Hello my wonderful readers! I'm going to start off by saying how extremely happy I am to see this story climbing the ranks in OCSTORY and HEARTBREAK! ~
I was trying to figure out a theme or concept for this chapter and I stumbled on this quote that fit perfectly.
The distance that separated us felt wrong as I honored his last wish. It always came down to my inability to keep all the people I loved safe and out of harm's way. And as the sky grew darker and the rain thickened, I too cried along with it. I shook, whimpered and mourned the loss of my family all over again as I carried on. I couldn't focus on anything other than what had recently occurred. Pushing myself to think about the future only made my heart ache worse, because in the end, I was all alone again.
Running became a blur, a forgetful pattern of dodging and weaving through trees, fallen foliage and shrubbery. My lungs began to burn the further I dashed, my legs aching for a break. I didn't know for how long I'd been going but the rain kept me company the entirety of my journey.
After several hours, I could no longer sense anyone following in pursuit. Breaking long enough to squat down behind a bush to relieve myself, it was time to begin again till I reached the land of Two Rivers, but this time at a slower pace. I couldn't stay long for fear of those chasing me lying in wait to ambush.
I ducked down behind a house, spotting a few sets of watchful eyes. Two of them had Sand Village headbands which was exactly what I was hoping I wouldn't see here. They looked around carefully as if searching, trying to identify someone specific. It had to be me. There was no other reason in my mind. I sighed, wondering if they'd sent messenger hawks ahead to any scouting shinobi in the area to be on the look out.
I was feeling tired and weak as I shuffled around them, looking for some food I could snatch. I normally never would steal. It was circumstantial of course. Until I made it some place I could live without being harassed by the Hidden Sand Village, it was obvious that I had to do whatever I possibly could in order to survive. I didn't condone stealing. Reaching for an apple from the fruit stand hit me with such a guilt I'd never felt.
I was likely halfway to my father's old house that had sat abandoned for so long now that it wouldn't shock me if someone or some sort of animal had taken up residence in his absence. How was Yoshito so certain that what he was trying to say to me was still true? I took a deep breath, trusting in his words and whatever meaning behind them that I had yet to unveil.
I peered around the corner of the building I now hid behind, hoping that the few shinobi searching for me would fan out, disappear and give me the opportunity to escape. I leaned back against the surface of the wall, feeling the cool brick against the palms of my hands as they rested at my sides. I was tired. I was so fricking tired. All I wanted to do was lie down and curl up into a ball but I knew this wasn't the time or place. If I gave up now, I wouldn't make it out of here alive. Then Yoshito's sacrifice would be for nothing and I couldn't let that come to pass.
I inhaled slowly and upon my calm exhale, I surveyed the area once more. Spread out across the market were men marked by the Sand Village symbol, looking into the eyes of everyone who passed by. Their search continued, one of the men moving towards the building I crept next to. When he turned away, a wave of relief washed over me. It was short lived however, when out walked another shinobi from the very building I'd been hiding by. I gasped, shocked by the sudden hand that yanked at my wrist.
"Found you!" the man growled.
From the corner of my eye, I could see the attacker's other hand brandishing something sharp and shiny moving overhead, giving me only a second to react. I pivoted my body around until I was parallel to his and thrusted my forearm upwards to block the tip of the kunai from fatally lodging itself into any critical spots. While I had responded immediately seeing the man armed, I still had been unable to avoid getting sliced. Blood dripped from the cut gently down the length of my raised arm. I could heal from smaller wounds but not another fatal stabbing, not like last time. I had been lucky then however, this time, I was all alone. Luck was not on my side.
The man stood at least a head taller than I did, pressing his weight down against my injured forearm along the area of the gash. This forced me to both wince and take an involuntary step back. His battle hardened face went from gritting his teeth to a minacious snicker.
"Too bad for the big bad spy. You're not getting away from me," he goaded.
"I'm not a spy," I spat back.
"Our orders were to bring the spy back dead or alive and who ever found you would be compensated handsomely. That person is going to be me."
A sliver of fear seeped in, my heart beginning to race. I needed to force him away, enough to get in a solid hit. Knowing that my hands were both occupied, a ninja knew how to use every part of their body as a weapon in desperate circumstances. With this in mind, I took a deep breath and focused chakra into my feet, trying to hold back his weight bearing down. Taking a step forward to pull myself in closer, I used the chakra built up in my feet to launch myself forward and up. The thick topside of my skull collided underneath his chin with a sudden crack of bone on bone, stunning him enough to stumble backwards with a pained groan. His eyes began to roll back before he was able to regained awareness.
My pursuer growled, still gripping my wrist in one of his hands, his other still raised for attack. My quick thinking led me to raise my foot to pry him off with a forceful kick to the groin area. His hands involuntarily shot immediately to the injured area as his legs crumpled below him to the ground, the kunai landing only inches away from his knee. The ninja looked up, his gaze being met with a single punch to the face that sent him sprawling face first into the dirt.
