A Story of Blood, Sweat, and Tears
A large glob of red chakra leaked out of her hands suddenly and Kushina started. She pulled her hand away before it reached Naruto only to quickly replace it after his wound started to gush again. Another, larger glob came and Kushina let it run into the boy this time. She wasn't even close to be fatigued enough to use the chakra instead of her own, so she quickly figured that Kyuubi was doing this. Odd behaviour but if it wanted to help than she wasn't going to complain.
Oddly enough, Naruto didn't look like he was in pain. The last person whom she had used her red chakra on was left with chakra burns on both his skin and his coils. The blonde's coils seemed to be accepting the chakra a hell of a lot more easily than she could have even dreamed. Sniffing, she blinked the remainder of her tears away and focused on keeping the red chakra limited to the area of the wound, lest he start reacting to it as well.
Ten long minutes passed in which Naruto didn't make a sound. Kushina had to stop administering Kyuubi's chakra once to perform CPR on him as he suddenly stopped breathing. Unfortunately this opened both of his wounds again and she had to double the work to get to them to close. Kyuubi's chakra cut off as suddenly as it started and Kushina felt extremely drained. It required tons more energy to control and focus the raging red energy than her normal chakra did. When she pulled her hands away from the wounds, she saw that the exit wound was scabbed over pretty thickly, and the front was nearing that point. She wished that she could use that diagnostic jutsu that Jiraiya knew to see the state of Naruto's lung, but she'd have to wait until they arrived here.
Lifting her hands away from the blonde he didn't move or immediately die, so she quickly turned around and pulled the roll of gauze out from her pack. She didn't think she had nearly enough, but with the sacrifice of another shirt torn in two, she thought she'd be able to manage.
Naruto gurgled and coughed, scaring Kushina soundly. His eyes fluttered open and he tried to sit up. Kushina almost pushed him back down, but decided that if he was sitting up, it'd be easier to dress the wound. She helped him prop up against the rock wall, careful to position him a bit diagonal from it so his back wound didn't touch the surface.
"Ouch." Was all that he managed to get out. Kushina gave a little laugh that threatened to turn into tears of relief, but she stopped herself. She didn't know why she was getting so weepy over this boy; they had only met a month ago. She finished wrapping his torso up, and even checked the stab wound he had taken when they first met, but was mildly surprised to see that it was just a pink scar. Kyuubi must have healed that as well. She was sure that it would have still been a giant painful scab.
Naruto fell in and out of consciousness as Kushina wrapped him up. He couldn't think about anything other than the feeling of Kushina's gentle fingers occasionally brushing his skin and how much it hurt. He couldn't help but wonder if he would actually survive this, the last time he was injured this bad Kyuubi healed it entirely save for a scar in less than a minute.
When he opened his eyes again, Kushina was trying to eat a mouthful of ration bar with a look of distaste on her face. His tongue and throat felt like they were covered in sand, and the area around his wounds, in addition to hurting felt like someone had rubbed sandpaper all over them.
"W-water." He managed to get out, spitting up a small glob of blood. Kushina seemed a bit startled but quickly handed him her canteen. The water was warm and tasted like the plastic it was held in, but to Naruto it tasted like fresh and cold glacier water and he immediately felt a little better.
Kushina helped hold the canteen as Naruto took a few mouthfuls of water. The fact that he was conscious and asking for water was an immense relief and a great indication for survival, but despite whatever Kyuubi helped with, it had only been four hours and they still had the entire night ahead of them. Kushina watched Naruto drift off again and settled herself in for a long night of no sleep.
The red-headed ANBU blinked and immediately cursed. She could see the first beginnings of light touch the short entrance way to the room she was in, and a few of her candles had burned to the ground. She must have only sleep for an hour or two, but it was still too much. Checking Naruto she was relieved to find he was still alive. He had stopped breathing twice in the night, only starting again when Kushina forced him too. She laid a hand on his head and hissed. His forehead was hot and sweaty with a fever and his face looked strangely pale.
