Chapter 19- Rebirth?
Kakashi pulled out his hand, blood spraying out on his masked face as the bloodline user fell to his knees, before falling on his face on the cold hard ground.
'What is...no, this is not possible. This...doesn't makes sense,' Naruto thought as he slowly lowered his head to look at the scroll laying just in front of him- the scroll which Kakashi had just used for summoning.
A violent gust of wind swept by the bridge, as the scroll unfurled out along the floor.
'The Death Note...failed?' Naruto thought as he continued to look at the contents of the scroll- especially at the large name written in blood-
His mind swirling with all logical reasons, yet unexplainable according to normal standards- still, he just couldn't comprehend it.
'No, it didn't fail. He died. He did die...died by a heart attack, the death note did kill him. But then, how can...a miracle? Did he cheat death or something?' lifting his foot, he planted it on the freshly written name with blood- before scribbling it away to erase any evidence. The whiskered blonde was still in a trance-like state.
What the fuck had just happened?
This didn't making any sense. He could understand if the Death Note actually failed to kill someone, since he was still in the experimenting stage- and that there could be a few exceptions as to how the Death Note was supposed to work. But this? A person coming back AFTER dying? There was no logic in this...
"Well well! Seems like the party has been going on pretty intensely huh?" the trio turned their heads to hear a familiar gruff voice, coming from the thin veil of fog.
"G-Gato!" Zabuza growled, his eyes getting narrowed while Kakashi's nin dogs still held a tight grip on him.
"That's right you swine! I'm here to tie all loose ends! I've had enough of you, and this bridge!" their silhouettes getting denser as they finally walked out of the fog- appearing in front of the trio.
"And I've come fully prepared!" the millionaire yelled with a psychotic gleam in his eyes, standing in front of his dozens of goons.
"Some traitor you are huh?! But still, I thought maybe you could've killed these Konoha nin for me before I eliminated the bridge builder personally. Though it seems my men have to take care of that too...nothing more than a waste you are, huh you useless shit?!" he blabbered, adjusting his green tinted glasses while Kakashi, reading the situation- ordered his nin dogs to dispel themselves.
"Ungh!" balancing himself, Zabuza's both damaged arms fell to his sides limply as he glared at Gato.
"You dare call me a traitor you backstabbing motherfucker! You're the one who broke our contract!" he yelled.
"You! Konoha nin! I'm warning you! Stand aside and let me finish the bridge builder! You have no business in this matter!" Gato shouted as Kakashi stepped forward.
"To protect Tazuna-san is our mission. No matter who you are, we cannot let you touch him," he uttered in a hostile tone before turning to the demon of the mist.
"Well...it seems we have a common enemy this time."
"So it seems...Kakashi, give me your kunai," the swordsman of the mist articulated as the copy ninja, hesitating for a moment- warily flung a kunai towards him. Catching it in his mouth, he turned to glare murderously at Gato- who stepped back, unnerved by the bloodthirsty look in Zabuza's eyes.
"K-Kill them all! Don't let a single one escape!"
Meanwhile, Naruto just stood there, staring at the lifeless corpse of Haku. The blonde was still in shock, pondering on any possible explanations as to what could've happened to revive the ice user back. It couldn't have been on will power alone. That was preposterous!
'Death is reality. Something you cannot cheat, something inevitable. It happens, and isn't just a supernatural concept straight out of a folklore. Death Note does exactly that, kill a person. And that's it. It makes the person experience death much sooner than he's supposed to. But this hypothesis, this absolutely virtual concept of revival, especially in case of Death Note, should not exist. In medical science, there have been cases of a person dying temporarily, but when it comes to Death Note, death is permanent, absolute, frozen,' his mind was rambling, pulling out all the philosophical and logical shit it was capable of...and yet, it still seemed so impossible.
Hearing a muffled shrill cry from a distance, the blonde snapped his eyes up in an instant- vaguely noticing how Zabuza had just killed Gato before kicking the millionaire away into the river below. Consequently, he also ignored the sounds of metal tearing into flesh as the demon of the mist got impaled by the goons' swords.
Zabuza laid in his own pool of blood, his eyes barely open as he stared into the endless sky. His vision began to get blurry, blood streaming down the corner of his mouth.
'Heh….fucking traitors. But yeah, why should I blame them? We are shinobi after all, to deceive and be deceived is in our nature….someone finally deceives me now huh? What a f-fucking irony!' the demon of the mist thought in his last moments as he coughed up some blood, producing a gurgling sound. His whole life flashed before his eyes right then, a new realization setting in for the mist shinobi.
