Dual Chronicles - Chapter 39 - Eriisu (2024)

Chapter Text

Chapter 39: Truth and Rumors

The flight back to Konoha was relatively quick though it gave Namiko and Hinata the chance to talk quietly about things the redhead had missed over the last six months. “How’s Kurenai-sensei? I’m surprised she didn’t come with you all,” asked Namiko.

Hinata’s back stiffened and Namiko knew she must’ve said something wrong. “What did I say? Is there something wrong with her?”

“Asuma-sensei died about two weeks ago; she’s understandably not handling it well.” Hinata breathed deeply. “She and Asuma-sensei got married a month or so ago and they found out that she was pregnant shortly after.”

Namiko’s breath caught in her throat. “So…she’s alone?”

Hinata nodded somberly. “I’ve invited her over for tea a few times. She tries to put on a brave face, but I know the wound is still fresh.”

“Is she…is the baby—?” asked Namiko in a barely audible whisper.

“She’s still pregnant. I believe she’s about three months along. She’s having a girl.” Hinata gave a tiny smile to her friend over her shoulder. “I was able to see the baby with my Byakugan.”

Namiko smiled back but her heart was breaking for her sensei. Kurenai had always been like a big sister, and sometimes a mother, to them all. Now she was going to be a mother for real, but without the love of her life by her side. Their child would never meet her father.

Namiko glanced over at Sasuke who was sitting stoically, completely oblivious of her gaze from their position behind him. ‘If Sasuke ever died…’ She shook her head. ‘I’d fall apart. Sasuke and I have been together barely six months, and I don’t think I could survive if I lost him. They had been together for over three years and known each other since they were children.’

Another thought drifted over her as she stared at Sasuke again. ‘Sasuke almost lost me less than a week ago. And only a couple of days ago he said I was his family now. He practically proposed to me. How will having Itachi back change all of this?’

Hinata had her Byakugan active and scanned the area around them. She watched her best friend’s facial expression behind her, following her gaze to the younger Uchiha. Namiko looked sad, concerned, and like she was longing to reach out to Sasuke.

It was obvious to Hinata that the two had healed the bad blood between them or Namiko wouldn’t have looked so worried and interfered in Sasuke and Itachi’s battle earlier. But she suspected something more was going on between the two, even back when she saw them on Ancor Vantian.

Namiko loved her brother and had missed him horribly when he had been traveling with Jiraiya. For her to purposely refuse to come home to be with Naruto and choose to stay with Sasuke spelled out that something had happened between them. Something that Hinata was going to find out, but now was not the time.

The sun was fading into night as they landed just outside Konoha’s gates. ANBU was already waiting for both Uchiha and quickly whisked them away before she had time to process what happened. Namiko slid off the bird, expecting ANBU to take her away too, but was surprised when she saw Tsunade standing inside the gate with her arms crossed under her bust and tapping her foot expectantly. She gave a sheepish smile toward her godmother. “Hi Tsunade-sama—"

“Don’t ‘hi’ me. Right now, Namiko, you’re going to follow Shizune to the hospital and await further instructions.” Tsunade refused to make eye contact with Namiko, and instead turned to face the others. “I want to see everyone else in my office immediately for debriefing.”

Namiko tossed a pleading look at Naruto and Hinata. Hinata gave a sympathetic smile but said nothing and Naruto just shrugged. She sighed and followed Shizune to the hospital.

Once inside a room, Shizune got her height, weight, and vitals while a nurse took some vials of blood to test. “Looks like you actually grew two centimeters and put on a kilogram in weight. So, I guess Orochimaru didn’t starve you or anything.” She smiled reassuringly at Namiko who looked very on edge. “Relax, you’re safe here.”

“I know, I’m just dreading talking to Tsunade-sama later.”

“Don’t worry too much about it. Honestly, I think she’s happy that you’re home, but she’s probably still going to lecture you.” Shizune sat next to her, clipboard in hand. “I apologize in advance, but I have some sensitive questions for you to answer and I need you to be one hundred percent truthful.”

