I am back! And no, I am not dead yet! Schoolwork and assignments have been 'growing' by the day, and I swear that the damn pile is growing, as I can never seem to finish it!
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 Eight: Blade
Hoshigaki Kisame is staring.
"You. Are. Crazy." He decided, staring at Uchiha Itachi like he had suddenly grown two new heads. "There is no way in hell that Tsunade-sama would even agree to your crazy plan!"
The two were currently in the office of team Akatsuki in the ANBU Headquarters of Leaf City. It was late at night, and thus, the two of them were the only ones left in the office as the rest of their teammates have long gone off for the night.
It had been two days since Itachi had 'returned' so as to speak, much to all his teammates' relief, as they weren't sure just how long they could keep Itachi's disappearance from the ANBU commander. Though Kisame did give Itachi the roasting of his life after their mission for scaring the hell out of him like that for disappearing all of a sudden.
Uchiha Itachi sighed as he looked over at Kisame over his pile of paperwork currently piled up on his desk. "Then would you prefer for us to continue fighting Ragnarok until all of us are dead?" he questioned tiredly. "You know how powerful they are, and just how much influence they wield in the country. Besides, we have some major problems with Danzo and Ne recently, as well as the remnants of Orochimaru's old Oto organisation, and as far as I know, Ragnarok are the only ones out there who knew more about them than anyone else!"
Kisame was silent as he thought back about his last encounter with his younger sister. It wasn't exactly pretty, and they ended up clashing blades with each other. That horrible feeling of pointing his weapon at his younger sister…the very person whom he wanted to protect… Kisame closed his eyes. He never wanted to experience that again.
Then you leave me with no other choice, nii-sama.
"I don't know." Kisame said at last. "It is true that they knew more of Danzo and Ne more than anyone else, but—"
"They're not exactly friendly with Ne. In fact, last that I'd checked, they outright loathed them," said Itachi, twirling a pen in between the fingers of his right hand with a frown on his face. "Besides, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'." He quoted. "That convincing enough?"
Kisame sighed. "It's enough to convince me, but I'm not sure about the others," he stated. "Besides, I don't want to accidentally get on Ragnarok's bad side, though it probably didn't matter by now, since Ragnarok is really pissed off with us especially after the deaths of their comrades at our hands. You knew and heard of what they can do, Itachi."
"Don't worry, I have a way to contact them. We'll then decide from there." Itachi stated.
The graveyard of Hagako is as silent as always, with not a single soul in sight.
As such, one Namikaze Shiki found it extremely quiet but relaxing as she stood in front of a line of gravestones, brushing off the leaves on the gravestones, and also cleaning the stones with a cloth that she had with her.
Autumn had fallen, and the weather is getting colder, like how it does every single time that autumn hits Japan. It is almost like a sign of warning as to just how cold that winter would be once it visits Japan within a few months.
Shiki-nee! Tohru is being mean!
Tohru! What did you do this time?
I didn't do anything!
I'm gathering comrades. To protect Hagako. Would you like to come with me?
I see. Blade huh? I don't do well as someone's follower though.
Then would you be my protector? Would you protect me?
Shiki sighed, closing her eyes, pulling at the sleeves of her coat unconsciously over the burn scars that she'd gotten when she had pulled Itachi out of that fire nearly a week ago. Haku and Hinata have plain freaked out when they saw the scars, but no matter how much healing that they have put into those injuries, it just wouldn't heal. It'll stay on Shiki until the day that she dies as a reminder as to how Itachi had nearly died that night.
Everyone's still fighting, huh? The world never changes, did it? It was this way back then, and it is still the same now. Even our contributions as Blade couldn't do much.
Live on for me, Shiki. Live on the way that I couldn't.
Shiki closed her eyes before opening them again, tracing the words engraved in the gravestone that she is currently standing in front of with her eyes.
"I know that I said that I'll live on for both of us," she whispered. "But it's easier said than done." Shiki then fell silent. "And if this is the right thing to do, then why does it hurt so much?"
"Maybe because you regretted it," said a voice from behind her, and Shiki turned around only to see someone whom she least expected to be here standing behind her, walking up the pathway that leads through the graveyard. "Shiki, we need to talk."
Shiki was silent as she stared at him. "Uchiha Itachi," she muttered.
