Blood Red Moon: Rewritten

Burden of Truth

Warnings: Violence. Blood. Gory scenes. Murder scenes. Lemon scenes.

Disclaimer: Part of this story will have settings and events taken out from various anime like Get Backers and Jigoku Shoujo, but I do not own any of them, nor do I own Naruto or any characters in this story save for OC characters

Chapter Nineteen: Burden of Truth

The story thus far…

In this world, there are people known as nin-users who existed. People who wield strange powers and abilities that sets them apart from all the others. People feared things that they do not understand, and as such, a great number of nin-users were treated as abominations to be killed, or even being thought of as the cause of wars. And it didn't help matters with the nin-user decrees set by the former leaders of the ANBU during the war, and with the existence of a group named the Rebellion Group who takes it upon themselves to 'execute' nin-users. As such, the murder of a nin-user wouldn't be of much 'loss' to most of the towns in the country of Japan.

However, a secret organisation was then founded a couple of years after the end of the civil war that had nearly wrecked Japan beyond repair. A secret organisation consisting of ten teenagers, ten nin-users, and their desire to help the nin-users and the unfortunate, and their hatred for the ANBU organisation.

"The day that I call the ANBU for help is the day that the sun rises from the west."

"I hate them. The ANBU."

"If the ANBU won't do anything to help the nin-users, then I shall!"

"Why should the nin-users suffer because of the arrogance of the humans?"

"…Ragnarok."

A few years passed after the founding of the group, and the name of Ragnarok brought both fear and respect to the world of the Internet, and even the material world, and to people everywhere. Yet the identities of their members were shrouded in complete mystery, and several forums on the Internet speculated far and wide about the members of Ragnarok. After a break-in into the headquarters of Ragnarok by two members of this mysterious organisation, there is then an unofficial stance of the ANBU against this mysterious organisation.

"…Twila."

"But this mysterious group…Ragnarok is what they called themselves. They've been around for about two years now, at this point in time. Ragnarok is a mercenary group for hire…assassins for hire."

"We're going to build a better life for the nin-users in the world. No nin-user in the future will suffer through what we have gone through in the past!"

But then, the unofficial invisible war between the ANBU and Ragnarok soon grew more serious by the day, with the ANBU commander making the decision to go after them directly.

"Murder is murder, no matter the reasons."

"If what we're doing is wrong, then what do you call all those bastards who murdered those nin-users? Is what they're doing is right? Is that what you're trying to tell me?"

"I owe the ANBU a debt that I would like to repay…in full."

"We're members of Ragnarok. Nice to meet you."

Things soon headed to such a point that the commander of the ANBU actually ordered for the strongest squad in the ANBU, the Akatsuki, to directly go after Ragnarok, and to at least take out one of their members. They succeeded in taking the life of one of the ten members that make up Ragnarok, but that had the instant effect to make Ragnarok angry, and their leader then decided to take a more offensive stand against the ANBU.

"Our orders from Tsunade-sama are to go after them immediately, and to capture them alive. If it is not possible…eliminate them."

"If you land the finishing blow on him, that girl of yours would never forgive you."

"I made a promise…to return with them… We're going…to build a better life…for the nin-users…! I…can't die here!"

'If I can die to ensure Ragnarok's safety and survival…so be it.'

"War always happens. It is our way of life. And war always comes from the desire to protect. It is created by the hands of humans. I'm not the most impartial person in the world. I agree that it is the fault of humans that the world is in the state that it now is. Maybe even the nin-users have contributed to the state that this world is now in."

"It's unfortunate, but it is a fact that hatred rules our world. That's just the way that this world works. War brings death and pain to both sides. You can't change that fact. And it is even harder to accept the deaths of those close to you. And from here on out…probably…we're going to be contributing even more to that pain."

"Those guys have never done anything against us before, that's why I didn't want any of you to hurt them. But now, it's different. They hurt one of us, and they must pay the price for it. It'll be open war against the ANBU from now on."

XXXXXX

Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Hiraiko

It was late at night, and the only sounds that could be heard were the sounds of the waves lapping gently against the sides of the boathouse that also serves as Ragnarok's headquarters. Nearly all of Ragnarok were asleep, all exhausted mentally and physically because of the events of that day that had taken away the life of one of their own.

'Nearly' because two of their members were still wide awake, and both could be found on the rooftop of the boathouse that also serves as their headquarters.

One was the leader of Ragnarok, Namikaze Shiki.

The other was the older sister of their deceased friend, Sabaku no Temari.

And the two girls were currently seated on the roof of the boathouse, each saying nothing, with a fair number of beer bottles in a pile all around them. Shiki was seated cross-legged on the roof as she looked at the full moon in the velvety black night sky. It was a full moon night that night, and the rays of the moon cast a beautiful picture, though the redhead is currently in no mood to admire the beauty of the night.

