Disclaimer: I hate disclaimers--they force me to admit that I don't own or even have a stock holder share in whatever fandom I'm writing in... "

Moriko: THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR A FANFIC WHERE FF DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A CATEGORY IN IT! YOU HAVE A BAJILLION OTHER THINGS GOING ON!

Muffin: Didn't you want Reborn to be the next fandom you posted for here?

Splode: Something about how no epics have been written for KHR, right? At least nothing that you can find...

Me: ...

Gothica: Well, I thought that Kurozakuro once battled over the spot KHR holds in her favorites...

Others: GASP!

Gothica: shrugs Hey, it's the truth. Isn't it, Swirly?

Ani: Swirly? HELLO?! Say something, dammit!

Me: deep breath ...AAAAARRRGGGGG!!

Them: O,O"!?

Ani: CRAP! SOMEONE CALL A SHRINK!

Me: -.-" Chill out. I just had to let that out...because, how long has it been since FF's server was fixed? I don't even know. A month? Two months? Or is it only weeks? Certainly longer then my new school year has been going--three weeks. So...This is intended as a one-shot. Just because I can't find and other Kurozakuro fics, but I'm sure they're out there (if the searcher worked, I'd be able to tell, wouldn't I?) But I WILL add to this. I will NOT until everything else I have is completed. End of freaking story.

Far From the Tree

Damp, sticky wetness clung stubbornly to the boy's hands as he lay in the cool grass beneath the mighty tree. Everytime he moved, another droplet of dew slid off the grass and soaked through his robes. Zakuro didn't care, of course. He was staring thoughtfully into the sky that didn't really exist, watching the events of outside unfold.

"Guh!" Mikito gasped, gurgling on some of his own blood. The potent black blade came down again, Kugai just barely leaping to the rescue and hurling Mikito away. Hagi pushed his glasses up his nose again.

"How foolish, Kugai-san," he murmured, slicing crossways with his katana. "This only means you die first. If your goal is to protect him from us, what use would your death be?"

Kugai's face contorted, and he snarled as Hagi's attacks pushed him farther and farther back. "Bastard...!!"

"Focus, Kugai-san. You'll live longer."

Zakuro had to give it to him, though--Hagi certainly knew how to fight.

"K...Kugai-san...!" The desperate look in Mikito's eyes was without reason--Zakuro knew how this would turn out. The same way it always did. Of course, Mikito was easy to panic.

How boring.

Shrugging his shoulders, Zakuro blinked to let the scene refocus. He'd come back to his host in a minute...Too bad Gogyou wasn't quite fairing as well.

Short, ragged breaths shuddered their way up out of Gogyou's throat, little droplets of dark red liquid plopping to the ground as he attempted to force himself up. The reaper stood over him, scythe poised to finish his work.

"D...amn..." Gogyou swore, the last vestige of his strength wavering dangerously. His head hit the dirt, face down. Sucking in another gasp of air, he tilted his head so that his normal eye glared at the smallest member of Kurotoge, the boy called Fujibakama dressed as a reaper who was going to kill him.

"Gonoji!"

The reaper twisted around as Seri snarled and lunged forward, slashing manically. Seeming to remember the last time he had faced off against the half-beast Shirotsume member, Fujibakama howled in frustration and abandoned Gogyou, swinging out with a vengeance at Seri.

Gogyou sighed, a small movement that caused his whole body to ache. What a stupid idea, he decided, using that ability with these bugu was. How reckless.

Indeed, though Zakuro, pushing himself to sit upright. Blinking his eyes slowly until he could see the entire fight, the idea of how Suzuna and Suzushiro and that insane panda toy were fairing crossed his brain, but he dismissed it without caring. This was all getting rather tedious, in his opinion. Maybe Mikito can hear me now...

...Mikitooooo? You look like ya' need some help.

Suddenly, Mikito was there,confused and bewildered with his sudden change of surroundings until he spotted Zakuro. "Zakuro!" he gasped. "You're awake! H-Have you been awake this whole time!?"

"Pretty much."

"Then why haven't you helped us!?"

"Thought you didn't want your body overtaken by me. Get your priorities straight."

A second passed, and suddenly a new emotion flitted across Mikito's face. Zakuro blinked. Was that...Anger? Sakurai Mikito never got angry. Especially now that he was in full control of his ogre instinct. How odd.