Namiko knew this was coming. It was something that they were all taught in the academy: when returning from extremely long missions or if they had been captured, there was a list of questions that had to be asked and answered truthfully no matter how embarrassing or painful it was. “Go ahead.”

Shizune nodded and looked at her clipboard. “Were you injured at any time while you were gone?”

“Nothing more than some standard bruises, cuts, and scrapes. And a twisted ankle once when Sasuke and I were sparring.”

Shizune hesitated before asking, “What about anything else? You were with Orochimaru for six months, and he has a…reputation.”

“I was poisoned twice. I don’t know with what, but…” Namiko suddenly found the floor very interesting. “But the second time I basically died. Sasuke actually thought I was dead. Apparently, Kabuto was able to force the poison through my body a little faster.”

Shizune scribbled on her clipboard before setting her pen on top. “What about mental or sexual abuse?”

She shook her head and kicked her legs over the edge of the exam table. “There was only one time that Orochimaru got me alone and made me uncomfortable in that aspect, but he never actually did anything. And after that, Sasuke refused to let me out of his sight. That was in my first couple of days with them.”

“Did you ever knowingly engage in any sexual activity?”

Namiko halted in her rhythmic kicking. She knew this was a required question, but it didn’t make it any less awkward to talk about. “…yes.”

If Shizune was surprised, she let her face show it. “With?”

Namiko bit her lip. “…Sasuke.”

“Did he force you in any way?”

“No! He’d never do that…” Namiko nearly shouted at her before her voice trailed off as she saw Shizune writing again. ‘I probably shouldn’t have said that so intensely…’

“Did you have vagin*l intercourse?”

“…yes.” Namiko internally cringed. ‘Ugh…I want to hide right now. Just when I thought the questions couldn’t get worse.’

“Did you use any protection? Like a contraceptive jutsu?”

‘sh*t. They can get worse.’ Namiko’s eyes widened as looked at Shizune in panic. “No…”

Shizune put aside her clipboard. “It’s okay. Everyone has done stupid things on missions and made mistakes.” She laid a gentle hand on Namiko’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. Let me do a physical exam to make sure everything is okay.”

Namiko couldn’t help but let her mind wander as Shizune’s green chakra flowed through her body. ‘What were we thinking?! I can’t believe neither of us thought to use protection of any sort. But then I don’t think either of us were thinking logically before we had sex unless you count the fact that we love each other. And it was just twice.’

Shizune removed her hands from Namiko. “You’re fine. Nothing out of the ordinary except for remnants of the poison you mentioned.” Noticing Namiko’s still tense posture, she squeezed her hand. “I promise I won’t tell Tsunade-sama that Sasuke was the one you had sex with, because it’s not medically relevant. A pregnancy test is standard for any kunoichi returning in situations like this. I didn’t sense anything like that, so you don’t have to worry. Just breathe.”

‘Breathe. Breathing is good.’ Now Namiko just had to face Tsunade over her disobeying orders. She exhaled forcefully. ‘I wonder how their debrief is going?’

Shino’s parasitic beetles had been feeding on Tobi’s chakra when they suddenly dispersed, and Tobi was nowhere in sight. “What the—?” Shino was shocked. “The beetles just lost track of him and his chakra…that should be impossible!”

“Teleportation jutsu?” questioned Sakura.

“No, it’s not a teleportation jutsu. If it were, the beetles would’ve followed his scent when he reappeared and headed to his new location.” Shino recalled the beetles, examining them to make sure nothing was wrong.

“But he just vanished…” said Hinata quietly. She extended her Byakugan to the limits, scanning around her carefully. “I don’t see him anywhere, but I do see Namiko, and she looks scared.”

Naruto turned his full attention to Hinata. “What do you mean? Is she okay?!”

“She’s watching a building that’s surrounded by fire…fire with black flames?” she explained, somewhat confused by what she saw. “I’m too far to see what’s behind the black flames though.”

“The Amaterasu.” Kakashi’s brow furrowed. “Seems like Sasuke and Itachi’s final battle must’ve started…let me know if you see anything else.”

