Tazuna had walked for three days, and the child had slept for two. Everything was perfectly fine, and things were going swell.
I guess that the fact that Inara was humming and happily skipping alongside Tazuna as he walked up to the gates of the Leaf Village was a slight indication that something had gone kind of wrong.
Inara murmured beside Tazuna as she woke up late in the afternoon on the second day of travelling. It was almost five o'clock, and it seemed that her body had chosen now for her to wake up. Tazuna tensed himself in readiness as he watched her sit up from where he had put her down so that he could take a break.
"I see you've woken up Inara." Tazuna said hesitantly. Inara whirled and looked at him.
She frowned for a second, and he tensed even more. "Who are you again?" She asked suddenly, smiling politely.
Tazuna's jaw nearly dropped to the ground. "I…I'm Tazuna. The bridge builder. You ended up joining Team 7, the team of Shinobi who I had asked to assist me on my journey home, and you disobeyed your father, the captain of the team, and joined us on our little journey." Tazuna explained, waiting nervously for her reaction as she thought for a minute or two.
There was a tense silence.
"Well…I can remember you now…and that I am a Genin…but I can't remember my father, or the team that you speak of. Were they nice? I bet they were. I can remember being quite weak in my abilities, but I'm sure I'm strong now. I must be. You were probably guiding me." Inara said, prattling on slightly as she came to a conclusion in her own mind, seeming that she was satisfied with her answer.
Tazuna stared at her in disbelief. 'I don't believe it. She's lost her memory. She can't remember any of the events that happened since she left the village…She probably won't even remember any of her ninja…stuff. How am I going to explain this to Kakashi?' Tazuna thought worriedly.
"Have you got anything to eat? I feel starving…" Inara said, grimacing and putting a hand on her stomach as it growled in total agreement with her. Tazuna blinked and nodded mutely, reaching into his supplies pack and handing her a plain jam sandwich and a flask of hot chocolate.
"Awww thanks old man! You're the best!" She said happily, taking them and munching on the sandwich gratefully and slurping down some of the hot chocolate, being careful not to spill any and making sure to leave some of the drink for later. The sandwich did not share the same fate, and it was wolfed down quickly, staying some of her hunger pangs that had started almost as soon as she had woken up.
"Hmm." Tazuna hmm'd quietly in acknowledgement.
When she had finished, he stood up, packing the flask away and helping her up as she brushed her clothes down, clearing any crumbs and dust from them.
"So! Where are we going now then?" Inara asked cheerfully, jumping up and down on the spot a little, trying not to scare him too much, even though she was smaller than him and that would not happen anyway.
"We're taking you back to your Otou-san…your father. Ok?" Tazuna said slowly, wondering if that would get a reaction at all. If he was expecting a reaction, he didn't get one. Inara just nodded wisely and followed as he started walking. Tazuna focused on the road ahead as he tried to figure how many hours it would now take to reach the Village.
Suddenly he was being thrown forwards, and Inara stood in his place as he was sprawled on the floor. "WATCH OUT!" She yelled, dodging the kunai that were hailed at her, grabbing one that had thudded into the ground a meter or so away and holding it in front of her protectively as she stood over Tazuna.
A shadow materialised out of the surrounding trees and Inara noticed that he was wearing a foreign headband. She narrowed her eyes and gripped the kunai tighter.
"Tracking you wasn't so hard. And I do believe I owe you one you brat." A kind voice said, but Tazuna could hear the malice beneath the kind tone.
Inara was thoroughly confused however. She frowned and relaxed her stance slightly. "Who are you?" She asked distrustfully, her eyes almost unfocused as the shadow stepped out of the trees and faced her in the direct sunlight.
"I feel almost insulted. It's only been four days and you seem to have forgotten me already. But let me refresh your memory for you and your old man down there." The voice said, a light flashing where his eyes were, signifying his glasses which were perched on his nose as he pushed them up to cover his eyes more. "Kabuto Yakushi." He said, smiling sarcastically at her and gesturing to the hole on the left shoulder of his clothes which had been badly stitched back together.
Inara stared in confusion still for a second, but as soon as she saw the rip of fabric in his clothes, something clicked.
Her eyes widened and she screamed as images of dark corridors, murky air and the hissing of snakes filled her mind. Kabuto's kindness, turned betrayal and near murder of her life. He had found her when she had been struggling to get away…away from what? That was still a mystery, but stabbing him with the Chidori had led her to being injured and somehow surviving long enough to make it to Tazuna's.
