We are free to choose our paths, but we can't choose the consequences that come with them.
~Sean Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens
When morning comes and the sun starts rising higher into the sky, Reo expects Kaiya to wake and go through her little morning routine before heading over to the medical tent. The three of them have always risen before her, and today is the same. Youta watches over her but when both he and Kaiya fail to emerge in a timely manner, Reo and Kouki head back.
They find Youta staring at a sleeping Kaiya, concern written on his face. He glances over at them as they arrive and gestures to the girl.
“She won’t wake up.”
Reo is instantly more alert. “What do you mean?”
Youta gestured at her again. “When it started getting late, I tried to rouse her by speaking up. When that failed, I gently shook her shoulder, then more insistently when she wouldn’t wake. I even sprinkled some water on her face. Nothing worked.”
Kouki glanced at him and went over to her when he nodded. Kneeling, Kouki’s hands glowed green as he checked on her health. He soon pulled his hands back and shook his head.
“I can’t see anything wrong with her.”
Reo went over and tapped the side of her face, telling her to get up. She didn’t so much as sigh or flutter her eyelids.
He ends up taking her to the quarantined medical tent because that’s where the head medic-nin has been confined. He doesn’t waste time telling Reo that he told them so, but he takes a look at the girl anyway. It’s a few tense moments as Reo waits for the diagnosis, but when the medic-nin looks back at him, he’s not prepared. The man is grim.
“As far as I can tell, she’s in a coma.”
He doesn’t know why, and even after Reo fills him in on what happened to them en route to here, there doesn’t seem to be a cause for Kaiya’s current state. The medic-nin doesn’t know when or if Kaiya will wake up at all. Even her insects are less active, barely buzzing when Kaiya was shaken and then carried.
Leaving Kaiya in the medic-nin’s hands, Reo leaves the tent to deliver the bad news to his teammates. They brainstorm but can’t figure out what might have sent Kaiya into a coma. They suspect the time period that they are all missing, but since they have no memory of it, they can’t pinpoint any cause. All they can do is send out a message to the Hokage, Amano, and Youta reminds him that Kaiya has a father.
After that, all they can do is wait and hope.
(using another squad, Shin sends the kikaichu venom to the next camp with instructions on which is which, and he can only hope that it will help prolong the lives of the infected, perhaps even cure them as the Aburame girl said they would, but there’s no guarantee)
The message reaches Teijo before either Amano or the Hokage. He burns the message after reading it and secludes himself away more than usual, or at least as much as he can, being confined to camp as per protocol.
Standing in the forest just a couple dozen feet away from the edge of camp, Teijo stares at the forest with his hands in his large pockets. His kikaichu scuttle over his hands, a comforting sensation he barely registers.
His only daughter is in a coma for reasons unknown, and neither is it known when she will wake up.
He wants to leave, to go to her side, but he can’t. Or rather, he could, but duty demands that he remains at his post.
Again, he wishes that he’d just left Kaiya back in the village. Even if she hadn’t been particularly well looked after, at least neglect and possibly going hungry at times would have been better than all she had endured since the first night raid in the last camp.
Holding back a heavy sigh, Teijo pulled his kikaichu back and pulled out a tiny scroll on which he wrote an update to Shibi-sama. It wasn’t long before a small swarm of his kikaichu took it and disappeared in the direction of Konoha.
He remained standing there for quite a long while, thinking of his only child.
When you wake up, it feels stuffy, and there’s a heavy tang of iron in the air. Groaning from how stiff you feel, you blindly reach out in search of your sunglasses. When you can’t find them, you squint your eyes open to look around, and you’re unpleasantly surprised to find yourself in the quarantined medical tent. Giving up, you flop back down and grunt from how firm the matt is.
The noise attracts someone’s attention, and soon you find yourself groggily answering questions from the head medic-nin, whose name you finally learn is Shin. It feels a little silly not to have learned that earlier, especially since it was so easy to remember. The slight humor you find in the situation quickly dissipates though, when he asks you to open your eyes.
You scowl and only do so reluctantly since you don’t like strangers being able to stare into your eyes. Thankfully his examination of them doesn’t take long and you gratefully shut them again. As far as Shin can tell, you seem perfectly fine. You ask him what happened.
(your old memories don’t contradict him)
Satisfied that you’re fine, he leaves to have Reo informed of your awakening. You sit there mystified by why you’d gone into a coma. Also, why was it called a coma if you were asleep for just two days?
It isn’t long before Reo arrives, and he hands over your sunglasses. Donning them, you open your eyes to look at him. He looks the same as usual, but maybe his posture seems relieved that you’re awake? You’re not sure, but you assume he is, if only because you can get back to healing people.
You ask if anyone died while you were out, and he shakes his head. You’re pleased that your stopgap treatment has worked.