Tension filled the air and Hinata kept up her scanning when a swirl of chakra caught her attention nearby. “He’s right there!” she said as she pointed in that direction.

“Hi again!” shouted Tobi in a cheery voice. “Did ya miss me?”

Before anyone could answer, another figure joined him, one that seemed more plant than a person. Tobi looked at him expectantly. “Well? What’s going on, Zetsu?”

“There is a problem.” Zetsu's yellow eye on the white half of his face darted around nervously. “The jinchuriki girl has interfered with the battle and put them at a standstill. She used a time-space jutsu to put herself instantly at Sasuke’s side and built up some sort of shield.”

WHAT?! That little bitch…” growled out Tobi, his voice changing to low and intense; nothing like the higher pitched happy-sounding timbre from moments before, almost like the goofy personality was a cover. He clenched his fists. “We’ll continue this later…” Tobi adjusted his mask and Kakashi saw a Sharingan peering back at him just before Tobi swirled into nothingness again.

“So this ‘Tobi’ has the Sharingan? Very interesting indeed. Perhaps Itachi will be willing and able to shed some light on this,” thought Tsunade aloud. “Did either Uchiha say anything at all before being taken to the prison?”

“No, Godaime, neither said a word during transport, but I’m sure they’ll both have plenty to say when T&I is done with them,” said Yamato.

Tsunade folded her hands across the papers on her desk. “What about Namiko?”

Hinata spoke up, “She and I talked a little during transport about things she’s missed in the last six months, but she said nothing about her time there.”

“Maybe an overnight stay in the prison will help her be more forthcoming about what happened,” muttered Tsunade.

Naruto stepped forward defensively. “Baa-chan, you’re really going to put her in prison?! She was held captive and a shinobi of Konoha!”

“She also willfully disobeyed orders from her superiors and then went AWOL,” explained Kakashi. “Godaime has every reason to make it a lot longer. One night won’t kill Namiko.”

The guard shut the door and Namiko slumped into a sitting position on the hard bed. She hadn’t thought Tsunade would’ve made her stay in the prison, but here she was. ‘Tsunade must be really pissed off…but then, can I blame her?’

The cell was only big enough for one person and made of solid concrete with an iron door. A toilet/sink combination was in one corner and the bed was against the wall across from the door. She glanced up at the blinking red light on the camera in the corner. ‘Oh joy, just what I wanted to deal with.’

She let down her hair and braided it before lying on the bed and throwing her forearm over her eyes. The chakra limiters she still had on were cool against her face. She let her mind wander over everything that had happened. The last twenty-four hours had been a little more than hectic and she was beyond exhausted. ‘Maybe I should just…sleep…’

Namiko found herself standing in Konoha near the Hokage building, but everything around her was wrong. The whole village was shrouded in an ominous, blood-red mist, and the buildings were in ruins. It almost looked as if someone had dropped a bomb on the village.

She walked through the desolate streets, calling out for anyone—any sign of life—but her voice echoed back at her, empty and hollow. Shadows flickered at the edges of her vision, and she felt as if eyes were watching her from every corner. Her chakra senses were gone, making her feel exposed and vulnerable.

Suddenly, she heard a child's cry. Namiko's heart sank, and she sprinted towards the sound. She turned a corner and saw a small little girl with red hair, crying in the middle of the street.

Her younger self.

Namiko walked over to her, but as she got closer, she saw that the younger’s eyes were filled with fear and accusation. "You can’t even save yourself. How can you ever expect to save others? You’re useless." The girl’s voice echoed, distorting as if spoken underwater.

The younger’s form began to twist and blur, transforming into a monstrous, twisted version of herself. Her skin cracked and peeled away, revealing a grotesque, fox-like face beneath.

You’re a shell for a demon.”

Namiko stepped back in horror as the visuals around her began to change. She was no longer inside Konoha’s walls staring at her younger self; she was on what could only be described as a battlefield. The air was thick with decay and the metallic scent of iron. She looked down and saw her hands covered in blood. Bodies of her friends and comrades lay strewn around her, lifeless and bloodied.