Her blonde companion, Temari, was sitting with her legs drawn up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them, with her chin resting atop her knees, with a sad expression on her face.

Shiki said nothing during the past two hours that Temari had came up here, and the blonde was thankful for that. The redhead knew when to keep silent and when to lend a listening ear to her friends, and when to comfort them. She had that kind of strange power – the kind that knew just what an individual is feeling, and what to do to make them feel better.

Temari still can't accept her brother's death. It was too sudden. Just this morning, she had been messing around with him as usual after she'd accidentally came across his stash of 'literature', and the brunette had to run to dodge Temari's swipes at him, with the rest of Ragnarok snickering at the brunette's plight.

"Shiki." Temari spoke at last, raising her head a few inches off of her knees.

"Hmm?" Shiki uttered.

"Have…you ever felt like giving up? Ever felt like just…giving up and dying?" Temari asked, glancing at the redhead beside her who didn't look at her, but at the moon.

A dark expression passed by Shiki's face, and she closed her eyes briefly, as some bad memories were brought to the surface of her mind with Temari's question.

She's just a monster!

It hurts… Why? Why are they doing this?

A monster doesn't need emotions.

I…hate it… Why is it always me…always us?

I hate them. The ANBU.

"I have," said Shiki at last, biting on the inside of her cheek to prevent the tears from falling from her eyes. "Probably my entire life before I had met you guys."

Temari managed a wan smile. "Yeah…I guess so," she muttered. "The ones who have killed Kankuro…it's the Akatsuki, isn't it?"

Shiki gave out a small sigh. "You're not their match yet, and you know it," she stated, almost like she had just read Temari's mind. "You'll never beat the top members of the Akatsuki – Nagato, Konan, Hoshigaki Kisame and Uchiha Itachi. The only ones whom you could probably beat are probably Akasuna no Sasori and that bomber guy."

"I know."

"Kiss me sweet… I'm sleeping in silence… All alone…in ice and snow—"

Temari raised a confused brow when she saw Shiki took out her cellphone, and after seeing the name of the caller flashing on the LCD screen of her cellphone, she simply pressed the 'end call' button, slipping her phone back into her pocket.

"You're not going to answer?"

"No."

Temari managed a small sigh, tightening her arms around her knees. "I know about him, you know?" she said, and Shiki glanced at Temari out of the corner of her eye. "I know about you and that Akatsuki captain. It's a little difficult not to know, especially with Gaara, Neji and Shino always covering for you when you've staged one of your 'disappearances'."

"I see."

"I don't blame you," said Temari. "That's why…" She trailed off.

Shiki sighed. "It'll probably be easier for me to deal with Kankuro's death if you do," she said. "But regardless, promise me not to do anything stupid. The others…they can no longer take another death of one of us. If something happens to you as well, they'll probably snap."

"Yeah. I know." Temari muttered. Silence fell between them both for several moments before Temari loosened her posture. She then wiped away the tears with the back of her hand that was slowly forming around her eyes. "I heard from Neji and Haku earlier about what had happened. Just to let them escape, and to protect them, Kankuro decided to delay the ANBU members that came after them – the Akatsuki. Even though he knew that he probably stands no chance at defeating all six of them at once, even with Haku's help." Temari managed a bitter laugh. "He's always like this. Always putting people before himself. Before we have met you, we have to live like street rats off the food scraps that we could find in the trash. That is before we have met Iruka-san, and he often offered us free food. Whatever food scraps that Kankuro could find, he always gave it to me and Gaara first. It's probably because of that kindness for people that he possesses that he always put them before himself. And now…" Temari's lips trembled with emotion before she bit on the inside of her lip to prevent herself from crying.

"Are you alright?"

Temari forced herself to smile, even though she doesn't really feel like it. "I'm fine!" she said, forcing herself to sound upbeat. "I'm alright! I have to keep it together…for everyone else."

Shiki finally turned to look at Temari in the eye, and the blonde was startled at the look in the redhead's eyes. "You don't have to force yourself to act like this around me," she stated. "So you don't have to keep it together when there are only two of us here."

Temari's eyes widened, before she managed a small smile. Like always, Shiki could always seem to read her emotions, and what she is really feeling. There are times when she had wondered if Shiki could read minds.

Temari then crawled over to Shiki on her hands and knees, sitting on her knees behind the redhead who didn't turn around, merely staring at the moon. Temari then rested her forehead against Shiki's back, her shoulders shaking with emotion. "Then lend me your back for awhile."

Shiki said nothing as light sobs could be heard from Temari before she felt something wet seeping through the fabric of her coat and shirt, as Temari grieved properly for her brother.

