Lost in Darkness
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 Twenty Seven: Lost in Darkness
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Hiraiko, Japan
"I see," said Shiki with a sigh as she spoke into her cellphone, a frown on her face, tapping the toe of her shoe repeatedly against the ground. "Thank you, Shizune-san."
"No problem," said Shizune on the other end of the line with a sigh. "I owe you several favours anyway, and I still hadn't thanked you for having saved Genma. When Rin told me that you've asked me to get an understanding of the explosion at Seikan, I've managed to pull some strings to get what you wanted."
Shiki sighed. "No survivors?" she questioned.
"Sorry. None," said Shizune with a sigh. "All those in the fortress died. And all were children from the age of three to twelve. Only the bodies of children's bodies were found. No adults. Genma and Asuma both told me that the ANBU had gotten a tip-off about the fortress, and not long after that, Danzo gave the order to destroy all evidences, which basically meant that the fortress must be destroyed. I was the one performing the autopsy for those children, and apparently, Danzo had been performing some experiments on them or something – a by-product of Orochimaru's experiments maybe. Half of those children – even if their bodies were burnt beyond recognition, I knew enough to tell that they were severely deformed as a result of those experiments."
"Where are those children found by Danzo?" Shiki asked with a frown.
"Asuma and Genma are now matching DNA samples with the ANBU and police databases," said Shizune. "And so far, the children were found to be reported missing by their families a few years ago. The police are ringing up all the families of those children for them to collect their children's bodies." She sighed. "It is a sad thing. To see them crying over the bodies of the children when they have harboured so much hope that their children are still alive somewhere."
Shiki sighed. She had seen something like that back when the TV station was blown up by the ANBU awhile back, and had seen and heard those cries by the families of the dead. She can just imagine a similar image to that happening in the police headquarters now.
Shizune sighed. "Get Danzo, Shiki," she said simply. "This is the best thing that you can do for those poor children right now. And personally, I think that you and Ragnarok are much more competent than the ANBU right now."
"I will," said Shiki grimly. "That's a promise." Click.
Shiki sighed as she hung up her cellphone, looking up in the night sky where millions of glittery silver stars were visible. She had taken the call from Shizune outside the boathouse, not wanting anyone to overhear her conversation.
The fortress that had blown up had been nearly five days ago, and newspapers were getting splashed with news about that nearly every single day ever since. The redhead sighed again for the umpteenth time that night and turned around to enter the boathouse, closing the door behind her, keeping it shut with her weight as she leaned against the door.
The rest of Ragnarok were all slumped over the couches, floor or even the chairs on the first storey of the boathouse, all with depressed looks on their faces. It is even visible on Shino's face who rarely shows emotions as it is.
"What's up with you guys?" Shiki asked with a raised brow, though she doesn't really need to ask that. "I've never seen you guys so quiet before."
It is true in a way. All of Ragnarok had been awfully quiet for the past few days ever since witnessing the fortress go up in flames five days ago.
"It's just…" Hinata muttered.
Shiki sighed loudly. "You guys have to stop this now," she said sternly, and everyone turned towards her with surprise on their features. "You and I both know that there is nothing that we could have done about that. Thinking about 'what if we had done this' and 'what if we had done that' is futile. It isn't like we can just go back and change the past. The only thing that we can do now is to step up on our efforts to track Danzo."
"I hate fire." Yugito muttered, tightening her arms around her legs that were drawn up to her chest. "Nothing against you, Tenten." She added, glancing at Tenten who nodded with understanding. "But the children… They never had a chance to live properly, and that chance was taken away from them in an instant."
"I thought that we had it bad in the past." Gaara muttered from his place on the couch under the window. "But those children… They had it worse." He glanced at his friends. "At least we managed to make it through all the bad times, and somehow managed to survive. And things got better for us when we've met each other. But those kids…"
Shiki sighed with exasperation. "Alright, stop it! You guys are so depressed that you're even making me feel depressed!" she snapped. "The only thing that we can do now is to step up on our efforts to find Danzo. This latest stunt that he had pulled proves that he's back in the country now. I've gotten Arashi and several of my other agents to keep a lookout for Danzo, and Sai is helping as well. I would appreciate it if you could help must still go on after all."
Her friends exchanged looks with each other and amused smiles. "Right."
Hoshigaki Kisame frowned under his raincoat as raindrops pelted down on him. Finally, he hung up his cellphone and slipped it into his pocket before turning towards Nagato and Konan.
