Snap Back To Reality 31
I reached out my hand only for my body to seize and my legs to buckle as an intense paralysing pain made me crash to the ground. I let out a shaky breath as my heart stopped for a second and I felt the vessels in my body overheat and burst inside of me, sending a thousand sparks of agonising needle like stabs through me. It started from my tongue and travelled down, and then the weight of a body on top of mine cracked whatever hope I had of winning. I wheezed painfully, whole body shaking in a tremor of agony, but when I looked up to see Danzo, it didn't compare to the dread that chilled my very soul. I was paralysed, and the gates were only a few hundred meters away, but they looked so impossible to reach. Between them was Danzo.
An impenetrable iron wall.
No! No, I had been so close. I looked at the Nara compound as tears blurred my eyes. The weight of the hand on my back and the pain seizing my chest and making me shudder, reminded me of my failure. I didn't struggle when I was picked up by the ROOT agents. I had failed.
I felt a startling numbness when I was Shunshined straight back to ROOT headquarters. I was grabbed by shoulders and forced onto my knees in front of Danzo. His presence was suffocating. I couldn't bring myself to look at him and instead just stared at the floor in horror. Why? Why had it come to this? Anything but this.
"Your betrayal was disappointing," Danzo said, cold, hard, and unforgiving.
My betrayal? When had I ever even sworn allegiance to him? My thoughts died down to a muted hum after that. All the plans and contingencies I had, did not prepare me for this. Not even grovelling on the ground, prostrating myself, or begging would get me anywhere. What was done was final, a last bid of desperation, and now there was no escape, just an ultimatum.
"Bring Kusari in."
I shot my head up. Why Kusari? They brought out the boy, my partner, and forced him on his knees. I jerked up when the ROOT nin pulled out her tanto. The hands holding my shoulder tightened in painful pressure, their combined weight pinning me to the ground, and I craned my neck up desperately, glimpsing vivid images of a car crash. The weight of my responsibility reared its head at me, and I found myself watching once more in complete helplessness.
"Kill him," Danzo said.
No, no, no, no!
"Stop! Please stop! I'll do anything! Just please—no more!"
There was a desperation in my voice that cut through the thick silence, through the barely concealed impassiveness that Kusari had maintained despite the shaking of his hands. Danzo held out his hand before the ROOT nin could draw any more blood from Kusari. The boy was looking blankly ahead, and I lowered my head in defeat. What could I do now? I could do nothing.
"This was just a taste of what I could do to your brothers should you disobey me again. You have been warned Utsuro. One more misstep and there will be more lives than your parents on the kill list."
I had never felt so hopeless before. Never felt the weight of my soul being crushed so badly. I just nodded and stood up shakily when the hands holding me down removed their weight from me. I blinked back the pain and knew what I had to do.
I cooked dinner. I made shrimp fried rice with a side of miso soup, and then I closed my eyes and felt that odd numbness recede. I had a day limit before the kill order would be extended to the rest of my family. Today was my last chance. There were several ROOT ANBU-level agents tailing me, and the instructions I had been given were explicit. One drop of the Denrobato frog's poisonous secretion and it was enough to make anyone go crazy. I was going to murder my own parents without even doing them the courtesy of making it clean and unpainful. I felt a heat bubble inside my stomach, and I crushed it down, like I did with the rest of my thoughts.
"Hina-chan you're making dinner?"
I turned around to see dad pull out the stool and sit down. I froze for a second before nodding, unable to really speak. Could I really kill him? He was my dad, and I loved him. I remembered sitting on his shoulders, watching the Kabuki performance, eating katsudon with him, learning how to bake for the first time… hearing his loud rumbling laughter had always been a source of comfort. I put down the food, and I knew I couldn't do this. I made my way to him before climbing onto his lap and burying my face into his shirt. I had never cried in front of my parents, not since I was three. I didn't have the right to cry now, even though I desperately wanted to. Instead I held onto him tightly, unable to hide the shaking in my limbs. Taking selfish comfort in the arms of an adult, my dad, for one last time.