"We're going to DIE out here, Zakuro!" he snarled, balling his hands into fists. A long, thin crack appeared on his face. Zakuro stood up. "You've come out the other times--these people aren't even ogre-eaters! You should have no problem helping us! They're humans! They're hunters! Aren't humans lower than ogres to you!? Aren't we all so WEAK compared to the once-almighty Zakuro!? Don't you need me alive to come back to power again!? Then why aren't you helping us!?"

Zakuro's eyes were shadowed by the limbs of the massive tree, and all Mikito could see of them were two flat disks. He waited, feeling the hot rush of fury fade and desperation seep back.

Another moment, and Zakuro still hadn't spoken. "Zakuro, PLEASE," whispered Mikito, scrunching his eyes up tight. This was all... "They're all going to die." ...it was all... "...Zakuro...please. Please help us out here, and...I'll...I'll follow my instinct as much as you want and make flowers appear all over that tree. Please, Zakuro...please."

...was it just all his fault?

My fault. I'm the ogre. They're protecting me because they think I can help them get rid of ogres forever...

All his fault, all his fault, all his fault...

I...dammit...

A breeze swept through the wide space, and Zakuro's head snapped up. "Do it yourself," he snapped, and Mikito's head whirled as his consciousness returned to the fight.

Z...Zakuro? he called, confused and beginning to panic again. Zakuro!?

No answer. The boy was gone, and Mikito was on his own.

Red splashed before his vision, and Mikito looked up to see Kugai stagger as Hagi pulled his katana free. Clutching at his abdomen, Kugai took two steps forward, swore, and hit the earth. Mikito stared, and Hagi wiped the blood off his black-bladed sword.

"N...N..."

Mikito's eyes flicked around wildly, looking at his two defeated friends.

"K-Kugai-san...Gogyou-san..."

As the scythe went through his liver, Seri howled. "Shhhiiiiiiitttt!!"

"...Seri-san..."

There was an explosion somewhere in the field of his vision--the demonic panda doll had been torn to shreds, and Suzuna and Suzushiro were out of tricks.

"G...Gahhhhhhh..." The towering ogre swung her head from side to side, looking between the girls as if choosing who to eat first. "...Suzuna...and...Suzushiro..."

Mikito's head snapped up and stared at the ogre with a ray of hope. Had Nazuna regained her conscious? Was she with them again?

"..."

"Nazuna," Suzushiro whispered.

"We're sorry," Suzuna said. "We couldn't save you."

"...I...Raaaaaahhhhhk!"

The brief flash of Nazuna's consciousness was gone, and the ogre had taken over. With a ravenous roar, Mikito's last hope was extinguished and the ogre bore down on the twins.

"M...Meatttt...MEEAATT!!"

"Run, Mickey!" Suzuna shouted, linking hands with Suzushiro and grabbing the remains of the panda plushie.

"Get out of here!" Suzushiro cried, running as fast as she could with Suzuna and the panda doll.

"MEAAAAAATT! HUMAN MEAAATTTT!!"

The crashes and shouts seemed to fade farther away, but Mikito knew with a dread that with no one to help them and their weapon destroyed, facing and enemy with both the skill of an ogre and a hunter, the twins stood no chance. He really should get up and run...Hadn't he promised Zakuro he'd listen to his instinct? Running would be smart...getting as far away from here as possible...they were just humans, after all. Livestock. Food. Meat.

Meat.

Humans.

Food. Humans.

Run. Meat. Humans. Food.

Hunters.

Hunters?

Hunters!

Run!

Run, meat, hunters! Food, humans! Run!

Mikito shoved himself roughly to his feet, head snapping around in a panic as his vision started to blur...Who is that? The man in the suit. With the black sword. Looking at me. Human. Food? Meat. Sword...what's that on his ear? A bell? Bell. Bell, human. Meat? No, bell, human, meat, food...What does he want? I should run. He has a sword...he's coming this way. Looking right at me.

Bell.

Bell? Humans have bells...humans are food. Humans with bells aren't always food...This guy looks tough. Since when do prey have swords and bells? Only predators have swords and bells. Only hunters. Not prey.

Bell. Sword. Human. Food?

...Hunter.

Hunter!

The word exploded into his mind, and Mikito felt ogre instinct flush through him. He tensed, waiting for the right second to turn and run...run when the human blinks...run, instinct...

"I hope you aren't thinking of running," Hagi said, "That would mean you aren't more than an ogre after all. I'd have to kill you."

Kill? Hunter. Kill the hunter, then.