(and so, so relieved that you woke up before the other Three carriers crawled out of your skin to inflict their payloads on the camp)
It takes a few hours before Reo and Shin will let you get back to the original mission. They don’t want you to knock yourself back into a coma while you just want to get this mission over with so you can get back to Father. They only relent after you do your business, give yourself a full body wash and eat a full meal. You feel much better and more human after that, so you suppose their reluctance did have some use. Still, you’re glad to be back on task.
(glad to not have to think about how you lost two days, almost two and a half, glad to not have to think about how scared you are of your own weakness because anything could have happened while you slept and you would have been completely helpless)
You don’t get to work yourself too hard, much to your annoyance. You have to take breaks and while normally you’d be glad to have them, they just irritate you right now because every break is more time before you can see Father again. You are anxious about it because the war didn’t end while you were in a coma. It’s still raging, and you want to be close to him. He isn’t a legend, but there’s just something about being closer to Father that makes you feel better, safer almost.
Sulking in the shade of a tent with the Yamanaka sitting nearby (you’re rarely alone anymore, just another reason why you don’t like these breaks), you stare at the imposter ladybugs scuttling over your hands and fingers. Maybe you’re being a little petty, but it amuses you that both Nara and Yamanaka look as if they’d like to be further away from them.
You like Akimichi a little more because he doesn’t twitch when they come into view.
According to Nara, he’d sent messages to the Hokage, Amano and your father about your coma state, so naturally he’d had to send out updates that you’d woken up. You hope that Father wouldn’t be too alarmed about the news since you don’t want him to worry about you, and you hope he gets the update on your condition soon.
After all, if you were a mother—
(R E S E N T M E N T)
You freeze, air sucked from your lungs by a heavy wave of emotion at the thought of motherhood.
Of course, Yamanaka notices instantly and is front of you within a second.
“Aburame-chan, what’s wrong?”
You twitch and inhale a deep breath. Trembling slightly, you lifted your gaze to his face. Quietly, you spoke of a sudden realization.
“I don’t think I’m going to be a mother when I grow up.”
(he wonders if she’d even be given the option)
Even with the breaks imposed upon her, Kaiya has made great progress in handling the camp. She grumbles when Shin makes her stop for the night not long after the sun goes down. Leaving the tent, Reo can hear her muttering about efficiency and generally complaining about how they’re treating her. Truthfully, he thinks she ought to be grateful, but then she says ‘Father’ and he realizes that she just wants to go back to him. Well, even though he can sympathize a little, Reo still thinks she ought to suck it up and not complain. They could be treating her a lot worse—
He scowled as he thought about how she might react to being treated ‘worse’. Yeah, that’s not a scenario he wants to be part of, thanks. The fake ladybugs, Blood and Decline were bad enough, but if she threw a temper tantrum before she could be knocked out? Shinobi aren’t slow, but they still don’t know her full capabilities. Who knows what this little monster could do with her Shapers.
…Ah, there he goes again, thinking of her like that. He doesn’t think it’s untrue, but yeah, maybe he’s being a little unfair. She’s just a kid with separation issues.
…Yeah, no, that just won’t stick in his mind, especially not after seeing those five Iwa-nin dead on the ground. Those five were clearly older, not to mention stronger, and yet they’d been brought down by a girl who’d have a hard time coming up to the waist of even the kunoichi who’d been among the dead.
Kaiya needs watching, and Konoha needs more anti-bug measures.
Reo slouched further and knitted his eyebrows in annoyance as he realized that implementing more anti-bug measures probably wouldn’t sit well with the Aburame clan and they were one of the four noble clans.
Sighing, Reo pinched the bridge of his nose and wished it’d been someone else who had to escort her around.
Later, with Kaiya asleep, they went over the day. One of the more interesting points came from Kouki when he informed them that Kaiya had said there was a possibility she wouldn’t reproduce when she was older. Reo frowned and saw Youta do the same. The village wasn’t in the habit of forcing people to reproduce, but they suspected that new Bloodline holders would be expected to. Then again, Kaiya was from an established clan that dealt with insects, so she might not be expected to have kids if she didn’t want them, or at least Reo didn’t think so, but if her Shapers were genetic…
He scratched the back of his head and decided that he was glad that this wasn’t something any of them would have to deal with. It wasn’t their business, so they’d just keep out of it.
And besides, Kaiya was just a kid. If she survived the war, she’d have time enough to change her mind.
Reo firmly didn’t think about how there wasn’t peace, just periods between wars, and he also didn’t think of how much Konoha would probably want more Aburame like her to spread around. He didn’t think about how her Shapers could change the tide of war, and he didn’t think about a small crowd of half-sibling Aburame with Shapers who were conditioned to be loyal to the village.
Nope, he didn’t think about it at all.
(the girl would probably kill them all, and even if she didn’t, he wouldn’t wish the fate of being a breeding stock on anyone)
Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.
~J.E.B. Spredemann, An Unforgivable Secret