Snap Back To Reality 47
Fuck, fuck, fuuuuuck. My thoughts were running mostly along those lines as I was confronted by a bloody swordsman of the mist… not to mention the five other Jounin that outclassed both me and Kusari. Not even a giant distraction, like I had planned on would fix this situation. We were fucking dead.
"Can we postpone this date for at least another five years?" I asked with a nervous edge to my voice.
Needle tutted in disappointment. "I would love to, but what the boss wants, the boss gets. We'll have to do the devils tango today."
Even with my imminent death, I managed to stick out my tongue in disgust at that. Why did he have to go and make it sexual? Sure I knew he was joking, but still.
A little stalling wouldn't hurt for a bit so I decided to continue speaking, my mind simultaneously going a mile an hour as I thought about the numerous options I could go with. I ended up discreetly signing to Kusari to run. There was no way we could win this. We'd have to leave the children, which was unfortunate, but I'd rather at least Kusari get out alive.
"That's unfortunate because I'm in no way at my peak ability right now," I said with a scowl. "How the hell am I meant to fight you and five Jounin. This isn't fair."
I was impressed by my own ability to sound like a whiny brat even when I was faced with my impending doom. Thankfully, Needle looked too much like he agreed, and he let out a frustrated sigh, bordering on bratty himself as he pushed back his thick mane of spiky ashen blonde hair.
"You're right this is no fun. I'll take you head on, but that little boy there is not getting in the way of our date."
He gestured to the Jounin besides himself, and my eyes widened in distress. They all jumped at once at Kusari.
"No!" I shouted in fear.
I went through my hand signs faster than the Yellow Flash himself and performed the wind blade in whirling succession, forcing all the Jounin backwards least they wanted severed limbs. It wasn't enough though, and not a moment later I found a giant fireball shooting straight at us. Kusari jumped to the ground, already in preparation, using my interruption as the needed time to create a mud wall dome around us. I felt the intense heat almost instantly, hitting around us and breaking through the hastily created dome. I grabbed Kusari, pushing him against my chest and tucking his head underneath my neck to cover as much of him as I could. The heat and stone blasted into me not a moment later, throwing us both into the air, and burning my back painfully. I'd been put through enough fire genjutsu to become used to the feeling of burning flesh, but it felt more visceral and terrifying now than it ever had before.
I didn't have a moment to breathe if I wanted to live, so I twisted myself mid-air, used to manoeuvring my body mid-flight, and landed with a gentle gust of wind to the ground. Normally I would have taken a moment to quip about how much of an awesome airbender I had become if I weren't halfway in shock. I was too worried to even care that my nose was hit with the smell of my own burning flesh or that most of the wire mesh shirt I had on had grafted itself painfully into my skin from the heat alone. The pain was enough to make my knees tremble as I fell to the ground, Kusari screaming my name worriedly by my side.
"What are you doing! Don't harm Hina-chan! She's mine!" he shouted in rage as he threw his sword straight through the man's arm who had thrown the fireball at us.
I watched in confusion as he ripped his own teammate's arm off. Not that I was complaining, because that poor fucker was out of commission now, and that meant one less threat, but it didn't change the fact that I was reminded of how much I relied on the good-will Needle bestowed upon me. I had a feeling I would already be dead if it weren't for that.
"Kusari run now! I can handle them!" I shouted while the Jounin were distracted.
"No," he said resolutely. "I will not let you die."
If there was a power I wanted right now, it was the power of compulsion, so that for once my team would just listen to me. Unfortunately for me, arguing any longer would probably just have us end up dead a lot faster so I had to deal with Kusari being around.
"Fuck it, we're no match for them, but there is someone who is," I hissed.
I bit my thumb and pushed it into the ground willing the blood and chakra to form the biggest summoning seal I could. The ground rumbled as a large mass of dark black and red scales shot from the earth. I felt my chakra drain considerably, and considering how average my reserves were, it wasn't a good thing. Without really thinking I downed a soldier pill and seized for a moment as it kicked in, almost overwhelming the feeling of intense pain on my back with the surge of adrenaline it provided.
The Jounin who had been ready to attack before jumped away at the sight of my giant 12-foot-long serpent. I had never been so happy to see Ryunosuke before in my life.