I sighed with relief, glancing around to see that luckily, no one had watched the scuffle unfold. The unconscious ninja lie at my feet, parts of him would surely hurt when he opened his eyes next.
I crouched down beside him, feeling the rain touch my face as I ripped off a piece of his sleeve to wrap up the gash I had obtained. I peeled the cloak off the man, using it both as a disguise to slip out of the small town and a way to keep warm. Keeping my head down and hood covering the majority of my features from prying eyes helped me sneak through the market unscathed. I took a deep breath and carried on towards my father's abandoned house.
The pace I progressed forward at slowed the more I felt ill. Yoshito had been sick with a high fever before we'd parted ways and we had lived in the same vicinity for so long. That and the rain hadn't let up since the explosion. The more weary my body became, the more I felt it. Exhaustion had made its ugly face known after just a few short hours had passed. Yet I trudged on wearily, heartbroken and alone.
Hours went by before I felt the fever beginning to take hold. My entire body ached with a soreness that radiated and throbbed in waves and an overheated clamminess that contradicted the shivering. My fingers thrummed with the pain that had gathered after digging through the rubble. My pace had dropped to an ill trek. I knew exactly where I was at this point and was well aware of how close I was to my father's old home but I couldn't push my body faster or get through the sickness. I whimpered at the ache in every step, pushing aside the overwhelming urge to just lie down and curl up into a ball. I was almost there. A little longer and I'd make it to the house. I didn't know what I'd find when I got there but I could only hope that the building was still structurally sound, enough for me to lie down inside and fight this fever enough to have my strength back. The dirt and sweat I could deal with, but the shiver ran so deep, I could feel it throughout my entire body.
Through the darkness and constant rainfall, I could see the outline of the house close by. I weakly smiled as I heard the faint sounds of the rushing river flowing behind the abandoned lot. I had finally made it. I listened closely for any other sounds in hopes that no one had taken up residence inside my father's old home. I heard nothing, aside from the chattering of my own teeth.
I reached for the door, gently forcing it open to reveal a dark and empty hall. Never before had this place felt so eerie just standing in the entrance. Closing the door behind me, I moved through the rest of the house surprised by how orderly the place appeared. It was dimly lit and dusty enough that when a bit of moonlight peeked through the cracks of the curtained windows, small particles could be seen floating around in the air in front of me. But still, not a thing was out of place.
I had been here several times throughout the years, the familiarity of the place forming tears that began to rise to my eyes. Father had lived here peacefully before I came into his life. He had been such a gentle and kind man who didn't deserve to have his life encroached on by such a nuisance. But it was thanks to him that I survived, that I was saved and able to continue on with my life. I wished more than anything that Yoshito would walk through that door and say this was all a joke, that everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours wasn't reality. But he didn't walk through that door and the sad truth was that he would never walk through it again.
Even still, he had sent me here for a reason. I furrowed my brow trying to recall his exact words.
"In my house, there is a picture, the only one of its kind. It watches over your future"
I had made it to his house, the first part of Yoshito's riddle.
"What were you trying to tell me?" I said out loud into empty space.
I walked around and visited each room, the silence deafening. This place had been a receptacle of memories for over the last 5 years, a place of comfort and familiarity that replayed in my head in the shape of a movie. Slowly I sauntered through until I came upon several pictures that I had remembered seeing the first time I'd been here.
I flashed back to the conversation between Yoshito and myself about the photo of him and his father being the only one of its kind. Not only that but no other pictures were left in the house except the few in this particular room. I moved towards the little table with new found insight, picking up the frame and grazing over it with a smile. I wiped the bit of dust off with my thumb then flipped it over to feel the back. My hope was that I'd find a message of some kind tucked into the back, but once I'd pulled out the photograph, there was nothing there. I sighed in disappointment, placing it back together and putting the picture back.
I groaned, a wave of dizziness from the fever hitting me full blast. This sent me stumbling into the table, the few pictures residing there either toppled over or clattered to the floor with a crash. I inhaled deeply with a shaking breath, using the surface to hold myself up. Trying to steady myself, I put my weight onto the foot just below the piece of furniture I'd been propped up against, feeling a small give in the floorboard below. I cocked my head sideways in confusion, feeling the difference between that specific spot and the rest of the floor around it. That was weird...
I pushed on it again.
Starting with a deep breath, I knelt down to investigate. Looking closely enough, there was a difference between this piece and the rest around it. The discoloration of the rest of the boards showed many years of usage. This one however looked brand new. A person would only be able to tell by looking closely that it didn't below here. That had struck me as odd, seeing as how Yoshito hadn't been here in a long time, let alone enough time to fix or construct new flooring. At least that's what I had thought. I reached down, feeling the plank against my finger tips and pressed down, seeing it shift in place. Floorboards weren't meant to shift like that.
