Glimpses of Fire
Disclaimer: If I owned Naruto, it'd be called 'Gaara'. So, isn't it a shame that I don't own it?
Summary: There were many things that shaped the plans of a certain Nukenin, and one was a shinobi that was as destructive as fire. AU/Mentions of Shounen-ai/Yaoi/Yuri (Linked to 'Caught In The Rain')
A/N: This is centered around my OC and Gaara, I know it doesn't look like it but trust me on this. Things will become clear later. Just read on if you wish to find out. o,o
o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0oPrologue: Many Years Agoo0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o
Her figure moved as swiftly as she could bear and tried to keep herself hidden by the unrelenting shadows. She paused just inches from crossing around the heavily guarded waterfall through a storm drain used for the water that might flood the village situated behind her. She had already stopped several times as she had made her way as quietly as possible, and she placed a hand over her mouth to stifle a racking cough as someone walked overhead. Since night had fallen there had been few people out and it had been easy for her to slip into the drain, and she only had to be wary of the guards on night duty.
There was a reason she had chosen this night and it involved a certain Chunin that was on duty now. He was the only one she had trusted with her plans to escape the village. He hadn’t really taken her seriously but had still offered to help her, which she had refused. It was certain that he’d be one of the first to be suspected with aiding her and so she hadn’t told him which night she planned to leave. She had also made sure to destroy every piece of evidence that would link him with her disappearance, but she had to get out first for her efforts to pay off.
When he moved on she continued on as well and made sure to time her steps with his. She wasn’t sure he’d stop her if he caught her, and had to be cautious. So, she made sure to make as little noise as possible. She had to leave.
They had done something to her when she had been born. To make her strong for the village, but they hadn’t counted on her sickly nature. Her body made her weak and she became a liability and they tried to get rid of her. She still remembered the blade as it pierced her chest and the gut wrenching pain that followed. The front of her clothes had soaked up the blood that flowed freely from the wound. She had stumbled from the room as she tried to get out but she had fallen and darkness had taken her, but she hadn’t died.
A figure appeared before her after she had managed to get past the waterfall and start down a hidden trail she had found when she had gone on a mission with her team. She immediately fell into a defensive stance and withdrew a kunai. She was ready to fight her way past the ninja if she had to.
“Kiyo-chan,” she heard the male speak. At once, she knew that it was Fujikaru and relaxed only slightly. His tone of voice had been sad when he had called out to her. “You really do plan to go through with it.” He stepped out of the tree’s shadow and his stern yet handsome features were revealed.
Kiyomizu had always thought Fuji to be a serious individual, but he had also proven to be loyal. The Chunin had always placed his duty to his village above his personal relationships and feelings. Even so, he had been unable to resist caring for the younger girl and he had come to view her as a sister. She had substituted for the family he had lost over the years to duty and battles.
“Gomen, Fuji-kun,” she replied, bowing her head. He had also become like a brother to her, since she had been shunned by her own family because of her weakness. However, she wouldn’t allow anyone to stop her, not even him. “I’m going.”
The bandana his hitai-ate was attached to covered his wavy russet hair but it could be seen peeking out at the edges. He stuffed his hands into his black pants and he looked almost uncomfortable in his Taki Chunin vest. His black eyes met her brown ones over the small distance that separated them.
“I know,” he finally responded with a sigh. He didn’t wish to see her go but even he knew that her only hope for survival was for her to leave the village. After a moment, he pulled something out of his pocket and tossed it to her. “You will always be my little sister.” He walked past her and back toward the village. “Don’t look back. Ki o ts’kete. Sayonara.” He vanished in a puff of smoke.
She frowned slightly and opened the small black, velvet box and stared in shock at the ring nestled within. It was silver and glowed with the moonlight and it had the Morisue Clan emblem. Kiyo knew that this was a symbol that you were officially considered a part of the Morisue family, which not only had wealth but was spread out along several different hidden villages. Not to mention the many people that were in one way associated with them in low and high class status.
