Chapter 6- Waking up
"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything."
I woke up to a very stiff body and lying in a relatively hard bed. Needless to say I freaked out a little bit. The last thing I remembered was passing out on the bank of a river and now I had no clue where I was or who had brought me there. I could have been picked up by anyone, Ame, Iwa, maybe Konoha if I was lucky but I had no way of knowing. The room I was in had no windows, only white walls and I was alone strapped down to a bed.
My clothes were gone, my pack was nowhere to be seen, I was possibly in enemy hands and I had no clue how to go about escaping. Shit. This sucked. At least they had seen to my injuries, whoever they were, and my face didn't hurt so much anymore neither did my feet. I tried to calm down and think things thru rationally…really I did. However, it's hard to do that when you are so off balanced and injured. They hadn't strapped me down so tightly that I couldn't put my hands together so I strained against my bonds so I could make hand signs.
I think they must have underestimated me since I was so young and injured since my chakra wasn't bound. I quick Kawarimi with my blankets and I was out of my straps. This did little for me besides giving me some freedom of movement and allowing me to try to contemplate my options. I sat up slow, my body was stiff and my muscles seized with every move I made. I had never felt this before, that all over body ache that made you literally not want to move even a finger.
The closest I had ever been to this was when I overdid it with an exercise routine during one of my "get thinner" kicks during my past life. That paled in comparison to what I was feeling right now. Once I managed to sit up I groaned and allowed myself a moment to recover. I needed a distraction so I looked over myself to see what else they could have done. My legs were wrapped in tight bandages all the way up to my knees; my hands were the same up to my elbows and feeling my face I realized my face was wrapped as well. I probably looked like a freaking mummy and with my hair sticking up in every which way out of my bandages certainly added to the horror movie affect I think.
It took me a good five minutes to work up the courage to step/fall off of the stiff bed and onto the floor. My feet screamed at me as soon as they hit the ground and I very nearly screamed from the sudden searing pain. Instead I managed to hold that scream in so it came out as a strangled half growl half groan thing that sounded like a wounded animal. Yeah, it was not my proudest moment. I looked around the room again looking for some sign as to where I had ended up.
I don't know what I was thinking, like getting up from the bed would give me a new perspective on this place and somehow give me the answers I needed. Right, I must have hit my head when I had fallen in that river because I was definitely not thinking clearly. Then again, maybe I had been drugged, and that was entirely possible considering I was picked up by unknown entities and brought to this seemingly blank location. I wondered what they had been thinking bringing me here?
Did they see the resemblance between Jiraiya and I? Not that it would be obvious when they would have found me because I had been covered in caked in mud…most likely. That reminded me, I didn't know how I felt about some stranger bathing me since I was cleaner now and I certainly hadn't done it. The thought kind of creeped me out and at the same time I was so grateful since I felt so much more human now that I didn't have a good two inches of mud caked on me.
Somehow I had lost track of myself and I forced myself to focus. It was surprisingly harder than I had anticipated, yeah, they had definitely drugged me. I hobbled around the room looking at everything, not that there was much to see, and tried to work out how to get out. I tested the door of course but I wasn't so lucky as to have it unlocked. Great. After a while I realized I couldn't make myself walk around anymore and trying to climb back in the bed seemed to me like a bad idea. So I naturally just laid myself down beside it with some difficulty since my body had gone into full protest mode and refused to cooperate anymore.
I sort of ended up falling more than laying down but the end result was all the same. It was sort of funny that this action ended up giving me my one and only clue. A big one at that. There on the underside of my stiff bed was a tiny leaf symbol etched into the metal frame. At least I knew where I was now, I had made it, well someone had brought me here but still I felt a sense of accomplishment. I did everything I could to make it as far as I could to Konoha, and a little assist in the end didn't take that away from me. I counted myself lucky I hadn't died out there or worse. As I fell asleep I wondered if my mom had made it here yet, I couldn't really remember how long I had traveled on my own and I didn't know how long I had been out. Maybe she was here already.
"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
Sakumo had been called into the Hokage's office a lot over his career, and was intimately familiar with all the shortcuts to getting there. So when he had been summoned just minutes ago about the girl he managed to make it to the tower in record time. When he got there Hiruzen and Orochimaru were waiting for him. Sakumo wasn't very surprised to see him there, Orochimaru was the only remaining Sanin still currently residing in Konoha and it made sense that Hiruzen would contact him.
"Good, now that your both here we can begin," Hiruzen said as he picked up a folder on his desk. "As you are aware Sakumo picked up the girl, Natsumi, and five days ago he discovered this picture in her belongings." He held up the photo taking it out from the folder and passing it to Orochimaru who hadn't seen it yet and sighed deeply when he did. "The message on the back of the picture suggested that Jiraiya has a daughter that he was unaware of and that is in need of Konoha's protection." He continued.
