Growing Up With Dreams
Chapter One – Valentine Nightmare
It was a warm day on the train to Shi Yume, the main city on the Island. A beautiful February day. While they didn't get snow this far down on the Island, the temperature still dropped enough to make one dress warmer. It was still a perfect day though. Perfect day to work. It was days like today, with the sun shining down and reflecting off the distant Philippine Sea, that made Namikaze Minato love his job. It wasn't the prettiest job, nor easiest, but it paid well and he enjoyed doing it. Being a Private Investigator was an entertaining job. Especially when his wife joined him.
Oh yes, his wife, Uzumaki Kushina. What a fiery, intelligent woman she was! And mother of his 5 year-old son, Naruto. Ah, life was good. No, not good, fantastic! Things were really picking up for him lately. He had been picking up more and more missions and had been succeeding in 98% of them. This led to him getting the big job today: meeting with the infamous Uchiha Detectives.
They were the elite of elite. Top of the class. The Uchiha's were the most well known family of Japan. Their family had been serving the Police for generations and every one of their departments was extremely excelled. It was an absolute honour to be meeting them. In person, no less.
In fact, the Uchiha's requested to see Minato and Kushina today. They asked to meet Minato here on the train. Of course, Minato and Kushina being from Nōmin no Yume, a little farm town on the East side of the Island, they had to take the train to Shi Yume on the South side. It wasn't too long of a ride, but it made Minato antsy, conducting such matters in the public. Though Uchiha Fugaku assured him that the train to Chīsana Yume, the smallest town on the South West corner of the star-shaped Island, was virtually empty. That was good enough for Minato.
The train sounded the small alert, signalling their arrival at the Shi Yume Station. Minato's heart leapt a little with excitement. This was it! This was the meeting he had been waiting for! Beside him, Kushina reached out and gripped his arm in silent support. He looked at her with his blue eyes alight, grateful to have her with him. Her violet eyes were warm and comforting as the people on the train filed out. Minato wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, planting a gentle kiss on top of her bright red hair.
After a vast majority of people left the train, Minato was beginning to wonder if the Uchiha's were really coming. The car was next to empty and the train signalled the closing of the doors when Fugaku stuck his hand in the door, making it reopen before he stepped inside, followed by a beautiful, dark haired woman.
Minato instantly put on a large grin and let go of his wife to step forward and bow respectfully. Fugaku followed suit before turning to introduce the woman behind him. She smiled softly. "This is my wife, Uchiha Mikoto. She works under me for most of my cases," he explained, his deep voice matching the ruggedness of his appearance. Minato nodded his blonde head in understanding, bowing politely towards Mikoto.
"Nice to meet you. This is my wife, Uzumaki Kushina. I believe you two spoke over the phone to arrange our meeting," Mikoto introduced the love of his life to the detectives. They both bowed respectfully before Fugaku cleared his throat and got to the point of business.
"I'm sure you are aware of Orochimaru? We have been tracking him down for quite some time but we are having a difficult time pinning anything on him. He's a slippery creature..." Fugaku scowled, making him look a lot older than he already did.
Minato nodded. He knew of Orochimaru. He was the CEO of Nāga Corporation, a science testing facility, creating cures for various cancers, medical advancements, scientific improvements, floral medicines, floral hallucinogen, chemical development and lab testing. The "Seven Heads" of Nāga*. Because of all the advances and breakthroughs Orochimaru and his company have created, the government had turned a blind on the last three. Minato never liked Orochimaru or his stupid company and he supposed the Uchiha's didn't either. That was why they were here now.
"We seem to be working on our own to bring him down; no one else is willing to help us. That's why we need you. You need to dig up whatever you can on him. Give us some proof of what he's doing, some irrevocable evidence that will make the government realize just what he's doing," Fugaku explained, his tone gruff and irritated. He crossed his arms and his eyes were dead calm like any mans would be while trying to calm his rage. Apparently, this had been a problem for a while.
Minato grinned and hugged his wife around her waist lovingly. "Sounds like a perfect job for us! We'll take it!"
The train swiftly travelled into the tunnel winding through the hills bordering Chīsana Yume. The train cars were enveloped in darkness and the train tracks thundered under the weight of the locomotive as it trundled along its fixed path.
