Battle of Wills
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 Forty Three: Battle of Wills
The clash of metal against metal could be heard as blades flew, and bullets were fired from the resounding guns.
The battle against the Demon God and his army had moved to the mainland sometime ago, and it is already mid-morning by now, with the sun high in the air. And unfortunately, the battles had already wiped out quite a few towns and villages in their wake, leaving nothing but destroyed buildings, and leaving behind a town that looks more like a ghost town.
Unfortunately, that is the reality of war. And right now, this country is now facing one of the worst wars that could ever be waged in the history of mankind.
The gleam of sunlight bouncing off the metal of blades could be seen for just a fraction of a second before being followed by the sickening sound of metal entering flesh, as Namikaze Shiki and Ren stood back-to-back with each other, blood soaked weapons in their hands. Tears were already visible in their clothes, and they were clearly worn out. Sumaru and Sai stood near them, also standing back-to-back with each other, their individual weapons in their hands.
Blood was already soaking the battlefield, making it slick and wet with blood. The battle had drawn the people fighting on both sides to a large clearing known as Death Creek that is clearly living up to their name, as the numbers of dead bodies that could be seen littered all over were building up slowly. And not all of the dead belongs to the enemy.
"Just like old times, eh?" Sumaru panted, even as he bound a bandage around the hand holding onto the dagger that he is holding. "Just like back during our days with Blade, and the times in Hagako." He grinned at his friends.
"I guess." Shiki mused. "Just like back then, the only rule here is to fight until you're the last one standing. The only way to take out these guys is to aim for the head. They won't 'die' unless we do." She threw a throwing knife from the holster secured around her thigh at an approaching 'zombie', with the knife hitting it in the center of his forehead.
"If this is only the first wave of the Demon God's army, I don't even want to know what the second wave will be like." Ren grumbled, and Shiki smiled weakly.
Like what Shiki and Ren have mentioned before, the gods had taken seven days to build the world. Likewise, the Demon God will use seven days to destroy everything. They only have those seven days to save and protect their world by killing the dark god himself.
"Come on, the sooner that we end this, the better." Sai stated before diving straight back into the heat of battle. The other three soon followed his example.
Not too far away, Itachi was letting loose with his flames, and he raised one eyebrow in surprise when he saw that not a single Ragnarok member was using their nin-abilities. No. Unlike the former ANBUs, they were sticking to their weapons instead. Tenten was the most terrifying one out there, hurling around projectiles of every kind imaginable that it almost made Itachi wonder for a moment just where she'd managed to keep it all. The other Ragnarok members were also keeping well away from her, as the brunette had remarkably good aim. Every projectile that she threw always got the enemy in the head, and sometimes, a few of those projectiles easily went right through her target, and into the head of another.
"They're not using their powers." Itachi murmured in confusion, and his brother and Kisame who were both near him looked on in both surprise and confusion. "They're not using it. Why?"
"Because they don't need to," said a nearby Baled member calmly. If memory serves Itachi correctly, the name of this Baled member is Utakata or something. Utakata glanced at them momentarily, releasing three projectiles at once that were clenched in between his fingers, nailing three of the undead simultaneously. "They might be nin-users; high class ones, but unlike you people from the ANBU, they don't solely rely on their powers. The first thing that Shiki taught them is how to fight as a human." He lashed out with one foot, kicking an undead in the face, kicking them towards Midori Fuu's direction who ended them immediately by taking off the head with a quick swipe of her sword. "After that, she then taught them how to fight as a nin-user; to be one with their element." He glanced at Itachi. "That is how a true nin-user fights."
"Well, for the first day, it's turned out pretty well." Sumaru was saying that night as everyone was gathered around the campfire, having their dinner. As all of them have been fighting the entire day, only having lasted this long by relying on ration bars, they were all pretty starved, with this being their first real meal of the day. "At least no one died."
"Yeah, but it is going to get more difficult as the days passed." Haku stated solemnly. "The real battle will be on the fifth day. If everything goes accordingly to our calculations, that will be the time when the Demon God makes his move."
"Seven days…" Nagato murmured, tightening his arms around himself in a manner rather reminiscent of a scared child. Konan who was next to him hugged him to give him some comfort. "I've heard of that old tale, but I'd never really believed that it's real, you know?"