She walked around until she saw Hinata and ran to her side. She felt for a pulse and found nothing, but it was obvious her best friend was dead even without it. Hinata’s limbs were twisted at odd angles and her fair skin was stained with blood, like she was a broken porcelain doll.

You are the cause of all this. Your foolishness has caused this destruction.

Namiko fell to her knees, clutching her head, trying to drown out the voice. "No! This isn’t real! This isn’t real!"

But the nightmare was relentless. She felt a dark presence behind her and turned to see the enormous figure of the Kyuubi, towering over her. Its red eyes glowed with malice, and its nine tails lashed out, wrapping around Namiko, squeezing the life out of her.

"You are weak," the kyuubi growled, its voice reverberating through Namiko’s very soul. "You cannot protect anyone. You are nothing but a vessel for my soul. A walking curse upon this world."

She struggled against the tails, but they tightened their grip, crushing her bones and cutting off her breath. The kyuubi's laughter echoed through the battlefield, a sound filled with cruelty and animus.

Just when Namiko felt she could endure no more, the scene shifted again. She was now in the Valley of the End, standing across from Sasuke. But Sasuke's face was twisted in agony, his eyes filled with hatred.

"You think you’ve saved me. That I have changed into this person who is madly in love with you," Sasuke spat, his voice dripping with venom as he turned and began walking into the forest to leave, just as he had three years ago. "But you mean nothing to me."

Namiko reached out, desperate to reach him, but the distance between them grew impossibly vast no matter how fast she ran toward him. She screamed out a sob, a sound of pure anguish, as Sasuke faded into the darkness.

The kyuubi's voice filled the void, derisive and vicious. "You will always be alone, Namiko. No one will ever trust you. No one will ever love you."

Namiko fell to her knees, tears streaming down her face. The darkness closed in around her, suffocating and cold. She felt herself sinking, drowning in her despair.

Then, a faint, familiar voice called out to her, cutting through the darkness. "Namiko…open your eyes. You’re safe now."

Namiko's eyes snapped open, and she found herself back on the hard prison bed, drenched in sweat and tears, gasping for breath. She turned her head and found herself staring into the beautiful charcoal eyes she’d seen every day for the last six months. “Sasuke?”

She launched herself at him, throwing her arms around his neck in a death grip. He gently wrapped his arms around her waist, squeezing back lightly. “You’re okay. You’re safe now,” he whispered, his thumb absentmindedly rubbing the bare skin of her back.

The nightmare's grip slowly loosened, but the kyuubi's words lingered in her mind. She focused on Sasuke’s touch, trying to remind herself that everything had just been a horrible nightmare. She heard someone clear their throat from behind Sasuke, and they sprang apart like they’d been burned. Kakashi stood behind Sasuke, visible eye crinkling in amusem*nt.

Sasuke stood back up as she sat on the edge of the bed. “What are you doing here?” she asked Sasuke.

Before he could answer, Kakashi cut in, “He heard you screaming and was very insistent that someone try to wake you. When no one else could wake you, I thought to grab Sasuke and let him try. Worked like a charm.”

Her eyes darted between the two men. “How bad was it?”

“You were screaming for nearly an hour before we decided to let Sasuke try. He’s been in here less than five minutes.” Kakashi’s gaze bounced between the two, attempting to analyze their behavior. “That seemed like one hell of a nightmare. Care to talk about it?”

She ran a hand through her damp hair before twisting it up and out of the way. “I’d rather not; it wasn’t pleasant. So please don’t ask again.”

“I see that your being with Sasuke for the last six months hasn’t stunted your manners at least,” he said with a chuckle. “Though that’ll be a good thing when you see the Godaime.”

Namiko’s eyes widened. “When?”

“Now.” Kakashi made a motion to the guard outside the door who entered the cell and firmly grabbed Sasuke by the upper arm.

As Sasuke was wordlessly led out of her cell and back to his own, he glanced back at her and Namiko mouthed the words ‘thank you’. Kakashi took mental note of the exchange, ‘I heard rumors that the two of them were close, but just how close are they?’

“Are you ready?” he asked. At her nod, he led her out of the prison and into Tsunade’s office.