"Ryu! No time to explain! Take Kusari and the children. There are 4 Jounin on our trail!"
"What about you?" Ryunosuke asked in genuine worry.
Why couldn't Amaru be this nice? I shook my head at him. There was no time to explain. For once I wanted people to just listen to me and get things done. With Ryunosuke here, I felt more than marginally better. He was a greater summon, as I had termed him in my head. His poison was deadly, and not to mention acidic—which was insanely cool on so many levels, but most of all he had a good temperament and a level headedness that I wished Amaru possessed too. He would keep them safe, and that's what mattered.
"Don't worry about me Ryu. I'll be… safe," I said unsurely.
"I won't leave you," Kusari hissed again.
"You will!" I shouted back in anger. "It's an order."
"I don't care!"
Normally I would be surprised that Kusari of all people had just rejected an order, but I didn't have the time because Needle was done reprimanding the now dead teammate, and he was walking towards me, grin stretching his face madly, and legendary sword pointed at my chest.
"It's not nice to ignore your date for the night Hina-chan," he chided.
"How about we just keep this between you and me. We don't want any third-wheelers," I said glancing briefly at Kusari.
Needle tutted in disappointment.
"Then I'll just have to lure you away for myself," he said happily.
I jumped out of the way of his thrown sword, ducking, and rolling back into position behind a tree. I was going to take a moment to grasp my surroundings when I felt the air current behind me shift considerably and I found myself ducking on instinct as Nuibari cut straight through the tree bark and was yanked back by its thread. I turned around to see two Kushimaru's.
"Shadow Clone," I cursed.
"Neat trick right. I was blessed with the chakra pools to pull it off," he said a little too proudly.
I wondered what Naruto would think of that, granted, even making one was impressive in battle considering it meant you had chakra to spare for other techniques. I whistled in appreciation, if only to stall for time. Who knew banter was what was going to potentially save my life in the end? To think I had once scoffed at the idea of people talking about their lives in the middle of a fight.
He threw the blade again, and I found myself unable to focus on the receding sounds of battle that Kusari or Ryu were now in, not when I had to pay the entirety of my attention to the legendary blade that seemed to come out of nowhere. I was so caught up in the motions to stay alive that it was too late before I realised what he was doing. He had effectively taken me away from the other fights, luring me skilfully away with carefully targeted throws. He wasn't even trying to hit me. I had a feeling that if he was, I would be dead by now.
"That's some impressive reflexes you have there," he said approvingly.
"Not impressive enough to have stopped you if you tried," I said frowning.
"Eager to die, are we?" he asked.
"No, just curious as to why you're toying with me if you've been tasked to kill me."
He held a hand to his chest in a look of hurt, which I would have considered mock-pain, if it weren't for the fact that he genuinely looked stricken by my words.
"I really did want to wait to fight you when you could have put up a challenge. I see so much potential in that tiny little body of yours."
I searched his expression and caught the falter in his voice. For someone who was meant to be the cream of the crop of Shinobi, he was oddly open and honest with his intentions. There were no lies in his words, no deeper hidden truths to be had, but it felt like he wasn't giving me the whole picture, and I needed to know, because I had a feeling it was the whole reason we were even alive right now.
"That isn't all it is, is it?" I asked.
To my surprise he stopped, swinging his sword back down to his side and wrapping the razor-sharp string at the end around his arm like he wasn't afraid it would cut him. Then he laughed, and easy, almost friendly laugh, like he wasn't trying to maim and kill me a moment ago.
"Nothing gets past you. Am I that easy to read?" he hummed in thought.
"Yes you are," I replied dryly.
"Well if you must know, I'm not too fond of killing little kids. Seems kinda pointless. A thrilling fight to the death with a fully realised, worthy opponent—yes—but defenceless, useless little children… what do they think I am, chopped liver?! I'm a swordsman of the Mist! If they wanted to kill children, they should have sent Genin!"
He did sound entirely too annoyed about his situation. Then he sighed, and for a brief moment he looked terribly sad.
"Not to mention they're Shifu's nephews."
"Satomi-san's brother?" I asked frowning.
