SHIT, SHIT, SHIT! She marveled at her own stupidity... She should have known that he would go into her room! Why the hell hadn’t she put a stronger ward on it? Now...
Now he had seen the pictures she had hidden from him since the first day he got there. Now the normally small stripes on either side of his cheeks were wide and jagged and his eyes were starting to head towards yellow. Now she had to go back and tell him everything.
She had betrayed him, she realized, even more than she thought she had. And that betrayal had hit him deeper than she had ever expected. She had been fooling herself into thinking that she wasn’t doing to him the same thing her father had done to her. Now she just had to hope that she would have better control than she had.
“Naruto-kun, you need to calm down.”
“DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!” he screamed. “TELL ME WHAT THE HELL THIS IS!”
Sora swallowed and watched Hinata cringe. He wasn’t stable. The aura of Kyubi was starting to get through, playing up his anger, trying to get free. She couldn’t be sure what was going to happen, and until she was... “Hinata, I want you to go inside.”
Hinata looked at Sora and then back at Naruto, standing on the stairs, eyes locked on each other. “Demo...”
“Hinata,” Sora’s voice was deadly calm. “This is something that Naruto and I need to work out on our own.”
“But then I need to-“
Irritation started to creep into her voice. “I know that normally you referee these things but you can’t do it this time. Get in the house.”
Hinata hesitated once more, and then slowly began to climb the stairs from the courtyard leading back up to the house. Her steps were deliberately slow as she fought the urge to run to him and from him at the same time. She passed Naruto at the top of the stairs, but he didn’t even turn to look at her. He just kept staring at Sora, anger burning. Quietly, Hinata slipped inside.
Once the door was closed, Sora started making a slow measured journey up the stairs one step at a time. “I know that you hate me right now, and I can’t really say I blame you. But if you come at me with full Kyubi force all that’s going to happen is that one or both of us is going to get hurt.”
“I DON’T CARE WHO GETS HURT! I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS!” He threw the photo of the two of them at her and she was only just able to catch it before it hit her in the face. His breathing was harsh and labored.
She put the photo down on the stairs and kept moving towards him. Calm. She had to remain calm. “I’m going to tell you. I’ll tell you everything. Once I have, you can call me as many names and tear me into as many pieces as you like. But right now I’m seeing a little too much Kyubi and not enough you.”
“WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?” he roared. She could feel the chakra swelling around him.
“It means that you’re transforming!. Your eyes, your hands, your face! You can’t tap into the Kyubi’s power uncontrolled like this or you’ll risk letting him out, so please! Calm down!”
He didn’t understand what she was talking about until he started to look at the chakra he was gathering in preparation to attack her. It was red, defiantly pulled from the demon inside him. But he didn’t understand when he had started using it.
He continued to glare at her, but she could tell he was gradually loosing momentum. She had to keep pushing. “Please, Naruto,” she said quietly.
His mind was still full of fire, but all of a sudden it got through to him that this wasn’t Sora as she normally was. She seemed sad, regretful. It was so strange to see the normally sarcastic, abrasive Sora so penitent that it cut through enough of the haze for him to see that she was right: his feelings were giving Kyubi the control and he did need to calm down.
He dropped onto the top stair and stared at the picture in his hand. He’d gripped it so hard that he had broken the glass. Sora breathed a sigh of relief.
He looked up at her, clearly still irritated. “Explain.”
She breathed in deeply and tried to let go of some of the tension. “I’m trying to figure out where to begin.”
He looked down at the picture again, running his fingertips along the cracks in the glass. “Are they-“
“Yes. That’s you, me, Kakashi-kun...” She took a deep breath. “Your mother, Nanashi-sensei, and your father, the Fourth.”
“They’re my parents?” He had barely dared to consider the possibility.
She gave him a watery smile. “Yeah. They’re your parents. You’re just a few hours old there.”
He swallowed hard. It still wasn’t adding up in his head. “How?”
“It’s a rather long story,” she said, rubbing her eyes.
“Do you think I care about that?!” he yelled. “Tell me!”
