Authors Note: So...the last time I updated this was six months ago? Yeah. I apologize profusely for the huge delay.

Dissimulation

Chapter 5


With everything lost (integrity, self-worth, self-respect, honour, her virginity) Anko figures that going home empty handed is worse being a hated, worthless traitor because then all of this would have been for nothing.

So she lets the men fuck her. Clients. They are her clients. Day after day after day. She wears tattered kimonos, ugly and worn, but they're nice enough to look pretty in the filth she's surrounded by. Each day, she is bathed and tended to, scars and bruises and fragile limbs mended after a night with some of the more violent customers. Each day a needle is wormed under her skin, transparent golden liquid, reeking of death and disease pumped into her body. Each day she waits in her room and wishes through lucid hazes for Benjiro Bishamon to be dead. Each night she plays dead on the mat and closes her eyes and pretends she's back in Konohagakure. She's quite the money maker (men love her, men need her, men will die for her) and Hikekure sees this. She's a beautiful girl with a beautiful chest and once upon a time, she was beautifully innocent. Not anymore. Hikekure keeps Anko so drugged and so physically inebriated that she can barely walk. Or talk. Or scream. Or do anything but smile.

(Opium, heroin, fanciful visions of pleasure and pain, and fuck, what is going on...)

Because of this, sometimes, when they fuck her, Anko moans (she can't see them, she can't feel them, but there is pleasure...afterwards, when she is coming down, she hates herself for enjoying it. But she's not happy. No. Never happy. Not ever).

And sometimes, when they fuck her, Anko draws blood from their lips and swallows (metallic, bitter, comforting. If she can forget what they are doing, somehow, it will make this bearable. Let me taste reality; let me taste something that is real. The drugs make things difficult to understand...)

And sometimes, when they fuck her, Anko cries and cries and cries.

"I want to go home," she whispers. But then all of this would have been for nothing. Pointless battle scars marring a pointless period in her life where absolutely nothing was accomplished.

So slowly, and surely, she is making a list of people she will kill. Not just Benjiro. No. There will be more. And she will see their blood and be reminded of home, and in that moment, have just enough strength to make it there.

She thinks this makes her crazy. Maybe it's just the drugs. It probably is. Making lists of people to kill is something she hasn't done since she was nine or ten (and Orochimaru-sama made her do it. But she can hardly remember him right now, or anything for that matter, so she doesn't know how insane she is. All she can do is breathe in and breathe out. Breathe.)

Until then, she remains docile. Waiting. Just waiting. She needs information. Time is running out.

So after the end of every fuck, with eyes half lidded, her body battered and bruised, Anko begins to whisper into the men's ears:

"I'm looking for Benjiro Bishamon. Tell me...where can I find him?"

Escape is so pointless when there is nowhere to go.


She cannot count the days that she has been here.

And men...well men, they ignore her. They don't know what she's talking about half the time. She's just a drugged body and the fact that she can form sentences seems to annoy them. They get up, pull themselves together and exit the room before Anko can even sit up.

After the men leave, the woman, whom Anko has grown to know as Tanakao comes in and forces her to eat bitter tasting herbs. A thick mixture, smelling of tar and urine is then left for her to consume at her desire.

"To discourage pregnancy," Tanakao tells her. "It's best you drink it."

Most days the drugs have begun to lose their potency at this point, and drinking the mixture she has called 'piss tar' is near impossible. But the idea of bearing the child of one of her 'clients' is unbearable, so Anko drinks the disgusting mixture in earnest. It makes her feel ill. Some days she vomits. Some days she is wracked by horrible, body wracking stomach pains. Some days, she pees blood.

"You don't have to drink it," Tanakao tells her, cleaning up the contents of Anko's stomach which have been spilled all over the floor. Her room is a mess of dried bodily fluids, all of which smell. "Either way, Hikekure makes sure her girls remain barren."

"What—what do you mean?"

"A child has no place in a whore house," Tanakao tells her with a stiff lip. "But the alternative methods Hikekure uses to ensure the end of a pregnancy are far more volatile and sickening than the mixture of medicine she feeds you."

Anko doesn't want to think about the other methods Hikekure would implement on her and so continues to drink the piss tar and becomes ill.

By most mornings, Anko begins to feel the withdrawal from the drugs and she is sent into a feverish haze. Walls begin to crawl. The floor shakes. The ceiling is drip, drip, dripping over head and she can't seem to pinpoint where all the noises come from. Tanakao comes and brings her to the woman who bashes her head against the wash basin as she bathes her and Anko swallows blood. Then Tanakao escorts her back into the room smelling of decay and rot and shit and ties a tight rope around her upper left arm. Her veins pop from her skinny, paper thin arms and Anko lets Tanakao inject her with death and disease.

Only now (when the walls have stopped crawling, and she's high as a kite) can she find it bearable to speak.

"Tanakao..."

"Yes, Shizuko?"

"I think...I think..."

"You think what?"

Anko makes a strange gurgling sound and lets her eyes roll back into their sockets. She slumps to the floor and Tanakao yells for help.


A man who calls himself a doctor examines Anko and determines there is nothing wrong with her.

(Because she is fourteen years old and if she looks in a mirror, she will see her abdomen is the color of skim-milk mixed with horrible lashes of purple and blue. There are bright red cuts in her shoulder blades, throbbing and turning yellow and her face is gaunt. Her arms are covered in black pin-pricks, count one, two, three, twelve, twenty-four, one-hundred, and the Doctor says she is fine.)

"A drug over-dose is nothing to be concerned about, Madame Hikekure. I'm sure you have dozens of girls lined up and waiting to replace her."