XXXXXX

The Next DayANBU Headquarters

All of Akatsuki were rather subdued the next morning in their office, and they were all on pins and needles, wondering what Ragnarok is going to do next. There is no way that that organisation would just keep quiet after they've killed one of their members. And all of Akatsuki knew that the only way that they have managed to pull off a nearly impossible feat by killing one of their members is because of the mere fact alone that there are only two Ragnarok members then, and six of them.

Tsunade was half-pleased with their work, though the blonde woman had complained that they should have caught the other remaining member alive or even kill her as well. Nagato and Sasori actually have to forcefully drag both Itachi and Kisame out of the commander's office then, as the two actually looked mad enough to kill their commander on the spot.

All of Akatsuki apart from Deidara who was called down the fire arms department for some bomb dismantlement work – his old department prior to joining Akatsuki and Criminal Affairs, were currently all gathered in their office. Apart from Itachi who is currently sitting at his desk staring at his cellphone for some reason, the rest of the Akatsuki were all seated in the couches in the office, talking about nothing in particular.

Itachi had been trying to contact Shiki since the previous night, but the girl either hadn't been picking up his calls, or had promptly ended the call without even answering, not that Itachi can blame her, but he seriously needs to talk to her.

The door of their office flew opened with a resounding crash just then, and all Akatsuki members turned around in surprise only to see a frantic Deidara standing at the opened doorway, one hand holding the door to prevent it from rebounding back and hitting him, the other hand clutching onto a piece of paper that looks suspiciously like some letter.

"Deidara? What's the matter?" asked Sasori in confusion. "Is there a fire or something?"

"No. This came through the mail earlier when I was passing by the Administrative office," said Deidara, walking towards his teammates after closing the door, holding up the white envelope in his hands.

The eyes of all Akatsuki members widened in shock when they saw the symbol of Ragnarok etched on the envelope. It was unmarked which meant that it was delivered by hand, and slipped into their post-box.

"Give me that," said Itachi, nearly snatching the envelope from Deidara's fingers, and almost ripping the letter apart as the rest of his teammates crowded around his desk as their captain unfolded the letter within it. The words of the letter were cut out from magazines and newspapers, and pasted onto the letter, spelling out several words. Itachi read the contents of the letter out grimly. "'A tooth for a tooth. An eye for an eye. You ANBU had just gone over the line. We bore with what you fuckers did time and again. You mess with one of us, you deal with all of us'."

A deathly silence fell upon the Akatsuki, and all of them exchanged looks with each other, their faces pale. Oh shit. They are in big trouble now. Ragnarok is really angry. They knew that they might have to pay the price for taking the life of one of their comrades, but they didn't expect for Ragnarok to retaliate this way.

Kisame suddenly found himself questioning his desire to stay on in the ANBU when he read the contents of the letter over Itachi's shoulder, the latter who had gripped onto the letter so tightly that his knuckles actually turned white.

Ragnarok is really angry now.

And that is not a good thing.

The water user almost groaned. "I've told you that we shouldn't have messed with them!" he stated, looking at the pale faces of his comrades. "But did any of you listen? Did Tsunade-sama listen to what I have to say? No! Heaven forbid that you listen to the second-in-command of the Akatsuki! Now we're going to have to pay the price for messing with Ragnarok." He glanced at Itachi who had a reigned look on his face. "And I don't think that we're going to like it."

XXXXXX

Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Hiraiko

On the rooftop of the boathouse where Shiki was sitting cross-legged, allowing the sea breeze to blow through her hair, she eyed her cellphone. Itachi had finally given up on trying to call her after she refused to pick up his sixtieth phone call.

It had been a few hours ever since dawn had broken, and Temari is currently asleep in her room, with Haku and Hinata both watching over her. The blonde had cried her eyes out all night, and had fallen asleep a little before dawn, ending up in Gaara having to carry his sister back to the room that all the girls shared between them.

And needless to say, Shiki hasn't been able to sleep a wink the entire night.

She was torn in half.

She won't let Kankuro's death go unpunished, but on the other hand, she knew that she wouldn't be able to bring herself to kill Itachi. And on that note, what is she supposed to do about their relationship? Things have been rather awkward between them both after Itachi had figured out who she is. And now with what had happened, it is ten times as worst.

She is the captain of Ragnarok after all. She had a duty to fulfil.

Shiki took out her wallet from within her pocket and opened it only to see a photograph taken of the entire Ragnarok nearly a year ago, with all of them standing in front of the boathouse. Kankuro had grabbed both Neji and Gaara around their necks, grinning wildly at the camera, much to the latter two's displeasure. The rest of them were smiling at the camera, though smirks in the cases of the boys.

Shiki sighed as she stared at the photo, tracing Kankuro's image in the photo with the tips of her index finger. And almost as if her own mind is mocking her, Shiki could almost hear Neji's voice repeating the words that he had said to her the previous night after they have buried Kankuro in the graveyard of Hiraiko.