'It was all a waste. What was the purpose in my life? Was there any? All this fighting, this war, this endless cycle, all for...just this? Was this what we were born for? To live like this? I...could've lived better' he turned his head just a little bit, barely able to see Haku's body lying far away just beside where Kakashi was standing. A lone tear slipped from the corner of his right eye as the light began to leave his eyes.
'I'm sorry...Haku. Please, forgive me. Maybe I will live my life, better next time? I hope, we meet again.'
The Next Morning: Tazuna's House
"Where is he? He still hasn't woken up?" Tazuna asked after finishing his breakfast as he sat by the dining table. A light warm glow dimly lighted the living room as Tsunami quietly washed the dishes.
Sasuke was eating his breakfast half-heartedly while Kakashi seemed to be sitting calmly, having already finished his meal. Tilting his head up, he gazed at their room- a poignant look in his eye.
Tsunami stopped washing the dishes for a moment as she looked upwards, her expression knitted with concern.
"How long are you gonna just lay there? This is unusual of you," Ryuk spoke, floating in midair as he ate an apple. The blonde was still lying on his futon, facing the wall with his back turned towards the shinigami. Warm, silky morning rays were caressing his hair, dimly lighting the room.
The jinchuriki didn't respond as he kept staring at the wall, his eyes half-lidded.
"You knew this would happen, those are the risks that come with this profession. This is really strange of you kid. You were ready for this, this whole shinobi concept, you said so yourself. What the hell is happening to you now?" Ryuk uttered in confusion, now sitting cross-legged in midair.
"I don't know, this is strange. This shouldn't have affected me, she was just a nuisance anyway. Always babbling, giggling stupidly like a fan girl, but...I don't know. This is really strange. I'm not supposed to feel this way I..." Naruto sighed lightly, still gazing at the wall.
"Well I guess she grew up on you huh? Despite you pushing her off all the time, I guess she did melt some of that icy heart of yours. That's how it is kid, you can't control what you feel," the shinigami munched on his apple as he shrugged. A silence ensued in the room as the death god finished eating, throwing the leftover out of the window.
"Oh come the fuck on! She died! So fuckin' what?! People die everyday dammit! It's something you humans always do and experience! It's pathetic seeing especially YOU, of all people feeling like this! You forgot how those villagers treated you?! You killed all of them, that didn't affect you! You were not even friends with her! Get a hold of yourself! I don't like this Naruto! You were so confident before graduating, like you knew everything! Look at you now!" the shinigami hollered, his frustration and anger slightly taking the whiskered blonde off guard.
Sitting up slowly, still facing the wall- Naruto lowered his head as he gazed at his lap.
"I guess, it's easier said than done. I had gotten...attached to her, to this team. I'm surprised myself, that I'm affected. I shouldn't be, I don't want to be...but I am. Is that my fault Ryuk?" his voice soft as he stood up, putting on his sandals.
"No, but this is so unlike you. You never felt these things before. When I first met you, I thought you were a revenge seeking, cold blooded bastard. And now look at you, since you came here...you've gotten soft. What is it? What has affected you?" Ryuk questioned as Naruto's eyes widened a bit, fastening the strap of his left shinobi sandal.
"I..." his eyes softened a bit as he slowly stood up.
"Never mind. I'll be back to myself again once I get back in that hellhole," Naruto muttered, bitterness seeping into his tone as he stared outside through the window.
"Experiencing a comrade's death was a whole different thing, it caught me off guard. But, I don't think I'll forget her. She was a good person Ryuk, she was still young, seeing the world, experiencing the happiness, its joys...its cruelties, its dark side. She was maturing. She would've become a great kunoichi. And more than anything, she sacrificed herself to save me...I'm not deserving of that," closing his eyes, Naruto wiped them a bit before hastily turning away from the shinigami.
'Naruto...' Ryuk thought, stunned that the blonde genius was affected this much.
Sliding the door open, the jinchuriki stepped out. Walking to the room right next to him, to his right, he slowly slid the door open just a little bit.
His eyes remained emotionless as he stared at the lifeless body lying beneath the white covers in the middle of the room.
The Bridge: An Hour Later
"Well, I guess this is it," Kakashi uttered with a neutral expression as team seven, or rather what was left of team seven, stood in front of Tazuna, Tsunami and Inari- the three sporting forlorn expressions on their faces.
Tsunami stared at the large scroll on Kakashi's back, still not believing what it contained- or rather, who it contained.
'She was only twelve, just a child...and to die at such a young age,' her lips curled down as she averted her gaze, feeling moisture seep into her eyes. Tazuna was looking at the concrete floor with a despondent phizog, somehow feeling himself responsible for the loss of their comrade.
"Thank you for letting us stay Tsunami-san," the silver haired jounin articulated with a small smile as she bowed politely.