“Come in,” called Tsunade brusquely. She sat at her desk; her hands folded neatly over the file folder in front of her. Kakashi walked in first with Namiko following closely behind. Kurenai was off to the side in a simple red dress instead of her normal shinobi attire and she smiled at her former student when they made eye contact.

‘Time to suck it up and accept the consequences.’ Namiko stepped in front of Kakashi and bowed deeply. “Tsunade-sama, forgive me. I was foolish and brash and—”

Enough!” Tsunade slammed her palms against her desk as she stood, causing the floor to shake and several books to fall off her shelf. “Get up.” Namiko quickly straightened, keeping her eyes focused on the ground, and Tsunade shook her head in exasperation. “What the hell were you thinking?”

“Would it be too cliché if I said I wasn’t thinking?” Namiko said with a rueful smile as she looked up at Tsunade.

“Yes. I want an answer,” demanded Tsunade.

Namiko took a slow breath. “Honestly, Naruto was fighting depression after Sasuke left. To everyone else, it just seemed like he wanted to have his teammate back, but Naruto has always seen Sasuke in a different light. He became like a brother to Naruto. So when I sensed him on that mission with Ino and Hinata, I decided to fix things.”

Tsunade pursed her lips. “Did you not think that Naruto would be upset losing his actual sister when you decided to leave? And you left him not once, but twice!”

“I knew I would come back and he’d forgive me, but I—I just wanted to fix everything…”

“Why do you say you need to ‘fix’ everything?” asked Kurenai.

Namiko glanced at Kakashi. “When I told you that I saw Sasuke after his fight with Naruto, that wasn’t the whole truth.” She closed her eyes for a moment and tried to swallow her nerves. “I tackled him that night. I had him in my hands and could’ve held him captive until you got there, but I lashed out because he hurt Naruto and I told him to leave. It was my fault that he left that night. You were thirty seconds away and I told him to leave…” Tears pricked the corners of her eyes and she took a shaky breath in.

Kakashi had suspected as much that night but never said anything. “It wasn’t your fault he left. If you had kept him there, he would’ve only left again later on. That’s the power of Orochimaru’s curse mark.”

“Explain why you decided to follow Sasuke after Team Yamato found you in Orochimaru’s base.” Tsunade leaned against her desk as she awaited Namiko’s answer.

“I felt guilty. I hadn’t brought Sasuke home; he was going to follow Orochimaru until he had gotten strong enough to defeat Itachi. Sasuke wouldn’t have been able to even know where to begin in searching for him, but with my chakra sensing, I could help Sasuke find him faster and then he’d come home to Konoha.”

“Was he actually planning to come back to Konoha?” asked Tsunade.

Namiko pressed her lips together. “Initially, no. As we became friends though, he eventually agreed to willingly come home.”

Tsunade gave her a skeptical look. “Friends? How did you two become friends?”

Namiko breathed out a laugh. “It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t by choice either. Orochimaru forced us to share a room and being stuck in a small room together every day for almost the whole day forced us to get to know each other and work together, or we end up killing each other.”

“You shared a room?” Tsunade was baffled. Why would her former teammate have put two teenagers in a room together? Why didn’t he just keep her in a cell? “Did anything happen? Did Sasuke ever try to hurt you?”

“No, never!” Namiko said enthusiastically before blushing slightly and calming her emotions. “Sasuke never once tried to hurt me and never would. The opposite in fact; he protected me from Orochimaru and Kabuto the entire time. He always watched out for me and never let me out of his sight.”

‘He protected her? Perhaps he still harbors some sort of feelings for her? I have the feeling I need to ask her about this later,’ thought Kurenai.

Tsunade was curious about the fate of her former teammate. “How did Orochimaru die?”

“Orochimaru poisoned me, but what kind of poison I don’t know. It had some sort of weird effect on me and it made me appear dead to Sasuke. Somehow it made him unlock the Mangekyo Sharingan and then he killed Orochimaru. I’m not sure of the details; Sasuke never told me. But afterward, Sasuke had Kabuto remove the poison from my body. That’s all I really know.”

