Deep within Otogakure, the news of the serial murders that had plagued Kokoro had just reached Karin's ears. Not that the murders were news, but that they had stopped was interesting. The brothers were old news to the red head, as she had been the one to discover their tendencies first. Even if they weren't geniuses like Karin, they were good enough to fool every detective and law enforcement agency that had tried to catch them. So for some team of genin to find and take them out, that was something. Immediately after confirming that the diabolically destructive duo had been killed, Karin had set about finding out who had done it.
She arrived at their barn and quickly slipped inside. No one from the town had dared to come inside and remove the bodies, knowing what the brothers did with the remains of their victims, Karin thought it likely that they were still hanging around the toilet bowl, throwing up everything they had ever eaten from the two.
Inside, the bodies lay just as they had fallen to the still unknown ninja. Their blood had long since coagulated and lay in gelatinous pools on the floor. The insects had long since moved into the carcasses and had gone to work laying eggs and stripping dead flesh from the bone. Braving the mass of carrion insects, Karin began inspecting the larger of the Kenta brothers, Jirou. Tendons in his arms and legs had been cut, and there were puncture wounds on his thighs and arms, farther reducing his ability to fight back. Then there was the death blow, one swift slice along the neck, transecting the jugular vein and windpipe cleanly. Death was swift, but not instant. He lay face down in the dirt, just inside the great doors of the barn, unlike his brother, Kenji, who lay on his back, eyes and mouth open in terror, obviously who ever had done this had the element of surprise. The cuts appeared to be made by the very instruments that the brothers favored, very smart, if you didn't want your own knives to be hunted...
Speaking of the distinctive kunai, they too lay on the ground, whoever offed these two has their own set of favored tools. Overall, the job was very professional, clean slices, steady hand. If the index fingers from both victims weren't missing than it would be easy to believe that a ninja did this. But ninja didn't claim body parts as trophies. Sure, weaponry and sometimes clothing were fair game, but body parts fell strictly into the realm Karin inhabited.
"You're late." Karin monotoned, not looking up from her appraisal of the dead bodies.
The new figure dropped down from the rafters of the barn and walked up to the scientist. She was a bit shorter than Karin, but her hair was just as red, though they preferred to keep it underneath a bandanna, while Karin let hers flow freely.
"So sorry, ane (older sister), but the fag has been unbearable now that he's got Suna's support." Tayuya mock saluted her sister, before looking over the corpses. "Fucker's messed up." She remarked, her voice showing no surprise or remorse. "Anyone we know?"
Had they been normal siblings, than Karin would have thought she was asking about the dead bodies. But they weren't normal, and Tayuya didn't give a shit about the ex-murderers before her.
"Check out the hands." Tayuya's dark eyes fell to the four fingered appendage and a smile crept across her normally stoic features.
"Is it really-?"
"Yup." Karin cut her younger sibling off.
"Both of them?"
Another response in the affirmative and the grin spread even farther across Tayuya's face. She turned and locked eyes with her sister.
"He's come so far. To think he's gotten this good, almost makes you proud, doesn't it?" She asked, gazing back over the bodies, almost lovingly now that she knew who was responsible for this display.
"I know what you mean." Karin answered, eyes following her sisters, letting them take in the entire scene. "They weren't the best, but they were good, and from what I've heard, he sniffed 'em out in just a couple of days."
"Impressive." Tayuya tore her eyes away from the masterful work and watched Karin ponder for a moment. When her fellow red head looked up and locked eyes again, she had the largest grin on her face that Tayuya could remember. This wasn't a look of joy though, but pure predatory lust. A similar grin split Tayuya's mouth open.
"Yes." Karin cut her sister off again. "It's about time we payed our dear sweet otouto a visit..."