I stabled myself by planting my butt on the floor in front of the table, attempting to dig at the wooden flooring with my nails with no results. With a second attempt, I dug into my pouch and pushed the tip of a kunai into the corner of the gap between the two wood planks and pried the board upwards. My eyes widened as it easily came off. The kunai fell to the floor beside me with a metallic clank as I eagerly ripped it from the support beam below. Underneath the piece I'd pulled away was a compartment, but within that hidden space was something I thought I'd never lay my eyes on again. I gingerly reached down into the space feeling the handle of my own Chokuto blade. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The last time I'd seen it, it had been lodged inside of me. The memory sent shivers down my spine and I involuntarily reached up to touch the scar from where it penetrated under my breast.
My vision zeroed in on the Uchiha symbol on both the hilt of the weapon and the material wrapped gently around the blade. Placing the sword next to the hole in the ground, I realized the bloodied material was the shirt I'd been wearing the day of the attack. I folded the familiar material between my fingers, playing with the bit that was loosely wrapped around the blade. I had always wondered what had become of the things I'd been discovered with. They could no longer be out in the open after the Uchiha massacre to help hide my identity but not once had I thought to ask. I assumed it all had been destroyed to protect us all. Was this what Yoshito had wanted me to find? Was this what his riddle was meant to lead me towards?
So many feelings ran through me at once. Nostalgia. Wonder. Curiosity. Heartache. Fear. Painful memories that were nightmares. My jaw clenched. A thud let me know that something had been tucked away within the shirt. I reached down, my eyes raking over the little rectangular shaped book that had fallen. The book was a soft shade of blue with no words displayed on the cover or the back side. Opening the small book, the first page stunned me with words written in a familiar penmanship.
To my Dearest Daughter...
"Dad?" I whimpered, tears filling my eyes faster than I could comprehend.
I remember the day I found you like it had happened only minutes ago. I think about how hard you struggled to stay alive that day. But I'm happy you fought endlessly to keep going, because it meant I was able to get to know you. You accepted me as your father for identity reasons but in my heart you were my one and only daughter.
I knew that one day things would change because of what happened in your past. Hizumi, a part of you will always be Sayako and that's just it. She only exists inside of you, only a single piece to the puzzle that makes up your life. Uchiha is who you will always be and it is because of that fact that we'll have to part at some point in out lives. The thought pains me. I can't imagine a life where we aren't together. As much as it breaks my heart, you are who you will always be. I have dreaded this since the moment I realized how important you are to me, to Kana and Suzi. But I am able to accept Hizumi because without her, you wouldn't exist.
This journal is a collection of thoughts and feelings ever since you lost your memory and my discovery of your true identity. I believe that it is time for you to go back to where you came from no matter how hard it might be. I know that there is more out there for you besides us. You're strong and brave. You're beautiful and smart. I know in my heart that you will struggle and fall, but you will also fight, survive, protect and rise. There is nothing you can't do in this world. Find your destiny. It's out there waiting.
With all my love,
Your Father Yoshito
Sobs escaped me as I sat there hunched on the floor, cradling the journal in my arms. Forever passed by in this emotional state, hours I could barely notice. My cheeks were a painful shade of red, my eyes puffy and blurred from the continued water works. My head had began to hurt, the fever raged and the chills too ran through me from the damp clothing. I was a mess.
Why did this keep happening? It felt as if every time I felt a connection to someone or felt as if that person was important to me, they lost their life. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I'd fight to protect them, it was never enough.
Unsteadily, I stood up, clutching the journal against my chest and holding the wrapped sword in my other hand. Dragging my feet in the direction of my father's old bedroom, a noticeably rugged rucksack rested up against his old dresser. The bulky shape of it suggested there were items hidden away inside. Peeling back the unstrapped flap, it appeared to hold a few articles of clothing, a coin pouch, some scrolls and few other oddities. I sighed, leaning the sword up against the bag and flopped down onto Father's old bed with the journal still tightly pressed against my front. The illness, the tears, the heartbreak; it all had taken so much energy out of me. I continued to cry until the exhaustion washed over me like a blanket tucking me in, enough so that I let it drag me into a dreamless sleep.
The abrupt sound of the front door opening startled me into a sitting position. My eyes shot open, intently watching the hall. Had it been the wind? Had someone found out where I'd been hiding? I perked up, listening for any other noises. Twigs snapped outside the window closest to the bed, muffled voices shushing each other.
"Shut the hell up. We don't know if she's still here or not," mumbled a man's voice.
My heart leapt into my throat as I slinked off the side of the bed slowly. Someone was outside and who ever was with them had already made it inside the house. I was still too tired, too weak from the fever and wasn't sure if I'd be able to handle another all out fight in this state. I'd spent too long in the rain with little to no food or water; No nourishment to replenish what my body was losing from the sickness. My body was clammy all over but whether or not I could fight, I still needed to escape. I was no doubt outnumbered and being trapped inside a small room would help me none.