Neji snorted. "Well, you'd better believe it, since it's happening right now," he said. "The end of the world…" He muttered. Neji then shook his head. "No. We won't let that happen."
"The members of the underworld have been putting in their bid to help as well." Hinata told her cousin. "Those few who aren't really skilled in combat have taken to leading the civilians to the underground shelters. A couple of those skilled in combat are acting as guards for them. They won't be emerging until we tell them that it's safe. They have enough food and supplies there to last them for seven days. This information came from Isaribi-san. She's been acting as the leader for the underground movement, upon Shiki's request."
"Good. At least the civilians are safe then." Temari sighed. "At least that's one thing we don't have to worry about. And if Isaribi is with them, then I guess that they'll be fine. This war will probably destroy almost every building in the land though. But at the moment, it can't be helped."
Shikamaru sighed, with the strategist having been strangely silent. "War has really broken out, hasn't it?" he sighed.
"Well, Isaribi is watching over the civilians in the underground shelter, so they'll be fine." Ren told Shiki in the woods. "A few of Mist's guards were left with them for protection, so Isaribi will be safe too."
"Good." Shiki sighed.
The underground shelter is really like one underground labyrinth, with it stretching underground for miles and miles. And the entrances to it lie in nearly every town and city across Japan. Only those who knew where those entrances are knew how to get in.
Ren was silent for a long time. "I'd never thought that I'd actually see the day when you will actually protect those selfish bastards," he stated.
"Well, it's not really for them that I'm doing this for." Shiki sighed. "I actually want a place where I can call home too, you know? And if I let the Demon God do as he wants, we won't even have that anymore." She was silent for a while. "You know, I remember something that Yamato had said once." She looked at Ren. "Butterflies can't see their wings. They can't truly see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can. People are like that as well. They are blind to what's in front of them."
Ren sighed. "Yeah, isn't that the truth?" he chuckled bitterly. "Sometimes, I wonder why do people even fight. For what reason do they continue fighting? What reason do they have?"
Shiki was silent for a long time, merely looking up at the night sky. "Kisame and Sasuke both asked me the same question about a few weeks before the war commences," she told Ren. "They asked me why do I fight. For what reason does Ragnarok exists? Just why…? Why did I kill those councillor bastards?" Shiki ran her fingers through her hair. "The people of the world have turned their backs against me, the corners of their eyes are all twisted up. But the greatest pain to me, is the fact that they—that some of them became the same as them too. They think that everything will be fine as long as they pretend as such. Sorry. The world isn't such a nice place as that. And in time, everyone will soon realise this as this war reaches the peak." Shiki sighed, turning away. "I'm going to turn in soon. Tomorrow is going to be another battle."
"Yeah." Ren nodded. He waited until Shiki's soft footsteps have faded away completely as she disappeared from sight before he turned to look over his shoulder. "Have you heard enough?" He called out.
There was silence for several moments before there was a light rustling of leaves, and Uchiha Itachi stepped out from within the trees. "How do you know that I'm there?" he asked.
Ren snorted. "You must be deluding yourself if you think that you can hide your presence from me or Shiki," he said. "She already knew that you're here right from the start. She just didn't say anything." He closed his eyes briefly. "After all, she had already said all that she wanted to say. If you want to continue deceiving yourself, do as you please. But save it for until after the war."
"You make it sound as if that's what Shiki feels." Itachi told Ren frostily.
"It is what she feels." Ren told Itachi bluntly, and the Uchiha stepped back almost like he's been slapped. "I know that Gaara and the rest, and probably even Kisame had already said the same thing to you countless times. Leave Shiki be. You've already done enough to her. Now leave her be."
The war only grew worse by the day.
It had only lasted for seven days, but to us who were at the frontlines of the war—who were in the lead group who had lead the war, to take the battle straight to the Demon God himself, it felt longer than that.
It had been a war a long time coming after all.
'This is the sin of the gods, and as their descendants and the people now living in the current world, it is our duty to clean it up.' That had been what Shiki had said. But at that time, none of us realises the true meaning behind those words. Unlike us, Shiki, Ren, Sumaru and Sai have been involved in more battles and fights than they had ever wanted to see.
When I'd first met Shiki, even before Ragnarok was established, even though she doesn't have a thing to her name, even though she just has…nothing, there is something special about her, something that draws people to her like moths to flame. She just has that special power – to attract people to her, and to move people's hearts.