It's been a couple of weeks since we returned from our mission to Kokoro. With Kakashi-sensei still hung up with his mission in Wave, we were put on the inactive roster until he got back. It wasn't that Anko was a bad substitute, in fact, she actually petitioned to keep training our team until Kakashi returned, but the old man thought it might be wisest to create some space between me and her, at least for the time being. Then there was the fact that Sakura needed to be mentally cleared for work, after her experience, it was a pretty traumatic thing after all. And Sasuke...well there was a horse of another color completely. Now that the had seen what people like me are capable of, he had to be taught the difference between his brother and myself. Obviously I couldn't just walk up to him and have a heart to heart talk, so I had to be creative about my delivery.
For someone who has lived their entire life trying to blend in with the shadows and become invisible, trying to grab someone's attention is trickier than you might imagine. You have two good vehicles to grab someone's attention, color and bright lights, not exactly the most covert way to go about a task such as this, or you have to catch their interest with something either deeply profound, or just over the top silly. And how do you make what I do funny?
The scroll I've got in my hand is merely an opening salvo in a war to try and stop Sasuke from turning into me, he's dangerously close as it is, and if I push too hard or fail, than he's off the edge of a cliff from which there is no return. I don't have time tonight to dally around and make sure he reads this, so I'll have to do what I can to pique his interest now, and hope that he takes my bait.
The scroll just thumps against his heavy wooden door, but it should be enough to get his attention, if it were love letters from his many admirers, they probably would've broken the window. Sure enough a puzzled looking Sasuke opens the door and looks over the new addition to his doorway. He picks it up and looks at the completely flat wax sealing the tome shut. This isn't a fan girls marriage proposal, they want him to know who they are. That, added with the fact that it didn't break his window, are signs that it was thrown by someone with some sense of skill, and although he would never show it, I know, in Sasuke's mind, that skilled, and being a man are the same thing.
So unless he's been getting a disproportionate amount of love letters from Konoha's homosexual population, he'll have no reason not to open my missive. Sure enough, he pops the seal on the scroll and I can watch his black eyes roam over my words. They grow bigger with each word, and I know that he's hooked. I can leave now knowing full well that he'll continue to read until the end, the only thing I can do is wait and hope that something sinks in.
Besides, I do have a scroll of my own that the old man gave me, and the lovely 'F' written on the top of it is begging me to open it up. As expected, once I breach the wax seal, there is an overview of the exploits of another serial murderer. All it says is that there have been over thirty bodies attributed to this guy, though no information on the victims or MO. It's way less than I normally get, and it interests me that someone can kill thirty people and no one has any clue as to who they are or what they look like. Oddly, there isn't even a description of the bodies, but a note to go to the Hokage's office for further details. He never takes a personal interest in my contemporaries, so why now? Nothing to do but find out...
As usual, the Hokage is sitting at his desk, signing and filling out various forms. Without looking up he acknowledges my arrival with a "Good evening, Naruto-kun." to which I reply and wait for him to finish his current work. It doesn't take him long and soon he is leading me to the basement of the Hokage's office building, where I know there are not only vaults of files and information, but also a passageway to an underground tunnel system that can take you to any military instillation in the city. Our current destination seems to be part of the ANBU barracks, but it isn't until we arrive at a pair of metallic double doors, that I realize just where in the barracks we've gone.
It's the morgue.
It would appear the the old man has an example for me, at least it explains the lack of written information. He strolls over to one of the coolers that house whatever bodies have been returned to Konoha, usually those of ANBU that have died on missions. Upon opening the refrigerated steel door, a white, sheet covered body is slid out, but instead of easing the tension in the room and showing me the corpse, the Hokage proceeds to open a further three drawers and pulls out the corresponding bodies as well. He stepped backwards and allowed me to pull the covers from the cold and naked bodies.
The Y shaped incisions form the autopsy stood out against the paleness that death brings. I start from the heads and move downward slowly. The first thing that became apparent was that the hair had been dyed blond. Originally three of the four had been brunettes and the last had been a red head, with just a hint of gray showing through. Two of the bodies, I note, were sisters, one a couple of years older than the other.