It made sense, in a twisted way. But she felt a sense of pride that she had been able to do a Chidori, since that was the first technique she had mastered.
Pushing the images away from the fore-front of her mind, she tried to focus again, clamping down on the pride that coursed through her as she used her right hand to feel along a line of dull ache in her back…and she gasped in agony as she felt a spasm of pain run through her back as her hand passed over a bandaged area of her back which ran from her left shoulder to her right hip.
"Y-Y-You…BASTARD." She shouted angrily, brandishing the kunai in front of her aggressively, ignoring Tazuna's disapproving click of his tongue at her language. "You completely led me on a goose chase, and above all, you tried to kill me!" She continued angrily.
Kabuto snorted and cocked his head to the left, glaring at her hatefully. "Yeah, and because of your little lightning stunt, it nearly cost me my life. You should have just made my life easier by just doing as I'd told you and staying still and not struggling." He retorted spitefully, drawing his own kunai and clasping it firmly in his hand as he started to run at her. "But I'll make up for it now!"
"INARA. RUN!" Tazuna yelled, trying to scramble up in a hope to get up and protect her in time.
Inara however, planted her feet firmly against the ground and clenched her teeth in determination, lips pressed together as tightly as she gripped the kunai. Watching Kabuto as he sped towards her, and driving the kunai at her.
Just in time, she raised the kunai to meet his, and there was a small fountain of sparks as they met. They glared at each other, and with a burst of rage that Inara couldn't have explained, her chakra heightened of its own accord and blue chakra leaked out of her palm and ran the length of the kunai, sharpening the kunai into an even more deadly blade as it cut Kabuto's kunai clean in half and sent her now chakra enhanced blade into his uninjured shoulder.
Kabuto yelled out in pain and dropped the useless broken half of his kunai to join its sorrowful other half. He hissed as Inara drew back determinedly, and blue chakra surrounded her palm, crackling into life as lightening with the sound of a high pitched chirping.
Kabuto jumped back at least five paces as quickly as he could, clutching his shoulder in pain as he turned away from her. "You know what, I'm going to let things unfold for now. At this rate you'll die anyway. Not to mention we've come for something else anyway. I can get you at a later date." Kabuto said carelessly, his voice filled with hate as he sped off into the trees quicker than a bird in free flight.
Inara didn't relax until she thought that they were safe again, and she turned to Tazuna with the start of a smile. It died slightly as she saw the look of amazement on his face.
"…What's wrong?" She asked in concern, searching his face worriedly for any signs of…well…anything other than shock.
Tazuna shook himself and pulled his hat down low over his eyes. "It's nothing kid. It's just that…your strength is quite…astonishing." He muttered, starting to walk. "Now come, let's go. It should be perhaps two hours until we reach the gates of your home. Surely you remember your home?" He asked curiously, looking at her from underneath his hat.
"Yeah, I can remember where I live…can't remember my father…or the team you said I came with…but perhaps…no. I'll just go home." Inara said contentedly.
Tazuna gazed at her for a few seconds before nodding once. "If that's what you want." He said with a slight shrug.
Now they were outside the gates, and he was contemplating what to do. Gritting his teeth he forced himself to stop walking and turn to Inara quickly. "Inara. I want you to stay close to me, and transform to look like my grandson, Inari. Can you remember what he looks like?" He said, glancing up at the sign in guards up ahead.
Inara thought for a second, and then frowned and shook her head. "No, sorry…I can't…" She said apologetically. "Describe him to me, perhaps I'll be able to from his description." She suggested quickly as she watched his face fall with disappointment.
Tazuna concealed a smile at her will to keep trying to find a solution, to keep trying. "Well…" He said, quickly describing Inari to her, watching her carefully as she nodded thoughtfully and concentrated, focusing on the image she had of the description he had given her.
"Transform!" Inara said quietly, scrunching her face up with force of her concentration. There was a 'poof' and as the white billowing wisps of smoke cleared, Tazuna beamed as he looked upon a perfect replica of his beloved grandson. "How's this?" She asked worriedly.
"That's great! But change your voice slightly, make it deeper, but not too deep." Tazuna instructed.
"Like this?" She asked, her voice now considerably lower from her normal tomboy-ish tone, and sounded much more like his daughter's son. He nodded and gave her a thumbs up.
"Yes, that's great. But keep that transformation up until I say you can drop it. Ok?" He said, a slight worry starting to creep in on the edge of his thoughts, but he pushed them away, trying to be as fearless as the brave young girl before him.
