Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, nor any places, people, things, nor ideas therein. They belong to Masashi Kishimoto, Viz Media, Shonen Jump, and TV Tokyo. I am writing this story for entertainment purposes only, not monetary gain.
Summary: Temari Sabaku is running from the ghosts of her past. Itachi Uchiha is grimly facing the reality of his future. One encounter on the ship of dreams can change it all... A story of hope, forgiveness, and true love in times of tragedy. :Itachi x Temari:
Warnings: Violence, character death
Pairings: Itachi/Temari, slight Neji/Tenten
Dedication: To the great ship Titanic, which lives on in our minds, and to the fifteen hundred who were lost on the night of April 15, 1912, who live on in our hearts.
Author's Note: I want to say straight off that this is not a retelling of the movie Titanic. Having said that, it was - at least in part - inspired by that wonderful movie, and also by the novel By the Light of the Silver Moon by Tricia Goyer. I knew from the moment I became interested in the Titanic and her history that I had to do a tribute fic on the hundredth anniversary of its sinking. I cannot picture this story told by any other than Temari and Itachi (and, in part, by Neji and Tenten - they are my favorite couple in Naruto, so I had to give them at least a little part in the story), and I hope you enjoy reading their story as much as I'm enjoying writing it. I cannot promise a steady update schedule - bad things happen when I do! - but I can promise that I will get updates out to you as soon as I can. Thank you all so much for joining me on this journey, and I hope you enjoy it!
Wednesday, April 10, 1912 - 11:24 A.M
"Are all these people getting on board?"
At her brother's question, Temari Sabaku blinked out of her private ruminations and looked around, just then comprehending the sheer number of people crowding the dock in Southampton, England. "I doubt it," she replied. "Most of them are probably here to see those on the ship off. It is a historical moment, you know." Standing on tiptoe, she peered over the head of the woman in front of her, trying to see all the way to the second class boarding ramp. Already she'd been in line for almost two hours, and it felt like the line had barely moved.
Kankuro Sabaku shifted nervously on his feet, gazing around with uneasy dark eyes. "I wish I could go with you," he said. "But I could never forgive myself if-"
Reaching out, Temari laid a reassuring hand on her brother's shoulder. "I'll be fine, Kankuro. I promise. You're seeing me off here, and Gaara is already on the other side of the Atlantic waiting for me. And you've heard the same reports as me! It will only take me a week to get from here to there. And I'm sure there's very little on the Titanic that could go wrong. Troublemakers will be at the bare minimum, if there are any at all."
"I just hate the thought of your traveling by yourself at all. If only I'd gotten you a ticket for first class..." Kankuro shook his head.
Sighing, Temari rolled her eyes. "You weren't even supposed to get me a ticket for second class. Now it's going to be even longer before you can come to America."
"As long as I'm sure you're safe, Temari, I'm willing to wait." Kankuro's expression was as decidedly stubborn as it had been the last time they'd had this conversation. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time he brought her the second class ticket, insisting he would feel better if she were there instead of third class - the place in which she'd originally intended to travel.
Reminded of the reason why she was leaving England in the first place, Temari turned as best she could in the crush of people and gazed back toward the Southampton skyline. She'd lived there her entire life, and leaving it was one of the hardest things she'd ever done. Not even knowing her youngest brother was waiting for her in America was helping her feel more at ease about the situation. "Do you think it doesn't bother me, knowing that even though I'm going to be safe, you might not be? I don't want to go, Kankuro."
Giving her a little push, Kankuro nodded with a reassuring grin. "I'll be fine," he stressed. "And you're going to be on the maiden voyage of the biggest, safest ship in the world. Come on, Temari. You should be enjoying yourself. Think of this as a vacation! You need one. You've been saying so for the past ten years."
True. But still... "I wish you could come with me. Maybe I should wait until-"
But Kankuro was still shaking his head. "No. You're getting on the Titanic, and you're going to America, where I can be sure you're safe."
Despite the fact that Temari was the oldest Sabaku sibling, Kankuro had always treated her like a younger sister who needed protecting. The youngest, Gaara, had followed suit, at least as long as he lived in England with them. At least after the two of them had safely stowed him aboard a ship three years past that had calmed down, even if he still managed to continue the feeling through his letters.
"Now, don't forget to write me," Kankuro said as their line shuffled its way along a little closer to the massive ship. "I'm sure you'll have nothing else to do on board." He laughed when Temari gave him a slight shove with her shoulder.
"I'll be sure to send you a telegram when I reach America, too," Temari said. "That way news will reach you sooner when I get there than it would if I sent you a letter." She clutched her hat as a sudden vicious burst of wind swept across the crowd, tangling its cold fingers in the curls of her blonde hair not secured by her hat.
"Good." Kankuro caught her by the shoulder and pulled her in for a quick kiss on her cheek. "And now, sister dearest, it is time for you to board. Have a safe journey."
