AN: AAAAAHMYGODDDD Kisame is so fun to write. The raw writing of his POV took around 10 minutes and was the easiest of this whole chapter. This whole chapter turned to be all differing POVs, but since Konan is admittedly the main character here, I'm gonna end on her.
In other news... I've updated this story three times in a row. My Gods of Vindication readers are readying my lynching, so I seriously have to stop and finish a chapter for them first, lololol But hey, I enjoyed writing this chappy. Taking a break from the depressingly immersing writing of Konan and Itachi takes a hunk out of me since I'm not normally as half as awesome as one of those two, so the Kisame and Deidara POVs were well deserved and a long time coming.
Yes, this still follows the Tobito teaming with Madara theory, which is why I couldn't write Tobi. Not that I can't, but I'm not funny enough to pull off his childish side. :( In general, the plot of this story is very loose though, because this was slapped together for the sake of me having an ItaKon pairing. But hopefully it would work. Err... anyway, any questions, feel free to ask. :D
To my ever loyal reviewers... xkaiistarx, The man (your FF account is A man of many faces, right? or...?), GalanthaDreams, Little Kunai, and of course any of those silently following, you guys are pure love. Thanks for the support. It's been a tumultuous 8 chapters and we're still running. I hope we all get to the end unscathed. :D
Scorpio: The Blood Saga of the Dead War
Part VIII: Veins of Fire
"Winning me back with your haunting cry."
The moment their all hail supreme temporary leader turned the corner up the staircase, Tobi managed to drop the rice cooker Deidara was handing him at the moment, the heavy container smacking right on the bomber's naked foot.
"TOBI! YOU FUCKING DIMWIT, UN!"
There was temporary chaos as the two idiots duked it out, Kisame sighing as he reached over and righted the pot lying on its side. Thankfully nothing was spilled, opening the cover to a cloud of warm steam. Perfectly steamed. It always was when Itachi was the one cooking. There seemed to be nothing the Uchiha couldn't do without excellence.
When his eyes landed on his partner, he noticed him talking in low tones with the blonde girl. Well, wasn't this an improvement. Usually this asexual humanoid didn't bother approaching humans and froze to death with an apathetic look anyone who bothered to come near him. This little girl seemed to be at first flustered by her cover being blown. She probably had tried to spy on them, from what his instincts told him, tailing after Akatsuki when the perfect opportunity presented itself. Nothing complicated, just trying to get a sniff at the goings on at their headquarters. Definitely it was not planned, and most likely she grabbed the opening when she saw it. It would even have worked, had Itachi not known who she was and exposed her right then and there in the middle of them all.
Ino, the girl, had been deathly pale the moment their host mentioned her name, especially when he revealed—for some hypersensitive picking-up skills that he knew—her recent graduation. And there was that terribly un-Itachi-like smirk. Secretly it creeped him out too.
Well, not to be hard on his partner, he was still a male and had urges. Compared to his blue skin and shark teeth, the was a much greater ease for the Uchiha to satisfy those urges and so had managed to lure some damsel into his clutches. However, he seemed particularly not talkative about them, but once every often he'd see the stray girl in their living quarters trying to slip towards the door and leave unnoticed. Of course, any good partner would pretend he hadn't seen anything, but oftentimes curiosity got the better of him and he'd swivel around and grin his menacing jaws to scare whoever it is out of their mind. All to get a glimpse of what his partner's type looked like.
He had been always disappointed. There was no pattern in their appearances, all as varied as every second of everyday. There was no telling, and he merely accepted that his partner was not as condescending in physical appearance as the rest of mankind. Or gender, for that matter. He chose to keep that part of imagining from soiling his mind. He had no problem how his partner wanted to get laid, and by whom, but he himself was straight as a bone and didn't find thinking about his partner's more colorful escapades particularly appetizing.
