Disclaimer: …yeah. Done these before.
Corpses - Not Just For Burying
The aftermath of Riful's massacre upon the hired mercenaries was filled with mixed reactions. Many citizens, mainly ones that hadn't seen it first hand, wanted to hail her as a national hero. Those that were able to see it from the sidelines, mainly Tazuna, wanted her out of the country as soon as absolutely possible. Why trade one monster for another?
Zabuza slipped away in the shocked silence, using a complex maneuver to flip Haku onto his shoulder, as his arms were useless until she could heal them. He slid a foot under her stomach and kicked upward, moving forward and letting her body fold over his shoulder as he took off, wanting to be out of there as soon as possible.
He was unable to retrieve his sword.
Later that day…
A bloody trail cut through the woods, though it was neither violent nor injured in origin. Kakashi, Sasuke, and Tazuna stayed a very healthy distance away from the blood-soaked Riful as she dripped blood on their way back to the house. Kubikiri Houcho (head chopping cleaver) slung over her shoulder, consequently digging a trench in her wake due to its length compared to her height, she looked like a horror movie villain.
Granted, her diminutive form and child-like appearance somewhat deterred that notion.
They arrived at the house-turned-inn with little fanfare, with Naruto knocking on the door, given that he doubted Tsunami would want bloody fist-marks on the door.
Shizune, for her part, didn't scream in surprise when she opened the door. She jumped in surprise, and squeaked in surprise, but definitely didn't scream.
"Good morning, Shizune-san! Please excuse me while I go wash up."
Her polite greeting said, Riful hoisted the sword off her back (she didn't want to tear up the nice flooring) and carried it with her to the bathroom.
"We come bearing gifts, Shizune-san."
Shizune was quite unprepared, after just seeing a child soaked and dripping in other peoples' blood, to have another child offer her the head of a dictator. As such, she could not be blamed when her mind shut down temporarily, body moving on its own and supplying an automatic reply.
"That's nice, Naruto-kun. I'm sure Tsunami-san will be quite elated."
The blonde nodded in assent, heading into the house. Kakashi, Sasuke, and Tazuna stood before her, and the horrified scream of Tsunami further in the house broke Shizune out of her trance-like state.
"Please come inside. Kakashi-san, I need to fix your arm. Are either of you two harmed?"
As Sasuke and Tazuna shook their heads in the negative, Shizune sat Kakashi down and set his bone with a sickening snapping sound. For his part, the Copy-nin didn't yell in pain, but his visible eye did wince. The house was silent as she performed the seals to start a healing technique that would encourage bone cell growth.
Privately, both Tsunami and Tazuna couldn't wait for the shinobi to leave.
The next day…
Wanting to learn more of the swords wielded by the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist, Riful decided to find Zabuza and ask him herself. Naruto, noting the tense silence that surrounded the house the night before, went with her so that he could at least be amused.
The discussion did not quite go as expected.
The nuke-nin place of residence was tastefully done, and looked more like a comfortable house than a hideout. Two stories tall, it was painted a variety of greens and browns so as to camouflage it into the surrounding woodland. Disinclined to knock, they let themselves in, locating two sources of chakra upstairs.
The inside was spartanly furnished, which was sensible, given that it was most likely a temporary residence.
Opening the bedroom door, Riful was greeted with a kunai, which she managed to dodge for the most part. The knife impacted the wall next to the door. A thin line appeared on her cheek where the knife had grazed her, bleeding purple for less than a second as it sealed itself. The damage was done, however, as a small amount of purple blood dripped down her cheek.
Across the spacious room, Zabuza stared in alarm, while Haku's eyes widened in fright. A single word escaped the swordsman's lips.
Riful tilted her head to the side, eyes calculating and demeanor somewhat serious.
'If they escape…my vacation will be over.'
Truly, it would be quite annoying to have to continually kill off people trying to hunt her down. Not to mention…how was she going to research the Sharingan (Mirror Wheel Eye) if Konoha kept trying to kill her? So aggravating...
"I was going to ask you about your sword…but now you have to die."
Zabuza, knowing it would be impossible for both he and his apprentice to escape the situation, charged forward, kunai in hand.
