(-_-) Ahaha, I got enthusiastic and wrote a ton...but I can't bring myself to shorten it! XD So deal with the insanely long finale chapter! (Isn't it a good thing though?)
But with this chapter, Rei-Senzai 2 is OFFICIALLY over now. :'D I'd forgotten how fun writing in this verse was! Plus, with the enthusiastic encouragement I've gotten from someone*coughgarycough* I'm thinking that a RS-3 might be a possibility...though, not right away since I still have several other projects to finish and post. But the thought is there!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this chapter, and I hope you have enjoyed the Rei-Senzai verse as much as I have! Thank you for all the support, reviews, praise and constructive criticism and all around sticking with me as I wrote this (often taking far too long to update, my sweeties)! I wouldn't have been able to do it without you guys!
Warnings: language, violence and horror, gore, death(FUAHAHAHA) ect, ect. (And yaoi... :3)
Disclaimer: The Naruto characters are not mine. I do, however, own most of the Rei-Senzai universe and plot! :D
The air was freezing cold, yet stale and stuffy at the same time. The scent of blood was thick in the air, both old and new. A soft tapping sound could be heard every few seconds, indicating that something was dripping consistently. Aside from that, there was not a single sound to fill the chamber.
Naruto breathed slowly, in and out. His eyelids fluttered as he was pulled from his slumber. He gritted his teeth, huffing out a breath that appeared as a misty cloud in front of him before slowly fading in the air. Slowly, he opened his eyes, fighting an intense wave of nausea as he did so.
Pain was riding up his arms and shoulders, and he tried to shift to get rid of it. A low hiss issued from his mouth as his arms jerked, and he turned his head as much as he could. It was very dark, wherever he was, but faintly he could make out the outlines of his hands...and the two iron locks keeping him chained to the wall. His eyes widened, grogginess fading fast as the panic set in. He jerked his arms, trying to get them free, but it only resulted in more pain and a confirmation that the bars would not be breaking under his efforts any time soon.
"Oh God...Shit..." he breathed, turning his head and trying to see where exactly he was. The only light came from a faintly glowing outline of what looked like the door to this room. It was barely enough to let him see anything, but he could make out distant outlines and mangled shapes. As his eyes adjusted the best they could, his heart began to beat violently and his breaths became shorter and sharper.
Opposite him was what looked to be a tall shelf; although in this lighting he was unable to tell what was stored on it. To the far wall was some kind of container, roughly the size of a bathtub and filled with something dark. The stench of blood was strongest in that direction. A little further from that was a dark, gaping hole...like an alcove, or a fireplace of some kind. He looked left, seeing another dark shape strapped to the wall beside him, two chain locks away. He tried not to panic, but it was too late; he could easily see the shape of a human skeleton in that blackness.
"No...No no no," he moaned softly, looking away and tugging on his arms again. They were pulled up and backwards, putting strain on his shoulders. He clenched his jaw and tried to move his feet. He whimpered softly when he discovered that his feet had been strapped to the wall too, rendering him immobile and unable to do anything to remedy that fact.
He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to force himself not to break down and panic. It was hard, but he managed to shove back the tears and the hysterical screams that itched at the back of his throat. He had a feeling that screaming now wouldn't help him; it would probably do the opposite.
'Okay think...How did I end up here in the first place?' he thought, trying to recall what had happened before he woke up in this dark and obviously dangerous room. He remembered sitting at the breakfast table, eating with everyone. Then the poltergeists showed up, and they were sent outside...
'And then...then...Everyone fell asleep! Yes, there was that little girl, and she made everyone sleep! So I ran after her and...and...' his eyes opened wide as he began to pant, memories of the dark shadow flooding his mind. He recalled the cold hands grabbing him, the feeling of utter despair as he was pulled backwards into a thick, gooey black substance that began to suck him into it the moment his skin made contact. He remembered screaming for help with all his might, but he was unable to be heard. He had been completely surrounded and then he was...
'Am...Am I dead? Is this h-hell?' he thought in horror, looking around again and whimpering. 'Sasuke! Where are you?'
Sasuke placed a hand over his heart when it throbbed, and he bit his lower lip.
"Are you okay?" Ino asked him, sparing him a worried glance. He nodded, letting his hand fall and turning back to the wall they were inspecting. Ino smiled sympathetically at him, aware that he was still extremely worried, but she went back to searching without saying a thing.