"Since then I have sent out a discrete team of anbu on a strict information gathering mission to either verify or dismiss these claims. They managed to track down the woman in the photograph to a small border town in a whore house. Unfortunately, by the time the team had managed to track her last known location they had missed her as she has seemingly run off with the cook. We only managed to get the barest description of the cook, a man named Kenshin, and only very sparse information about the woman herself." Hiruzen said as he passed Sakumo some of the reports while giving Orochimaru the other.
"No one in the town proper was aware that Aiko had a child, no one had any clue she even existed until there was an incident a few weeks back involving a client who hadn't wanted to pay for Aiko wares. It seems that this man, they weren't able to pin an accurate name or description, was using genjutsu to trick Aiko into giving him her…wares…for free. However he was unaware of the protocols of this particular whorehouse that has a separate suite of rooms for such proposes and that clients were never taken to the girls sleeping area." Hiruzen said giving Orochimaru a layout map that the anbu had draw of the whorehouse.
"He led Aiko back to her rooms and found an unfortunate surprise. Apparently Aiko had been hiding Natsumi in her rooms since her birth; the girl has never been seen by anyone in the town before this incident. It looks like Natsumi was effectively held prisoner in those rooms her entire life and had never stepped outside them until recently." He said and Sakumo watched Orochimaru's hand clench in anger. "No one is entirely sure what happened when this man first entered Aiko's rooms but one thing is generally agreed on. It appears Natsumi recognized her mother was being control and attacked this man."
"The man was eventually subdued but Natsumi had sustained injuries from this incident. It appears that Aiko had paid off some shinobi to put up seals in her room to trap sound from leaving and is how she managed to keep Natsumi hidden for so long. It appears that the man had left the door open alerting everyone to the incident and drawing a large crowd to Aiko's room. That was when Natsumi was exposed and the house mother stated publicly that she intended to sell Natsumi to a Geisha house a few towns over." Hiruzen said sadly as Sakumo felt overwhelming sadness for the woman.
"No one is entirely sure how she managed it but Aiko somehow smuggled out Natsumi that night and then disappeared herself a week later. We don't know how Natsumi ended up where you found her Sakumo, but the circumstances surrounding it are clear. The Anbu also managed to get various confirmations from numerous people in the town that Jiraiya did pass through there a few years back and has been seen there a few times before that." Hiruzen said as he closed the folder.
"So by all appearances it would seem that this Natsumi is truly Jiraiya's daughter?" Orochimaru said seriously. "It would appear so, though I would like for more confirmation that circumstance and testimony from unreliable sources. I know you were developing a technique to look into genetic codes and tracking. Would it be possible for you to test this girls against Jiraiya?" Hiruzen asked. Orochimaru nodded looking at the picture once more, "I should be able to develop something along those lines, give me three day."
"Done," Hiruzen said before he turned his gaze to Sakumo. "Now I know we all want to believe that this is just a funny incident that we will be able to ream Jiraiya about as soon as he gets here. However, with tensions as they are and with a looming war on our hands we cannot dismiss the possibility of a sleep agent. It is just all too convenient, there isn't enough known about this Natsumi to place our faith in. She will need to be vetted and watched. Since you are currently suspended from missions I cannot pay you to watch over her Sakumo but if you would watch over her and keep an eye out for danger signs I would greatly appreciate it." Hiruzen said.
Sakumo nodded, "Of course Hokage-sama, Kakashi is around her same age perhaps it will get her to open up more with another child around." Orochimaru hummed his agreement, "I would like to visit her as soon as she is awake, I more than most know what to look for in case her appearance is manufactured in some way. Plus, I have experience with sleeper agents and seals thanks to Jiraiya I should be able to spot it in her behavior if she has anything like that about her." He said seriously.
Sakumo nodded in agreement though he would have liked to have been the first one to see the little girl. It was still odd trying to get his mind wrapped around Jiraiya being a father because the man was so far from the fathering type. Jiraiya was a wild man, easily distracted by a beautiful woman and a very hard man to tie down. After the second shinobi war Jiraiya had been a ghost in the wind, growing an intelligence gathering network and 'researching' for his new series of adult books.
The man who was the biggest womanizer Sakumo had ever known, was now a father to a little girl, and they said fate didn't have a sense of humor? Sakumo wanted to laugh, picturing Jiraiya's reaction if the child was his daughter was priceless. Sakumo turned his eyes to Orochimaru; it was lucky that he had not gone the way of his teammates and sought a life outside of Konoha's walls. Orochimaru was most well known for his ninjutsu obsession but those who knew him knew of his other talents.
After all ones does not go through years of being on a team with a master medic and a seal master without picking some things up. Orochimaru was not the master of the arts like his teammates but he had a considerable talent in them. "The medic tell me that Natsumi woke for some time yesterday and they expect she'll be conscious again soon. If you wish, you can head to the hospital with Sakumo now. Sakumo can see about the sort of care the girl will need in the coming days as you await for her to regain consciousness." Hiruzen said as he began to make his way back behind his mountain of paperwork with a sigh. Sakumo nodded and Orochimaru tilted his head in agreement before they vanished from the office all together.
"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist."
