Stand By Me - Chapter 22 - heartsns (2024)

Chapter Text

The darkness was surrounding her, the only light was from the glow of the heated, bubbling lava all around the cavern. She stood within the centre of the lake of molten lava, yet she felt no flame or heat.

The roars of the beast echoed and bounced off the cave walls, ringing in her ears and the noise was so intense, she was surprised that it didn’t painfully pierce into her ears. She glanced around the cave, seeking the dragon who’s roars sounded painful, lonely and as if in despair.

Konan gasped when she looked down at her own body, finding it covered in a white flowing gown, covered in blotches of red blood. Holding up her hands, she could see them drenched with dripping blood, from her arms, her fingers, but as she turned her limbs about, she found no signs of wounds.

“Where is this from?” she asked herself, barely hearing her voice through the continuous wails and roars that filled the cavern. A glimmer of light caught her eye and she turned to see the familiar tall glass, bright, glowing, a picture of harmony on the other side of the mirror. “The mirror!” she exclaimed, remembering her previous vision of the blond boy on the other side. But this time there was no one on the other side, just a calm peaceful aura emanating from it, as if beckoning the looker towards it.

The sounds of thrashing and falling of rock caused her to look in another direction, her eyes wide at the sight. “Dragon…” she whispered, seeing the beast, thrashing its tail against the side walls of the lava lake. The dragon appeared to be in distress, long tendrils of purple mist wrapped around its mutilated body, in various areas, trying to keep the dragon from getting out of the molten heavy lava that clung to its skin. The dragon fought, using its teeth to grip onto the rock floor, trying to pull itself onto solid ground, but the purple mist was just as resilient, keeping a firm grip anywhere it touched on the dragon’s body.

Konan found herself suddenly running, feeling a strange pull that she couldn’t explain. She leaped over the areas where the lava pooled and bubbled, but her eyes never left the scene of the dragon who continued to fight – continued to struggle to live. Blood and puss poured from the sores on the end of its feet where its talons used to be, therefore the beast had no leverage to pull itself up. Where wings most likely proudly stood, was nothing but black bloody stumps. She felt sick, remembering this vision from before, but she was compelled to get herself closer, as if there was something she could do.

She fell to her knees when the gap between herself and the dragon became too large, the rock crumbling away, as if wanting to keep her away from the beast. She screamed in agony, feeling the frustrations emerge from her core, tears sprang from her eyes and she reached into the air, her fingers grasping as if she could pull the beast to safety.

The tug was immediate, the weightlessness was surprising, yet Konan managed to keep her focus steady when a bright white beam emerged from her body, travelled down her arms, shot out and surrounded the dragon in a soft light. She held herself steady, watching the lava and purple tendrils shrink away as if burned by the white light. The heat she felt emanating from her body felt as if she was embracing a loving warmth and expressing it towards the beast. She watched in awe as the light began to lift the dragon from the confines of the lava and purple mist, allowing the dragon to escape its clutches.

A pulsing beat, sounding like a heartbeat began to vibrate through the cavern, coming from the tall and massive rectangular mirror. Konan felt the vibrations pushing through her body, creating a strong pull for her to go towards it. The dragon apparently felt it as well, as it began to slowly crawl towards the reflective glass, still surrounded by the soft white light still coming from her body.

Konan pulled herself up to her feet, the pull helping her steady herself, as she began to stumble towards the reflective glass. The soothing heat coming from the mirror was welcoming, calming and the urge to throw herself into it was overwhelming.

Konan woke with a gasp, her eyes fluttering and stinging at the same time from the sunlight that was in the tent. The sound of an explosion and men hollering and screaming woke her from the dream that was still flashing in her mind.

Her arms were heavy and sore from being chained to the pole in the middle of Orochimaru’s tent. She hissed as she adjusted her body, the aches stabbing through her muscles that had been stuck in an uncomfortable position for hours as she slept.