Hagi sighed, pushing his glasses up his nose. Mikito charged, flying across the ground faster than any human. Only, not faster than Hagi.

There was a ringing clang! as Mikito's clawed fists were stopped an inch from Hagi's eyes. The Kurotoge man twisted his katana as Mikito tried to get a grip on it, slashing down and to the side. Mikito leaped free and ducked, crouching on all fours. Another crack split across his face, and his mind spun.

Sword. Black sword. Hunter? Kill.

Mikito's brown eyes seemed to invert themselves--now his dark brown eyes that seemed to envelope the pupil were open wide, a stark black dot in the center. Everything in such clarity...like that guy. Who is he? Who's that behind him? Is that a scythe...?

Hagi looked over his shoulder. "Hmmm?"

"Die, ogre!" the reaper boy snarled, swinging out with his bugu. Mikito flipped backward, crouched low, and dashed forward on all fours, aiming to hit the reaper low. The scythe came again, and he sprung above it, slashing with his claws at the boy's head.

Claws? My hands are claws...

Something hit him in the gut and sent him sprawling. He was on his feet in an instant, a feral snarl ripping from between his bared fangs.

...and fangs...

"Move, Hagi!" howled the boy, trembling to finish his work. "I'll kill him! He's just an ogre after all!"

"Don't be hasty," Hagi said mildly, keeping the point of his katana level with Mikito. "I'm sure he's doing this as a reflex for his comrades. Or maybe he wants to join them and is trying to get himself killed."

"Exactly! So let's end this!"

"We still have to take him to headquarters. They want to know why he's gone so long without ripening into a full-fledged ogre."

"Who cares!? He'll be one soon and then you'll be sorry!"

"I doubt that," Hagi said dryly. He had no fear of an ogre--ripened or not.

"But--!"

"Yaaahhh!!" Mikito lunged again, tackling the boy to the ground and wrestling to wrench the scythe out of his grasp. Pain exploded in his side as Hagi kicked him, and he rolled out of the way of the black katana.

"See?! Look at his face! Look at his eyes! He's one step away from being a full-fledged ogre! Then what would headquarters have, huh!?"

With a sigh, Hagi began re-wrapping the white cloth on the hilt of his katana. He wouldn't need that ability anymore. "Yes, I suppose. Go ahead. Kill him."

"Finally!!"

As Hagi watched without interest, Mikito flipped and dodged and spun and wove to avoid the scythe, always a hairsbreadth ahead of the wickedly curved black blade.

"Die, ogre!" Fujibakama howled, speeding in his slashes and catching Mikito on the shoulder. "Die!"

"Yoowwwww!!"

Mikito stared at the blood dripping down his arm. Blood. Wounded. By a human? By a hunter. Hunters with black weapons. Run.

Ducking underneath another swipe from the scythe, Mikito spun around so fast any human (even hunters) would have severe whiplash. Crouching on all fours, he began to run for his life.

"Seeeee?!" screamed the reaper boy. "He's an ogreeee!! Diieeeeee!!"

Mikito was forced to look over his shoulder and corkscrewed to avoid the blade...

What...

"Stand still, damn it!"

"Don't reason with an ogre. Just kill him."

"I'm trying! He's fast!"

"I can see that..."

...am I DOING?

"You can't run if you don't have legs, ogre!"

"Be humane about it, at least."

"They aren't worth it!"

Am I RUNNING? I can't run! Kugai-san...

"Damn! Missed!"

...Gogyou-san...

"Don't make your attacks so obvious."

"Shut up!!"

...Seri-san and Suzuna and Suzushiro...and Nazuna-san, too...

"You missed again."

"Then you kill him!"

...They need help...Why am I running? Why...?? The tree. Is this my instinct? To make flowers bloom on Zakuro's tree, I need to use my instinct...but...

"Fine, then..."

"No! I didn't mean it! Stay out of this!"

"Move, please."

Running is wrong. They'll all die. And I'll never be me again...I'll be an ogre if I keep going like this...I have to...

"Sorry, Mikito-kun. I'll kill you quickly."

"He's MINE! Go away, Hagi!"

"You're loud..."

Have to...

"Stay outta this, I said!"

"Fine, then don't ask for my help..."

"Then stop telling me how to fight!"

"Then kill him already."

"I will!"

"Very well then."

...I...

"Yaaaahhhh-!!"

Blood exploded everywhere.

"Got him!" crowed the reaper boy.