"I killed my brother. Oh, he was a tough one. Almost as tough as me, but not tough enough. He ended up just like one of these poor fuckers," he said looking back up at a crucified Kaguya Clan member.
"I know quite a lot about him. He was my brother's close friend. He lives to kill and destroy. He finds pleasure in maiming and torturing people he considers weak, but he enjoys a battle to the death with those who he deems worthy."
Satomi's brother was the supposed same brother Needle had killed. It was beginning to make sense now, although I had no idea what it was all supposed to mean. He looked sad about killing him, which went against the face of almost everything he preached.
"Shifu was set to be crucified with the other members. He wasn't like his weak sister who hid herself away from the fighting. He was strong and yet he was of the lower caste, which makes no sense. Strength should speak for itself, but they were going to crucify him. Not even give him the honour of a battle to the death like he should have been afforded as a Shinobi," Needle hissed in growing rage.
"So you fought him yourself, and killed him," I concluded. "What does this have to do why we're alive right now?"
Needle scowled. "I don't want to kill his nephews. They have his blood, they have potential. Killing them now while they are weak is shameful and a waste, same as it is for you."
"Then don't," I implored.
He laughed at that. "An order is an order. I can't leave you alive unfortunately."
Despite his words he genuinely looked conflicted. I wanted to believe that there was hope for him to lay down his sword and let us leave, but his eyes narrowed, and he looked resolute. Our little chat had the opposite effect of what I had hoped for, which was not good. I didn't even have to think as I took in a deep breath and activated my Total Concentration Breathing. I felt my chakra spike and my blood pump at twice the rate it normally did. The world slowed for a second, but the blade now coming at me was still too fast to react to. I jumped out of the way, pulling out my own chakra string as I did so, but Nuibari shot deeply into my arm, ripping off a chunk of flesh.
"I'm sorry Hina-chan! It seems our little date ends here!"
I was running out of options fast. My trump card was already pulled out and that was Ryunosuke. For the first time in my life I wished I had spent more time on more combative related Fuinjutsu, because it would have come extremely in handy right now. Instead of dwelling on my sudden regret, I jumped out of the way again. There was not enough time in the world to truly do anything against such an overwhelmingly strong opponent. The blade seemed to come from all angles at such an increasingly evolving speed that the deep cuts I managed to get away with, ended with a painful shot through my arm. The blade pierced through bone and I felt the chakra string at the end push through my arm, irrevocably tying me to both the blade and Kushimaru. Before I could even blink the blade was thrown through my other arm too. This time I made a desperate move and let out a pained shout as I grabbed the blade with my bare hands. The edge was so sharp it cut off two of my fingers straight up, and I screamed in agony as the blinding pain continued up my arm in a shudder.
For a moment I was given the respite to not move, and when I looked down I noticed both my arms were sewn together and the only reason I managed to catch the blade was because I jammed it straight into the bone in my other forearm. I wanted to scream in agony, but instead I let out a pained laugh as I twisted my body around in an angle that would allow me to ground the chakra string Needle used to direct his sword.
"Wow! That was brilliant!" Needle cheered.
"Aggh fuck," I hissed in pain before I took in a deep breath. "Also thanks, big praise coming from you."
I wasn't sure if I was being sarcastic or not, but it briefly occurred to me that at least this time I wouldn't be dying choking on a vegetable. I didn't want things to end like this though. Danzo was still alive, and he needed to die. I needed to kill him. It had to be me. I could die choking on vegetables or even shit for all I cared after I finished him off. I didn't want to die now. Not before my work was done. Not before he got what he deserved.
"You have insane reflexes for a kid! Oh man, I reaaaly wish we could have done this in five years," he said apologetically.
"Who says we won't?" I replied, coughing up some blood, but managing to grin through the pain.
"Damnit stop making me like you more Hina-chan. Really makes me wish we could have been friends for longer," he said pouting as he walked closer.
I could hear Kusari approach. I craned my neck back and gritted my teeth in preparation for what I was about to do. Fuck this was going to hurt.
It happened in the span of two seconds. I ripped out the blade stuck in my arm, barely catching a glimpse of my severed arm flung aside, as I performed an aerial manoeuvre. I pulled Nuibaris string along with my free arm and looped it around the chakra string I had been intertwining with Kushimaru's. I landed harshly on the ground in a heap with my job done, and Nuibaris hilt in my mouth as my good arm hung limply against my side.