People like Shiki are rare. No matter what she has to endure, no matter what she has to do, she had never lost faith. She had never lost hope. She still continued believing and hoping, believing that one day, she will reach her dream.
But still, is it even worth saving now? Is this world even worth saving now? I don't even know at that time.
So many people had died by the time that the war had ended, all in the name of peace. Too many in fact. I know that war can be ugly, but that truth didn't truly sink in until I saw the end of the war. So many people have died. All of them have given their lives in order to achieve whatever peace that we have now.
But in the end, is it even worth it?
The Seven Day War, the war against the Demon God and his army – a fight for the world took a turn for the worse on the fourth day. Like what Shiki and Ren have predicted, the war and the battles grew worse. Those that we have been fighting up until then have been the soulless minions – those that have lost both their souls and their hearts, and are nothing more than just mere puppets moving according to the Demon God's will. But on the fourth day, some of the more dangerous guys came out.
On the fourth day is when we truly saw what we're getting ourselves into. The day when one of our number left us.
-Extract from Shisei Haku's diary
Shiki turned her body in several ways that is supposedly near impossible for a human body to reach, even as she grabbed the tree branch overhead, hanging from it, and she grabbed the undead that she is fighting with her thighs, twisting his head clean off his shoulders.
Panting, she dropped down to the ground once more, surveying the battlefield. Not far away from her, Ren is reloading his gun again for the umpteenth time, lashing out with his foot to kick another undead in the face, sending him towards Haku's direction who is more than happy to freeze the undead.
It is now the fourth day of the war, and like what Shiki had already predicted, the battles are getting more difficult, and their side had already suffered numerous losses. Thankfully, those aren't really people whom they knew on a personal basis, but it still didn't feel good. After all, those faceless and nameless people have friends too. Even maybe family.
"Damn it, they're sure persistent." Ren grumbled, firing off another round of bullets at a group of the undead that are heading straight towards them. Each bullet nailed every single undead straight in the head, and they fell over, unmoving.
Shiki frowned as she surveyed the battlefield. The battle had already been going on for a few hours, and their side is slowly pushing their way forward. The Demon God's army is fearsome and powerful, but nothing that they can't handle, especially if they're working together.
"Ren, where's Sai?" Shiki asked her friend who froze and quickly scanned the battlefield, searching for that familiar head of hair.
That had been their battle plan – the former Blade members would be working together, since they've been through numerous similar battles during their gang days, and would be effective enough as a tank to clear the path for the others. The others would all be pairing each other up to deal with their enemies.
Shiki had been very clear on that. No one is to fight the enemy by themselves. They are all to work in pairs or groups. It is the only way to fight the Demon God's army, since even as 'immortal' as they are, not even they could stand up to a pair of skilled fighters that could function like a well-oiled machine.
"I hadn't seen him since he has to take Sumaru back to base for the medic tent." Ren told Shiki.
Sumaru had gotten careless in battle earlier, and had almost lost his arm when a particularly ferocious undead had gotten in close to him. He had been lucky that Sai had been near him, and had immediately beheaded the guy. As blood was flowing from his wound like a river, Sai had to carry him back to base.
Shiki glanced around the battlefield. They've mostly cleared the area now, and the remaining enemies left should not pose much of a threat or a problem even. "We're heading back to base." Shiki told Ren. "I got a really bad feeling…" She immediately took off, with Ren close on her heels, confused. She will only rest her mind once she can actually see Sai with her own eyes.
The 'base' is really more of a makeshift camp that they've made. Injured soldiers were lying in makeshift beds, with the few that knew first aid tending to them. Hinata had been put to doctor duty alongside Konan, with the two being one of the few skilled healers that Shiki knew of. Nishimura Rin had also shown up on the second day of the war, volunteering her services as a doctor.
During the first two days of the war, Shiki got surprise visits from several of her friends, or even those whom she had helped in the past.
Shizune had also shown up with Genma, Hayate, Anko, and much to Shiki's surprise, Iruka, volunteering their services. Unlike the others however, Shizune is there as a doctor, and thanks to four accomplished field doctors present at the base, Shiki wasn't worried about the people fighting for their cause. Tojirama Yuki had also shown up – the girl being one of Ragnarok's clients in the past, and she had offered to help with transporting supplies, helping with the injured, and even delivering messages. Her younger twin siblings have both been left with someone whom she trusted, and Shiki is pleased to learn that the three siblings are getting on well since then.
