.
"I have a suggestion," Kurenai said as she stepped forward. Naruto had to summon all his willpower not to roll his eyes. "I go with Tenten. She's still green when it comes to solo operations and I'd feel better about all this if there was an experienced Kunoichi with her."
"Fine with me, if Obito and Neji are." Neji said nothing, but did nod.
"I'll take on Zabuza by myself if I have too. So long as those women get saved as well, I don't mind," he answered, earning a nod from Naruto and Kurenai.
"So where is the Uchiha?" Neji asked, earning a thoughtful expression on Naruto's face.
"He was supposed to come with me to capture the snitch and the girl, but I think he's 'training' Gatō's goons. Which, by the way, have the Taijutsu skills of an academy student. They have weapons of various shapes and sharpness but will be dealt with easily enough. Nothing the three of us wouldn't be able to handle." He paused to watch his current teammates. Though he still retained his Rock Village mentality on Leaf Ninja, he was beginning to like them. With a nod of his head, he smirked and spoke. "All right guys, let's get this party started."
The wind tussled his hair as he stood on the very edge of the building's roof. Sasuke watched Gatō and a squad of his body walk towards the carriage that would take them to the bridge where, at this very moment, Obito and his temporary teammates were fighting off Zabuza and his assistant, Haku. Gatō had given him and Naruto orders to come to the bridge with his army of thugs behind them. If, for some reason, Zabuza was defeated or even betrayed them, he'd have Naruto and Sasuke come to clean up his mess and finish off the last of Wave's hope. Sasuke wanted to spit on the midget's face since day one.
"Sasuke," Naruto appeared suddenly beside him. It spooked Sasuke a bit that he didn't even hear him coming, but refused to let it show. It reminded him of how his brother liked to mess with him from time to time. "It's time." Sasuke nodded and without another word, the two disappeared from their place. They crept silently where the hired-thugs would be waiting for the call to go, and Sasuke stopped at the edge of the threshold. Naruto continued on, walking into the room and walked past everyone before stopping on the doorway leading to the next room. He turned and faced the room in time with Sasuke walking up to his side of the room, both effectively closing off the only two exits the room had. A sudden foreboding feeling ate at the stomachs of the room's occupants.
The thugs flinched when they heard battle cries come from the cellars downstairs where they kept their prisoners. They could hear the grunts of pain from their fellow brutes and before they could react, all hell broke loose.
Kurenai smirked in victory as she carefully slid out of her make-shift binds. Her guard was currently sitting in the fetal position, crying silently to himself as horrifying images plagued his mind. It wouldn't take long before his mind shutdown and he'd be no more of a threat than a baby would. Her ruby eyes turned to Tenten, who, by this time, had cut herself free with a well-hid kunai. Her guard laid paralyzed on the ground, a small senbon needle sticking out from his neck.
The ship they were currently on shifted to the left slightly, prompting both females to grab on to the cage that kept them trapped. After the ship settled, they grabbed the keys off their guards and stepped out. They nodded at each other before going through the entirety of the ship, knocking out guards and freeing all the women and also the few captured males as well.
It wouldn't be long before they took control of the ship and headed back to the Land of Waves.
Obito would be lying if he said he wasn't having the time of his life. The only other person to ever push him to his very limit was Kakashi, and they was only when the damned scarecrow wanted to be serious. Obito evaded the giant zanbato with ease and went to retaliate with a swift kick to the face. Zabuza evaded his attack just as quickly and the two were locked in a constant back and forth, and even though they each had landed solid hits on each other, they had kept going. Obito could see that Zabuza was beginning to tire out, but he couldn't say he wasn't either.
It wouldn't be long before one of them would slip up and the other would take advantage.
"Rotation!" A voice bellowed loudly and suddenly, a giant globe of chakra appeared on the bridge, shattering the ice mirrors Haku had summoned and sent said ninja flying out of the dome and straight for Zabuza. Moving without giving it a thought, Zabuza caught Haku, using his body to slow his momentum. Haku lay unconscious in his arms and Zabuza muttered a curse at his misfortune. He hadn't deluded himself in thinking Haku could beat the Hyūga without breaking a sweat. But he had at least hoped it would've been more even than this.