It wasn't your fault. You did what you had to do to protect us. That's what being a leader is all about. It might sound cruel, but sometimes, you have to treat your comrades and friends as chess pieces on the chessboard.

Shiki closed her eyes, closing her fingers around her wallet and closing it with a light snap before placing it back within her pocket. She then turned her gaze towards her cellphone and flipped it opened, scrolling down the list of her contacts before she came to Itachi's name, staring at it for a long while.

Finally, Shiki made up her mind and began to type out a message in the messaging service of her cellphone.

'I want to see you. I'll be in Hagako. Meet me in front of the broken-down building in District 30 of Hagako – the same place where we've met each other the last time.'

She then pressed on the 'send' button before shutting her phone and placing it within her pocket. Before Shiki could even get up, she heard light footsteps behind her before Neji stepped up next to her, his hands stuffed into his pockets, with the bottoms of his white shirt swaying gently in the sea breeze, with the teen not looking at anything but at the sun.

"Are you going to meet him?" Neji stated more than questioned. When Shiki didn't say anything to that, Neji turned towards the redhead. "How much longer are you going to torture yourself like this? You being with him is rather like a double edged sword for you."

"I'm not—"

"You're only deceiving yourself!" Neji said harshly. He then realised just how harsh he had just sounded, and he sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry. It's just…I can't stand seeing you like this any longer. It got worse after last night when…" Neji trailed off. He then cleared his throat. "I've heard from Shino earlier that you've been on the roof all night, and he's usually the last one of us to sleep, and the first to wake. You hadn't slept all night, have you?"

Shiki sighed. "No."

"Why are you torturing yourself like this?" Neji questioned. "And don't tell me that you're not." He interrupted, seeing Shiki about to open her mouth. "I know you better than that." He sighed. "You must consider the consequences, Shiki. I am in love with you. I want you to pick me over him. I will fight for you until my death. And unlike him, I will always fight by your side."

Shiki was silent for several moments. She is far from stupid, and she knew of Neji's feelings for her for some time now, especially since it's a little difficult to ignore. But she had pretended that she doesn't know of his feelings for her, especially since it's easier that way, and she has no wish to hurt him.

But now…

Shiki stood up, and turned her head slightly to look at Neji. "Can you not let me think about this for now?" she asked. "I…don't want to think about this now. Just…leave me alone for some time. I need some time to think."

Neji nodded, and Shiki inclined her head to him in thanks before turning and walking down the stairs all the way down to the first storey of the boathouse. Miraculously, there isn't a single soul around, and Shiki guessed that the rest of them must be in their rooms, grieving for Kankuro their own way.

Shiki then headed towards the door of the boathouse, opening it and stepping out. She was slightly taken aback by the sight of Gaara leaning against the sides of the boathouse, looking down at the waters of the lake that they were currently docked at.

Shiki then stepped past him, and before she could get off the boathouse, Gaara spoke. "Are you going?" he stated more than questioned, and Shiki turned to look at her friend who had looked at her straight in the eye. "You're still going to meet him after what he had done to Kankuro?"

Shiki closed her eyes briefly before opening them again to look at Gaara. "Not the way you think," she said, clenching her hands into fists by her sides. "I'm going to put this to an end. It should have ended a long time ago. I…just didn't have the guts to do that. But now…"

Gaara sighed and straightened up. "I'll go with you," he stated.

Shiki shook her head. "No. I'm sorry, but I have to do this alone," she said. She sighed, reading Gaara's look immediately. "I'll be alright."

XXXXXX

District 30 of the city of Hagako was also otherwise known as Dead Men's Street. That district is the single most dangerous district in all of Hagako, and it especially held true after dark, when just walking down the streets of this district might mean your death.

And it is that district where one Uchiha Itachi could be found walking down it, keeping a sharp eye out for any troublemakers. Suspicious eyes were casted towards the Uchiha's direction as he walked down the street until he approached the broken down building where he had found Shiki standing in front of the last time.

The redhead was currently standing in front of said building, her hands stuffed into her pockets, and looking up at the building with a distant look in her eyes, almost as if she was recalling some past memories, and then again, she probably is.

"Shiki—"

"Why did you kill Kankuro?" Shiki cut Itachi off, her voice cold and angry. Itachi almost shivered at that, as he had never heard Shiki use that tone of voice with him before. The redhead wasn't looking at him, but was focusing on the building in front of her, her hands stuffed into her pockets, the muscles in her neck tightening. "He is like a brother to me! Why did you kill him? What did he ever do to you?"

"It was an order," said Itachi after a long silence fell between them both. "Even you know what that means. And besides…there are no differences on the battlefield."

Shiki suddenly spun around on her heel without warning, and Itachi only caught pure anger in her eyes before she lashed out with her right hand clenched into a fist, and struck him in the jaw. Itachi didn't do anything to defend himself as he stumbled backwards, cradling his jaw, spitting out a tooth.

