Disclaimer: I can't think of anything witty to say, but I still don't own Naruto.
There will be a delay in the next chapter of Meetings of Fate because I've been too busy dealing with the car accidentI was in Tuesday to work on it. (I was rear-endedby a guy going 50 mph. My poor car!) To tide you over, I'm putting up this old one-shot... even though it's not about Itachi.
Kisou is just a respectful way to address a priest. Hopefully I'm not misusing it. Enjoy!
The teen ran as though the Hounds of Hell were at his heels. In a way, maybe they were.
Not three hours before, the small garrison of Rock-nin had been ripped to pieces by a handful of enemy shinobi. The young man shook his head of the thought, dislodging several beads of sweat, and clenched his fists tighter, forcing an extra spurt of speed to his burning legs.
Calling them shinobi was too kind. They were demons, and their master was the devil himself. The infamous man with bright yellow hair and cold eyes that gave away nothing in the moment he killed you.
It had been a frightening thing to witness. That one man alone had torn through their ranks as quickly as a boulder tumbling through a pack of beasts. Four of them were dead even before they realized they'd been attacked. His speed was unbelievable—he'd be standing one place one second, and the next he'd be all the way across the campsite, slitting the throat of another nin.
The teen counted himself lucky that he hadn't faced off against him, but the blond wasn't the only terrifying force that night. There had been a boy, several years younger than himself, but with eyes as cold and empty as any hardened shinobi. His blade, glowing with deadly white flames, had ripped open nin after nin, and his fighting had left no doubt of his unearthly heritage.
How young were the Leaf recruiting them, if they had children like that already trained to such a precision? It nearly made the teen sick to think of.
"Ah!" He let out a gasped cry as a shuriken sunk into his back, the others falling wide around him—he'd slowed slightly in his recounting of the evening, and the three demon-children were closing in on him.
Ducking his head, the boy put on an extra spurt of speed, putting everything he had into it.
Abruptly, the trees broke away around him, opening into a large clearing. In the middle of it all stood a massive stone structure. Stained glass windows twinkled in the starlight and massive towers cast long, dark shadows across the ground.
Without thinking, the teen sprinted for the heavy wooden doors and pushed through them without slowing. He collapsed on the cool floor inside, gasping for breath and shaking from exertion.
Quickly, he scrambled to his feet, spinning around to face the doors only to find that no one had followed him. He waited, standing still for several seconds and recovering his breath until the only sound was the unsteady drip of his blood hitting the hard stone floor.
Hesitantly, he headed back to the door.
Peeking out of the crack that was still open between the jarred doors, he could see the three of them standing at the foot of the stairs—he hadn't even noticed his own sprint up them. They were grouped together, shooting looks up at the doors and talking together, obviously in indecision.
The white-haired demon took a step towards the stairs, clenching a kunai tightly with a clear intent to kill, but the girl put her hand on his shoulder.
The teen couldn't hear what she said, but the demon didn't take another step towards him, although he did continue to eye the doors darkly.
The boy shuddered and shut the door fully, enclosing himself in the dark room and turning to look around for something that would help him hold off his enemies when they decided to come for him.
He walked slowly down the middle of the room. On either side of him were rows of long, wooden benches, and when he reached the front he found a dais, two simple lines engraved on the front. His eyes widened and he hardly dared to believe his luck.
"—He ran into a cathedral, sensei," Kakashi reported in clipped tones, one hand on the radio transmitter hooked over his right ear.
There was a long silence and Obito shifted impatiently beside him, tapping his foot anxiously. Kakashi shot him a dirty look.
"... I understand," their teacher's voice was garbled slightly and faltering from the static, "... The orders... very clear. We are to leave...o survivors."
"But sensei!" Rin cut in with alarm, leaning close to Kakashi so his microphone could pick her voice up, "There's laws about this kind of stuff! As long as he's in there, he has the right of sanctuary! We can't kill him on sacred ground!"
There was another long silence.
Kakashi frowned at his female teammate, "It's only a building," he argued crossly, "Our orders are to kill him, it doesn't matter where he is."