Carefully peeling the piece of shirt that covered the wound on his chest she swore loudly this time. Red angry looking streaks were starting to form around the wound. After checking the back she saw that they were starting to form there as well. Naruto did no more than grunt when she touched them and Kushina fretted. This was very much beyond her knowledge. Sighing in resignation, she resolved her composure and did something she hadn't done in years. Closing her eyes she delved into her mind and took off running down the brightly lit white halls of her mindscape.
Jiraiya used every inch of charm he owned and pity he received at the immigrations office. Minato looking like the walking dead certainly helped his cause. He managed to get a young lady as his desk worker and she didn't even stand a chance. After signing all of the documents and handing in the ones from the yellow envelope, the lady said that she would personally rush these through and he would be free pretty much first thing in the morning, he just needed to stop by here after the placement of the stones and get his pass to leave the village.
Minato would have been impressed if he cared enough to feel anything other than worry. If Jiraiya was right and Naruto was still alive, he swore to whatever gods were listening that he would never let the kid out of his sight again. Ever. If Naruto was conscious, he would have sneezed. Instead he coughed up a clot from his lung.
Jiraiya turned to Minato and said, in an attempt to get his mind off of the younger blonde, "What medical supplies did Kushina have, and what do we have?" Jiraiya knew that his student had obsessively organized and packed for the trip back. Minato looked up at his teacher and the briefly up at the sky. "Kushina has a roll of gauze and a tube of aloe paste. We have 4 rolls between us of gauze, a small bag of blood and soldier pills, and a bottle of aspirin." Minato scrunched his nose up before continuing, "Why didn't we give Kushina more supplies than bandages? What were we thinking?" Jiraiya looked away.
"We both agreed that there was more danger for us if something went wrong." Minato almost gaped when Jiraiya finished but something in his voice suggested that he needed to drop the topic. Not that he was in any mood to listen to his inner voice. "What on earth made you two agree to that?" He said, hands on hips. Jiraiya turned to him and gave him a stern look. "Drop it." Jiraiya said. His voice was completely serious business. Minato pursed his lips but let his hands drop to his sides.
When they made their way back to Beni's house it was past 6 pm. Neither of the pair from Konoha felt hungry, but when they smelled what it was that Beni was cooking, their stomachs gave loud growls. After Jiraiya and Beni both forced Minato to eat, the blonde excused himself to his bedroom. He was intending on sleeping as soon as possible to make time pass quicker. Tomorrow by mid day he would be reunited with Kushina and his brother, alive or dead. His last few thoughts as exhaustion took its dark hold on him was how the bed felt empty without the warm body of a woman with red hair in it. He sighed and gave in to sleep.
Jiraiya ran his hand through his hair as he watched Minato saunter off. The yellow dye was starting to wash out, making him look older with more and more streaks of white showing. Beni slipped her hands down around the front his chest and rested her chin on his shoulder. For a long moment she just embraced him and didn't say anything. Jiraiya was extremely grateful for everything she had done for him.
"Are you sure you don't want to come back to Konoha with me?" The sage said, causing Beni to smile sweetly. She shook her head and kissed his cheek gently. "My place is here, we both know this. Besides, what about all of your other lovers? Surely they would be jealous?" Jiraiya snorted but looked away. He stood up and put his and Minato's bowl in the sink of the kitchen.
"I think the boy has the right idea. I'm exhausted. Care to join me for my last night in Iwagakure?" Beni's laugh tinkled out of her mouth like little bells as she took Jiraiya's outstretched hand.
When Kushina arrived in the large white room that held her prisoner, she was greeted with a snort.
"Kyuubi!" She shouted. Kyuubi's eye snapped open and Kushina wasn't sure, but she thought that it may have rolled towards the ceiling.
"What it is child? I am trying to sleep here." Its voice boomed around the room, but Kushina paid it no mind. She was used to it. "I need your help!" She yelled and the great Kyuubi no Youko reared its head back and laughed.