I tucked the journal inside the rucksack propped up nearby, hearing the sounds of foot steps moving down the hall. Normally I would've ran some time ago but who ever was out there was searching, listening. And I was surrounded. Quickly I dropped to the ground, scooting myself backwards underneath the bed, pulling the sword and rucksack along with me until I was tucked as far back as I could go.
The foot falls continued closer, the floor squeaking underneath the stranger's boots until finally they stopped in the door frame of Yoshito's bedroom. My entire body shook with such fearful anticipation. One movement, one scream, one involuntary gasp and it could all be over. I waited quietly, seeing the shadow overhang the floor beside the bed. Another set of fast moving feet came up beside the already present stranger. I held my breath.
"Did you find her?" He whispered.
The first man walked closer to the bed, pressing his hands into the mattress with such focus and intent, it almost felt as if I was being hunted, being stalked by a ferocious predator. The mattress flexed slightly under the pressure of his weight.
"No but she couldn't have gotten far. The bed is still warm."
As the chills ran down my spine, I realized there was something about this deep voice that seemed familiar, but I couldn't quite place where I'd heard it before. I didn't want to risk peeking to put a face to the voice, even with fathomless familiarity that nagged at the edges of my subconscious.
"She must have heard us coming. What do we do now?" asked the second man.
I watched as the mattress returned to normal form, the man stepping away. He sighed heavily as he turned to exit the room.
"Keeping searching," he ordered.
Both sets of feet receded out of the bedroom, each moving towards separate rooms to continue hunting. I slowly let out the breath I'd been holding, letting the chill escape me before crawling carefully out from underneath where I'd slept. Judging by how little light shown through the curtains, I had slept only a few hours if that. It was still rather dark out but dawn would be coming shortly, making it harder to hide from those who were hot on my trail.
Slowly and quietly, I moved towards the window, lifting the glass pane up enough to drop the bag outside into the grass. I lifted one leg out the window, followed by the other before plopping into the wet unkempt grass below. The ground sank below my shoes as I landed with a squelching noise that seemed to luckily be masked by the sound of the rain to anyone not close enough to hear it. Pools of standing water sat within the neglected lawn giving rise to an idea.
I took a deep breath and bent down, gathering enough energy to form hand signs and hopefully to summon enough chakra to form the only jutsu I'd need to escape.
Out from the water came a compiling, bulbous mass that contorted and morphed until it formed a clone, an exact replica of myself. I rose back to my feet, our eyes meeting for a moment as I slung the rucksack over my shoulders.
"You know what to do," I said with a nod.
The other me acknowledged my words as both an order and a plea. She would get their attention, distract them and run in the opposite direction while I made my way towards the one place I never thought I'd return to. The clone took off to my left as I made my way to the right, passed the river, passed the cliff where I'd rediscovered who I was. Further and further I continued on with not much time to be hidden by the darkness. The more distance I could put between us, the higher the chances of my being able to make it to Konoha without fail.
My pace changed as I moved closer and closer to the Hidden Leaf village. The further I went, the dizzier I became. And after only a few minutes, I realized my clone had returned back to a puddle. She fortunately had stalled them, but for how long I wasn't sure.
I moved on and on, watching the sun rise to my right through the trees. I didn't give myself a chance to take a break as I carried on through the woodlands. I pushed ahead, even as I felt my body growing weaker, my physical energy draining second by second. The rain had turned to a mere misting by the time the sun had breached the horizon, setting the sky ablaze with a golden, radiant aurora that illuminated all. And amid the dancing raindrops, the silhouettes of the dissipating clouds above began to appear. I was able to see the endless forest ahead of me however, the more I forced myself, the more they began to become unfocused and blurry. Until finally, I felt my body collapse to my knees in the dirt. A metallic clank echoed as the Uchiha sword collided with jagged rocks near the side of my right shin.
I shook and shivered, panted and swayed; attempting to keep myself sitting upright. Taking a deep breath and closing my eyes for just a moment, I hoped that a minute of rest would give me the energy and motivation to keep walking even if only a sluggish stride. I felt horrible, like all I wanted to do was sleep for a week straight, chug an entire tower of water and eat enough food to last a single person through a rough winter.
I took another deep breath, trying to peel my eyes open and lift my head through the sickness regardless of how heavy it felt. What made me react was the crunching of pebbles under feet approaching me from behind.
"Is this the girl?" a voice asked.
The hairs on the back of my neck rose as I felt the panic in my chest rise like the pulse in my veins. My entire body tensed with the urge to fight.
"She matches the description given to us," another voice said as it traveled till several people had circled around to reach my line of sight.
As much as I urged my limbs to move, they wouldn't respond. My body no longer reacted to the urgency in my mind, even as my eyes followed the group of men that had followed my trail. The clone must not have tricked them or perhaps someone had noticed me running way from the house for them to have discovered me so quickly. I was still no where near the Hidden Leaf village.
I whimpered at the thought of my body giving up before my conscience was ready. The whimper earned me a snicker from behind. I was so tired, so weak, I didn't even have the energy to turn and look at the people still out of view who were probably here to end my life.