Sora let out a deep sigh. Tentatively she moved close to him on the stairs and when he didn’t protest, she sat down. She tried to think of where to begin. Her voice was quietly sad; the pain had dulled but it hadn’t gone completely. “I met Nanashi-sensei when I was seven years old and she was in her late twenties. If it wasn’t for her, I would be dead. I’m still not really sure why she decided to keep me after she saved me. She could have easily dropped me off somewhere; she certainly knew enough people who would be happy to take in another fighter, even a half trained seven year old. Instead I somehow ended up as her only apprentice and she was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a mother.” She shook her head. “The closest think to a family.”
She was silent for a moment looking off into the distance, replaying old memories in her mind. Naruto stared at her profile for a few seconds. “What was she like?” he whispered.
Sora started and then turned towards him with a soft smiled. “Bright, warm, full of life. She was sweet, but not a pushover by any means. She took my hand and just sort of pulled me along with her, into her sunlight. She told me once that when you saw as much darkness as she had, it was even more important to be light.”
“But in any case the important part of Nanashi’s life was not me. She isn’t well known where you come from, but back in the west she’s sort of a legendary figure. She never told me much about her life but the stories say that she had been born into a neutral.”
“A neutral?” Naruto asked quietly, not understanding the term.
Sora looked down at him and then quickly back out at the sky. “Sorry, western slang. One who isn’t involved in politics. Most families in the west are members of clans or gangs or organizations that are fighting for power in the cities. The official government is constantly changing and constantly being bribed or threatened or otherwise manipulated. The unofficial government is whoever has the most power at the time and they’re the one most people pay attention to. Neutrals are families who try to stay out of the way, but unfortunately sometimes that isn’t possible.”
“So then, Nanashi’s family?” he asked hesitantly.
Her voice dropped to almost a whisper. “Nanashi’s entire family was killed when she was fourteen, although the rumors as to how that happened are many and varied. Some say her family was executed by one of the gangs. Others say they simply got caught in the line of fire during a street fight. Whatever happened, it was bad enough that, even when she was an adult, it still gave her nightmares from time to time.
“However, while it could turn into a classic tale of revenge where she blames whatever party she thought responsible and sets out to kill all of them, Nanashi did something different. She blamed the way the whole city, the whole west, was run, the fact that there was no one to protect the families who just wanted to live their lives, the fact that there was no government able to move people towards any sort of common ground. The fact that everything was, in essence, chaos. Even as people fought each other they fought amongst themselves for power in their clans and gangs. And so Nanashi decided that she wanted to figure out how to end it. And that was what she spent the rest of her life trying to do.
“She became something of a vagabond. She went to all of the cities and looked at all the libraries. She read histories and went out into the streets to talk to people. She came up with that scroll I started you out on, trying to find new, non-violent ways to train and use chakra. As she got older she started to teach Neutrals how to band together against the clans and gangs and how to form those bands so that they wouldn’t collapse into violence. She built this house where she intended to start a teaching community to show people what it would be like outside the city and how you could pour your resources into defense instead of offense.”
“What was she some kind of pacifist?”
Sora shook her head. “No, she just...you have to understand that the level of day to day violence in the west is 10 times higher than in the east. It wasn’t that she was completely against defending yourself or learning to fight; she just wanted there to be an end to the constant fighting. She wanted the society to be based on something more than power struggles. She ended up out in the east trying to learn more about the hidden villages. By this time she was in her late twenties with an almost legendary quality about her, extremely well respected but also highly opinionated about how things were supposed to be run. The original Kages had had very similar ideas to her about banning people together so that there could be some peace. The villages seemed to be better organized than most of the west and she was eager to see how much of it was actually working.”
She smiled and brushed the tears off of her cheeks. “Two weeks into her trip she found me. She pulled me out of the wreckage; saved my life and then teased me into smiling. The next thing I knew I was just sort of following along behind her.” Her eyes started to fill with tears. “I thought she was a goddess. She was beautiful and bright completely different from anyone I had ever known.”
“Shortly after I started traveling with her we stopped at Hidden Leaf Village for a few days. She was still doing her study of the different villages of the East, so we stayed in a hotel for a few days, looked around and used the library. We spent an afternoon tucked in a corner of the stacks while she explained Leaf government to me. Nanashi was not completely convinced that the way the villages are set up is the best, so I was learning about a lot of flaws.”
