Disclaimer: Ibiki, Kurenai, and Kakashi are not mine. Neither is Naruto. What a surprise.

The Second Ninja Art

The Konoha bastards were good at what they did. He has to give them that. Phantom pains wrack his body, even hanging limply in the shackles set into whitewashed walls.

He doesn't know how long he has been there. Long enough that he's certain his teammates aren't coming. Long enough that the featureless white walls have started to laugh at him.

His blood is on the floor, black to dark brown to just-drying red. He traces the patterns with his eyes, drawing faces in the gore. Those spatters, there, they look like his sister's profile, don't they? See her ponytail?

The door opens silently, but he feels the whisper of air against the raw skin of his bare chest. It's Scarred Bastard again. It's always him. He's almost as bad as the walls.

His sister has been replaced with Sensei by the time Scarred Bastard leaves. Sensei's hair is bright red, and the pool on the floor is just about the right color. Don't you think so? The walls are still mockingly white.

It is barely half an eternity before the cell opens again. He raises his head, but it isn't Scarred Bastard this time. A woman, eyes the same color as Sensei's hair. She's beautiful, he thinks. He wants to touch her hair. She kneels in front of him, peering into his eyes.

A harsh shrieking rips into his ears. The woman jerks away from him, her eyes wide at the sound of the alarm. He watches in vague amusement as she pulls out a kunai. But she is too slow, and her neck explodes in a crimson shower. Her corpse topples slowly to the floor.

Then they are here. Ruri bends down over him, healing his wounds, whispering reassurances. Fuuga crouches in the doorway, his katana dripping with blood. He is too broken; he blacks out when Ruri breaks the shackles open and picks him up. But before consciousness completely leaves him, he tries to assure them that he didn't talk, didn't betray them. His throat is raw from screaming. The words can't get out.

He wakes up in a cave; Ruri is leaning over him, clasping his hand. "Oh thank god, you're awake!" she sobs. He tries to smile.

Then Fuuga is there, green eyes concerned. "How are you?"

"Good," he rasps. "You came."

"Of course," Fuuga says, casually, being his usual, arrogant self. Then his eyes flicker left, and a tinge of red enters his cheeks. "Um. I forgot the coordinates of the safe-house," he mutters.

He almost laughs. Almost, because the air burns his throat and he nearly starts crying. Fuuga needs his help. Fuuga-bastard asking him for help. But it can't be Fuuga-bastard anymore, because that makes him think of Scarred Bastard, and his mind can't keep away from pain and blood and agony.

He recites the coordinates to take his mind off of Scarred Bastard. Fuuga nods. "Yeah, I was just a bit off. You sure those are right?"

He nods. The pain fogs his mind, and it doesn't occur to him that Fuuga wouldn't have forgotten the coordinates, couldn't have, because Fuuga was a jounin. And it is too late, now, even if he had thought.

The world twists, and suddenly the cave and Ruri's hand and Fuuga's eyes are gone. Scarred Bastard is towering over him, and he can't suppress the scream, because he is back, back there, with Scarred Bastard and the pain and he had been safe but now he wasn't and where were Ruri and Fuuga and did Scarred Bastard have them too and—

Ibiki slides his hand around the prisoner's neck, and pinches a pressure point. The man goes limp immediately. He turns to Kurenai, slumped on the floor next to him.

"He's not going to be sane when he wakes up," Kurenai says wearily. "I've pried too far into his head."

Ibiki shrugs. "We have what we need. He'll probably get executed anyways."

Kurenai has to fight down the sudden rise of nausea. Overuse of chakra, she tells herself. I just need to lie down a bit. The acid bile burns in her throat.

"I'll go give the location to Kakashi's team," Ibiki says. "They'll have our boys back in no time."

Kurenai just nods. She looks at shinobi's battered face—no, the enemy's face. What she has done here will save the lives of six Konoha shinobi, if they are lucky. And maybe more, if the Village Hidden in the Rocks does not realize their safehouse has been compromised.

She swallows back the acid, and walks calmly out of the cell. She doesn't think of soft hands and worried green eyes again.