"It was my pleasure Kakashi-san. I will always remember your team, and what you have done for us. If it matters even a bit, I'm deeply sorry about your loss," her voice quivering as silence ensued for a bit. Nodding lightly at her, Kakashi turned as he started to walk slowly with Sasuke following him consequently- lost in his own thoughts.
Naruto stood there as if in a trance when Tazuna stepped forward. Snapping out of his reverie, he looked up at the old bridge builder, nodding at him.
"I hope things go well for you now. This was my first mission, so I'll always remember it," he muttered in a solemn tone when Tazuna stooped to his knees, before bowing completely in front of the young genin- surprising the standing trio.
"It was my fault! If I hadn't-"
"Don't!" Naruto interrupted him sharply as he bent down to the old man's level.
"You're only insulting us this way, you're mocking her sacrifice. Ever since this team was formed..." the jinchuriki's eyes softened as Tazuna lifted his forehead off the floor- now sitting on his knees as he gazed at the blonde.
"Ever since this team was formed, I thought she was a useless part of this team- the weakest link. And she proved me wrong, by saving me itself. She sacrificed herself not only for me, but for the mission, for the cause we were fighting for. We had made our decisions when I argued with Kakashi-sensei..." he trailed, a look of regret crossing his eyes which Tsunami immediately picked up.
Stepping forward, she bent down to wrap her arms gently around Naruto- making him go stiff.
"You're a hero Naruto-kun, don't you ever forget that. And no matter what you have to do as a shinobi, what decisions you have to take...it's your intentions that counts," she nuzzled her cheek against his while the blonde's eyes widened at that.
Ryuk watched the interaction intently as moisture seeped out of the jinchuriki's oceanic blue orbs before he quickly closed his eyes- taking a deep breath to get a hold of himself as he hugged her back.
"It doesn't matter to me if the people see me as a God, a murderer, a monster or whatever. I'm just doing what my heart is telling me to do."
'Well he forgot to include 'hero'...or maybe there was a part of him, somewhere inside, that wanted to be seen as a hero. I guess, deep inside, he yearns to be acknowledged,' the shinigami thought with a small smile- with what he could manage with his un-human mouth anyway.
"Thank you Tsunami-san, for everything. I will never forget you," Naruto said with closed eyes, a serene expression on his face as he revelled in her warmth.
"Of course, you can't expect me to forget such a brave and amazing child like you either," she muttered before leaning back, releasing him from the hug.
Smiling at her lightly, he nodded before shifting his gaze at Inari- who was close to tears by now, his lower lip stiff as he sniffed in to control himself. Putting a hand on his head, the blonde grinned lightly at the boy.
"See you soon little champ, and look out for your mom and the old drunk here. You're the man of the house now. Be strong Inari, and be safe. Just be the way you are, and try not to let the bad things in your life change who you are," he murmured while Tsunami smiled at their interaction- wiping a tear off her left cheek. Inari nodded stiffly as he kept his head lowered down.
"I-I will. And I promise to remember the 'cardiac jukebox'!" he exclaimed, wiping his eyes quickly while Naruto nodded at him- smiling warmly at him.
'That village, really destroyed the most of this kid, the real Naruto...' Ryuk thought as he gazed at the compassionate blonde.
Turning around, the jinchuriki started walking as he waved over languidly over his head.
"I-Inari...who told you about this...'cardiac jukebox'?" Naruto eyes widened in realization upon hearing Tsunami's stunned voice- somehow feeling her staring at the back of his head with wide eyes.
He started walking faster now, confusing the shinigami in the process.
"Oi, what's the matter with you. Why are you trying to run while walking at the same time?"
"N-Naruto..." Inari responded while wiping his tears as Tsunami covered her mouth in shock- her heart thumping against her chest, her mind being instantly filled with memories of that night- all those years ago.
Flashback- Five Years Ago
"It's beautiful isn't it Tou-san?!" a woman in her early twenties chirped, a bright smile on her face as she stared up into the luminescent sky- filled with fireworks from the festival.
"Hai hai, no need to get so worked up. You'll wake up little Inari," the middle-aged man chided, sitting beside his daughter casually on a bench. A sheepish expression crossed Tsunami's face as she quieted down to glance down at the baby in her lap- cradled in her arms. She looked on as Inari scrunched his eyebrows, his eyes slowly opening and soon- he was bawling.
Tsunami and Tazuna both blinked at the crying baby when the bridge builder shrugged.
"Told ya...must be because of the fireworks though."
"Awww..." the young mother cooed as she gently rocked Inari in her arms, bringing him close to her face as she nuzzled her cheek against his baby soft skin- instantly calming him down.