Naruto looked up, startled and slightly miffed. “Nani? What did she find wrong with Leaf?”
Sora tried to dismiss the comment with a wave of her hand. “Complicated things.”
“The instability of economies based on violence, disadvantages of having large standing shinobi groups, mismanagement of blood limit clans, trade problems, you know, boring political stuff.”
Naruto blinked. He thought he had gotten most of that. “You mean she just taught you all the things that she thought was wrong with Leaf?”
Sora actually grinned. “Don’t worry; there was one man at the library that was a very big fan of the village system. Someone who could, very calmly and with great dignity explain why Nanashi was completely wrong. Someone who was very much qualified to defend Leaf as he was one of its heads.”
Naruto looked up at her. “The fourth?”
She nodded. “He resented the fact that I was being told all of these uncomplimentary things about his village and the next thing I know this tall man with wild blond hair had plopped himself down into a chair next to me and was explaining how Nanashi was wrong.”
“Needless to say, Nanashi was none too thrilled with this and I was caught in the middle of a large and rather loud debate which lasted well into the night. They were hushed by the librarians at least a dozen times and I didn’t get fed. However, the man had some good points, he knew his stuff and wasn’t insulting Nanashi, just disagreeing with her. Plus he brought me chocolate the next day as an apology for making me miss my dinner, making me an instant fan. But I think the thing that finally won Nanashi over was how much he obviously loved the village and the people in it. There was nothing she hated more than leaders who didn’t care about their people. Nanashi complained that the villages were too large, that it was impossible for the leadership to think about every individual with every decision, but he seemed to be able to do it. This was a good thing considering he was the Fourth Hokage. And a good Kage makes all the difference in the world to a village.”
“We stayed longer than we intended, but he had already won me over by bringing me chocolate. I sat happily in the library or out in the woods eating chocolate and practicing techniques from the damn scroll while they debated things like how many levels of bureaucracy was too many and whether or not trade between villages would stabilize relations enough to reduce shinobi numbers. Even back then, I could tell she was impressed by him.”
“In fact, he impressed her enough that she agreed to continue the debate in letter form. For the next few months we wandered from village to village. It was not easy to send and receive letters on the road, but over the next year the number of letters they sent to each other actually increased.”
“A few months after they started writing letters, Nanashi and I returned to Hidden Leaf and he met us on the edge of a crevice a few miles out from town. They just stood and stared at each other and then, very slowly, they started to smile. And even though I was just eight years old, I could tell; these were two people in love.”
She turned to look Naruto in the eye. “You see, there was never anyone else like Nanashi or the Fourth and it didn’t take long for them to realize that, positions on specific issues excluded, they were perfect for each other. They were people who had decided by choice that their lives were not their own. Not many people can or would do that: willingly give their entire lives to helping others. In the end that’s what bonded them together. They were...”
She trailed off as tears started to form again in her eyes. “Gods Naruto, you don’t know how much you resemble them. It freaked me out the first time I met you. You look like him, you act like her and the things you talk about are the beginnings of the same things they used to. He was always very calm, very soothing and able to smooth things over but fiercely protective of the Leaf. She was a bundle of energy, ready to charge right into whatever needed to be done.” She sniffed and gave him a watery smile. “And I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people so in love in my life.”
She swallowed hard as the happy memory slipped away.
“However, the unfortunate fact of the matter was that fate was not going to be kind to them. They were in love and they weren’t able to tell anyone. This was how I met Kakashi-kun. He was the Fourth’s prize student and one he trusted with his life and the secret of Nanashi. So he was brought in to help orchestrate everything. They were two of the best ninjas of their time and keeping the secret wasn’t impossible but it was damn hard. You should try keeping something like this from an entire village, including Ero-sennin, Obaa-chan and the Third. It was not easy. So they called in their students to help. We were the messengers: he could go wherever he wanted and no one thought much about one quiet eight-year-old running around.”
Naruto interrupted. “I don’t get it. Why’d they have to keep it a secret?”
