Title: The Snow Song
Chapter: 11 – A Son is Born
Word Count: 4125
Summary: Fantasy AU. When Kakashi has a run in with a fortune teller and asks what his best future would be, the last thing he expects is for that to be taken seriously. Thrown into a world that has been locked down for a hundred years, Kakashi's options are to either go on a quest to save it… or die. KakaSaku.
Disclaimer: Naruto doesn't belong to me. It's Kishimoto's and I just play with it. Part 11 of 11. Unbeta'd.
The College of Modifications and Alterations held a party every year to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next. That the party generally coincided with Christmas Eve was viewed as a positive thing and anyone who obtained an invite was regarded as being very lucky indeed.
Kakashi fiddled with his tie, uncomfortably aware of his wind-swept hair (not that it would have looked all that different, he admitted to himself, if they'd drove to the College rather than fallen to it) and stood next to Sakura who looked as perfect as any model.
Their invitation was entirely fake. Which was, as far as he was concerned, the weakest part of their plan.
At the same time, he had to admit that he far preferred this to skulking around in dirty tunnels and fighting hordes of guards the way Obito had made it sound like their plan would have to be, so Kakashi said nothing as the line full of incredibly important people, and them, slowly advanced.
When it was their turn to enter, Sakura handed over their invitation. To Kakashi's eyes it didn't look any different but the guard went a funny shade of pale and shooed them in the doors quickly.
As they moved forward, Kakashi looked over his shoulder and saw another guard standing and taking invitations while their guard had disappeared. "Perfect," he murmured. "They took it."
"Of course they did," Sakura said quietly. "I told you they would. All of the guards here are Genes, can't you feel the energy in the air?"
"I thought that was just excitement from the party," he said as they entered a room that was so full of glittering lights and trees and people that it was quite disorienting. Kakashi thought that, had someone last week told him he'd be attending this party and looking like one of the financial giants who were in the room, he'd have laughed. "As this one is incredibly exclusive."
That, he thought, was an understatement.
Heavy garlands of green and red and gold hung from the walls. Sparkling bulbs in the same three shades, but frosted with silver, decked the trees and the heady scent of pine, clove and cinnamon filled the room. Sakura's dress and his tux, he thought, looked like they belonged here. That was a comforting thought-they didn't stick out yet.
Kakashi glanced at Sakura's long pink hair and amended that. They didn't stick out in ways that they didn't want to stick out. For this to work, with the invitation she'd magicked up, they had to know that Sakura was a Gene.
He thought the tiny fairy lights she'd conjured to float about her head was over doing it a little but it did garner her quite a few appreciative looks and glances as they stepped down the stairs.
At the bottom of them waited a server with a tray of canapés and glasses of champagne.
"Thank you," Sakura said, taking two glasses and handing one to him.
Kakashi sipped his carefully, Sakura smiled a little brighter as the server moved away. "And you're right, of course, that's part of it. But part of it is just-what happens when a lot of Genes are in the same spot."
"Somehow," he said, "I think everyone who isn't a Gene is going to wake up tomorrow with a massive hangover."
"Probably." Sakura grinned at him. "But we'll wake up with more, right?"
"Absolutely." He hoped so. He really, really did. "I thought the Gene Registry only had four Genes on it."
Sakura lifted her shoulders in a simple shrug. "Genes do what they want to do. Most probably didn't like the idea of being labeled that way."
Another server, dressed in black and white with a red sash about his waist, led them to their table. Kakashi waved him off in order to pull out Sakura's seat himself.
"You're certain that he'll come to us?" he asked in a low-voiced murmur as he took his own seat.
She nodded her head fractionally. "Absolutely. There's no way he would be able to avoid it after I invoked the prophecy on him. If he doesn't come, then the full weight of the prophecy will destroy him." Sakura shrugged her shoulders. "If he wishes to go that way, then all the better for us. But I think he will grant us a conversation."
"I like conversation," Kakashi said, leaning back slightly in his seat. He could hear snatches and snippets of other peoples' talk going on around them. "Especially with you."