"Whoa hey, how'd you calm him down so quickly? He never listens to me," Tazuna spoke in surprise as she winked at him playfully before rubbing her nose against Inari's little one.
"It's our little secret, isn't it Inari," she cooed with a small giggle resulting in a small gurgle of a laugh escape Inari's lips. Tazuna sighed before smiling at the duo.
'Well, after losing him, this should be a breath of fresh air for her,' he thought while gazing over the large festival taking place in Konoha- the duo currently sitting on a bench atop a small hill side, a dense foliage behind the bench.
"By the way, what was this festival about again? I think you've told me that before right?" Tsunami questioned with a confused expression making him sweatdrop.
"I've told you this five times on our way here," he deadpanned making her blush in embarrassment as she laughed sheepishly.
"Ahehe, you know I tend to forget things sometimes Tou-san," she uttered.
'Sometimes is an understatement,' Tazuna thought before he started speaking.
"Seven years ago, on this day, the nine tailed fox attacked Konoha. It was on this day that they lost their fourth hokage...," he paused to point at the yondaime's face on the monument up there towards the hills in the back.
"...and countless other shinobi had lost their lives. So on this day every year, the October tenth, they mourn for the lost lives in the morning while at night, they celebrate their victory over the demon fox," he finished making her mouth open in an 'o' as she nodded before averting her eyes towards the sky.
"Everybody suffers Tsunami, everyone have their own set of pain and sufferings. But by sharing each other's pain, we can fill the hole in each other's hearts. No one is alone, no one should be alone...and you're certainly not alone musume," he said before wrapping an arm around her shoulders as she rested her head on his shoulder.
"Of course father, I have you...and Inari too," she muttered with a serene smile making him return the gesture before the bridge builder stood up, while she leaned her head back.
"Okay! I'm gonna go and look for something for us to eat," Tazuna articulated as he began to walk towards the stalls downwards, making her sigh.
"Already? We just ate. And you ate like a pig."
"There's always some room for more my dear daughter," he spoke over his shoulder with a grin.
"His stomach is like a bottomless pit huh Inari? I hope you don't turn out like your grandfather when it comes to appetite...no need to overdo it okay," she smiled at him as he giggled, his little hands gently clutching the strands of her hair.
She snapped her head up when the sound of wood breaking reached her ears.
A little boy fell on the ground along with the broken branch with a bunch of leaves floating down to settle on him.
Her eyes wide, she sat there frozen, waiting for the little bit of dust to clear up as the boy grunted in pain. He sat up slowly, holding his head as the dust unveiled itself for her eyes to widen more.
He was just a child, and in a pitiful condition- torn rags, covered in a mixture of dry mud and blood, and dirty blonde hair.
"Oh Kami, are you okay?" gently setting Inari, who was covered in several thick blankets, on the bench. She stood up to scurry towards him while he seemed to be self-absorbed in pain, coughing to get the dust out of his system.
"Hey, are yo-" the moment her fingers touched his shoulder, he slapped her hand away in blurred reflex. The blonde backed away instantly, his feet skidding on the ground as he leaned away from her- nothing but fear visible in his eyes.
Tsunami watched him in a mixture of confusion and concern as he panted a bit, still struggling between absorbing the pain and getting away from her.
"You...You don't need to be afraid of me, I'm not going to harm you," she spoke gently making his eyes widen before they narrowed. His little elbows still on the ground, the blonde continued to struggle to back away from her when she noticed his bleeding left knee.
"Wait! Oh my God, your knee is bleeding. Here..." standing up, she quickly went to the bench to her large bag beside a sleeping Inari. Shuffling the items inside hurriedly, she took out a small first aid kit- silently thanking her father for that.
The blonde watched her in confusion as she came back with some bandages and ointments.
"Here, don't move I...wait! Don't do tha-" the boy had started to clean the blood off his knees with the ragged sleeve of his shirt when she stopped speaking.
'The cut...it's already healed?' she thought in astonishment before looking up into his eyes- they were a striking shade of blue. No, they were intense, dark even- as he gazed at her, as if measuring her.
Snapping out from his oceanic pools, she glanced at the bandages in her hand awkwardly before looking at him.
"Uh, um...I guess I won't need these anymore," he still seemed to be vary of her, stretching his head as far away from her as he could manage.
Her mind was filled with thoughts, questions more specifically. Who was this child? Wasn't he supposed to be in the orphanage? Was he lost? Had someone kidnapped him and he had managed to run away? Had no one noticed that such a young child was roaming outside alone, in a condition like this no more?
"Okay...okay," she took a deep breath to herself. Having herself experienced the joys of motherhood just recently, she didn't like the sight in front of her, at all.