“No one knew her in the east; she was just another random traveler. Plus The Leaf was at war. The Fourth was something of an icon in the village; he had been extremely young when he was made Hokage. Plus they weren’t exactly trusting of foreigners. For him to marry an outsider not even someone from another village but someone from the east, someone who wanted to change the village they were dying to defend would have felt like a betrayal and they couldn’t deal with a divided village at that point. Leaf was just holding it’s own in the war; seemingly loosing an icon could have destroyed them.”
His eyes narrowed. “You mean to tell me that no one knows my parents were together because the village wouldn’t like it?”
“They didn’t want to the division the sudden appearance of Nanashi would make. As it was they only told Kakashi and I so that if everyone found out, the betrayal would be limited to the four of us. The villagers in Hidden Leaf were just so unable to accept an act like that in such a time. At a time of peace they might have been able to do it. They might have been able to accept Nanashi and she might have been able to help make the village better.”
Her eyes clouded over with resentment and a hint on anger. “But they were too fucking closed minded to even consider it. The few times we ventured into the village we were met with suspicion and hostility. The war, which was nothing more than a power struggle, had made the village close in on itself even further and close itself off to everything. Every time we dared to try, it was like watching Nanashi’s hope simply fade away. After someone accused us of being spies, we decided that we couldn’t go back anymore.”
She rested her fingertips on her temples and her elbows on her knees. “But they were so much in love and while it probably would have been better for them to wait, they really wanted to get married. And so they did; I have the pictures upstairs. It was small: Kakashi and I were the only witnesses. It was sort of like a token of happiness for all they were being asked to do: you can’t be together, but you can at least be married and not together. Afterwards Nanashi and I took up permanent residence here and would go and visit him. It was rough on both of them, but there were only so many options at their disposal. But as I said, they chose to live lives that were not their own.
“It was at this point that the best and worst thing that could have happened happened: Nanashi became pregnant.”
“With me.” Suddenly Naruto realized he was shaking.
“Part of them was ecstatic: they wanted a child more than anything. But at the same time, The Fourth was still living in Leaf and Nanashi and I were living here. Even going full speed it takes two and a half days to travel. There was only so often they could go back and forth, especially with the war. They were having an increasingly hard time seeing each other at all. Trying to raise a child that way was going to be extremely rough.”
“But then a miracle seemed to happen and the war started to end three months before Nanashi was due to give birth. You should have seen them when he told her the news; They were so ecstatic it was nearly funny. Once the treaty was signed, the Fourth was going to tell the Third and then the council and then bring Nanashi down into Leaf to give birth. They were even going to adopt me, make me part of the family too. I was finally going to be part of a real family. We were going to be a real family.”
“And so we packed up our things headed down the mountain to stay in the next village over until the Fourth could explain things and then bring us on over. And then fate decided that once again to...fuck everything up. Less than a week after the treaty had been signed and two days before the announcement was to be made, reports of the Kyuubi came in from the borders and all the shinobi had to be mobilized again. But nothing they could do seemed to stop the demon.”
Naruto had gone silent, realizing that this was it. This was what he had always wanted to know and what no one had been able or willing to tell him.
“It was actually Nanashi who came up with the idea of sealing the demon instead of trying to killing it, although it was the fourth who figured out how. The problem was that there was only one seal powerful enough to pull the spirit of the Kyubi out of it’s body: Fuuin Jutsu. Shiki Fuujin(Enchantment Spell. Dead Demon Imprisonment). It’s a Kinjutsu contract technique, known only to people in the Kage level. You literally make a deal with a spirit of death. The spirit is powerful enough to seal almost anything, but the price you pay for sealing someone’s soul is your own. Both of you are locked away in a cold, dark, hell together, fighting for eternity.
“But sealing the Kyubi in a hell like that would have been disastrous; being a demon himself he might have been able to siphon the power off the human souls inside until the grave keeper was weak enough for him to escape and return even more powerful. They had to use a second seal, the Hakke seal, in order to use a container. A strong one.”
His eyes were full of tears. “Me. They used me.”
“They didn’t want to choose you, but they were worried that if they didn’t use someone very young, their body wouldn’t be able to adapt. Kyubi arrived in the village three days after you were born. With you so young, it was hopeful that over the course of your life that the Kyubi and its chakra would fuse with you, so that when the time came, you could carry it with you into the next world.”
