The Akatsuki's Daughter

chapter 8


I woke up the next morning, not on the roof where I had fallen asleep, but lying on my bed, snuggled up to Gaara's chest.

I smiled as I noticed that my hands had tangled themselves in his shirt at some point during my sleep, and figured that I must not have wanted him to leave, my body probably enjoying his extra warmth since it didn't have much of it's own.

I looked up and noticed that Gaara was sleeping, something that I had heard from his sister didn't happen very often or for long periods of time.

I looked over his face curiously and felt my smile increase as I saw just how young he looked as he slept. Far more childish than he did when he was awake. His face wasn't guarded, his closed eyelids hiding the sad and level eyes. He looked far more open and soft...and completely adorable.

I relaxed my hands that were still in their death grip, releasing him from my hold and winced as I flexed them. They were stiff from being tense all night, the joints cracking as I moved them.

I noticed suddenly that Gaara's arms had wrapped around me at some point during our sleep, one of his arms pillowing my head as the other had remained wrapped around me, cuddling me close to him. For someone that wasn't used to physical contact, he sure was doing well at holding me tightly.

I tried to muffle my laughter, but a stray giggle escaped and I watched as his eyes flew open, his aqua gaze confused as he looked down at me. Clearly wondering why we were in the same bed together.

I saw comprehension dawn in his eyes as he remembered all that had happened the night before and he suddenly seemed to realize what he was doing and how close we were to each other.

He blushed a deep red, the color rivaling his hair and he tried to untangle us from each other. Though it turned out that Gaara wasn't very graceful when he just woke up, his muscles stiff and refusing to listen to his brains commands. His arms, instead of releasing me, spasmed and jerked me closer, pressing me tighter into his body.

I gasped slightly at the sudden pressure before looking up at him and finding his eyes darting around frantically, his expression resembling fright more than anything else and causing me frown at the sight.

I wiggled a little bit in order to pull myself up to eye level with him, his panicked eyes still not meeting mine, instead focusing on the ceiling.

I bit my lip hesitantly, wondering what had upset him so much.

''Gaara?''

He didn't even acknowledge that I had spoken and I frowned, speaking a bit louder.

''Gaara?''

He still didn't respond and I huffed, knowing that he was listening. He had to be, he was laying right beside me, and so I continued without waiting for a response.

''I don't know what upset you, but I'm sure that whatever it was that it can't be that bad. If you would just talk to me and tell me what is wrong, I might be able to understand and help.''

He looked at me, both his eyes and voice strangely pleading.

''I tried to get you to let go of me last night when I carried you to bed. But you had curled your hands into my shirt and I couldn't get you to let go of me without waking you. So I had thought that it would be alright for me to stay with you, at least until you released me. But I must have fallen asleep. I'm sorry.''

I stared at him, still not understanding why any of that would have upset him.

''Alright...so I forced you to lay on the bed with me and you fell asleep...is that why you're upset?''

He took a deep breath and shook his head trying to calm himself before he turned his face towards the ceiling, his voice quiet as he spoke.

''I heard you sob. You tried to muffle it but that's what woke me up. I'm not a very deep sleeper and so I heard you.''

He swallowed hard before continuing, turning his face back to me, his voice sad.

''You must have changed your mind about what you said last night and I would understand if that's the case. Really I would.''

I frowned at him, wondering about just how self-conscious he really was to believe that I had been crying about JUST having him asleep in my bed. And wondering why he didn't question that I didn't have tears on my cheeks or in my eyes as we spoke.

Realizing suddenly that he just didn't have good experiences when it came to his feelings for other people and that it would be normal for him to jump to the worst case scenario.

His eyes shifted again as he continued to speak, returning to looking everywhere but at me.

''That's why I was so frantic to let go of you when I realized that I was still holding you. I didn't want to put you in a position that you didn't want to be in. But then my arms did the opposite and...Ria, I'm so sorry.''