"Where are your parents? Do you remember where you live?" Tsunami questioned as he just continued to look at her. Keeping his sharp eyes on her, he stood up slowly, cautiously. She looked on as he took a step back.
"Wait sweetie, I'm not going to hurt yo-" her reaching hand again elicited a quick response from him- with the reflexes of a hardened survivor the boy had swatted her hand away as he took a few quick steps back.
Shocked by his behaviour, she held her hands up in front of her- trying to calm him down, clearly he was anxious and afraid of her.
"Okay okay! No contact, I got it. But I'm not going to hurt you. Tell me, why are you in such a condition, do you have parents?" she asked a different question this time while his intense eyes seemed to be piercing her soul. After a few seconds, he finally shook his head slowly, hesitantly.
Her heart beat quickened as her concern for the blonde in front of her grew.
"Anyone, a guardian?"
Again, a shake of his head.
"Do you live in an orphanage?"
His eyes softened for a bit, she saw it, before they again hardened as he tightly shook his head.
"O-Okay...it's...it's..." this was too much to take in. No one to take care of him, wearing these rags, it was clear he was living on the streets. Konoha was a shinobi village, of course a ninja or two must have had noticed a young boy like him and reported it to the hokage. Why wasn't this boy helped?
"D-Do you live on the streets?"
His eyes narrowed this time, the first sign of aggression she noticed. He nodded slowly, his hands coming down to his sides slowly which were earlier up in front of him- as if trying to materialize a physical barrier between him and her.
Releasing a shuddering breath, her right hand automatically moved to cover her mouth as she averted her gaze. It was hurting her to look at him, in such a condition; he barely had any meat on him.
'Kami, what are you doing to this child?'
She was too afraid to ask the next question.
"How do you get food? Wh-where do you eat?"
The blonde looked at her in confusion, and she realized a few tears had streamed down her smooth cheeks. She quickly wiped them off while he looked at something beside the bench.
Following his eyes, she took a deep breath to get a hold of herself- it was a trash can.
"A-Are there others like you? Have you met someone who is living on the streets?"
He shook his head, and she expected that. Konoha, one of the great five hidden villages, was a prosperous place. There were no beggars here, and orphans had a secure place to ensure their childhood is safe and just as it was supposed to be.
'God, how could have anyone NOT noticed this child? Are they blind? They are celebrating out there, and this boy here is fighting for survival!'
She was suddenly feeling anger, towards all these people. Obviously no one had cared enough to even report this boy's condition to the hokage.
"Okay, this is just so..." she sighed, clutching her knees tightly as she sniffed in, wiping the remnants of her tears from her cheeks.
"Can you speak? Wait! Are you feeling hungry? " she asked with a teary-eyed smile making his eyes widen, as he averted his gaze for a bit before looking at her. He slowly nodded.
"Right!" standing up quickly, again eliciting a surprised reaction from him as he stepped back, she smiled apologetically at him.
"Sorry...I didn't mean to scare you," she gave him a warm smile before turning to reach her hand bag. Opening it, Tsunami took out a lot of stuff- buff and warm plastic bags, and several packed boxes.
"Ah, my father bought all this food after he was full. He really liked it, he's a food fanatic I tell you, I'm sure he'll stuff himself again as soon as we reach home," she spoke while taking out more and more food while the boy's eyes widened as he looked at the amount. He had never seen so much food at one place in his small life.
"Here, now dig in. Eat as much as you..." she trailed after turning around to see him practically drooling as he kept staring at the food. Opening a plastic bag, she paused upon seeing his eyes narrow at her.
Instinctively, she retracted her hands while looking at him in confusion.
"Okay well...you can open it yourself if you want. I'm not doing anything sneaky here, just take it," she offered with a smile before taking Inari in her arms. Tsunami sat down on the bench, gently rocking Inari before glancing at the wary blonde in front of her.
"Hey, come on. I'm not going to harm you. Even if I wanted to, I'm not sure I could. I'm a gentle person by nature, and a bit goofy...hehe," she stuck her tongue out at him playfully as he raised his eyebrows, as if questioning her sanity.
She patted the seat beside her gently, giving him a warm smile.
Almost barely, she noticed him take a step forward, hesitantly, as he kept looking back between her and the food on the bench.
"C'mon, don't be shy. I'm a mother, and it hurts me more than you think to see a child like you in such a condition. See, this is my baby, his name is Inari," her voice quivered with emotions as she lifted Inari a bit to signify, looking at him with tear filled eyes.
Still extremely cautious, he stepped bit by bit to finally reach the bench. Putting his hands on the metal as leverage, he jumped to pull himself up before sitting on the edge of the bench- away from Tsunami. She smiled sadly at him as he slowly opened the bags, his hands were trembling.