"This is the end!" Zabuza looked up and met the eyes of the infamous Sharingan. Not a second later, he felt Obito's hand penetrate completely through his throat. He could feel blood beginning to rise up his esophagus and he passed out from the pain before he could cough it up.
Obito watched with a smirk as Zabuza crumbled under his and Haku's weight. He had used his Sharingan to project his death and even made him believe in the pain and the feeling of suffocation by his own blood. The Genjutsu took its toll on his chakra reserves but he was still ready to fight if he needed to. Hopefully, Naruto would keep his word and he wouldn't have to.
"Obito-sempai," Neji bowed to him and Obito turned to the Hyūga.
"I sent Kiba, Akamaru and Shino with a Shadow Clone back to Tsunami's home to heal. Nothing too serious but Haku had put Kiba and Akamaru in a death-like state using his senbon needles. After I made sure they were safe, I proceeded to deal with and defeat Haku in combat," Obito nodded at his report and smiled.
"Not too bad for a green Jōnin, if I do say so myself." Neji glowered at this, but Obito ignored it, opting to focus on the sudden appearance of Gatō. The small businessman smirked at them and then laughed.
"I was hoping Zabuza would manage to hurt you two a bit more, but this works out just as well." He snapped his fingers and Naruto and Sasuke appeared beside him and his bodyguards. They were kneeling and kept their head bowed. "Finish them, will ya? Do that and I'll even give you half of Zabuza's share!" he said with a loud laugh.
Naruto and Sasuke stood, the tell-tale pang of their ninjato and katana, respectively, being drawn echoing through the air. With a quickness that went faster than Gatō's eyes or brain could follow, they turned and incapacitated the seven guards that stood behind them. Gatō turned and his blood turned to ice when he saw the blood flow freely and towards him.
"W-W-What… what are you-?"
"We don't need your money." Sasuke said as he revealed his Sharingan to the midget. The three tomoe spun slowly and lured the corrupt business into a deep sleep. He fell back and landed on the pool of blood.
Naruto sighed and swung his blade out, freeing it of the dirty blood. Sasuke swung his katana in more of a showmanship-like style before sheathing it. They nodded to each other and began walking towards Obito, but before they could reach him, Lee came out and hugged them both. He lifted them off their feet and swung them around.
"Oh, good friends! We have come to this poverty-stricken land and have aided in their attempt to gain freedom from such a horrible man! With teamwork and friendship, we've accomplished the impossible and now, as we speak, my dear teammate Tenten and Kurenai-sensei will be giving freedom to others! Oh, such a joyous day is this! We must revel in the Springtime of our Youths!" Lee shouted, causing ringing sounds to echo in Naruto's and Sasuke's ears. Obito and Neji watched in amusement as Sasuke and Naruto tried to free themselves from Lee's impossibly strong vice grip.
After freeing their comrades from Lee, Obito dismissed his team, telling them to rest but to keep an eye out for Kurenai and Tenten. Obito briefly wondered how things were going in the Leaf Village before shaking his head and shrugging; he'd be back within the week. The fact that he hadn't gotten a message must have meant that nothing too bad must have happened.
Hinata walked quietly down the Hyūga compound's halls, an eerie silence surrounding the area. It was late, later than she would usually be up and about but she couldn't sleep. She had too many worries, too many questions and yet, no answers to speak of.
It all started two hours ago:
Hinata sat beside her father as they waited for the elder council to enter his office. She had found him sipping on some tea after he had called her to his personal study earlier. When questioned why she had been called, all he had said was that the elders sought an audience with them both. And so here she sat, patiently waiting for the old Hyūga members to show up. When they did show up and finally sat down, their leader – Hinata's grandfather – cleared his throat.
"Good evening, Lord Hiashi, Lady Hinata," the elder Hyūga said with a bow of his head. Hiashi and Hinata bowed back.
"Father." He came back up and gave each elder a calculating look before he spoke again. "Why do you seek our presence today?"
"I simply came to discuss some current events and what we, of the Hyūga clan, must and will do to ensure the safety of our village," he answered and just the way he said that and the look on the others faces set off alarms in Hiashi's mind. "Let us not beat around the bush; I have heard of our Hokage's recent decision and briefly on what he plans on doing about it. Though foolish, it would be wise to side with the Hokage in his quest to end the leaders of the Hidden Rock and Cloud." Hinata's eyes widened; the Fourth wanted to end the lives of…
She moved her attention to her father but he held up a hand, stopping her before she could even form the first word.