"How sweet," Sakura said, "I might have to vomit."
"You'll ruin your dress." He reached over to tuck a bit of her hair back behind one ear. "Don't do that. It's a nice dress."
"It's not bad," she said, glancing down at it. "Considering I had almost zero notice that I'd have to create one. Will you dance with me after dinner, if we are not invited to a conversation before then?"
Kakashi laughed, keenly aware of the admiring gazes Sakura was attracting from others, and knew he would have promised her a great deal more than just dancing in that moment. "Are you any good at dancing?" he asked nonchalantly, tilting his head in greeting to two women. The richly dressed women's names escaped him-they were married, he knew that because he recognized them from television-smiled and nodded back.
"You do that like you were born to rule," she murmured. He glanced at her. "I approve." Sakura tossed her hair. "And, for your information, I am excellent at dancing."
"Oh ho," he replied, "I look forward to it."
Dinner passed in a wash of champagne and amiable small talk as they were joined by several others their (apparent) age and by the time that all of the courses had been gone through, Kakashi found himself really rather looking forward to the dancing. It's been a while, he thought, but I don't think she'll mind that.
As the music started up, he pushed his chair back and held out one hand to her. "Would you care to dance, Sakura?"
She smiled prettily as she placed her hand in his. "I would dearly love to."
They swept out onto the dance floor, the first but not the only, of many couples, and got lost in each other's arms. He remembered how to dance and she was every bit as good at it as she boasted.
If several times during their set he thought about kissing her, Kakashi thought he could be excused for she looked to be thinking much the same thing about him.
"Pardon," a server said, at the end of their second set as they stood off to the side, sipping wine. "Orochimaru-sama has requested that you grace him with your presence."
Kakashi's eyebrows shot up. Sakura looked amused. "How grand of him," Kakashi said as dryly as he could. "Tell him we'd be pleased to attend upon him. Isn't that right, Sakura?"
She smothered a giggle with one hand before replying. "Of course, darling," Sakura said and this time he didn't tell her to stop it because it was part of the game. "I'd love to meet the man who has done so much for all of us here."
The server bowed. Sakura rested her hand lightly on Kakashi's arm. Kakashi led the way down a myriad of richly appointed halls and said nothing about how he was pretty sure that most of it had to be magic because there was no way a College, even one so rich as the College of Modifications and Alterations could afford to have this lavish a decor.
Sakura's expression, when he glanced over at her, showed her looking around curiously. "Well done," she said, at one point. "Though I think the ceiling is a shade off."
The server didn't even pause. "We'll ask one of our people to attend to it," he said, and Sakura looked pleased.
"Good," she said, "it's best not to be sloppy."
You're one to talk, Kakashi thought. When this is the sloppiest plan I've ever heard of.
If she could hear his thoughts she gave no sign. Which was probably, all things considered, for the best.
They were led to a small but lavish room. Sakura settled herself on one of the tiny and gorgeous seats, looking entirely at home as the server promised that they would not be left waiting long. Kakashi, ill at ease at the idea of sitting on furniture that looked so delicate he feared he'd break it with a touch, leaned against a wall.
"Worried?" Sakura asked him.
"There's no reason to be," Kakashi said lightly. "It's not like we've walked into the enemy's stronghold, ignoring the very good and very stealthy plan my family had come up with to get us in without being noticed, handed the enemy our calling card and asked him to come on up for a chat. I can't imagine why I'd be worried."
She shrugged languidly. "If it goes wrong," Sakura said, "use your dragon. They won't be used to them after a hundred years without- no dragon lives that long and there'd be no way to sustain a colony here when they live off of fairies."
"... The dragons eat the fairies?" Kakashi asked. "Like, the same fairies that do your lighting back home?"
"Nothing," Kakashi said quickly, though he suddenly felt a lot worse for the fairies than he had before. "Are you sure you can get us out of here if it goes wrong?" He patted his pocket. "I mean, I've got the camera but we don't even know if that'll work to take us back to your home again."
