Title: Evacuate the Dancefloor
Warnings: Insanity, mass murder, and possession.
Prompt: 33) I really don't think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don't mind the failure but I can't imagine that I'd forgive myself if I didn't try. -- Nikki Giovanni (born June 7, 1943), African-American author and poet.
Summary: It's a mission just like a thousand others. Missions like this are why Ino dances with insanity--and insanity wins.
Author Notes: AU. Dark!Future-fic. Mission!fic. Done for femgenficathon on LJ. Prompt used. I don't own Naruto or any of the characters from Naruto. Kishimoto does. Thanks to the awesome rushin_doll for the beta!
This clock is ticking, the sound trickling through her skull, down her spine and setting nerves afire. The bland light of the lone hanging lamp reflects off the stainless steel desk making the whole room just a little surreal. Chairs are the same steel, cushion-less, and the walls uniformly off-white. To her back, the door is just as pale, the tiny window has chain mesh in it. It could be a prison room.
Or an interrogation room. It's been used as both before. Right now, it's a briefing room. Versatile.
Ino crosses her ankles, resting them on the table, her hair spilling down the back of the chair in a golden cascade, and rather than being anything like bored she's anticipatory.
On her shoulder, marring the lightly tanned skin, spills the scarlet spiral of ANBU. She's been here for almost two years, no longer a rookie, and it's a madhouse, it's her favourite house, and some would say she's gone insane just like everyone else who dons the black and white.
Faceless, formless, they are the shadows of nightmares, and right here and now this shadow is waiting for her next assignment. In the next chair over her partner, Takanaka Hiyoshi, sits looking bored. She knows him inside and out; he won't perk up until they're on the road.
They aren't lovers, they're something more connected. Talking isn't needed. She's the action, the flash, the daring. He backs her up, he ties her down—he keeps things from falling apart while she moves in like a dancing wraith to strike.
It's not the old partnership of her first team, the one her parents made famous, the one that they tried to re-create, but Ino doesn't care. Chouji has Genin of his own now, Shikamaru is firmly ensconced at the Academy trouncing the bratlings who think they got what it takes to be a ninja without any of the experience.
And her, her world has narrowed to blood and bone. Flowers are a fever dream these days. Black and white. Masks and spirals. It's dark--she can still remember her first mission, in a room much like this one, so sick with nerves that she's green--and hard, razor-edged and every mission she takes pushes her closer to the edge.
She never plans to leave. Ino shrugs languidly, Hiyoshi settles back a little further in his chair, and the door opens on the Chuunin operative who holds the keys to their next mission.
Already she can make guesses--there's only so much a two man team can accomplish--but she's all ears, removing her feet from the table as the man spreads the maps and dossiers out.
This is what she was born to do.
In her blood, in her breath, in her heart, this is everything she's ever really needed. The thrill of a mission, the sudden surge of adrenaline come the time to move in on the target, the blank empty eyes of her targets.
Maybe she is insane.
ANBU welcomes that though and she's right at home. She'll leave it in a body bag, if there's even that much of her left to find. Twist and twirl, she's a crazy girl. Big deal, no deal, it doesn't matter because when the job needs doing she's as good as anyone.
These days, she's not left behind. She leaves them behind. Shikamaru with his permanent frown, Chouji with his sad eyes. Ino flies ignoring them.
"Alright," the mission man says, his name escaping her and Ino doesn't bother with the effort to chase down the thought that has it. He's Konoha. Safe. "It is currently 16:07, 11/08. Room B1-139. In attendance: Yamada Kei (Ninja Registration No: 011054), Takanaka Hiyoshi (Ninja Registration No: 011868), and Yamanaka Ino (Ninja Registration No: 012604). This mission was pre-assigned due to the need of a specific skill set…"
Black and bone and scarlet, her blood rushing through her veins, it's a rush. Ino leans forward. Hiyoshi leans back.
Three hours later and they're racing, running, long legs pumping over the ground as they arrow towards their destination. After the meeting it is never anything but rush, change, and move. There's gear to grab, skin-tight suits to squirm into, bone white armour to strap on, and masks to don. Weapons to triple-check and then clothing specific for the mission.
All of that they do without ever having to pause. Second nature these days while they ruminate over their assignment.