Case in point: Yamanaka Ino. Apparently the information she'd shared with him and Deidara had been accurate. She was the lone child of Leaf's resident flower shop owner, and worked there in her free time. She'd withheld she was a chunnin, and as she had worn no hiai-ate, or possessed any other sign she was a kunoichi—but damn, wasn't that what kunoichis were good at, pretending to be someone they're not?—so he'd taken the privilege to ask her to return home with them. One was because she was bubbly and seemed to be nice company, whatever her age might be. Second and most importantly, she looked like the bomber and he was getting increasingly pissed off with every joke they made about their appearances. Who could resist something like that?
Of course they weren't careless, because they could kill her outright anyway. But Itachi wouldn't have wanted that. Maybe a little bit then. But she was still funny. So home they went.
And now it seems all hail supreme cold blooded bastard killing machine Uchiha Itachi was making a pass at the girl.
Kisame sighed. A deep, long sigh as if the world had been on his shoulders and the gloom and destruction befalling the universe was all his fault. In this house all the internal destructive moods were, in a way, really his fault because he'd done something or other to nudge things along, but he didn't feel it warranted the tangled rope tightening around them that their all hail supreme temporary leader was fuming about. Konan had slammed the door, that much he could tell. If it weren't for that one little tidbit he was lucky enough to catch onto, she had been acting completely normal all the time.
Of course, he didn't mean to say anyone else noticed. Itachi was occupied with this Ino girl and Deidara and Tobi were screaming themselves raw. He'd felt the extremely faint vibrations through the wood care of his shark traits, because anyone who could hear anything over the racket the two retards were making would be some grand owner of supersonic hearing. He didn't think Konan would be that affected, but she was a girl and all girls were crazy nutcases deep down inside. What did he know anyway? Slugging down a jug of sake and knowing well it wasn't the right way to drink, he focused on watching his longtime partner. Oh, you Uchiha traitor. Sometimes I wonder what the hell you think you're doing.
Itachi was a very subtle specimen of the human race if there ever was one. If he liked something, he wouldn't show it, nor would anyone pick up on it. At least, not anyone who didn't know him like he did. These was one of the moments keeping his interest piqued, and the strangeness of this lad was what made being his partner tolerable.
All throughout the times he'd been picking up bedmates in the sharkman's company, he was doing exactly that to the oh young and tender and juicy and might-be-tasty-like-chicken Yamanaka. He was slightly leaning in to the girl, his face as blank as a tombstone, but he was actually talking to her. There was the fact he was paying attention to whatever nonsense was spewing from the tipsy lips of the teenager. Oh, Kisame chided himself, of course Itachi was not too far from his teens either. And as he'd very kindly elucidated earlier when he blasted open the girl was an official Leaf shinobi, he knew her father. Or something of the sort. Maybe it was for that reason he was bothering with little miss Ino, but there was just something about his gut feeling roaring he was luring her in.
Carefully pouring contents of the bottle into a nice small cup, he still had his wits about him. Within the span of the time he left the house and returning, something had happened, clearly, between mister weasel and miss paper flower. Whatever it was, he was sure there was a reason behind her acting all huffy as soon as the Leaf chick entered the picture. Sure, he couldn't tell his partner to stop being an ass and for gods sake piss off the goddamn Akatsuki second in command but there was little else he could do because Itachi had always done what he wanted, irregardless of how nicely he appeared to be when brushed off your wonderfully polite suggestion.
By the time they retired for the night, one of the last in his generation of Seven Swordsmen knew he didn't want to know what's happening, and sipped on his teeny cup. The disorder Tobi and Dediara were yammering about had quieted down, and because those two were the only ones noisy in the first place, the only sound in the wide space of the first floor of their dear host's home was their puffing for breath. Which Tobi broke.
"But...! But...! I swear, Deidei-sempai~! Konan-chan was wearing Itachi-san's shirt!"
A fine sake mist sprayed from his lips.
The whole blasted morning had been one unending string of a freaking headache for Deidara. It had begun with everyone leaving him on duty the last, so he'd had to rush home to rummage around the leftovers and peck at a late breakfast in the kitchen. Thankfully there had been something left behind for him to eat, care of the always thoughtful Uchiha. It had been a good idea to take him up on the offer of staying at his home, no matter how he hated the dude.