She quickly slipped it on and tucked the box away, and moved further away from the only place she had ever known as home. Kiyomizu didn’t know where she was going but Fujikaru had already helped her in a big way by accepting her as a member of his family. “Kochira koso,” she whispered. “Sayonara, Aniki.” Then she was gone as she disappeared into the ever darkening night.
The young girl looked around the room and gave a sigh. After almost three months, she could finally breathe easily. She had learned right away that her village wasn’t about to lose their “fabricated soldier” that easily, even if she was too weak to use properly. She’d most likely been dubbed a nukenin, and it had been a miracle that she had managed to avoid the Oinin that had been sent after her. On more than one occasion it had been the ring that had saved her.
Kiyomizu or Morisue Kiyomizu now, moved to the window. She opened it and leaned out as she let her gaze sweep over the village she would now call home. It was as far away as she had been able to go and while there had been other places she could have gone, this had been the best choice. The heat would help her health tremendously for one, and the Morisue Clan had several cousins within this village.
It hadn’t been decided yet which family she would stay with since both the Itagaki and Erizawa Clan were related to the Morisue. For now Kiyo was alternating between the two homes, and she was currently staying with the Itagaki after having been with the Erizawa family the previous week. It was hard to move from one place to another so much, but she could handle it. Certainly it was better than what she had gone through at Takigakure.
She was hit with a blast of hot air as she sighed in relief, and she could already feel her strength improving in the week and a half that she had been here. It helped a lot since soon she would attend the Academy because she had just turned 12 years old. They wanted to gauge her skills and if they were adequate she’d be allowed to become a Genin. Kiyo had confidence that she could make it since she had become one in Waterfall village. She had barely made it, but that had been because the wet climate had drastically drained her chakra.
A grin spread over her pale features which were starting to take on a healthier color, and turned when there was a knock. “Come in,” she practically sing songed. The fusuma door was slid open and she saw that it was Katsuhiko, the eldest son in the Itagaki household.
He lifted a slender brow at his “cousins” cheerful expression. “You seem to be in a good moon,” he said as a slight smirk lifted the corners of his lips. The strands of his short dark brown hair fell over his ebony orbs as they met hers. They were so much like Fujikaru’s that she winced as if in pain. “What’s wrong?” He noticed as she faltered.
She sighed and leaned against the wall and turned her gaze slightly so the warm wind caressed her features. “I miss Fuji-nii-san,” she muttered as a blush spread over her features. Her somber expression lightened as she looked at him. “You look a lot like him, Katsuhiko-san.”
The taller teen let the smirk widen as he waved his hand dismissively. “Come now, I’m sure that I’m better looking than that sour puss,” he said as he chuckled. She had come to learn that the distant cousins got along rather well but were also known to fight like cats and dogs. Ever since she had gotten here, she had pestered the younger cousins on anything on her surrogate brother that she could use as blackmail later on. Not that she needed it since she had Fujikaru wrapped around her little finger.
“Oh Heaven’s yes.” She nodded seriously. “Especially when you go like this,” she replied as she pursed her lips like a fish and made sucking noises. She got along good with Katsu and the younger twins. The only problem was that they always wanted piggy back rides at the same time.
At first she had been too weak to give even one of them a piggy back ride, but now that she was getting better she could almost keep up with them. She was grateful that she had Katsuhiko there to placate them whenever she couldn’t. They were certainly bundles of energy.
He laughed again and shook his head, and came to stand besides her at the window. “Ogenki dess-ka?” he asked her. She had only told Katsu’s father and the head of the Erizawa family the truth about why she had fled Takigakure. They had introduced her as their cousin and told the children that she had come here because of her health, which was the vague truth. She really hated to lie, especially to Katsuhiko whom she had already become friends with, but perhaps one day she’d feel confident enough to tell him the truth.