And even then, he thought, that would just mean they'd have to do this whole quest all over again because it wasn't going to end until they got it done with.
"Stop fretting," Sakura ordered, "or I'll throw you off your second balcony tonight."
"And you wouldn't catch me, would you? That'd make quite an impression on all the other guests."
"It'd be a conversation starter that'd be good for years," Sakura said contentedly. "Honestly, though, why won't you sit down?"
"I don't want to," Kakashi said firmly. "And-"
The door to the waiting room opened and a different server, this one taller and more imposing entered. "Orochimaru-sama has sent me to bring you along to his office."
Sakura stood. Kakashi stepped away from the wall, one hand toying with his dragon bracelet absently. Squeeze three times, she'd said, if he wanted his dragon to show up. It was tempting to do that now and just get out of this place.
Then Sakura's hand slipped into his free on and he squeezed her fingers. Whatever they did tonight, he thought, they'd at least done it because it was their plan.
"For Mama," Sakura murmured to him, "and Ino. And everyone else who has been taken by the Great Frost."
Kakashi nodded and kept his eyes on the man they followed. It was just down the hall and then the server opened a door, one even more opulent than the others, and bowed them in. Steeling himself and giving Sakura's fingers one last squeeze, they stepped into the room.
It was surprisingly bare. The desk was huge, the floor was cold marble, the chairs were high backed. Kakashi appreciated the fact that the room had huge windows that looked out over what he thought was a garden, if he remembered the building layout right. Bookshelves lined the right wall. Along the left were a few pictures and a counter with trinkets on it.
Orochimaru stood by the windows. He was a tall man with long black hair. His tux was visibly more expensive than the one that Sakura had created for Kakashi and, when he turned, Kakashi saw that the undershirt was a dark purple. There was something vaguely reptilian about Orochimaru's face but that didn't take away from the fact that he was a handsome man.
In fact, Kakashi thought, watching him watch them, it probably adds to it. A bit of mystery always sells the news better.
"Please," Orochimaru said, gesturing to the chairs, "have a seat. Would either of you care for anything to drink?"
"No thank you," said Sakura. "But we would like your assurance before moving past this point."
Assurance? Kakashi thought.
"As you wish, cousin," Orochimaru said, "though I meant you no harm."
"No harm meant means assurance is easy to give," Sakura commented. "And if someone came to my door calling about a prophecy, I cannot say I wouldn't mean them harm."
He inclined his head. "Of course. By all means, then, please be safe in my humble abode. I grant you full guest-right under the old laws." Orochimaru looked indulgent. "And should any harm come to you that I could reasonable prevent may my magic strike me down."
"That you could reasonably prevent?" Sakura asked pointedly.
Kakashi wished someone would tell him exactly what they were arguing about.
"Of course," Orochimaru replied smoothly. "I have no wish to lose my magic if, say, one of you should stub a toe."
Sakura nodded slowly, still frowning. "That's fair enough," she said, "and clever."
Kakashi shifted slightly, which drew the attention of both the Genes. He could see the moment that Sakura remembered he was there and the flush on her cheeks would, in another circumstance, have been endearing. Orochimaru's expression was harder to figure out.
Somehow, Kakashi thought, he looks proud but I don't understand why.
"My apologies," Orochimaru said, "please, now will you sit down?"
"Now, what does a prophecy have to do with your visiting me?"
Looking into Orochimaru's clever, closed off face-still with that faint, proud expression touching his lips-Kakashi felt like their plan to come and talk all of it out, if possible, was an entirely stupid one.
"We were sent on a Quest," Sakura said, stressing the capital letter. "By the Questing Flute." Orochimaru glanced at her curiously and she pressed on. Kakashi was almost certain that he ought to chime in as well but felt she was doing a good job on her own. "Our Quest is to end the Great Frost that has taken over much of our world."
Whatever reaction Kakashi had expected from Orochimaru he hadn't really thought about-outrage? amusement?—but would never have guessed that Orochimaru, the enemy they were after, would look genuinely perplexed.