"I agree, but we were not to inform anyone under the rank of Jōnin yet. I assume there is a good reason for breaking that rule?" Hiashi asked with an authoritarian tone in his voice. His father didn't even notice the sudden change in tone, he simply nodded.
"What we have come to propose involves the current Hyūga Heiress, and though it is true she does not need to know the why of it, I respect my granddaughter too much to simply make her sacrifice her future without knowing why." His whole statement made her blood run cold. From start to finish, what he said brought a foreboding feeling that made Hinata want to crawl under the protection of a rock. Her eyes lingered on her grandfather before turning to her father, waiting on his response. By the look of his face, he had some idea on what their proposition was and it only made Hinata's stomach drop further.
"If this is what I think it is, then I refuse," Hiashi declared strongly, meeting his father's stern stare with ease. "I will not-"
"I apologize for interrupting, Lord Hiashi, but we didn't come to make you the offer," the elder Hyūga paused and shifted his gaze to Hinata. Her anxiety level rose a bit at the sudden attention but she held a grip on her composure and kept from throwing up her dinner. "Lady Hinata, we've come here to ask of you something that only you are capable of."
"A-Ano… and that w-would be?"
"The Hokage has blindly rushed into conflict with the Hidden Cloud Village, attacking and all but killing their current Raikage. And with the leader of the Hidden Rock Village… well, as far as we were told, it went just as well as it did with the Raikage. As of now, we have two Great Nations as our enemies, and even with the Yellow Flash on our side, an attack from both villages would severely hurt us, if not completely wipe us out as they did with the Hidden Eddy Village."
Hinata wanted to gasp at that. She remembered briefly learning about that in the academy and then in detail by Mother Kushina. Long story short, there was a reason why the other Hidden Villages wanted them gone and why there was no Hidden Eddy Village anymore.
"We spoke to some allies in the northwest and we have come to an agreement." Hinata's grandfather met Hinata's eyes and his next words came out cold and seemingly uncaring. "In return for special training with their old relic and its special chakra, you are to wed their up-and-coming Shinobi."
"I decline," Hiashi stated quickly, surprising Hinata a little. His father sighed.
"I see you haven't fully learned what it means to be the Hyūga Patriarch. I would've figured that the incident with Hizashi would've brought some sense to you." He paused. "And I regret to inform you that you have no say in the matter."
Ignoring his son's outburst, Hinata's grandfather brought his attention back to Hinata. "We don't delude ourselves into thinking we are all knowing. Though we have experienced many things and have learned from many mistakes, it doesn't make us any less human, any less imperfect. We have come to you, Lady Hinata, in hopes that you would see our reasoning and agree with this arranged marriage." After making sure Hinata was understanding his words, he continued. "We wish to preserve our way of life, to continue to live with the people we live with and for the most part, for things to stay the same for the Hyūga and the other clans and civilians here in the Leaf Village. Though we have mighty and powerful ninja fighting for our village, the Elders and I wish not to take unnecessary risks. With this agreement, our chances of victory increase by at least twenty-five percent, if not more."
"Please, Lady Hinata…" a second elder muttered lowly, but Hinata had heard her.
"And… and if I refuse?" at her question, the elders looked at each other. Although she kept her facial expression clear and her body still, she couldn't help raise her good hand arm up to her chest.
"The offer will only stand if we arrange this marriage with the Clan head's child." At that, Hinata felt her whole world shatter. Her mind pulled up images of Hanabi running off to the academy, toast in her mouth and waving back at her. To the times of her sleeping in and Hinata coming in to wake and dress her. Just being there for her, holding her during the times she needed her the most. And just as suddenly, those images shattered as easily as a rock thrown at a window.
"B-But… she's only…"
"We know. That is why we came to you first." Hinata clenched the front of her shirt tightly, feeling her world begin to fall all around her.
"And you expect me to sit back and watch? I am the Clan head; I will not remain silent as my family crumbles in front of me!" Hiashi protested firmly.