‘The Mangekyo? Curious…’ thought Kakashi, ‘I’ll have to ask Sasuke about that in private later.’

“After that, what happened?” prompted Tsunade.

“Sasuke wanted to gather two of Orochimaru’s prisoners, Suigetsu and Juugo, and bring them with us. Then the four of us went to an old munitions store that the Uchiha used to use in Sora-ku. We stayed overnight and then the following day, which was yesterday, we left Sora-ku then Sasuke and I ran into those Akatsuki members, Deidara and Tobi shortly after.”

Namiko paused to gather her thoughts. “We were both pretty chakra depleted after that and met up with Suigetsu and Juugo at a nearby inn. Sasuke and I both fell asleep for a bit but I woke when I felt everyone from Konoha on our trail. I knew Sasuke still needed to find Itachi, so I scattered our scent so it would be harder for Kiba to track us.”

“When we finally found Itachi, Kisame blocked me, Suigetsu, and Juugo from interfering. Kisame said he had no interest in fighting any of us, which honestly surprised me since he knows I’m a jinchuriki.” She looked over to Kakashi. “You know the rest.”

“Not everything,” he reminded her, “What happened with you while Sasuke was fighting Itachi? Something made you get involved.”

Namiko bit her lip nervously. “I was able to monitor their fight some with my chakra sensing. When I felt his chakra plummet, I panicked. I used Flying Raijin and put up my Sealing Chains to protect Sasuke.”

Kakashi raised an eyebrow. “Why get involved? Surely you knew Sasuke would be upset.”

“I—I just wanted to make sure he didn’t die, okay?” she snapped, blush tinting her cheeks slightly as her voice quieted, “…he’s my friend.”

‘There’s definitely more to them than what she’s saying,’ Kurenai thought as she and Kakashi shared a look that they were thinking the same thing.

“Okay, I’ll accept that answer.” Tsunade walked back behind her desk and picked up the file she had been reading earlier, scanning it for a moment. “Shizune’s examination of you came back clear, minus traces of the poison you mentioned. So, now we talk about the consequences of your actions.”

Namiko felt like there was a boulder over her head waiting to drop. ‘I’m so screwed…’

“Your official charge is Desertion.” Tsunade closed the file and set it back on her desk. “But since you did help bring home a rogue shinobi, I’m downgrading your charge to Insubordination.” She walked back around her desk and crossed her arms under her bust. “Your sentence is ninety days suspension from all missions, though I will reevaluate you in sixty days.”

Namiko blinked in shock at Tsunade. “Really?” she asked as Kakashi unlocked the chakra limiters and she felt chakra rush back into her body.

“Yes, really.” A smile spread across Tsunade’s face. “I’m glad to have you home, kid.”

Namiko quickly hugged her before leaning back, a serious look on her face. “Can I make a request? Please be lenient with Sasuke. He did eliminate two criminals who were a threat to Konoha, and he cared for me the whole time I was with him.”

Tsunade paused and nodded her head. “He’s going to be tied up with T&I for at least a couple of days while we find out everything we can about Orochimaru and Kabuto. However, I’ll take what you said into consideration.”

“That’s all I ask. Thank you, Tsunade-ba-chan.” Namiko smiled before turning her attention to her sensei. “Can I hug you too?” Kurenai smiled softly and nodded before Namiko practically threw herself into her sensei’s arms. “I missed you so much and I’m so sorry I wasn’t here when…I wish there were a way I could help…” she trailed off, unsure of what to say.

“It’s okay to talk about it. I gave Hinata instructions to tell you about Asuma and the baby when she saw you.” Kurenai held her tighter. “You’re here now. I’m so glad you’re home.”

“Is it okay for me to say ‘congratulations’?” Namiko hesitantly asked as Kurenai let go.

“Most definitely. I’m looking at this baby as a gift from Asuma. And in about six months, you’ll get to meet Mirai, then I really will need your help,” she said with a chuckle.

Namiko smiled brightly. “You got it!”

“Alright, you, go see your brother. It’s long overdue.” Tsunade said as she shooed away Namiko.