"No good?" asked Konan, biting on her lower lip, and Kisame shook his head. "I see." She exchanged looks with Nagato. "Where could he be?"
The two guys with her exchanged looks and sighed.
After that fortress had gone up in flames, Tsunade had sent all of Akatsuki to hunt down anyone who even seems to be remotely related with Danzo, and to get his whereabouts from his lapdogs. Also, several remnants of Orochimaru's old organisation had been wandering around, wrecking havoc as well, and Akatsuki were sent for a mission of elimination as a result.
Only problem is that Akatsuki's captain is currently nowhere to be found.
Everyone knew just how affected by the fortress's explosion Itachi is.
Granted, the TV station incident is similar to it, but there weren't children in there at that time. Itachi always had a soft spot for children, probably because that he had been the one to raise Sasuke single-handedly after their parents have died during the war. But after giving Tsunade their report for the fortress explosion (it's more like it's Kisame giving the report whilst Itachi stood there like a block of wood), Itachi had vanished.
And this is problematic for them, as Tsunade had ordered all of Akatsuki to be on this mission. Privately, Kisame, along with all his comrades thought that it is extremely cruel of Tsunade to order Itachi on this when she knew perfectly well that Itachi is still suffering inside, and is obviously in no condition to be on a mission, but…
With Itachi's disappearance, Kisame had taken the reins for team Akatsuki and for this mission, doing as best as he could. He had also gotten Sasuke and Shikamaru searching for the elusive Uchiha, and the two were currently turning all of Japan upside-down to search for the missing Uchiha without Tsunade finding out about it, but to no avail. If even the said guy's younger brother failed to find him, then there is probably only one person who might know where he is now.
Kisame sighed before glancing at the two with him. "Go and meet up with Sasori and Deidara at the rendezvous point," he instructed, and the two stared at him with confusion. "Just go. I'll catch up with you soon."
The two nodded doubtfully before turning to leave. Once Kisame was certain that they were gone, he then fished out his phone and dialled Sasuke's number. "Sasuke, it's me," he said once the call was picked up. "Head to The Locket bar in Leaf City, and look for an informant by the name of Zetsu. Tell him that Kisame sent you." He sighed. "No one knows where your brother is, and even Zetsu doesn't know. But there is one person whom I know that might be able to find him. Tell Zetsu that Kisame said that it's okay to let you know about Namikaze Shiki and her true identity. Ask Zetsu where to find her, and then tell her everything." Kisame sighed. "She is the only person who might know where to find Itachi now, and to save him from the darkness that he is now lost in."
District 30Hagako, Japan
The skies were rumbling lightly with the telltale signs of approaching rain in the distance, and Sumaru and Namikaze Shiki were both seated atop the railings just outside the old hideout of the street gang Blade, talking about nothing in particular.
The fortress explosion incident had all but shredded Shiki's clothes when she had to run after Haku to drag her back, so that the ice maiden doesn't seek her own death. But the end result is that she has to replace her clothes, as her old ones were beyond repair.
Shiki is now wearing a black sleeveless tunic-like top, with a white spaghetti strap shirt beneath and black pants that went to her thighs, with a silver belt around her waist. Black fingerless gloves were strapped on her hands, and a pair of white armbands was visible around both her biceps, with black and white sneakers on her feet, with the black magatama that Itachi had bought for her seventeenth birthday hanging on a black cord around her neck. A pair of silver bangles was also visible around both her wrists, and like nearly every single member of Ragnarok who had some sort of weapon on their person, Shiki had a wakizashi hanging from a holster at the back of her waist.
"I've gotten some of my boys to keep a lookout for Danzo." Sumaru informed Shiki. "No news so far, but we're still looking."
Shiki sighed. "Well, I didn't think that it is going to be easy," she muttered. "We've been searching for him for close to five years after all. The fortress explosion is just all the confirmation that we needed that he is back in this country."
Sumaru sighed, taking a swig out of his can of beer. "How are the others holding up?" he asked Shiki. "After they've seen the fortress go up in flames, and seen all those children die?"
Shiki sighed. "They're dealing with it," she said. "But they're tough. Something like this isn't enough to put them down."
"I guess." Sumaru mused.
He then blinked and stared at something over Shiki's shoulder, and the redhead turned to see what Sumaru is so interested in, only to see a younger version of her lover standing behind her. Shiki narrowed her eyes.