"Y-you were right. Kaasan was right. I-I don't want to be a Shinobi anymore," I said shakily, my voice wavering with my body before I cracked. "I don't want to be a Shinobi anymore. Please. Please, not anymore."
My breathing was ragged, my throat constricting my air like it was punishing me for my wasted actions, hurting me for failing so bad. Was this the last time I would hug him like this? Why did I have to fail him so terribly? Why did he have to embrace me tightly like I deserved his protection and love?
"You're a really brave girl Hina, and you know I'll fight tooth and nail to get you out, even if it's impossible. We can find a way."
There was no way. The impossible was the impossible. There was no conceivable route I could think of that could make this work. I had failed, failed so terribly that the consequences would be more far reaching than just my own well-being. I let out a terrible sound, a mix between a scream and a cry, as I bit my tongue. It sounded like pure unadulterated frustration. Why? What right, did I have to let this man comfort me now when I was going to kill him?
"Nori… what happened to Hina?"
I turned to see Yua come into the kitchen. I let out another pathetic shiver, unable to quell the trembling in my body. My hands were shaking, I was sweating, and it was hard to breathe, let alone to look at my mother… whom I was going to murder. I couldn't even hold it back, this pathetic, undeserving display of weakness. How much lower could I fall than I already had?
"I… I don't have any right to say this, b-but I'm sorry," I said bitingly, as I wondered just how much more I could hate myself.
"Hina… oh Hina, you don't have to apologise."
Yua cried as she pulled me from dad and into her arms. I hugged her back tightly, my selfishness not stopping even now. I still couldn't bring myself to calmly execute them like I had been ordered to, even when Taichi and Tsukiya's lives were on the line. I had no right to screw that up too. I pulled away and forced a smile that felt utterly disgusting and revolting.
"I-ah… I'm sorry about that," I mumbled. "L-Let's just eat ok."
It didn't escape my notice that they sent each other worried glances. I went to the kitchen and shovelled in the food into the bowls before pausing at Yua's. I was told to put the poison here, then to do my level best to make it all look like she had a mental breakdown. I pulled out the veil and dropped it into the bowl numbly. It was like I was fluctuating from feeling absolutely nothing, to feeling everything all at once. Now the ice-cold numbness had taken over, and to my absolute horror, it didn't leave, not when I sat at the table and put her plate in front of her.
"You made food?" Taichi asked, carrying Tsukiya in his arms.
I simply nodded. To my surprise Yua turned to Taichi and shook her head at him. "Taichi, I think you should go upstairs tonight. We want to discuss something with Hina. Here take a bowl before you go."
Yua sent me a look that asked silently if it was safe, and I blinked in surprise before nodding. She handed the bowl over to Taichi, who looked at us, frowned in some understanding that things weren't ok, before he conceded.
"…Okay kaasan," he said unsurely, sending her a look before leaving.
We sat in tense silence until we heard his door close, and then Yua's green eyes turned to me… with understanding. I blinked back in shock when she reached over and put a hand on mine. I flinched back at the hand coming at me before forcing myself to stay still. I had no right to react like that to them, not when I was going to kill them.
"Hina… I understand."
I didn't reply. How could she understand? She knew nothing. She knew nothing of the horrible act I was going to commit today.
"You're going to kill us."
"What? Yua, I don't think you should accuse—" dad began, but Yua cut him mid-way, her eyes never leaving me, never wavering.
"It's true isn't it," Yua said looking at me with absolute certainty.
How did she… how did she know? I was more surprised when she came over and pulled me into a hug. Why was she not running away? Why?
"How did you know?" I asked.
"Hina—no…" dad whispered.
He slumped back into his chair and took in a deep shuddering breath. Mom didn't let go of me, and I was pathetic enough to hold onto her desperately despite knowing what I was going to do. Her warm fingers stroked through my hair, and down my scalp gently, and it hurt, hurt more than any wound.
"I always knew. The day you mouthed 'shinobi listening' I knew our time was short. The shinobi world is dark and dangerous, and I failed as a mother for being unable to keep you out of it, just like I failed my aneki."
"Hina," I whispered in realisation.