He winced at what he seemed to think was a lame excuse and apology and I sighed sadly, deciding that I needed to fix this problem now if we were wanting to actually start any type of relationship and not just have it die before even giving it a chance.

I somehow managed to get free of his still tensed arms and reached up to frame his face between my hands, his eyes coming back to mine and making me happy that I would know that he was listening to what I was saying.

''Listen, Gaara I was not crying, or sobbing, or whatever other horrible thing that you are thinking. I was trying to muffle my laughter. I was enjoying looking at you while you were sleeping and didn't want to wake you up, so I had tried to giggle quietly.

You had just looked so cute that I had found it funny and laughed.

And as for changing my mind: I haven't. I don't change my mind very often once it's made up, and especially not when it would cause someone that I care about so much pain if I did. And as for this whole being upset that you were holding me: I initiated that last night. Don't you think that I would be fine with you continuing to do so throughout the night if you wanted that? I am far more used to being held than you are, and it doesn't bother me where, when, or how long you hold me, as long as you are comfortable with it.''

I paused, noticing suddenly that I had practically rolled on top of him in my intensity.

I felt a blush heating my face and quickly moved again so that I was back beside him and felt his eyes following me curiously, not understanding my sudden embarrassment, and not going to receive an explanation from me. It was just too early in the morning to go into any more intense discussions.

I glanced at the clock on my wall, finding that it was a bit past eleven before I turned back to Gaara, finding him still puzzling over my blush until I spoke.

''Will your siblings be worried about you? They're probably already awake and training outside.''

Gaara smiled, seeming to give up on thinking over my strange reactions and instead answered my question.

''No, neither of them typically worry about me. I can take care of myself most of the time.''

I smiled teasingly at him, glad that my words from earlier had seemed to calm any of his fears at the moment, since he wasn't trying to increase the distance between us anymore. My voice was slightly sarcastic as I spoke again.

''So I don't need to worry about them banging on my door and accusing me of corrupting their baby brother?''

Gaara smirked and shook his head, seeming to find the images my question brought up funny.

''No, they won't say anything. Kankuro is completely oblivious to anyone besides himself, and Temari already knows. She had known that something was up with me and came to talk to me yesterday before I went to the roof.''

I stared at him, suddenly interested in what his older sister had said to him.

''Really?''

He nodded and rolled his eyes good-naturedly.

''She was the one that told me to talk to you. I was going to anyways, but she wanted me to hurry. She can be extremely impatient. It didn't help things that she likes you, and wanted to claim to be the 'matchmaker' that pushed us together.''

I laughed and snuggled back into his chest, feeling Gaara's arms wrap back around me hesitantly and causing me to smile against his shirt. I knew that I would need to get up soon, but for a little bit longer I wanted to lay in Gaara's arms and be held. Though he didn't let me do that for much longer.

It was only a few minutes later when he had began to shift restlessly and I had sighed, recognizing that he needed to move around without having him tell me.

I pulled away and smiled comfortingly, sitting up and waving a hand.

''Alright. You're getting anxious and aren't able to lie still anymore.''

He smiled at me lopsidedly before nodding and sitting up as well, swinging his legs over the side of my bed and slipping on his shoes before he stood and rolled his shoulders, speaking as he did so.

''I can never stay still for very long after I wake up. This was the longest that I have laid in bed after waking up, it was nice...except for that part in the beginning''

I snorted and nodded, fully agreeing with him and watched as he made his way towards my window, tilting my head to the side curiously.

''Are you not going to just use the door?''

He shook his head and gave me a small smile.

''That would probably cause more problems than I think either of us are prepared to deal with this early in the day.''

I frowned and watched as he climbed out of the window, wondering at his words before gaping as I realized what he had meant. If any of the ninjas saw him coming out of my room, not only would they nosely ask all sorts of questions, Naruto and Kankuro would probably tease him endlessly.

I shook my head and climbed from the bed, deciding that I wanted a shower, still smelling slightly like Aubry's from the night before.