A nearby volunteer immediately directed Shiki and Ren to one of the medic tents when Shiki had asked for Sumaru, and the two entered only to find the mentioned person lying in one of the makeshift beds, bandages bound around his left arm and neck, and even his forehead. Hinata is currently tending to Sumaru, in the midst of changing the bandages around his left arm when the both of them entered.
"What are both of you doing here?" Hinata asked in surprise. "Is the battle over already?"
"Not yet, but it should be by now." Shiki answered quickly. She then turned towards Sumaru. "Sumaru, did you see Sai?"
Sumaru is injured, but not that badly that he couldn't understand what Shiki had said. The boy looked confused as he answered Shiki. "No, I hadn't seen him ever since he'd dropped me off with Hinata, and returned to the battlefield."
Ren paled. Now he understood what Shiki is worried about. "Alone?" he croaked.
Sumaru looked nervous and worried. "I-I think so?" He made it sound more like a question. He looked scared for a moment as he looked at Shiki and Ren who have both gone pale in the faces. "D-Didn't you both see Sai? He said that he's going to rejoin both of you when he'd dropped me off back here."
"No. We hadn't seen him ever since he had taken you back to base!" Shiki said, worried. "Where is he?"
"Have you tried his communicator?" Sumaru tried to ease Shiki's worries. At the start of the war, every single one of them was issued a communicator that they were told to have on themselves at all times.
"We did. He isn't responding. It's either that, or his communicator is either broken or had fallen off sometime in the midst of battle." Ren answered, his face taking on a worried frown. "It probably won't be so bad if he's in the areas where we have fought so far. But if he's somewhere within the red zone…" He trailed off.
Shiki's cellphone blared out just then. Startled, the redhead immediately fished it out and answered it. "Hello?"
There were a few moments of silence on the other end of the line before someone spoke. "…Shiki?"
Shiki's eyes widened. "Sai?" she exclaimed, and Hinata, Sumaru and Ren turned towards her sharply. The redhead quickly put her phone on loudspeaker mode just so that the other three could hear. "Sai, where are you?" She asked quickly.
Sai didn't answer for a few moments. And judging by the background noises, he's currently in one of the battlefields. "Hey Shiki. I just thought that I should…make one last call," he murmured, his voice growing distant.
Sumaru, Ren and Shiki exchanged alarmed looks with each other. One last call? He's making it sound like he won't be returning alive. "One last call? Sai, where are you?" Shiki asked quickly, slowly growing hysterical.
"With Yamato-nii." Sai answered, and Shiki's eyes widened in shock, almost losing her hold on the phone entirely. Ren looked as if someone had just punched all the air out of him whilst Sumaru looked as if he'd just swallowed a lemon. An extremely sour lemon. Hinata merely looked confused. "I was right, wasn't I? He's alive. He's really alive. Although… I can't say that he's really 'alive' in a sense." Sai's voice shook at this point. "I just thought…that I should call and thank you…for everything."
Ren grabbed Shiki's hand – the one that is holding the phone. "Sai, where are you?" he asked urgently. "Don't go doing anything stupid! The Yamato that you are seeing right now… That is not the real Yamato! Get out of there immediately! Do you hear me? Sai!"
Hinata can only stare. That should be the first time that she had seen Ren losing his composure, and looking almost…panicked. And he wasn't the only one. Shiki looked to be half a moment away from chasing down Sai, and if Sumaru wasn't as injured as he was, she is pretty sure that he would probably be out of the tent right this moment, and going after Sai.
"…It's all right." Sai said at last after a long silence had followed after Ren's outburst. "This…is what I wanted to do for a long time. Thank you for everything, Shiki. I just wish…that I could have the chance to see the new world that you would bring about." Shiki looked close to losing it at this moment. "You, Ren, Sumaru, and everyone… All of you are simply wonderful people. The three of you are my oldest friends, and you'd never once looked at me as a traitor, even after what I'd done during my short stint in Roots. That's why… I just thought that I should call you one last time… To thank you for everything."
"Sai, don't be stupid! Get out of there! Don't you dare die like that!" Sumaru shouted at the phone, fighting to get out of the bed that he's in, but Hinata pushed him back into it. "Sai!"
"…That's that then. Bye." Click.