“But the contract with Death demands two souls. The soul of the sealer and the soul of the sealed. Plus, as I said, Nanashi had the best chakra control I have ever seen to this day. Her participation assured things had a better chance of working. So, she added her power to the Fourth’s and took the Kyubi’s place inside the demon.”
She turned to look at him with huge pleading eyes. “You have to believe me when I say they didn’t want to. Either of them would have been thrilled to be able to take your place and have the demon sealed inside them. They thought that no harm would come from the fact that you had it sealed inside you; you would be a hero, the savior of Leaf. You would grow up happy and healthy, knowing everything. Everything just got so messed up. Nanashi sent me away to study with the Kizu Clan before she died and Kakashi apparently kept quiet from some reason.”
Naruto refused to look at her. “So if there hadn’t been a Kyubi, I would have both of my parents, no demon sealed inside me and I would be the Hokage’s son.” It would have been the perfect like. He couldn’t have dreamt up a better life from himself if he had tried. And it had almost happened.
She shook her head. “You can’t live you’re life like that Naruto, questioning what if. If Nanashi hadn’t been in the right place at the right time I would be dead. If we hadn’t been in that spot in the Leaf library on that day, your parents never would have met. It there hadn’t been a way they might have made things public.” She laughed ironically and smoother her braids back from her face. “Hell, if the Kyubi hadn’t come, I really would have been your Onee.”
There was a long silence. Sora was trying to gage Naruto’s reaction, but his face was almost perfectly blank, eyes staring down at the stairs.
Finally she looked away. “I, I understand if you don’t want to stay here anymore. After I kept this from you for so many months...I know it’s hard to trust me.”
He still didn’t look at her and his voice had a strangely detached tone. “Why’d you do it? Why didn’t you tell me?”
She sighed. “I had always figured that after I was sent away, Kakashi had told others what had happened and that you had been put into a foster home or something. When I was thirteen and I started following Obaa-chan around I asked about you, she didn’t know anything. I figured that they had kept it in the line: that you, Kakashi, Jiraiya and the Third all knew. It wasn’t until I went back to Leaf at Obaa-chan’s request that I realized that you didn’t know.
“I probably should have told you right when I met you but...I just couldn’t get myself to and the more I saw you the more I was reminded of the two of them. Even if I hadn’t known who you were, there’s no way I could have missed that you were theirs.”
Tears started to well up in her eyes and spill over onto her cheeks.
“And I just LEFT you there. I knew what Leaf was like. I knew they were prejudice bastards; I had witnessed that first hand. I knew you had that fox sealed inside you. I should have realized that something was wrong when Obaa-chan didn’t know who you were. But...I didn’t want to go back, remember everything, it was just too hard. So I let myself think Kakashi would handle all of it. That you were growing up happy and healthy as a little Leaf ninja and I should just leave you be.
She tried to sniff back her tears and regain control. “Had I actually realized how they were treating you I would have come and gotten you as soon as I was old enough. But I pushed it to the back of my brain and didn’t think about it. So when I saw you again, everything came rushing back and all I could think about was that I had abandoned their son and...God I just felt so guilty! And angry at myself and I just couldn’t tell you.” She had lost it again.
He glared up at her. “That’s a stupid reason.”
She let out a sound halfway between a laugh and a sob. “I know it’s stupid. Guess I am.”
She stood up. “In any case, Obaa-chan asked me to protect you from Itachi and I agreed to take you for three years but...but if you hate me, and I can’t say I blame you, and you don’t want to be here anymore...I’ll figure something out.
She tried to wipe the remaining tears off her cheeks with the back of her hand. “I’m sorry, Naruto.” She turned and went back into the house.
She closed the door behind her and leaned up against it for a moment. Then she burst into fresh tears. She ran across the living room and up the stairs to her room.
Standing in the doorway to the kitchen, Hinata stared at the place Sora had just been. She had called out her name, but there had been no response. Onee-chan must not have been able to hear. Walking to the window she pulled on the cord to raise the rice paper shade. She could see Naruto sitting on the steps, knees up, face buried in his arms.