“I’m fine,” she said and knew it to be true. Kaze no Kuni was mostly desert and was pretty hot, and it did her lungs good. She hadn’t had a coughing fit in a long time now, but she still had to be careful since the nights were rather cold. During those times, she made sure that she was bundled well and had the room heater on. Even during the day she was well bundled up but it wasn’t uncomfortable no matter how hot the day was.
“That’s good to hear,” he muttered and stared outside a while longer. Kiyo could tell that he wanted to say something to her because he had come in here for a reason. She let him take his time, but was curious as to what made him reluctant to speak since he had always been open about what he wanted to say.
The older boy turned toward her and stuffed his hands into his pockets and she actually saw a blush spread over his face. She was about to ask to save him the embarrassment of broaching the subject, but he seemed to gain some courage. “Here, this is for you.” He thrust something in her hands and then quickly turned away again. As he made his way out of the room she thought she heard him muttering something about strangling someone.
Kiyo blinked and looked at the small package he had given her. It was wrapped in light blue washi, and she carefully removed the ribbon and opened it. There was a handmade necklace inside and a note. She let the trinket dangle from her fingers and the red stone at the end caught the light and winked at her. Now she unfolded the note and read it over.
‘For a very beautiful girl.
A brow lifted at the name and wondered who that was. Then she remembered that he was Katsuhiko’s friend. She had thought him strange since during their first meeting he had uttered something stupid and then could only stutter an apology before leaving the room. Glancing at the necklace and the smooth crimson stone, she let a smile curve her lips and proceeded to slip it on.
She laughed when she realized that it was Ritsuko he had been muttering about strangling. Kiyo wondered how long the Ashikaga boy had begged Katsuhiko to give her the box, since it was obvious that he was rather shy around her. It was the first time she had been given something like this since the boys in Taki had all avoided her as instructed by their parents. She sighed and hoped that it would be different in Sunagakure no Sato.
The next four years passed in a blur of missions and training, and she was as healthy as she had ever been. In that time she had gotten to know the strange Ashikaga Ritsuko and realized that he was as she had suspected, strange. During their early meetings, they had been awkward for a lot of reasons but they had gradually started to enjoy being with each other. If they weren’t on a mission then they were hanging with Katsuhiko and other friends. Sometimes they were alone and they could find something to talk about for hours, or merely sit in silence and enjoy one another’s company.
He had finally worked up the courage to ask her to go out with him, and she had simply replied, “I thought we were already going out.” They had laughed and then shared their first kiss. That had been almost two years ago and since then if they weren’t on a mission then they were together. However, these last few weeks she had sensed that Ritsuko was hiding something from her.
She confronted her cousin and demanded to know if he was cheating on her. When he finally spoke, she was shocked. It wasn’t what she had been expecting.
“What do you mean?” she asked the taller ninja. He wouldn’t even look her in the eye as he repeated what he had told her. She turned away and clenched her hands into fists as she tried to keep her emotions in check.
“Arranged marriage,” she whispered. Her hand found the necklace that had hung from her neck since the day he had given it to her. Now she tore it away and let it drop to the tatami mats she stood on. She left Katsuhiko where he stood as she fled the house.
“Kiyo-kun,” he called out to her, but she wasn’t listening anymore. She ran as hard as she could until she had reached the outskirts of the village. Falling onto her knees she tried to slow her racing pulse. The moon’s light flowed around her and glinted off the sand hitai-ate that was secured at her right thigh.
The newly appointed Chunin kunoichi took in deep breaths and tried not to cry. She was seized by a coughing fit which she hadn’t had in months, but the night was cold and she hadn’t remembered to bring her coat in her haste to leave the house. Her hand covered her mouth and when it stopped, she let herself fall onto her back.
“Damn coward!” she yelled to the darkened heavens. He hadn’t told her and the fact that she had to get it out of Katsuhiko made it hurt even more. Her cousin had always been the middle man in their relationship since Itagaki-san didn’t approve of her going out with the Ritsuko, and now she knew why. It had been because the Ashikaga family had set up the marriage between him and Arato Etsuko.