The first true effects of nervousness, which she had managed to stave off until now, bloomed in Temari's stomach. She swallowed hard, surprised by the nausea that was suddenly welling into her throat. A first sign of seasickness, perhaps, even though she was not even on board the ship yet? "Kankuro, don't make me go," she begged. "I can-"
"No. Please, Temari. I'll sleep so much better at night knowing you're safe. Nothing can touch you on the Titanic, and when you reach America, you'll have Gaara to protect you."
She savagely bit her lip to keep from snapping that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. The last words Kankuro would hear from her in person, at least until he reached America, too, did not need to be caustic ones. "All right. I'll go." Temari returned his kiss, then drew in a deep breath, clutched her carpet bag a little tighter in her gloved hand, and mounted the ramp that would lead her onto the second-class deck.
Temari peeked up at the clock hanging on the wall just inside the door, halfway surprised to see it there, as she stepped foot on the Titanic for the first time. She still had twenty five minutes until the ship was set to sail, so she had time to drop her carpet bag off at her room and come back to the rail to wave goodbye to Kankuro and the general multitude waiting on the docks to wave off the grand ship.
As soon as she stepped into the indoor area of the ship, Temari noted the temperature difference between the outside of the ship and the inside. It was nice and warm inside, and as she briskly made her way through the labyrinth of halls, looking for the room number that lined up with that on her ticket, she started to get a little too warm in her heavy winter coat, one of the nicest pieces of clothing she owned. As she walked, she inhaled the myriad scents that indicated the sheer newness of the Titanic: fresh paint that still looked slick and wet, newly cut and polished wood from the floor beneath her feet, and the crispness of freshly laundered sheets on the beds in each room. The second class part of the ship was like nothing she'd ever seen before - she could only imagine what first class looked like!
Ah, here we are. Temari tucked her ticket back into the pocket of her coat and opened the door to room 217, wondering what splendors would meet her eyes beyond.
The first thing Temari saw was the sink - she would have running water! The second was the bunk bed sitting against the wall. The third and final was the dark haired woman bumping a large trunk into the narrow space between the head of the bottom bunk and the wall - and she was doing it with her hip!
"Oh!" Having noticed Temari standing in the doorway (undoubtedly with her mouth slightly agape), the brunette snapped upwards, belatedly shoving loose strands of chocolate hair into the messy bun at the back of her neck. "I'm so sorry! I didn't want to bother one of the stewards to help me, they're all so busy, and - and you must be my roommate?"
Granted, Temari had known from the start that she would have a roommate. But she had been expecting an older woman, not someone who looked to be around her age, brimming with energy and happiness. "I'm Temari Sabaku?" Her confusion caused her to lose her usual confidence in her speech, and she cursed that sudden weakness.
"I'm Tenten Hyuuga!" Tenten paused, her eyes narrowing a little as her cheeks blushed. "Well, I'm not a Hyuuga yet," she said, suddenly looking down at the floor instead of up at Temari. "But as soon as I make it to America, I will be. Neji went ahead first to get settled, and now that he's sent for me, he's got everything ready so I can come and we can finally get married." She grinned, showing a row of perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth.
Already Temari could tell that, at least as long as she was in her room, there would never be a lack of conversation during her time on the Titanic. Surprisingly grateful for the friendly demeanor of her roommate, Temari fully entered the room and set her carpet bag on her own trunk, which sat by the door in all its sad-looking unglory. "I'm going to visit my younger brother," she said, not willing to go into the specifics of the situation with a virtual stranger.
"Wonderful!" Tenten sidled a step closer and lowered her voice when she spoke next. "I'm so glad you're my bunkmate," she said. "I was so afraid that I would have someone who was completely unfriendly, who wouldn't want to give me the time of day."
Since Temari's fears had run something along the same lines, she couldn't help smiling in return. "I had thought the same," she said. "I must admit that it was a great relief to know it is someone quite the opposite I'll be rooming with for this voyage."
Somewhere far above their heads, the sound of the ship's horn bellowed over that of the crowds moving through the ship, and Tenten gave a gasp. "We'd best get to the rail!" she cried. "We'll miss the launch!" Without waiting for a response from Temari, Tenten grabbed her arm and dragged her along, barely giving the blonde a chance to close the door to their room behind her.
Yes, this is definitely going to be an interesting journey.
*~Wednesday, April 10, 1912 - 12:01 P.M.~*
Clinging to the rail with one hand, Temari leaned against it and waved her other arm in a wide arc, hoping Kankuro could see her. Everyone on the dock looked so tiny from her viewpoint far above. She couldn't pick her brother out of the crush, but she was fairly certain he couldn't pick her out, either. But he was down there somewhere, waving, and that's what mattered most.