Sasuke ran his hands over the wallpaper, tapping every few times. They were looking for any secret entrance at all, since it was their best lead to where Naruto could have been taken. They had already searched all the rooms in the hotel, and not a single trace of him was found. Sasuke had stayed on the ground floor, looking for any kind of entrance to an underground maze.
"Dammit, where is it?" he muttered angrily, slamming his fist into the wall. Ino jumped at the action, but quickly calmed down. She placed a hand on Sasuke's shoulder.
"Sasuke, we'll find him! We just have to look carefully, and if we don't find anything on the first run, we do it again! Sometimes we miss things the first time because we don't realize what we're supposed to be looking for is actually right there in front of us!" she encouraged.
Sasuke sighed, running a hand over his face. He nodded, turning to her and giving her a thankful nod.
"I know I just...I need to find him soon," he said softly. Ino nodded, patting his shoulder.
"We'll find him in due time! For now, we just have to give it our all and not give up!" she said, winking before giggling. "At least, I'm pretty sure that's something he'd say right?"
Sasuke smirked and snorted. "Yeah, just add 'Believe it' to the end."
Ino laughed and resumed searching. Sasuke did the same for a moment before reaching for the little walkie-talkie he had and switching it on.
"Shikamaru, anything on the monitors?" he asked, running his hand over a painting before pushing it aside to see behind it.
"Nothing so far. Ghostly activity is low to nonexistent pretty much everywhere in the hotel right now," Shikamaru answered. Sasuke groaned softly, but nodded.
"Alright. If anything, and I mean anything, pops up, let me know."
"Okay," Shikamaru switched off, placing the object down before cupping his chin with his hand and staring at the monitor before him. His eyes were narrowed and his brow furrowed down as he looked from one screen to the next
"Shikamaru," Chouji called, handing him a cup of coffee. Shikamaru grunted his thanks, never taking his eyes off the screen as he took a sip. He was seating in the living room, surrounded by monitors and other bits of machinery. Tenten was standing nearby, checking in with all teams and making any adjustments to their communication channels if needed. Shino was seated opposite her, a set of headphones on as he listened to recorded and recent sounds, searching for anything strange or useful.
Sakura was sitting next to Shikamaru, also watching the screens and sometimes checking a set of blueprints that they had gotten from the old hotel clerk. Chouji took a seat behind them, next to Tobi who had been assigned guard over all of them.
"...Something's bugging me," Shikamaru grumbled, eyes flitting from one monitor to another.
"What is it?" Sakura asked, looking up. Shikamaru clicked his tongue a few times, fingers interlacing. A tick was developing in his jaw; something that surprised Sakura as she had never known Shikamaru to show such an aggravated habit.
"That's the problem. I can't put my finger on it. It's a nagging feeling in my head; I feel like I'm missing something...something that should be obvious," he growled. Sakura hummed, looking back down at the blueprints. She couldn't see any place that would look like a good cover for an underground maze from there, but she wouldn't stop looking.
They had split up into teams of two to search over the house. Kakashi and Yahiko were one team, Deidara and Sasori the other, then Neji and Lee, Kiba and Hinata, and finally Sasuke and Ino. Kiba and Hinata were outside, searching the forest as well as the hotel grounds again. Deidara and Sasori were in the east wing, Neji and Lee in the west. Kakashi and Yahiko had taken the entrance, leaving Sasuke and Ino with the second floor to start on. Cameras that they had set up were giving Shikamaru a direct feed of every room in the hotel, but so far there was nothing to report.
"Dammit," the lazy boy growled, fisting his hands in his hair. He couldn't figure out what was bugging him. It's like the answer was dangling in front of him, just out of reach, and it was driving him insane. He wanted to reach out and grab it, but he didn't know what the ladder leading to it was.
Time started to seep past like syrup, but they still didn't have any leads. Sasuke and Ino had cleared the second floor, leaving it to Kakashi and Yahiko for a second look while they moved onto the third. Sasuke was forcing himself not to start panicking, knowing that if he wanted to find Naruto, he would have to keep a calm and cool head. If he panicked, it would only make it harder to find his blond.
'Naruto, where are you?' he thought, clenching his fist tightly. He sighed, sinking his hand into his pocket and closing it around the marble. His eyes widened. 'What the...'
Ino heard Sasuke gasp, and she turned. A small gasp of her own escaped her as she stared at the small marble in his hand. It was glowing faintly, the slightest tinge of orange light emanating from within.