Three men had joined my line of sight, each holding a different expression more domineering than the last. Two of the three were likely brothers, identical in the way that their dark green hair seemed unkept and out of control. The only distinction between the two was a single scar that ran down the side of one of their cheekbones. The third pursuer in view had brown, spiky hair who's expression seemed the most aggressive. By the looks of their attire, they didn't appear to be from the Hidden Sand village. At least I wouldn't be tortured and killed by the Land of Wind's strongest shinobi. These people however, why would they be looking for me? I had never met these people before.
"Who are you people? What do you want with me?" I queried.
The person behind me chuckled, taking a few steps closer until they were standing almost directly behind me.
"We've been looking for you."
There it was, that familiar voice again. I recognized that voice though I couldn't quite place where I'd heard it from. There was something about it, something that made every cell in my body bubble up with an intense impulse to stand and fight.
"You've got the wrong girl," I barked.
"Oh I know for a fact we have the right person. I know all about you, Hizumi Uchiha of the Hidden Leaf village. I hadn't quite connected the dots the first time we met in the Land of Wind but we have a mutual friend who was able to bring your true identity to light."
The recognition hit me like whiplash, forcing a visible flinch out of my body. Slowly, I turned my head around enough to see the swordsman that had disappeared several months ago after attacking the clinic. My jaw tensed with such anger as I my expression morphed into a hostile glare. He was a part of the attack. He had ordered the other bandits to harm Kana and Yoshito. I growled at the kimono and auburn colored scarf that stood out from memory. From the tip top of his black, pulled back hair that framed those deviously golden orbs, all the way down to his two katanas resting on his hip; I remembered it all so well. While last time his face had appeared callous and indifferent, this time there was a hint of intrigue in the way he gazed intently.
"There's the rage I remember," the swordsman praised as his impish smile grew dark.
I spat in his direction, my lip curling. As exhausted as I was, the anger that hummed through my body gave rise to the strength that enabled me to wrap my fingers around the hilt of my blade and pull my knees up from the dirt.
"I told you we would meet again some day, though my purpose for finding you is a little different than I expected. Our mutual friend is quite interested in meeting with you once again."
"I don't know who the hell you're talking about but who ever they are, they're no friend of mine. Everyone I know and love is dead. Let's just say I'm in a really bad mood and the last thing I want to do right now is see your ugly mug. So if you would kindly fuck off, " I growled, my lip curling.
My intent was to seem bigger and stronger than I actually was. He simply chuckled with a look of amusement, the others following his lead. Then he scoffed and shook his head.
"Such a dirty mouth. Why he would ever want to deal with a mouth like that is beyond me. I apologize, girl. Unfortunately, my Master has requested that we bring you to him. So I can not fulfill your request," he snickered, taking a step closer.
"Your Master?" I inquired.
"Oh yes. You have heard of him. In fact, I'm quite sure you know him pretty well. I've heard the story so many times... the 'red-eyed girl' who single-handedly stood against all of his underlings. The girl who saw her teammates being obliterated and instead of losing hope and crumbling to pieces, she rose up and became more. The story my Master has repeatedly tortured me with time and time again shows a tale of a girl with a strength to never give up, even in the wake of assured defeat. And by the look on your face, you know exactly who it is that I was ordered to escort you to."
My mouth went dry. It couldn't be. As if reading the name that sat at the tip of my tongue, the swordsman cursed the air with his name.
"Ryozo Yajuu, the leader of our organization..."
It had been years since the last time he had even crossed my mind. What would he want with me? How did he even know I was alive?
"Ryozo... What does he want with me?"
"I have yet to completely understand what he means to do with you. That won't deter me from following his orders to bring you in," he replied.
I took a wobbly step backwards, each step feeling more difficult to produce. I firmly held my sword in my hand, preparing to fight back.
"I'm not going anywhere with you."
"Judging by the looks of you, you wouldn't last five minutes. It's four against one. Let's make it easy, shall we? Come along quietly and no harm will come to you," said one of the green haired men.
I kept my eyes on the swordsman, sensing that he was my biggest obstacle out of the four. I mustered all the courage I had and leapt at him with my own blade in hand aimed in his direction. He easily sidestepped and his elbow connected with the back of my head, sending me sprawling into the dirt and onto my stomach with a flash of pain.
My vision blurred seeing him stand above me as the others laughed at my sad excuse for an attack. Apparently, Ryozo told a tale about me that I couldn't live up to, a tale of a past me. I was worn out and powerless in this sickly state. I laid there berating myself wondering if I should accept defeat and let them take me to my death. I didn't have the will or the energy to escape. I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed. I prayed for the strength to run or fight or something to help me leave this fight alive and out of the hands of my captors.
The cracking sound of impact occurred to my right, followed by the thuds of more than one body hitting the ground with an audible 'oof.'