What do you think? Ino asks, projecting her voice into his head. Telepathy was so convenient for in the field. Nothing to lose by talking when no one knew. How much prep time are you going to need?
Up to him, crash boom bang, they just need to sprinkle the finishing touches on the guideline and let it go with flair. Make it good, they were told. It's a given. They've got it in the bag, both are confident, but it still takes tuning.
He never glances back, used to the way her voice echoes in his skull, they've got better things to talk about besides. Ino's grin beneath her mask is taut, edged and eager. Watch out, they're coming.
Coming just for their targets. Stuff of nightmares—nameless, faceless devils. No colour for them, just the shades, and then abruptly the scarlet spill of new blood splattering.
I'll know better once we see the location, Hiyoshi answers, voice like a whip crack through her mind. Just this side of painful and Ino never even winces at it anymore. But this is what I was thinking we'd do...
The music is loud. Hard. The beat, the noise, makes the dancefloor, dazzling under a multitude of lights, appear alive. Like it has a heartbeat, like there's a soul. It's so loud that talking isn't happening, yelling or hands and hips and eyes. Communicating along the beat; sweat and exertion. Women and men, all dressed up, dressed down, all looking for a good time.
All except for one.
She looks the part, hair down, hair sexy, clothing even more provocative. A bright blue silk top—brighter than her eyes, makes them almost glow—skirt so short that it ought to be illegal. Long long legs in heels that make them even longer.
Dressed to kill. To the denizens of the dance club, it's a compliment, more than that—a fact. She's smokin' hot, after all. The compliment is her due. Her right. She could be queen of the dancefloor tonight.
To Ino, the kills she dresses up for are much more literal.
Her target, the poor fucking bastard that pissed someone off enough to hire a solution, hire her, is out in that swaying, dancing, sea of people. Brilliant scarlet shirt, gaping open at the front and showing off a body that, for a civilian, isn't in bad shape.
She prefers her ninja men. Lean, hard, and scarred. They know what hard work is, what physical fitness is, know that it is more than a few hours a day, a week, in a gym. They know how to live.
Ino holds her drink in one hand, legs crossed elegantly but not primly—that would stick out, here, where physical attraction was key—and idly tracks him. Picks out the slightest impression of the blade he has concealed. Naughty man, but it made her job easier.
And his own grave that much deeper.
In it's own way, sticking out is better camouflage than blending in. Here, where everything and anything went out on the dance floor, she is almost invisible. Easily labelled. Placed and then shelved. Hot, languid, not particularly looking for company, would dance when she decides to, thanks.
Almost midnight, the club closes at four, there's plenty of time still to have fun, to rock their bodies, to lose themselves in sights, sounds, and tastes. Plenty of time for everyone but her. Almost midnight.
Tossing back her drink, the neutralizers she ingested earlier dealing with the alcohol, Ino slides off her stool one long leg at a time and slips into the swarm of dancers like a line cast into the sea.
On the floor there is no direct route to the target. Ino pays it no mind, hips and breasts and knees and elbows all willing to dance and so that's what she does. All glorious, hair sliding down her back like a lover's caress, eyes sultry, and lips curve into a smile. She enjoys herself, looks it, and it's child's play to slide around, between, and through people as she moves, all the while marking her target.
He's not the dead man tonight, but her country is cruel and justice will be swift if he doesn't take his own life.
Step, sidle, she's getting closer and the time is ticking down. Almost there, almost time, and she's grinning a bewitching grin, almost coquettish as she runs one hand alluringly down his elbow (the red silk is truly fine, it's almost a pity to ruin it) and as he turns to meet her—
—the lights go out—
—He stiffens under her hand; she gasps in entirely feigned dismay, stepping closer to him. Let him believe it's for assurance. Ino's hand slides from his arm, she's almost cuddled against his chest, he's copping a feel and she resists the urge to roll her eyes while letting a breathy, almost nervous, giggle escape.
All over the dancefloor the question is raising, strumming up out of a multitude of voices, where are the lights?
Someone gets the idea to try the doors. Ino's lips curve into a smile, her thoughts mentally counting down the seconds—
"It's jammed!" Wrestling with the door, the handle remaining immovable. "The doors won't open! We're trapped!"
