If cats could talk, they wouldn't ~Nan Porter
A rose has thorns, a cat has claws; certainly, both are worth the risk~Proverb
A/N~ Hey y'all still there?
Hello, I've missed this.
Still writing here, but sometimes life gets in the way. Hope everyone's well and enjoying my stories as much as I enjoy the author's here. I been kicking around a few one-shots with my friend, the lovely Sakura's Unicorn, who's always reminding me turn off the k-dramas and to get back to my muse. xD She's a lot of fun to share ideas with and magically good at ending my procrastination.
I hope to hear from you in a review~ K&K
Don't Stand So Close to Me
The masked ninja's footsteps rapped across the stone floor of the Akatsuki's Fire Country hideout. He pulled off his wet cloak and threw it over a chair.
Konan's eyes widened, staring in disbelief. "Madara-sama? Where have you been?!"
"Hm?" Obito tilted his head, wondering why she sounded distraught. "I got tied up," he said as he waved his hand, not really explaining a thing.
He had been to check on the Gedō Mazō before the bijū sealing was due to begin. Unfortunately, the volatile demonic statue wasn't always easy to deal with, but he didn't feel the need to enlighten Konan. Madara was supposed to cover for his absence, if necessary, to keep members of the Akatsuki from getting wise to the fact that Obito and Madara were both Tobi.
Konan's dark look gave him pause.
'Looks like it was necessary,' he thought, getting annoyed. 'Where the hell is the old man anyway?'
So, it'd taken him a few weeks longer than expected. The mission was successful…eventually.
"We thought you left with the others," she persisted.
"The others?" Konan was making less and less sense to him. "What others? And where are the rest of our members?"
"We think...well, we thought that the Akatsuki had been captured. But here you are."
"What?! That's impossible!" Obito scoffed. "They're far too strong! Who in the world could best—"
"That's what we would like to know, Madara-sama," Zetsu said, stepping out from the dark corner of the room into the light.
"For fuck's sake, Senju," Madara hissed. "I thought you were some world-renowned medic?!" The blindfolded man struggled against the straps that bound him face down on the cold, metal table. "Why not use a kunai? Or just rip out my entire spine while you're at it?"
Golden eyes narrowed as Tsunade guided a needle into his back, wondering what on earth her grandfather ever saw in the irascible man that made him want to be his friend. "Hmm...I suppose I could snap your neck. Then you wouldn't feel a thing."
Grandmother Cat chuckled as she watched the procedure to remove stem cells from the last pure-blood Uchiha. 'Hmph. Pure-blood. The last thing I'd ever call Uchiha Madara is pure,' she thought. The man was as dark and oily as she'd ever seen—living in the shadows, waiting to strike like a bloated, overgrown dragon.
"Sadistic witches!" he cursed as an even larger needle plunged into his spine. "You've already stolen my soul! Now, you want to harvest my body?!"
"Oh, come, come," chided Nekobaa. "You volunteered your service for the survival of your clan. Don't you remember?"
"I volunteered to giveinformation about our clan's medical history, not to become some science experiment! Senju, you're too much like that pale snake of a teammate of yours, using live victims for research."
"Well, if you're referring to yourself as a rat then I concur." Tsunade filled a second vial, set it aside, and picked up a smaller syringe. "I'll administer a sedative, but only enough to take the edge off." She didn't want him to die from an overdose when she returned him to his fluffy form.
She thought about the results of the DNA tests that Sakura had performed on Sasuke. While the boy showed no symptoms of the disease that was killing his brother, he was indeed a carrier of the defective gene. Right now, this wily old man was imperative to finding a solution. Even if Itachi or Sasuke survived to have a family, their children would all be born with axes hanging over their heads and the Uchiha clan might truly become extinct. Like it or not—and she sure didn't like it—Uchiha Madara could save the boys' lives.
While Tsunade continued to work, she noticed the tension leave Madara's body. His shoulders drooped and tightened muscles relaxed as the sedative kicked in.