Fugaku sat silently as Mikoto spoke up and started talking about the details. Minato listened eagerly, making mental notes as the soft spoken woman informed the couple of what they wanted to see.
Though, fate had this strange way of ruining the most beautiful of moments. Here, with his beautiful wife, discussing a matter that was making him more and more excited with two of the most renowned people in Japan, life was perfect. Life could do no wrong for Minato and Kushina. And Minato firmly believed this until he heard a loud crack from on top of the tunnel he was currently in and the sound in the train was deafening as the hill the tunnel was built through suddenly gave way to an unfriendly rockslide. It was strange to Minato. The roof of the car started buckling and caving under the pressure of the land and it was all in slow motion as he grabbed Kushina and pushed her onto the floor, trying desperately to protect her with his own body against the quickly collapsing metal coffin. Though he was not impervious to metal, nor rock, nor death, and over the loud thundering of rock, Minato heard his own, blood curdling screams in a deathly acappello song with Kushina, Fugaku, Mikoto, and what other few passengers could be heard in the other cars.
The last image that was imprinted in his mind, the last imagine his bright, crystalline eyes would ever see, was the pained expression on Kushina's face. The soft face and harsh eyes that said, 'I love you. My only regret will be not watching Naruto grow up'. And Minato had to agree...
What a lousy day. Really. Waking up so early in the morning to go hiking and plant a censor bomb was just too much trouble. Weren't there any other Explosive Technologists that could have been contacted for this job?
Well... this was an underground operation...
And he was just about the only person who would brave the wrath of the law to make a beautiful explosion. An artistic explosion. So he hiked up the hill without stopping until he reached the tunnel for the electric trolley. Stage One: Set the explosives. This was probably one of the harder things to do. Finding the right level of explosive to cave in layers of hard sediment cleanly and in a proper sized perimeter to ensure no survivors. He had to measure out the perfect amount and the perfect distance. Any mistakes could ruin this beautiful, clean canvas.
After he was confident in the layout of his dynamite, he activated the detonators on them before hiking down to the exit of the tunnel. It was exciting to see Chīsana Yume from the top of this hill. It was also exciting to blow up the tunnel so close to the city! It was definitely a new experience for the blonde Specialist. Climbing down as quickly as he could without making himself fumble, he reached the yawning mouth of the tunnel and set up the motion sensor on either side of the tracks. Turning them on and setting them for the appointed time, he quickly climbed back up the hillside, grabbed what was left of his gear, and walked/jogged as fast as possible from the site.
This was going to be one fantastic explosion! Maybe, if he could get close enough, he could even take pictures of the aftermath to show his employer. Not that he wouldn't see it on the news, but he could get up close before any of the cops, fire crew, and medical staff got there. That meant uncensored, raw, footage of the beautiful carnage. Ah yes. Today wasn't such a bad day after all. The man smiled, feeling a proud sense of accomplishment as he made his way to the minimum safe line to watch his work of art.
Man, today was just a tear jerker. Today was Valentines' Day. The day of love, to show your special people how much you care for them and for the women to buy chocolates and cakes for the men they know. This being said, there were a few other reasons for this day to suck. One: the train tunnel leading to the smallest town on the map was just blown to bits, destroying the train, tracks, and leaving no survivors. Two: from reports, some of the people on the train were married, happy parents. Three: Those parents had young children in kindergarten... and Four: Graduation from Kindergarten was two weeks away...
Now it was his job, and his partners, to go find the families and children and tell them the bad news and find news homes for them. Today was such a depressing day.
He drove to the kindergarten the children were at. Was it a coincidence that the three of the 5 kids he had to see were in the same school? Naw, it wasn't anything fishy... well, besides the fact that some ass just blew up a train a killed a dozen people.
With a heavy heart, the officer went to the principal's office and asked to see the specific children after explaining what happened. Her amber eyes filled with tears, feeling sorry for the children. She knew each of them and their parents and this was indeed a tragedy. She led the officers down the hallways of the small school to the room where all three children were. Calling out their names, she waited by the doorway to the class room until the little 5 year olds toddled over happily.