As I let the hot water run over me, I began to wonder about what I was going to do with the situation that I was in now. I had promise to try to get information about Sasuke, and once that was done, Gaara would return to his home. Then what would happen? Would he ask me to go back with him, or would he understand that I didn't really want to leave? This was the place were I had grown up. Mostly. Dolly, Weasel and Die all lived close by with their families and I couldn't really leave them.

Not to mention that Salem would probably throw a tantrum as well.

I sighed, shaking my head and feeling slightly irritated at myself. I was worrying about stupid things and I wasn't going to get any answers by doing such a thing. Most likely just making myself sick and giving me wrinkles if I continued. I didn't want either and forced my mind to think of something else as I got out of the shower.

When I had dressed, I walked down to the kitchen, expecting for Salem to be there eating and shrugging when he wasn't. Maybe he had stayed the night at that girls house. He's never liked walking in the dark by himself, and I couldn't say that I really blamed him.

I was preparing to return to my room when I stopped suddenly, realizing that my house was quiet. There was literally no one running through my halls or screaming outside. Meaning that I could maybe get to Weasel without the ninjas following me. It looked like I was going for a walk.

I made my way outside jumping slightly when I found Naruto sitting on my porch and asked him quickly where his friends were. He blinked at me and shrugged.

''They're still training. No one would spar with me, so I came back here.''

I nodded and grinned.

''Well, since they're away, would you like to go with me to Weasel's? If we hurry, we should get there before the others realize that we're even gone.''

Naruto grinned and nodded, jumping up and grabbing my wrist, pulling me down the road. I couldn't really blame him. He had been far more patient than I had ever seen him, having realized that I couldn't go to Weasel with his friends constantly following me and just now having the chance to find out the information that he wanted.

I slowed him down as Dolly's house came in to view, breathing hard and knowing that it would worry him into coming out of the house if he felt as if I was distressed when we walked by...Especially if he felt Naruto's strange chakra going haywire beside me.

Naruto huffed, but slowed none the less, and I pointed towards the house as we passed, speaking as I caught my breath.

''I'm going to stop there on the way back.''

Naruto nodded and looked at the charming house curiously.

''Who lives there?''

I grinned.

''Dolly, of course.''

He studied the house for a moment, a frown coming to his face before he turned back to me.

''I would have thought that he would live in something a little creepier. The last time that I saw him he was living in a cave.''

I laughed and rolled my eyes, stopping myself from reminding him that I had lived in that cave as well at one point. It really wasn't as bad as he seemed to think it was.

''I don't think Rosa would have been happy with living in a cave, whether Dolly had wanted to or not. She's rather more high maintenance than that.''

Naruto laughed and I pointed out Die's house to him as well when we passed, before pointing further down the road to where a large, two story house stood.

''There's Weasel's home.''

I had barely finished speaking before Naruto went full ninja on me and sprinted towards the house, not worrying about what the once prodigy of the Uchiha clan would do when the hyperactive ninja bursted into the yard. I followed a lot slower, not exactly in a rush now that we were so far away from the others, though I still walked faster than I typically would, wanting to see Dolly sooner rather than later.

I got to the door, finding that Naruto had actually managed to wait for me before he had knocked, standing on the porch impatiently and giving me a frown when I finally stopped beside him, causing me to smile before I knocked once.

I heard the loud commotion from inside, children screaming and causing me to chuckle before the door finally opened and a pair of blue and a pair black eyes peeked from around the wood at me. The children that the eyes belonged to screeched and threw themselves at me, nearly knocking me over as they hugged me.

I laughed and patted their heads, Naruto grinning slightly before pretending to huff. Riku and Miku quickly released me and jumped at the older boy, having spent some time with him when he had last visited me and deciding that he was one of their favorite playmates. Unlike they had with me, the twins didn't hold back when they tackled Naruto, instead colliding with his legs and waist, forcing him to tumble off the porch and onto the ground.