Hagi sighed. "Good."

...I have to save all of them!

Turning on his heel, Mikito threw his head backwards in the most extreme limbo ever, and the scythe passed over him. The little reaper stared at him with wide eyes as Mikito snapped himself upright and charged.

Straight at Hagi.

"What!?" the boy screeched.

"So you aren't running..." Hagi sighed. "Sorry, though. Your life ends here. I'll keep my promise from earlier and make it swift."

Zakuro, you can sit back and watch, but I don't care if you help anymore. If I don't save them then we all die. And you'll never see that tree covered in flowers. That's fine by me. Do what you want. But this is my instinct!

The white cloth recently wrapped around the hilt of the katana dropped to the floor, and a long, fluid line of black stretched out to stab Mikito through the heart.

Mikito's eyes widened. He wouldn't be able to move in time...

"Sigh...You really are very confusing, Mikito."

...Zakuro?

Light glinted across Hagi's glasses. "Die!"

FWOOM!

Fujibakama stared. "Wh...at..?? What...is...WHAT THE HEL IS THAT!?"

Floating above them, surrounded by a massive sphere of pulsating light, a boy in green robes with a strange kind of helmet on his head stood grinning at them with sharky teeth. "My name is Zakuro. What is your wish?"

Hagi blinked. "Ah. This again."

Zakuro's eye glimmered. "Yes. I remember you."

"I'll be sure to find out whether that's a good thing or a bad thing."

"I'll save you the trouble and tell you that it's only good for them." He flicked his hand contemptuously at the prone forms of Seri, Gogyou, and Kugai. "And them." He pointed in the direction of the large smoke cloud to the west. "And my foolish host, of course."

As though deflated, Hagi sighed, letting all of the air out of his lungs. He slid his katana back into his sheath and slung it back over his shoulders. Inching his rebellious glasses back up his nose, he raised a hand in fairwell. "Then there is no point in sticking around. Come, Fujibakama. Goodbye, Zakuro-kun."

"You're a smart man, Hagi."

Hagi's glasses glinted. "So I've been told."

"Waaaaiiittt!!" screamed Fujibakama. "Where the Hel are you GOING, Hagi!? Are you going to let this bastard threaten us like that!? What are you doing!?"

Hagi stopped and threw a glance over his shoulder. "It's over. Come on, Fujibakama, it would be wise if we left. Unless you want to die, of course."

Slow fury boiled, and exploded.

"NNNNOOOOOOOOO!!" Grabbing his weapon with both hands, Fujibakama charged Zakuro's glowing haze of energy. "I'M NOT GOING TO LET HIM LIVE! STUPID FILTHY OGRES! NEVER AGAIN!"

Zakuro tilted his head and smiled. "Is that your wish?"

"SCREW YOU!"

"Then what is your wish? I will grant you anything, any desire. Want is instinctive. What is your wish?"

Crackling energy snapped along the length of the scythe, and the the bugu lengthened and grew until it was as tall as Zakuro's energy field was across. "I'll tell you what I want!" he howled. "I want every ogre in existence dead! I want to tear them all in two! I am the reaper, and I will condemn their souls! I WILL KILL ALL OF THEM!"

The boy lunged upward, pushing off as hard as he could and using his super-long scythe to propel him further. Flying through the air, he swung the scythe up, right and around so that it would go through Zakuro's head.

Zakuro grinned hugely, showing all of his pointed teeth. "The your wish is granted!"

Damn, Hagi thought.

BWOOSH-OOOOMMMM!!

A high pitched keening split the air as the blinding light surrounding Zakuro intensified until Hagi had to shield his eyes. A rush of wind blew him backward, hardly letting him keep his footing. He stared with astonished eyes as the light began to dim, until he could make out the two figures swathed in it. His face went blank, and he blinked, looking at his former partner.

Because 'former' was the proper word to use from now on.

"What did you do to me?!" screamed The Reaper.

"I granted your wish," Zakuro told him, still grinning wickedly. "You wish to see all ogres dead. Now you will see all that die, and you will be charged with escorting their souls for all eternity. You are the ultimate Death, Reaper-kun."

"N...Noooo!! What is this?! I refuse! Turn me back! Nononooooo!!"

Raising his hand, Zakuro waved once to the floating black capes that were the eternal spirit of Fujibakama. "Goodbye, Reaper-kun. Say hello to Susuki and Leishi and Suguri, won't you? You'll be seeing them--or, their souls--all very soon. I'm afraid we won't meet for a long, long, long time. How lucky that you'll still be around then, ne?"