"No… No…! No!" Sumaru cried, struggling to get out of the bed. "That idiot! What is he thinking? That isn't Yamato! If it is indeed Yamato, the Yamato that we knew, he would have long been at our side! The 'Yamato' that is with him now… It's definitely one of the Demon God's soldiers! Sai is going to die at this rate!"
"Hinata, watch over Sumaru. Make sure he don't get out of bed." Shiki told Hinata who nodded wordlessly. "Ren, we're going!"
Shiki immediately took off from the tent, with Ren close behind her, the teen keeping in pace with the redhead. "Do you even know where Sai is?" Ren asked quickly.
"No. But I know someone who can find him," said Shiki quickly, heading back into the direction of the battlefield that they have just came from. "Haku and Temari could find him with their abilities."
Sai ended the call on his cellphone and turned his gaze back to the brunette that stood across from him.
Said brunette is a few years his senior, with dark brunette hair that sticks up in all directions, being dressed in a black high collared shirt that was opened at the neck, with black trousers and combat boots, along with a long black coat that reaches nearly to his thighs. Clutched in his right hand is a long gleaming sword that looks as if it could deal a lot of damage to Sai should any of his hits connects. And judging by how the brunette handled the sword, Sai could tell that he's a master at swordsmanship.
'No wonder I can never find you, no matter how hard I have looked these past eight years.' Sai thought mournfully as he looked at the adult across him that bore such a striking resemblance to his beloved blood brother. 'You really are dead, aren't you, Yamato-nii? That's the only way that you can be here right now, fighting in the Demon God's army. But this must be some kind of joke… Why must he use you? Why must you show up in front of me with that face? Is this my punishment? For everything that I've done? If so, I'll accept my fate. But I'll take you with me. I can't let you hurt my friends…' He closed his eyes briefly.
"Sorry Shiki." Sai whispered beneath his breath. "Looks like…I can't keep my promise to you in the end." He closed his eyes briefly before opening them again, looking at his opponent. Sai then slid two short swords out of the sheathes at the back of his waist. "Ren… Take care of Shiki. Make her happy." He murmured. He then hardened his gaze as he looked at his opponent who looked at him with the familiar emotionless eyes that every soldier in the Demon God's army possesses. "Yamato-nii… Here I come."
"Haku, not done yet?" Shiki asked her friend who is currently kneeled by the side of a puddle, even as different colours shimmered and shone on it, as Haku focused her power.
"You're disrupting my concentration!" Haku stated, annoyed, but she didn't take her eyes off of the puddle of water. "Don't worry, I'll find Sai!"
Ren turned his eyes towards the skies. 'Hotaru. Mizuiro. Jun. Sara. Suigetsu. Watch over Sai.' He prayed.
Sai coughed out blood as his back impacted hard with the trunk of the tree, and he got to his feet shakily, ignoring the steady flow of blood from the injury by his side. Splotches of blood could already be seen in this part of the clearing that they were in, yet Sai didn't care.
Clutching his blades in his hands, Sai glanced at Yamato across him who still looked as clean as a whistle with barely a hair out of place. In the first place, it had been Yamato who had taught him to fight, and had even taught him how to use swords. The guy had been a genius with swords and is a remarkably skilled fighter prior to his meeting with Sai, and then the rest of Blade, and he been a real asset to Blade during their days back in Hagako.
'Even though I know that that is not Yamato-nii, those moves… Everything is screaming at me that that is Yamato-nii!' Sai thought desperately. "Yamato-nii! Try to remember! Have you forgotten who you are?" He screamed at the emotionless brunette.
The soldiers of the Demon God's army are resurrected humans. In other words, they are living breathing people once upon a time. And if this…undead standing across him right now is indeed Yamato, then he must have some memory of Sai, of Shiki, and of Blade too.
Blade had been a prominent part of the lives of their members. And even years after Blade had been officially disbanded, no one had forgotten their lives as members of Blade. Even now, the name Blade is still spoken about with fear in the underworld.
"I'm not your brother." 'Yamato' said emotionlessly, speaking rather like how a robot would. "The Demon God created me by using the original host – the one you speak of, Yamato. I am Tenzo. I am that which answers to the Demon God's will. I am his shield and his sword. If he needs me, I will cut down any that opposes him and stands in his path."
