Edited: 12/12/08 – Some quite significant changes made to the original, so please re-read!! xxtokdokixx)
With you, but still lonely
Chapter One - One day, mission and meeting
The moon sat high in the sky, round and brilliant – a wholly beautiful setting for the bitter cold and sinister evening. The bright light cast heavy shadows across the sheltered forest below and also against the heavily cloaked ninja that stood nervously twitching in an open clearing, evidently waiting for someone or something. As the ninjas stood, their shadows seemed to pick up on the intense and fearful atmosphere that surrounded them, and so took on contorted shapes against the moonlight - shadows that stretched outwards across the clearing, as if they too were keeping their distance, afraid of whoever, or whatever was coming.
One man stood, violently shaking, while holding on to a small scroll that seemed to almost glow a deep shade of red against the moonlight. His palms were visibly sweating and his grip on the scroll seemed to slacken with every passing minute. His comrades around him seemed to sense his fear and they too began to twitch, unknowing to the figure who was watching them close by.
From a safe distance, the young female sat motionless. Her dark mask and cloak were wrapped tightly around her slim build to protect her not only from the intense bitter winds of the harsh winter, but also from immediate detection from the enemy. She inwardly sighed. How many hours had she trailed the enemy to get stuck in cramped and very unattractive position in the upper hollow of a partially rotted tree. It was only her luck that she chose the only tree in the whole forest that was full to the brim with creepy crawlies. A luck apparently passed on to her from her equally unlucky sensei. Normally bugs twenty times smaller than her would not frighten her, but still, the feeling of something scuttling over her skin still made her skin crawl, literally.
She continued to watch the band of frightened ninja below her, willing her exhaustion from her previous hours of tracking to not take hold. It seemed that the men knew something was about to happen, and the sudden increase in the surrounding area chakra told her she was about to find out.
The figures huddled closer and closer together, backs gently brushing against each other, fear and sweat falling off them and on to the woodland floor. The kunioichi took notice of this and leaned closer to the scene, taking off her mask and revealing her pale face to the moonlit vicinity, with her hardened green eyes poised for the coming action.
As slowly and silently as she could, she readied a kunai from her pouch for protection and she threw open her eyelids so that she was fully awake and aware of her surroundings. But her eyes seemed to have a will of their own, ever so slowly closing at each passing second, she could barely make out a lonely dark figure walking swiftly towards the terrified ninja. She forced chakra into her eyes to try and stop her from falling asleep, but she could not seem to control the little strength she had left. It was strange, even with little or no chakra she always had extremely good control, what was happening to her?
She thought it could have been the long and rather tedious journey that may have tired her, but she had been more awake and alert on longer and more dangerous missions, so why was she so tired now? Another thought passed came in to light, but she quickly dismissed it. No…It couldn't have been due to her recurring dreams. She had already sworn that the horrifically graphic images that she was faced with every night, would not interfere with her life in the world of the conscious. No…she would just live on and forget about her dreams and avoid them wherever possible, whether she ever slept or not.
She forced these thoughts that were interrupting her concentration, out of her head and turned her thoughts back to what was happening in the clearing below. She would have to rise above her troubles, complete the mission and go home and sleep – but only with a little help from her friend the 'sleeping pill'. It was him that had often helped her to vaguely sleep over the past few days, sending her off in to a drug induced dreamless state, and helping her to catch up on a few of the missed hours of sleep. But after gobbling down nearly two full packs in four days, she was wary of being left with none and so had rationed them to only the times in which she needed them.
She stared back down at the clearing, but to her immediate surprise there was no one there. How could she have missed them? Damn her stupid thoughts! She had been so busy thinking, that she had forgotten about the commotion starting below her and missed it in its entirety.
As she inspected the woodland closer, she could see a small pile of bodies near the edge of the clearing. To her horror, she saw that it was the frightened ninja from before, each one brutally slaughtered. But somehow she had known their fate from the beginning, when she had first tracked them down four days ago - she had always known that it was unlikely that they could have survived, they were the 'bad guys' and somehow their deeds always seemed to catch up to them, in this case tenfold. But she had imagined them going down like ninja, regardless of them being bad or not. They were meant to have an intense battle, not die in a stupid sneak attack that they hadn't seen coming! She hadn't wanted them to take the easy way out. No…ninja weren't supposed to go down without a fight, it wasn't that easy… nothing was ever that easy! Death shouldn't come easily. Not for them…not for anyone!
But … how?
She came to the conclusion that the figure they had been waiting for, either owed them or came to collect a debt, and had settled it with the men's lives.
"Typical…just great!" she muttered silently under her breath as she looked onwards at the site of the mass execution. But what now surprised the kunioichi the most, was not the sudden deaths but the perfection and lack of mess that the killer had left behind.