"I'm... way over now," the Yellow Flash cut in, "... to convince... outside. Avoid creat... incident... possible."
"... Understood," Kakashi reported back reluctantly. He turned his eyes back to the large stone structure.
"How are we supposed to convince him to leave?" Obito demanded with annoyance, "Only an idiot would leave when that's the only place he's safe."
"We have our orders," Kakashi said sharply, glaring at the other boy, "We have to at least try to get him out."
Rin looked at him anxiously, "That's not going to be easy," she said reluctantly, "What if we can't do it?"
The white-haired boy shrugged, "Hopefully, sensei will be able to manage it. Otherwise, our duty is to kill him no matter what."
The three Chuunin looked up at the large double-doors grimly and started up the steps.
He used the time he'd been given to gather his thoughts and arm himself. His supply of weapons was running low and that was worrying, but there wasn't much he could do about it. He doubted the Leaf-nin would give him long, but he wasn't about to push them to act.
Settling down with the podium between him and the door, the teen pulled out a ration bar and began devouring it—after all, dinner had been cut short when they'd been attacked.
He started in alarm when he heard the door pushed open, squeaking slightly on old hinges. He couldn't hear footsteps, but was sure they were coming for him. Stuffing what remained of his bar in one pocket, the Rock-nin quickly wiped off his hands and got a good grip on his kunai before peering around the podium.
There were three of them—the two little demons and their ring leader. Their yellow-haired master was nowhere in sight, which brought him a little relief. The thought that he was probably still picking up others that had managed to elude the initial attack made him slightly queasy.
The white-haired one nodded to his companions and they split off, the other boy and girl moving down the isles at the either end of the room while he continued down the middle.
"You can come out," the white-haired boy said when he was about halfway down the isle, "I can feel your chakra." His cold, dark eyes were locked straight on the dais the teen was hiding behind.
The Rock-nin shuddered silently. If this was a holy place, how could people like that get in here?
"This is sacred ground," he called back, glad that his voice didn't shake, "You can't kill me here."
The boy started to walk again, "We'd rather not," he noted dully, "But our orders are explicit."
It grated on the Rock-nin's nerves to be dismissed as something as simple as orders. That was all his life as a shinobi was worth—whatever the orders to kill him were. Suddenly he wished he'd taken over the family bakery, instead. But no, he hadn't been content with a stable job and the likelihood of a wife and kids, he'd wanted adventure and excitement, and to make a real difference for his village.
The three of them closed in around the podium where he hid and the Rock-nin stood, knowing that hiding any longer was useless. He turned to face his assailants—it was the closest he'd seen them yet.
He was again struck by how young they were. All of them were younger than him. The white-haired one was cold—a good weapon, undoubtedly. The other two were different.
The girl seemed nervous, her gaze never lingering on one thing for long and flickering repeatedly to both him and the door. She was almost his age, he thought, experiencing mixed feelings at the realization. The other boy couldn't have been much younger, either. He seemed anxious as well—anxious to get his job over with, to return to the protection of his village.
"You can't expect me to just walk out of here," he commented wryly—he may have resigned himself to death, but he hadn't given up on life yet, not when there might be a way out, "This is a cathedral. I'm protected by sanctuary. To kill me here, before God, would be to forfeit your souls to Hell."
"What souls?" The white-haired boy asked dully. With a flick of his wrist he had a kunai in his hand, cold eyes pinned on the Rock-nin.
The teen raised his own kunai in an automatic defensive gesture, stepping back slightly.
"We'd rather kill you outside," the demon brat continued coolly, "But, if necessary, we will kill you here."
He wanted to ask why it was necessary—he wasn't a threat to their village. He was barely a Chuunin, and a lousy one at that. Why were they so insistent that he die?
They were in a stalemate, the four of them. Kakashi, Rin, and Obito on the one side, and a single, defiant Rock-nin on the other. They could kill him, and defile this holy place, but things would get messy from there. The local priests would undoubtedly file complaints with the Hokage, and as shinobi they would be given bad names.