Sai shook his head. He is so close! "No! You're Yamato-nii!" He nearly screamed. "'I believe that with a strong will, one can even overcome death'. This is what Shiki used to tell us in the past! Have you forgotten all that? Blade. Shiki. Sumaru. Hotaru. Mizuiro. Jun. Sara. And Suigetsu! Have you forgotten everyone? Have you forgotten me? Wake up, Yamato-nii!"
A flicker of some unknown emotion appeared in Tenzo's eyes, but it was gone so quickly that Sai didn't even notice it. "If we can't go back to the times of the past…" Sai flung the two blades in his hands towards Tenzo who deflected them easily with his sword. It only distracted him from Sai for just a moment. That moment is all that Sai needed. He immediately clung onto Tenzo, entrapping his limbs with his own body. The younger boy then slid a long sword out of the sheathe on his back – a sword that had once belonged to Yamato. "Then let's go together to the next life…" Sai whispered before thrusting the sword through Tenzo's back, with the long blade of the sword impaling them both in vital spots.
Tenzo coughed out blood even as a look of recognition appeared in his eyes.
"What did you say? I dare you to say that to my face!" Sai got into Sumaru's face.
"With pleasure!" Sumaru shouted back. "You want to take this outside? Then let's go!"
"The both of you, cut this out!" An annoyed Sara bopped the two males on their heads, causing them to nurse the nice bumps. "Every single day, you do this…" She almost groaned. "Don't you ever get tired of arguing? I know for one that I'm tired of listening to you two fight!"
Not far away, Yamato who isn't standing too far away from Riku and Shiki laughed, a book in his hand. "He seems to be getting with the others just fine. I'm glad." He smiled. "I was afraid that bringing him with me to Blade might be a mistake."
"I've told you, didn't I? As long as it's someone whom you think is all right, then it's fine." Shiki looked at her friend. "Besides, he brightens things up around here, even if his jokes are kinda lame."
Yamato laughed. "It reminds me of a saying that I'd read once," he smiled. "Butterflies can't see their wings. They can't truly see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can. People are like that as well." He sighed. "They are blind to what's in front of them."
Yamato let out a gasp. "…Sai…" His name passed from the brunette's lips before he slowly turned to dust.
Sai coughed out blood, as the blade remained embedded in his chest, near the heart area. Slowly, with what remained of his remaining strength, he pulled the sword out, with it falling with a clatter to the ground. The teen then dragged himself over to the nearby tree, and leaned against it, breathing heavily, gasping, even as he tried to inhale some oxygen. But to no avail. Black spots were already starting to appear in his vision, and he could barely feel his limbs anymore.
He had said so himself in the past, that he is not afraid to die. After all, if you are in the underworld, or if you are in this line of business, and you are afraid to die, then you are better off not doing this at all. You are either in this right until the end, or you stay the hell out of it.
So why? Why is he feeling like this now?
Sai choked and coughed out blood. He feels so tired all of a sudden. Is he…going to die here? Is he really…going to die alone? He had envisioned the way that he is going to die so many times, but not like this.
In the end, is this his punishment?
Is this…the end?
This is the sight that Shiki and Ren, being followed by Haku, came across as they arrived at the same clearing where Yamato and Sai had their battle just a few moments ago.
They didn't see Sai immediately at first. They first caught the strong stench of blood as the wind changed directions, blowing it into their faces. All three stopped in their tracks in horror as they saw the prone figure of Sai leaning against the tree trunk, his clothes almost completely drenched in his own blood.
Shiki was the first one to snap out of her shock and began moving towards her old friend. Ren and Haku were just right behind her.
"Sai!" Shiki called out as she reached Sai's body, kneeling by his side, Ren and Haku on his other side. Ren had a pained look on his face, and Haku immediately began trying to heal Sai. But the ice maiden knew, like the other two, that it is futile. Even nin-healing at this point is pointless. Shiki's lips trembled with emotion even as her hands shook. She had absolutely no idea what to do. "No…"
Why is this happening?
Shiki tried to stop a straggled sob from escaping, but she failed.
She didn't know what to do to save Sai.
She couldn't save him.
"The blood isn't stopping!" Haku cried out in frustration, even as she tried and failed to stop the blood from flowing. "Stop…! Just stop!"
Ren grasped Haku by the arm silently, and she turned tear brimmed eyes towards the silent teen. Ren looked solemn, and there is a look in his eyes that told Haku that the boy knew that Sai wouldn't be making it.