She sat up as she was seized with another coughing fit and she heard footsteps behind her but she didn’t bother to turn around. Kiyo knew who it was since he was the only one that made noise on purpose at times. “What do you want?” she muttered, wiping absently at a stray tear.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. He had moved closer but had stopped just behind her. Out of the corner of her eye she saw that he was holding the necklace for her to take. She didn’t want to even look at it much less take it, but she swallowed the bitterness that was threatening to consume her and took it. The trinket meant a lot to her.
“Save your breath,” she snapped without meaning to. She heard him falter but then felt something fall over her shoulders and saw that it was her jacket. For a moment she wondered if he had actually went to her house to get it, but knew that he wouldn’t. More than likely it had been Katsuhiko that had given it to him.
He sat next to her and was quiet for a long time. His shoulder length black hair flowed around him and caught the moon’s light so it sparkled like star light in the darkness. As the wind picked up, the ends danced around him and the bangs fell over his grey eyes. He had bent his legs and folded his arms over his knees as he rested his chin on them.
She could tell that he wanted to say something to her but was having trouble getting it out. When she was seized with another coughing fit, he seemed to snap out of it and spoke at last. “It was set up before I was born. I don’t have a choice,” he muttered as he ran a hand through his straight, silky hair.
Kiyo gripped the jacket around her and bowed her head. “That’s a lie,” she muttered. She stood to her full height of five feet and two inches as she peered down at him with a frown. “You made your choice and it’s obvious what it was.” She hastily stuffed the necklace into the jacket’s pocket and turned away as she stifled another cough. “Goodbye, Ashikaga-san.” The Morisue female walked off as she headed back to her house, and refused to look back.
She didn’t speak to Katsuhiko when she got home and only closed herself off in her room. Tonight all she wanted to do was curl into a ball and cry herself to sleep.
The child tilted her head to the side as she heard something calling out to her. She glanced around the room she was sitting in with wide black eyes and the motion ruffled her short black hair. Her tiny hands came to rest on the floor as she lifted her bottom off the floor until she had come to stop on her hands and knees.
She proceeded to crawl across the tatami mats until she entered the other room. The whispering within the confines of her mind was drawing her toward the irori that was burning even now since it was fall and the days were starting to be as cold as the nights.
While she crawled, she was cooing happily and continued to move over the now wooden floor. Closer and closer she came. Stopping, her dark orbs lifted and she squealed gleefully and started forward once again. She had almost reached the hearth when two hands took hold of her small body and lifted her out of harms’ way. The baby girl immediately started to wail at having been kept from her objective.
The woman that had lifted her started to comfort her and quiet her crying. She patted the ten month old on the back and held her as tightly. “Oh Kami, don’t listen to it, kudasai,” she whispered fiercely.
A small head poked around the corner with a curious expression. The boy had his father’s straight black hair but his mother’s black eyes, and he looked no older than nine years old. He was wearing shorts and a long sleeved shirt, but was missing his sandals and was only in his socks.
“You were supposed to be watching your sister, Eizan-kun,” she chastised. Her dark brown bangs fell over matching eyes that were currently narrowed in annoyance. She was out of her Jonin attire and was sporting a long flowing flowered skirt and light blue blouse.
Eizan returned the gesture defiantly and shook his head so the dark strands flipped around him. “She’s not my sister,” he answered stubbornly. “And you’re not my Okaa-san!” He disappeared into the other room once more and she knew he would plop down in front of that blasted television her husband had gotten from a nearby town.
Kiyomizu sighed wearily as she rocked her musume and moved down the hall to put her down for a nap. “Time for your nap, Arisa-chan,” she cooed. As if in response, she gave a yawn as her eyes became half lidded.
