Wrath of a Woman Scorned
Rated M for: language, violence, adult situations and concepts, lemons, and graphic imagery
[Insert disclaimer here]
There is now a poll up on my profile in regards to Aki's encounters with Gaara in upcoming chapters. Cast your vote! Help me decide! And guide the future of Wrath of a Woman Scorned!
After a few years of service, nearly any ninja can say they've watched somebody die… I wonder how many can claim they watched someone come back from the dead on their first mission out of the village. –Hatake Kakashi
Chapter 9: The Windows to the Soul
Nami no Kuni
If someone had told Uchiha Sasuke a month ago that he would one day cradle Aki's limp body as she died in his arms, he would have laughed in their face, told them in no uncertain terms that they were crazy, and recommended that they should immediately seek medical attention. The very idea that something could kill Aki seemed ludicrous. Aki? Die? Ha! Aki was the single most terrifying and, he suspected, powerful person Uchiha Sasuke had ever had the misfortune to meet.
At fifty-four kilograms and a hundred and fifty-three centimeters with a deceptively lithe figure and delicate features that looked like the belonged in a painting, Aki wasn't all that intimidating. Not at first. But when she moved? It was too smooth, too ready. The way she talked? When she smiled? There was just an inherent wrongness about her that unsettled him... and that was well before he'd seen her get violent.
The only person Sasuke knew of that wasn't afraid of Aki to some extent was the Sandaime and Sasuke was reasonably sure there was something going on there that he didn't know about.
'But no one is invincible…' Sasuke thought as he stared into the water below the dock outside of Tazuna's home.
It's a very sobering experience to watch someone die, even more so when they are in some way important to you. But the strongest person you know? Staring into their eyes as they slowly lose focus and become glassy and lifeless? To just sit by and watch, to feel, the life leave their body? That… that is a truly horrible experience.
But, however bad that was, what's worse… is being unable to forget it.
Just for a moment, the water stilled, becoming smooth and glassy and Sasuke found himself suddenly staring at his own reflection in its surface. Sasuke froze as his red eyes stared back at him, spinning ever so slowly… mocking him. As if to say 'Be careful what you wish for, Sasuke. You just might get it,' then it was gone.
This is the curse of Uchiha. When active, the sharingan gifts its wielder with the ability to see, to understand, and to recall anything within their sight with perfect clarity. When this is explained to them, most people only see the benefits. Most ninja would give anything for the ability to see a technique in action once and be able to replicate it or to be able to glance at a page of a book and memorize it. They never think of what else it would mean for those who use it…
It meant that you could never forget.
Sasuke's eyes moved from the water to his hands, idly rubbing his fingers together. His hands were clean, raw even, from repeated scrubbing but he could still feel her blood running between his fingers. It had been so slick, like oil, red as her hair, and cool… from the ice that had killed her.
Sharingan didn't simply copy what it saw, it remembered everything the user percieved… and what it meant.
Sasuke took his eyes off his hands, staring out at the setting sun. He could remember that moment so clearly, everything about it. He remembered her pulse slowing to a crawl, then stopping. He could remember watching as her chakra wafted off her, weak, sputtering, like a campfire slowly guttering out. He could still see her eyes staring up at nothing, fixed on the point where his face had been.
It had been the single most horrible and unsettling experience of his life and he would never be able to forget it… or what came after.
Tazuna's Bridge, 3 Days Previous…
"For what it's worth, I'm sorry," the masked boy said, his emotionless porcelain facade staring down at Sasuke from every angle.
Sasuke didn't reply.
"Was she… precious to you?"
Sasuke remained silent as he slowly, gently, laid Aki's body on the concrete… almost like he was putting her to bed.
"Is this the first time you've seen a comrade die?" the masked boy asked, the barest hint of sympathy bleeding into his voice.
Sasuke glanced up, his eyes glowing ominously as he scanned the mirrors, his Sharingan whirling furiously as they found the mirror where the real Kiri nin was hiding… and then his Sharingan stopped spinning, fixed on the hunter's mask.
'What is that?!' Haku wondered, suddenly on high alert as he stared into the alien design in his enemy's eye. That wasn't sharingan, not the three-point tomoe design that he had seen in Zabuza-sama's intel book.