"Enough." Ren said softly. "It's too late. It is futile, and you know it."
Slowly, Haku let the soft healing green glow around her hands die out and she dropped her hands by her sides, as she tried hard to stop the straggled sobs from escaping. She is a healer, damn it! Why can't she save him? Why can't she save anyone?
Kankuro. Sasame. Jiraiya. And now Sai.
Shiki bit on her bottom lip as she looked at Sai, the obvious sword wound in his chest where blood was pooling from like a fountain, staining his already dark coat an even darker colour as he coughed, his life slowly seeping away from him.
With a shaking hand, Shiki reached out and shook Sai by the shoulder slowly, her other hand resting on his limp right hand that would soon have no warmth left. Her voice almost cracked up as she spoke.
"Sai. Wake up." Tears fell onto the ground—tears that Shiki didn't even realise were falling from her eyes. How long has it been since she'd last cried? Probably the night when more than half of Blade had perished. A sob tore from her throat. "Please…"
It isn't fair.
This can't be happening.
Sai took in several weak rasping breaths, sounding almost like he had a bad case of asthma, his eyes slightly glazed over and unfocused – almost like he can't be sure of what he's seeing in front of him. He coughed, spilling more of the crimson liquid from his lips.
"Shiki?" he rasped weakly, crimson blood spilling over his lips with each spoken word. "Ren? Haku? Is that you?"
"Yeah." Shiki said, trying to keep her voice from shaking. "It's us. Everything is going to be okay." Her lips trembled with emotion. "Everything… Everything is going to be just fine."
Ren's lower lip trembled. "…Did you see Yamato?" he asked at last.
Sai coughed harshly. "Y-Yeah…" he rasped. "But he didn't remember me. But in the end… Maybe he did. No…" He coughed harshly. "I'm sure he did." He took in several rasping breaths, gasping for air as he found it more difficult to breathe. "Shiki… Please… You have to go after the Demon God. End it. Stop him at all costs."
"Sai…" Haku murmured.
Sai coughed harshly. "In the end… This will really…be the end of Blade, won't it?" he rasped, smiling weakly up at Ren and Shiki. "Hotaru. Mizuiro. Jun. Sara. Suigetsu. Yamato-nii. And now me. Now… You both…and Sumaru… You three are now really…the last ones…remaining of the legendary street gang Blade."
Shiki said nothing for several moments. "You know this as well as I do, Sai," she said at last. "Just like back then… Even if Blade is no longer around, our legend will still live on. People will forget what you said. People will forget what you do. But people will never forget how you made them feel."
Sai coughed. "T-Tell Sumaru…that I'm leaving Baled…to him. And tell him…that I'm sorry…for everything," he rasped.
Sai chuckled weakly, but that only made him cough harshly, spilling more of the crimson liquid from his lips. "I've never regretted it…" he rasped. "Getting to know everyone… Our days with Blade…in Hagako…" A tear trickled from his eye. "I…just wished that I could have more time with everyone…" He coughed harshly. "Hey Ren…" Ren nodded. "You once said…that you do not fear death, don't you?" Ren nodded silently. "I've been thinking recently… If you in the underworld…then you have no business fearing death. I…know that. But…" He coughed harshly before turning to look at Shiki. "But… I'm scared, Shiki…" He admitted, sounding almost like a scared child. Tears were slowly falling from his eyes, flowing down his cheeks. "I…don't want to die…! I don't want to die!"
"We're right here." Shiki said, not knowing what to say to comfort him. What can she say anyway? "We're right here, Sai." She repeated, taking his limp right hand in her grasp in order to give him some comfort.
"It's…all over." Sai breathed heavily, his right hand tightening around Shiki's hand. "It's over. This is it for me. At the very least… I got to see Yamato-nii for the last time. I knew…that I wouldn't be living to see the end of this war." He coughed harshly. "And I really wanted to see the kind of world that you would build too." He told Shiki. "Even now, I can…imagine it. A place with no discrimination. Where we can live as we please…"
Shiki choked back straggled sobs. "Damn it, Sai! Not you too!" she shouted. "I'm not some fucking repairman – there to pick up the pieces that you guys left for me! You and Hotaru and Mizuiro and Kankuro and Sasame! Why are you guys such fucking martyrs? I can't…" She hit the ground with her other fist. "I can't do this…! I can't do this without you guys! What is the point in building a new world if you guys aren't there too? I don't want a new world if I have to give my friends up to have it! Don't…leave me too, Sai… You guys…are all that I got left now…"
Sai managed a weak smile. "Don't go soft on me now. You still have a much more important job to do, don't you? Make your way to the end. Destroy the Demon God. You can't fail." He rasped weakly. "Ah… The sunset… I can see it… Do you both…remember? Back in Hagako… We always used to sit on the roof…of our base…and watch the sunset from there. I've…always loved it. The sunset. It's like…it's signalling a new…beginning. Hope. I'm glad…that I can see it again…for the last time."