The Hyoton (Ice Element) user shook her head in dissent, forming one handed seals as the air chilled.
"No, Zabuza-sama. I will protect you until my death."
Both child-like beings blurred into motion, with Riful engaging Haku, and Naruto engaging Zabuza.
Using his youki manipulation, Naruto deflected the kunai swing to the side, ending the nuke-nin's swing by catching his wrist. The swordsman tossed the kunai from one hand to the other and swung downwards, aiming to sever the deceptively small hand from the rest of the arm.
The only motion the blonde made was a blink of his eyes, which was answered by a howl of pain from Zabuza.
Using threads of his youki attached to the nuke-nin's chakra system, Naruto had repelled the attack, redirecting the kunai into the swordsman's arm.
Channeling chakra through his body, Zabuza dulled the pain and wrenched his arm out of the blonde's grip. Taking a chance, he jumped out of the open window, closely followed by his adversary.
"Pretty! Is your technique part of a bloodline?"
If Haku was honest with herself, she would highly doubt that this little girl was a demon. She looked honestly curious about the mirrors of ice surrounding her, much like a child watching festival fireworks. However, she saw her bleed purple blood, and thus she was irrefutably demonic in origin, regardless of however she acted.
Steeling her determination, Haku reflected from mirror to mirror, tossing the metal needles towards vital points in the human body, hoping that demonic anatomy was close to human anatomy in weak points. Her efforts were rebuffed at every angle by the thin ribbons swatting the needles out of the air before they got too close.
"Haku-san, why do we have to fight?"
She paused inside the mirror, politely replying to the demon's question.
"Because you are a demon, and therefore are a threat."
"Is that what your village accused you of, as well?"
That…hit a little too close to home. She was violently reminded of Kirigakure's Bloodline Purges, as well as the similarity of their views to her current ones, and flinched visibly in the mirror. Her hand trembled and, though she inwardly wilted at the hypocrisy, she had a task set before her and she was determined to do it.
"Enough of your deceptions! Show your true form!"
Shrugging her shoulders, Riful did exactly that. She grew rapidly, seeming to age a decade within a few seconds as her body shifted. Her sundress stretched almost to the breaking point across her chest, appearing more like a small shirt than a dress, while the spandex shorts she was wearing looked almost scandalous on her adult form.
This…was not what Haku was expecting. She was expecting green skin, warts, evil eyes, multiple limbs, serrated teeth, and a drooling mouth just wanting to tear into human flesh. She was faced with an adult-looking Riful with clothes that only barely fit her. Her shock gave Riful enough time to strike.
The woman cupped one hand in front of her, palm up, and seemed to not move at all. In reality she had extended her fingers and strengthened them, struck, and retracted them, moving quick enough that the unaided human eye wouldn't be able to follow. Every mirror surrounding her cracked and shattered, knocking Haku onto the floor where her kunoichi reflexes flipped her upright, senbon at the ready.
The adult Riful swiped a hand in front of her, clawing at an imaginary adversary. Normally, this would have no effect, however, at the beginning of the swing, her fingers elongated and sharpened, slicing through the wall in a direct course towards the kunoichi.
Haku was able to evade the strike by dashing forward, aiming to stab Riful in the heart with the needle, only to be blocked by a forearm catching her own in mid strike, and then the fight was on.
Kicks, elbows, and needle strikes rained upon Riful in a flurry, Haku's incredible speed making her body blur with the attacks. Each and every strike was blocked in a non-lethal manner, Riful's superior speed allowing her to analyze the kunoichi in safety, only half her attention being spent on actual fighting.
The rest of her attention was spent on scrutinizing every facet of the Hyoton user, wanting to know more about the bloodline she held. How did it manifest? What were the physical signs of manifestation? What part of the genetic code was responsible for the manifestation?
Did she have to be alive for further examination?
Deciding to play it safe, she decided the last question was a 'no', and promptly went on the offensive. Haku's only warning sign was a small smile on Riful's face and a gleam in her brown eyes. In the moment before her death, she saw Riful's right arm unravel into the same ribbons she previously chalked up to a hair-manipulating technique or bloodline, and then the world went black for Haku, apprentice of Momochi Zabuza.