Then Sasuke brought an arm up reaching a hand out as though he could pluck Haku from his mirror as easily as he would pick a grape from the vine.
Haku shivered as a strange sort of pressure settled across the bridge, an unnatural chill that had nothing to do with his ice or the fog. All the while, Sasuke stared unblinkingly into the eye slits in Haku's mask, making the faux hunter nin feel like a cornered rabbit watching a snake, unable to take his gaze from the young Uchiha's eyes as they began to spin lazily.
"Die," Sasuke murmured, his voice carrying like a thunderclap in the eerie silence that had fallen over the bridge.
Haku blinked, confused. "Wha-"
Then Haku's mirror exploded, shattered with such violence that he lost control of his technique and was sent tumbling across the concrete until he was able to find his bearings and stabilize himself.
Looking up, Haku had just enough time to take in the image of a child crying streams of blood as he stood inside the ribcage of an enormous skeleton made of a sickly looking chakra before one of the hands, clenched in a fist, hit him with the force of a train, knocking him flat and driving several shards of his now shattered mask deep into his face.
Scrambling to his feet, the young ice user looked up wild eyed as a skeletal hand made of a sinister purple chakra reaching for him. With a cry of surprise, Haku threw himself to the ground, tumbling under the hand and up to his feet, already running at a dead sprint.
He never saw the backhand that sent him skittering across the concrete and into the guardrail along the side of the bridge.
Shaking himself, Haku looked up, locking eyes with Uchiha Sasuke through the palm of the giant spectral hand as it wrapped around his head, lifting him off the ground... squeezing.
He had crushed that boy. He'd done it purposefully, methodically. He had drawn it out, watching that thing he had summoned slowly deform his opponent until there was nothing left but a red smear on the concrete. He'd wanted him to… to suffer, to feel pain. He'd wanted to make the boy feel his pain.
He had just been so… so angry. He'd felt helpless, like he was losing his family all over again. It was just-
"Penny for your thoughts?" a voice asked, pulling Sasuke out of his waking nightmares.
Sasuke started, his gaze whipping up to fix on Kakashi. The next second, embarrassed to be caught unawares, he turned back to the water and stared stubbornly out at the horizon.
Kakashi didn't seem to notice, or simply chose to ignore it. "Still thinking about the bridge?" he asked, bending down to take a seat next to his student.
Sasuke frowned. "Aren't you?"
"Sure I am… just not as hard as you are," Kakashi replied, sounding completely unconcerned. "So, care to share? Talking about it tends to help… or so I'm told."
Sasuke gave a derisive snort but otherwise stayed silent.
Kakashi sighed resignedly. Teenagers! Always making things difficult. "Look kid, I know you don't really feel like talking, trust me I've been there. But it's your first kill so the rules say you either talk to me or you talk to the nice men in their clean white coats until they clear you for active duty… or slap you with a Section 8. It's your choice but, speaking from experience, talking to your sensei is a lot less hassle."
Sasuke growled irritably. Talk talk talk. They made him talk after the… that night. They made him talk every year after, sometimes several times! Always the same bullshit.
How are you doing, Sasuke?
What have you been thinking about, Sasuke?
How does that make you feel, Sasuke?
Tell us about this, Sasuke…
Talk more about that, Sasuke…
Talk talk talk. He was so fucking sick of talking.
"We're different people when we're angry the way you were on that bridge," Kakashi started, absently watching the waves lap at the dock. "It's still us but we think differently, we react differently and sometimes someone pushes us too far… and we do things we never thought we were capable of."
Sasuke frowned, rolling his sensei's words around in his head. It almost sound like Kakashi understood? But that would mean… oh. "You sound like you're speaking from personal experience," he observed quietly.
Kakashi nodded solemnly.
Sasuke hesitated not quite sure he wanted to know the answer to his next question. "What… what did you do?" Sasuke finally asked.
For a moment Kakashi remained silent, gazing off at nothing as he gathered his thoughts. Then with a sigh, he ran his hand through his hair tiredly. "There were three of them. Low class chunnin… I electrocuted them, slowly," he admitted. "Honestly, it wasn't all that different from how you described killing Zabuza's hunter, we just used different methods and I drew it out longer. I tortured them until they lost their minds then burned them to unrecognizable husks and left them for their families to find."