Shiki wiped the tears away with the back of her right hand, trying to hold them back. "No. Please…" She had never felt so helpless before in her life. She couldn't do anything but just to hold Sai's hand as he slipped from this world to the next. "Please." Shiki's vision was blurring because of the onslaught of her tears. "Please, Sai…don't die."
Sai's continuous coughs had subsided by now, and Shiki wasn't sure if that was a bad or a good thing.
"Shiki… Ren…" Sai smiled weakly at them. "Am I…of some use…in the end?" He wanted to know. "My debt…is it repaid?"
Shiki nodded. "It has already been repaid a long time ago," she told Sai.
"That's…good…" Sai rasped. He then smiled as he turned towards Ren and Haku. "Ren, take care of Shiki." Ren nodded. "The rest…will be up to you…" His words were slurred by the crimson blood leaking from the ends of his lips. "Is this…Death?" He slurred. "Is Death is this peaceful…then I'm no longer afraid." He coughed slightly. "I wonder…what Hell is like? Bet…it's fun."
Ren's lower lip trembled with emotion. "…If you see the others down there, tell them… Tell them that when we see them in the next world, we can finally face them proudly and tell them, 'Our war finally ended'. That everything that we've been fighting for, and what they've given their lives for… It is finally over. We'll end this. I promise."
Sai smiled weakly and nodded. "Yeah… I'll tell them…" he whispered. "I'm…so tired… I'm so sleepy… I'd like to sleep now."
Shiki bit on her lower lip, choking back the sob in her throat. "Then go to sleep," she said, forcing the words out, feeling like something had just stabbed her heart with every word. "Go to sleep then, Sai. I'll see you once you wake up. I'll be right here."
Sai smiled a small smile at Shiki. He said nothing. He didn't have to. At this point of time, words are no longer necessary. There was nothing but just silence for several moments, as Sai stared at something that they couldn't see, taking in several rasping breaths as he did so.
Ren, Shiki and Haku didn't look away; they couldn't afford to.
Then slowly, Sai's eyelids shut, the up-and-down breathing motions of his chest stilled completely as he stopped breathing. The fingers of Sai's hand grasping Shiki's hand fell away, as his hand went limp in her grasp.
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!"
Shiki choked back a straggled sob.
Haku rubbed away at her tears before looking away. "Don't look away." Ren told her, and Haku looked surprised. Ren looked solemn. "Remember this. The only time when you can cry on the battlefield…is when it's all over."
Haku watched as Sai's body slowly sank down to the bottom of the small shimmering pool in the Bijuu Shrine, watching as Sai looks almost as if he's asleep instead of being dead. The ice maiden then got to her feet, wiping away her tears as she looked up into the majestic statues of the Gods of Creation.
"I know that I'm not the most stout believer in you and the legends of the Bijuu Nine," she said. "I'd long stopped believing in you. I stopped believing and hoping. But this time… If it isn't too much, I want to call for a miracle. It's the only thing that I can do now." She looked up at the statue of the leader of the gods – the Kyuubi himself. "If you don't want to do this for me, at least for Shiki. She had never given up. She kept believing in you, despite everything. That's why… Just this once… Please… Bring Sai back!" She begged. "I'll deliver any price that I have to. I'll pay it. Just this once… Grant this wish."
Haku waited, but nothing happened. She then smiled sadly to herself. "I guess…that it is too much a wish, huh?" she murmured. She then looked at Sai's body in the pool. "Sorry Sai. Sorry Shiki." She whispered, before turning and leaving the shrine.
Not even a few moments after she had left, the nine stones set in the ground of the pool began to glow softly.
I hear and deliver this wish.
In the pool, Sai's fingers twitched.