Seeing their happy, innocent and happy faces made the officers want to turn around and walk away. Did these children really deserve to have their hearts broken like this? They were 5! They didn't deserve this at all. They were probably expecting to see their parents' happy faces and tell them all about their day... to get excited about their graduation into elementary school.
Instead, he had to try and explain to them that their parents died because some bad man decided to blow up the train tunnel...
"Kids," the officer began by kneeling down in front of the trio and took off his hat in respect, "I have some bad news about your parents..."
The little blonde one just tilted his head to the side, curious. The dark haired one blinked and frowned and the little redhead just stood there, waiting.
"I'm sorry to tell you but... your parents have died in a train incident... so we have to relocate you and give you new homes..." he paused to see what their reactions would be, if they understood at all.
It seems they all did. They all knew the meaning of 'dead'. The blonde kids' bright blue eyes widened and instantly filled with salty tears. The dark haired kid stood there in shock, his little mouth hanging in open in disbelief as his tears gathered slowly and the little redhead looked dead. The life drained from his sea foam green eyes and he stared blankly at the officer. This made the man concerned so he reached out a gentle hand to hold the boys shoulder.
The boy was rigid. Cold. Unresponsive. It was like he just shut down, unable to deal with the knowledge of his parents' death. He couldn't really blame the boy, but maybe a counsellor or therapy would be needed for this one. The other two had broken down and started crying, holding each other desperately though the blonde one was trying to calm the dark haired one.
"It's ok, Sasuke-chan... It's ok, you still have me... we still have each other, Sasuke-chan..." he whispered between sobs. It was sad, watching them try to brave something no one had any right to go through. The principal, Tsunade-Sama, had tears falling down her own cheeks as she knelt down to try and comfort the sobbing children.
"We will take you guys to the Police Station until we can contact your immediate family to come and take care of you, ok?" the officer tried to speak softly. There was only so much you could do after you told them that their parents were dead, but he really did need to take them to the station to do some digging to figure out who could take them.
"Sasuke-chan... can Sasuke-chan come live with me?" the little blonde boy asked, his thin arms still circled around the dark haired boy named Sasuke.
"I don't think so, son. It's up to his family to decide where he goes," the officer replied sadly. There was nothing more he wanted than to let these kids live together but that wasn't his job. It broke his veteran heart to hear these kids try to comfort each other, promising things that couldn't be kept. So he picked up the blonde one and stood while his partner picked up the dark haired boy and the principal picked up the catatonic redhead.
He set all three kids in the back seat of his Police Cruiser, buckled them all up and jumped into the drivers' seat in the front. His partner jumped into the passenger seat and looked at him with a grim face. He returned the look before making the long trip to the station. Now for the hard part... contacting the families...
"Hello, this is Corporal Takeda of the Kaigen no Yume Police Department. Who am I speaking to?"
"Uh... this is Umino Iruka..."
"Umino-San, I am sincerely sorry to have to contact you this way to inform you of such bad news... but you were written down as the Legal Guardian of one Uzumaki Naruto. I'm sorry to inform you that Namikaze Minato and Uzumaki Kushina have passed away in the train incident by Chīsana Yume today..."
"Oh... oh no...that's terrible...is uhm...is Naruto ok?" Was it just him or did Iruka just sob? It was muffled, a kind of strangled cry... he must have been close to Naruto's family...
"Yes. Naruto-Kun is just fine. He's been trying to console the two other boys who lost their parents as well. Despite his own heart break, he's been making jokes and trying to distract them. He's cute," Corporal Takeda smiled into the phone even though Umino-San couldn't see it.
"Heh, yeah, sounds like him. I live... not too far from his parent's house... I'll be on my way over right away to pick him up..."
"Ok, thank you very much and again, I'm terribly sorry... my sincere condolences..."
"Hello, this is Corporal Takeda of the Kaigen no Yume Police Department. Who am I speaking to?"
"You sound a little young, how old are you, son?"
"This can't be right... do you have any immediate family living with you or near you?"
"No. Recently, everyone has been passing away... it's just me, my little brother, Sasuke, and Mother and Father."
It was here that the Corporal realized that these children would have to be put into foster care... they might not even be able to stay together... how sad.