Sasuke felt sick. What a horrible way to die. They must have done something to truly heinous to drive his cool and collected sensei that far over the edged.
Unconsciously, his eyes drifted back to his hands as his mind wandered back to the bridge, the boy's words ringing in his head.
"Was she… precious to you?"
Unbidden, his sharingan whirled to life and suddenly he was back at the bridge, watching as Kakashi dug the shards of ice from Aki's corpse… and then her body was arching off the ground, spasming, gasping for breath, screaming. He couldn't look away, he was stuck, staring as she thrashed about in a puddle of her own blood, splashing and-
"Sasuke!" Kakashi barked, snapping Sasuke out of his sharingan induced flashback.
Sasuke shook himself, pushing the images away as he made a conscious effort to deactivate his sharingan. "Thank you," he whispered, shuddering.
"Any time kid. I'm more than a little familiar with the less pleasant aspects of sharingan, " he replied consolingly. "What was it this time?"
Sasuke didn't answer at first, taking a second to consider what to say next. "She was dead," he whispered, unconsciously rubbing his fingers together. He just couldn't understand it. "I felt her die, watched her… how did she… she was dead!"
Kakashi sighed, his head dropping in defeat. "Damn, can't say much about that. Nothing that would really explain anything, anyway," he muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration.
Can't say? Oddly final for his normally obtuse sensei. Maybe he didn't know? 'Or maybe it's bigger than that,' Sasuke thought as he remembered how tight lipped most people had been about Aki. Had Kakashi been ordered not to talk about Aki's secrets?
"…Has she woken up?" Sasuke asked, trying to fill the silence.
Kakashi quirked a brow at his student. "What makes you think she'll wake up? She was dead for quite a while you know," he pointed out.
Sasuke frowned. "Well… it's Aki, right?" he said, as if it explained everything.
"…Right," Kakashi replied, shaking his head in amusement.
"Hey, sensei?" Sasuke asked, gathering his courage.
"Hm?" Kakashi replied, glancing at his student out of the corner of his eye.
"Why…" for a second his voice trailed off but with an encouraging look from his sensei he went ahead and asked. "Why'd you do it?"
Kakashi blinked, not really following Sasuke's train of thought. "Do what?" he asked, cocking his head curiously.
"Those men you killed. Why did you…" Sasuke started but his voice caught in his throat.
Kakashi's eyes grew unfocused staring off into the distance. A scene from years ago played in front of him, a voice like an angel's harp whispering in his ears as he stared out through the holes in a mask…
"Inu? You're my friend, right?"
"And you'll always protect me?"
"You pinky promise?"
"Heh heh, yeah… I promise. Now go to sleep, okay?"
"They made me a liar," Kakashi murmured with a cold, deadly, edge to his tone that made Sasuke shiver.
She was floating… suspended under a crushing weight of… the feeling was… depressingly familiar. Ever so slowly, Aki's eyelids peeled back staring into the endless abyss that stretched out around her, illuminated only by the ominous light coming from beneath her.
Twisting her body so that she hung upright in the water, Aki took in her surroundings. Then, with a tired sigh, Aki blinked, just for a moment allowing herself to remember this place as it had been when she had first come here years ago. Once upon a time, this place had been similar to the coasts of Hi no Kuni. The water had been clear and cool hiding a forest of seaweed and coral, a thriving ocean floor… vibrant, alive.
Then she opened her eyes and stared out at the volcanic field that stretched as far as the eye could see, spider webbed by jagged fissures in the black stone and steam vents that spewed sulfuric gas and rubble into the water. No light reached this place through the clouds of debris floating in the water, choking out life and plunging it into darkness, save for the angry glow from the magma that oozed from every crack and crevice like puss from an infected wound.
It was a wasteland; ravaged, poisonous, and lifeless… like a sunrise in hell.
Aki frowned, thinking for a moment. "How long have I been asleep?" she murmured.
"Three days," a voice rumbled from behind her, deep, powerful, like thunder.
"It's getting easier…" Aki mused.
"Naturally," the voice replied, sounding amused.
Aki smile viciously as she flexed her fingers like an angry cat.
"The Uchiha, he's been watching you."