"Sure. Lead the way…uhh…gran'pa." She said happily, following him as he went to sign in.
Hiruzen Sarutobi, the Third Hokage, looked up at the door through his glasses from where he was sat at the Hokage desk, which seemed to have a lot of paperwork on it, as there was a polite knock at the door.
"Come in." He called, watching as a Chūnin led in a man of about Sarutobi's own age, and a small boy who was most probably the man's grandson. "Thank you." He said, nodding to the Chūnin who bowed and quickly departed from the room, closing the door behind the two.
"Hey old man! I've told you smoking was bad for you, get the pipe out of your mouth!" The boy said, putting his hands on his hips. Hiruzen nearly dropped the lit pipe from his mouth anyway.
"Inari! What have I told you! Respect your elders." The old man reprimanded the boy, who shuffled his feet and crossed his arms over his chest with a huff. "Sorry about my grandson. He just doesn't think, that's all. My name is-"
"Your name is Tazuna, from the land of the Waves." The Third Hokage filled in for him. Then he pointed at Inari. "But that is not your grandson." He said heavily, removing his glasses and placing them on one of the stack of papers that was piled on top of his desk.
Tazuna held his breath for a second in surprise, and then he exhaled quietly and removed his hat, holding it in his right hand. "Yeah…about that-" He sighed, running a hand through his snow-white hair.
There was another knock at the door suddenly, and without waiting to be told to come in, the door opened.
Tazuna froze as he saw who walked in.
Kakashi Hatake had walked in behind Sakura and Sasuke, Naruto had run in front of them all and had thrown the door open wide and raced in. Kakashi sighed and restrained Naruto as he tried to run at the Hokage.
"I'm sorry, Hokage sir, but Naruto insists on going on another mission and was getting rather impatient. I'll just-" Kakashi started apologetically, but then he registered the scene before him, and he stopped mid-sentence. "Tazuna?" He asked in surprise.
"Inari!" Naruto cried joyously. Inari looked at Naruto in surprise and Tazuna swallowed nervously. Kakashi looked at Tazuna and let go of Naruto, who immediately ran up to Inari and embraced him.
"Why have you returned? Is there more trouble from Gato?" Kakashi asked worriedly. "Or has-"
"Kakashi, Tazuna has-" Sarutobi tried to interrupt, but he too was cut off by Naruto's explosive yell.
"HEY! WHAT THE HELL? WHO ARE-UURRK!"
Inari had disappeared in a cloud, and there were sounds of grappling as Naruto fought vainly to get the other person off as he was being strangled. Kakashi rolled his eyes and managed to pick both of them up easily by the scruff of the neck and shake them soundly as they struggled to get at one another. He glared at Naruto first.
"Naruto. This is why you don't go running off. Now go with Sakura and Sasuke back to training ground three and wait for me. I'll see if I can sort out a mission for us, and if you behave then I'll see if we can make it a better than a D grade mission. Ok? Go, the three of you. Get gone. Now." Kakashi ordered, dropping Naruto and watching as Sasuke and Sakura helped to drag the protesting orange fanatic blonde of the Hokage's office and slam the door after them.
Then he turned to look at Naruto's attacker. "And as for…as for…for…f…" Kakashi trailed off in shock at who was face to face with.
Inara was back in her own form, her waist length black and silver streaked hair running down her back, but greasy from where she'd been fighting and travelling. She stared at him and he at her as he placed her on the floor.
She was looking at him in confusion, and suddenly she screamed and clutched her head in agony as more images flooded her mind. Her scream made Hiruzen and Kakashi jump, but Tazuna had been expecting it, and he grimaced as he knew that she would now know the whole picture.
Where she had joined them, been in the attack with the Kiri brothers, the attack of Zabuza and Haku…where Sasuke had forced her to kill Haku…and then the argument between her and Kakashi where it had ended up with her running away and jumping from the cliff…..which then linked up to her meeting with Kabuto.
It all made sense now, but Inara was panting with the suddenness of her memory returning, and there was a stunned silence which stayed for a few minutes until Inara's breathing had returned to a normal state of where she breathed quickly due to a feeling of nerves which was coursing through her.
Slowly, she raised her eyes to look at Kakashi, who was staring back…his gaze calculating. Hiruzen stood up, and sharing a glance with Tazuna, they both left the room and shut the door quietly behind them, leaving father and daughter alone together.
The silence was broken by Kakashi.