Next to her, Tenten waved just as enthusiastically, and Temari decided to make conversation. "Are you waving goodbye to someone in particular?"
"No. I've been working here in Southampton as a seamstress until Neji sent for me, and all my coworkers couldn't get off work to come. I'm waving goodbye to England and my past as much as anything." One wide brown eye turned in Temari's direction. "And you? Saying goodbye to anyone in particular?" Tenten flashed another wide smile.
"My brother, Kankuro. I would point him out, but it's impossible to tell one person apart from another down there." Temari was glad she'd taken off her hat and left it in her room since the movement of the Titanic was adding to the wind already coming in off the water. The pins holding her blonde curls up were straining to maintain their grip, and she knew a hat would have already gone sailing away, haptin or no, had she still been wearing it.
"I thought you were going to America to see your brother?" Tenten asked, obviously confused.
"My youngest brother, Gaara," Temari said. "Kankuro is the middle child. I am eldest."
Since they were drawing further away from the dock, Tenten stopped waving. Already people were wandering off around them, the excited buzz of their myriad conversations forming a backdrop to the crash of the water washing against the side of the ship. "I wish I had siblings." Tenten sighed wistfully.
Temari laughed, dropping her arm to drape along the railing as she leaned out a little, marveling at the way the water was churning into white waves behind the ship. Were she not looking at it, she wouldn't even realize she was on a ship, as smooth as the ride was so far. The advertisements in the newspaper had not been exaggerating in the least when they said that the Titanic was the best ship in the world. "If you actually had some, you probably wouldn't be saying that," she replied. "I love my brothers, I really do. But sometimes I really wish I was an only child." Her smile melted away, and she sighed softly. "But in the end, when it truly comes down to it, I wouldn't give them up for anything. They take such good care of me." And I really don't deserve it. It should be Kankuro here, on board the Titanic, instead of me. That's how I had always intended it to be. Gaara would go to America first, then Kankuro, and finally, if there was enough left over, me. This is all wrong. What was I thinking?
The sudden shout from above made Temari turn her attention back to the water. She squinted one way and then the other, wondering what had caught the attention of the passenger who had shouted. Only a few seconds later, she saw it: one of the other ships that had been moored at the dock had broken free of its tethers and was headed right for the side of the Titanic.
"It's going to hit!" Tenten cried. Her hands were so tight around the rail her knuckles were white.
Temari felt her own hands tighten their grip, her muscles tensing as she braced for the impact that was sure to come. Was this it, then? Was the Titanic, which she had been heard called unsinkable, about to be struck by another ship? Despite how steady the ship beneath her feet felt, surely an impact with another ship would cause damage - serious damage.
"It's the New York," Temari heard another passenger say. "But even if it hits, that ship's going to be the one to get the damage. Nothing can hurt the Titanic."
By Temari's side, Tenten relaxed slightly. "That's true," she said. "Granted, I'd rather the New York not hit us, but we'll come out with the better end, for sure, even if it does."
Despite all the reassurances, Temari found she could not breathe easily until several tugboats had come out, captured the New York, and guided it away from the side of the Titanic. The whole incident had taken no more than half an hour, but Temari felt almost as if the affair had lasted days. She was shaken by what had just happened, and despite herself she couldn't help but feel like it was an omen. A very bad omen.
The view suddenly held little interest for Temari. Turning away, she placed a steadying hand on her suddenly churning stomach and glanced at Tenten. "I think I'm going to return to my room and rest. Things have been so busy for me, preparing for this trip, I'd just like to sit and do nothing for a while."
Tenten laughed. "All right. But I'm going to go explore!" The two women agreed to meet later for the evening meal, and Temari headed back to her room. She would start her first letter to Kankuro, telling him all about what had just happened with the New York. He had probably seen it, or at least heard about it, but he liked stories. He'd enjoy reading her take on the incident.
As she settled at the beautiful wooden desk in her and Tenten's room, Temari knew that once she was in America, she would be able to laugh off all her bad feelings. She was just anxious to be away from England and the ghosts chasing her, that was all.
The ship had two more stops to make: Cherbourg, France, later that evening, and then Queenstown, Ireland, the next morning. Temari was sure that once those stops were out of the way and the Titanic made its way out to open ocean that she would feel better.
But for now, she would stay in her room, distract herself, and look forward to the journey ahead. Temari knew it would be one to remember.
*~To Be Continued~*
Author's Ending Notes: Again, this is not intended to be a retelling of the movie Titanic, though it was in part inspired by it. I can promise that Itachi will make his first appearance in the next chapter - this and the next are basically just setting the story up, and then the real action will start by chapter three. I am going to try to stay as historically accurate as possible while writing this story, but I will take a few artistic liberties. I will, however, try to keep them at a minimum. Until next time, thank you so much for checking out my story, and I hope you enjoyed chapter one!