He knew that he deserved that.

He also knew that it is already a miracle in itself that Shiki didn't try to kill him on sight.

Shiki clenched her jaw together before wiping away the tears that is slowly forming around her eyes with the back of her hand. "You… You really didn't care how I will feel or even think when Haku brought back Kankuro's body, did you? How I felt when Haku told me that you're the one who had killed Kankuro?" she questioned. "How do you think that I felt every single time when the news came up about ANBU taking a stand towards Ragnarok, and how they felt about us? How do you think I felt when you told me what you think about Ragnarok and what we do? Did you even think about it?"

Itachi almost blanched.

Now that he think about it, he had always been worrying about his own relationship with Shiki, her other identity as the leader of the group that the ANBU had been after for nearly four years, and what his comrades would say once they've found out about Shiki to even think about Shiki's own feelings on this matter.

"You've never thought about it, have you?" Shiki questioned. "How selfish can you be?" She wiped away the tears slowly pooling around her eyes. "I know it. I always knew all along that our relationship can never amount to anything much. Not as long as you are ANBU and I am Ragnarok. Let's…not see each other anymore."

Itachi's eyes widened a slight fraction with both shock and horror. "S-Shiki? What are you saying?"

Shiki shook her head, turning fully to face Itachi. "Stop deceiving yourself, Itachi," she said, her voice quavering. "We stand on different sides. You know this. What is the use in drawing out the pain? We might as well put this pain to an end. I…can't take this any longer. It is going to drive me crazy if this continue on for much longer! Once the time comes, can you even bring yourself to fight me?"

"Then why can't you just come with me? All those months ago, when I've asked you to come with me, you refused. And now, you still refuse," said Itachi desperately, clinging onto some faint glimmer of hope rather like a drowning man clinging onto a rope. "We don't have to fight each other at all. As long as you're the leader of Ragnarok, we still have to continue fighting. We can just leave and go to another country where no one knew about us. So why can't you just come with me?"

"Itachi, have you ever thought about my feelings?" asked Shiki. "Back then, when you'd asked me to come with you, have you ever thought about my feelings, and how I will feel when you've suddenly popped this question out of the blue?" She turned her face away. "Even if I am never the leader of Ragnarok, have you ever thought about what I might have to give up if I go with you?" She turned back towards Itachi who had a stunned expression on his face, and she smiled grimly. "You didn't, did you? Besides, I have a responsibility here to protect the members of Ragnarok. They're my family and my friends. I can't just abandon them. And more than anything, I…don't want to make the same mistake with them that I did with Blade nearly eight years ago." Shiki ran the fingers of her right hand through her hair. "Besides, you killed one of our own, and Kankuro is Gaara and Temari's brother. Do you seriously think that the rest of them will forgive you for killing one of our own?"

"B-But if Ragnarok is dissolved, then you can—"

"If anything happens to any of them, then you'll be the first one that I kill!" Shiki growled, her eyes flashing murder.

Itachi was taken aback by this declaration. The look in Shiki's eyes told him that she wasn't joking. The Uchiha then clenched his hands into fists by his sides before looking into Shiki's eyes. "Is that why you've sent that letter? As warning?"

"You can put it that way," said Shiki. "You're the captain of Akatsuki. There is no way that you wouldn't know this. As leader, you are responsible for the welfare and the lives of all the members under you. I have a responsibility to protect them! I started Ragnarok. Thus, I have a responsibility to protect them! All of us…" She clenched her hands into fists by her sides. "All of us…we knew the fate of the nin-users in Japan. The ANBU didn't protect them. They didn't care about them in the least. Like how they have abandoned us when we needed help the most! I've seen many deaths. Too many people have died. Too many, in fact. Even as Ragnarok, we couldn't manage to save everyone. No one could. You ANBU call us murderers. Then tell me something. When you refused to help a nin-user because of 'lack of evidence', 'the person involved is a politician', or that 'we have orders not to interfere', just how different are you from us? At least we have the guts to stand out and protect those that couldn't protect themselves. What about you guys? Nin-users have the power to protect people. That's why that power is given to them. At least, that's what I think. But then, what are you using your powers for? To ostracise the weak? Or to gain more power? And on that note, just why did you join the ANBU in the first place?"

"I…"

"You can't answer me, can you?" Shiki questioned, a grim smile tilting at the ends of her lips. "I didn't think that you could as well. You could only blindly follow orders…just like a caged bird. You don't even know what you're fighting for. Once you've found your answer, then come and find me. Depending on my mood, we may or may not talk."

Itachi's eyes widened. He knew Shiki well enough to know just what she is implying. "No…! I don't want that!"

"Then what do you want me to do?" Shiki almost shouted at Itachi. "You don't want to do this, you don't want to do that! Then just what do you want to do? We can't always have things go our way! That is just how this world works! It thrives on pain and hatred alone. Hatred rules our world. You can't change that fact! You killed Kankuro. Do you seriously think that we could still continue living this lie, and pretended that nothing had happened?"