"This girl is special," snaps Hikekure. "Look at her face. Look at her body."

"I am looking and I see she is badly in need of rest."

"Are you saying she is unfit for work?"

"I am saying she will die if she continues on like this. But I'm sure you have no problems with such issues of morality, am I correct Madame?"

The doctor is wearing a thin smile and Hikekure's face looks sour.

"Shizuko brings in more money a night than half the girls working on the first floor."

"Then perhaps it would be best if you let her...sleep...for a few days."

Hikekure pays the doctor from her bulging change purse and examines Anko with beady eyes, a snarl consuming her face.

"Are you sorry yet, little girl?"

Anko does not answer. She keeps her eyes closed and waits. Hikekure growls and has Tanakao carry Anko into clean room where the floor does not smell of piss and blood and vomit. In this room, Anko goes through fits of dissociation and through the withdrawals, bides her time.


She dreams of Konohagakure. Of street vendors selling sticky sweet candy on bamboo skewers and the first time she ever held a shuriken. She dreams of the Academy and Toutai-sensai (such a nice teacher—a nice man), and the exceptional words that fell from his mouth when he told her she was something special; a kid to be proud of. (And maybe he was right, because others certainly thought she was special too. And that is why her new teacher was Orochimaru-sama.)

She dreams of silly things. And useless things. Like the color of mother's eyes (who she hasn't seen since she was five), the scent of her father (wood and sweat and dirt). She dreams of seven-hundred reasons why she doesn't care anymore; why just returning to Konoha is more important than this inane mission, and somehow that dreams slips back into images of odango and sweet bean paste and when she wakes up (sweating, breathing heavy—starving—scrawny—coughing, and realizing the drugs are gone) she does not cry.


She has a moment of disassociation. She is looking in the mirror while the unnamed women who she has grown to call "Crone", combs her hair, reigning terror on her scalp, and Mother—new Mother—Hikekure, stands idly behind her.

She is fourteen years old and her body looks like that of a little boy. She is tiny. Bones protrude in strange places. The week's rest has allowed the bruises to fade, but only to sickly shades of brown and gray. No longer does she flinch when Crone pulls on her hair. Her face is supine. Her eyes tepidly watch Crone's wrinkled fingers rake the metal points of the fine-toothed pick from the base of her wet roots to the tangled tips. She finds this interesting.

"Re-wrap her left arm and make sure you dose it in antiseptics," Hikekure instructs Crone. The hundreds of tiny needle marks left from the previous weeks of drug instate abuse have left festering wounds that are slow to heal. She turns her attention to Anko (Shizuko?) and clamps down on her shoulder with talon-like claws.

"There will be no more use of needles if you behave," she snarls.

Anko nods, but does not say a word—she does not say "go die", or "I will kill you soon", or "fucking bitch". She does not say these because soon they will become self evident.

Hikekure leaves, and Crone re-bandages her arm. She doesn't put on the antiseptic like asked and Anko does not say a word.

She is fucked by her first customer in nearly two weeks and there is no body wracking flinch in the aftermath. She stays quiet as he leaves and doesn't move until Tanakao comes with the piss medicine. Tanakao leaves. Anko vomits, and later, coughs up blood.


Saeko comes to visit her and brings her food—real food. The older woman sets the bowl of sticky natto down in front of Anko and lights a cigarette. Anko's not quite sure why she has chosen to visit. Actually, yes, she knows. She knows Saeko visits for Hikekure, for no altruistic reason other than she was ordered to, to see if Anko is adjusting and playing the part of someone quiet and meek and someone who does not cause chaos. Anko knows Saeko doesn't give a shit; that maybe, somewhere deep down she feels sorry for her, only because when she looks at Anko she sees herself, twenty years ago, and this is enough to make the women sad. Anko sort of likes Saeko in an awkward, discomforting sort of way, but she doesn't like her enough to not kill her. Saeko is on the list.

The food tastes like heaven. But Anko has more important things on her mind.

"Saeko," she asks, meekly, quietly, expectedly. "What day is it?"

The woman cranes her neck left and raises a highly plucked eyebrow, letting out a plume of smoke before pursing her heavily painted lips. She takes a moment to ponder this, as she too is lost to the jorou-ya and can't remember the real world. She flicks the ash of her cigarette to the floor and sighs.

"Thursday," the woman finally responds. "It's the Thursday right after the Hanazumo Festival. Why?"

Anko thinks about her response and decidedly, she doesn't care what Saeko knows or doesn't know. She takes another bite of the natto and swallows.

"I'm supposed to be at the Li Suri Bridge in three weeks time," Anko finally tells her. A wry smile was working its way up onto her face (because she doesn't care, care, care—who fucking cares?) and she takes another bite.

Saeko grunts, and then Saeko laughs and says in a voice so dry: "Is that so?" and Anko nods and says, grinning (unevenly, unhinged, disconnected) in response: "Stupid, right?"

And Saeko agrees, still laughing and says: "Sweetheart, whoever you're meeting at the bridge shouldn't hold their breath. You'll never make it out of here alive."

Anko starts to laugh so hard that her stomach hurts and she shakes her head and Saeko puffs on her cigarette and together they sit on the floor of a room that they both want to burn to the ground. Anko finishes her bowl of natto and Saeko finishes her cigarette, says goodbye, and leaves.

Later, nobody comes carrying needles and tourniquets, and Anko knows that Saeko didn't say a word. Stupid Saeko. (Laughing, smiling, not believing a word she says.) Saeko knows.


3 weeks.