'Even if we do manage to find a cure,' she thought, 'those boys will have an uphill battle ahead of them to untangle their lives from the chaos they got mixed up in.' As she carefully punctured Madara's spine once more, Tsunade wondered if any Uchiha would make it out alive.
"Useless bitch!" the elder Uchiha muttered, "It's a good thing Hashirama isn't alive to see the mess you've made of Konoha. You're nothing but a drunken sot who gambled his dream into nothing."
"You old goat!" Nekobaa gasped. "How dare you?!"
Tsunade's brow knit in irritation. 'Now is as good a time as any,' she thought, nodding to the two the guards standing in the corners of the room.
Madara cursed as he was unexpectedly frozen on the table, no longer just by the straps holding him down, but by the Nara clan's signature Shadow Paralysis jutsu.
"Now, Inoichi!" yelled Shikaku.
Placing his hand on the back of Madara's head, Yamanaka Inoichi riffled through his memories as if turning the pages of a book. There were so many strong emotions, he staggered under the weight of them.
What he had expected to see were the cold, cruel calculations of a shrewd warlord. Inoichi saw—no, he felt Madara's emotions as if they were his own. He burned with wrath, but there was also so much anguish. Wars upon wars, so many bloody battles where heartbreaking death rained all around him. It tore him apart, watching the life leave the eyes of all the people he loved, one after another.
And then he saw Senju Hashirama.
The eternal optimism of his friend was at constant odds with his own realism. He knew how conniving people actually were, but Madara witnessed first-hand Hashirama's ability to make change happen.
He felt in his heart that Hashirama was a dreamer, but his dreams were huge! He infected everyone with visions of a place where all clans could raise their children with a fighting chance to reach adulthood and have families of their own, where they could live as allies instead of enemies. It would be a place where they could do anything, even teach their children something besides the art of war, if it pleased them. When Inoichi looked through Madara's eyes at Hashirama, he could sense the seed of something the Uchiha warrior had never thought was possible—hope.
Then Inoichi's face contorted in confusion as, one moment, he saw Hashirama laughing heartily and clapping Madara's back in camaraderie, and the next, the cynical faces of people who were clearly of the Uchiha clan arguing with him.
The depth of betrayal stunned Inoichi when Madara's own clan turned against him. His fragile dream of leading the idyllic village was crushed into dust. But over the years, Madara devised a new plan, a better plan—a perfect plan to bring peace to the ninja world.
With an icy slice of raw fury, the conflicting emotions running through Inoichi's head vanished. Had Madara simply shut his feelings off? The void of emptiness chilled him to the bone as a strange red moon glared down overhead. Then everything went black.
Darkness, lasting for so long, he thought his jutsu had failed.
Suddenly, a child appeared, his body completely wrapped in bandages, broken goggles on the table next to his bed. The child was in agony, surrounded by people in white.
'Are they...healers?' Inoichi couldn't tell, but he was positive the child was dying. Half his body was smashed beyond recognition. It broke Inoichi's heart. He worried so much about his own child and the dangers she faced. God, he could have wept from the countless torments in this man's mind!
Then he saw flickers of black surrounded by red clouds.
'Could this be it?' he wondered. 'Is this his link to the massacre? I have to dig deeper.'
He tried to delve further in Madara's mind, searching for incriminating conversations or connections, anything that might shed light on the annihilation of the Uchiha clan, but barriers blocked his every advance.
Back in the lab, a line of blood dripped from his nose as he struggled to stay inside Uchiha Madara's head.
'Dammit! This mind is an unending maze of confusion! I need answers!'
With a burst of effort, he forced one of Madara's memories to surface and a strange scene appeared.
Inoichi watched through Madara's eyes as he strode into a dark temple. The symbolic fan of the Uchiha was chiseled into the stone wall that ran the full length of the room. He stopped in front of an altar, candles casting a shadowy light on stone tablets.