I laughed as the blond ninja groaned before glancing back at the door, finding that Weasel had appeared, his shoulder resting against the door-frame as he watched the three rolling around in the dirt, an amused expression on his face.

He looked at me when he realized that I had recognized his presence and motioned for me to follow him before he led me inside.

I left Naruto at the mercy of the twins, knowing that my conversation with Weasel would go smoother if the blond wasn't around to irritate him with questions.

As I walked into the living room I saw Weasel's wife, Dani, on the couch, a small bump forming at her stomach, her swollen feet propped up on a low stool, a book held loosely in her hands.

She looked up at me when she felt my presence and smiled gently.

''Hello, Ria. If I had known you were coming over, I would have had some tea ready for you.''

I smiled back, more than slightly amused at the offer. Tea was the only thing that involved Dani and the stove. She had been trained to be on the battle field or in a hospital, not to cook. Weasel had been the one to plan their meals from the beginning, either making it himself, or going to the market or Aubry's to pick up something already pre-made when he couldn't get the meal just perfect.

I shook my head and waved a dismissive hand.

''That's alright, I'm not really planning on staying long. I really just needed to ask your husband a question anyways.''

Her smile vanished instantly, her expression becoming panicked and she lifted her swollen feet to the ground, preparing to get up from her seat.

''What's wrong? Has something happened?''

I sighed inwardly, having forgotten that Dani liked to jump to the worst case scenario on a good day. But when her hormones were haywire like they were now, she was almost a constant bundle of fretful nerves.

I smiled at her in what I hoped was a comforting way, quickly trying to calm her.

''Nothing's wrong really. I just have a question and I think he might have an answer. If he doesn't, then I'll just go ask Dolly. I've had a lot of company that has needed my constant presence until now and haven't seen him or Niko in a while. So I was planning on making a stop by his house anyways on my way home.''

I shrugged, not telling her about my house full of ninjas, knowing that she would just worry more if she found out and she sighed, relaxing back into the couch again, nodding her head.

''So this has nothing to do with us personally?''

I paused, not really knowing how to answer. It was about Weasel's brother. Did that make it personal?

'' Well...It's nothing bad if it is. Or life threatening.''

She looked at me curiously, not really understanding before she shrugged and nodded, leaning her head against the back of the couch as she closed her eyes.

''Alright. If you don't think that whatever this involves will endanger my family, then I believe you...Go find Itatchi and ask your questions. I think that I'll take a small nap.

I sighed and nodded, leaving her to her nap as I continued to follow the way that Weasel had gone.

She really needed to stop overreacting like that. She would hurt the baby.

I walked into the kitchen, finding that Weasel was staring out the window, watching as Naruto and the twins ran around playing tag, Naruto apparently being 'it'.

I let him continue to watch them play in silence for a few minutes before I spoke, knowing that I didn't really have much time before the other ninjas would get concerned and begin to look for their missing friend.

''Hey, Weasel, I have a question for you.''

He grimaced at his nickname, but replied anyways.

''I think that I might already know what it is, but go ahead and ask me.''

I nodded and shrugged.

''I know that you were keeping track of Sasuke while you were in the Akatsuki, but do you still? Keep track of him I mean?''

He nodded and didn't take his eyes off of his children as they played.

''Yes. I still have a reliable informer who is keeping an eye on Sasuke's activities. He sends me information about him once a month.''

He still didn't look at me and I paused before asking my next question, wondering if he really just didn't want to give me the answers that I needed.

''Can you tell me where he is?''

It was silent for a few seconds before he asked a question of his own, without answering mine.

''Is that why Naruto is here? To find Sasuke?''

I nodded and huffed out a slightly irritated breath.

''Yeah. Him and a few other ninjas that have seemed to take over my house and schedule.''

He chuckled lowly before he turned towards me fully.