Laying her in the crib, she gave her the bottle and started to hum a lullaby. In no time at all she had fallen asleep, and Kiyo watched as she rested her head on her arms which she folded and rested on the railing. She wore a sad expression as she sighed once more.
“I’m sorry, chibi,” she mumbled. “I never meant to give it to you.” Kiyo ran a hand across her face as she felt her fatigue settle over her body. Over the last ten months since she’d given birth, she had started to become as sick as she had been in Taki and even now she stifled a cough. Her failing health indicated that she wouldn’t survive a second child birth, and she resigned herself grudgingly.
She had slumped more against the crib when she heard someone from the doorway. “Are you okay?” asked a familiar voice. Turning, she was surprised to see Katsuhiko standing there and knew that Eizan had probably let him in.
A smile spread over her sickly pale features. “Katsu-kun,” she whispered as she staggered toward him. Before she realized what happened, the taller shinobi had caught her falling body and was now lifting her up.
Itagaki Katsuhiko was stunned at how little his cousin weighed as he lifted her bridal style. He frowned as he moved out into the hall toward her bedroom. At that moment, Eizan came around the corner and froze.
The boy had stopped when he saw his father’s new wife in his uncle Katsu’s arms, and he felt a chill as he remembered his mother. She had been carried in the same way after she had been injured in her mission and the last he saw of her was her pale, bloodied face. “What’s wrong?” he asked as his voice shook. Her face looked so pale and like his beloved Okaa-san. “Is she okay?”
The suna-nin frowned and wished the young Academy student hadn’t caught sight of them. It hadn’t even been two years since his mother had died and this certainly wouldn’t help. “Hai,” he hastened to reassure him. He walked past him and into the room where he laid her on the bed. “Kiyo-kun is just tired.”
He walked to him and placed a hand on his head as he kneeled so he was at eye level with him. “I’m going to take care of her. Do you think you can keep an eye on Arisa-chan?” When he only glanced at the kunoichi’s still figure, Katsuhiko squeezed his shoulder to reassure him.
The shorter of the two nodded and moved out of the room when the sand shinobi urged him with a firm hand. When he had left, Katsu flicked on the radio he still had on from his recent mission. He made a series of pulses go through in a distinctive pattern.
“Go ahead,” a familiar voice responded in his ear piece after several seconds.
“You need to get home,” he said as quiet as possible so Eizan wouldn’t hear. “Your ok’san needs you.”
There was silence for several seconds. “How is she?” he finally asked and Katsu could hear the worry underlying his tone.
Katsuhiko sighed and ran his hand through his longish dark brown hair. “Yokunai,” he responded.
“I’ll be there soon,” he spoke and then it cut off.
Five minutes later and he had gotten a basin of cold water and a compress as he sat besides her. A frown twisted his face as his fingers brushed over her skin. “Atsui,” he muttered under his breath. He leaned his forehead against the bed next to her hand. “Dosh’te? You knew this would happen, so why?”
A hand came to rest on his head as he stiffened and when he lifted his head it was to meet Kiyo’s softened gaze. “Because I wanted her,” she whispered as the familiar spark ignited in her weary eyes. “She’s beautiful, my Arisa-chan.”
The brown haired male watched a frown twist her features. “Onegai, Katsu-kun, don’t leave her alone,” she said with a note of desperation in her voice. “Don’t let it consume her.”
The Itagaki was confused by her words. “Nani? I don’t understand what you mean, Kiyo-kun.” He stopped as he heard the door open behind him and turned to see Kiyo’s husband rushed in followed by a medic-nin. When he turned back around, he saw that she had passed out once again.
“How’s she doing?” his cousin-in-law asked breathlessly as he gasped in air. Katsu stood and intercepted him before he could get to the bed. The medic-nin meanwhile started to check her over as the slightly shorter man led the kunoichi’s husband outside.
“She’s sleeping now,” he paused with a sigh. “She doesn’t look good.” It was hard for him to say this and while he wasn’t a medical ninja, he had known the birth would take a heavy toll on her health.