What he hadn't counted on had been Konan almost looming like a shadow in the kitchen shortly after he began devouring the rice balls he almost threw a clay bomb at her. Good he still retained enough of his head to not scream. He'd thought she'd went out like the rest of them. It had looked like she was just that worn out and slept in. Oh joy, how nice for her, while the rest of them had to dash through the rain and keep the tarps from blowing off the whole demented village. Yeah. He didn't like the place a bit, no one could blame him. Appeared to him nobody wanted to be here anyway. Except Itachi.
Feh, couldn't blame him either. He came from here after all. But it boggled him because from what he'd heard about what the weasel did, the last thing he'd expected of him was to come right back to where everything went down, what with the killing off of your whole freaking family. Tsk, and he'd managed to leave his brother. Kami-sama, at least he should've completed the job. What happened, like he rampaged through the whole little subdivision and killed off every single Uchiha he saw—which included police, his own poppa who's current head of the clan, the elders who probably knew a whole lot of old techniques, the veterans, and a slew of others—then when it came to finish off the very last person who happened to be his little brat of a brother, he ran out of chakra?
"Feh," he snorted, tipping precious holy juice of the gods between his lips to wipe his memory clean. Ignorance was bliss.
Staring at his lookalike over the food while she chattered endlessly, he directed a good big ball of rice into his mouth. At least she knew how to make a good joke. Unlike some idiot he knew who wore stupid orange masks. The fact he was pissed she looked like him aside, she chose to sat down by the Uchiha. Made enough sense since he grudgingly admitted the homicidal douche who had the personality of a moth was redeemed by kami-sama with looks. Nevertheless, the man actually wanted to stay in the place where he made all those gruesome murders and so was probably sitting right exactly in the place where his killed his momma and poppa (which, unknown to Deidara, he was). He made up his mind Itachi must have gone totally insane. He just didn't look like it.
He thought the last surprise of the day for him would be seeing Konan, because he'd be damned if he wasn't sure she and the Leader were screwing around, then suddenly seeing her wearing something that was an Uchiha shirt else Tobi was going to be the next Leader of Akatsuki. He was an artist, and he was so sure what was emblazoned on her back was a red and white fan. When he had pointed it out to her in the morning, she shrugged it off. The mistress of Pain. Her. Kami-sama, were people so hard to understand sometimes.
Deidara didn't care in the least, but he was curious anyway, so he cursed his curiosity to hell and back. At any rate he'd also figured it would be the weasel's funeral. That had to work in his favor somehow. Of course, he did not expect five minutes later for the two of them come back to the house, the almighty prick towing around Pain's angel like something out of a horror movie.
The blond remembered in distaste how his throat had painfully refused to cooperate with him. Well, unfortunately for him it wasn't where the string of events ended. He'd gorged on as much as he could and ran out the house before they reemerged. No way did he want to get caught up in something so... Deidara didn't know how to describe it. Pain and Konan had a really weird relationship in the first place. Then here came along an ice cube and from what it looked like to him, there was also something going on.
He had no business prying in where they wanted to stick what into, but at this rate he knew he was inferior to the Uchiha. The sting of how he got recruited in Akatsuki never left, and he was also pretty sure Pain would squash him in a heartbeat. That wasn't even counting what that old hag between those two psychopaths would do to him.
Getting caught up in any misinformation or rumors surrounding them was a fatal mistake, obviously. He wouldn't want to incur the wrath of the Leader by happening to not tell him of what he saw, and he wouldn't want to be forced to spit out a loyalty oath to a weasel or a girl anytime soon to keep quiet about their cheating spree. No. That was the business of someone like Kisame or something like that. Whatever. He didn't want anything to do with any of this.
To add insult to injury when he met up with Kisame they ran into some chick who looked like him in the liquor store. Which was promptly brought home to show off to anyone willing to listen. Nabbing Tobi along had been no help. He badly needed a drink. Thankfully, his clone wasn't some killjoy and proposed to buy them drinks for asking her to have dinner with them.