That day when mom called out in panic that she had 'failed Hina again', I thought she had gone slightly mad from paranoia. She hadn't. She had recalled her aneki. A sister I had never heard about, I realised.
"My aneki wasn't as physically strong a shinobi like you. She was an infiltration specialist, barely scraping by to get a position as a Chunin, and she was good at what she did, but she knew too much."
Mom's voice cracked at the end and I clung onto her tighter. They had killed her, hadn't they? Executed their own shinobi to keep whatever secrets they had. What was it that she found out that warranted such drastic measures? Was this why mom was always against shinobi? I didn't need to ask to get my answer. I understood now, understood why Yua always looked down on shinobi, why she was so afraid of me taking this path. I had been so foolish. So foolish to not take her advice.
"I-I failed you," I whispered numbly.
"No Hina, if anything we did."
I blinked up in disbelief as mom smiled sadly at me. Her expression turned worried and I knew I didn't deserve this level of love from her or dad. I couldn't stop them from hugging me though, couldn't help the prickle of pain I felt when I took in their scent knowing it was the last time.
"Hina, I need to know… have they ordered you to kill Taichi and Tsukiya?" dad asked, voice cold.
"No, just you two," I whispered, looking at him warily.
He smiled in clear relief. I felt my hands shake, and then he held them in his own, engulfing them, and I was once again reminded how small I was. I looked up into his kind, tired brown eyes, and they had not a single ounce of fear, just protectiveness.
"You didn't fail Hina," he said emphasising each word as if it were more important than any treasure. "I know you. You would do anything else if you could, and you would rather die than fail to protect your family, because that's who you are. I know you don't have a choice, and that you're doing this to protect your brothers. We love you."
Mom continued before I could speak. "You didn't fail Hina. Today, we simply have to do our duty. You put your life on the line for us time and time again, and I ran away like a coward. Today we are going to go through with whatever plan you have been ordered to carry out."
I didn't expect this. I just nodded and went back to sit down on my seat, and so did they. The food in front of them looked like a death sentence. A last meal. They had so entirely disregarded all my failures and told me they loved me anyway, and I had no words to give them, because it didn't change anything. I was still going to kill them. I was still going to fail either way. Their willingness to die for my failures hurt more than their ignorance would have.
I explained the plan, coldly, methodically and without any infliction in my voice, because I didn't doubt if there was even a hint of emotion in my voice, that I would crack and run away. I noted how their eyes were still determined, but how they paled, and their hands shook from instinctual fear. There was none of the satisfaction that came from earning that reaction from a battle here. Just shame.
"We—we will do this," dad said, taking in a deep breath. "Hina, I know this is unfair of us to ask of you but take care of your brothers."
They were… trusting me despite all this. I nodded, looking down. How exactly did anyone say their last words, a goodbye to their own parents, when they were the ones killing them? I pocketed my shaking hands and took in a deep breath preparing myself.
"I will with my life," I said.
"It's unfair that you have to be strong Hina," mom said looking down with anger. "It's unfair, but I know you can do it ok. You're the strongest person I know."
I'm not strong.
If I was truly strong then this wouldn't be happening. I was weak, pathetic, and a failure. I thought I could change, be better, and now I was proven that nothing could fix someone like me. But, my self-hate, my useless weak self, was the only one between Danzo and the rest of my family. I was the only one who could do anything, no matter how limited, to keep them from my brothers. This thought firmly planted me in place.
I watched as dad put a hand on mom's and they took in deep fearful breaths. I watched as they both began eating their meals. The moment Yua had taken a bite of her poisoned food, I knew it was done. There was no turning back. Dad put a hand on mine and I began eating too, chewing the food that tasted like blood. I looked up to see mom's hands shaking and dad's feet tapping the floor. They were trying to be brave, but they were scared, and yet they were still comforting me.
"How long before the… poison takes effect?" mom asked.
"5 minutes," I whispered.
"I-I'll take the kitchen knife and stab you Nori—but I'm sorry if it's not clean," she said shuddering.