I was stunned to look up and see three young figures hovered over the dropped bodies of the men who had tried to kidnap me. I blinked and the sudden arrival and flash of green now blocked my view of the swordsman.
"It isn't very manly to gang up on a young woman like that," said the bowl-cut hair styled man before me.
The swordsman growled as he glanced at the two brothers scurrying to get back to their feet. The third henchman had taken a hard kick to the face and likely wouldn't be getting up any time soon. I couldn't believe it. In my time of need, I'd been saved.
"Don't you worry, Little Lady. My team and I will keep you safe," said the man in front of me.
He turned to smile, holding a thumbs up. I could've sworn I had seen his smile gleam but it may have just been a trick of light. This fellow was definitely weird, but I welcomed the helping hand.
One of the brothers narrowed their eyes in the direction of the green jumpsuit in front of me, furrowing his eyebrows before raising them in surprise.
"It's the Blue Beast of the Hidden Leaf!" he gasped, turning to run.
His brother followed right behind him, leaving the swordsman on his own. He sighed, quite noticeably irritated with his men by the way he rubbed his temples.
"Well this is unfortunate. Not exactly how I planned this night to go. Master will definitely be upset about this. I suppose that means we will have to continue this another time, Girl. Until next time," he said, turning to disappear as he had done in the past.
My slightly lifted head plopped back into the dirt at the sight of his disappearance with a wave of relief and safety I thought I wouldn't feel. As I relaxed, I felt the urge to sleep consuming me, prodding me closer to world of dreams.
They each wore the symbol of Konoha somewhere on their attire. The younger three approached, one being a boy who dressed completely identical to the older man in the green jumpsuit. The only thing his outfit was missing happened to be the Flak Jacket that higher level shinobi wore in the village. His expression showed worry as his eyes raked over my shaky, pale body lying in the dirt.
"Something seems to be wrong. She doesn't look very good," he said, looking up to the older man.
One of the three being a girl who sported twin buns atop her head. She bent down beside me, gently pressing her cold fingers to my clammy forehead. She recoiled, almost as if my feverish body had burned her upon contact.
"She's burning up. We need to get her to the hospital!" she proclaimed.
The third of the Genin approached my side with eyes so pale and an expression so empty, I could barely tell if the was an actual person looking back at me. But nonetheless, several sets of hands turned me onto my back and pulled me into a sitting position. My whole world spun as I slumped forward and passed out.
I awoke to the sounds of muffled words just barely out of earshot. The faint sound of birds chirping not too far away also let me know that the sun was shining high. Slowly my eyes opened, adjusting to the light in my surroundings. With a groan, I blinked, my eyes raking across the threshold. I stared into the blank faces of several unfamiliar Jonin standing and sitting around the hospital bed I was snuggled into. I gulped, my gaze bouncing back and forth between the few. There even stood an Anbu black ops member leaning against the wall behind them, his face covered by a mask I didn't recognize.
"She's awake. I'll let them know," The Anbu stated, exiting the room into the hallway.
The silence was excruciating, uncomfortable at best. I propped myself up into a better position so that I was no longer lying flat on the bed. They watched my every move, making me feel as I was an intruder.
Looking down at myself, I realized I was dressed in hospital attire, an I.V. was inserted into the top of my right hand. To my left sat a glass of water, that I quickly reached for and guzzled down quickly to satiate the burn in the back of my throat and dryness in my mouth. I sighed, placing the empty glass back onto the table.
Not a word was spoken until several others entered. The few Jonin inside that had been keeping watch over me were ushered out to make room for the higher positioned people I knew would question my existence. There was no doubt in my mind that someone might have recognized me, or perhaps it was routine to question random women found being attacked in the woods. I would find out shortly for sure.
A man with long yellow hair entered into the room, followed by the fellow in the green jumpsuit, a man dressed in a dark trench coat with two parallel scars running across his face, as well as none other than the Hokage himself. I hadn't expected to see the leader of your village so close and so soon. I gasped in surprise, with a hint of confusion. The old man in his Hokage robes sat down in a chair at the end of the bed, the others standing beside him.
"Good morning, Child. You were unconscious for three days with that nasty fever. How are you feeling?" asked the Hokage.
I stretched and flexed my fingers and toes feeling the difference in how I'd been feeling only a few days prior.
"I feel a lot better. Thank you," I said politely.
"I trust you know why we are here," he said, clearing his throat.
I gulped, beginning to fidget with my hands.
"One of my Jonin, Might Guy and his team of Genin found you on their return back to the village. He was surprised to see you gripping the handle of an Uchiha blade so intently, even after you were unconscious. My suspicions lead me to believe that you in fact are an Uchiha yourself," The Hokage explained.
I nodded slowly. This caused more than one person in the room to gasp with surprise and exchange looks.
"How did you get away, Child?" asked the yellow haired man.
The Hokage held his hand up to the man, motioning for him to quiet down. I wrapped my arms around myself feeling quite uncomfortable.
"Please, tell us who you are and how you're alive," asked the Hokage.