After his idiotically shitty partner dropped the rice cooker on his foot on account of seeing Itachi's shirt being worn by Konan for the first time, he lost it. Not news to him, and he strove to seriously not give a flying fuck anymore. Their little prank seemed harmless when they were pitching it to their host because they knew he was too "good" in the sort of way a homicidal maniac could be. Now it seemed the tables were turned on them because he wouldn't hazard any way in this world something so horrible would happen as him shacking up their boss's... lady? girlfriend? wife? life partner?
Deidara couldn't care less about his surroundings by the time it rolled around for them to go to bed, and slunk off full and mellow and as happy as could be while drunk on forced ignorance. Damn straight, he couldn't be happier as long as Hidan didn't return from the dead.
She looked so similar to Deidara it was probably not a coincidence. At some point Itachi had been captain of the original InoShikaCho. Vaguely he remembered a mission Inoichi was sent on to Stone before he handled the team. Not like Itachi would point that out to Yamanaka Ino.
The way she was batting her eyelashes at him was very indicative of how she wanted this drinking session to end. He knew if her father got any wind of what his daughter was thinking, Inoichi would trample all over Sasuke to murder the older Uchiha before his foolish little otouto managed to get his bearings. Unfortunately for that old man, his little princess was extremely good at flirting. It did not faze her the rest of the Akatsuki went howling about Konan wearing his clothes the moment their vice leader was gone, and she had it in her to entertain them for the remainder of their socializing time.
The girl was incredibly outspoken, matching the energies of the three others in the room and letting her take the conversation, leading and able to roll with the jokes no matter how obscene it seemed to get. She'd sat beside him after dinner, face already taking on a rosy blush to her cheeks that suited her. He quietly wondered how to bind her to promising what would happen would not get out until at least his demise. There was a slight disrespect he could sense, should the father find out before he was resting well beneath the earth, in knowing his former ANBU captain had slept with his daughter.
If he'd rely on pure convincing of the mind walker, there was a chance it would work. As much as possible he didn't intend to use any eye techniques as much as possible.
Looking into those bright blue eyes, she laughed, undoubtedly taken by him. It was easy, he knew. A little deviation from his usual manner and people would immediately think they were treated specially or thought of as more important than the rest. He'd hate to deceive someone as young as her, around his brother's age if he wasn't mistaken, however this was going to be the easiest way to take care of things.
He'd brought up the subject of Madara to Konan but did not have the time to sift through her knowledge and determine what exactly she knew about the "founder of the Uchiha". He'd come across the information Tobi presented himself to Pain and his angel as such, yet for a fact he knew the man was a pretender. An extremely dangerous pretender who held in his power the ability to influence what happened to the whole shinobi world, and by extension, the fate of one certain Uchiha Sasuke. Itachi did not sacrifice the last eight years of his life only to be wasted away by a gamble of the usurpers arresting world peace. The death of their whole clan was not done for nothing. This was why he needed to set a talk with Konan about what she knew happening behind the scenes. And to know if she was going to be on his side or not.
Ever since Tobi had become officially part of the organization, he knew something was amiss as hostility began seeping into her aura. They may not have noticed but he could read every single one of them as if they were an open book, mostly with the help of his eyes especially if they were active. Even Pain was not an exclusion to this. He knew more than anyone might have wanted, only he had not acted on anything he knew, pretending to be a very useful and ignorant arm of justice of Akatsuki. Even without his bloodline limit, he was perceptive enough to pick up on the difference in tones of their voices, the way their eyes moved versus what they said, the minutest change in their body language, how they shifted their cloak, in the every blink they made.
Such control was formally taught and honed to the following head of the clan in his family, and to those with great potential. It was a cruel practice but it saved many lives, and it allowed one to see a different scale to others' personalities, and early on Itachi had been brought up in the very art of it when Fugaku discovered it had also been a match to his personality.
It resulted in the only person he was unable to read being Tobi himself.