Paying no heed to the ending of a tragic life, Riful shifted back into her child form, a finger to her lip as she voiced her thoughts.
"I'm thirsty. I wonder if Tsunami-san has some good tea…"
As soon as he touched down onto the ground, Zabuza began making hand seals, heedless of the kunai sticking out of his forearm.
"Suiton: Mizu Gyoushuku (Water Element: Condensation of Water)"
Much like the Kirigakure no Jutsu (Hidden Mist Technique), the technique gathered water out of the air and condensed it. Unlike the Kirigakure, however, instead of leaving it as mist, it condensed it further, creating dew and small pools of water around the nuke-nin,
"A tactical technique…instead of wasting extra chakra on subsequent techniques pulling water out of the air, you instead use a technique to draw air into water which can be used for ensuing techniques. Interesting…"
The ashen-skinned man gave a sharp grin, bantering with his demonic opponent as he began sealing for his next technique.
"Never though I would be complimented by a demon, of all things."
The blonde shrugged his shoulders in a dismissive gesture, a faint smile on his lips as he pondered aloud, tweaking the nuke-nin's chakra system as he gathered chakra.
"I wonder if Suiton (Water Element) techniques can work on other liquids…?"
If Zabuza was baffled at the question, he didn't show it as he finished his technique.
"Suiton: Ame no Sekichuu (Water Element: Rain of Spines)"
The water gathered along the ground shot into the sky, forming into a globe that dispersed into hundreds of spikes, descending upon the blonde. Zabuza was apprehensive when the demon didn't move at all, but apprehension turned to shock as each of the spines, capable of piercing thin steel, fell around him without touching him once. Disregarding it for a moment, he utilized another technique.
"Suiton: Nagare no Setsudan (Water Element: Cutting Current)"
The water pooling around Naruto's feet came alive, rising upward in a torrent. The water was saturated with chakra, giving it cutting capability.
When the blonde appeared unharmed after the geyser of water had erupted underneath his feet, Zabuza began to fear foul play. The nuke-nin noticed that, while normally the geyser was a solid spout, there was a ring of untouched earth underneath the blonde's feet, showing that the water wasn't in a position to touch him. This confused Zabuza, as he was sure there was a puddle of water underneath Naruto's feet when he used the technique.
"What the hell are you?!"
The faint smile never left the blonde's lips as he walked leisurely forward. Zabuza, figuring that his opponent was blocking techniques due to seeing the hand seals, gathered his chakra in a Ram seal and used his high water affinity to manipulate the water around him. Unfortunately, this cost a lot of chakra to do.
Spears of water launched from the ground, attempting to impale the blonde, but they seemed to have been aimed wrong, hitting the ground around him without touching him. The nuke-nin jumped back, trying to put distance between him and Naruto as needles of water shot towards the blonde. Like the spears, they missed him by inches.
Deciding that ninjutsu was either sabotaged or impossible due to some demonic trickery, he engaged in taijutsu. Augmenting his body with chakra, he opened with a series of kicks and punches. Each one missed its mark, regardless of how he aimed them. Angered, he yelled at the amused blonde.
"Why won't you fight back?!"
Naruto, growing tired of the pointless fight, held up a single hand seal and answered the enraged, helpless shinobi.
"Because I find you amusing. However, you have lost my interest. Hijutsu: Saisei no Hinan (Secret Technique: Condemnation of Rebirth)"
He smiled, showing blackened, serrated needle teeth. Opening his mouth wider than humanly possible, he exhaled a miasma of noxious green. Zabuza, suspecting poison, refused to breathe, holding a hand over his nose and mouth and prepared to retreat.
That option was cut off when a foot, enhanced by demonic strength, planted itself firmly in his crotch.
The cheap shot caused him to gasp for breath, inhaling a deep breath of the miasma. He bent over, clutching at his groin in obvious pain, heedless of having just inhaled a possibly toxic substance.
Leaning over the incapacitated shinobi, Naruto made his request.
"So…those swords the Seven use…what can you tell me about them?"
Speaking in an octave higher than normal, the nuke-nin responded with difficulty.
With a faint smile still on his lips, he leaned into Zabuza's line of sight, blue eyes sparking with green energy.
"Speak to save yourself from the agony of bearing a child. You are not the only one with knowledge of the swords. You are… expendable."