"What on Earth?" she mumbled, walking up to him. "Did you do something?"
"No, I just took it out now. It's warmer than it was before...but I haven't been holding it until now!" Sasuke said, staring down at the object in wonder. He moved his hand up, turning to the left slightly to try and see it better in the fading light. However, as he moved his hand further, the glow faded until it was back to normal. Frowning, he pulled his hand back, his eyebrows rising as the glow returned.
"What is it doing?" Ino asked, staring at the marble intently. Sasuke shrugged. He took a step to the left, back towards where they came from. Once again, the marble's glow vanished. Narrowing his eyes, he took two steps to the right, heading further down the hall.
"...Is it just me, or did it seem like it got brighter?" he asked softly. Ino made a questioning noise, and Sasuke took another step to the right. She gasped while his eyes narrowed further. The marble was definitely glowing a little bit brighter than it had been a second ago. And it was warmer too.
Sasuke walked up to Ino, feeling the warmth fade and watching the light vanish. "Ino...It seems to get brighter when I go further in," he mumbled. Ino nodded, watching as he backed up and the little marble glowed more and more with every step. She gasped suddenly, waving her hands back and forth.
"Sasuke...do you think that it's like a 'hotter, colder' sort of thing? Like, it glows brighter the closer we get to him and it fades the further away we are?" she said excitedly. Sasuke quirked a brow, working his mind through her excited babbles. When the words fell into place, his face cleared with surprise.
"It...it might be that! This was in his pocket...and in my vision, it fell out with a glow..." He held the marble up, staring at it intently. "...Is this the key to finding him?" he murmured. A tug on his arm was the only alarm he had before he was yanked down the hall, Ino's grip almost painful.
"It's the best start we have! Tell Shikamaru about it!" she said, turning her head often to view the marble with was indeed getting brighter the further into the hotel they went.
"Okay...Okay, good luck!" Shikamaru said before clicking off. He laced his fingers together, narrowing his eyes in thought. "So, Sasuke and Ino think they may have a lead on where Naruto is," he informed the gathered people.
"Really? Did they find the entrance to the underground mazes?" Sakura asked excitedly.
"No...That marble that fell out of Naruto's pocket seems to have some kind of link to his spiritual energy. Apparently it's glowing brighter the further they head upstairs. Ino thinks it might be a sign of how close they are getting to his location," Shikamaru cupped his chin. That nagging feeling was stronger than ever now, and one could easily see the frustration he was feeling. Outside, the sun was sinking behind the horizon, bathing them all in the vivid red and orange glow of sunset. Sakura fiddled with her skirt, hoping that this new discovery would lead them to Naruto quickly.
Twenty minutes passed by with no other activity from any of the teams expect for Kiba checking in that they had cleared the surrounding forest and were now searching the grounds. Shikamaru was tapping his foot impatiently.
"Shikamaru, I've got a temperature drop on the second floor!" Tenten spoke up suddenly. Shikamaru whirled his attention to the screens keeping watch on the second floor, and cursed softly when he saw one of the bedrooms cameras had gone static. He quickly did a recall of which team was on that floor before calling in.
"Kakashi, be careful! There's something on the second floor. It might be one of the remaining poltergeists," he warned.
"Roger that. We'll go take care of it and get it out of the way," Kakashi replied before switching off. Shikamaru tossed the communicator down and leant back in his seat.
"Troublesome," he grumbled, rubbing his eyes.
Chouji patted his shoulder as he came over to collect the empty coffee mugs and move some things around.
A sudden static made them all jump, and Shikamaru cursed under his breath before picking up the second walkie-talkie.
"You got something Sasuke?"
Sasuke stared at the marble in his hand before looking around at the room they were in. They had followed the growing brightness up to the top floor, ending in the last room. By this point, the marble was almost blindingly bright, and it was hot. Sasuke was tossing it up and down slightly to try and stop his hand from burning. Ino was running her hands over the wall and the floor, searching for any indication of where Naruto may be.
"We've reached the last room, and the marble is at its brightest. But I don't see where there could be any entrance to any underground place here!" he said, frustration leaking into his tone while Ino slammed her fist onto the bed in aggravation. They had turned on the light since it was almost dark, but she still had her flashlight on, sweeping it over any dark shadow she saw in a vain search for something out of place.