Needle looked surprised for a second as he realised the string trap, he had set around the forest was now being used against him. One pull from me and it would converge in on him and grind him to pieces.
I relished in his expression. As much as I didn't want to die right now, Kushimaru was someone I was beginning to admire in some odd manner. He was the enemy and yet, I couldn't find it in myself to dislike him. He was just like me, following orders even if he didn't like them, even if he knew it was wrong. I wondered if this was what Satomi meant when she told me morality does not halt for the job. There was no excuse for what we did, and now that I was on the receiving end I understood. It was always the weak that were hurt by people 'just following orders'.
"I'm verrrry impressed. Kami I think I just fell in love with you. Did you just cut of your own arm to catch me in my own trap?"
I took the moment he was allowing me to have to tie my long hair around my severed arm tightly so it would stop the blood flow. I tried to ignore the fact that Needle was almost swooning right now.
"Though I wonder what makes you think you can keep me in here for long."
I smirked. "I don't need long."
His eyes widened as Kusari came in from the right, bolting in incredibly quickly as he drove his tanto forward. In an impressive display of both agility and dexterity, Kushimaru twisted his body away in the limited space afforded to him by the chakra strings surrounding him. The tanto tore through his shoulder, but he grinned, grabbing the blade, and pushing it into himself. Kusari cursed as he let go and jumped back before he would get too close to the chakra strings and end up minced meat. I shot forward in that moment hoping to angle the strings around him and increase the tension so it would push in and slice him to bits, but before I could do that he ripped the tanto in his shoulders out to redirect the unbreakable chakra strings upwards. I cursed as my weak grip on Nuibari slipped with Needle's forceful push. The blade ripped from my arms.
I didn't have time to witness Needle expertly untangle himself from the wire death trap he was in before Kusari grabbed my still intact arm putting it around his shoulder before shooting away into the trees with me. I let out a pained gurgle as I suddenly felt the drain of total concentration breathing leave me, and the chakra slip from my system to stop the blood loss. My vision became too blurry.
"We need to cauterize the wound—no it will knock you out then," Kusari mumbled in growing panic.
"Let me down," I managed to rasp out.
"No, he'll catch us," Kusari hissed.
"He's infinitely more faster and stronger than us. The only reason we even managed to land that blow was because he was both underestimating us, and his heart's not in this fight. You need to put me down and give me a soldier pill."
"You've already taken one."
"Kusari," I said in a warning tone.
He finally acquiesced and jumped down and placed me gently on the ground. I tried to ignore how my back burned almost as blindingly at my severed arm did. I was surprised I was even awake right now. I opened my mouth pointedly and he popped me another pill. I bit it, hoping to make the effect faster before I swallowed. Once the chakra kicked in, I tried to concentrate on what Orochimaru had taught me. It would have been nice to be able to do it slowly to make sure I didn't botch the process, but I didn't have the time, so with great intensity, I put all my chakra into my arm. I felt the limb grow painfully out, starting from the bone, then the muscles and the skin, but recreating the tenketsu was the hardest part.
"Your arm," Kusari said in awe.
"Fun little magic trick, huh. I was injected with the regrowing genes of a white snake" I said through a forced chuckle that came out breathier and gave away my pain.
I took a moment to let the pain sink in before I finally turned to see Kusari slump against the rock besides me. I took a moment to finally look at him, and he didn't look good. His whole left leg was scorched, there was a suspiciously large pool of blood coming out of his chest, but worst of all was the yellow discolouration of a needle jab on his neck. I pushed through my pain, not even taking a moment to admire my new arm before I put a finger on the needle wound and brought it to my nose to smell.
"It was administered 5 minutes ago," Kusari breathed, a tremor in his voice.
"How are you—"
Still alive? He should be dead by now, and the worst part, was I could see the effects of this specific strain of poison. It was rare and extremely expensive, if not deadly. We weren't conditioned to it. It was something only the Hunter Nin of Kiri had, and it was a closely guarded secret too, but I knew the smell.
"Fuck," I whispered, my throat constricting painfully and a heavy daunting weight falling down my chest.