Channeling chakra to dull the pain in his happy place, Zabuza replied.
"Not going to tell. Swordsman's honor. I won't betray them."
The smile faded from Naruto's face, returning it to impassivity. He straightened and began to walk away, leaving Zabuza to his fate.
"You're no fun."
As the blonde walked off to meet with Riful, a tormented, agonizing scream broke the solitude of the forest.
At Tazuna's house…
The house was awake and busy when the two returned. The shinobi were packing up their supplies and weapons, checking over the house twice to make sure they gathered everything. It would not do for them to leave something behind that could allow a foreign shinobi to learn their secrets, after all.
Being busy with cleaning and packing - and influenced by not a small amount of tense nervousness from the day before - the shinobi could be excused from not wanting to check up on Naruto and Riful. That didn't excuse them from reaching for their weapons when the front door was opened, believing it to be a threat.
It also didn't excuse them from not immediately putting away the weapons once they realized it wasn't an enemy.
The fact that Riful and Naruto were juggling Haku's corpse between the two of them didn't help. It was a wonder that the body hadn't broken a bone yet with how they were handling it.
Taking notice of their company, they halted the hazardous game, with Naruto holding the corpse over his shoulder. Riful, her arms lacking an ornament, hoisted the Kubikiri Houcho (Head Chopping Cleaver) into her hands, positioning so that she could get through a doorway without it hitting something. Haku's body, after being cleaned of blood (and other bodily fluids released by the relaxation of all muscles upon death) had been clothed in a pink yukata.
The tense silence only escalated when nobody offered to speak.
Awkwardness was averted, however, when the smell of brewing tea came from the kitchen. The scent prompted Riful to toss the sword to Kakashi, bolting into the kitchen with an excited expression.
"Hold onto this, Kakashi-san. Tsunami-san, may I have a cup of tea?"
Neither Shizune nor Kakashi were able to figure out if they should be amused at her actions, or apprehensive over her nonexistent concern for safety.
They left after Riful had had her cup of tea.
Some time later…
It didn't take too long to return to Konoha, but the air was tense with unspoken questions and secrets. Kakashi and Sasuke were thinking long and hard about all their interactions with Riful, wondering how much of her strength they weren't aware of, while Shizune analyzed both child-like entities.
The two in question were remarkably unfazed by the heavy atmosphere.
There was a slight confusion at the gate when they had to present their identification, in which Naruto had to hand off the corpse so that he could rifle around in his pockets for the documentation. Both chuunin at the gate were stunned at the casual handling of a corpse, though they kept their questions to themselves.
Sarutobi really couldn't help himself when Team 7 stepped forward to report.
He regained his composure with only a minimal amount of staring, and cleared his throat in an obvious gesture for someone to begin their report.
Kakashi, as team leader, relayed a brief overview of their mission, setting the fully detailed written report atop one of the stacks of paperwork on the Hokage's desk. It took several minutes to recount the major points, and not once did the jounin take his eyes off his book, nor did his voice change from its lazy monotone.
"I have no idea where they got the corpse, though…"
A blatant hint for one of them to step forward and fill in the Hokage (not to mention their instructor) on where, exactly, they had gotten the corpse, and why, exactly, they had Zabuza's sword. Riful stepped up, as Naruto had 'borrowed' the Hokage's brush and inkstone when he wasn't looking, and was currently doodling on the corpse's face. Zabuza's sword was leaning innocently against the wall near the door.
Holding her hands together behind her back, she rocked back and forth on her heels as she gave her report.
"Well… I was curious about the swords… because I heard they were durable. On the bridge, I borrowed one to see if it'd break when I used it, and since it didn't, I went to go look for Zabuza-san to ask about them!"
The Hokage, bewildered and not a small amount disbelieving, echoed her last line with a few modifications.
"You, a genin, went looking for an A-rank nuke-nin who had been a jounin before he attempted and almost killed the Mizukage so that you could ask him about his sword?"
The brunette nodded her head, responding slowly as if explaining to a small child.
"Yes. I was going to ask him about his sword. How else was I going to learn about it?"
Sarutobi pressed his fingertips to his temples, warding off the headache that was soon to appear.