She looked back up to the doorway to the second floor. Then she made up her mind and headed out the front door.
He was still sitting hunched over just like she had seen from the window, but now she could see that his shoulders were shaking. Quietly she knelt behind and above him on the landing and placed both of her palms gently but firmly on his back. “Naruto-kun...”
He turned around to look up at her and her breath caught in her throat. He looked utterly and totally lost. It looked completely out of place to see such an expression on his face; it nearly broke her heart. His eyes were halfway filled with tears and there was still enough to run streaks down his face. “Hi-Hina-chan, I...” He stopped, choking on the words.
Motherly instinct overwhelmed Hinata’s nerves. She moved her hands to his cheeks to cradle his face, palms pressed against his whisker marks. “Naruto-kun, what’s wrong?”
He looked into her eyes as he tried to choke back the tears. He wasn’t supposed to cry, not anymore, not unless he was happy. He had cried enough when he was small and he was tired of it. And he had cried about this issue enough. But as he looked at her pale eyes filled with worry and kindness it almost made him feel it was okay. She was the one who had told him he still had worth when he failed because he was a proud failure. One slip wasn’t going to be the end. Maybe, with her, it was okay to slip one more time.
She’d changed, he realized. Back in Leaf she’d away seemed rather strange and skittish, always looking away when you looked directly at her, halfway hiding behind things. She still wasn’t loud, but now she seemed calm as opposed to shy and tranquil as opposed to nervous. More and more he wanted to just latch on to that and hold it.
So he did the only thing he could think of. He grabbed her.
His arms went around her waist and he pulled her off of the landing and into his lap. She let out a soft ‘eep’ in surprise as his arms tightened around her, pulling her against him. He was still sobbing hard and she was so close his cries were almost painfully loud in her ears.
When he spoke his voice was harsh from crying. “Can I..., can I just...”
She pulled her arms out form where they were trapped between them, settled them around him and tentatively started running her hands up and down his back. “It’s okay,” she said, her voice small and soft, but firm. “It’s okay, Naruto-kun. You can just cry it all out.”
He held her even tighter, burrowing his face in the top of her shoulder and continued to cry. Hinata just held him in silence as the sun set behind the house.
She loved him. She couldn’t get herself to tell him, but she loved him, more so now than when they had left almost a year ago. Before she had admired him, wanted to be like him and wanted him to admire her. Now she loved him and she realized it was different.
But even though she knew there was no one else, she still couldn’t really imagine him ever truly returning her love. He was getting taller and more handsome every day. As soon as they stepped off the mountain and there were other girls around, she would once again fade into the background.
But she would still be his partner. And she intended to be the very best partner she could be. She held him tighter.
Gradually his tears began to lesson and she was faced with the reality of removing herself from his arms. She had to do it herself. She couldn’t stand the idea of him asking her let go. So as his cries quieted she removed her arms from around him and slid herself off of his lap and onto the seat next to him.
He shivered at the loss of her heat. He looked down at her where she was sitting next to him. Her eyes matched his, filled with concern. For reason’s he couldn’t identify, he wanted to haul her back and hold her tighter, so tightly she couldn’t leave again. But he shook the thought from his head as ridiculous.
“What did she do?” Hinata asked quietly.
Naruto came crashing out of his thought about Hinata and back to the real world. “She knew,” he said quietly, almost whispering. “She knew who my parents were the whole time and she didn’t tell me.”
Hinata’s eyes went wide. “Who your parents were? But I thought...”
He violently shook his head. “She knows who they were. Kakashi knew too and he never told me either.”
“But, why?” she asked. Who were his parents? Were they so awful that Sora hadn’t wanted to burden him? Was he ashamed of where he came from now that he knew?
Naruto dragged his fingers through his wild mop of blond hair. Guilt. That was the reason that Sora hadn’t told him: she had felt guilty about leaving him there, alone in Leaf. She knew there was a chance that something bad had been going on and she had done nothing. Now she was living with the guilt of that.