Cat's EyeHiraiko, Japan
"Shiki told me about it," said Sumaru as he glanced at Sai who was sitting beside him, both of whom have hot cups of coffee in front of them. "She said that you've been helping her to trace Danzo's and Ne's movements."
Sai nodded. "It's the least that I could do to atone for my sins," he muttered. "Furthermore, Shiki said that she'd try to help me find Yamato-nii."
Sumaru sighed. "I see," he said. "So she believes that he is still alive too."
Silence fell between them both for a long time before Sai broke the silence. "Come to think of it, I hadn't visited the others for a long time now," he said at last. "I hadn't been back to Hagako ever since their demise. I avoided that place like the plague ever since Blade had disbanded itself."
Sumaru sighed. "Tell me about it," he said. "I do too. Mizuro and Hotaru as well. Survivors of Blade never liked to return there. I think that Shiki is the only one among us who returned there every now and then, visiting Riku and the others occasionally."
Sai sighed. "When would she stop punishing herself?" he wondered out loud.
Sumaru snorted. "Same as us: never," he stated. "She went back there every few months."
"And does it look like she's enjoying it?"
"More like torturing herself." Sumaru muttered. "I hadn't had a chance to talk about the past with anyone for a long time now."
"Yeah, the good old times…" Sai managed a small smile. "Blade… Hagako… Riku…Sara…Jun… Everyone…"
"Blade…" Sumaru smiled wistfully. "I want to return to that time. But we can never do that. Not any longer…"
"What do you want?"
Itachi winced slightly at Shiki's cold tone. Seems like she still hadn't fully forgiven him for trying to 'off' himself back then, as well as the deaths of her two comrades months prior.
"I…well… We need your assistance." Itachi stated, only to wince at Shiki's murderous glare. Good Heavens! If looks could kill, he'll be a hundred feet under. He wouldn't be surprised to see laser beams come out of Shiki's eyes.
"Assistance given freely is in short supply these days." Shiki stated bluntly. "And besides, it'll be a cold day in Hell the day that I help the ANBU. And even if I am willingly to help those bastards, my friends would rather go all friendly with Ne and Danzo than go near those fucking murderers whom you callcomrades with a ten foot pole!"
Itachi winced at this barb.
"I'm sure that we can work something out, Shiki," said Itachi. "All that we ask is yours and Ragnarok's help in finding out what Danzo and Ne are up to, alongside whatever survivors of Oto that there are."
If it is even possible, Shiki's scowl deepened. "Does it looks like I'm drunk?" she stated bluntly. "Do you take me for a fool? I know what the ANBU is like. They'll use you, then once you are no longer of any use to them, they'll discard you!" 'Just like Kakuzu.' "And the fact that Ragnarok can break into and escape from your headquarters so easily multiple times must tell you something about your vaunted security?"
"Just help us stop Danzo, Shiki!" Itachi nearly pleaded. "If Ne is on the move as well, they present a terrible threat to not only the ANBU, but to Ragnarok as well! They knew about Ragnarok and what they can do! That is why you had been investigating them so closely, isn't it? They knew who you are!"
Shiki scowled at Itachi. "You assume too much, Itachi," she stated. "I hadn't completely forgiven you yet." Itachi winced. "And you expect for me to help you? What the hell are you high on?" Itachi wouldn't be surprised to see steam come out of Shiki's nostrils. "My friends and comrades in Ragnarok…do you even know how I had found them in the first place?"
"But I can't let you do this anymore as well, Shiki! This is murder!"
"It may be as you've just said, Itachi, but we didn't have a choice." Shiki stated, narrowing her eyes at Itachi. "None of us have. We are nin-users, plain and simple. We didn't have a choice but to walk this bloodshed path and to stick together just to survive. End of story." She glared at Itachi. "And with that in mind, how the hell do you expect me to convince my friends to help you, huh? Even I'll rather go and join up with Danzo and Ne than bow my head to the ANBU!"
"I'm a nin-user," said Shiki calmly. "And not just any nin-user. A S-class type. Just like everyone in Ragnarok. Just like you. S-class types like us are pretty rare, and extremely powerful. We'll attract trouble everywhere that we go. Furthermore, I can't do anything but fight and kill people. The only good thing that I can do is to protect people. But even I'm starting to doubt that."