"About what?" Kushina frowned and put her hands on her hips. She was entering stubborn red-head mode. "You know about what. You sent me some chakra to stop Naruto's bleeding, his wounds are infected and he's almost died twice already. Can you help? At all? Even to just tell me what to do; I don't want to lose this boy!" Kyuubi sighed at the sight of Kushina's tears. No one would ever know it if Kyuubi could help it, but women's tears were a small weakness.
Kyuubi shifted his head back down. It took a lot less effort to speak and be heard by Kushina than it did to Naruto earlier. It wasn't sure why, but it probably had to do with the way it had been sealed into Kushina, versus how it had been sealed into Naruto. Sighing again Kyuubi said in its great booming voice, "I may have closed his outer wounds enough that he wouldn't die from blood loss, but I could do nothing for his lung. He is not you, I cannot heal him. My chakra is poison to him. You say he has an infection? Clean his wounds and I will reseal them if you wish. It will be bloody and painful for him. Try to keep him cool. If you have anything to keep the wound sanitized it will help prevent further infection, but he needs real help." Kushina felt downtrodden. She clenched her fist and nodded. "Ok, I can try that at least. Take me back please." The red-head blinked and she was back sitting in front of the blonde. Every few seconds the boy would shiver and Kushina felt lost all over again.
"Oh Naruto-kun, please, you can hold on for a day or two more. Sensei will know what to do!" She said, almost pleading to the blonde's deaf ears. Peeling back the blood soaked shirt that was pressed against his chest, she pulled the bandage away and pushed it down so she could see the whole area. Red streaks made their way down almost to his navel, and up to his clavicle. Fetching her sharpest and sleekest kunai, she heated it up a bit with a fire jutsu and waited until it was cool enough to touch. Absentmindedly she thanked herself for not feeling faint around blood.
As soon as the knife touched his skin Naruto seemed to be in distress. He wasn't conscious enough to be screaming, but he certainly seemed to be trying. Kushina had to hold in tears as she continued to cut the scab off and wash the exposed puss off with water from the canteen. She found her aloe paste at the bottom of her bag and slathered that around the wound before Kyuubi started giving her chakra to close it up. Wiping her forehead she grit her teeth and started on the other side.
When everything was said and done, Kushina wrapped him back up with a third shirt sacrificed for the greater good and lay him down on his side. She checked to make sure he was breathing as well as he could before making the short trip to the top of the tunnel. As soon as the cooler air hit her face she bent over and retched. Wiping her mouth she continued out to check that the alerting wards she had placed the previous night during a calmer period were still intact before using a jutsu to pull cold water out of the air and plants and filled her canteen. Taking another deep breath of fresh air she made her way back into the cave and tried to follow Kyuubi's advice and keep Naruto cool with a ripped up pair of pants this time soaked in water. It was barely evening, and Kushina was starting to have doubts about her own abilities to keep the boy alive. Not that'd she give up of course; it just didn't help with the amount of tears she had been shedding.
The procession for 'Naoki', 'Kaori', and the child that Jiraiya had named 'Kosuke' for the purposes of a head stone was small and quiet. Only Minato, who was an absolute mess, Jiraiya, Beni, Naruto's boss from the ramen stand, and the midwife that "helped" deliver the baby were in attendance. The funeral attendant said some words before placing 'Kaori' and 'Kosuke's' stones, and in addition to words for 'Naoki', he placed medal attached to a brightly coloured circle of ribbon around the stone so it circled the base.
When it was finished, Jiraiya got a few pats from the Ramen chef and a hug from the midwife before they both departed. Minato's eyes looked hollow. He was still in the mindset that Naruto was dead and this might as well be the first of two processions he'd have to go to. Minato led the way back to Beni's house to pick up their stuff so that they could go. Jiraiya could see that although he looked downtrodden and depressed, the blonde wanted to get there as fast as possible. He hated himself for not giving Kushina one of the seals for the technique he'd been working on. He'd used hiraishin successfully when he rescued her before, but he had never tried going farther than a kilometre. He didn't want to risk not having enough chakra and leaving an arm behind or something.