"STTTOOOOPPPPP ITTTTTT--!!"

All at once, the shriek was cut off, and the reaper robes and scythe bugu of Fujibakama clattered to the earth, cold, dead, and empty of energy as they disintegrated to dust.

Slowly, Zakuro turned to look at Hagi. The man was gone.

"Bye-bi, Hagi. Use that big brain of yours and keep your distance from Mikito, hmmm? Besides, Mikito was never an ace-in-the-hole. He was a regular ogre and you killed him. The ogre-eaters killed Reaper-kun and Kugai and Seri and Gogyou. Headquarters will not think twice."

Hagi was still in earshot, and heard everyword. "Apparently that is true. How terrible that they are to blame for so much death."

Suddenly, Zakuro grinned, eyes gleaming wickedly. "Isn't it terrible when the enemies get their wish?" And then the orb of light flickered out and Sakurai Mikito hit the ground.

-

"Uhhhhhngggga...Owwww...Tstt..." Mikito couldn't even open his eyelids without groaning through waves of pain. Where...??

A small, hair-covered head popped into his field of vision. One big, amber eye stared at him. He felt a small finger poke his side. More pain. "Owwww..."

Suddenly the head disappeared from view, and a loud voice shouted out, "Hey, Haze-sensei! The ogre's awake!"

The noise hurt his ears, and Mikito winced. "Oww...could you keep it down, please?"

Kazura blinked. "Ehhh?? Ya' that beat up?"

"Owch! Yes, c'mon..."

Sighing huffily as if that were the most ridiculous thing he'd heard in a day full of ridiculous things, Kazura shrugged his scrawny shoulders. Dropping his voice to a whisper, though, he said, "Okay, sorry. Haze-sensei said I gotta take care o' you guys 'till you can leave."

"Haze-san is here?"

At that moment, the tall man swooshed calmly into the room. Kazura quickly stood to attention and said in a whisper, "Haze-sensei, the ogre's awake, and--"

"Mikito. My name is Sakurai Mikito, and I'm not an ogre."

Kazura rolled his eyes. "Okay, then," he whispered. "Haze-sensei, Mikito's awake, and--"

"I know, Kazura," Haze said, tossing the boy a small bag. "Go feed the kid. I'll call you in later."

Huffing again and grumbling mutinously, Kazura stamped out the door. "I never get ta' do anything around here."

When Kazura had left, Mikito opened his mouth to speak, but Haze held up a hand. "I know what happened," he said without preamble. "And your friends are fine. They have been cured of all damage from both their bugus and the Kurotoge's."

Mikito blinked. "Oh, thank you, Haze-san! That means a lot to..." He paused. Then, after a second, he asked meekly, "What about Nazuna-san?"

Haze was silent, and mikito knew the answer before he said it. Looking at him with brooding eyes, Haze spoke, "We could not save her from being an ogre. She is dead."

Mikito's shoulders slumped, and he put his head in his hands. All my fault.

"It is not your fault."

Mikito looked up, startled. Had Haze read his mind?

"I have not read your mind."

Mikito's eyebrow twitched. Of course he hadn't.

"It was easy to guess, however. And I will tell you one more thing. If it weren't for you," Haze stared hard at Mikito, into both sets of eyes that peered back at him. "they would all be dead."

Blinking, Mikito thought this over as Haze stood up and left. I suppose it's true, he decided, ...but it wasn't me who saved everyone. Zakuro did. He paused. Then, Thanks, Zakuro!

In the mindscape where Zakuro stood, a single flower bloomed, olive green streaked with orange and bigger than all the others. Standing in front of his giant, reaching tree, Zakuro grinned.

-

Author's Note: That ending bit was not yaoi. Get over it. : P

So, yeah, this was a one-shot (kind of) from the manga 'Kurozakuro'. I made it up, the whole scene, but ti's kind of my hope for the ending (i forgot trying to tunr mikito human gain! Crap! O,O" Don't eat me.) I need to start making my damned one-shots shorter...grumble...

Soooo...yeah...I'll update soon, I swear! Don't kill me or it'll never happen! O,O"""""""""""

...Um...I'll add more to this and turn it into an actual story (this will be teh last chapter, so I'll take it off momentaraily) when I'm done with EVERYTHING ELSE I HAVE TO UPDATE! DX dies

Eh...bye! "