Namiko waved at the three before quickly making her exit. As she stepped into the bright sunlight, she stretched her chakra senses, searching for her brother. She found him sitting on the swing outside of the Academy and decided to sneak up behind him. “We have a lot of memories here, huh, nii-chan?”

“Namiko!” Naruto launched off of the swing and pulled her into a bear hug, lifting her off the ground.

She let out a squeal of protest before bursting into a fit of giggles. “Uzumaki Naruto, put me down!”

Naruto set her down but didn’t let go, and his voice was thick with emotion, “I’ve missed you so much…”

“I missed you too. I’m so sorry! I should’ve never left you alone—”

“Don’t apologize! You brought Sasuke home!” He grinned widely, finally letting go of her. “I’m proud of you, ya know? You did what I failed to do, even if you did it a little haphazardly.”

“I think running straight into one of the most dangerous shinobi’s clutches was more than a little haphazard. Not my finest moment.”

“I wanna hear all about this, especially how you and Sasuke actually managed to get along during all that time. Are you ready for some Ichiraku?”

She chuckled. “Of course that would be where you want to go.”

They made their way to Ichiraku and ordered their usual before Namiko felt a familiar chakra coming toward them. She popped her head out of the curtain and came face to face with Hinata and gave her a big smile. “Hey, Hinata!”

“Oh, Namiko! I had hoped you would be here. I heard that you were supposed to be released today,” said Hinata as she walked into the small restaurant.

Namiko gave her a quick hug and Naruto smiled at the Hyuuga. “Join us Hinata! We’re celebrating!” She quietly agreed and as soon as she sat down next to Naruto, both their cheeks coated with a dusting of pink.

Naruto coughed to shake off the heat encroaching on his face and started bombarding Namiko with questions. “So, what was it like being stuck with that freaky snake creep?”

Namiko suppressed a laugh at his description. “Honestly, I didn’t see him that often, especially near the end. Orochimaru was sick and Kabuto was constantly trying to find ways to keep him alive and comfortable. Sasuke and I tried to keep away unless Orochimaru specifically asked to see us. Sasuke rarely let me out of his sight.”

“So, it seems like Sasuke protected you pretty well, just like he promised me he would,” said Naruto as Ayame placed their food in front of them. He passed Hinata chopsticks and blushed as their hands touched.

Namiko nodded as she took a bite of her gyoza. “He kept me safe the entire time.”

Naruto slurped down a big bite of his noodles. “You didn’t have to stay in some creepy prison cell, did you?”

“No, the only time I was in a cell was the first day I was there, but Orochimaru quickly decided to put me in an actual room.”

Hinata tilted her head. “You had your own room? Like Orochimaru just had a guest room?”

Namiko hesitated. “Not really.”

Naruto rolled his eyes. “What do you mean, ‘not really’? It’s not like you had to share a room with Sasuke or something—"

Namiko choked a little on her food, coughing heavily for a few moments before she could regulate her breathing. Naruto raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “Did you share a room with Sasuke?”

“It was Orochimaru’s orders.” Namiko refused to meet her brother’s gaze. “I think he did it to make Sasuke uncomfortable and see if he still had connections to Konoha. It wasn’t bad. Thank God we’re both quiet and keep to ourselves mostly.”

“You stayed in the same room as him for six months?” asked Naruto in surprise.

“Yeah, every time we changed bases we ended up sharing a room. We kind of got used to each other and became…friends again pretty quickly.” She paused; the last thing she wanted was for Naruto to find out about her real relationship with Sasuke. ‘I have to keep Naruto from asking more questions so I can keep us secret…or Sasuke won’t be safe because Naruto will try to kill him.’

She finished her food and stood. “Nii-chan, I’m going to head home and get cleaned up. You two enjoy your alone time together. See you!” Namiko subtly winked at Hinata who blushed furiously as she walked out of Ichiraku.

As she leisurely walked to their apartment, she smiled mischievously. ‘Good to know she still likes him and it seems like maybe he’s beginning to like her too. Interesting…’

Dual Chronicles - Chapter 39 - Eriisu (2024)


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