The folder in his hand was a heavy weight and still Orochimaru felt a strange sense of denial. The idea of one of his teammates having a child, much less that teammate being Jiraiya of all people had his head spinning. A part of him had thought that none of them would ever have children, not since Dan had died and left Tsunade a shattered mess. Jiraiya was too lost himself to be a father, Tsunade was too heartbroken to be a mother and Orochimaru hadn't given the issue much thought since he had begun his research into Kekkai genkai.
Now that the issue was unavoidable to contemplate Orochimaru found himself thinking the strangest of thoughts. About children and what he would do if he was in Jiraiya's shoes right now. The thought of family, a child, it squeezed his heart painfully as he remembered the parents who he had lost and the little brother Tsunade had lost. Family was dangerous, especially a small child unable to defend itself from the world around it…so vulnerable…so easily taken away.
It was a horror he couldn't bring himself to contemplate. Since he had seen the devastation that Tsunade was going through from the loss of Dan he had been pulling back from forming any sort of romantic attachments. It couldn't hurt him if he didn't allow himself to feel like that towards anyone. However, it also took away the possibility of having children, of having family again, something he so missed the warmth of since his parent's passed. Family had been the most important thing in the world to him once, before he had lost them, and even though his teammates were as close to family as he had now…they were gone.
Tsunade had abandoned him to wallow inside her pain and left to forget the place Dan had sacrificed himself to save. Jiraiya, in love with Tsunade and knowing she could never care for him that way had lost himself to the meaningless comforts of cheap company. Both he had considered family, and yet both had left him here alone. His parents wouldn't have done that to him, had they been alive, and perhaps it was the blood that tied them so closely together. Maybe it was blood that bound them to him even from beyond the grave.
It brought the issue back at hand, children, could he afford to risk it? He knew having a child meant he would have to risk feeling that all consuming pain that he had felt for his parents' death again should the worst happen. Orochimaru knew that opening himself up to be hurt that way again was dangerous for him. He already knew how close he was to the edge as it stood now, but if he did have a child it could push him past that edge. It could make him fall from the pain…or it could save him from this all consuming loneliness.
Not that it mattered much, having a child was an act for two people and the thought of having a child with any of his other female acquaintances was unappealing. He would not settle for normal, he wanted the best if he was to walk down that path and the best meant a lot to him. She would have to be beautiful, of course, but strong. She would have to be strong enough to not only defend herself but their child as well. A woman strong enough to not fall in battle and leave him alone. There was nothing more Orochimaru hated more than this never ending loneliness that had consumed his life since his parents' death.
Orochimaru pushed the matter from his mind as the hospital came into view. He had other things to concentrate on than a future child bearer and children. There was a child within these walls that claimed to be the blood of his fellow orphan teammate and Orochimaru knew how important verifying that she was as she appeared to be would be to Jiraiya. If the child was his teammate's daughter then Orochimaru would see to it that she was protected and if she was some sleeper agent sent to shatter Jiraiya. Well, he would ensure that the child met with a swift end before she had any chance to do any damage. It would be a mercy to her as well as Jiraiya that she die quickly if he found her to be just some spy. Otherwise she would face a long torturous interrogation and Jiraiya would have to face grief from family being taken from him once more.
A.N.: and there we are! Dun Dun Dun lol the plot is thickening! Let me know what you think! I'm trying not to fall into the clichés that come from self inserts. Lol Tell me how I'm doing? I brought Orochimaru in because I believe he was still in Konoha during most of the third shinobi war. At least as far as I can tell, since Anko was his student and she is roughly the same age as Kakashi. Plus, Orochimaru had to have gotten those sixty babies from somewhere and there are a lot of orphans made during war so I figured this for my Orochimaru defect timeline as far as canon goes:
Anko graduates age 10
Becomes Orochimaru's apprentice
Orochimaru begins experiments during the Third War
He is discovered when Anko is 11/12 and flees the village with her then gives her a curse mark. She decides to not abandon Konoha so he abandons her.
Anko is 12 when the Kyuubi hits and Orochimaru joins Akatsuki
Now for my timeline and how it compares to canon so far:
Anko is four
Kakashi is six-already graduated
Natsumi is five
Since it seems that Orochimaru was a pretty decent if pragmatic guy before he joined the dark side (ie Root) I am willing to bet he has yet to turn down that path at the start of the third war.
So as it stands Orochimaru is still the man that cried with Tsunade about Dan's death, visits his parents graves every day, is obsessed with being stronger and knowing all the ninjutsu ever made. He has darkness in him, there is no doubt about that, but he is also redeemable at this point since he has yet to fully explore the horrors of his experiments. My thought on this is that Orochimaru hadn't started out the evil man the canon shows him as, he was a decent guy once, and his fall from grace was a long one. So while his part might seem to be a little OOC in this chapter it is how I imagine him being before he let himself become the monster we know him as. After all there must be a reason it took all his friends and teacher so long to give up on redeeming him. There must have been a time when he showed them someone different. Anyways enough of that rant, what do you guys think? Could Orochimaru be redeemed or will he be doomed to his canon fate?