Kusari wrapped his fingers around my hand and when I looked down, I could feel how swollen they were becoming. I shut my eyes tightly and cursed.
"W-we can bleed you out. It might be dangerous, but we can get it out of the s-system a-and—"
"—We can't," Kusari sighed, then he fell into a fit of terrible coughing.
I looked down to see discoloured blood and vomit file down his chin and I felt the world drown out around me as the smell of death hit my nose.
"No, p-please kami no," I cried.
"Hina, look at me," Kusari said, tapping my cheeks.
I forced myself to look into his deep blue eyes. Then he stuck out his tongue and pointed at it. I shook my head but he nodded.
"It could kill you," I whispered.
"I'm already dead."
"No, no you aren't. D-don't say that," I cried.
"I am and you know it too. I… I want to be free before it all," he said softly, his voice coming out raspier by the second. "Do it now or I will dump you."
I looked at him in disbelief. Was he cracking a joke? I wanted to cry despite how funny it should have been, and the tears blurred my eyes.
"F-fuck I shouldn't have given you those romance novels," I murmured, trying to ignore everything pointing to the inevitable.
"Please Hina… please," he begged, pulling my face to his.
I sucked in a deep breath and nodded, ignoring the sting of acceptance that came with agreeing to his request. Then with shaky hands I dipped my fingers in my own blood and pulled out his tongue. I brushed the symbols with coagulated blood, forcing what chakra I had left in my hands to steady it. Then when the work was done, I nodded to him.
"Unseal it," he said.
I did, and for a brief moment he doubled over in agonising pain before he coughed up more blood. I felt the world blur around the edges, my throat felt like someone had stuffed rocks into it until I couldn't breathe, and all I could do was gasp for air.
"K-Kusari," I cried holding his shoulders.
He looked up and smiled, his teeth a bloody colour, but looking happier than he ever had in his life. Then he fell down limp. I caught him, holding his head against my chest. No, this wasn't happening again. It couldn't happen again.
"It worked," he whispered.
"N-now we can bleed you out. I-It'll be f-fine. I-I-I just need the kunai—"
"—Please stop speaking. You're always so loud," he said dryly.
"Fucking hell Kusari. You decide to get a sense of humour now," I cried out in hysterics.
"I have something I need to tell you. I needed to remove the s-seal for it," he rasped out, and I nodded hoping he would understand. "Rengoku is a plant. Danzo was planning to expose Orochimaru. You were meant to die or be caught supplying kekkai genkai children to a lab."
The news was undercut by another painful coughing fit. I let out a cry as I held him closer to me. There was nothing in the world I could do right now to make this better. There was nothing I could do.
I was panicking, and the world had drowned out too loud and too quiet all at once. It felt almost like every sound, scent and sight was amplified to a million, until warm fingers touched my face. It died almost instantly, and I looked down into blurred eyes. H-he probably couldn't see anymore.
"You said I shouldn't die until I found my purpose," he rasped out, every word sounding like it took the wind out of him.
I couldn't reply to that. I had no words and so I held his hands and cried silently.
He struggled to lift up his hands to my face. Shaky fingers fell slowly onto my chest as he smiled one last time.
Me? I was his purpose
As if he had used up all his energy, his body went limp. His fingers dipped down but I held them against my cheek stubbornly as I dipped my head into his chest. The beating of his heart had stopped, and the silence spoke louder than words. I felt my tears stop as something raging and ugly cried out inside of me. I let out a cry, the same horrible cry I had heard all those years ago at the funeral. It was from my lips and yet it felt nothing like it. I felt detached from the grief. What a terrible sound. What a horrible feeling this was. Was it grief, anger, shame?
I looked up too see Kushimaru jump down from the tree. There was a hole in my chest, and it wasn't from a wound.
"You got your arm back somehow huh? That's actually pretty awesome—and it looks like I'm interrupting something…" he trailed off awkwardly as he finally looked at Kusari.
I put my partner down and stood up slowly, my body shaking from the exertion alone. I felt simultaneously too heavy and too light all at once. It was like I was in my body experiencing all the pain and all the anger, and out of it watching apathetically from a distance. Like I could see the expression of absolute rage building in my slitted eyes.