But to explain that to Hinata, he was going to have to explain why all of the villagers hate him. He would have to explain about the Kyubi. And he couldn’t do that. He still had to protect her from her family and if her family knew she had willingly partnered with the container of the fox demon...he didn’t want to think about that. As long as she didn’t know, she was safe. And he didn’t have to worry about what he reaction would be.
But without telling her about the Kyubi there was no way to explain Sora’s guilt. No way that he could tell the story at all. He couldn’t tell her anything. And keeping her safe, even from her own family, had to come first.
“She said she just couldn’t do it.”
He was holding something back, she realized. There was more going on and he wasn’t telling her. It hurt, but she wasn’t able to do anything about it. If he didn’t want to tell her, she wasn’t going to push. She knew it was tough to say some things.
“Well, sometimes it’s toughest to talk to those were care about, even when we need to.” Like how I can’t tell you I’m in love with you.
He looked down at her and smiled. Was the way he felt about telling Hinata about the Kyubi the same way that Sora had felt about telling him about his parents? “Yeah,” he said.
There was a pause and then Hinata spoke up again. “Were they good people?”
Tears started to form in Naruto’s eyes as he looked up into the black sky filled with stars. You could see so many more from here than from Leaf. “Yeah, they were.”
She reached out to rest her hand on top of his. “You know, sometimes when I don’t know what to do, I try to think about what my mother would have wanted.” And you, I generally think about what you would do.
He looked down at her half smiling face. She was right. He knew what they would want him to do. Now he just had to do it.
He grinned his old grin, filling Hinata’s heart with happiness. Then her turned his hand under hears to lock their fingers together. Her heart beat a little faster.
“You know what Hina-chan? You kick ass.”
Sora lay on the bed in her room and stared out the window. She remembered when she found out that everything she had been living was a lie, that no one and nothing were what they really appeared. She squeezed her eyes shut. Dear god she hoped he was more in control than she had been.
“So all of my mother’s family is dead?”
She looked up to see him standing the doorway. She hadn’t even heard it open. She turned to sit on the edge of the bed. “That’s what she told me.”
“And my dad’s?”
“I know he was an only child. Beyond that I’m not sure.” She looked at her feet. “I’m sorry. There’s not a huge family waiting for you somewhere.”
He drooped at that and then perked up. “Blood Limit?”
She shook her head and he drooped again. “Man, I was really hoping for something cool like the Sharingan, or the Byakuugan.” He swallowed again. “Do you know what my dad’s real name was?”
She shook her head. “Nanashi went right from calling him The Fourth to calling him Sweetie. I never heard his name from her. He told me to call him Dad.” She smiled slightly. “I do know Uzumaki was his family name. When they were going to adopt me I was excited because I was finally going to have one.”
“You don’t have a family name?”
She shook her head again. “I’ve never had one: my clan was killed right after I was born. When I joined Nanashi, I followed in her path and took a new name without a family one.”
“Nanashi wasn’t my mother’s real name?”
“She took it after her family was killed to separate herself from the different groups. No name, no allegiance.”
There was a long silence.
“I’m sorry. I wish I could rewind everything and do it over again.”
He grinned. “Can’t we?”
“I’m sorry, you lost me there.”
“Well, we can’t bring my Mom and Dad back, but I always wanted a brother or sister. Well I wanted a brother who would teach me cool things, but you seem manly enough.” He waited for her to hit him on the head or put the silencing technique on him, but nothing happened. She just sat there next to him, staring with eyes wide and mouth slack.
“Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. You are willing to forgive me for leaving you in Leaf, never coming to visit and then when I finally do see you, not telling you about your parents until I have no choice and all you want in return is for cranky, bitchy me to be your sister?”
“Eh, Leaf wasn’t that bad. Mom and Dad were going to adopt you, so I think it’s what they’d want. Besides,” he lowered his voice to a whisper. “You can’t be worse than Hinata’s family.”
She continued to stare at him for a few seconds, and then burst out into a combination of tears and laughter. Of course that’s what they would have wanted. It was moving forward; just like they had always done: not looking at the past except to make the future better. It seemed like Naruto had inherited that trait as well.
She snaked out an arm and pulled him into a headlock before affectionately rubbing the top of his head. “You’ve got yourself a deal, kid.”