"As Clan head, the entirety of the Hyūga clan is your family!" Hiashi's father bit back, silencing his son. "This is bigger than you or I, bigger than even the Hyūga clan! This is for the peace and safety of the village we love and swore to protect. I don't ask this as former Patriarch, nor do I ask this of her as her grandfather." He faced Hinata and bowed his head. "I ask this as a man who loves his village; will you at least consider it?"
Hinata stared down at the man she only knew as her father's father. Calling him her grandfather just felt so foreign to her. And seeing him bow his head to her was so new and odd that she was taken aback for a moment. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, her hand coming down to rest on her lap.
"If I do this, then Hanabi…"
Her grandfather nodded. "Will not be bothered by this."
Hinata stared at the hand on her lap. Could she really do this? Could she really sacrifice her future for the good of the clan? Of the Village? She could feel her body grow weak the longer she thought about it. Then, she thought of Hanabi and what she would do if she was confronted with the situation.
'No, she mustn't be burdened by this,' Hinata thought before nodding her head.
"I'll do it… for the good of my sister."
A smile graced the elder Hyūga's face. "Your sacrifice will not be forgotten, Lady Hinata." Hiashi stared at his daughter with a shocked expression, surprised by her strength and conviction to protect her younger sister.
Finally, after reaching her destination, Hinata collapsed in front of the koi pond the Hyūga clan kept just outside the dojo. She leaned on the sakura tree planted beside the pond and proceeded to cry. She had been holding it in for the last two hours and finally, all the emotion hit her like a tidal wave.
She didn't want to marry someone she didn't love. As of that day, she had not even thought of marriage, maybe a boyfriend or something, but the idea of marrying someone hadn't even crossed her mind. She was in no hurry to tie the knot, especially to someone who would have her leave her home village. She had so many memories here, and loved the Hidden Leaf. She did not want to leave, not for anyone or any reason, not even…
The thought of the blond haired teen stopped her previous thoughts and dread filled her being. What would he think? What would he do? Better yet, what would he do in a situation like this?
He'd probably fight until he ran himself ragged. Then get back up and fight some more. A mirthless smile graced her beautiful features and she stared at her still healing arm. I can't fight. I have too much riding on my shoulders for me to fight and rebel. I'm sorry, Naruto, but I can't let my little sister go through what I'm going through just because I want to be selfish.
Hinata glanced up at the sky and brought her hands together in prayer. Maybe in another life, we'd be together. Happy and undisturbed. Yes, you are probably there holding me as I sleep in your arms. You take care of me and carry me home as you smile that smile that I've come to admire. More tears flooded her eyes as she tried to stifle a sob with a giggle.
Yes, in another life, maybe…
Fun fact #1: I had written Hinata's scene before the ending to the Wave mission, but thought it would fit better at the end of the chapter. Why? Not sure but it made sense in my mind.
Fun fact #2: I actually came up with Hinata's scene before I found the quote for the chapter. The quote is actually the last thing I add to the chapter, and all I did was look up "Quote maybe in another life" on google and this was the first that showed up. It amuses me how well it fit her scene and just couldn't help myself.
Side note: Sorry if the Wave mission is shorter than you might've wanted it but to be honest, I hadn't planned it to be longer than a chapter or two in the first place. The main points of my story were his birth/kidnapping, his growth, the Chunin Exams and the War (not the canon Fourth Shinobi War but I guess this would actually make it the Fourth Shinobi War. *shrugs*) I do have plans for further plot points than that but I'm taking it one step at a time.
Next Chapter Preview:
(Not set in stone but the general idea)
'I haven't seen her since I've been back. Weird. She did say we would talk when I came back but-'
"I'm sorry, Namikaze, but the Hyuga Heiress isn't seeing anyone at the moment."
"I'm sorry, Kushina, but I can't turn a blind-eye to their actions. Not anymore. I'm not fit to be Hokage anymore. Please take care of the village in my absence."
"If it isn't Iwa's Blazing Gale? Mother would love to see me test my merit against a strong opponent like you."
Naruto and Hinata briefly met eyes, before she turned and ran off, tears falling down her eyes.
"I'm sorry... Naruto."
"We should head out soon, my lady. We don't want to be late."