''Then I probably need to tell you what I know so that you can get rid of them. Both Deidara and Sasori have complained to me that they haven't been able to visit you because of the visiting ninjas.''

He paused, taking a breath and becoming more serious.

''I don't know Sasuke's exact location, my informer hasn't reported when he was supposed to and I believe that he has been compromised, but I do know that he is heading for Konoha.''

My expression must have shown how confused I was, because Weasel stopped a moment to smirk before he continued.

''Sasuke blames the leaf village for the destruction of our clan. Even though I was the one to carry out the orders, it was the village council that gave me the orders. And since the people follow the council, Sasuke is planning on destroying the entire village. Mainly to cause others to feel the pain and sadness that he has felt for most of his life.''

I took a minute to process his words before speaking again, finding the whole thing ridiculous.

''Your brother needs a friggan girlfriend. Jeez! The boy definitely has too much time on his hands if he's planning on revenge.''

Weasel laughed at my outburst and nodded, glancing back at his laughing children before he spoke again.

''You're right. If he had a girlfriend, and maybe a few kids, there would hardly be time for sleep, much less for revenge. But that's what he has lived on for years; Avenging his clan and the rage that he has kept inside of himself.''

I crossed my arms, still upset.

''Yeah, well he needs a new hobby.''

Weasel smiled at me before turning back towards the window fully. Naruto having been tackled to the ground again, the twins climbing over him as he laid their passively.

I sighed and ran a hand through my tangled hair. It was going to be fun telling Naruto. If they had just waited a bit longer, than Sasuke would have come to them, rather than forcing them to make a trip away from their home. There was no telling if he would even get to the village before they were able to get back.

I thanked Weasel for telling me what I needed to know and after telling him and Dani, goodbye, went outside to tear Naruto away from the twins, telling him what I had learned as we walked back towards my house.

He scowled the whole time, his expression giving his anger and irritation away and I sighed deeply.

Now that he had the information, the ninja's could and needed to leave as quickly as possible. They would need time, if it was possible, to warn the village and prepare for Sasuke and whatever plans he had swirling around his crazy head.

This would also mean that Gaara would have to leave sooner than I had prepared myself for.

I saw Dolly's house come into view and I turned to the still scowling Naruto, making sure that he could find his way back without me. He nodded, his voice not it's typical loud volume as he answered.

''Yeah. And I can make it back faster if I don't have you to slow me down.''

I scoffed at his lame attempt at light heartedness before making a waving motion with my hand.

''Go on then. I'll see you later. Make sure that you tell the others what we found out as soon as possible.''

He smiled halfheartedly and nodded before suddenly running off.

I shook my head as I watched him disappear, smiling slightly as I slowly made my way off the road and down the small path towards the house. As soon as my foot landed on the top step, the door was flung open and I was greeted by familiar gray eyes. I smiled and sighed happily.

''Hi, Dolly.''

I saw the gray eyes soften, and the edges of his mouth turned up slightly.

He opened his arms invitingly and I threw myself into them before I could even think, having missed him more than I had realized until that moment.

He held me like that for a moment, his arms squeezing me tightly before he pulled me inside and to the living room, letting him push me down gently into one of the soft arm chairs as he took his favorite chair across from me, smirking at me knowingly.

''And how are you faring with all of those ninjas that are loitering around your house?''

I huffed with a smile and shook my head. Dolly not wasting time before jumping into his typical routine of always asking his questions from least to most important. I always enjoyed hearing what that first question was going to be, and this one was extremely simple to answer.

''Alright, I suppose. You know that I don't like having so many people in the house, but they aren't exactly underfoot. The are usual training, or arguing with each other, or eating all of the food, or sleeping, Naruto said that was the normal.''

I shrugged and Dolly chuckled at my dry tone.

''I see. Deidara and I actually went to visit you a few days ago, but we felt Naruto's chakra and thought that we had better keep our distance until he was gone. Aubry was the one to tell us that you had more than one ninja staying with you. Which of his friends are you harboring?''