"Namikaze Shiki?" The teen behind her questioned, and Shiki nodded her head, still with wary eyes, having recognised the boy almost as soon as she had laid eyes on him. "I'm Uchiha Sasuke."
"I know," said Shiki with suspicious eyes. "I've seen you countless times before. You're the captain of team Rendoku, right? An ANBU."
Sumaru tensed up from beside Shiki, and he slipped his hand into his pocket, drawing out a switchblade, flicking the blade out. The blade glinted in the light, and it looked sharp and well polished – almost like Sumaru had sharpened and polished this blade every single day.
"Stop it, Sumaru," said Shiki, placing one hand over the hand of her old friend – the one holding the switchblade. "I don't sense any other ANBUs around. He isn't here for a fight." The redhead turned back towards Sasuke. "What brings you here?"
Sasuke sighed to himself. He must be nuts to even come alone to meet the girl who is the leader of the organisation that the entire ANBU forces in Japan had been after for nearly five years now, at this point in time. He almost had a heart attack when the informant that Kisame had told him about told Sasuke that the leader of Ragnarok is his brother's lover.
Though Sasuke guessed that it explains just why Itachi had been so fidgety whenever the topic of Ragnarok came up, and why he had always seem reluctant to go after them.
"You're…my brother's lover, right?" Sasuke asked unsurely, not knowing just how to put that question across, and Shiki frowned but nodded. "I had my initial suspicions beforehand about my brother's mysterious girlfriend, as he was so down for awhile a couple of months ago that it isn't even funny. And it is right after that TV station incident." He then bowed to a bewildered Shiki and confused Sumaru. "Please. Help my brother. Help Itachi. He…is currently lost."
Shiki and Sumaru exchanged confused looks before turning back towards Sasuke. "Sasuke…is it?" Shiki asked slowly, and Sasuke nodded. "You've got me lost. Why don't you explain everything right from the beginning?"
"Right," said Sasuke with a nod. "I don't really know all the details, but after the last mission that my brother and his team were sent on – the fortress that went up in flames—" Shiki nodded to show that she understood. "—Itachi lapsed into depression. Probably seeing all those children die is the reason. He always did have a soft spot for children. After that, Itachi vanished, even though the ANBU commander had sent Akatsuki out for a first priority mission after the remnants of Orochimaru's men who are currently running amok after the rumours of Danzo returning to this country have spread. I hadn't been able to find him for nearly five days now. I'm getting worried. No one had been able to find him. Kisame told me that you might be able to find him. Please!" Sasuke bowed to Shiki. "Find my brother. Please help him!"
Sumaru and Shiki exchanged looks before turning back towards Sasuke. "Sasuke. Return to the ANBU for now," said Shiki at last. "I…can't give you any promises that I might be able to find him, but…" She sighed. "…I'll try my best. Just return for now."
Sasuke nodded, and bowed again to her. "Thank you!"
Sumaru and Shiki waited until the ANBU was out of sight before exchanging looks with each other. After what seemed like a long while, Sumaru sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "What are you going to do, Shiki?" he asked.
Shiki said nothing for several moments as she fiddled with her fingers, her arms resting on her knees as she stared at the ground beneath her feet from her place atop the railings in front of her old gang's hideout. Finally, she sighed, and looked at Sumaru.
"…I don't know."
Sumaru looked at his old friend closely. "Are you going to help him?" he asked, and Shiki shrugged silently. "I understand your conflicts." Shiki looked at Sumaru who had a small smile on his face. "I know that he makes you happy, and that is enough for me, even though I don't like the fact that he is an ANBU agent. He is the leader of the group that had killed Kankuro. You can never forgive him for this. But…" Sumaru sighed. "He has most probably been feeling guilty over this ever since it had happened. And with the outcome of his last mission…"
Sumaru gestured with his hands. "You can probably guess what he must be feeling and thinking right now. He must be close to losing his mind. You gave me, Hotaru and Mizure everything that we have right now. You saved us. You saved all of Blade. We don't blame you for what had happened back then. I'm sure that if Riku and the others were still alive, they wouldn't blame you as well. All that we wanted is for you to be happy." Sumaru smiled. "Go to him, Shiki. He needs you now."
Shiki bit on her bottom lip for several moments before glancing at Sumaru.