Soon, he was eating like a pig, just like her father. But rather than crinkle her nose in irritation and disgust, she smiled melancholically at him. It again brought her to tears as she gazed at him, the little blonde devouring his food like he hadn't eaten for days.
Tsunami was brought out of her reverie when she heard small baby moans coming from Inari. She chuckled lightly as some of her tears had fallen on his nose and eyes.
"Gomen Inari..." she mumbled, tenderly wiping his nose and eyes. Lifting him, she kissed him gently on the forehead as he continued to sleep.
Looking back at the blonde, she was surprised to find him staring at Inari in longing- his eyes filled with nothing but heart wrenching sadness. She continued to look at him breathless, as soon his eyes were glossy.
Noticing her staring at him, he quickly went back to eating. The blonde turned away from her as he continued to eat. Tsunami heard him sniff while he ate, her heart clenching inside her chest. She looked on as he lifted his right elbow quickly, to wipe his eyes before resuming his eating.
'This is not fair...' she gulped, her throat constricted with emotions as she wiped her own cheeks. Taking a decision, her gaze hardening, she again focused her gaze at him as he continued to wipe his eyes.
"S-Say, would you l-like to come with me?" she asked with a smile, hoping to change this boy's life for the better. He deserved much better than this, anyone deserved much better than this!
Her eyebrows lowered in concern, almost pleading when he shook his head unsteadily while eating.
"Why? Are you afraid? Don't worry, I will take care of you. We live in Nami no Kuni, it's a good and a peaceful place. I'll make sure that you're never alone again. You can live with us, we'll be your family," she almost begged him, knowing that forcing him would do no good, even if it was for the better.
The boy stopped eating, his back facing her, as he again shook his head- his little shoulders shaking as he furiously wiped his eyes.
"What's the problem? Please trust me, you won't have to live on streets anymore! You wouldn't have to endure this hell!" Tsunami exclaimed loudly- her cheeks wet now as she deliberately kept distance between herself and him, knowing that he would just again recede back into his shelter. At least she had gotten him to open up a bit- though he still hadn't spoken a word to her yet.
"Don't do this to yourself. Listen, if you are afraid...just listen to what your heart is saying," she composed herself, again taking a deep breath while he had stopped eating.
"If you are afraid, if you are confused...if you don't know what to do, please...listen to your heart. It must be telling you to leave with me right? It must be singing to you to leave this kind of life," she shook her head at the absurdity of what she was saying to a child so young. She was sure he couldn't even understand the half of what she was saying.
"Well if it's singing I guess you could call it the cardiac jukebox huh?" a quivering chuckle escaping her lips as she pursed her trembling lips in a thin line.
"I'm just rambling..." she muttered to herself with a shaky sigh, wiping her cheeks for probably the tenth time. The blonde was silent now, his back still facing her, his head lowered as he seemed to be contemplating something. She went silent, opting to give him time to think- for a child so young, he seemed to think a lot.
'Whatever he may decide, I'm taking him with me, by force if I have to. He'll see it was for the better when he grows up. I can't just leave him here alone like this again, it's obvious he'll die soon like this!' she thought, clutching Inari tightly to herself.
"Tsunami! Ahh damn! Should've asked someone to help me!" She lifted her head upon hearing Tazuna's voice. Relieved that he was here, she was sure he could help her in coaxing the boy to go with them.
Setting Inari gently on the bench, she quickly ran towards Tazuna. Reaching him, Tsunami took several bags from him as he sighed in relief. She would've sighed in exasperation if not for the more pressing matter.
"Tou-san quick, there's someone...just follow me," she quickly said before walking at a brisk pace towards the bench.
"What happened? Is everything alright? Is Inari okay?" Tazuna questioned, instantly concerned.
"Yes everything is alright, jus-" she stopped abruptly upon noticing the blonde to be absent from where he was sitting on the bench.
Fear settled in her heart as she looked around anxiously.
"Where is he? Hello?! Hey! Where are you?!" she asked quickly, loudly- while Tazuna looked at her in confusion.
She continued to look around, her eyes watering- had he run away? She hadn't even asked his name!
"N-No...he was here just here! He was...!" she trailed, tears cascading down her cheeks as the bridge builder gently took hold of her shoulder.
"What's wrong musume? Who was here? What happened?" he asked worriedly as she burst into tears, sobbing into his chest while he hugged her back, confused as to what had happened.
"Fuck!" Naruto cursed, his eyes shadowed as he continued to walk quickly, hands stuffed into his pockets stiffly. Ryuk looked back at the source of voice, Tsunami, and then back at him.
"Oi, what's going on?" the shinigami questioned.