I didn't know too much about the old man. I had recognized him from previous events since he'd been in the role of leading our village for years. He was up there in age so initially, I hadn't expected it to be him anymore.
"My name is Hizumi Uchiha. I was born to Kagami and Hae Uchiha nearly 17 years ago. Shisui and Tamasu were my older brothers."
I could see the look of recognition spread across their faces. They knew exactly who I was, who my brother and father were. They had been powerful, renowned people in our clan. There weren't many who didn't know their names in this village.
"After Shisui died, I spent most of my time by the cliffside where he'd disappeared. But on the last day that I'd seen my own team, I was attacked and fatally wounded by a masked man."
I could see the visible discomfort and small semblance of confusion by these words but I continued on.
"I didn't know who the man was but he had a strange power, something I'd never seen before and I ended up being stabbed. I fell into the river from the cliff and floated down until someone discovered me and brought me to a clinic in the Land of Wind where I was taken care of. But at that point, I'd lost all memory of who I was. Later after I recovered physically, I still was unable to put the pieces together about my past, so the man who saved me brought me back to the spot he'd found me. I finally remembered who I was but I knew after speaking to the man who had helped me, that the entire clan had been killed and that the killer was still out there. So I went into hiding until an incident occurred recently making it difficult for me to maintain the fake identity that kept me protected for a few years."
They all remained in silence, processing the words I'd spoken.
"Was the incident because of the people who'd tried to kidnap you when my team and I found you?" Might Guy asked.
"I'm not sure exactly how they were involved but their leader is someone from my past. Years before the Uchiha Massacre, my team had been sent on a mission to help a small farming town because of a landslide. We had encountered some criminals in the Bingo Book, particularly Ryozo Yajuu, who had taken an interest in me back then. Somehow, his people found me during my escape back to Konoha."
"This sounds vaguely familiar to me," The Hokage ackknowledged.
"So you're telling me that a 12 year old girl who was fatally stabbed fell down the very cliff her brother jumped from and you survived? Not only that but you were in enemy territory in the Land of Wind for several years," trench coat questioned.
"How do we know she wasn't working alongside him to kill the Uchiha? Or worse, working with Orochimaru? I don't trust her. There were no communications between her and the Hidden Leaf village," trench coat directed to the Hokage.
"That may very well be but we have to be sure. Think about it. A 12 year old girl is fatally wounded and forgets who she is only to find out her entire people have been slaughtered. My thought is that she spent every waking moment after she regained her memories just thinking about being hunted down by somebody stronger than her," Might Guy responded.
I sat up, gripping the end of my shirt.
"I have the scars to prove it," I said, pulling it up for them to see the scarred tissue below my breast.
"The doctor who healed me up the best she could said that the sword had punctured my lung from behind in a best possible spot because any lower and it would've severed a major artery and I might've bled out. I also got this scar over my eye during the fight with my attacker," I said, unwrapping the fresh cloth from my eye and forehead and pulling away my hair to show them.
The pieces all seemed to fall into place before them, at least a few of them seemed convinced. I was telling the truth. I just needed them to believe that.
"I don't know. We have to be sure. What if she was converted by the Hidden Sand? She could've been sent here as a spy in return for her aid after being injured," warned trench coat man.
"Ibiki, that is why the Hokage sent for me to join this conversation. My specialty is to find the truth in someone's mind. Let me do my job and we can be sure," said the yellow haired man.
The Hokage nodded, allowing the yellow haired man to approached the side of the bed closest to me. I looked up at him with worried eyes and he only smiled.
"I promise this is just for precaution. If everything you say is true, everything will be alright. My name is Inoichi Yamanaka. I'm going to place my hands on your head now and search your memories," he said, gently reaching towards my face.
I closed my eyes, feeling the warmth from his finger tips as they pressed into my temples. My hands fell into my lap as we retraced every memory I'd ever had in seconds. Birth. Childhood. Death. The Attack. Yoshito. The clinic. Kana and Suzi. The bandits. Nana. The Hidden Sand Village. The explosion. The escape. Yoshito's sacrifice. Ryozo's men. All the way up till Might Guy and his team of Genin had found me until today. A single tear escape me as everything replayed in my mind until Inoichi's finger tips left my head. He smiled as I looked up at him but it was a saddened smile, maybe even one filled with pity.
"Everything she's said was the truth. I can't even begin to apologize. You've gone through such unimaginable loss, Hizumi," he murmured.
I returned his words with a somber expression. I didn't have words to describe everything I'd ever been through. To me, it had seemed like my entire life was made up of only sadness, death and darkness; of longing, loving and losing. My bottom lip quivered.
"I just try to get through it day by day, minute by minute I suppose. I try to grieve and get stronger. Because at the end of the day, there is nothing I can do."
"It is easier to be angry than it is to be sad but what I do when I'm either angry or sad is train and work harder. It can only get better from there," Might Guy said with a thumbs up.