"Oh I know that look. Who was it that sent you?" Kushimaru asked.
"Danzo," I whispered, clenching my fists my teeth showing in a wide snarl, pushing my jaw together gratingly as I looked past the swordsman in absolute blinding, unfathomable rage. My body shivered just from the mention of his name, as if it was poison in my bloodstream.
"He set you up didn't he. Thought it was odd that they sent a bunch of little Genin kids here," Kushimaru said.
"I'm going to kill him," I whispered.
Blood trickled down my palms to my fingers where I had clenched too hard. This visceral feeling of frenzy—it was too much. I couldn't think past it. It felt like Danzo was all around me everywhere and my fingers couldn't reach the soft flesh of his throat.
I took in a deep breath and did it again and again in the silence until my mind calmed down. Then I turned to Kushimaru.
"You're going to let me go. I have someone to kill before I can fight you again," I said, my voice coming out like cold steel.
It didn't shock me that Kushimaru held up his hands in surrender. The sound of Ryunosuke behind him was enough to let me know that he had changed his mind. For whatever reason he was going to call of his attack on me and I could still smell Kimimaru and Kota from this distance. They were alive and Needle had spared them.
"The other hunter nin?" I asked coldly.
"Dead. For a Chunin, your partner sure was ruthless," Kushimaru said with a hint of respect. "Now that they're all dead, I can blame them for losing you."
"You saw Kota and Kimimaru and you couldn't do it could you," I said looking at him.
He sighed, as if caught in the act. "Yeah, I'm no tree hugger love, but there are just some things that don't sit right with anyone."
"Ryunosuke," I greeted my summon.
He rushed in, body all coiled and whirling with power. His bright red eyes shone from behind black scales with hunger behind his eyes, an emotion I had begun to pick up and understand from the snakes all around me. It was the same look I had. The children were on his back, limp and asleep. I put a shaky arm on his scales and set Kusari on his back too, before sitting on him myself. I turned to Needle once we were all on.
"Go, I'll give you three days before they'll be on your tail again. We're going to have to postpone our date until then," he said.
I held Kusari against myself and looked straight at Needle tiredly, feeling the burning hate I had felt simmer into the back of my mind once more, repressed, and ever present but not at the forefront of my thoughts. He had lost someone too, maybe not in the same way, but by the same people. In the end the Villages just didn't care about their own people. It was a matter of numbers for them, a matter of control. Dammed be the lives of ordinary folk trying to get by. Power was all that spoke, so power it was with we would retaliate.
"I don't care if you go rogue Needle, but you better stay alive," I said sharply.
"Same goes for you. Until our next date, friend!" he saluted before jumping off and away.
I lay back against Ryunosuke and let out a shuddering breath.
"Hina-san, are you ok?" Ryunosuke asked, as he slithered away.
"I won't be awake for much long," I admitted through gritted teeth. "Too low on chakra—"
Before I could say anymore the world blurred around me and I felt my body go limp against Kusari's out of sheer tiredness. I managed to hold him for a bit longer, laying my head against his chest and closing my eyes to the deafening sound of silence.
Because there was no heartbeat.
Because he was dead.
Because I had failed.
Feeeeecccckkkk. ಡ_ಡ I killed Kusari… I did it. I wasn't too sure if it was cheesy or hit just right. Killing characters is so stressful cause you can mess it up in so many ways.
The fact that my chapters aren't showing on browser-based fanfiction. net is very irritating. I'm sorry about that guys. The site admins really got to fix that. It's beyond me. The best advice I can give is to go on the app where the issue isn't occurring or go to A03 where I cross-post around the same time. I also upload pictures there. This whole chapter gets its own comic in A03 so it's probably the superior site anyway XD
Yet again here's another reason why I regret going first person sometimes because it doesn't show the moment Needle had when he went to kill the children and changed his mind or the fight Kusari was having off to the side. I had no real way of writing that in unless I broke format… and I have OCD with formatting so I couldn't physically do that to myself without getting an aneurism.
I really hope that it didn't come of as contrived that she survived. I mean Needle is way beyond Hina's limit to fight. He was going easy on her there, and when he got mildly serious, he was still underestimating her ability to strategize. Plus his hearts really not into killing her. He wants to do it when she's peaked.