"Son, I'm so sorry to tell you this but you're parents have just passed away this morning... and since you don't have any immediate family, you will have to be put into Foster Care... I'm terribly sorry," Corporal Takeda felt a headache coming on.
"No need. We have family friends who can help us out. Just bring Sasuke home..."
"I don't think that's..."
"My mother and father always talked about us living with them if anything were to happen. They have a legal document and everything. Just bring Sasuke home."
"Son, it's more difficult than that I'm afraid..."
"I'll contact the neighbours and get them to phone you and sort it out. Just bring Sasuke home," the little boy on the other end of the line hung up and the Corporal was left a little dumbfounded. Well... that went a little differently than he thought it would. Regardless, he had to contact these neighbours if there was some sort of Guardianship Arrangement for the kids.
What a long day...
"Hello, this is Corporal Takeda of the Kaigen no Yume Police Department. Who am I speaking to?"
"Orochimaru, CEO of Nāga Corporation."
"Orochimaru-San, I am sad to inform you that Shikkari blah and Shikkari Karura have passed away in the train incident this morning and I have you listed here as the Legal Guardian of Shikkari Gaara, Shikkari Kankuro, and Shikkari Temari. Is this correct?"
"Yes, that sounds right... did you want me to come pick up the children and their things?"
"Yes, that would be best...I'm truly sorry to have to tell this news and force the kids on you but..."
"No, no, don't worry. I have no issues with it at all. I'll be there in a short while..."
"Ok, sorry again, Orochimaru-San."
The dial tone rung out loud in the Corporal's ear so he set the phone down on the receiver and frowned at his desk. Was he doing the right thing? This Orochimaru didn't sound concerned in the slightest. Not for the children, not for the parents. He almost sound like...he was expecting it. Like he knew the phone call was coming. Patient and bored... calculated...
Corporal Takeda felt a shiver of unease spill down his spine. Were the kids going to be ok with this man?
True to his word, Iruka showed up at the Police Station in record timing, making the Corporal think that the Guardian sped like a mad man. No matter though, he must just have been that worried about Naruto and that was a good sign. Officer Takeda felt a bit reassured that at least one of the kids was going to a good home.
"Hello, you are Umino Iruka?" Takeda asked, leading a small Naruto by the hand towards the approaching man.
The man nodded and as Iruka came closer, Takeda could see that his eyes were bloodshot and swollen. He must have been crying on the drive over. "Thank you for taking care of Naruto...is there any documents I need to sign?" even his voice was rough and shaking.
"You'll have to see a judge and get them to verify the transfer but you can have Naruto with you till then. The court hearing is in a week. Go pick up his clothes and things for now and see where things go after that," Corporal Takeda explained, handing Naruto's tiny, tanned hand to Iruka.
Iruka nodded and smiled a clearly fake smile. "Thanks for all your help, officer."
"'Ruka-San... I... I want Sasuke-chan to live with us... and Gaara-kun too?" Naruto asked, tugging on Iruka's shirt eagerly. "Please? I really like Sasuke-chan and Gaara-kun... please? I'll take care of them, 'Ruka-San," the blonde boy pleaded.
Iruka knew of Sasuke. The youngest Uchiha was Naruto's best friend and has been since they were in the crib. He could try his best but Iruka doubted he could get custody for Sasuke. Besides, Sasuke had an older brother, didn't he? He couldn't afford to look after 3 kids... it would be hard enough looking after one. And Iruka had no knowledge of Gaara. The boy must just be new this year.
"I'm sorry, Naruto, it's up to their families. Besides, you'll still see them in school, right?" Iruka tried to soothe the troubled child. While Naruto remained unconvinced, Iruka thanked Takeda again and picked up Naruto, bringing him back outside to his car. Takeda watched with a heavy heart for a moment before looking over at Sasuke and Gaara, still seated in the waiting room.
Gaara was still catatonic and unresponsive to anyone who tried to talk to him. And while Sasuke had stopped crying, he was almost as closed off as Gaara. Though he did respond to people, he kept it cut short and brief, not able to form a proper sentence. He stayed with one-word answers. At least he was talking though.