He moved closer to examine the tablets' inscriptions, but found nothing more than banal family creeds, ideals the Uchiha clan lived by, similar to ones found in any Konoha clan house. A surge of chakra in his head coincided with a red light shining down on the stones. No, it wasn't a light. His own vision was turning red! Unbelievably, the words on the tablet changed!
A gust of wind extinguished the candles, but the expected darkness never came. He could see as clearly as in daylight! Was this the power of the Sharingan?
'What's that noise?' Inoichi heard stone moving against stone and turned to watch as the floor opened up.
As if he'd entered this strange underground room thousands of times before, Madara casually walked down the steps where there was another area decorated with the white and red uchiwa fans. At this room's end stood another tablet engraved with characters.
Moving closer, Inoichi began reading, but another surge of chakra caused the words to unscramble yet again.
'Moon's...Eye? What could that be?'
He tried to read on, but his vision fogged, and red eyes appeared before him.
"So, you wanna play, hm?" Madara's voice resonated in his head. "Okay. Let's dance."
Inoichi gasped in indescribable pain as the hypnotizing Sharingan eyes spun and Madara's mind closed around him like a steel trap. Nine-inch spikes drove through every major joint of his body, the crunch of grinding bone and the gush of blood shocked him to his core.
He collapsed, convulsing, but Shikaku caught him before he hit the floor. In an instant, Nekobaa changed Madara back into his cat form as Tsunade grabbed him by the scruff of the neck.
"Dammit, Uchiha!" She gave him a shake then dropped him on the steel table before racing to kneel by Inoichi.
Madara chuckled, watching the Leaf ninja writhe on the floor, trapped in his genjutsu. But his dark laughter was cut short as he landed on the table and his hindlegs gave out. He cursed, his front paws scrabbling uselessly as he slid backwards, the weight of his nerveless limbs dragging him over the edge. He fell to the floor with a hiss.
"Insolent Senju! You paralyzed me!"
"Serves you right!" Nekobaa lifted him up and dumped him unceremoniously back on the table. "Move again and I'll drop you on your head!"
"Come on. Come on..." Tsunade mumbled as her chakra carefully brought Inoichi back from the nightmare in which he was trapped.
She glared at Madara. Of course, she could've told him what he was—or rather, wasn't—feeling was the sedative she'd given the full-grown man to numb his spine which would've worn off by the time her interrogation team was finished. Instead, she decided to withhold that information and let him suffer...for at least as long as Inoichi had to.
"Mount Myōboku?" Sakura picked at her meal with her chopsticks. "Why does Tsunade want you to go there?"
"Mou!" Naruto pouted, folding his arms across his chest. "Granny probably has something fun coming up that she wants to keep me out of, I just know it, dattebayo! I'll be eating fly soup and meditating for days while the Kage are here, whooping it up and comparing cool new jutsu. Well, I have a cool new jutsu, too, that's ten times better than Gaara's or those old farts!" He smacked a fist on the countertop, making the cup of chopsticks rattle.
"Baka!" Sakura kicked him under the counter, making him yelp. "Stop making up fantasies. And you know she hates when you call her that! Why do you insist on pissing off a woman who can and will make your life miserable?"
Naruto grinned, waving his hand. "Nah, Sakura-chan. Baa-chan loves it!" His sunny demeanor never let him stew for long, especially when Sakura's fist was involved. "Someone's gotta remind the old bag that she's old and wise...and old."
Her eye twitched, but she held off kicking him again when she saw a familiar shadow outside the ramen stand. "Kakashi-sensei!"
Wild, silver hair brushed the banners as Kakashi ducked inside, nodding a greeting to the owner and his daughter before taking a seat beside Naruto. "Sorry, I'm late. There was this cat stuck in a—"
"Save it!" Both his students waved off his imaginary excuse, Naruto looking rather upset.
"Sensei!" he whined far too loudly. "You're early! I told you to come an hour late so Sakura-chan and I could have our date alone!"
"Oh?" Kakashi's brow rose. "Oh, yeah…well, look at the time." His eye caught Sakura's and it twinkled as he winked. "Enjoy your date."
