When you get right down to it, Kurenai is only human. Spoilers for the Immortals Hidan & Kakuzu arc.
Started out as a drabble, grew beyond expectations, and this is what I
ended up with.
Spoilers for the Immortals Hidan & Kakuzu arc.
She was human.
What it all boiled down to, when everything was said and done, she was
She made mistakes. She allowed her mind to wander to dangerous places.
She needed to vent, and he made the perfect scapegoat.
Hell, after all these years, one would thing he was used to it.
She knew it wasn't his fault. No one who knew him, knew of his burden,
blamed him. Genma and Kakashi had been his teammates when they were all
ANBU; Gai was his classmate; Ebisu had been his nephew's instructor for
years, and as such, came into contact with him regularly - there was a
respect there, one born of comradeship, even if they weren't truly
Anko was her classmate, her comrade, her best friend; the one who
helped her cope, who held her at night when she couldn't sleep,
couldn't close her eyes without seeing his face when she told him...
"A family, huh?" He said it with a smile and a twinkle in his eye; she
pretended not to know he was trying - desperately - not to yell out
loud, lest he wake the neighbors.
It wouldn't do to piss people off by waking them up at 4 in the
morning, after all.
Tsunade took her off duty completely, telling her to take her time. She
could take a teaching position at the academy until she had to take
"Guess this means you'll be taking some time off, then, hmmm?" He set
the tea down before her, then took the seat next to her. "That's okay.
We got money saved up; and our teams will make for excellent help...
She could only laugh at the mischievous look on his face.
Her team looked after her, in between missions, and she couldn't help
When did their roles reverse? When did they start taking care of
"I have a mission," he told her, the night before. He had given her
flowers, and a book on child rearing from Ino that had quite the
inscription: Whatever you do, don't let the kid grow up to be a
slacker like his father.
Below that, in Shikamaru's lanky, almost-illegible chicken scratch:
Man, this is making me feel old... damn troublesome women...
Chouji's neat, flowing script, next to a postcard: My mother gave me
this to pass on to you - it's a recipe for healthy cookies that will
also settle your stomach. Enjoy!
Hinata, shy stuttering Hinata, suddenly felt confident to scold her
sensei whenever she felt she was over-exerting herself. Of course, with
Hinata, scolding meant speaking in a normal tone of voice, and
actually looking her in the eyes.
Shino, quiet calm Shino, using his kikaichu to ensure that her
apartment was insect free. Collecting the various bugs and making sure
nothing too big or too annoying would bother her.
And Kiba, brash thoughtless Kiba, stopping by almost everyday to see if
she needed anything, if she wanted something from the store, or needed
something moved, or just to talk about his day, allowing her to run her
fingers through Akamaru's fur, pretending it was just another lazy day
"Really? What kind?" she asked, even though she knew better. Since the
moment they informed Tsunade, he hadn't been given missions that lasted
more than a week; Tsunade's way of helping, she guessed, given her
family history. She almost resented it.
"S-rank. Seek & Destroy."
She paused, her fingers in the middle of flipping the page. "Who?" she
asked, even though she knew she shouldn't. S-rank missions were almost
always Eyes-Only clearance, especially during this time of cold war
between Konoha and Oto.
He told her.
She sees him around the village, sometimes. Usually in the evening,
when she gets up to take a walk around the village - no need to lose
her figure entirely, just because she's pregnant - and whenever she
does, her hands clench, her teeth grind, and it's all she can do to
stop herself from reaching for a kunai she doesn't have.
One word: Akatsuki.
She knows it's not his fault; just as it's not his fault that the
demon came and wrecked the village with the force of (like?) a natural
disaster. It wasn't his fault that their greatest leader decided to
throw his life away, leaving behind a weapon the village refused to
recognize, instead of taking the fox into Hell with him...
"He wanted me to tell you... he was going to buy you roses, when he
And that's all it took; she was down on her knees, sobbing, knowing it
was true, he was dead, her baby was going to grow up without a father
She could barely feel Shikamaru's hand on her back, rubbing gently.
She doesn't want to hate him, not when he flinches whenever she gets
within 50 feet of him - the fox's influence, she supposes; he probably
has a nose like Kiba's - the way he goes /still/, his back
straightened, his movements slow and calm; like he's expecting to make
a run for it, fighting all the way...
She could feel him in the crowd, even through the haze of grief; his
chakra control has slipped it's leash, and though he tries to suppress
it, it buzzes on the edge of her awareness, like a persistent fly.
She can hear Konohamaru crying, trying to muffle the sound; she can
hear him trying to comfort the boy, unable to find the right words and
yet unable to stop trying.
She got the report from Ino directly; the fight against the Akatsuki
duo; his part in Kakuzu's defeat; the way Shikamaru fought with a cold
fury she had never before seen in the lazy genius. The way Chouji's
eyes /burned/, full of hatred and rage; the way Ino could feel her
mindset shift from angry, vengeful teenage girl to kunoichi - that
cold, calm mindset of kill or be killed.
She read Ino's description of how he looked, weary and tired, yet ready
to bring the murdering bastards down.
She stands in front of his tombstone, quiet, simply remembering the
last time she held him, kissed him, loved him.
Shikamaru broke into her thoughts: "I'm going to do my best to be there
for the kid, the same way he was there for me. The way he should have
She looked at him and smiled; the smell of cigarette smoke brought back
memories, good and bad, and she could feel the tears forming at the
corners of her eyes. She turned back to the stone and spoke.
"I'm sure he'd appreciate that."
She knows he's been avoiding her; she catches the slightest glimpse of
orange out of the corner of her eyes, sometimes; but when she looks,
he's long gone.
She saw him only once, after the battle with Hidan and Kakuzu.
He stood before the cenotaph, head bowed, silent. She couldn't tell if
he was speaking or not - she was in his blind spot, downwind of him -
but she could tell: he didn't know she was there.
"I'm going to look after Konohamaru; teach him some of the things Ero-
sennin taught me that Saru-ji taught him. I'm going to get stronger,
and bring the rest of Akatsuki down. I won't let anyone else pay for
the fox's sins.
"I promise you that, Asuma-sensei. No one else."
She couldn't bring herself to walk up next to him. Not then.
He bowed to the stone and left.
She never said a word.
She doesn't want to hate him. What happened to Asuma was not his
fault. She knows this.
Yet she can't stop hating him; and despite the guilt she feels over
it, she doesn't know if she ever will.
notes Saru-ji - yeah, took this from /Bleach/; the way Shunsui refers
I took liberties with the funeral, the fight with Akatsuki, and cannon
in general. Anko is 2.5-3 years younger that Kurenai, in cannon; I
figured she was a bit of a prodigy - not Itachi-level, but good enough
to move up in the class rankings and levels.
This was inspired by a few fics: Before the Storm, by vampirepenguin,
and Closure, by Ryan the Game Master. Go read them. Good readin'.
A few of the fic's I've read seem to have Kurenai not blaming Naruto at
all for Asuma's death. While I can see that, I felt that she would be
a little upset at him.
As the story says: she's human. Humans are irrational. Quick to blame
and anger. She knows it's wrong, she doesn't totally blame him, but she
needs an outlet right now. Maybe one day I'll do a counterpart to this,
Maybe. Don't hold your breath.