Her vision fluttered through her mind, she took deep breaths, running through the vision. Tears flowed from her eyes as she thought about Yahiko, Nagato… her only family, how Orochimaro made it clear that their souls were no longer of this earth, taken by a Shinigami. How long has it been? How long has Orochimaru been lying to her? Konan’s heart pierced in pain at the grief that enveloped her suddenly. Her fists clenched, the chains on her wrists rattled when her arms shook uncontrollably. Her bottom lip bled from her biting it hard, when the reality of Nagato’s and Yahiko’s deaths hit her. The heat of her grief began to envelope her, building up in her core and spilled throughout her veins. The fire began to rage at the knowledge of knowing her only family was gone, their souls ripped from them, and visions of how their lives may have been ripped from them began to filter through her mind.

The tent walls were hit with a sudden blast of wind, whipping the fabric up and around. Konan screamed as the fabrics ripped and pulled at the main centre pole, causing the thick wooden beam to give an ominous crack before starting to fall. Konan screamed again as she pulled hard on the chains, her fear trying to get her to move away from the obvious danger.

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Kushina gasped and dropped to the ground when the blast had crossed the land. She covered her head tightly as the terrifying explosion blew past her. She could feel pieces of the land stinging against her arms and body. She struggled not to scream, not knowing where the blast had come from or how long it would last.

The gale force winds continued to whip through her hair, but they didn’t seem to let up. She could hear the screams and cries of war from the various men on the field, and she wondered what could be causing the sudden storm. The fierce roar of the dragon was now in the wind and Kushina trembled from the sound. Clenching her teeth tight, she told herself to be strong, courageous and she thought of Konan. Where was she? Was she alright? Orochimaru had to have taken her back to his holding. She needed to find that girl. She was young, alone and so frightened. She pounded her fists into the ground and decided to get up. She wasn’t afraid! No, she was terrified, but she wouldn’t stay here huddled on the ground waiting for something to get her.

She pushed herself up, covering her face with her arms and squinted through the swirling vortex of winds. Knowing which way was towards Orochimaru’s camp, she pushed her body through the debris the winds were tossing about. She cringed slightly when she began to come across various bodies on the ground, and avoided any of the shadowed forms of men that were fighting.

Konan screamed in agony as she struggled to slide her chains off the massive support pole. The heavy canvas was being tossed about by the winds, ripping and causing stings of pain across her skin. Her legs were littered with cuts from the flying broken pieces of debris. Yet she screamed and tugged at her chains, trying to get them to move down the heavy and thick wooden beam.

“Konan!” a woman’s cry screamed through the wind. The young girl squinted through the debris flying around her. Hair whipped into her face, causing stings of pain and she struggled to listen through the thunderous winds. “Konan!” the voice cried out again and Konan looked towards the sound.

Kushina struggled through the blowing winds, pushing her way through the best she could through the carnage at her feet. She caught sight of the young girl's hair blowing in the wind and her heart sped up in fear. She felt some small relief when she saw the young girl, but she gasped when she realised that Konan was trapped within the large tent. “I’m coming! I’m coming!” she called out, tripping over the various articles that had been tossed about by the wind.

Konan felt the tears streaming down her face when she saw the Uzumaki queen pushing her way towards her. “I’m trapped!” she screamed out, shaking and pulling at the shackles again.

Kushina fell to her knees and grabbed the young girl in her arms, grasping her tightly. “Thank the gods you’re okay,” she cried into Konan’s hair. “I’m going to get you out of here,” she finished, pulling the girl away to look into fear-filled eyes.

“But I’m trapped!” Konan shook her shackles again.

Kushina looked at Konan’s hands. “sh*t,” she cursed, looking around her, trying to find something that could get the young girl free. She looked down the length of the huge wooden mast pole, seeing how it cracked and came dislodged, almost, from the ground it was pounded into. “Hold on,” she called out and got up to her feet, her hands flat on the large wooden beam.

Kushina managed to look around the area, littered with a host of items that were in Orochimaru’s tent. She stumbled towards a tipped over chest, kicking at the lid that was slightly ajar. “Perfect,” she whispered, seeing a variety of weapons that must have been in or around Orochimaru’s tent. Grabbing a large claymore sword, she dragged it over to where Konan was trapped. “Try and pull back as far as you can!” she screamed through the wind.

Konan bit her lip and pulled on the heavy chains, pulling them taunt against the wooden beam.

“ARHHH!” Kushina screamed as she lifted the heavy claymore sword up over her head and slammed it hard down as hard as she could onto the chains. The vibrations shook up through her arms, causing Kushina to cry out in agony. She fell to the side, clutching her forearms from the pain.