"It's a miracle that he didn't kill you."
"He tried. We played 'The Game', and he lost. I won again!"
That got the entire room's attention, and Naruto looked up from his painting of a monocle.
"What's the score now, Riful?"
Without missing a beat, the girl replied to her fellow Abyssal One.
"Somewhere around four thousand three hundred and eighty two to zero, give or take a hundred. I reign supreme!"
The blonde simply gave an 'Mm' of assent, returning to his cadaver painting.
Thinking the girl was joking around, the Hokage humored her.
"Zabuza is dead? But where is his corpse, or his head?"
Naruto looked up at this, an amused look on his face.
"Zabuza-san's body is rather preoccupied at the moment. Giving birth takes a lot out of you. And your vital organs."
The Hokage, becoming quite tired of the roundabout answers to his questions, shifted into a stance, expression brooking no argument.
Naruto and Riful, both with amused gleams in their eyes, alternated in their explanations. Riful spoke first, causing the Hokage to snap his attention to her.
"Naruto has this awesome ninjutsu that puts a parasite in someone's body…"
Naruto piped up next, using the brush in his hand as an instructional tool as if to illustrate his point.
"The parasite drains blood and nutrients from the target, taking as much as it needs or wants from the unwilling host. Like…say you have this friend…who comes over and eats all your food…and whenever you get more food, they keep eating it all. Even the barbeque sauce flavored ice cream."
Riful appeared to ponder that last point before continuing the explanation.
"Absolute bastards. By the time the parasite has taken all the nutrients and blood it needs, the body is barely functioning and definitely dying, so it then abandons the body. Violently."
The blonde nodded his assent to her first point, picking up the details.
"As if eating the ice cream wasn't enough, they evacuate the body by ripping through flesh, bone, and cartilage. And the last thing the victim hears is the parasite's cry of glee as it enters the world."
Riful grasped his hands, pulling him close to her and causing him to drop the brush he was holding. Following her lead, he spun them around in a parody of ballroom dancing as they attempted to mimic the supposed 'cry of glee'. Given that they had the ability all youma have of 'adjusting' parts of their anatomy, they were able to hit the high note they needed.
All occupants of the room winced and covered their ears, the glass windows shuddering as the high note vibrated close to their shattering frequency.
The two childlike beings halted their dance, looking towards their Hokage as the blonde finished his 'report'.
"So Zabuza-san's corpse looks more like a mummy shoved into a food processor than anything else…I doubt his head survived. On a brighter note, I have a loyal parasite for a pet!"
This point, apparently, was something to consider, as his face fell into a speculative look. A moment later, he brightened marginally, turning to Riful with an excited gleam in his eyes.
"Maybe we can breed it with Tonton!"
The female Abyssal One perked up at the possibilities, and the two were out of the office before someone could object. The corpse and sword were taken with them.
Sarutobi rubbed at his aching ears, casting a disbelieving look at Kakashi. Reluctant to pursue the strange behavior of the two genin, he dismissed the rest of the team with a wave of his hand.
Rubbing at his aching temples, the Hokage could only ponder on the attitudes of the two genin.
'They're going to drive me to drink more than Jiraiya ever did.'
With Naruto and Riful…
As it was nearing 'lunch-time' for humans, the two decided to try to find Tsunade. Heedless of the disconcerted and downright disgusted glances the civilians and even ninja shot them, they searched high and low for the buxom blonde. The glances, oddly enough, had nothing to do with them, but rather for the fact that they were dragging around a corpse like it was a parcel they had to deliver.
They soon found her staring contemplatively into her mug of coffee at a local café, a half eaten sandwich lying in front of her on a plate.
Sneaking their way up to her, which was made easy by her focus being elsewhere, they propped Haku's corpse up on the chair on the opposite side of the table from her. Tsunade eyed the corpse with a medic's trained eye for several seconds before she spoke to Riful.
"I give up. Male or female?"
Riful's eyes crinkled up into a smile.
"Female. We had to rely on smell to figure it out."
Naruto gazed speculatively at the corpse, noting the peaceful, pale expression on her face. He turned to direct his gaze at Tsunade, as if sizing her up, speaking as he came to a conclusion. His voice had a warning tone, but his eyes belied his words with amusement.