Noises from the back of the sanctuary called their attention and the three Leaf-nin glanced back to where a door was being thrown open. Right on schedule, the priests appeared, looking between the four armed shinobi with alarm.
"What do you think you're doing here?" One man demanded sternly, pushing his way to the front of the group, "This is a sacred place—there will be no fighting here! Put away your weapons, all of you!"
Kakashi hesitated a moment before he reluctantly complied with the demand, slipping his kunai back into his pouch. He watched out of the corner of his eye as the Rock-nin and his teammates did the same.
"Now, what is going on?" The man demanded again.
Kakashi spoke up, "This ninja is an enemy of Fire Country," he supplied coldly, "We were pursuing him when he ran into here."
The Rock-nin looked at the man in alarm, "Isn't this a place of God for all people? I've never even killed anyone from Fire Country!" He turned back to the enemy shinobi, "Let me live!"
Rin looked alarmed and Obito disturbed—he'd never heard an enemy beg for his life before. They'd never even considered that their enemy, in this instance, might very well be more innocent than they were. Kakashi, however, remained unmoved.
"We have our orders," he said coldly, taking a threatening step forward.
"Not in here, you don't," the head priest retorted, "The boy is right, this is a place of God, a peaceful refuge for all people. We will not allow you to defile it with your petty quarrels."
Kakashi frowned at the group of holy men, "Who will stop us?" He demanded, "It is the will of the Hokage. If you don't want your sacred place defiled, then send this man outside and we will dispose of him there."
The Rock-nin paled several shades and looked anxiously back at the priests. His eyes met with the lead priest's and they locked, staring into each other intently for several long seconds. Then the man moved forward, walking in a slow, steady pace until he'd positioned himself between the Rock-nin and the Leaf-nin, eyes determined and defiant.
"If you wish to kill him, you will have to kill me, first," he challenged stubbornly.
Kakashi's eyes narrowed disapprovingly and he frowned at the two men.
"Kakashi..." Obito started hesitantly, looking more and more miserable as the situation progressed, "What should we do?"
Kakashi ignored him. "If you're protecting him then you are also our enemy," he told the priest coldly.
"Kakashi!" Rin exclaimed in disbelief.
The white-haired boy pulled out another kunai, "Shinobi aren't meant to kill civilians, but there are punishments for aiding the enemy."
"You can't!" The girl shouted as he took a step forward.
Kakashi frowned at her.
"The situation has changed," Rin declared defiantly, "You can't just decide to kill him like that!"
"Rin's right!" Obito agreed, hurrying to place himself next to his friend, in front of the priest and protected Rock-nin, "Sensei wouldn't want that!"
"You're too noisy," Kakashi grumbled, but he did turn his back, walking a few paces towards the door before pausing to activate his transmitter.
The others watched in silence as he conversed in low tones with a person they couldn't see or hear. The Rock-nin shivered, reminded of the unfeeling murderer they'd been up against on the field. He must be the teacher of these three.
At last, the boy turned around again, weapons stowed away once more, "Sensei will be here in five minutes," he told his teammates, "We will wait for his arrival before acting."
The other two Chuunin relaxed slightly, relieved that their teammate wasn't going to do anything hasty.
The priests and the Rock-nin relaxed, too, assured of their temporary safety, at least.
The head priest turned to the teen to look him over briefly, eyes jumping between his multiple injuries. He directed the others in his service to retrieve medicines and bandages and guided the teen to a seat some ways away from the Leaf-nin.
No one spoke.
Time seemed to drag on slowly. Obito fidgeted uncomfortably, gazing around the church. His family hadn't been particularly religious. The most they'd done was visit the family shrines once a year. He supposed most shinobi families were like that.
Rin settled on one of the benches, perched on the edge in an attempt not to dirty it with her filthy uniform. She watched her teammates and the Rock-nin they were supposed to kill. Her gaze lingered on the older boy. He wasn't what she'd come to expect from a Rock-nin, and she wondered how she would react in his position. She forcefully put a stop to her thoughts when she realized she was sympathizing with the enemy, but a nagging doubt remained at the edge of her mind.