"The Great Frost?" Orochimaru said sharply, sounding puzzled. "What has happened? How does that involve me?"
Kakashi's eyes narrowed. He trusted his intuition that said the other man wasn't lying. From the look on Sakura's face he thought that she'd picked up on it too. "The Great Frost," Kakashi said slowly, "has, for the last hundred years been trapping Genes and draining them of their magic and sending it to this world."
"Most of our world is gone," Sakura said quietly. "Taken by the Great Frost. We've come to get them back."
Orochimaru stood abruptly and strode over to the windows. He made a striking figure against the darkness. "I had no idea," the man murmured. "I knew energy was coming from somewhere but I never thought-with the worlds being closed against each other..."
"Who are you really?" Sakura asked, her voice cool. "It's very good but now that you're upset I can see the edges of your glamour."
Kakashi squinted and found that, try though he might, he couldn't see the same thing. "How could you not know?" Kakashi asked. "I thought every Gene knew that much. That's why a lot of the Genes on this world are so angry all the time-they're trapped from their world."
"I confess myself at a loss," Orochimaru said, "because Sakura, you are right, of course. I am not Orochimaru."
"Who?" pressed Sakura.
The man who looked like Orochimaru turned and smiled slightly. It was a sharp smile, Kakashi thought, one that could have been dangerous but now looked only like he felt a twisted sort of amusement. "Twenty-two years ago," he said, "my son was born. I knew there was something strange about him-he was frightening even before he could walk."
"A Gene?" Kakashi asked.
Orochimaru's look was indecipherable.
Sakura answered when it became clear that Orochimaru (or the man who looked like him) had no intentions of answering. "There's no such thing as a half-Gene," Sakura murmured to him. "If one parent is a Gene, then the child will look like his or her Gene-parent and will be considered a full-blooded Gene." She looked inquisitively at Orochimaru. "Unless the mother was a Gene as well?"
"No," Orochimaru said, "she was not."
"I'm sorry," Kakashi said, "but what does this have to do with the Great Frost? That started a hundred years ago, not twenty two."
Sakura bit her lip. "That's a good question," she said, eyes narrowing once more. "We were told that Orochimaru was behind the Great Frost and the power draining into the world."
"And a hundred years ago, he was."
"But now he's not?"
Orochimaru looked tired. "I am not one made for lies," he murmured, "so let us dispense with that. Whatever Orochimaru wished to do with the power and his Snowflake Conspiracy-I do not know. Twenty two years ago, my son was born with the ability to swallow magic."
"Orochimaru came looking for the reason why his power source was providing him with less energy all of a sudden," the man who looked like Orochimaru explained. "The only way a Gene can die is if they're killed. We fought. I won. Orochimaru has been dead these last twenty two years."
"Then why has the Great Frost continued?" Sakura asked, her voice hushed. "It should have ended with his death."
Orochimaru looked pained. "My son," he said, "you must understand, my son has never known anything about this. He does not even know he is a Gene. It's his power that has kept the Great Frost going. That ability to swallow magic."
"How do you have magic then?" Kakashi asked. "How do the other Genes of this world?"
"My doing." The man who looked like Orochimaru clasped his hands behind his back and stared out the window. "Trapped in this world, with no idea of what was going on in our home... that's the Genes here. I did not know where the power was coming from and, in the moment, I did not care. I bound my son's abilities and wrapped them so tightly around him that he would appear to be a Norm and no test would show him as anything but. I gave him the energy that Orochimaru had been directing here and told myself that, as I could see no ill effects in this world, that all was well. I gave my son to a couple who couldn't have children of their own, one where the father looked a great deal like myself so that no one would comment on my son's appearance. In this world, my son was entirely Norm and I did nothing but continue to run the College and control the Snowflake Conspiracy in order to turn it to less harmful gains. I gave up my name, Sakumo, and took Orochimaru's."
"Your son," Sakura said unsteadily, "where is he now?"
Kakashi felt like the world was dropping out from under him. He could see where this story was going and he wanted to be ill. "It's me," he said, "isn't it?"