Shiki clenched both her hands into fists and pushed them against Itachi's chest, her head bowed down so that Itachi couldn't see her crying. "I beg of you… I can't stand this any longer… Why are you torturing me like this? We…can't be together anymore. Every time I see you, I kept seeing Kankuro's body. You remind me of his death and how he had died every single time when I see you. I beg of you…don't do this to me any longer… If your feelings are really true to me…and if you really love me, let me go. Don't do this to me any longer. We…can't be together anymore. And neither can we see each other again. We can't see each other any longer…not even as friends!"

"Shiki…I…! I don't want that!"

"You no longer have a choice in the matter," said Shiki, taking a step back from Itachi, and wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. "Even if you leave the ANBU now, it is…impossible…to go back to what we once were before." She turned her back on Itachi, turning to leave. "Let's…not see each other any longer…" Her voice trembled with emotion before Shiki shook her head slowly. "No… We…can't see each other any longer."

Before Shiki could walk away from Itachi however, Itachi called out to her. "The Devil's Melody!" Shiki said nothing to that, but she merely stopped in her tracks. Itachi took in a deep breath before speaking again. "The Devil's Melody." He repeated his words from before. "Every Friday night in the town of Hiraiko, there is a weekly evening performance. The townspeople called that weekly concert the Devil's Melody. It is held in remembrance of all those who were Orochimaru's victims. I want to play for you again. Just like before."

Shiki closed her eyes briefly, recalling that one occasion in Hiraiko all those months ago when Itachi had played the guitar for her. It is a little difficult to believe that it had only happened a few months ago when it had almost felt like an eternity to her.

Would you like to hear me play?

Can you even play the guitar?

"Please…" Itachi was almost pleading with Shiki. "Y-You don't have to let me see you. Just…just give me a chance to play for you again. Just that knowledge is enough for me. Please, Shiki."

There was a very long silence after that, and Shiki didn't move a muscle, not wanting Itachi to see the tears falling from her eyes. Why go that far for her? Why even her in the first place? Just what did she have that other girls don't?

"Why?" she questioned. "Why go that far for me? I won't go to the Devil's Melody. You can stop wasting your time. Don't wait for me. Find someone else. Someone else that deserves your love, and who needs you more than I do. Someone…more worthy than me."

"I don't want anyone else!" Itachi almost shouted after Shiki. "You're the only one for me! There is no one but you! I'll wait. I don't care how long it is going to be, I'll wait for you. Even if it is a hundred years, I will wait."

"One hundred years?"

"It isn't that long," said Itachi, though he felt a little ridiculous when he had said that. "Not to me, at least."

"Just…give up."

The wind started to pick up just then, sending a fair number of dried leaves flying past Itachi's vision, forcing him to shield his eyes from the strong wind temporarily. And when he had opened his eyes once more, Shiki was gone.

XXXXXX

ANBU HeadquartersLeaf City

Itachi looked rather like the living dead when he had returned to ANBU headquarters, and maybe it is a good thing in itself that Kisame is the only one in the office when he had returned. His best friend looked at Itachi, and judging by the look on his face, Kisame knew that something important must have happened, and he guessed immediately that it must have something to do with Itachi's girlfriend.

Especially since Itachi had read a message that had arrived to his cellphone hours prior, and had then promptly ran out of the office like it is on fire, muttering something that sounded like, "Shiki."

Kisame flipped opened his cellphone and looked at the wallpaper of his phone which is that of a childhood photo of both him and his baby sister before circumstances had torn them both apart. He clenched his jaw before standing up from behind his desk, picking up his coat as he did so, and walked towards the door.

Itachi called out to Kisame before the latter could leave the office, and the voice of the Akatsuki captain sounded a tad bit hoarse.

"Are you going, Kisame?"

Kisame closed his eyes and nodded, turning towards his best friend. "Yeah. I have to see Haku," he said. He clenched his jaw before shaking his head slowly from side-to-side. "No. I want to see her."

"She'll destroy you." Itachi stated. "She won't forgive you for what had happened, and you know it. Besides, she—"

"—is stronger than me." Kisame finished Itachi's sentence. "I know that. Regardless, I'm still going."

"Kisame." Itachi turned towards Kisame, and the water user turned towards his best friend and captain. Itachi had a serious and reigned look in his eyes. "I just have one question for you." Kisame nodded. "No matter what ugly thing that you might see, are you ready to accept it?"

Kisame closed his eyes before opening them again. "I…don't know." He admitted.

"Then go and find your answer," said Itachi. "But…that is if you can find your sister."

Kisame nodded before placing one hand on the door knob of the door before turning it and pushing the door opened, walking out through the doorway, one thought resounding in his head as he did so.