Kakashi didn't move, remaining motionless in the middle of the isle, eyes trained on the other shinobi. Part of him wanted to ignore his teacher's orders and just go in for the kill now. It wouldn't be difficult to do, the Rock-nin wasn't very skilled and the priests wouldn't put up much of a fight, either. He could probably bypass them altogether, without any unnecessary casualties. Another part of him wanted to just leave him. A shinobi should rise up to meet his death honorably when the time came—a pathetic excuse for a ninja like this shouldn't even be bothered with.
But orders were orders.
At last the massive front doors opened again and the Yellow Flash's soft footsteps could be heard crossing the stone. Rin and Obito stilled in their places, and the priests stopped their activity. All except the head priest, who continued wrapping bandages around the Rock-nin until he tied them off a moment later.
The Rock-nin's eyes were wide and riveted on the blond man, heart beating loudly in his ears. This was it.
The Leaf-nin didn't stop until he was flush with the front benches, barely casting a glance at his team. He smiled, "Excuse me, kisou-sama, but I think we can work something out. Do you mind...?"
The priest frowned at him, allowing his gaze to move past him to the three younger ninja.
"They won't do anything without my command," the Yellow Flash assured him, seeing the man's hesitance.
Slowly, the priest nodded, "Very well, ninja-san," he stated somberly, "I will speak with you."
Together, the two men moved to the side of the room where they could have some privacy and began speaking.
Rin shifted nervously in her seat, glancing up at the Rock-nin again. His head was lowered, eyes fixed on clenched fists. Obviously, they weren't the only anxious ones.
It took an achingly long time for the priest and Jounin to reach a conclusion. When at last they did, they approached the young Rock-nin again, expressions equally somber.
The priest paused in front of the young man, staring down at him silently for a moment before averting his eyes. "I will pray for your soul," he murmured as he moved past him to join the others of his order.
The Rock-nin's heart sank as he found himself faced with the yellow-haired devil, blue eyes cold and expression severe. He clenched his hands tighter to try and stop their shaking. Abruptly, he reached up to wipe tears from his eyes before they could fall.
Taking a shaky breath, he stood and raised his eyes to meet the man's again. "I'm ready," he whispered, voice shaking slightly, forced past the lump in his throat. It had become inevitable and he couldn't think of anything else to do.
He could fight, but he knew from his earlier observations that he wouldn't even touch the man before he was dead. He could run again, but it could only end with him being stabbed in the back like a coward. The most he could do was try to face his death with honor and courage. It was more difficult than he could have imagined.
The man nodded once and for an instant the teen thought he saw a hint of sympathy in those cold blue eyes, but it was gone before he could be sure. Hands fisted at his sides, the Rock-nin moved past him, silently heading for the doors. The Yellow Flash fell in step behind him.
The rest of the Leaf team filled in the ranks behind their teacher, moving somberly out of the cathedral. Obito rubbed at his eyes, pretending the moisture he found there wasn't really tears. Rin tried not to think of how the older boy must be feeling right now, not quite able to dispel the guilty tightening of her chest.
They trooped outside together and down the steps. Once off of the foundation, the Rock-nin turned to face them, expression fearful but resigned. It was with obvious strain that he stood, facing them and resisting the temptation to run and throw away what little honor he had left.
The Yellow Flash said nothing and in an instant it was done.
The teen barely even felt it. One instant he was staring into the Leaf-nin's cool eyes, and the next his throat was sliced open, his life ending almost instantly from the deep, clean cut. His knees buckled as the blood supporting them turned sluggish and stopped moving, then he collapsed completely, blood staining the ground around him.
Rin gasped and covered her face and Obito looked away, repositioning his goggles awkwardly. The Yellow Flash closed his eyes as it was done, sending a silent apology to the boy he knew would never forgive him. At the doors of the cathedral the priests looked on somberly, silently praying for the souls of those involved.
Kakashi stared at the dead body coldly, filing away the death with countless others in his mind. He offered the dead shinobi a grudging respect, for accepting his fate and going willingly to his death, in the end.
There could be no sanctuary for a weapon of war.