"NARUTO-KUN! P-Please wait!"
"Tsunami, what's wrong?!"
The blonde heard Tazuna and Inari call out to her, the jinchuriki faintly hearing the sound of her footsteps- getting louder by the second as he increased his pace.
"What's wrong? Why are you running?!" Ryuk asked in confusion as he flew beside the now running blonde.
'I should've been more careful!' mentally berating himself, Naruto continued to run, his eyes shadowed, zoning out Tsunami's shouts behind him.
"PLEASE! I BEG YOU! STOP!"
He gritted his teeth upon hearing a light 'thud' as she tripped on her feet while Tazuna and Inari rushed to her side.
"If you are afraid, if you are confused...if you don't know what to do, please...listen to your heart."
Ryuk looked at him strangely as he gradually slowed his pace, finally coming to a halt. His shoulders were stiff as he kept staring at the ground, his eyes clenched shut- his breathing harsh.
"Tsunami?" Tazuna asked in concern as he helped his daughter stand up, Inari too by her side- looking at her in a mixture of worry and befuddlement.
Dusting off her elbows, she hastily wiped her tears, her eyes getting widened as she watched him standing there- his back facing them. A surge of anxiousness passed through her as she again ran off, making Inari look at Tazuna- looking for answers.
"Um...she's coming again," Ryuk uttered, scratching his head- having no idea as to what was going on- another crazy human 'endeavour' he guessed.
The shinigami watched on as Tsunami, upon reaching him, hugged him from behind tightly as she burst out in the tears.
Naruto stood there stiffly, while her body shook with her muffled sobs as she tightened her hold on him.
"I kn-knew it...y-you were familiar," she sniffed in several times, her eyes closed while her cheeks were wet.
"W-Why didn't you tell me?" she asked while Naruto, gently tugging at her hands, turned around to face her. He was sporting a small smile on his face as he looked at her, his eyes holding nothing but warmth.
"Tell you? Didn't you already have enough on your hand? I was just happy to meet you Tsunami-san," he spoke calmly while Ryuk stared at him.
Wiping her eyes, she opened them to look at him- seeing him in a whole new light now. This young boy, having endured so much, she thought for sure he would've died by now.
"D-Did you know I was here when you volunteered for the mission, against your s-sensei's wishes?" she questioned as he shook his head.
"No, I didn't have a clue. I was actually shocked to see you standing at the entrance of the house of our client. I was really happy to meet you again, that was enough for me," he uttered with a smile as she lowered her eyes in regret.
"I'm sorry, I wanted to adopt you. But you...I really wanted to help you. Why did you...no, you were just a child, afraid, of course you would run. To this day, countless times I wondered what happened to that child, if he was alive or not. And if he was, how was he? Was he still living on the streets?" Naruto smiled as he wiped her left cheek, Tsunami having bent to his level.
"You yourself told me just now, it's the intention that counts. The fact that you wanted to help me, and were ready to go as far as to adopt me...was far more than anyone had ever done for me. It was that night, I guess, that gave me the courage to endure everything," his eyes were closed when she shook his shoulder.
"W-What happened to you after that? Were you put b-back into the orphanage?" she questioned with hope in her eyes, while he, kept his eyes closed- the smile pasted on his face.
"Ah, nope! Even better, I was adopted. My new parents always treated me as their own, and I found a new little sister, whom I have the duty to protect now, as her older brother of course," there was a small grin on his face while Ryuk watched him in surprise.
Tsunami's face lit up as she parted a strand from her face.
"R-Really? I'm glad! I'm so glad!" she hugged him again, while this time, the jinchuriki hugged her back lightly.
"Yes, but I never forgot you for even a moment. Even when I was down at times, I always remembered what you said- I always tried to follow my heart," he uttered, his eyes half-lidded as the whiskered blonde stared at the ground.
Leaning back, she offered him a warm smile.
"It feels like a weight has been lifted off my chest. But still, I still wish I could adopt you. Oh well, you have your own family now," she patted him on his head gently with a grin as he gave her a tight lipped smile.
"Tsunami, what happened?" turning back, she grinned at the approaching forms of Tazuna and Inari.
"Father, Inari! You wouldn't believe who our hero actually is!" she exclaimed with a bright smile while Ryuk kept gazing at the blonde in front of him.
Several Minutes Later: Somewhere Just Outside Nami no Kuni
"C'mon! I'm asking you?! What was that back then?! And why the hell did you lie to her!?" Ryuk questioned impatiently as he flew with the blonde pacing through the forest.
Naruto sighed inwardly as he kept going.
"Nothing, just a glimpse of heaven I got in my hellish past."