Sighing irritably as he had to walk at a normal pace as they got their things, stopped by the immigrations office where the young lady from the previous day had lived up to her promise and had passes ready for them. Jiraiya stopped to talk to the guards on the way out, as one of them was the same guard from when they first came, and after bidding adieu, they had to walk painfully slow until they were out of range of chakra sensing. It was then that they suddenly jumped, landing on the tree tops and using as much chakra as they could without ripping their leg muscles to shreds headed for the rendezvous point.
Kushina paused in her action of wiping more sweat off Naruto's forehead. He still had a fever but it wasn't as bad as yesterday. Cleaning out the wounds seemed to have helped a little. She only had to resuscitate him once during the night. Looking at the ceiling a small tag of paper was glowing blue and she dropped the wet piece of pant back onto Naruto's forehead and was up and out of the cave in a flash.
As soon as she saw Minato's blonde mop of hair she started openly weeping. Jiraiya rushed past her into the cave and Minato stopped in front of her. She was covered in blood and Minato tried to ignore it as he enveloped her in a hug. He figured Jiraiya'd be able to help Naruto better than he could if he was alive, and would be able to soften it for him if he was dead. Kushina kept crying into his chest and he feared the worst. He didn't know that her tears were tears of relief and if he had bothered to look at her face he'd see that she was smiling.
"Minato!" Jiraiya called from the cave and Minato let Kushina go gently. He scrambled down the short walkway to the small room and was taken aback by the smell of death and sickness. However it was all forgotten when he saw his little brother looking like he was in a great amount of pain, but very much alive. Kneeling down beside him, he didn't know what to do, so he just took the rag shakily out of Jiraiya's hand and started dampening his forehead. Jiraiya had already started digging the blood and soldier pills out of his bag. Popping one of each in Naruto's mouth and massaging his throat so he'd swallow them, he sat back and said, "That should do for now. We need to move him out into the open. I'm going to summon a toad." Minato nodded and gingerly picked up Naruto, who groaned whenever jostled. Bringing him out into the open where Kushina was hurriedly wiping her tears he turned to Jiraiya who bit his thumb.
"Summoning Jutsu!" He called, slamming his hand down on the ground. A toad the size of a small dog appeared and gave the party a dubious look before facing Jiraiya.
"Gamakoto I need you to take Naruto to the hospital in Konoha. He needs immediate medical care. You'll be taking Kushina as well." Minato started to protest but stopped when the toad nodded and lashed his tongue out, gently prying the younger blonde from his brother's arms. Kushina quickly turned to him and said, "I'll take care of him, I promise! I'll even-" she was cut off as a tongue wrapped around her waist and she was promptly swallowed whole. The toad licked his lips and nodded before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
Minato was just about ready to blow his lid and have the hissy fit of the century when Jiraiya cut him off and said, "Don't be stupid. Kushina is supposed to dead. We still need to be seen leaving the border of Tsuchi Kuni. We'll be back in a week and Naruto will probably be up and running by then." Minato's face reddened with a mixture of anger and embarrassment but he knew his teacher was right. He was immensely relieved that his brother was alive, and he focused himself on getting home as fast as possibly to support his brother's recovery.
A hawk landed on the windowsill of a sparsely decorated room. It nattered back and forth until a hand reached out to give it a piece of meat. The hawk took it happily and didn't even ruffle a feather as the same hand untied the scroll around its leg. The hawk was soon forgotten as the owner of the hand saw that the letter looked like a large block of unusual looking symbols. To anyone else the symbols would have been nonsense, but to the figure they were a code that symbolized something he had been hoping to hear about. It took a few minutes to decipher it in his head, but when he did he grinned widely. He moved the letter to the candle that constantly burned on his desk and let the paper catch on fire. He watched as it was reduced to ash and sat down, composing his own letter using identical symbols. Everything was going as planned.
End Chapter 13
And the Iwa arc is pretty much finished! I dont want to get your hopes up for updates like this all the time. i had re written this arc over and over so it was pretty much finished when I started it and all I had to do was find time to write it out. I dont have the next arc done in such detail so dont expect another chapter as soon as these have been. Sorry, but thanks for all the support i've been getting! it's really nice!