From what he'd seen throughout their meal, Kisame had been shooting him strange looks, indicative of some turbulence bothering his partner. There was a great deal of perceptiveness he had to dodge with him. What allowed him to feel more easily about the situation was the sharkman did not catch the way he was watching Tobi, and the way the masked man was strangely unconcerned the moment Konan made her exit. He knew validating something through lack of evidence was a poor way of deducing things, however with the orange swirl mask, he knew there was more to him than anyone dared think, and the extremely blank look he gave the substitute leader fell flat of being in character.
Everything kept getting more and more complicated each time something new came up, and the only thing left was for him to remedy things on the go and take everything on his own shoulders. He had accepted his fate long before. He could not possibly turn back to his vows, to his mission, and if it included using Inoichi's daughter, he would do it without a second thought.
As such, when the night drew to an end, the blond bomber running out of energy to snap at Tobi and the masked man running out of energy to apologize and pretend to look like a complete idiot, Kisame growing sleepier with each gulp he downed, him and Ino remained in the dining area. As always the cleaning up was left to him. Their glaring laziness and inability to do simple house work was a fine contrast to them being some of the highest paid heads in the bingo books. He shook his head slowly in fond contemplation of these people he'd matured around, and decided everything could wait until the morning came or he'd managed to get what he needed out of Ino.
It seemed though the mind walker, as the Yamanakas were known, knew how to hold her alcohol and the only sign of her drunkness was the rouge on her cheeks and bright eyes. He stood up, leaning down to her and offering her a hand. The action elicited an unladylike cackle from her.
"Do you always do this to the girls you meet, Itachi?" she breathlessly asked, fixing him with a sardonic look, a golden brow arched at his gesture. He did not mind her referring to him on a first name basis with the too-intimate lack of suffix. She knew who he was, his reputation, yet apparently was as girlish as could be to be drowned by looks and actions. Had he been someone else, he wondered how she must have fared, although he knew she would have put up a fight if her abilities would be anywhere reminiscent of her father's. She came here by taking a chance on opportunity, and so he was going to run on the same stroke of luck and see if he could grab the opportunity she presented.
She laughed, the sound like the soft tinkering of crystal glasses, and he allowed a small smile as she took his hand and he pulled her up.
She didn't know what woke her but she bolted upright feeling as if someone had been watching her.
As if on automatic her hand formed a tiger seal and Konan snapped her fingers at the lamp on the bedside table, the instrument sputtering into being. Her room came to life in the warm light, as empty as it had been when she'd entered. Judging from the dark sky through the curtainless window by the headboard, dawn had not even broken. Everything was as quiet as a graveyard were it not for the constant hush of rain and wind. It was still somewhere in the middle of the night. Her intuition had been rattled and she could not shake the feeling of eyes boring from behind. In a swift movement she turned down the gas and killed the lamp, keeping as quiet as possible.
Then it came. Three raps as if sounded from the front door.
Holding her breath and wondering who in their right mind would be bothering to come to a deserted subdivision of the village where murders had happened, not to mention where Akatsuki stationed their presence, and she knew it had to be someone who didn't care. It brought to mind how unsecured they actually were, and as soundless as a shadow she crept out into the darkened hallway and into the blackness.
There was no light. She could barely see the first few feet in front of her and she had to softly feel around with her soles to inch forward, following the grain of the timbers of the floor until she reached the stairs to quietly make her way down to the first landing. Thankfully the boards were solid and had been properly laid, no groaning or squeaking as her weight transferred from one foot to the next as she moved from step to step. Chakra sluggishly humming in her system, the angel form was discarded from her arsenal and she outstretched both arms as she walked toward the source of the noise to keep herself from running into anything.
This part of the house was relatively more visible, a lone candle sitting atop the uncleared dinner table in the middle of the wide space. It was small, but it was still something. The next series of knocks curled her mouth into a churlish frown, and with her still raised arms reached out to stir the stacks of folded tatami mats and imperceptibly pul out paper panes from the wooden frames still lying by the far wall. Another three quick successive taps and she felt herself tense.