"Why…Inara?" He asked quietly in a monotone, his one eye fixed on her. "You wouldn't listen to me…" He said. Inara pressed her lips together, and she said nothing. "Yes, I was angry…I understand that…But running off on your own only made me angrier at the time…and-"
"Are…Are you angry now?" Inara asked nervously, licking her lips as she looked away, almost scared of the answer.
Kakashi took a deep breath to control his breathing and slowly exhaled. "If I'm honest…Inara…I'm absolutely furious." He answered, staring at her so as to make her feel intimidated. It worked, as Inara immediately shrank back into herself and cowered away from him as he suddenly rose up to his full height and reached out towards her.
She screwed her eyes shut tightly and tensed, but his arms enveloped her and brought her upwards, up off the floor as he lifted her into his arms and hugged her tightly. She gripped his shoulders and buried her head in his strong, muscled shoulder.
"But I love you. And I never, ever, want to have to lose you. So just…promise me you'll never do it again." He said quietly in her ear, his voice full of love for his daughter as he enfolded her in his fatherly embrace.
"I'm sorry daddy…and I s-swear I'll never do it again…c-c-cause I love you too…" She whispered, tears threatening to fall from her eyes as she swallowed a tight knot in her throat. But she couldn't hold it back for long, and soon she was quietly sobbing into his chest as he rubbed her back and soothed her in her distressed state, crooning soft shh's to her as he rocked her to and fro in his arms.
They stayed like this for nigh on five minutes, before Inara wiped her eyes dry and sniffed sorrowfully as Kakashi set her on the floor and knelt down on one knee on the floor next her so that he was the same height.
"We're going home now, but you're going to have a shower and then it's straight to bed. Ok? Tomorrow, you can tell me everything. Alright? Come on." He said gently, rising again and putting one arm around her shoulders comfortingly as he started to walk towards the door with her.
As they walked outside, they found Tazuna talking to Sakura, and Naruto to Sarutobi. Sasuke, however, upon seeing them, glared at Inara as they drew up and curled his lip slightly in distaste.
"Have fun did you, running away like that? Leaving the only family you had? I'm glad you did. You'd have just got in the way, brat." Sasuke sneered spitefully at her.
Inara felt her rage flare suddenly and her hand was filled with lightening as she yelled in anger and stabbed in Sasuke's direction with the Chidori that had filled her palm. Eyes widened in surprise and shock, but Kakashi grabbed her arm and stopped her from pushing the Chidori any closer to Sasuke. He smacked Inara firmly on the backside as a reprimand, immediately distracting her concentration of chakra at the sudden pain as she yelped. At the same time his other hand reached up and cuffed Sasuke hard around the back of the head.
"Stop it. Both of you." Kakashi said sternly, frowning at them as they glowered at each other in hate.
"Sarutobi-Sama, if you'll excuse me, but if you would be so kind as to give my team perhaps a C rank mission for tomorrow before you dismiss them?" Kakashi asked, turning to Hiruzen with a sigh. The Third Hokage nodded and beckoned to Team 7 to follow him into the office, who followed him dutifully, but with Sasuke glaring at Inara the whole way until the door closed on them.
Tazuna rolled his eyes. "Well…Now that everything has been sorted, It's time for the off. I'll be heading to a hotel room. I'm up early tomorrow for the journey back. I'll see you sometime soon I hope, come and visit us." Tazuna said, smiling at them both.
"Thank you Tazuna, I also hope that we can see you soon. Have a safe journey tomorrow." Kakashi replied formally, watching as Tazuna headed off in another direction.
Kakashi turned to Inara and fixed his one good eye on her. "I will not tolerate you just going out on a rage Inara." He scolded her, watching as she squirmed uncomfortably under his stern gaze. "Even if someone such as Sasuke provokes you. Do you understand?"
"But Sasuke was-"
"I said, do you understand?" He forced the question again, glaring at her with his single onyx eye that was visible above the main masked part of his face.
Inara sighed in defeat. "Yeah." She said in resignation, flicking her hair forwards unintentionally as she nodded simultaneously. Kakashi nodded once in satisfaction and started to walk into the streets of Konoha, Inara right behind him. She glowered at the ground as she started to mutter. "But I still think that Sasuke is a right cock sucking, dick munching, bast-YOWCH!"