"I live to protect people too," said Itachi. "So I can at least understand a little of what you're thinking. But I failed once. Can I even—?"
"Then protect me," said Shiki simply, cutting Itachi off, and his eyes widened. "Protect me then." She turned around to face Itachi. "Will you protect me? To let yourself continue living, will you protect me? Until the day that you die."
Itachi stared at Shiki for several moments before smiling. "It isn't something that you even have to ask," he said.
Shiki smiled. "I guess so," she said. She then sighed. "Just go already. I want to talk with my friends alone without any interruptions. I'll think about your offer."
"Very well," said Itachi before glancing at the gravestones and bowing slightly to them, before turning towards Shiki. "I'll see you soon."
"I personally preferred it if I never see you again, but I guess that it's asking too much of you." Shiki muttered sarcastically before Itachi smiled.
Itachi then turned and left.
Shiki sighed loudly as his presence vanished. "That guy… I can never comprehend just what he is thinking," she muttered.
"And what is he thinking?" said a voice, and Shiki turned only to see Gaara and Haku heading up the pathway behind her. "We saw that guy as we were heading up here, though he didn't see us."
"I seemed to be having a lot of visitors today." Shiki muttered sarcastically, rolling her eyes skywards. "There is a reason, a number of reasons as to why I wanted to be here alone, you know?"
Haku winced. "We were worried," she said. "War is about to break out soon. Between the ANBU and us. And with you and that ANBU captain…"
"I understand," said Shiki before turning back towards the gravestone. "I can't even talk to Riku peacefully like this."
"Riku?" Gaara blinked before reading the name engraved on the gravestone. "Come to think of it, you always disappeared for an entire day on this one day every year. You always come here."
"Tonight is their death anniversary." Shiki answered simply. "The night of Blade's demise."
"I…used to believe in God," said Shiki, and Gaara and Haku both didn't even know whether Shiki was speaking to them or just voicing her thoughts out loud. "As a child, I believed in Him. I believe in Him and His will as well as the justice of the world, and fought for Him and what I believe in. But I was mistaken." Shiki clenched her fists by her sides. "There isn't a God in this world. And neither is there any justice. I learnt that the hard way." She glanced at Gaara and Haku. "The ANBU always preached about justice and all that, but those are just some nice sounding words to make themselves feel better." Shiki turned back towards the gravestone, and clenched her hands into fists by her sides. "I believe in God and Justice, and fought for them both only to realise that they don't exist." Shiki's eyes darkened. "That God doesn't exist."
"The night of Blade's demise." Haku realised what Shiki is talking about.
Shiki nodded. "That's right," she said. She then sighed. "I guess that it's alright to talk about the past every once in awhile." She turned around to face Haku and Gaara. "Do you want to hear it? The past of the street gang Blade."
"I met Shiki before Blade's formation," said Sumaru solemnly, stirring his cup of coffee with a teaspoon, making it thicker than it already is. "That was about ten to twelve years ago. Maybe even a little longer than that. I don't quite remember. By that time, I've already met Hotaru and Mizuro, and we stuck together for survival purposes."
"That was during the time of the aftermath of the war." Sai realised.
Sumaru nodded his head, and Iruka as well as his waiter and waitress found this conversation very interesting and listened in as much as they could. Apparently, Sumaru and Sai didn't mind them listening in, as they didn't bother to lower their voices.
"Hagako was the fifth town that we have tried living in," said Sumaru solemnly, recalling that chaotic time. "Even you must have known just how hard living can be back then, Sai." Sai nodded. "But the three of us hadn't even stepped foot into Hagako for longer than an hour before someone tried to kill us." Sumaru sighed. "And then again, you really don't need a reason to kill a person back in those times. At that time, the one who had saved us was Shiki." Sumaru smiled. "And then…that was when she started forming Blade."
"Sumaru, Mizuro and Hotaru were the first friends whom I'd made in Hagako when I'd 'saved' them," said Shiki, keeping her eyes on the gravestone. "I met Yamato and Sai about six months after I'd met Sumaru and the others after that."
Gaara frowned. "Yamato?"