The look on his face almost made Katsu curse but before he could say anything, they turned as the door opened and the medic stepped out. “How is she?” the brown haired man immediately asked.
The man, who was slightly older than the two of them, sighed and closed his bag. “She’s resting but is very weak,” he said quietly. He glanced at the door. “Her health is failing and it’s unclear how long she has left to live. She could have five years, five months, or five days.” He pursed his lips and shook his head. “I’m sorry but only her will can determine how much longer she lives.”
Katsuhiko saw the man to the door and left the couple to themselves for several minutes. Inside, the dark haired man sat in the chair his best friend had abandoned and lifted his wife’s frail hand between his larger ones. “I’m here, Kiyo,” he whispered.
Ashikaga Ritsuko awoke with a gasp and felt his entire body slicked with cold sweat. He sat up and shivered as he listened for several seconds but all he heard was the steady ticking of the clock hanging from the wall in the darkened living room.
A sigh left his lips as he ran a hand through his shoulder length black hair that had stuck to the sides of his face and neck. Pulling it into a messy ponytail, he stood and made his way to the kitchen.
The irori was still burning in the middle of the room and provided warmth from the biting wind outside. Fall had come and went and winter had been a nonsensical blur to which he had barely paid attention to. Kiyo had held on longer than they had estimated and a year had come and gone. However, she hadn't awoken since that night Katsu had called him after he had reported to the Kazekage on his last mission.
He was sad that his wife had not been able to see Arisa's first steps or hear her first words, but he had sat by her bedside with the child in his lap and spoke to her. She was still too young to understand and so Ritsu had merely told her that her mother was only sleeping.
It was a relief that Eizan had started to cooperate and would take care of his sister when he was forced to go on a mission, and Katsuhiko wasn't available. He hated leaving them alone but the boy was old enough to be able to take care of the house since he had been in the Academy four years now.
Ritsuko paused as he brought the glass of water to his lips and lowered it to rest on the counter. A shudder passed through him as he gasped and bolted down the hall toward that use to be Kiyo and his room as the glass shattered behind him. He slammed the door open and froze just inside the doorway.
He could see her figure sitting up in the bed and her head was turned toward him. He tried to speak, but his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. A beam of moon light cut through the room and lit up her familiar features, and he could see the gentle smile soften her lips. “I dreamt of you, Ritsu,” she whispered.
He collapsed and fell to his knees as tears streamed down his face. His whole body shook with sobs as he thanked every deity he could think of. Kiyomizu merely watched with a smile on her lips.-
1. Gomen: I’m sorry.
2. Ki o ts’kete: Take care.
3. Sayonara: goodbye.
4. Kochira koso: The same to you.
5. Aniki: big brother.
6. Oinin: literally ‘chasing ninja’ or hunter-nin; they hunt and kill missing nin, and disposing of their remains to keep the villages jutsu out of enemy hands.
7. nukenin: missing nin or rouge ninja that have betrayed or abandoned their villages
8. Takigakure: literally ‘hidden within the waterfall’
9. fusuma: sliding door of wood & heavy paper, opened or closed to alter the size of a room.
10. nii-san: another word for big brother.
11. Ogenki dess-ka: How are you
12. Kaze no Kuni: literally ‘the land of wind’.
13. washi: handmade paper
14. Sunagakure no Sato: literally means ‘Village Hidden within the Sand’.
15. tatami mats: straw-and-rush mats that cover the floor of a certain rooms; a room is measured in tatami mats.
16. irori: the hearth at the heart of house, often kept burning as main source of heat and sometimes used for cooking.
17. Kami: god, divine wind
18. kudasai: please (give me or do for me)
19. Okaa-san: mother
20. musume: daughter
21. ok’san: wife
22. Yokunai: not good
23. Atsui: hot
24. Dosh’te: why
25. Onegai: please (pleading)
26. Nani: what
Glimpses of Fire by shattered_words