I shrugged and curled my legs under me in the chair.

Second questions were always harder to answer. And you wouldn't think that this would be a difficult question, but with Dolly's past being what it was, it felt like I was allowing the enemy to stay in my home.

''Well there's Naruto's teammates: Sakura, and Sai.''

I saw him frown slightly, knowing that he remembered the girl that had almost killed him rather well before I continued down the list.

''Then there's the siblings from Suna: Temari, Kankuro and...''

I trailed off, not really wanting to mention Gaara, knowing that it would bring up more memories for him and not wanting to answer the questions that came along with them.

But of course Dolly was looking at me expectantly so I finished, though my voice was a bit quieter than it had been before.

''And Suna's Kazekage.''

I stopped and noticed that Dolly had gone very still, his fingers that had been tapping at the chair's arm freezing against the fabric as we sat in silence. I was shifting uncomfortably by the time that Dolly seemed to drag himself out of his daze and cleared his throat, speaking again, though it was almost more to himself than towards me.

''I thought that was him.''

I frowned at him, tilting my head curiously and he answered my question without me having to ask.

''I dropped by Aubry's briefly last night, having had some business that I needed to discuss with him, and when I was leaving I had thought that I saw the Kazekage, though I wasn't for certain until just now.''

I pouted, slightly annoyed with him.

'' You were at Aubry's last night and you didn't come see me?''

He smiled gently and rolled his eyes.

''I saw you a few times when you were talking with Misa or one of the customers upstairs. You looked happy and I didn't want to disturb you. I like to see you enjoying yourself.''

I smiled, never really able to stay mad at Dolly for long. Especially not when he used his typical logic when he explained himself.

Though my smile faded as he began to speak again, knowing that I needed to prepare myself for his next question. The third questions were normally the last on his list of what he wanted to know and were almost always difficult to answer. More often than not things that I would prefer to not tell him.

''The ninjas are here about Itachi's brother.''

This wasn't a question but I nodded anyways, forcing myself to not pace the floor nervously.

''Then I suppose that you have already been to Itachi's to ask him about Sasuke's whereabouts. And of course Itachi would tell you what you wanted to know. That would mean that you told Naruto and he has already ran off to the the others and they will be leaving soon. So my question is: will you go with them? It is obvious that you are fond of them, even if you do pretend to be put out by their presence.''

I winced. As always, question three was brutal and hard to answer. And not for the reasons why he thought. Had I simply befriended the ninjas, I would have had no desire to leave my home, but...there were other complications now.

The problem with his question though, was that I didn't know how to answer it. I didn't know what I wanted myself and sighed as I looked at Dolly, knowing that he was upset despite his emotionless facade. He would not stop me, but he would be unhappy if I decided to leave and I shook my head, sighing deeply.

''I don't know, Dolly. I don't want to leave. I like being this close to everyone. And had a certain...circumstance not happened, I wouldn't even think about leaving. But...it's harder to make a choice now.''

I stopped and sighed, waiting for the 'almost impossible to answer fourth question.' He didn't typically have another hard question after the third, but this was one of the rare times that he had discovered something in my words and had become instantly alert, his eyes watching my expression closely.

''Ria, are you in love with one of them?''

I ducked my head, feeling far more guilty than I had thought that I would and felt a small bubble of rage drift to the surface right afterwards. I didn't need his permission before I fell in love, and I was quick to grasp on to that anger and stare him down as I spoke confidently, my chin tilted up defiantly.

''I did. And Gaara fell in love with me too. Are you going to tell me that there is something wrong with that?''

I was glaring at him, daring him to say something negative with my gaze, but he surprised me by laughing, my surprise increasing as he suddenly walked to me and pulled me into a tight hug, his body leaning over mine, pressing my face into his shoulder.

He was still chuckling as he spoke.