"What's in the room?" Shikamaru asked from his end.
"It's like the others, just a little emptier. There's a bed, a vanity drawer...there's a huge wardrobe against the wall too...I guess it could be hiding a door, but it looks really heavy to move..."
"Oh, that room," Shikamaru said, recalling it from when he had set up cameras when they first arrived. He turned to the correct screen, spotting Ino and Sasuke standing there. He couldn't see the glow that they were talking about, but he wasn't about to question both of their sanity. "The old clerk was there with me when I was installing the cameras in that room. I asked him about the wardrobe, and he said it was quite a recent acquisition. If there was a door, they would've noticed it when they set it up there," Shikamaru sighed.
Sasuke swore, moving to the window and looking out at the garden. Distantly, he could see Kiba and Hinata inspecting the outside. His heart throbbed again and he bowed his head. He could feel it; an intense fear that belonged to Naruto. It was eating away at him, and he swore he could hear the blond crying in his head. His shoulders hunched around his ears and he covered his face with his hands. There had been such a spark of hope when they found the marble's glow, and for it to lead to such a dead end was too much of a disappointment. He knew time was running out; he knew that if they failed to find Naruto before morning, chances of him being alright when they did were lessened substantially. He couldn't believe that, only a few hours ago, he had been sitting with the blond at the breakfast table, eating and scolding him not to eat too fast. It was surreal how quickly things could go downhill, but that was how this business went...it was how a life in the paranormal went.
"Sasuke," Ino said, coming up behind him. He didn't respond, but he didn't need to. Ino could see how his shoulders were shaking, and she could hear the soft, heavily muffled whimpers. She wasn't sure how to comfort the boy. Her first instinct was to hug him, but she wasn't sure if the gesture would be as appreciated as she wanted. Sasuke wasn't a hugger with anyone but Naruto, and maybe Itachi and Kakashi.
Left with little choice, she gently placed her hand on his shoulder, squeezing to show him she was there if he needed and letting him break down a bit. Her teeth sunk into her lower lip as she looked out at the room.
'Naruto...Please be okay!'
The stench of blood was making him dizzy, but he tried his best to ignore it. Instead, he continued working his wrists, trying to get them to slide out of the tight chains. But they were strong and thick and tight. He could feel the cuts he was getting every time he tried to twist his hands.
He stopped, breathing heavily after all his effort, and let his head hang down. His shoulders were getting numb from being in the strained position for so long, and he knew it was going to hurt like hell come morning...if he made it that far.
He had no sense of time in this dark, cold room, but he guessed that it was night time by now. He had spent most of his time either trying to control the overwhelming fear or trying to escape. He hadn't succeeded in either task so far, and now he had to add dizziness and hyperventilation to his list of concerns.
"Sasuke," he breathed, calling the name like a prayer or a mantra. He continued to breathe slowly, calming himself by thinking of Sasuke, and reminding himself that the raven would be looking for him, and was probably worried.
"Heh...Teme," he mumbled, opening his eyes and feeling much calmer than he had a minute ago. He tensed up, preparing to try and escape again. Just as he was about to yank, he heard a noise come from the bath tub-like container to the side. He froze solid, his breath stopping in his throat. It sounded like bubbles bursting on the surface of the water, the thick 'blubs' setting a new rhythm to his heart. Slowly, he turned his head to the side, looking out into the darkness. A soft cry slipped from his throat as he saw something rising up from the mess. The smell of blood increased, washing over him and making his stomach churn dangerously. He heard it splashing onto the floor as whatever was coming from the tub continued to climb out, raspy breathing joining the spatters of liquid on tile.
Naruto turned his head away, staring down at the floor with wide eyes. His chest heaved as he took short breaths, his heart frantically drumming against his ribcage. Fear was leaking through his veins, washing out all the calm he had gained before and replacing it with sheer terror.
He heard a sickening squelch and a wave of cold washed over him, making his skin prickle and his breaths turn to thick fog before him. Wet footsteps sounded, heading in his direction, and he felt the tears escape his eyes. His entire body was shaking, and he could do nothing to stop it as the monster came towards him.
A freezing, rotten breath fanned over his face and his eyes squeezed shut, any sound catching in his throat and choking him. Something slid up the side of his cheek, leaving a cold and slimy trail behind. His head was spinning, the overwhelming fear mixed with the lack of oxygen threatening to knock him out. The cold object, which felt an awful lot like a finger, moved across his forehead before trailing down his neck and dipping into his shirt. He wanted to scream and cry, but he couldn't even breathe. He could feel something dripping down over his eyelids, and the thought that it could be blood from who knows how many people, or from how long ago, made him gag.
