"Hell. Welcome to hell."
Brutal honesty, in as humorous a nature as it might have been intended by the person who had spoken it, served to bring two tastes to the Kazekage’s otherwise insensate mouth. Though above most else throughout his career he had desired to be taken seriously—to be respected—for at least a moment, he relished in knowing that at least one person made able of levity in the face of their defeat. It made it seem less real. It still felt, to Kyōsuke, wholly unreal. He put the feeling down as one brought on by the delirium of wracking pain. By the same token, he felt another stab of despair that was so utterly uncharacteristic of his experience; even in prior defeat, never had he felt so thoroughly degraded. He imagined that disgust would have swelled in his stomach upon such reflection in any other situation but, as he lay broken on the bed, the man could muster no such furor.
Thoughts, resentment, hopelessness all continued to flow unabated and volatile through him much as the tears that began to spill from the ruin of flesh, all little more than the newest addition to the list of things that the Kazekage could not control. The tears he hated most of all. Only just palpable past the blood that drenched his dressings, and only as welling drops of discomfort where they ought to have themselves felt wet, the tears reminded him that Rei had stolen as much of his resolve as she had anything else; something of his that had weathered such incredible tribulation in its own time. A child
had succeeded in eroding it so thoroughly in a handful of blows.
So absorbed in himself and so adrift among emotions run amok, Kyōsuke was only able to take cursory note of the girl’s actual reply to his question. It took a monumental amount of strain and a long moment of silence for his force of will to cut past the chaos in his mind.
he finally managed, his throat rendering each word as quiet, as hard, and as rasping as the last. "I didn't expect to lean on you so much. I—"
he broke off as his mind, unwilling, returned to his obliterated arm. It took him another drifting second to find his voice again.
"Bring me my niece,"
the Kazekage told Etsu, knowing that the request was pointless; knowing that it carried as much meaning to her as any gibberish that he could have mumbled from amidst the unconsciousness into which he proceeded to slip again. Oblivion, at least, held no demons for him.
His stupor did not hold him long the second time. It held him even shorter the third. The fourth time that Kyōsuke passed from waking thought, it was to sleep proper. Over the course of what was only a couple of days that seemed to him to pass with the speed of months entire, his condition developed little. His wounds remained as grave as when they had been inflicted, due in no small part to the limitations of generalised medical ninjutsu. The only grace of the treatment provided by those few staff of the hospital that frequented his bedside was that, as their work prevented the spread of outright death through his injured tissues, he was able to slowly grow more accustomed to the pain and thus remain more lucid.
Little was done with the sanctuary afforded to the Kazekage. Gradually, the rancour that festered inside him became less influenced by fluctuating fear and grief. Gradually, all feelings drained from him entirely, save the resentment. It was as easy for him to spend nearly all of his conscious time focusing on his bitter hate as it was to spend it all in meditation, so he did. As before, the flow of senjutsu chakra through his body fortified Kyōsuke against the pain and, as before, the wrath that bled through his soul fortified it against surrender. Reflection could come later, when he had been made whole again. Until such a time, he would grant no quarter to thought of loss.
As the girl that had brought him from the waste of his village came and went, he greeted and spoke with her as was polite and was as comfortable for her. He apologised for the odd request he had made of her and offered her what explanations he could for the act; even with the reassurance that Konohagakure no Sato's surgeons were well-practiced in the procedure they intended to use to repair his arm, the Kazekage had little trust for those he did not know well. He knew his niece well.
He also knew that his village, Tori included, would have been thrust into its own chaos. To ask Etsu to hunt for her without being able to offer her anything in payment, after all she had already done for him, could only be done as insult. Instead, he thanked her for her care and her patience, making promises to her that he would repay her in the future.
He would repay her after he had regained his strength.