''When have I ever told you when your decisions are wrong, Dearheart? I just don't want you to get hurt. And I have to admit that I'm slightly jealous. I've been the only person that you have told your problems to for so long that sharing that with another person irritates me more than I ever thought that it would. And you will start to share that with him if you continue in this way...eventually.''

I relaxed and pulled back to look up at him, smiling softly.

''I will always come to you with my problems, Dolly. No matter what happens, that's never going to change.''

He smiled and laid a gentle kiss to my forehead.

''Well, that's alright then. As long as I'm still with you and he makes you happy, I'll accept it.''

I laughed and shook my head as he returned to his chair, seeming to be content to sit in silence after his questions, though I suddenly noticed that I hadn't seen the other two occupants of the house.

''Dolly, where's Niko and Rosa?''

He stiffened and I recognized quickly that I shouldn't have asked, his voice far too level to be normal when he answered.

''Rosa has gone shopping and has taken Niko with her.''

I knew he wasn't telling me the entire story and frowned at him.

''Dolly, what's wrong?''

He sighed and leaned back against the cushions, huffing slightly when he spoke.

''I told Rosa that you were coming over when I felt your chakra pass by earlier and she instantly grabbed my child and told me that they were leaving to go shopping.''

He looked at me, his face exasperated.

''I don't understand why she is so jealous of you. She wouldn't even leave the boy here and he had been beyond excited to see you.''

It was my turn to sigh and I sunk into the cushions tiredly.

''She thinks that you love me more than you love her.''

Rosa and I had never been on good terms, not even when she had first arrived. She was extremely jealous of Dolly's time and she saw me as something that took that away from her.

At one point, I had needed help with something at my home, I can't even remember now what it was, but Dolly, Die and Weasel had all three been there to help me.

Rosa had instantly become angry and had claimed that her pregnancy had made her too weak to move. She would cry and beg Dolly not to leave her alone, clinging to him and claiming that she would be unable to get away if something were to happen. Telling him that he would be to blame if something bad happened to her and their child.

Even when Dolly had insisted that everything was safe in the village, she had fallen into a type of hysterics. Which of course could have seriously injured the unborn child that she had been carrying. So Dolly had, unhappily, stayed with her. Catering to whatever need she had.

He had been miserable and at one point I had come over to give him a break, putting my many issues with the woman aside so that he could at least have an hour or two to himself. Even if he wasn't allowed to leave the house. Rosa wouldn't have stood for that, and I truthfully hadn't wanted him to be gone completely either.

Rosa had not been happy to see me, though she had put on an uncaring face when Dolly had explained to her that I would just be there for a few hours so that he could finish up some work without being disturbed. I had been surprised that she hadn't screeched at me the moment he had left the room, but she had managed to wait until it was almost time for me to leave before she had lost her composure. She had begun to yell about how Dolly belonged to her. And that I was wasting both of their time by visiting him and that I should just stay away completely.

Her words hadn't been anything new, Rosa having spit out almost the same lines since she had first met me and I blew it off, not taking what she was saying seriously.

She had noticed my lack of response and had switched to a new tactic, smugly explaining to me that I was just a burden to him. That he would love this baby more than he had ever loved me because I wasn't his flesh and blood but that the baby would be.

So as soon as the baby was born, he was going to start focusing on his 'true' family. Not the adopted one that he had created on a whim. She had said that he would forget about the rest of us and that we were just something to pretend with to pass the time.

By the time that she had finished her rant, I had been so angry that I had been shaking, my palms itching to hit her.

I had had to remind myself that she was still pregnant and that I didn't want to do anything that might have hurt the baby, repeating to myself that he was innocent of all this. I also didn't want to give her the satisfaction of playing the victim.

I could hear in my mind, explaining what had happened to Dolly. Her fake sobbing had made me wince, even in my thoughts.