'Haku…where are you?'

XXXXXX

Two Days LaterHiraiko

The Devil's Melody, the mini-concert held in the town of Hiraiko every Friday night is really something that the townspeople have held as remembrance to all those who have fallen victim to Orochimaru's vile experiments, and also to thank a certain organisation for taking the snake out.

The participants of the mini-concert were often citizens of Hiraiko, though they do get people from outside as well. A number of performances were always put up, ranging from magic shows to play skits, and to musical performances. As such, this little mini-concert had always managed to draw in the crowds.

Everyone clapped politely as Uchiha Itachi ended the final tunes of the song that he had been playing on the keyboard that he had been using. He had prior experience with the keyboard, as his mother had taught him before she had died, but he had preferred using the guitar as it is less complicated for him.

Itachi glanced over the faces of the semi-large crowd that had gathered around the stage that the townspeople had set up for the purpose of this mini-concert, and his heart sank when he tried, and failed to see a hint of red hair among the crowd.

'So she didn't come in the end.'

Itachi then forced himself to put on a small smile as he turned to face the crowd. "This is the last song for tonight. This song is dedicated to someone very important and precious to me. If you're here, then please listen. I will wait for you. No matter how long it takes, I will wait for you. With that, please enjoy."

His fingers then strummed over the keys of the keyboard, and the slow fleeting tunes of a rather favourite song of Shiki's by the name of The Other Promise began to sound in the air as Itachi began to get rather lost in the song himself.

Somewhere within the vast crowd, Namikaze Shiki leaned with her back against one of the lampposts that lit up the area, with her back facing Itachi, a baseball cap on her head, being worn from back to front, her arms crossed over her chest as she listened to the song, a small smile on her face.

He still remembered that this is her favourite song. She had only mentioned it once to him, and he had remembered.

Shiki closed her eyes, preventing the tears from forming. Why is it that things have turned out this way? If she had known that it'll hurt this much, she wished that she had never met Itachi, or that she would never have tried to influence his decision in joining the ANBU when they have first met in Cat's Eye.

"Do you always use this method to pick up girls?"

"Come on, it's okay, isn't it? We could be friends or something. I'm Uchiha Itachi. What's your name?"

"I don't give my name to people whom I barely know."

Shiki gave a small sad smile. He was such a player back then. Always messing around with her. She had finally given into his persistence, and they have ended up being friends. Then she had grown afraid when she had suddenly started developing feelings for the guy. Especially since she knew that he is one of their enemies.

"You've been awfully distant with me lately, Shiki. And I want to know why. What did I do to you? If it is anything that I did, then please give me the chance to amend it. Your friendship means everything to me. You know that."

"It isn't anything that you've done."

"I won't let you run from me. I was a fool. I thought that I can ignore it. But Fate decided otherwise. I knew…ever since that time at the beach…I knew that I carried feelings for you. But I tried to ignore it as I didn't want to lose our friendship."

"Please Shiki. Don't run from me."

Shiki closed her eyes briefly as the last tunes of the song echoed around. 'This is it, Itachi,' she thought. 'I'm sorry. We can't be together anymore. It doesn't matter what I want. I just can't do this to the others. But…the few months that we were together…is among the happiest of my life.' She turned her head to look at Itachi as the song ended, and thunderous clapping echoed from the crowd. 'Thank you.'

She then turned to walk away from the crowd, one hand reaching up to remove the baseball cap from her head, and her red hair fell down to her shoulders. She paused slightly in her step to look at Itachi up on the stage once more before she turned away, and went on her way.

Up on the stage, Itachi's eyes widened as he caught sight of a hint of red hair, and saw Shiki's face somewhere in the sea of faces before she disappeared into the crowd. He smiled a sad smile to himself. 'I guess that we're reduced to this now. Why must things turn out this way?'

XXXXXX

Ragnarok Headquarters (Boathouse)Hiraiko

Later that night when everyone in Ragnarok was fast asleep, one could find Namikaze Shiki standing by the side of the boathouse, leaning with her arms resting against the sides of the boathouse as she listened to the quiet waves of the water lapping gently against the sides of the boathouse.

The full moon was reflected clearly in the dark waters of the lake, and Shiki could also briefly see her own reflection in the water. 'This is it,' she thought. 'I made my own decision, and I will stick to it. It's no use thinking about it now. Our time together…' She closed her eyes briefly as her right hand went to the silver bracelet around her left wrist, and started undoing the clasps around it before it fell lightly into the palm of her right hand. '…has come to an end.'

Shiki then dropped the bracelet into the dark waters of the lake and watched it sink.

Uchiha Itachi walked along the shores of Hiraiko, watching the sands below his feet as his shoes kicked up sand occasionally, with the sea breeze blowing through his hair. He wished that things have never come to this. He wished that none of this had ever happened.