“It worked!” Konan cried out, crawling towards the fallen queen. “Majesty! It worked!” she continued to cry out while grabbing Kushina.

Kushina breathed out a sigh of relief, seeing the broken chains dangling from Konan’s wrists. But this was no time for celebration. “Good, I’m so glad, let’s get out of here,” she called out breathlessly after quickly giving Konan a firm hug. She struggled to her feet, pulling Konan with her. When Kushina got a firm arm around Konan’s waist, the two stumbled between the debris and pushed their way through the swirling winds.

The two women didn’t get far when suddenly the treacherous winds suddenly stopped, and the sounds of lightning crackled through the air. Kushina and Konan stopped, looking towards the thunderous sounds and both shivered, feeling electricity raise the hair on their bodies.

“What’s happening?” Konan whispered, peering through the dust and smoke, trying to see.

Blinding flashes of lights in the distance had both women gasping in surprise and turning their heads with their eyes closed from the sudden blinding light. Both women shrieked in surprise and dropped to their knees, covering their heads when the sounds of something large and heavy shook the ground. When no more sounds came, Kushina looked up slowly, holding Konan’s head into her neck.

“Just wait,” Kushina whispered to Konan. Kushina held her breath, trying not to breathe too loud, straining to listen. The sounds of broken debris was falling to the ground, no longer being tossed about by the winds. Wails and moans of injured men floated through the air and Kushina twisted her head about to assess what was going on.

Konan shivered in Kushina’s grasp and she released a sudden gasp that had her jerking her head up. “I–I feel it,” she whispered.

Kushina looked down at the young girl. “What is it?” Kushina eyed the young girls face, which was littered with small cuts. She frowned when she observed Konan’s glazed over eyes staring blankly into the sky. “Talk to me little one, what’s happening?” Her hands gently held onto Konan’s head, her one hand running over wild purple hair.

Konan said nothing, as if she didn’t hear anything. Her head turned to the side, her eyes still glazed over, she quickly stood, swaying slightly as she found her footing.

Kushina quickly stood beside her, holding Konan’s arm and trying to see into the young girl's eyes. She knew that Konan was a necromancer, but a young one, with little experience. The only experience Konan had was being at Orochimaru’s beck and call for several years.

Konan’s head twitched from side to side, with quick snaps, before Konan began to take steps, heading forward, and Kushina followed. There was no way that Kushina was going to let Konan leave her sight, she would keep the girl safe any way she could.

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Sasuke blinked and rubbed his face, trying to get the dust, mud and debris off his face. The object that had appeared and dropped from the sky was a few yards before him, gleaming from the sun’s rays that peeked through the low hanging clouds. There was a strange silence in the air, only the moans and wails of injured men around him were floating in the air. The sound of the dragon, the lightning and gale force winds were no longer. A part of him wanted to investigate the strange object, not remembering where he was and what had just transpired only moments ago.

“I-Itachi,” a voice whispered.

Sasuke quickly looked down, feeling Haku beginning to stir. He quickly shifted, adjusting Haku so he could see his tattered veil. “Haku, Haku, are you —”

A groan was his answer before Haku’s hand came up to his veil and whispered, “Itachi?”

“No, no, it’s me, Sasuke. But Itachi…” Sasuke trailed off and looked over to where he last saw Kakashi holding Itachi. He breathed out a short sigh of relief seeing Kakashi still cradling his anki, but he too was looking at the object. “f*ck, Itachi!” Sasuke nearly screamed, recalling the blood, the injury. Itachi needed a healer, now!

“Haku, Haku, we–we have to go,” Sasuke whispered, trying to assist Haku to sit up. He didn’t want to rush him, but the fear of Itachi dying was quickly rising.

An ear piercing roar vibrated through the air that had Sasuke ducking his head and covering his ears quickly. Haku screamed and curled into a ball, covering his ears. Sasuke could feel the waves of the vibrations licking across his skin. He recognized the sound, the cries and roars of the dragon in the distance. “Haku, hurry, we need to —”

The ground rumbled, the familiar shake of something large, heavy, hitting the ground and Sasuke knew that the dragon had stood and was walking. He managed to glance in the direction where the dragon had fallen. A huge shadow approached, pushing through the dust in the air, crushing anything in its path under its large legs and feet.