'She hit me Sasori. She doesn't want me to have this baby. She's just so jealous of your time. Why do you think she wants to be with you all the time? She wants to keep you to herself. She's such a selfish girl. And she acts so much like a boy. You shouldn't have raised her. You should have left her with a woman. Having all of you men in her life, without becoming close to one female so she would know how to behave. It's no wonder that she runs around with boys like that Salem.''

I had forced myself to stop thinking about it after that. Just making myself angrier and I had taken a deep breath, determined to control my temper for the baby's sake.

I had continued taking care of her for the remainder of my 'shift'. Pretending not to hear any of the insults or threats that she had throwing at me.

When the baby had been born, I was afraid that she had been right and that Dolly would forget about me afterwards. I know now that that was stupid, he hadn't went through all of the effort of raising me just to toss me away. But I had still been rather young and unsure of myself at the time.

Once the baby was born, Dolly had come to get me from my house, taking me to a room in the small hospital where Rosa had been laying, holding a bundle of blue cloth. He had walked over to the bedside and taken the baby from Rosa, looking down at it fondly.

I had seen Rosa's smug smile as she had given me a confident look. Though that look had fallen off of her face quickly, her eyes filled with hate as Dolly had laid the bundle in my arms. He had missed her sneer as he spoke to me, having drawn my attention away from her as well as he forced me to focus on him and the newborn in my arms.

''His name is Niko.''

I had looked back down at the baby and studied his face, smiling gently at the pink face creature.

He had been asleep, but I had noticed right away that the only thing that he had seemed to have gained from his mother was her long eyelashes.

I had raised my head to smile at Dolly, speaking quietly so that I wouldn't wake the baby.

''He's adorable.''

Dolly had smiled back and nodded.

''Good, I'm glad that you think that. He's my son, and therefore your brother, though I have a feeling that he will think of you as more of an aunt rather than a sister with such a large age gap. ''

He had turned towards Rosa, the woman having tried hard to cover up her anger at his words, having been unable to speak through her fury.

''You agree do you not, Rosa? That Niko will most likely think of Ria as an aunt rather than his older sister.''

I had seen the confidence that had been left in Rosa's eyes disappear instantly.

Dolly's words making an impact on both of us, just in different ways. He had still considered me as his daughter and was trying to puzzle out how Niko would view me. He was perfectly content to let things stay as they were.

Since that day Rosa had tried her hardest to avoid me.

Now she was pregnant again, and I knew that she was wishing for a girl. Hoping that having a girl would replace me, since having Niko hadn't.

I sighed. Dolly had never been told any of the stuff that had happened between Rosa and I, though I know that he guesses some of it.

He tries now to keep Rosa at a distance from Weasel, Die, Salem and I. She's clingy anyways, but becomes more so when she's around us, Dolly preferring to avoid any situation that had her clutching at him, having always hated that.

He had told Die once that she hadn't acted like that until he had brought her to meet us. Then she became obsessive over having his attention focused solely on her.

Dolly's scoff drew me out of my thoughts and I returned my attention to him.

Of course I love you more than I love her. Salem and Niko as well. You are all three my children. I believe that it is normal for a parent to put his children's lives above their spouse.''

I smiled and shook my head, not knowing if he was right or not, never having heard much about the subject, listening as he continued, his voice thoughtful.

''You know, if I was still in the Akatsuki none of this would be a problem.''

I tilted my head to the side, wondering why that was.

''Why not, Dolly?''

He smirked and relaxed against his chair.

'' Because I could simply kill her without anyone asking any questions. It was easier to dispose of the bodies when I had the help of the organization. Though I would have to wait until the baby is born of course. Even I'm not so cold as to kill my own child.''

He tilted his head and smiled at me, causing me to laugh as I recognized the gesture.

Dolly looked at me questioningly and I explained, still smiling.

''I have the habit of tilting my head to the side when I am listening intently or thinking about something important. And I just realized how funny it looks when I saw you do the same thing a few seconds ago.''

I laughed again and Dolly smiled back at me, commenting about the other traits that I had seemed to pick up from him and my other adopted family members.


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