Shiki stepped on the accelerator of her motorbike as fast as she could go as she drove from Hagako to Hiraiko. If Itachi's ANBU teammates and his own younger brother couldn't find him, then she thinks that she might know where he might possibly be. The route that she was taking to Hiraiko from Hagako is fairly deserted, something that she is thankful for, and it also gives Shiki a chance to clear her head.
'Itachi…' she thought, twisting the accelerator gear to make her bike go even faster. 'Don't do anything stupid.'
Give me another chance, Shiki.
Just wait for me. For you, I can give up anything. Even my career.
Shiki also remembered when Neji had first told her his and Hinata's story just after they have both 'joined up' with her.
In our village, there is a ritual called the cleansing ritual. Every thirty years, our village will sacrifice a nin-user to calm the Fire Mountain. Back then, Hinata was the chosen one. I protested then. But then, they told me that 'if there is another way, don't you think that we would have done that by now?' That's what they said. But then, the village was attacked on the ritual night, and in the midst of the confusion, I took Hinata with me. And as a result, the village…doesn't even exist anymore. It was all wiped out on that night.
Shiki gritted her teeth, increasing her speed. 'Shino tried ending his life back then. So did Yugito. Gaara, Temari and Kankuro nearly died at Amachi's hands. Haku was nearly killed by her father. Hinata and Neji narrowly escaped death. So did Tenten. And I…' Her lips twisted in a half-scowl half-smile. 'If I hadn't managed to escape from the lab back then, I would probably have died as well. I managed to save them all. That's why…' Tears fell from the corners of her eyes. 'Itachi… Don't do anything stupid!'
Her speed increased.
Shiki frowned as she stepped out of the apartment that Itachi had bought in Hiraiko nearly a year ago. Apart from Itachi, she is the only one who had the key to it, and she is pretty sure that no one else knew about this place belonging to Itachi.
The blankets of one of the rooms in the apartment were messed up, with the white pristine curtains fluttering about in the strong wind as the windows were opened. Empty beer cans were also scattered all over the bedroom, along with the strong smell of liquor. Various articles of clothing were also scattered all over the bedroom.
Thus, Shiki is sure that Itachi had been here, and this is where he had been locking himself up for the past several nights.
Then where is he now?
The eyes of the redhead then went towards the forest just north of Hiraiko, and she frowned. Her instinct is screaming at her to head there immediately, and she doesn't know why, but she had a really bad feeling about this as well.
'It can't be…'
Somewhere in the forest of Hiraiko where even the most insane of men would never venture into, Uchiha Itachi was currently in there, leaning against the tree trunk of a rather large oak tree, even as the low rumblings of an approaching storm rumbled in the distance.
The young man's once neat hair was dishevelled and left undone around his shoulders instead of it in it's usual ponytail, almost like he had never heard of a comb before in his life. His face was also flushed slightly with the consummation of alcohol earlier, with a beer can in his right hand.
Hiccupping slightly, Uchiha Itachi stared at his right hand in his current alcohol induced state, not really seeing anything at all.
You don't know anything at all, do you? You don't even understand the way this world works.
You left them there to die.
Times are changing. The current situation at hand had already proven that. The age of the nin-users is slowly coming to an end.
All of them fought for the same thing. Be it the elimination of nin-users or the usage of them… All of them wanted the same thing: to have the nin-users under their control or destroyed.
An idealistic dream… One that might never bear fruit.
Maybe it's just as you've said. Maybe this is just a fool's errand. But better to be a fool than to live your life knowing nothing at all.
Itachi hiccupped, leaning back against the tree. 'Shiki…' he thought, staring at his hand. 'You're right. I… Just what have I been doing until now?'
Nin-users have the power to protect people. That's why that power is given to them.
Itachi clenched his right hand into a fist, not caring that he had dropped his beer can on the forest ground, spilling the contents of the can onto the forest bed. 'If my given power can't even protect people—'
What are you using your powers for?
'I can only kill people.' Itachi thought in a daze. 'I can't even protect the people whom I wanted to protect most of all. I kept hurting you again and again, and yet, you had always forgiven me. I'm the lowest of the low.'
Just why did you join the ANBU in the first place?
Itachi closed his eyes briefly. 'I have no idea anymore…'
You could only blindly follow orders…just like a caged bird. You don't even know what you're fighting for.
'ANBU…is my prison.' Itachi chuckled darkly to himself, one without any humour in it. 'Since when did it turn into my prison, I wonder?'