Well... next was Gaara. Orochimaru should be there soon. Maybe Takeda could find someone better for the children than this man. There was just a bad vibe, a sense of instinct tingling in his gut and alarm bells in his head whenever he thought of the business man. And Corporal Takeda trusted his instincts. There was definitely something wrong but there wasn't much he could do.
He could always write a warning down in the report and hope that someone higher up read the report and looked into it. But that was about it. With a heavy heart and pressured mind, Takeda walked back to his desk to wait for Orochimaru.
Orochimaru finally came, later than Takeda would have liked. But he was there none-the-less, so the Corporal had to be somewhat grateful. But the moment the veteran police officer laid his brown eyes on the CEO, he disliked him. He disliked his voice on the phone, his careless demeanour, and now he disliked the look of him. The man carried himself with an air of arrogance and self assurance. Like he owned the world. If Takeda was a dog, his hackles would be up.
He knew a snake when he saw one.
"Hello. You must be Orochimaru-San. I'm Corporal Takeda; we spoke on the phone," Takeda approached the slimy, thin, pale man. Despite his gross outward appearance, the tall, sickly man was well groomed.
"Yes, thank you. Where is Gaara?"
"Uh, he's just in the waiting room with Sasuke-kun... but you should know about the..."
"The court date, yes, yes. I already know. Next week. Are Gaara's siblings at school or home at the moment?"
"I think they are still in school but..."
"Ok, I will see you on the court date, thanks," Orochimaru, flung his long, black hair behind his shoulder and made his way to the waiting room and grabbing the catatonic redhead. Gaara only briefly acknowledged that someone was taking him away from the police station before completely closing off again and Corporal Takeda's blood boiled in silent rage as he watched Orochimaru in his light grey business suit push Gaara into the backseat of his ¥ 5, 736, 194* sports car.
There wasn't much he could do about this situation, there really wasn't. He wanted to do more for these kids but that would be getting personal and in his line of work, that wasn't a very good thing at all. He could lose his job and Takeda didn't want that. He thoroughly enjoyed his job.
Maybe... just maybe there was a way for him to get those kids away from Orochimaru sooner... The elder sister, Temari, was 13 or 14 right? So, Corporal Takeda would find something for the kids before Temari turned 18. 5 years was a long wait in the hands of someone like Orochimaru.
Sasuke was quiet in the backseat of the police cruiser as Takeda drove the winding road up to the address that was scribbled on the piece of paper in his hand. It was fairly close to the Uzumaki Residence but the Uchiha home was in a larger district with a small distance between the two young friends. There was no telling how the boys would get along after this disastrous happening of fate.
Takeda spotted the address and pulled up alongside the large family home, parking his car with a sigh and stepping out. With tired eyes, Takeda looked up and examined the sullen structure looming before him and looked at the dark haired pre-schooler glaring daggers into the backseat.
Feeling helpless was such a horrible emotion.
Takeda grudgingly opened the car door and let Sasuke crawl out of the back seat and trudge up the walk to his home. Corporal Takeda followed close behind and knocked on the door, setting a gentle hand on the boys' stiff shoulder. The door opened almost immediately and Takeda had to look down to see the young master of the house.
Uchiha Itachi, Sasuke's older brother, was an older looking youth, with life and intelligence writ upon his lined face and calm, black eyes that matched Sasuke's. His black hair was long and pulled into a low pony-tail and his bangs framed his adolescent face. Sasuke and Itachi were definitely brothers.
And it made the man smile to see Itachi's cool, deep pools of onyx turn frightful and worried at the sight of his younger brother. It was nice to see that Itachi cared for Sasuke.
"Uchiha Itachi?" Takeda asked, just to be sure.
"Yes. Thanks for bringing Sasuke home. Our neighbours came over as well. They are waiting in the living room for you," Itachi's eyes deadened again as he looked up at the broad officer. Then he grabbed Sasuke's hand, pulled him inside and led the way to the living room before taking off up the stairs, little brother in tow.
"Ah... I'm Corporal Takeda from the Kaigen no Yume Police Department. Nice to meet you though I'm sorry it has to be under such sad circumstances..." he introduced himself politely, removing his hat and bowing respectfully, watching Itachi pull Sasuke into a room from the corner of his eye.