It was painful to hear her discuss this. I wondered briefly if this was how Itachi would feel. This warring mixture of fear, despair, and hatred. I had messed things up so much I had forced my own parents to commit suicide. Now they were discussing killing each other because of me. A bubble of hysterical laughter nearly ripped from my throat, but I held down the ugly bubbling emotion inside of me that didn't make any sense.
"Don't you dare blame yourself Hina," dad said, narrowing his eyes at me, before he blinked back tears. "This is some good fried rice."
"It is good," mom agreed, her breathing a little more ragged, and her skin perspiring more.
It was taking affect. I couldn't bring myself to eat anymore. Not today. I put down my chopsticks and felt betrayed by my body when the tears sprung from my eyes again. On and off, the emotions came and disappeared. I felt like I was going insane.
Mom jolted up off her seat, hands moving to her neck to scratch her skin harder than she would, her pupils dilated. She shakily walked over to the kitchen and pulled out a sharp knife, and I watched numbly as it shook in her hands.
"I-I'm sorry Nori," she said, voice barely a whisper.
"It's ok. Do it, now while you can think."
Dad got up and so did I. He walked over to the kitchen and pulled mom into a hug. My heart twisted. They pulled each other into an embrace, and I walked over hesitantly. Mom's hands were shaking. This was my fault. I gripped her wrist, the one with the blade and she jerked, her breathing heavy. She was slowly devolving into a state of paranoia and fear. Her body would register us as risks. I didn't stop even when she pulled the knife my way out of sheer instinct. I gripped her hand tightly before it could stab me, and her eyes widened in shock as she realised what she was about to do. I didn't waver, not when I had no right to.
"I-I will direct the blow," I said, voice so even it surprised even me. "I will make it quick."
"You don't have to Hina," dad said, looking heartbroken.
"I do… I have to."
I could do this one thing. I could make their deaths as painless as possible. A small mercy for the things I did to them. I gripped her wrist a little tighter and put it right above dad's heart. Here… a quick death, but not one so unrealistic that a civilian couldn't have chosen it. Not the fastest way to kill someone, but faster than most. It surprised me how logical and cold I was being right now.
"Do it now Yua. I—I love you. I love both of you with all my heart," he said, tears now readily flowing from his heart.
The smile he gave us made me realise just how brave he was. He was about to die, and he looked like the picture of strength. I had never felt such a deep respect for anyone in my life.
I don't know how mom was fighting the effects of the poison, but she was stronger willed than I imagined. Even now she hadn't pushed in the knife. I would have to do it. I felt the bile rise to my throat but held it back. Before she could say another word, back out, or fall to her base instincts, I pushed the knife in. The sick crack of bone and muscle rung loudly in my ears, and I felt as dad dropped to the ground, his heart giving out after a few seconds… then death.
Mom dropped the knife and stared at her hands in horror. Her face was sweating more than usual when she let out a blood curdling cry. I jumped back purely out of instinct as she lunged at me. The poison had worked its effects. She had lost her inhibitions and her adrenaline had spiked. Taichi would come out soon… and he would witness mom attacking me, and I would kill her.
Taichi did rush into the room. Just like I had known he would after having heard mom's scream. His gaze fell onto dad and he froze, eyes going wide in shock. Mom noticed him and changed her attention from me to him, rushing at him. I tackled her easily from the side and watched as she cracked her back into the wall. Right now this wasn't my mother, this might as well be a rabid animal. She lunged wildly at me again but this time I knew I should end this… her misery.
Tiger → Hare → Dragon
"Wind Release: Wind Blade," I whispered before creating a blade of wind around my hand and stabbing it straight into her chest.
It felt like the world had stopped. The wet warmth around my arm snapped me back to reality and it dawned on me that I had impaled my own mother. My fingers shook in terror as I pulled out and caught her before she dropped. Her eyes caught mine, and her breathing quickened as she smiled. She put a warm blood-stained hand on my cheek before she whispered her final words.
"Hina, let this go. P-please let this go. P-promise me."
Her hand dropped and I watched the last bit of light fade from her eyes. The pain was so incredible that I had to stop feeling it to keep my sanity. I held her body and listened numbly to the chilling scream ripped from my brother's throat.