This world thrives on pain and hatred alone. Hatred rules our world. Do you seriously think that we could still continue living this lie, and pretended that nothing had happened?
Itachi closed his eyes briefly.
Once you've found your answer, then come and find me.
A small smile graced Itachi's face as he pushed himself off of the tree trunk that he was leaning on, and he then almost stumbled over his own feet in his own alcohol induced state as he walked towards the middle of the forest.
"That's it…" Itachi slurred. "Why did I never think of it in the first place?" He nearly tripped over his own feet before he straightened himself up, staring at his right hand. "This cursed power… The one that even my own parents feared…" A tear dropped from his eye. "I shall end it with me." He closed his eyes, and a light vortex of flames started swirling around him. "Disappear…Uchiha Itachi."
And a large vortex of flames then went up around him.
A voice that Itachi never thought that he'll hear reaches his ears just then, and he turned only to see Shiki leaping through the flames and hugging him around the waist from behind, despite the flames licking at her skin, obviously hurting her.
Itachi's eyes widened at that. 'No…'
"Let go of me!" Itachi tried to pried Shiki's hold on him. "You'll get burned too!"
"I won't let go!" Shiki shook her head frantically. "If you do this, we can't ever be together again!" Itachi's eyes widened at that, and Shiki tightened her hold around him. "If you still want to die, take me with you!" Shiki bit back a cry of pain as the flames licked around her left wrist.
Itachi's eyes widened. 'No… I never want to hurt anyone else with my flames. Never again. That's why…I joined the ANBU. I thought that I'd be able to fit in… I… What am I doing?'
The smell of burning leaves and grass filled Itachi's nostrils as he panted heavily, hunched over on his knees on the forest bed. "What in the world were you thinking?" Shiki shouted, both fear and anger laced in her voice as she grabbed Itachi by his shirt and brought him forward so that he is nose-to-nose together with her. "Why would you do such a stupid thing like that?"
"If it is about that fortress going up in flames, what can you even do back then?" Shiki cut Itachi off. "Nothing! There is no point in thinking of 'what if I had done this' or 'what if I had done that'! It isn't like you can just go back and change the past! The only thing that you can do is to live on, and not to make the same mistake again! Life must still go on!" Shiki breathed heavily. "Please… Don't leave me behind."
Itachi's eyes widened when he caught sight of the horrendous burn wounds around Shiki's left wrist, and he caught that hand, careful not to touch the burn injuries. But Shiki yanked her hand away from Itachi, cradling it to her chest. "I'll get Haku to take a look at it later. Don't worry about it," she said. She then glanced at Itachi. "Your brother paid me a visit. He told me what happened." Itachi's eyes widened. "Don't you see that you're worrying lots of people like that? People who care about you. You still have so much to live for." Shiki sighed. "Itachi, you gave me your love once. Now share it with the world. Your teammates need you now. More than ever."
"You're tired, aren't you?" Itachi was taken aback as Shiki placed both her hands by the sides of his face. The redhead smiled softly at him. "You're always so serious…yet timid at the same time. So strong…and also so kind. You're tired of all this, aren't you? I always thought that you were that sort of person. The first time that I've met you…and even now."
Itachi glanced down at his clenched fists. "I…am?"
"Am I wrong?" Shiki questioned. "The Akatsuki had always relied on you because you're that sort of person, aren't you? They need you now. Are you going to abandon them?"
"I…" Itachi bit on his lip, not knowing what to say. He was taken aback as Shiki touched his hair.
"It's gotten long," she commented.
Itachi smiled at her. "Because I want you to be the one to cut it."
Shiki stared wordlessly at Itachi's departing back as he rushed to wherever he had parked his motorbike, ready to rush to his comrades' aid, and a small smile then lit her face up. The redhead then dug about in her pocket before pulling out a long silver chain with a small rectangular plastic container hanging from it, in which a black data chip was visible.
Shiki closed her eyes briefly before stuffing the chain back inside her pocket. 'I'm sorry, Itachi,' she thought. 'I can't tell you everything yet.' She looked up at the night sky. 'It all begins from here.'
The game starts now. Let's play.
Preview of next chapter:
"Then you leave me with no other choice, nii-sama."
"A fealty of loyalty in underworld gangs is different. When you swear your loyalty to someone, it is for life until the day that you die."
"I swear my loyalty."
"I guess that it's alright…to talk about the past every once in awhile. Do you want to hear it? The past of the street gang Blade."