Good job, Ino congratulates her partner before putting her mind back to the job at hand. It's just getting really exciting.
Trapped. Just like rats and this is the cat's cue to come out. Trap trap trap, it's a trap. Oh so carefully her hands begin forming seals even as that word races through the crowd, electrifying them, causing them to stumble, race for the doors to confirm with their own hands, to look for other exits only to find that yes, it's true, they're all jammed.
There's shocked, breathless silence, only for a second, and then a woman screams. The sound echoing on and on and on through the darkness and then it's not just echoes but others are starting to pick up the refrain.
Itty bitty darkness ain't the worst of it tonight, darlings. How 'bout I give you all something to scream about?
Her grin is feral, no one can see it, and she twists into the target, the one who is talking, even now trying to reassure her. "Darling," she whispers, voice like darkened honey, as her hands slide slick through the last seals. "Don't be afraid."
Shinranshin no jutsu.
He stiffens. And now he's her toy. Just a puppet who dances to the tune of her strings. To her, that's sexier than anything else that this club has had to offer her. Rock your body, rock his body, she loves being in control.
"What's going on?" his voice, just a little panicky under the anger as she makes him reach for the blades he's got secreted in his clothing. No one can see, no one can hear him over the other screams and tears.
Ino sways in her high heels, as if to music; there's music in her head and it's that song that means she dances to the beat of a far different drummer. "Dancing," she answers archly, backing away and keeping her control.
As she makes her way to the bar, he's yelling, no one cares yet. Ino slips on top the bar—swaying to the music, see her hips tuck and twirl then up again, seating herself on the beams that support the roof. Hop skip step.
Out of the chaos. There's no light, but she knows when the first person dies. A few more killed and then the tangy scent of blood is everywhere and everyone knows there's a monster in the building.
They're right, of course, but they've got the wrong one.
The man wielding the knife is only the doll of the puppet girl sitting up in the shadows and humming as she closes her eyes to direct him. The screams change tenor, shifting from unfocused panic to here and now terror. It's a song in her ears. Roaring in her ears.
This is why she has stopped trying to excuse herself to her old team. If you don't get the music from the start, you'll never understand it. Every ANBU has the music to a degree, they need it, but some days Ino feels that she's nothing but the music encased in flesh, bone and blood.
People are dying, screaming, begging, pleading; tears run down her puppet's face and over it all Ino feels truly alive. In the midst of a massacre, she's the calm in the tornado, she's the sun, and it's here that she's real and centered.
Here and there others are pulling weapons, trying to defend themselves but none of them are ninja, she's made sure of that tonight and all of them die just as easily as the civilians do.
Her puppet is bleeding now, but he'll keep moving as long as she wants him—blood overwhelms the scent of everything else, there's still people trying to get away, wanting to hide, she'll find every last one of them before the doors are unlocked. Hiyoshi is turning people away from the doors, telling them lies about maintenance. The walls, sound-proofed, keep their secrets.
Ino isn't sure it's entirely a lie, though different by far from what they think. A little death makes the world go around. She's doing a public service, it's a chore. A little piece of heaven brought to earth and sullied.
She never thinks about the could-have-beens, the blue-eyed girl with dreams of love, of clean joy, because this is her world and Ino is happy in it. She's always trying and, in her own way, there's results to be seen. Too busy, by far, riding the rush of death and blood and power. Nothing better.
Down below her puppet continues the job she drafted him for. One by one they all fall down.
Just like the mission called for.
Two days later, she's back in Konoha, waiting for her next mission. She reads her book intermittently until a soft knock on her door has her stepping over to answer it.
Hiyoshi is there. He grins his slow lazy grin, sandy hair flopping in his eyes and holds up a newspaper. "Thought you'd want to see this."
She takes it, he steps inside without invitation, and when she opens the paper the first story, the front page story, is entitled 'MASSACRE ON THE DANCEFLOOR – 146 DEAD'. Ino rolls her eyes and laughs at him.
"What do you think about this?" she asks archly. It's a game they play.
His eyes are amused but so cold; he knows the music too. "The perp was a sick sonuvabitch. You?"
Ino tosses the paper onto her bed and stretches. "That the victims were all incredibly poor at evacuating the dancefloor."
Tick tock, hands on the clock, everyone lives on borrowed time.