He didn’t know how he did it, but Sasuke managed to get himself and Haku up from the ground, limping away from where the dragon was going, towards them. The deafening roars echoed through the air once more, and men screamed and scattered about. His eyes scanned the field, seeking Kakashi and his aniki.

“Sasuke-sama! Run!”

It was Kakashi, and Sasuke mentally breathed a sigh of relief seeing the silver haired knight carrying his aniki’s body close to his own. Kakashi struggled to carry Itachi over the mounds of debris and bodies of knights, but he pushed through.

“Itachi!” Haku cried out, twisting away from Sasuke and dashing towards Kakashi.

The dragon’s piercing roars continued to echo through the air, men screaming and Sasuke could hear the sounds of death from those that stood in the path of the dragon. When sounds of crashing, fire being released, then did Sasuke stop and stare at the sight.

The dragon’s head whipped about, fire escaping its muzzle aimlessly while it wailed with its piercing roar. Its tail whipped about, smashing anything in its path, including knights. It lifted its battered and bruised body onto its hind legs and stamped its front legs hard into the ground with each roar and spew of fire.

Dragon wings that were torn and shredded, stretched out into the air, but the dragon could not fly. It roared and spread fire once more and Sasuke swore that he could hear pain in the yowl. The dragon whipped its head around, spreading fire in its wake, it began to walk towards the massive mirror.

Deep coloured purple mist swirled around the dragon’s neck and head, the dragon continued to release flames while whipping its head around.

“Is it still spellbound?” Sasuke whispered to himself while watching the dragon’s behaviour. It was obvious it was heading towards the large rectangular mirror object that fell from the sky, but it also appeared to look as if it was trying to fight off bothersome insects. Just like horses do when in the fields.

“Sasuke-sama!”

Sasuke turned his head, hearing Kakashi’s voice. He could see Kakashi standing several yards from him, still cradling his aniki and Haku was by his side. Shaking his head clear, he turned away from the chaos the dragon was creating and sprinted towards Kakashi.

Sasuke stumbled when the ground suddenly trembled with a loud boom and a shock wave rammed his back. The dragon howled after the sound before another loud boom occurred. Quickly looking behind him, the dragon waved its head about, and slammed into something that wasn’t there. But there was something, everytime the dragon’s head slammed into the air towards the mirror, a spark of purple sparks appeared. It was as if there was an invisible force field holding the dragon back. Entranced, Sasuke stared at the sight before he heard Haku’s cry.

Sasuke rushed to where Kakashi had stopped with Itachi, Haku hovering over Itachi’s broken body. Sliding to his knees, he saw Haku cradling Itachi’s head, crying, whimpering while the roars and explosions of the dragon’s body crashed into the force field a few metres away.

“Kakashi, what?” Sasuke asked the knight, his eyes between Kakashi and Itachi.

“It’s not looking good, he needs a healer fast,” Kakashi explained. “We need move—”

“Wait,” Haku hissed and grabbed Kakashi’s sleeve.

“Haku, no we need to —” Sasuke started but his sentence trailed off. A bright white glow was emanating from Haku’s hands directly over Itachi’s chest. The sounds of the wailing dragon and cracks of the dragon slamming its body were ignored as Sasuke assessed what Haku was doing. Startled, he grabbed Haku’s shoulder, “what are you doing?” he demanded.

“T-the bleeding, I can stop it,” Haku explained in an exasperated breath. “J-just wait.”

Sasuke then felt a chilled feeling against the skin of his face. He blinked at the sensation, and the glowing stopped suddenly as it had appeared. Looking at his aniki’s chest, he saw the gleam of ice and frost gathered in the centre of Itachi’s chest. “What the hell?” he whispered. Of course he had no notion that Haku had any type of magic. If Haku was a wielder of magic, should he be worried about the type of magic Haku practised? Did Itachi know?

“It won’t last long, but should until you can find a healer,” Haku explained while slumping his shoulders. He was panting heavily, as if his strength had left him. He lowered his head and rested his hands on his lap.

“We need to get out of here, the dragon…” Sasuke looked over to where the dragon continued to slam against an invisible barrier.