Another rotten breath hit his face, and he choked, his body jerking. The trailing finger vanished, and for a moment he wondered if the creature had left. But then he felt a cheek slide against his, and something licked at his jaw. Blood was smearing itself over his skin as whatever caressed him was practically painted in it.
He couldn't breathe, he couldn't see, he couldn't even tell if he was able to smell the blood or just remember it by this point. As he felt the thing trail its tongue towards his chin, bile raced up in his throat only to be swallowed back down again out of reflex. Another rotten breath hit his face before something icy cold and sickeningly wet and sludgy wormed its way into his mouth.
His eyes snapped open violently, and an involuntary scream erupted from his mouth, sounding muffled as the invading object went deeper, scratching at the back of his throat with a sharp edge. He thrashed his head, screaming again as he felt it cut his throat on the inside. Vomit raced up quickly, and a second after the invading object pulled out of his mouth, he turned his head down and threw up on the spot. It burned his throat, and he knew that he was throwing up blood as well. His head was spinning as he coughed and choked, trying to breathe. Tears ran freely down his cheeks as he felt something slide over his cheek and his ear.
He was about to scream again; scream for Sasuke, scream for help, scream for anything but he just wanted this horrific creature to leave him alone. He knew it was toying with him, playing around with its food before eating. He could almost feel the sick pleasure it was getting from watching him break down with every trailing, bloody touch.
Suddenly, there was a cry from somewhere else in the room. Naruto's breath hitched as he saw a glowing figure appear, and he realized it was one of the ghost children from before. It was a little boy, looking no older than eight, with black trails falling from two scratched out eyes. The child let out a wail that bounced off the walls, glowing brightly in the dark. Naruto could see slightly better from the new light, and for the first time since he woke up, he saw what was on the shelves opposite him.
Dozens upon dozens of skulls and bones, lined up and arranged as if on display for an art gathering. But not only were there skeletons...they were all the skeletons of children. He took a shuddering breath as he realized that this was where the bodies of the Maigos were...this was where all the children ghosts had been 'buried' when they died.
Had they all been claimed by this monster? Had they all been taken just like he was, chained to this wall and mentally and physically scarred before getting devoured by whatever hellish nightmare was living in this accursed room?
The idea seemed possible, but Naruto had no time to dwell on it when the Maigo let out another loud scream. The black shadow in front of him gave an answering, raspy roar before charging. The Maigo vanished in a burst of silvery smoke, and seconds later the shadow melted into the darkness of the room. The air warmed slightly, though it was still chilled, and Naruto knew that for the time being, he was alone without any presence, human or ghost, in the room with him.
He hung his head and started to sob.
Sasuke glared at everything he saw as he held the marble up, trying to find the spot in the room where it was at its brightest. His heart was beating painfully in his chest, and he had a horrible feeling weighing on his shoulders. He didn't want to think about what that feeling meant...
"Something's bugging me," Ino said suddenly. She was crouched near the large wardrobe against the wall. It was a dark cherry wood structure that reached the ceiling, with golden-handles for the two doors and curved, eagle feet at the bottom. A rose-vine design was carved into the wood of the doors, stretching over from the top to the bottom and winding around. It was a very beautiful piece of furniture.
"What's wrong?" Sasuke asked, looking over at her. She was running her fingers over the dresser, a deep frown on her face.
"Well...It's just...the old clerk said this wardrobe was a recent thing, right? As in, it was made recently for the hotel?" she asked. Sasuke thought back to when they had been told. It had been in a passing conversation when they were setting up the cameras. When they asked about the wardrobe, the old man said that it was specially made for the hotel recently, and had cost a lot of money.
"Yeah...Why?" he asked, turning fully and walking over to her. Ino bit her lip, staring at the wooden dresser intently.
"It's just...My mom used to work in an antique shop before she died, and often I would spend my afternoons there with her. I used to always examine all the antique things with my mom, and she told me how to tell if something was a real antique or not...and..." Ino placed a hand onto the dresser. "I don't know if I'm just losing my touch but...I'm certain that this wardrobe is old...very old...maybe even as old as this house," she turned to Sasuke, but he was staring at the dresser with a look of shock.