He then stopped in his tracks, turning to look at the full moon in the sky, and the waters of the sea, as Shiki's voice then echoed through his mind.

Once the time comes, can you even bring yourself to fight me?

Itachi closed his eyes, stuffing his hands into his pockets. 'You're too cruel, Shiki.'

As he turned to walk down the shores once more, he felt himself stepping on something hard, and paused in his step. Itachi then bent down and started brushing away the sand on the object that he had stepped on before a silver bracelet was soon resting in the palm of his right hand, glistening slightly with water droplets dripping off it.

Itachi could not help but manage a small sad smile as he recognised the bracelet as the one that he had given Shiki on the night when they have both made love to each other. Did she really want to end things so badly that she actually had to force herself to throw out every single thing that had reminded her of him?

Something made Itachi turn his gaze towards the sea waters just then, and he raised a brow when he saw several Absinth flowers floating on the waters of the sea, a stalk of that purple-blue flower being pushed by the waves of the sea so that it rested at his feet.

Absinth flowers represented separation.

Itachi closed his eyes and chuckled darkly.

Is this the answer given to him by the heavens? That no matter what, no matter how long he waited and how hard he tried, that things between him and Shiki would never be straightened out, and that they could never be together?

He won't believe that!

He refused to believe that!

Itachi sighed as he turned his head skywards before looking at the bracelet currently resting in the palm of his right hand. 'Shiki… Do you really wish for this?'

But there is no answer.

A/N: Welcome to the start of a new story arc! And I hope that this chapter isn't too antsy for you guys. I don't know about you, but I nearly cried myself when I was writing about the separation between Itachi and Shiki. It is another thing if their feelings have died for each other, but it is another thing entirely if circumstances have forced them apart. Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review!

Preview of next chapter: An Eye for an Eye

"Shiki's suffering too, isn't she?"

"Twila and Ragnarok don't always accept your request right away. And Twila don't always appear to you right away after receiving a request. Sometimes, she sends people like us to listen to the voice of your heart."

"All humans have darkness in their hearts."

"You wanted a fight. We'll give you a war. The game starts now. Let's play."

Upcoming Stories:

My Other Half (Naruto)

FemNaru. All twins are like one single entity. On the night of the Kyuubi attack, Uchiha Madara took one Namikaze Sayo away with him to Akatsuki where she is trained to be one of their members. Now, nearly fifteen years later, both Namikaze twins met each other for the first time, and can Sayo bring herself to bring her twin to instant death when Akatsuki and the Leaf-nins faced each other in battle?

One Last Hope (Naruto)

AU FemNaru. The attack on the village by Akatsuki had greater repercussions than expected, and war was soon declared on the elemental nations by the Choushuu. Desperate to at least save whatever lives that she could, Tsunade, the Godaime Hokage sent three of her best ninjas to Kyoto to seek the help of the Shinsengumi – Nara Shikamaru, Hyuuga Hinata and Namikaze Sayo. Naruto/Hakuouki crossover. Saitou/FemNaru

Silent Symphony (Harry Potter)

FemHarry. When Rowena Ravenclaw witnessed for herself just how the wizarding world was led to doom because of the actions of one Albus Dumbledore which lead to the birth of Lord Voldemort, she forced herself through a cycle of reincarnation and became Hilda Potter. Watch out, world. Rowena Ravenclaw is back. And she isn't happy. Cedric/FemHarry

Hilda Evans Snape (Harry Potter)

FemHarry. Hilda Potter never went to the Dursleys at all. Lily Potter had made it quite clear in her will that if anything were to happen to her and her husband, one Severus Snape is to be given custody of her. With use of a blood adoption ritual, Severus Snape soon became the father of Hilda Potter, and soon became known as Hilda Evans Snape. Hilda is two years older than canon. Charlie/FemHarry

I Fall For You (Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru)

What if Yuki is reborn as a girl in this life? And what if she is much more quiet and soft-spoken than expected? After a trauma that sealed her voice shut, she gains unexpected help in the form of Zweilt Guardians, and will she open her heart to a certain Opast? Luka/Yuki

My Little Angel (07-Ghost)

FemTeito. Verloren's angel was slain by the 7 Ghosts when the daughter of the King of Heaven wanted the angel out of the way. Mad with grief, Verloren slain Eve, and both master and angel were then banished to Earth for eternal reincarnation until the end of time. Now 1000 years later, both master and angel met each other again…in the Barsburg Military Academy.

Three's a Crowd! (Kaichou wa Maid-sama)

Who would have thought that the Student Council President of Miyabigaoka and the Demon President of Seika High were once friends? No one in Seika High expected that, least of all Usui Takumi. And thus, the poor guy soon started feeling very jealous when Igarashi Tora soon making advances on Misaki. Usui/Misaki. One-sided Igarashi/Misaki

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