"Date?! You said the whole team was meeting here for important news!"
Naruto chuckled nervously, his face taking on a rather panicked expression. "N-no! I mean, yes! I mean, I was only joking to Sensei about the date thing, Sakura-chan! I didn't think he'd take me seriously!" When he turned to beg Kakashi for support, he found the Copy-Nin pulling his mask back up over the bridge of his nose, dropped chopsticks ringing in an empty soup bowl.
"Ack! My ramen!" he shouted then gasped. "You had your mask down!" A glance behind the counter at Teuchi and Ayame revealed smiles and light blushes on their cheeks. "You saw! No fair!"
"Thanks for the meal...or should I say date?" Kakashi saluted and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Naruto groaned, turning back to the counter in time to receive the bill for dinner. His stomach growling loudly, he took out Gama-chan and opened the froggy wallet to find only a few coins. Blue puppy eyes turned imploringly toward his teammate. "Sakura-chan?"
Sakura scoffed, hopping from her barstool. "You told Kakashi it was a date, ne?" She patted his shoulder encouragingly. "Thanks for the meal."
Naruto made to follow her, but found Teuchi's hand gripping his shoulder with his other held out, waiting to get paid.
"Look, we told you what you wanted to know, now leave us be. You don't need our help finding your teammates." Karin waved toward the village. "They're imprisoning them in the Uchiha district."
"You saw them with your own eyes then?" Konan studied the redhead.
"Yeah," Suigetsu lied, nudging Karin out of the way. "And I nearly fucking died finding out. So, go do what you got to do, lady."
"But leave Sasuke-kun alone! He has nothing to do with it! He just got caught up in that pink-haired bitch's spell!"
"Spell?" Konan tilted her head, scrutinizing Karin. "What spell?"
Up until now, the girl told her nothing about any spell she'd come across while looking for Uchiha Sasuke. It made her even more cautious. Perhaps she'd have to torture these three for further intel, after all.
Suigetsu scoffed. "It's no spell. Unless you mean that age-old spell women put men under to lead them around by their balls."
"Sui-GET-su!" Karin growled, taking a swing at him. "My Sasuke-kun would never!"
"Bitch, please." He rolled his eyes and grinned wickedly. "Your Sasuke-kun couldn't keep his hands off her!"
"The Sauce had a huge boner for that hot little pinkette."
Konan sighed, placing her hand to her head momentarily. It was a wonder this team got anything done with their eccentricities—one boy playing with birds and rabbits, the other going out of his way to antagonize the girl who was obsessed with bedding their AWOL leader. It was little wonder the Uchiha boy had walked away from them. She herself was sorely tempted!
The change in atmosphere was noticed first by Jūgo. His pets quivered before suddenly fleeing for safety and he instinctively went into action. As he shoved the arguing pair aside, his arm grew rapidly into a huge, clawed hand, shielding them from the barrage of explosive paper tags. When the attack abruptly stopped, he growled at the Akatsuki woman.
Konan turned away. She had no reason to battle Orochimaru's strange experiment. She had only meant to punish the other two fools for wasting her time. The loyalty of the third did surprise her, though. While the quarreling duo seemed to fly off the handle at every moment, she'd mistaken Jūgo for a peaceful sort.
"Prepare. We invade in three days," Konan ordered, walking away.
"Hey!" Suigetsu shouted after, still wary of his orange-haired friend who, without Sasuke there to ground him, could easily go into a rage and murder his teammates as quickly as he'd protected them. "I never volunteered for this nutty draft! Fight your own battles, lady!"
"Yes, but you want to free your leader, correct?" Konan didn't wait for an answer. Strange or not, these three had some sort of allegiance to the young Uchiha boy. Without another word, thousands of sheets of paper swirled around her, forming wings on her back. She rocketed into the air and was gone.
"Looks like we got three days to get the hell outta here," Suigetsu grumbled.
"No!" Karin wailed. "We have to stay and rescue Sasuke-kun!"