She broke off her insults that were directed at the non-present Uchiha as Kakashi whipped around and grabbed her harshly by the ear and shook her slightly. "You can stop that bad language immediately young lady. If I happen to hear another word such as that escape your lips, Inara, I'll see to it that you won't be able to sit down for a month!" He threatened wrathfully, narrowing his eye at her in warning. Inara gulped as she frantically tried to prise his hand from her ear, he twisted it slightly before letting her go and waiting until she started to walk alongside him.
When they reached home, the sun was starting to set behind the Hokage mountain, throwing shadows over the Leaf Village as the last rays of sunshine started to die out.
Kakashi opened the door and let them both inside, and closed the door behind him. Inara smiled slightly at the familiar feel of home…the comfortable scent that she associated with home that hung in the air. Mixed with the scent of the dogs, of course, for whenever Kakashi had summoned them inside the house.
"Off to bed now. C'mon." Kakashi said as he turned to Inara, putting his keys back in his pocket.
Inara pulled a face and started to protest. "But daaaaaaaaaad-"
"No 'buts'. Bed. Now." He said cutting her off. He put a hand on her back so as to push her in the direction of her room, but as soon as his hand made contact with her back, she veered sharply into the wall with a scream of agony, pressing herself against the wall as her limbs went into spasms of pain.
Alarmed, Kakashi picked her up and rushed up the stairs and into her room, sitting her on her bed as he knelt next to her so that he could see her pain-pinched face. "Inara…Inara! What's wrong? What happened?" He asked frantically. Inara gasped a couple of times, her eyes squeezed shut, before managing to gasp out two words. "*Gasp*-My-*Gasp*-Back!"
Immediately Kakashi was picking her up and laying her out on her bed, lifting up her top to see her back. He was shocked to the spot when her top revealed the scar on her back that ran from her left shoulder to her hip.
"Inara! How on earth-" He gaped in disbelief.
"Kabuto…" Inara all but managed in a whisper as he ever-so-lightly traced the scar with the tip of his index finger, making her shiver and then immediately wishing she hadn't. "Kabuto Yakushi. I met him after I jumped over that cliff…then…took me to Orochimaru…" Kakashi's eyes widened at this in astonishment, his eyes still rooted to the scar on her back. "But he didn't need me…said he'd get Sasuke anyway…and told Kabuto to take me away…..Got outside…tried to kill me. But, my chakra…I managed a Chidori…But I can't control when I do it. It's when I'm scared or angry."
"Well, I can help you work on that. But I can't help this scar on your back here. I'm not good at medical Ninjutsu…Perhaps…Hmmm…We'll see. We will get it sorted out later. Ok? But for now, lets get you in your Pyjamas. Yeah?" He said, lifting Inara upright and helping to carefully peel off her clothes and to get her into some nice, warm, and comfortable Pj's before helping her into bed and pulling the soft indigo covers up over her and tucking her in.
She shifted around a little gingerly, trying not to provoke anymore pain on her back. Kakashi sat down next to her small, lithe body, which was still outlined by how he'd tucked the covers into her sides cosily.
He sighed as he looked at her. Inara bit her lip and considered getting up again. "I'm not tired." She stated with a yawn. Kakashi rolled his eyes ceiling-ward.
"Liar." He teased, tweaking her nose gently, making her giggle as her eyelids drooped. "Get some sleep, you little trouble maker."
"I don't make trouble…" Inara protested drowsily. "It just waits for me as I happen to walk into it."
He chuckled softly, making Inara smile as she closed her eyes. "Love you Otou-san." She whispered, finally falling asleep. He gazed at her sleeping form for a second or two, watching her chest rise and fall rhythmically.
"Love you too 'Ara." He whispered, leaning forward and kissing her gently on the forehead, before standing up and slowly walking to the door, turning off the light and closing her bedroom door quietly.
He rubbed his neck tiredly and headed off to his own room, feeling the black waves of tiredness starting to wash over him too, numbing his mind as though it was slowly being filled with cotton wool, making him strain to stay awake.
'I think Icha Icha can go amiss for tonight. Otherwise I'll never make another morning so as to read it ever again.' He thought hazily, collapsing onto his own bed and letting the tiredness drag him down into its murky depths.
Chapter 10 guys! =D
Hope this was ok…IT SHOULD BE. Its approximately 4500 words I tell you!
PLEASE REVIEW! O.O
DO IT. OR ELSE OROCHIMARU WILL BE AFTER YOU WITH HIS 'Special' SNAKE! *Insert creepy evil laugh here*
This is not the end of the fic…I am carrying on with the timeline…I just change things…because of Inara… ;)
Wait for my update! =D (Which comes quicker if you review…Just a small hint there…)