The man who looked like, but wasn't anything like, Orochimaru turned to look at him. "Why don't you pull out that camera of yours," Sakumo said, "and take a picture to prove it?"
Kakashi had no idea how that was supposed to prove anything and when he glanced at Sakura he found her staring blankly at him. "I know what the prophecy means now," she said, her face so white that her eyes looked like they were glowing from his distress. "Sakura's love will have a choice and on that choice rests the destruction or saving of the world-that's not anything to do with me. It is you, because it was my love that got us this far."
He fumbled for the camera. It felt slick and cool in his hands. "What will happen," he asked, "when I take a picture?"
"Didn't you hear, Sakura?" his father said. "It'll be into your hands then."
Kakashi's hands shook as he raised the camera and pointed it at his father. He hesitated and then pointed it at Sakura for a moment before hesitating again. Distantly he could hear bells tolling in the distance. With every second, they became louder.
Sakura's lips parted. "The bells," she breathed, "the snow song. Then-"
His sleeve melted away from the Questing Flute and it rose into the air, trilling a harmony to the bells which were ringing louder than ever in his ears. Kakashi found he couldn't think let alone make a decision with all the noise. He looked at Sakura, whose eyes were huge and trusting him to make the decision that would save her family and he realized, in that moment, that she did love him. He looked at his father, still wearing the illusions that made him seem like Orochimaru and was unsurprised by the cool nod he received back.
The nod said well, get on with it.
Still Kakashi hesitated. Sakura's lips formed a word that he couldn't hear. He smiled faintly, reassuringly, at her. He couldn't let her down. He raised the camera, turned it around, and took a picture of himself.
The camera dissolved in a wash of blue sparks. It was a few seconds before Kakashi realized that the light wasn't fading and that his hands were dissolving as well. Up and up crept the light and it took from him his hands and then his arms and then up past his elbows to his shoulders. From there it spread downwards.
All he could hear was the sound of bells and the trilling of the flute as the sparks crept up and took his face as a question, in Sakura's voice, sounded in his ears:
"What do you choose?"
Two Years Later
"Mother says that we should get married," Sakura said idly. It was a brilliantly sunny day as they lounged out on the fields. The sky was pink and bold above them. "She doesn't understand why we haven't yet since you saved us all and came into your true inheritance of power as a Gene."
"Only because you refused to let me die. I wasn't aware that saving a world meant I had to get married," Kakashi commented, not looking up from his book. He paused. "Unless you wanted to, I suppose. Though I'm still learning how to control all that power."
"That's not very romantic," she observed. "Most girls get more than that."
"You still dream of my death," he pointed out. "How can I be romantic with someone who thinks I'd be better off six feet under?"
"So," he said, looking up at her. She was sitting up in a tree that had leaves the colour of molten silver and bark the colour of green grass. Her little sister, Ino, was asleep in her lap. "'Til death do us part, huh?"
Sakura looked down at him. Her eyes crinkled with a grin that she didn't let her lips form. "That'll be happening any day then, right?"
He flicked a bit of blue grass her direction and snorted. "If that was the case," Kakashi said, "I wouldn't have made it this far."
"You're very ambitious," she said agreeably. "For a corpse to be."
Kakashi rolled his eyes and stretched. He looked at her long pink hair and her bright green eyes and asked, "Will you marry me?"
She looked at him for a long moment. "Well," Sakura said, her eyes wicked, "I suppose I might as well. You aremy hero, after all."
"It'd look very strange if you didn't marry me," he assured her, carefully not grinning. "Everyone would wonder what's wrong with you."
Kakashi pretended to think about that. "No," he said, "because I already know exactly what's wrong with you."
"Hey yourself," he said, smiling up at her. "You love me."
"And yet you still want me dead?"
"Well," she teased, "maybe a little."
Kakashi leaned against the tree with a content sigh. "That's good enough for me. We'll have to invite everyone, you realize? Dad will want to come and Obito, Rin and Minato would never forgive me if I didn't…"
Happy holidays, everyone! I hope you all enjoyed this. :)