Obito stood on the precipice of Hokage Mountain, looking down over the darkened village. Echoes of his past flashed through his mind.
The moon slid from behind the clouds, casting his long shadow as he descended upon Konoha's police station like a silent plague.
"For Rin," he murmured to himself, taking the first life on the steps then phasing through the wall without a sound to slit the next throat.
Destroying the clan he once loved.
Why? Because they couldn't or wouldn't protect what he loved.
Meticulously, he took every single life inside, barely allowing a strangled gasp before bodies slunk to the floor lifeless. So great was their arrogance, no Uchiha raised an alarm...until he appeared behind them and his knife slipped between their ribs or across their throats.
These people, this clan had no qualms about planning to murder most of the village in their bid for power, so neither would he.
Obito knew his dream would come to fruition, but sacrifices must be made.
As he exited the police station, he saw the silhouette of his young accomplice high atop a pole, crouching in the moonlight. He backed into the shadows, blood dripping from his dark cloak in time with the slap of small footsteps down the lane. Itachi disappeared, gone to confront the child with eyes large with fear. He would no longer need his aid.
The air swirled around him and Obito disappeared from Konoha.
And now, these many years later, he was here again.
As Obito approached the walls on the far side of the Uchiha district, he sensed the old traps his clansmen laid decades ago. No one could pass over the Leaf Village's walls without alarming the entire town, but the Uchiha craved privacy almost as much as they craved power. They kept to themselves and secured their own borders even within the borders of Konoha. Nobody was getting their secrets.
Obito didn't need to remove his mask. Sharingan swirling, his red eye triggered the jutsu barricading the wall, and the secret passage to his clan's district opened. Of course, he could've simply phased through it, but some small bit of nostalgia made him come this way. He remembered running down these streets as a child late for school, late for practice or, let's face it, late for life in general. But Obito always found time to help out someone in need, be it an old lady struggling with a heavy bag or a cat stuck in a tree.
Walking through the Uchiha quarter tonight was like traveling into a time warp. Konoha hadn't cleaned up the remains of the massacre; they'd simply buried the bodies that Zetsu hadn't taken while he recorded the carnage. The rest was left as some sort of morbid memorial to the broken clan. Walls, rusty with old blood, had fallen into shocking disrepair, yet they still stood as silent sentinels.
'Well, that must've fucked with the boy's head,' he thought dismally. 'Poor kid. No wonder he left the village.'
Despite his momentary pity, Obito knew that the hatred kindled so carefully in Sasuke would make him the perfect tool when the time came. It really would require the sacrifice of the entire clan to make his plan come to fruition.
Kakashi barely stepped into the Hokage's office before getting attacked.
Which is to say the Copy Ninja slipped one foot through the window, leaned his head in, then ducked the flying shrapnel when a tiny china cup smashed into the wall.
He froze for seconds, considering a swift retreat rather than face the wrath of the twin-tailed blonde. Kakashi had no idea what her problem was, but he knew better than to tempt fate at this point of his life. He glanced over his shoulder toward the relative safety of the slanted roof.
"Get your ass in here, Hatake."
'Surnames, huh? Oh, she is in a particularly foul mood,' he thought. If memory served, Tsunade hadn't called him by his family name since his idiot student last embellished Hokage Mountain with paint. 'Naruto did draw a fine-looking monocle on the Fifth's likeness. It was quite—'
His final thought was cut short by another cup whizzing by his head to meet its splintery end against the wall. He winced, wondering what he could do to keep her anger from being unleashed on a handsome, wiry ninja with a shock of silver hair.
"Now, now, Hokage-sama," he said, a smile crinkling his mask, his hands turning upward in a placative manner. "If you break all your cups, what will you drink from?" Kakashi's smile faltered when Tsunade grabbed a bottle and drank right out of the neck.
Looking around, he noticed that her desk was littered with empty bottles. The Godaime always liked to drink, but few and far between were the times such as this. His own sense of danger was immediately heightened, and he wasted no time looking for clues.