He opened his mouth, about to comment when suddenly the walkie-talkie crackled loudly.
Shikamaru was sitting in his chair, staring at the screen that Ino and Sasuke were in. He couldn't hear them talking, but he saw them hovering around the wardrobe in the room. His eyes lazily scanned over the other screens, seeing that one of them was still fuzzy. Kakashi had reported in a few seconds ago to say that the poltergeist vanished again. It would probably pop up again soon.
He sighed, brushing some hair out of his eyes. He was still plagued by the feeling that he was forgetting something very important, and though he didn't show it, he was about ready to throw himself out a window out of frustration.
A crackle alerted him to someone reporting in, and he grabbed the device without looking.
"It's Kiba. We finished our first inspection of the grounds..."
"Double check the forest...I know it's dark, but there's a chance that what we're looking for may only be approachable at a certain time," Shikamaru sighed.
"Roger that—What?" Kiba's voice faded, and Shikamaru could faintly hear Hinata saying something. "Oh yeah, Hina just reminded me to ask, has anyone checked the fireplace?"
"Fireplace?" Sakura asked, frowning. "There aren't any fireplaces in the hotel."
Shikamaru froze, his eyes wide. Like an intense flashback, he remembered when he first arrived and climbed out of the car. He had immediately given the area a once over, including the hotel. He remembered taking in the old wood, the weathered door, the surrounding forest, the shingle roof...and the single chimney in the middle, jutting out into the sky.
"Holy shit..." he breathed out, his body tensing before he sprung up in his seat, snatching up every walkie-talkie and communication object around. "Everyone, we've been wrong this whole time!" he yelled.
Throughout the mansion, the teams jumped at his yell, turning their attention towards his voice from their communicators.
"What do you mean Shikamaru?" Sasuke's voice asked angrily.
"We've been looking in the wrong places the whole time! There's no entrance to an underground area because there is none!"
"Well that's not good—"
"No! There isn't an underground area, but there is an attic area!" Shikamaru started to pace, looking flustered as everything fell into place. "There's a single chimney that you can see from outside, but there isn't a single fireplace anywhere in the hotel, we've all been in every room and never seen one! But the chimney is there, which means—"
"There's a hidden room, close to the roof!" Sakura gasped in understanding. "So then the entrance must be on the top floor!"
Sasuke stared at Ino, who stared right back. Slowly, the two of them turned towards the large wardrobe beside them.
"...It's here..." Ino breathed, placing her hands on the door handles. She tugged, trying to pull it open. "It has to be! This thing is an antique; it's been here the whole time! If there's a good place to hide a secret door, this is it!"
Sasuke joined her in tugging on the handles, grunting with the effort. After several tugs, the two of them were able to force the doors open. The handles broke, wood splintering around them, but they couldn't care. Not when they were so close to finding Naruto.
Sasuke peered into the dark space inside, seeing several coats hung up. He pulled the marble out of his pocket, hissing at how hot it was. Slowly, he held it up inside the wardrobe.
The light started to pulsate, like a beacon.
'This is it. The entrance is here!' he thought, a triumphant grin stretching over his face. 'Don't worry Naruto, I'm coming!'
Ino's shout made him jump, and the marble fell from his hand, landing in the wardrobe and rolling away. He turned around, freezing in his tracks when he realized what made Ino sound so frightened.
A gun was pointing at them, held by a gloved hand that belonged to...
"...You..." Sasuke growled, straightening and glaring at the person holding the weapon. He pulled Ino's arm, putting her slightly behind him as they stared at their captor.
"I am, truly, sorry about this," the old clerk said, smiling blankly. He took a step forward, closing the door behind him and locking it without looking. "But I'm afraid it needs to be done."
"Why are you doing this?" Ino asked, flinching when the gun shifted to her. Sasuke growled, his eyes spinning red.
"Uh uh!" A silenced shot went off, the bullet slamming into the wardrobe door beside Sasuke's face. He gaped, eyes fading back to black as the clerk took a step closer. "No using those freaky, psychic eyes on me!" he scolded.
"...Why are you doing this?" Sasuke repeated, clenching his fists tightly.
"I have to. It is my duty," the clerk said vaguely, reaching them. He shoved the gun in their faces. "No funny business," he warned before reaching over to them with his free hand. He grabbed both of their walkie-talkies, tossing them on the ground and stomping on them quickly. They were crushed under his foot, and Ino whimpered softly. They had lost any chance to call for help; the others wouldn't be able to hear them from here.