"Sai's brother in everything but blood." Shiki answered. "He was a good few years older than us. He was the oldest of all of us. Yamato was about thirteen when I'd first met him. I was about five or six then when I'd first met him and Sai. At that time, they were starving to death in the streets. Hotaru was the one who had brought them both back to our hideout." Shiki raised her head upwards to look at the skies, thinking about the past. "Food was hard to come by in those times, especially with the aftermath of the war, and what little that we could find, we always distributed it equally among ourselves. We…were all war orphans. It was about a year later when I'd met Jun, Sara and Suigetsu, and they insisted on coming with us. And before I even realise it, we have formed a gang by ourselves, and we named it 'Blade'."
"Our power became feared, as we helped kept the order in Hagako. So much so that even the ANBU are wary of us. We used fear to keep the rest of the gangs in line, but you have to understand something: this is the only way to keep them on their toes. We can only use fear. Control fear with fear. That's why Blade is so feared back then, and even now."
"And this Riku person?" Haku asked, glancing at the gravestone. "How did you meet him?"
"It was about ten or so years ago when I've first met him," said Shiki, a small smile curling at the edges of her lips. "At that time, all of us in Blade were 'cleaning house'." She glanced at Gaara and Haku. "Basically, it meant that we were sorting out all the territories and gangs in Hagako. There were only a few places that we wouldn't touch: Hanzo and his Ame's territories." Shiki scowled at the memory of that man. "Blade might be strong and we might be unpredictable, but we aren't suicidal. We just don't have the strength to go up against his gang yet back then." She glanced at the gravestone. "At that time, we heard rumours of a particularly feared gang and their leader in District 8, and we headed there…"
"Oh yes, I remember that." Sumaru snorted. "Like always, Shiki just simply dragged us all along for the ride without even bothering to listen to us."
Sai snorted. "I didn't hear you complaining about it back then, Sumaru," he said, and Iruka grinned to himself in amusement. "But that was the first time when we'd met Riku, and also saw the first person who could stand up to Shiki equally in skill. He was also the first one to force her to use her powers. All of us in Blade knew beforehand that she is a nin-user. But she had never been forced to use her powers in a fight before. Jiraiya-sama made sure of that. He made sure that she could fight as a 'mortal' before anything else."
"I swear, Riku and Shiki's fight almost gave me a heart attack several times back then." Sumaru muttered.
Sai smiled. "Satochi Riku…the Death Reaper. Leader of District 8 of the city of Hagako, also known as Hanging Men Street."
Doors slammed shut, and everyone was ducking into nearby buildings or even alleys as the members of Blade walked down the street – both the regular members and the 'runners' – the 'minions' of Blade. And who could blame the people here, especially since Blade had quite a reputation for themselves as it is?
And the fact that they were all armed with weapons is another reason.
Suigetsu whistled as he shifted the hold that he had on his long dagger that had a jagged blade. "Man, everyone's hiding from us," he whined. "We're not that scary, are we?"
"Who cares about that?" Sara snapped.
Shiki smiled but ignored the usual bickering pair behind her. She then brightened up as she caught sight of a rather tall building which is the best-kept building in the entire district that is also the only one that is not falling apart. There was also a fence all around that building with 'Keep Out' tapes plastered all over it.
"Is that Eva's hideout? The gang of the Death Reaper?" Shiki questioned Sai who is beside her, with Yamato on her other side, the two being the information specialists and spies of Blade.
"I see," said Shiki. "Sara, do your thing."
Sara stopped in mid-argument with Suigetsu about something that had to do with weapons, and grinned. "Alright," she said before pulling out several small black balls in between her fingers, identifying them as smoke bombs as well as pellet bullets.
Suigetsu then got down to the ground, with his hands cupped together in front of him. Sara then stepped onto his hands, and was then launched into the sky, launching the bombs in her hands all around the compound of Eva's hideout.
The fence went down within a matter of moments, and it was also a matter of moments before several gang members came running out, all armed with weapons of all kinds.
"It is amazing that this guy had managed to get all these people into his gang in only a year," said Jun as he swung his dagger at a nearby enemy before pivoting around on his heel and stabbing another one in the gut.
"Less talking, more fighting!" Hotaru snapped.