Her rigid, arms-folded stance was his first clue. The unrepentant sneer she wore for nearly nailing him with fine china was another. Finally, his clear, grey eye lit upon the most important clue—a pile of chance tickets.
"Kuso." A drop of sweat slid from Kakashi's temple.
Tsunade wasn't known as the legendary gambler for nothing. She was notorious for losing. She lost at everything—from scratch-offs, to cards, to janken! But sometimes…sometimes she won and won big!
And when she did, it could only mean one thing.
"Trouble," Tsunade sighed and flicked the top from another sake bottle. She took a swig and rubbed off another ticket, revealing a prize of a half-million ryō. "With a capital T."
A sudden breeze blew, stirring an empty rocking chair on a porch. The creaking sound drew Obito from his reverie and, with guard raised, he approached.
'Something's not right here. Something's different.' He studied the Uchiha compound, his Sharingan swirling slowly. 'There!'
He stepped back into the shadows cautiously. Traces of a jutsu surrounded one of the houses, but why? If the Akatsuki were captured as Konan's sources reported, they'd be held down in the deepest and strongest cells of the Interrogation and Torture Force by Morino...if they were still alive.
"WHAT THE FUCK, TOBI! HOW THE HELL DID YOU CHANGE BACK, GOD DAMMIT?! TELL ME RIGHT NOW!"
Obito nearly jumped out of his skin when a cat started screaming curses. He immediately opened a door to another dimension and dove through.
Unexpectedly, it dove right in after him.
"Get the fuck out here! Damn straight! right n—oh shit."
The silver-gray cat leapt out of Tobi's warp just as it closed. Well, most of him did anyway—all save the last four inches of his tail. In the second before the dimensional warp shut, Hidan's sense of self-preservation finally kicked in when he remembered the curse. Jashin only knew how far the idiot's pocket dimension jutsu would've carried him from the village.
"For fuck's sake, Tobi! I might've been stuck in this fur suit forever," he grumbled, stalking back into the yard of the compound, violet eyes growing wide as he saw his amputated tail for the first time.
"KAKUZU! That little bastard tried to kill me! I'll show him pain!" his bleeding tail whipped from side to side, flicking blood everywhere. "KAKUZU!"
"What's the problem?" Sai appeared, just out of range of the red fountain Hidan was spraying with every irritated twitch of his tail.
Lights flickered on in the Uchiha household. Cats that had either been asleep or out prowling lined up on the porch, watching as Sai marched Hidan back to the house, curious to find out what the zombie twin was whining about. When Hidan spied Madara sitting in the corner yawning, he pounced on him.
"Motherfucking Tobi! You cut off my fucking tail, you masked bastard!"
Madara was taken by surprise but quickly recovered. He wrestled the heavier cat off and held him down by his neck, biting him. Hidan kicked with his back legs and Madara stumbled, his limbs still slightly numb from anesthesia.
Hidan clamped his jaws around Tobi's head, slobbering as he screamed, "Got him! Kill him, Kakuzu!"
"You'll die first." Madara growled low in his throat. "Get off me!"
Genma grabbed the cats by the scruffs of their necks, pulling them apart. "Come on, guys. You're all friends, right?" he lectured the hissing Madara while Sai took hold of Hidan. "You all need to chill."
"That's right." Sai smiled emotionlessly as he held the grey cat's tail up. "We better get this bandaged before the rest falls off."
Hidan panicked, his claws sinking into the pale shinobi's arm, suddenly forgetting his brush with the masked ninja. "It's not gonna fall off…is it?!" he hissed, swiping his paws when Sai squeezed the bandages too tightly. "Motherfucker! Take it easy!"
"Just doing my job." Sai shrugged. "But I wonder…"
"What?!" Hidan looked at him alarmed.
"Well, you have a tail as a cat...or you did. I wonder what part of your anatomy will be missing when you change back?"
The ex-ANBU ninja's creepy smile widened. "Stubby."
The silver cat's fur stood straight up on his back then he fainted.
Feels good to be back.
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