"Be careful. She knew kung-fu."
The slug summoner raised a blonde brow, playing along as she raked her vision across the corpse, sizing it up as an opponent.
"She may have. However. I…know karate."
Riful looked between the corpse and the sannin, expression analytical.
"This confrontation will be written about for eons to come, children will hear it as only legend. Statues will be built in the victor's appearance, holidays arranged, and mass marketing of merchandise sold."
Tsunade broke her serious performance, snickering at the brunette's statement. She grabbed both 'children' into a bear hug, in good spirits that they came back from their mission unharmed.
"So, how was your C-rank? I'm off for the rest of the day."
Riful shoved the corpse out of the seat, taking its place, paying no attention to the dull thump as it hit the floor. Naruto picked it up and frowned faintly.
The fall had smudged Haku's realistic moustache and goatee.
"Our C-rank actually turned out to be higher than we thought…"
He tuned out Riful as he borrowed 'artistic implements' from the counter and began fixing his 'soiled artwork'.
It took several hours to finish the entire story of their first C-rank mission, and by that time they had vacated the café, gone to the hospital's medical lab, and were already working on analyzing the corpse of Haku.
Naruto, not sharing his companions' love for bloodlines and how they work, exited when they started to get a gleam in their eyes. The sort of gleam normally found in those who have found something very important, and that they will take great glee in dissecting it into its component parts.
Riful, assisting on her first ever medic-nin autopsy, was astounded at what ninja could do with their chakra. Not only was it good for offense, defense, and movement…but it was quite capable when it came to scanning things, as well. According to Tsunade, it would take time and practice to learn to decipher what the strange information was that she gleaned from the technique.
It was not as if it wrote the words out in her mind at what she wanted to know. Instead, she felt sensations through the minute fluctuations of the technique as she scanned things on the body. A prickle of energy when examining the chakra system meant something, but she wasn't sure what. As did a tingling feeling in her palm, much like the after effect of a slap, when she was analyzing the bone structure.
She didn't dare to interrupt Tsunade to ask what it was, though. The woman had an expression on her face that terrified many a lesser man.
She was in research heaven. The users of Hyoton (Ice Element) were extremely rare and any corpse of one was normally disposed of with extreme measures. This wasn't too special, as many of the other dying clans with well known bloodlines did the same, not wishing for anyone to learn the secrets of their craft, hoping to take them to their grave. Bodies were often burned, and their ashes scattered to the wind or poured into a fast moving river.
To have a body, mostly intact (though there was a single wound; a thin stab wound that slipped between the ribs and through the heart to exit the back) in the beginning of its prime, and to have inherited the bloodline so beautifully…
The only comparison would be if her teammate, Jiraiya, had found his way into a Lesbian Exhibitionist Fetish Festival.
Oh, the research! So much is possible!
Far off in an underground cavern somewhere, Orochimaru felt as if his female teammate had gained something that he had desired for many years. Knowing not to discount these feelings, he ticked off the few list of ambitions that he and his medic teammate had in common.
'Immortality, eternal youth…close enough. A body to kill for, breasts to kill for…similar. Learning every technique including bloodlines, researching…every…bloodline…'
The serpentine male's face shifted into a dangerously impassive expression.
In another room within the cavern-base, Yakushi Kabuto shivered. After working for so long with Orochimaru, he had gained an extra sense, one which had saved his life many times.
He had to leave. Now. A short vacation wouldn't hurt.
Someone had beaten Orochimaru to one of his goals.
There was nothing more dangerous than a Sannin Temper Tantrum.
Tsunade stopped mid-technique, a bizarre manic expression on her face.
She had felt it. Her snake-using teammate was throwing a fit, because she got a bloodline corpse and he did not.
Anyone within earshot shuddered at the gleeful cackling coming from one of the medical labs.
After all, even though there was enough bad blood between them to float a boat, it didn't mean that former teammates didn't revel in mocking each other.
For better or for worse, they were family, albeit broken and estranged.
And if a small village out in Ta no Kuni (Land of Rice) had been snuffed out in a bizarre 'accident', well…it just meant that she knew that he knew what had occurred.
She'd be sure to update the scoreboard.