That guy was obviously some kind of perfectionist, running around killing people…I mean who does he think he is? Jeez, I guess I failed this missi…oh god were did he go? I can't sense him anywhere close by…where??…
She panicked, thrashing her head about in every direction in a desperate effort to pick up even a minute trace of the assassin. There was now a killer, perfected in the art of the silent strike, on the loose in the vicinity and if she didn't escape, she was potentially, the next prey. She, yet again, tried to increase her concentration, listening for a potential give away to the position of the predator, but none came as her days of sleepless nights began to finally catch up to her.
Where is he? Where?
A small rustle came from the foliage behind her and she immediately thrust her hidden kunai in that direction. Her heart thumped loudly in her ears, blood rushing in a mad panic to every inch of her body – she was in deep trouble if that 'thwack' hadn't been her kunai hitting the killer…but either way she was in deep trouble anyway, especially if this guy had a secret accomplish.
She squinted, but could see little in the few moments in which the wispy clouds began to gather around the face of the moon, blocking out the little illumination available to her. She turned around and around, swivelling in a 360 degree motion, surveying her surroundings in one swift movement. It was only when she had stopped moving, that her eyes met with the ones that had been staring at her, the glowing blood red eyes.
The sudden appearance caused her to shriek and she shimmied backwards quickly, only to bump in to the back of the tree hollow she was in. She was cornered and had nowhere to run, and so the only thing left to do was die. The thing she had tried so hard to stop happening finally was. She was finally losing it…taking the easy way out of things by slowly letting herself be easily killed off in moments like these. She was as bad as those stupid slaughtered ninja in the clearing. Almost like a victim, willing to die.
She shut her eyes and brought her knees up to her chest. She had no hope of escape. She didn't want to die. She was young, too young, and she hadn't done half of the things she was planning to do after her mission. She couldn't die…she just couldn't…
She silently sobbed in to her knees and waited for the final blow, slowly drifting off in to an almost slumbering state of mind. But after no blow came, so she looked up in shock, only to be met with red. She flinched at the sight and could no longer control herself, tears were spilling down her face as sob after sob racked through her tired figure. She watched the man through her tears. He made no movement. He only stared. He was watching her. She shifted slightly under his intense gaze and felt something run over her thigh. She squealed and jumped forward, landing unfortunately on the lap of the mysterious man. As soon as she realised the position she was in, and felt him move under her weight, she once again tried to scuttle backwards, but this time with no such luck. His hand held the side of her face in an iron grip. Slowly, he began to wipe away her tears with his thumb in manner that could be seen as affectionate.
The girl panicked once more, what where this man's motives? What did he plan to do with her? She had to get away and fast, but he was blocking the only exit to the outside of the rotten tree. She could no longer escape.
No…no….no! It was meant to be an easy mission. Follow some rogue ninja and gather information, hardly enough to break a sweat! Why? Why is this happening?
The scenarios of what would happen next ran around frantically in her head, showing her the vivid images that she knew all too well from her dreams, the scenarios of her slow and dragged out torture. She involuntarily shuddered at the thought of the horrific nightmares that gave her so many sleepless nights, and she looked with wide eyes in to the face of her captor, once again. Her eyes showed total fear and bewilderment, which made the man smirk. She was so delicate, so easily turned to ruin. He pulled her face closer to his until he could feel her quickened breaths on his skin. He wanted so much to grab her… he wanted her, no, he needed her.
The girl froze at the closeness of her and her captor. She did not move an inch, even when she felt her cloak slowing being pulled off, into a pile on the floor. Her pink tresses sprang forth from their hiding place and fell messily across her face and her mask clattering loudly to the floor. Yet she made no move to push the hair out of her face, as she was transfixed on his eyes. His eyes seemed so familiar, like something in her dream that she couldn't quite remember. Did she know this man? She tried to look more closely at him, but he was shrouded in shadow, with only his piercing red eyes shining through.
Red…hmmm... red eyes… where have I…
It suddenly dawned on her who her captor was, and by the look in his eyes he knew that she was finally starting to remember. He leaned forward closing the small space left between them and brought her gently in to an awkward embrace. His hot breath danced across her neck and she notably stiffened at his close contact. A rasping chuckle escaped his throat as he whispered to her…
"There's no need to be afraid."
As soon as he had said her him speak she flinched slightly in his grip and gasped in surprise as she at last remembered who he really was. The eyes…the dark character…the perfection…the voice. It all added up and she now was more frightened than ever, at the revealing of her captor.
But as soon as she said his once forgotten name, she felt her eyes fall heavily shut as the man's eyes spun furiously in a vivid dance of red and black. Her consciousness slowly slipping in to the world of nightmares that she knew awaited her, that she knew she would have to face.
Then, after a few drawn-out seconds, her limp body finally fell against him and he brought her petite form closer to his. He took in her intoxicating smell and smiled. He had finally found what he was looking for.
"I have missed you…Sakura-chan…"