I half smiled at his attempt, putting the wrapping back over my scarred eye.
"So this raises the question of what do we do with her now? From what I saw in her memories, the Hidden Sand Village thinks she killed an Elder and pursued her to the Land of Two Rivers. But that's where they lost your trail correct?" Inoichi asked.
"Yeah that's right. But I didn't kill Kana. Kana is the doctor who saved me. I had nothing but respect for that old lady. She was like family to me. What I don't understand is who would do such a thing? Who the hell would blow up a clinic?" I asked, furrowing my brows.
"We will have to keep an eye on the situation with the Land of Wind. For now, I think we should acclimate you back into the life you had before you left, little by little. I think some time getting to know your home again might be the band-aid you need on your heart. There's one more thing I'd like to ask you, Hizumi."
"What is it Lord Third?" I asked, curiosity peaking my attention.
"You mentioned your attacker from the cliff. Could you describe him for me please?"
I gulped, feeling my skin crawl as I thought about the man who'd attempted and failed at ending my life. I couldn't think about whether or not he'd be back to try again. It made my very bones shiver and quake at the thought. I took a deep breath before I described him.
"The man was very tall with long shaggy and dark hair. His face was covered by an orange mask with one small eye hole so I couldn't see what he looked like. Every inch of his skin was covered, even his hands and neck. He had a deep voice and was very skilled in taijutsu and ninjutsu. He used some sort of technique though that I couldn't understand. It's what he used to stab me through with my own sword. I wish I could give you more but I can only picture him in my memory. It was the first time I'd ever met this man and I hope that I never cross paths with him again."
The Hokage looked between the faces of the other men in the room before clearing his throat. Then he stood from the chair and walked towards the front door.
"Alright Hizumi. We'll give you some time to rest. I don't actively think you are a threat and I think it would be best for you to assimilate back into life around here. My decision is to assign you to a Jonin to watch over you. You have the choice of returning back to the Uchiha Compound if you like, otherwise we can make other arrangements for you."
I looked down at my hands, feeling the heart ache of an empty home.
"I think for now it would be best that I'm not staying at the Compound. At least until I return to some sort of normalcy here, I think. Would that be alright, Lord Third?" I asked.
"Of course. Your belongings will be returned to you shortly. Feel better, Hizumi. We will talk soon," He said, leading the rest of the men out of the hospital room.
I didn't even realize how fast my heart had been pounding in my chest until the room was empty and silent. I took a deep breath and shook out the grogginess from my limbs. After I got to my feet and walked around slowly to replace the feeling back into my legs, a nurse came in with a tray of food and bag with my belongings. I thanked her and dug into the pudding right away, eyeballing the handle of my sword sticking out of the sack I'd taken from Yoshito's house. I pulled the sword out, feeling the hilt against the palm of my hand, remembering the times we'd gone into battle together against Ryozo and his henchmen. I pulled the fabric of my old Uchiha Genin uniform, feeling the blood stains that had solidified within the material. The rucksack also held my old utility belt that sheathed my twin blades. I wondered where the second one had gone to after my attack at the cliff. I'd lost one then. Sighing, I dug further into the bag finding some old pictures of Yoshito, his family, Kana and Suzi, as well as a picture of the four of us. A bittersweet smile crossed my face. As far as I knew, Suzi was still alive and safe. She'd been in the city or out on a mission when everything had gone down. It gave me a small semblance of peace knowing that she hadn't been harmed in the explosion.
The last thing I pulled from the rucksack was the journal. I randomly paged through it seeing the dates and entries all written in Yoshito's scribbles. I read a bit to ease my mind until I came upon an entry that confused me. The sentence at the end of one of the pages read:
Once you find out the truth, please reach the last entry.
I was genuinely curious by this. What truth was there to find out other than the truth about my memories? I paged further into the journal till I found the last excerpt.
Dearest daughter, I'm sorry for not telling you because I knew ultimately it would destroy you. We had such a peace in our short time together, I knew that if one of the things you held so close to your heart would change, it would alter the very fabric of who you were. Please don't be angry with me. I wanted what was best for you in every possible way. I can only apologize and hope that even when I'm gone, you'll still remember what we shared as a family. I know that you can get through anything in this life, even if you know the truth. With love, Yoshito.
The excerpt was very short and vague, leaving nothing for me to figure out. It only confused me further, the more I read it. What truth was he talking about? Would I ever know? This I had no clue.
Thank you so much for waiting for this chapter to be dropped! Things have been crazy of late. I hold this story so close to my heart so I promise I will release it all. It might take some time with my schedule but ultimately, I want nothing more than to share it with all of you!~
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Thank you again lovelies! I can't wait to continue! :)
This is the mask he wore during her attack! Just thought I'd drop a picture to show you all!
The pictures do not belong to me. They belong to the artists themselves unless otherwise shown. I do not own the rights to Naruto.
"You've gone through unimaginable loss"
I was contemplating on releasing something else, something new. We shall see!~