Shiki stepped out of the lunge of an incoming enemy that Yamato is quick to intercept behind her, before she used that same guy as a stepping board, tossing several small daggers down at the enemies, landing on a nearby tree, resting the blade of her dagger against her shoulder.
"Shiki is going overboard as usual." Sumaru muttered as he punched another guy in the face, tossing him towards Suigetsu's direction who is having the time of his life swishing their enemies up like swish kebab.
"Does that even matter?" Mizuro asked, standing back-to-back with him.
Sumaru grinned. "Nope. Don't think so."
There was a loud crash somewhere just then, and all fighters looked up only to see that a huge hole had been blown in the wall of the building, and smoke was currently billowing out of it.
Yamato groaned. "This has Suigetsu written all over it," he groaned.
"And Sara." Sai piped in. "Put those two together, along with a fight on hand, and you'll have trouble with a capital T, Yamato-nii."
Suigetsu grinned as he parried Satochi Riku's blade. "So you must be the Death Reaper, Satochi Riku?" he stated more than questioned. "You're as strong as the rumours say you are."
Riku grunted. "There is no need to tell my name to someone who is about to die!"
Suigetsu grinned darkly. "Interesting…" he said. "No one touches this guy! He is mine!"
Suigetsu dodged Riku's swipe at him, but he wasn't quick enough to dodge a kick that came out of nowhere, nailing him in the gut. There was an explosion somewhere to his side just then as one of Riku's people came out of nowhere, but was knocked out of the way by Sara who was currently wielding her twin daggers. Satochi Riku was dashing at him just then, and Suigetsu growled, readying his dagger.
But a bare hand intercepted the blade of Satochi Riku, and the eyes of both Suigetsu and Riku were wide at the sight of Blade's infamous leader blocking a blade with her bare hand alone.
"You're as dangerous and strong as the rumours stated." Namikaze Shiki stated simply, and Riku leapt backwards immediately. "I'm Namikaze Shiki. But most people call me Death's Bringer here." She smirked darkly at Riku, and a pair of twin daggers appeared like magic in both her hands, and she took a stance. "Let's dance."
"The fight lasted for an entire three days. And for three days, not a single soul in Hagako dared to come out of their homes, as our fight with Eva could be heard and felt all over town."
Gaara and Haku almost sweat dropped at that. Are the people of Hagako that afraid of a bunch of kids?
"What happened then?" Iruka asked with interest.
Sai and Sumaru exchanged amused looks before snorting. "Riku was trounced." Sai stated. "And then again, Shiki didn't exactly get away unscathed either. I spoke with Riku about a year or two after he joined us about the battle. Even he admitted that it was a complete beating. And naturally, as the leader of Eva, he was fully prepared to be killed. But Shiki…"
"This is the first time that I'd met someone who could land a hit on me." Shiki stated, staring at the deep and long cut on her left arm where a roll of bandages was wound around it – courtesy of Sara. She then turned and glanced at Satochi Riku who is kneeling before a small altar, his back turned to her. "You're strong. The rumours don't do your strength any justice. You're also the first person who could force me to use my powers."
"Nin powers or not, it is still a tool at your disposal." Riku stated from his place before the altar. "I lost fair and square. If you had been serious right from the beginning, you would have killed me easily."
"Perhaps." Shiki agreed before pushing herself off of the pillar that she is currently leaning against, and walking towards the window where she could see that Blade were tending to the injuries of their comrades. "But it seems like a waste to kill you when you have so much talent. Why don't you join Blade? How about it?"
Riku stiffened and turned around to face Shiki, a look of shock on his face. "Join Blade?"
Shiki nodded. "I'm gathering comrades. To protect Hagako," she stated. "Would you like to come with me?"
"I see. Blade huh?" Riku closed his eyes briefly. "I don't do well as someone's follower though."
"Then would you be my protector? Would you protect me?" Shiki asked.
Riku stiffened, and didn't say anything for several moments. Shiki then sighed. "Can't make up your mind now?" she questioned. "Fine. I'll give you three days. Come to District 30 of Hagako before three days are up. Head to our hideout in Dead Men's Street. You know where it is."
Shiki then turned to leave.
Shiki tugged firmly on the bandages bounding Sai's arm, resulting in a pained scream from the boy himself. "That freaking hurts! Are you trying to kill me?"