“I–I know what it needs,” Haku breathed out between pants.

Kakashi now looked at the small man. “What do you mean?”

“The dragon, it–it needs a guide,” Haku said firmly, looking up at both Kakashi and Sasuke.

“What? A guide? To what?” Sasuke asked quickly, grabbing Haku’s shoulder to help him while Haku tried to stand up.

Haku turned towards the chaotic scene. The dragon continued to wail, spewing fire in all directions, its tail and head slamming against an invisible wall. Purple mist spread around it, trailing into the air like smoke from a fire.

The mirror cracked from side to side,” Haku whispered to himself. “The door to another realm opens wide.” He took a step forward. “Shards raining upon the ground, with a soft, tinkling sound.” Haku clasped his hands together at his chest, his eyes staring up at the large beast.

“What are you saying? Haku!” Sasuke hissed.

Haku turned towards the young prince, his eyes filled with sorrow. “I know what to do,” he whispered. He then looked down to Itachi, who lay with Kakashi, his chest encased in ice, tears fell from his eyes. “I’m sorry love, I–I wanted to so much to be with you.”

Sasuke stepped up to the small brunette. “What the f*ck are you talking about? What do you mean? Guide? Knowing what to do?”

Haku looked up to Sasuke’s once more. “The portal.” Haku nodded his head towards the dragon. “It’s the way home for him. He doesn’t belong here.” He then dropped to his knees, placing his lips upon Itachi’s forehead and sobbing quietly.

Sasuke glanced over to where the dragon continued to rage. The mirror, just out of its reach. The thoughts came rushing back to him in an instant.

The old woman singing the song of dragons… Conversing with Konan about the song and leading the dragon home… astral planes existing… being trapped — Naruto…

“The dragon, the mirror, the gateway through the mirror…” Sasuke whispered, everything was starting to come together. He glanced at Haku, who’s tears fell upon his brother’s face. “Haku, what is it you plan to do?”

Haku placed another soft kiss upon Itachi’s forehead before standing once more. “It is up to me, to lead the dragon back, to where it belongs.” He pinched his lips together. “I have been training all my life for such a task.” He hugged himself. “I will do it, to save all of you.” He began to walk towards where the dragon continued to rage.

Sasuke grabbed Haku’s arm to stop him. “You can’t! It has to be a fair maiden! If you try, you’ll be killed! And I’m not going to let that happen!”

Haku bit his lip, looking away from the young prince. “You don’t understand, I-I…” He looked away.

“Don’t understand what!” Sasuke glared at the smaller man. “Hurry up and tell me! I might be able to help you!”

“I-I…” Haku’s lips trembled. “I am of fair maiden and a man.” He stepped back away from the young prince.

A slight moan had both looking towards Itachi on Kakashi’s lap.

“Majesty!” Haku cried out, falling to his knees once more, placing his hands on Itachi’s cheeks. “Save your strength my lord,” he cried softly.

“H-Haku love, wh–” Itachi coughed.

“Niisan, don’t talk! Kakashi will get you to a healer! Kakashi, get going, now!” Sasuke barked at the grey haired man.

“N-no, wait,” Itachi whispered, his hand touching Haku’s cheeks. “Are you hurt?”

Haku shook his head quickly, tears streaming. “You must go, my magic can only last so long… I will always love you my lord,” he whispered quickly, bottom lip trembling as he grasped Itachi’s hand, kissing his fingers gently.

Haku suddenly jumped up and sprinted towards the dragon.

“Haku! No!” Sasuke yelled.

“What’s happening otouto?” Itachi groaned as he tried to turn his head to see where Haku went.

“Stupid stupid stupid!” Sasuke snapped. “He said something about how he had the ability to lead the dragon away!”

“W-what?... does that mean?”

“Majesty, enough talk, I must get you—” Kakashi began.

“No! What does that mean!” Itachi snapped, his eyes looking between Sasuke and Kakashi. “I’m not going anywhere until someone explains!”

The wails and roars of the dragon echoed around them, an explosion of flames and sounds vibrated through the ground.

Sasuke turned to look down at his aniki, shaking his head. “Haku is gone to dispel the dragon and in doing so, he will disappear into another realm, forever.”

Stand By Me - Chapter 22 - heartsns (2024)

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