The next, and frankly most important thing, was that their necks had been sliced and very nearly removed. A shiver ran down my spine, though it wasn't from the surroundings. That was my father's MO. It's one of those clues that could mean everything or nothing. If only one of the necks is like than, then our killer probably just got too excited and yanked too hard. But three of the four bodies had the same tiny, impeccably small flap of skin keeping their heads attached to their bodies. The only exception was the red head, whose head had been completely removed, but not cleanly. The cut was somehow emotional, which made this body more important than the other three. What did my compatriot have against this woman?
The final body was the only one I recognized, even remotely. Her name was Masuyo Akemi and she was an associate of Gato, just like my ninth playmate. In fact, she was the one who pimped out the children that the 'Nanny' would abduct. Ran the operation from a medical clinic she owned. Guys came in for a 'check-up' and left with a smile on their face.
For a moment I wonder if maybe there is someone else like me out there, another 'do-good, avenger'. I doubt it, my skills truly aren't meant to save lives, unlike a normally functioning human or ninja.
"Were any of them ninja?" I ask, continuing to scan downward, no signs of aggression to the chest area, all the brutality seems concentrated on the neck.
"No, but Masuyo is the only one who wasn't from Konoha." He pauses for a while and watches me work. "The ANBU profiler thinks that we're dealing with an Iwa pattern killer, probably someone who lost a close one to your father."
"And you want me to prove him wrong. I see." I pull the sheet down to one of the woman's waists and stop. "Or was this why you brought me down here?" I lift the right hand of the body I'm looking and and display only four fingers. The index fingers had been cleanly removed.
He sighs. He's looking old again.
"Naruto-kun, if you tell me you didn't do that, then I'll believe you, but only you, Anko and I know-"
"My MO, yeah, I get. I swear, Jiji, I didn't kill them." His deep brown eyes lock onto my hollow blue ones, and after a minute, he relaxes.
"You and I both know that profile's a load of shit, but these body's won't help you build a profile of the killer."
His old gray brow furrows in confusion. "I don't understand."
"I'm guessing that the only thing these four have in common with the other twenty six bodies, is that they're women. These four, are messages."
"Messages? Why would they warn you that they're targeting you?"
"That's where you're wrong, old man." I smile, a true smile, for the first time since that night all those years ago when the man before me took me in and gave me purpose. "Whoever did this, they aren't targeting me, at least not in the way you think. It's more like I'm being...recruited. These are an homage to me." I laugh at the absurdity of that statement. Someone who is far more accomplished than I, paying me respect? Laughable.
"The sisters correspond to the Kenta brothers, Masuyo is my 'Nanny', and the last one would be equivalent to Mizuki. They've taken my last four kills to show how much about me they know. It's kinda like an invitation."
"Anything else?" He asks.
I shrug my shoulders. "They know about my heritage and the target's probably a blonde, and that the red head was somehow more important to whoever did this, that's all I can say right now."
I replaced the sheets and returned the bodies to their fridges, just as I had found them, and we left for the evening.
Tayuya and Karin had returned to the farm where their new 'base' was. The inside had been completely remodeled, no animals, no troughs, no dead bodies to clutter up the floor, at least not right now. Tayuya was playing with a kunai and Karin was reading up on the latest reports she had received from Otogakure.
"How long do you think it'll take him?" Tayuya asked, breaking the comfortable silence that the sisters had going.
"It won't be too long, once he figures out our message, the three of us can be a family again, and once that happens, the Namikaze can have their revenge.
(A/N: Well, I know it's shorter than usual, but I wanted to get something done. Anyway, I hope I haven't made it too obvious who's being targeted, anyone has any guesses, let me know. I'm not saying weather I'll tell you or not, but I always like to see what people think of my story.
Anyway, thanks for all the wonderful reviews from the last chapter, and I hope I'll get a bunch of them for this one.
Anyway, I thought I wish everyone a good week and leave you with a piece of advice, straight from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
"What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue: Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your present circumstances seems more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won't be troubling you much longer.")