"Of course it hurts!" Shiki snapped back. "What am I going to do with you? Do you think that you're immortal or something to be that reckless? Even if you have nine lives like a cat, you're bound to use it all with how reckless that you are!"
Yamato laughed. He then turned serious. "Shiki, are you sure that that guy will come?"
"Shiki, the Death Reaper is here." Sara poked her head in just then through the doorway, and Yamato almost choked on his spit. "Should I let him pass?"
And then, the Death Reaper himself came, walking fearlessly into the hideout of the most feared gang in all of Hagako to where Shiki sat on the worn out couch with one leg thrown over the other.
Some of the 'runners' made an attempt to stop him in his tracks, but a wave from Jun caused them to stand down as Satochi Riku stood in front of Shiki, with Sumaru standing by Shiki's side, with a hand on his weapon just in case.
"So you're here," said Shiki simply, leaning back against the couch. "I was wondering if you're going to show."
Satochi Riku said nothing before he knelt with one knee before Shiki, and all the regulars of Blade that were present frowned. Riku then used the forefinger and middle finger of his right hand to touch his left shoulder – a simple gesture only understood by the underworld gangs which marked a vow of fealty.
"I swear my loyalty." Satochi Riku stated.
"If truth be told, I wasn't really expecting for him to show up at my hideout," said Shiki, her lips pulling at the ends slightly in amusement. "I was testing him when I'd invited him to join Blade. Like everyone else, I knew of the Death Reaper, Satochi Riku. They say that he's stubborn to the point of being obstinate. I was fully prepared to kill him during our fight like all those that we have throughout that year when Blade was 'cleaning up' Hagako. It is merciless, I know, to kill the leaders of the gangs residing there when they've done nothing to us, but it is necessary if we want control. I was fully prepared to kill Riku during our fight with Eva. But something changed."
Shiki glanced at Gaara and Haku. "He was able to give me a good fight, and sometime during that battle, I grew a liking to him." Shiki chuckled. "Naturally, I wasn't expecting for him to actually swear a fealty of loyalty to me." Seeing Gaara and Haku's confused looks, she proceeded to expain. "A fealty of loyalty in underworld gangs are different. When you swear your loyalty to someone, it is for life until the day that you die."
"Rather similar to nin-user vows." Haku realised, and Gaara agreed.
"I guess so," said Shiki with a shrug. "It wasn't that long after Riku had joined Blade, maybe about a year or two later when Ne and Oto attacked, and you guys know the rest."
Haku and Gaara fell silent. "We overheard a bit about what Uchiha Itachi told you," said Haku at last. "Are you going to accept it?"
Shiki was silent. "I don't know," she admitted. "But even I know that we can't fight the ANBU like how we have been all these years. Things are changing, and not even I know if it is for the better or for the worse." She looked up at the trees before turning her attention back towards Gaara and Haku. "But I know one thing for sure though: there is a game out there; a game for survival, and the stakes are high. The guy who runs it figures the averages all day long and all night long. Once in a while, he lets you steal a pot. But if you stay in the game long enough, you've got to lose." Her lips curled up in a grim smile. "And once you've lost, there is no way back." Shiki's eyes darkened considerably. "No way at all."
Preview of next chapter:
"I believe Itachi."
'The Revolution has began. Sinners, be warned and beware. You are next.'
"I was the one to save your life! You don't get to die unless I say so!"
"Answer me one thing, Itachi. Did you kill them?"
"Shiki, what is he to you now? Do you still love him?"
"Is it for revenge?"
"Shiki, I need a favour from you."
Lost Twilight (Naruto)
The Fourth Great Shinobi War is looming, and after a brief discussion, the kages from all five nations decided to enlist the help of Tsukigakure, a village of onis and outcasts, a village brimming with hatred for the world. But would that village even agree to help them, given the fact that the leader of their main attack force had been abandoned by her father and thrown out of Konoha? FemNaru. Yondaime still alive. Yondaime bashing.
Blind Symphony (Naruto)
After an accident that had left Uchiha Itachi, a talented pianist blind, he started living in a world of darkness, not hoping for anything, and neither depending on anyone but his brother. And then, Sasuke introduced Itachi to his best friend, Namikaze Riiyu, a talented musician in her own right, and light soon started shining in his world again. FemNaru