The reply confused the shinigami even more as he finally decided to drop it, before noticing the nearing walking forms of Kakashi and Sasuke.
Taking a final leap, the jinchuriki landed behind team seven.
"Took you long enough," Kakashi said after turning his head as they stopped walking.
Naruto nodded solemnly as he walked past the duo.
"Yeah, sorry for that," he replied in a neutral tone as Sasuke stared at his back. Sighing to himself, Kakashi adjusted the large scroll on his back as they continued their trek back to Konoha.
'Well, looks like he's back to normal again.'
Konoha: Hokage's Office: Later
"I see...this is indeed unfortunate, to die at such a young age," Hiruzen had a grave expression on his face, his eyes closed in sadness as team seven stood in front of him. The sandaime sighed, as he replayed what Kakashi had just debriefed regarding the mission.
The silver haired jounin glanced at the blonde standing beside him, confused as to why the jinchuriki had intervened regarding him going against the rules and deciding to help Tazuna, when Kakashi himself had tried to protect him.
"Maybe we could've prevented this had Shikaku's team stayed there for a bit more," Sarutobi muttered while Kakashi, Sasuke and Naruto were gazing at the floor.
"I'm sorry Hokage-sama, maybe if I'd-"
"Cut it Kakashi. You know you did what you could. Don't let the regret control you because of your past. With the mission of this rank, there was a high chance this was supposed to happen," the hokage articulated as Naruto clenched his fists tightly, his head down.
The door opened as Shikaku entered the office along with Inoichi, a deep scowl on the former's face.
"Hokage-sama, Kakashi...is it true? One of your students...?" Inoichi asked as the jounin turned to nod lightly, a melancholic expression on his face.
Shikaku glared at Naruto's back as he grit his teeth.
"Well hokage-sama, it seems our friend, who we've been trying to catch for over a month now is finally showing his true colors. I've been telling you from the beginning, this Kira is dangerous. He's spreading outside too, not only inside Konoha. What do you intend to do now?" Shikaku raised his voice, anger clearly boiling on the surface as he glared at Naruto.
"Shikaku..." Hiruzen sighed with sadness, conflicted as to what was going on.
"Shikaku-san, we're still not sure if it was Ki-"
"We have evidence to prove it Kakashi and you know it! This has gone on for too long now! This madness is just going to grow from here on out if we don't cut its roots!" the Nara exclaimed as he pointed at Naruto.
"YOU THINK I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?!" the jinchuriki burst out as he glared murderously at Shikaku.
"I'm sick of your bullshit! She died because of our enemy, our enemy was fucking strong! She died while protecting me!"
"Well maybe somehow this Kira, or most probably YOU, controlled her to take the hit instead of you huh?!" Shikaku yelled back as Kakashi watched the uncharacteristic exchange in surprise.
"Are you weak in the head?! Is that even possible! And she's my teammate for crying out loud!"
"Really?! Is that coming out of the mouth of the kid who doesn't give a shit about his team, about his teammates and about his sensei?!" Shikaku exclaimed as Naruto gritted his teeth as he turned his head, gazing at the floor while Ryuk, who was also present there- was having trouble identifying if what the blonde in front of him was displaying were his Oscar winning acting skills, or if his emotions were genuine.
"Shikaku, stop it..." Inoichi muttered as he glanced at the large scroll lying on the hokage's desk- containing the dead body of one Sakura Haruno.
"I don't know if you're Kira or not! But all the events so far have been revolving around you! It's always you! You are the epicentre for all the shit we've been enduring so far! Kira was actively involved throughout the WHOLE fucking mission! And believe it or not, your teammate right here died of because of that cold blo-"
Everyone present in the room snapped their heads towards the hokage's desk, specifically the scroll- which right now was covered in smoke. Kakashi eyes widened when one end of the scroll unfurled down the edge of the desk- after coming out through the smoke just in front of him.
"W-What the hell?"
Naruto was involuntarily holding his breath as the smoke cleared gradually.
"I thought I was dying in there?! Who the hell sealed me shannaro!"
"D-Dying in there? But...you were already...dead?" surprisingly, it was Shikaku's uncharacteristic squeaky voice which came out first- his index finger, which earlier was pointed confidently at the subject—was now trembling, as if trying to write 'impossible' in midair.
"D-Dead?" her eyes were half lidded as she coughed out, waving the remnants of the smoke out of her face- now sitting unceremoniously on the table, completed healed off all her injuries. Naruto however stared at her wide eyed, not believing that such an unexplainable event had happened twice in a span of twenty four hours.
"When the hell did I die?"
Ryuk however, although beyond stumped, still had the minimal brain functioning to put together one sentence in his shinigami mind.
'Shit just got real.'