Whoever this was, with certainty she could take them on. Even with this knowledge, she could not help but feel her nerves getting the better of her, her heart kicked with adrenaline thrumming in her chest. With steeled resolve to end this, she grasped the door and threw it open to the crisp sound of falling rain and a fresh blast of cold night air.
Lightning flashed behind the humongous eaves of his foliage, followed by the jolting sound of thunder as his flat, yellow eyes were illuminated brightly for a split second staring down at her. The half black half white face spread into a sickening grin, his cloak in massive swatches of cloth around him. He did not seem wet in the least. His presence drove her to the brink of self control, what with the materials hovering in the air just behind her vibrating in response to her emotional state. It was a hidden blessing that sign could not be read easily.
"Konan-sama," came the guttural, almost garbed voice sounding as if it came six feet below the ground, the intonation of his black self. "Your shinobi have arrived."
For an instant his statement confused her. What shinobi? Those you've tried to eat? She kept her mouth shut and merely waited for him to say something else.
Behind her impassive glare, she was baffled. She was quite sure of each of the characters painted into the burial scroll the Uchiha had given her, assured of the black lifeless blood they drew from everyone to use as ink. She'd touched the bodies, memorized the faces before they were sealed away. One hundred and six names matched to one hundred and six visages. The old woman, the Elder Cat, had told her how they group were found overrun by white blobs that appeared human yet were not. With this knowledge and Zetsu's inane staring, her frown deepened.
She needed to pretend she did not know, if she were to get to the bottom of what he was planning. To throw him off his tracks would allow her enough time to learn why he killed her people, why he was doing this. He was that fucking Madara's pet, of this she was convinced. The only remaining problem was the lack of proof, and she needed to find something to nail him. No, she could not pass judgement on this scale of sin. She would let Pain exact it.
"They arrived just now?" she asked flatly, still keeping the hold on her weapons even as her body relaxed before her enemy. "They're late. Very late, as you see."
"Yes," so slow like it was a rasping death rattle. "They were fucking idiots. We had to multiply our bodies to keep watch of the village. What a waste of energy." At this Konan felt her ears burn with rage but kept as still as a rock. His white form continued speaking, not as dreadful sounding as its black counterpart. "We have more eyes on the streets. We have more watchers. We will be invincible."
"Akatsuki will be invincible," she corrected, narrowing ice cold eyes. "How many are they?"
At this Zetsu behaved as if chewing it over, cocking his head one side, then the other half gruesomely split with a nauseatingly sucking sound to bend the other way. He grinned, small pointed teeth like ivory in the mouths of both of its heads.
"Probably one hundred," they said at the same time, a leery echo against the whiplash of the trees and the rain on the roofs.
Pursing her lips, she placed a hand on a hip, haughty of this calculation. He was playing it safe. The grin grew, as if he had been sensing her fishing for something. Changing tactic, she sniffed lightly.
"Exactly one hundred?"
"I thought you'd be more accurate than that," she replied as uncaringly as possible. "I want an exact count tomorrow morning. You can go."
There was a lull in the way Zetsu stared back down at her, and she wondered whether she needed to attack him because the pieces were clicking together in his nutshell of a brain. She knew he was powerful, but he could only be a henchman. He had a strange purposeless life which could only be sullied and corrupted when in the wrong hands, and she knew he'd long before surrendered his loyalty to someone else before joining their organization. Finally those dull yellow eyes lifted from her to somewhere behind her.
She had sensed nothing, and feeling the hairs at the back of her neck rise, made a slow pivot to look, her control on the grass stalks and the paper fibers trembling with self control. If you are fucking Madara, I will kill you...
He stood there by the dirty table where the lone candle sat on, illuminated in its small, weak glow. His hair was a mess and his shirt was rumpled, a tired blank expression on his face, but there was no telling how Akatsuki's second in command almost collapsed with relief at the sight. To fight the founder of the Uchiha would mean the death of her here in Leaf. There by the table stood Itachi, as stolid as he was known for, eyes red and fixed on the giant green creature by the door.