If you want to see ART for this chapter, it's up on Archive of Our Own, under the same story name, although my author name on that is (jaz_hop) If only fanfic let me post art up. I swear this would be in comic format for the fight scenes then XD
I swear to god I nearly cried writing this chapter. ಡ_ಡ Cause Suzuki Noritaka was best dad, and I loved him, but Hina has way too many father figures. Like geeze girl, Peter Parker is probably jealous of you. Anyway… yup this happened. I was very nervous releasing this chapter. Danzo wanted to get rid of the support system in Hina's life and break her will to fight him. He didn't order her to kill her brothers because they'll help keep her in line for the future. This chapter legit killed my soul to write. I was near tears. ଘ_ଘ
Also I know this was depressing as fuck but trust me when I say this is the worst this story gets with how depressing it can be. The next two chapters will hopefully be a tear-jerker too. Get some nice Angst in there before things go back to relative normality. Anyway give me your thoughts on our first bit of major character deaths? How does it feel? Would it have been worse if I killed Gaku here?
M2R- Yeah Danzo doesn't want to take away everything that'll keep her in line. This was a warning to him, a taste of what it would be like if she went against him. :') Thanks for reviewing!
Cauchy- You're right there! I love dropping my characters down the deep end, before giving them a breather XD
Byakugan789- So basically the reason why Hina failed last chapter was because her seal was activated. It's a paralysis seal which also has the added benefit of making someone mute and in too much pain to do anything. Danzo wants her to kill her family herself because that's essentially how ROOT operates. It has you cut ties personally, kinda like how Kiri operates in canon with the whole kill your classmate situation. Except here, Danzo understands Hina enough to know how to keep her in line is to kill her parents. He wants to break her fighting will… but I mean Hina is pretty tenacious so good luck to him XD
ita123- I hope I didn't hurt you too much with this chapter ToT
Petrox- I died laughing at your comment. Oof that would be a terrible and fitting punishment for Danzo. XD
May525- Literally everyone XD Gaku is too precious.
Hi Exclamation Point- That's really interesting! I honestly haven't thought of my writing as movie like before, but that's a pretty apt description! Your reviews always make me die a little of joy XD
DannyPhantom619- Oh she will… eventually
firemaster101- He's going to try his darn best to break her, or he'll have a security risk in his ranks, but Hina is a tenacious little gremlin.
ThousandDaysOfLaziness- Considering this is practically an in-depth look at her tragic backstory, before the real story even starts, you're pretty accurate there. She's like Kakashi in a way. Depressing backstory, cool future.
Dacube24- Thanks! I hope what happens in the future is surprising, because I'm currently writing a really interesting politically sensitive mission Hina is on, and the twists and turns in that is just—say bye bye to canon level.
Zekral- sorry for the wait XD Here's the next chapter for you!
Nashane- Ikr Danzo is such an ass. I'm excited to post his eventual demise XD
KaminoShinigami- Angst isn't everyone's cup of tea, so drop whenever you like.
MoonKishi- Thanks a lot! Yeah, I didn't want the whole emotionless soldier route. That just ruins a character's personality.
RileyBlue00- The fact that you review almost every chapter just brings me joy so don't worry about missing out on one! I love hearing about how my readers react to these situations! Hope this chapter lived up to the tears it wrung out of me.
rssilva1017- God forbid I write a story about ROOT. Jesus grow up. Not everything is going to be catered towards you. Just drop the story instead of harassing me if you don't like the direction it's going in.
Guesto- Yup she's paralysed ToT
KadeBear- Just her parents fortunately. Little baby Tsukiya and Taichi are fine for now. The reason as to why Sarutobi has his hands tied with ROOT will be later explained. It's all war related. This whole backstory is war related. Thanks for reviewing!
Uno- Thank youuu!
anshtH- That's fair you know. Not everybody likes angst. I can totally understand if you want to drop it because of how depressing it can get. This story starts of light-hearted because Hina has different periods in her life. We're currently going through rock-bottom so she's going to be a grieving mess for a while XD. If you can't handle depression for about 5 more chapters then definitely drop!