Aki froze. "He has?" she asked, glancing over her shoulder as an odd and annoying feeling washed over her.
"Be wary of that one…"
"I'm wary of everyone," she snapped, waspishly.
"It's not everyone you need to worry about," the voice replied cryptically.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?!" Aki snarled, whirling around to face the massive figure of her tenant as he lounged on an enormous volcanic formation that stood high above the rest of her mindscape.
"It means, little one," Kurama replied, reaching forward to tap her chest ever so gently. "That there is always one person that you are never truly safe from..."
Omake: Preemptive Strike
"…and another thing-Zabuza? Zabuza!" Gato roared into the radio only to be answered by static. "That good for nothing-"
One of the thugs guarding Gato sighed. Sometimes he really felt like this gig wasn't worth it. Sure the pay was good and he really didn't have to do much but his boss was just such a pain.
"-I swear when I'm done with him I'll-"
The thug sighed again, turning away from the annoying little gangster to look back over the rest of the boat… only to find an adorable little blonde girl standing in front of him, staring up at him with impossibly big blue eyes and looking like all she needed was a harp and a pair of wings to be a tiny little angel.
"Hi!" she chirped, waving up at him enthusiastically.
"Uh…" the thug mumbled, staring at the small girl in confusion as she skipped over to his boss. He was pretty sure that that kid had not been there a second ago…
"You're mister Gato, aren't you!" the girl asked, her voice high and carefree as she stared up at the little man hands clutched cutely behind her back.
"What the hell?" Gato wondered as he suddenly found some kid that couldn't be more than five invading his personal space. "Where the hell did this brat come from?" he demanded, turning to the nearest thug for an explanation.
The thug shrugged, still wondering about that himself.
"You're a baaad man~" she giggled, her hand covering her mouth as an unsettling twinkle danced in her eye.
"Whatever brat," Gato muttered dismissively. "Someone toss her in the brig!" Make fun of him would she? Annoying pest. Oh well, at least she'd fetch a decent price at the right auction.
"She's here~" the child sang as she danced out of the reach of the thugs trying to catch her. "One two, she's coming for you. Three four, lock the door~"
"Shut that brat up, will you!" Gato ordered as a dense fog rolled onto the ship.
"Five six, to the river styx. Seven eight, it's too late~" the girl sang, dancing further into the mist.
"Will one of you gut her already!" Gato roared as the fog became impossibly thick.
"You're all gonna die~" the child laughed, her voice echoing eerily through the fog.
And then, everything was quiet.
"Finally!" Gato sighed, shaking himself. That had been unsettling. "A five percent bonus to the one that got her. Now get us the hell out of this fog!"
No one answered.
"Wakatsuki! " he barked, demanding that the lieutenant answer him.
Wakatsuki didn't answer.
"Oi! One of you answer me!" the short businessman roared as his minions continued to ignore him.
Then the fog was gone.
Gato froze, his eyes growing to the size of dinner plates. The entire deck was empty! Where a moment ago there had been upwards of two hundred hired thugs milling about on a barge, there was now no sign of them. There was… nothing, barely even the lap of the ocean. The only thing the short gangster could hear was his own breathing and the rush of blood in his ears.
Silence… as if the entire world was holding its breath.
"Wha-what the hell?" Gato muttered, his head whipping in every direction as he took an involuntary step back... and realized he wasn't as alone as he had thought.
"Nine ten, this is the end," a voice whispered against his ear.
And then all he knew was pain.
Dah dadada! I'm alive! Would have had this up a week or two ago but I got kind of depressed with the turnout for the latest chp of Naruto of the Nine Tails… but I got over it.
Now, first things first. For any of you wondering why I didn't describe Sasuke's Mangekyo Sharingan. That was COMPLETELY on purpose. Why? So that you can imagine it whatever way you prefer. Personally I hate the shit out of his canon Mangekyo so I imagine it as one of the many designs I've thought up, but I know not everyone shares my views so this way you can think of it whatever way you choose. Ain't I shmart?
Next order of business! As you may have noticed from the big bold thing at the top of the chp I have issued a poll to help me figure out what I'm going to do with Gaara. I'm still brainstorming so really any input could have a drastic effect on the outcome so please feel free!
And finally… HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYBODY!