Never Meant To Be

Written by: June Gilbert

Chapter One The Funeral

"In a way, we were all her children. Senju Tsunade took me in when I was an orphan, starving and hungry. She taught me the Will of Fire and raised me to be a protector of Konoha, like everyone here. When I was little, I would bring her pictures I had drawn and she would treat them like precious medical texts. Texts that always went on the refrigerator, actually... I'm proud to be her daughter. All of you talked about her accomplishments as a medical ninja, but she was a PERSON with a heart too! She was-no, she IS- still better than my birth mother. Tsunade had her faults, but she had a loving heart, even after all she had been through. She stood strong throughout the Second Shinobi War, even when she lost her little brother and boyfriend to the violence. Tsunade didn't give up when her oldest friend had died either! She still had a heart open and kind enough to take in a homeless, worthless orphan like I was at the time," I was getting really choked by now, but I refused to back down when I hadn't shared all I needed to, "Tsunade never truly abandoned Konoha, and its eleventh hour, she gave her life to protect us! And all of you, whether you're from Konoha or not, better make damn use of what she bought us with her BLOOD!"

I clenched my fists, trying to get my breathing under control. I couldn't cry. Not like this. Mama wouldn't want me to cry like this for her. I heard gentle steps beside me on the wood of the stage. Shizune gently wrapped a hand around my skinny waist and tugged my stiff form off the stage. I stumbled on the bottom step, leading to Shizune bracing me briefly. Quickly I got myself out of the comforting embrace of the woman who had been an older sister and a second mother to me in so many ways. All of Team 7 and Aunt Hinata stood nearby; even Sasuke was showing a flicker of sadness at this time but quickly hidden for the sake of his sobbing wife.

Sakura clutched at him like he was her only lifeline. Her Shishou had just died after all. I couldn't blame her for weeping. But I had to be strong for the sake of Uncle Naruto, who looked like he was ready to fall apart at the slightest urging. The newly crowned Rokudaime looked shaken and upset as he cradled his six month old son to his black clad chest; two of his three daughters congregating around their parents were bawling into their mother's arms. Only Nara looked stoic, but there were remnants of a very long crying jag in the girl's red-rimmed green eyes. No wonder. Nara looked up to Mama like a Grandma. . . It's kind of odd that the poor kid isn't bawling right now.

Nara clutched what looked like a white rose from the garden Mama and I had planted last spring. It was autumn now; it was a wonder Nara had remembered to get flowers amid all the chaos in her family right now. Mama would have laughed; she always said Nara reminded her of Jiraiya in the fact that she was an incurable romantic and remembered the strangest things in the oddest situations. The white rose looked a little wilted, as if Nara plucked it a while ago. Mama's hands had been badly arthritic when she proposed planting the garden, but Mama refused to let that (or anything and anyone else) stop her from dong what she pleased. Still a little numbed from my efforts to stifle the tears I made my way over to stand with Uncle Naruto and the rest of Team 7. Kakashi stood behind me, and I felt his hand, the one unoccupied holding his crying wife, gently brush my shoulder.

I winced; the touch was almost acidic to me. Chrystal's sobs were almost more than I could bear. Raika was cuddling into both of her parents, looking utterly numbed and her blue eyes were sorrowful. Aunt Hinata petted the four year old's hair comfortingly; she glanced back with a faint smile, tears still visible.

Uncle Sasuke had come back when I was around four years old, a year after I came to Konoha (I'm twenty years old now, just to fill you in). He had been doing penance for what he had done to Konoha ever since; Uncle Sasuke was surprised and confused when Aunt Sakura had confessed that she still loved him, despite all he had done. Mama had allowed him back into the village, under the condition he serve in the ANBU for five years under an oath of loyalty, and be watched 24/7 for the first three years. He had kept the oath, the years of service and even had put up with the watching tolerably well, or so Aunt Sakura says; I think this was mainly because he had nowhere else to go and because he had found unexpected love with Aunt Sakura. They had adopted a son who was my age now, named Fukan, and Aunt Sakura had borne Uncle Sasuke two daughters and one brother for Fukan. I glanced over at Fukan, who wore the customary Uchiha poker face. His darker skin blended harmoniously with his black attire.

I gave a shaky sigh. Fukan had been on my team when we were kids. I had learned to read him when no one else could, but I wasn't in the mood to read between the lines in his expression today. Mama was gone…. I was alone. I could barely stand the rest of the ceremony where others walked up to that pedestal to speak. Everything was a numb blur. Mama was gone…. It hardly seemed possible with how VITAL Mamma had seemed. She had died from poison just as she triumphed against the Akatsuki, tearing out the leader's heart as reported by Naruto, who had been fighting with her at the time. Naruto had been in anguish for three days over the battle's outcome, and the letter Mama left behind for him only made it worse. Mama's death had tainted what should have been a victory in Konoha.

I didn't blame Mama for dying though. She had been hurting over Jiraiya's death, and many others' deaths for years. Every life lost was written on her heart as another unforgivable offence committed by the Akatsuki. I felt my throat start to block as my eyes blurred. She felt each death as if it were her own relatives and best friends dying; even though Mama's heart already hurt so much, she shouldered the responsibility for this damn war. Mama had stubbornly hunted down every Akatsuki member, killing them herself or rewarding the ninja that managed to rid the world of another one of the Akatsuki. Tobi had been the last to die. Mama had died at the moment of her ultimate triumph, with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes because she knew she was ending the war that had caused so much grief and pain to her beloved people.

I started to shake slightly as the ceremony wore on and on, seeming endless in the droves of people who wanted to pay their last respects to Mama. I was slowly getting dizzier and dizzier with the need to cry, but I refused to break down. Not in front of Uncle Naruto! He'll start crying too and then EVERYBODY will be crying and you can't help but cry more and everybody's already crying…. I need to get away from here or I'll go insane… I gritted my teeth and stared straight ahead, trying not to allow a tear to pass my eyes. Somehow they sneaked past anyway, rolling down my abnormally pale cheeks from my squeezed-shut eyes. I blushed, the red stain prominent on my normally tanned cheeks, angry and ashamed of myself. I had PROMISED I wouldn't break. At least I can contain myself from sobbing aloud…

I hoped.

After the ceremony ended, I drifted away to the edge of the crowd. My head was pounding with a growing headache from repressing the screams tearing at my lips and throat. Visitation had already ended, but many people drifted by me with a brief glance of pity for the white blonde haired girl with tears in her dark eyes. I held all the condolences cards I had been given personally in a small black purse I wore on my hip. Quite a few had been sent through the mail, the owners unwilling or unable to give them to me themselves; I didn't doubt that there would be more coming to my mailbox in the coming weeks.

Turning away from the crowd, already drifting away and some clutches of people still weeping, I walked toward a familiar memorial I preferred to visit when I was most upset, limbs trembling only slightly. Jiraiya's Memorial soothed my frayed nerves and almost no one would think to look for me there. Shizune and my other family knew I needed to be by myself when I was hurting. That didn't mean they liked my habit, but Mama had been the only one to get away with breaking this little rule of mine. Anyone else received a bop on the head and a verbal chewing out for their pains usually. I wasn't in the mood for it now, though, my heart throbbing in my chest. I was painfully aware of my own heartbeat; it reminded me my heart beat while Mama's had ceased to beat. The need to cry was building to fever pitch, my head pounding as I staggered a little on the rough ground of the path to the Memorial.

Eventually, I reached it. Barely seeing the familiar contours of the Memorial through the tears blurring my eyes, I staggered and would have fallen to the ground if it hadn't been for strong male arms catching me.


"Hisako. . . Don't hold it in. Greif will destroy you if you let it."

I needed no second urging. A keening wail broke from my lips as the sobs finally released themselves from my adamantine will. Tears completely blurred my vision as I sobbed into Fukan's black coat. He held me calmly; a mooring of safe harbor against the convoluted storm of my emotions. My limbs shaking, I rocked as best as Fukan's tight grip on my waist would allow. His strong dark hands rubbed my back in what was meant to be a soothing gesture; it only made me cry harder to realize that my taciturn one-time teammate was openly trying to comfort me. Eventually, my legs went out from under me and Fukan picked me up. I was still sobbing hoarsely, body shaking with the force of the torrent of held back sobs.

I was short and skinny enough for the 6 foot 5 inches tall Uchiha to pick me up easily. I nuzzled into his comforting hold, inhaling the scent of him, mostly sandalwood and the scents of the herbs both he and Mama had loved to make healing serums with. I sniffled and started to cry harder at the memory of my one and only time I had tried to mix one of the simpler remedies in Mom's repertoire. Suffice to say, afterwards I had stuck to the growing side of both cooking and medicine making ever since. Fukan's shoulder length black hair tickled my nose slightly as he maneuvered so we could sit down. My petite feet touched the ground before Fukan could pull them back, and I smiled weakly. He was always thinking of me, even if he didn't show it with everybody around most of the time.

My breathing gradually eased as Fukan started to hum. He had gotten a wonderfully baritone voice after hitting puberty, resulting in many girls mooning over him on the rare occasions he sang or even spoke. Otherwise, he was invisible to the girls who always went for our other teammate, Jiro, who was Mr. Social Butterfly on most occasions. I had only seen the brunette boy truly sad once in the years we had been teammates. Fukan was usually solemn, but Jiro's teasing could sometimes get the best of him and he would lose his temper. I was the balance, playing peacemaker between the two boys more often than not. My head and eyes aching, I leaned against Fukan's wiry shoulder. I needed to sleep after that looooong crying jag. Fukan petted my hair with his long fingered hands, and then started to comb the knots out of my hair with his fingers. I sighed, the familiar feeling making me drowsier.

"Get some sleep Hisa-chan. You'll feel better in the morning."

I nodded wearily after looking up into his adamant forest green eyes with those deep tear channels still glistening slightly. I wondered vaguely when he had cried; I hadn't seen him do it. Fukan usually made the most sense out of all three of us. Easing my aching eyes closed, I released a breath I hadn't known I was holding. Curling against Fukan's chest, I listened to his heartbeat.

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

The steady rhythm was soothing to my twisted, battered heart. My breathing gradually slowed as I drifted off to sleep in Fukan's gentle arms.

Fukan's POV

Her hair smelled of calla lilies. Her favorite flower. I inhaled deeply, unsure if I would ever get to do so this close to her ever again. I had never had the courage to actually hold her like this before, but I had been watching her since we were placed into the same team at age nine. I had become friends with her over the years, but I had never dared to speak my feelings clearly. She was SO out of my league… Hisako was, for all intents and purposes, a Senju. A Princess of the Village Hidden in the Leaf. I was nothing but the son of a betrayer to the rest of the village. However, I knew the truth. My father had been ordered to kill his entire clan by the corrupt Council of this village, and he had done it, being labeled a traitor in the process. Uncle Sasuke had told me the truth of my birth when I had turned fifteen. To his surprise, I had responded with an oath on my Sharingan eyes to stay.

I could never leave Hisako like that. I didn't have the willpower or cold-heartedness nesscesary to avenge what the village had done to my father. And I had a feeling I didn't need to. Uncle Sasuke had done plenty towards that before he had fallen in love with Aunt Sakura. She had saved him at his eleventh hour, when he was at risk of falling into the same black that his last teacher had fallen into. Uncle Sasuke had told me that when I met a woman who would willingly put her life on the line to save mine, and I would do the same for her in a heartbeat, she would be the woman for me. I believed with all my heart that this woman in my arms was mine.

Her dark amber eyes could change color with her moods, rather like her mother's. I could have sworn that those two were truly mother and child instead of adoptive. Hisako's eyes were a few shades darker than Lady Tsunade's, the same thing with her hair being nearly white while her mother's was a rich gold. Her skin was also a little different, tanned where her mother's was flawless white. Then again, Lady Tsunade had maintained the illusion of her twenties up until her death. I sighed quietly, shaking the memories of the woman who had personally taught me all I knew about medicine out of my head. For now, I needed to comfort Hisako.

There would be time to grieve later.

Hey! :D This little story is for those of you who were curious about the OC I added in Adventures in the Afterlife. Hisako was officially adopted by Tsunade, making Hisako the sole surviving Senju (technically and literally). But Hisako has more secrets to reveal than this ;) I promise!

Yes, yes I ship Sakura and Sasuke. As well as Naruto and Hinata. What of it? Don't like the pairings, please don't read. And I will be including a little spiritual contact later on 8) What will everyone think of the romance between a man and a woman from families that are each other's sworn enemies? A princess of the Leaf and the son of a traitors? Impossible! XD I'm a hopeless romantic that way.

Chrystal is my OC that I would love to finally be able to write with any sort of clarity in a romance with Kakashi. Raika is their daughter. XD Ok, I published a fic on these two, but it isn't so great so I'm planning a rewrite. Maybe review it and change my mind?

Nara is my OC daughter of Naruto. I still haven't decided on her backstory permanently, but in this fic she is Naruto and Hinata's daughter and a surrogate little sister to Hisako.

What do you think of it all? Leave a review please! Pleasepleaseplease! I love it when people review!