"It's a shame that you had to be so determined to find the blond," the clerk said, sounding genuinely unhappy. "He would've been enough...but unfortunately, you've seen too much and you know too much...I'll have to dispose of you two."
"The others will figure it out...they already know there's a secret room in the roof!" Sasuke countered. The clerk chuckled.
"I'm aware of that...which is why I've enlisted some...extra help to take care of them," he smiled cruelly and Sasuke felt his stomach drop as he heard something far down below, in the garden, crash. It sounded like glass breaking; a window. "Oh good, they're right on time. Poltergeists are such wonderful employees!"
"You sick bastard," Sasuke snarled only to wince when the gun was shoved into his face. Ino squeaked, grabbing his shoulders and pulling him back slightly. The clerk smirked at them, his aged face looking sinister.
"Enough dawdling. Turn around," he ordered, roughly shoving on their shoulders. They were forced to turn, and he pushed them into the wardrobe, stepping in behind them and pressing something on the side. A grinding sound was heard before the wooden panel in front of them moved aside, revealing a very narrow, very dark stairway. There was a foul smell coming from the depths of the dark, and Ino covered her nose in disgust while Sasuke cringed.
"Go on!" the clerk shoved Ino forwards, making her yelp and almost trip over her own feet if Sasuke hadn't caught her elbow. With a glare at the old man, he went first, letting Ino walk right behind him and the clerk followed along. They made their way up the narrow staircase, using their feet to find the next step rather than their eyes as there was no light.
"Keep going!" the clerk remained behind them, occasionally pushing them forward when they hesitated. The smell continued to get worse, and Sasuke put a hand over his nose and mouth. He didn't know what the cause of the stench was, but it was obviously something very bad...
He grunted when he reached the top, revealing a narrow hallway with slanted walls. It was obviously located in the roof itself. Faint slivers of moonlight could be seen from cracks in the shingles and wood, illuminating a little of the way. Sasuke activated his Sharingan, wanting to see. He gasped, stumbling back into Ino. The entire hallway was smothered in black spiritual energy. It was oozing down the sides and bubbling on the floor, like some grotesque, liquidised monster. Protruding from several areas of the energy were faint traces of other energies, barely recognisable as they were swallowed and regurgitated by the black ooze.
He deactivated his eyes, knowing that he wouldn't be able to step forward if he could see that. Ino was clutching onto his back, her body trembling in fear. He couldn't blame her. Even without his eyes, he could feel the intense aura of evil coating the hall.
"I said move it!" the clerk snapped, shoving them forward. Sasuke struggled to keep his balance, but managed. Slowly, he walked down the narrow hallway, cringing when he felt the scratchy feeling of spider webs on his cheeks. Ino was holding back her frightened cries, though several tears did leak from her eyes when she felt something crawl on her arm before she swatted it away. The walk seemed to take far too long, and every second was echoed with the frantic beating of their hearts, but finally they reached the end of the hallway. A thick door was in front of them, decorated with scratched in symbols and what looked like chants and spells written in blood.
"Go in," the clerk ordered sternly. Sasuke swallowed, gagging slightly at the smell that was emanating like a thick vapour from the door. Ino was vibrating on the spot from her fear, but she didn't let go of his shoulder as he reached out and started to push open the door.
It creaked noisily, the rusted hinges screaming in protest. The thin beams of moonlight that were washing in from outside trailed into the dark confines of the room, revealing a dirty, grime-stained tile floor, a shelf covered with dark shadows that looked frightening, a tub against the far wall and finally...
"Naruto!" Sasuke's eyes widened as he saw his blond chained to the wall, arms twisted behind his back. His face was covered in an inky black substance that dripped down his cheeks and onto his shirt. There were obvious tear tracks on his face, and a small puddle of what appeared to be blood and bile mixed together was at his feet.
"S...Sas..." Naruto tried to speak, but ended up coughing and hacking violently as more blood from his cut throat entered his mouth, and he spat it out onto the floor, gasping for breath.
"Naru!" Sasuke turned, growling viciously. "What the fuck did you do to him, you sick bastard?!" he roared.
Ino let out a short screech as Sasuke's head snapped to the side after being back handed by the clerk. He stumbled, hitting the wall and sliding down it slightly while his head spun.
"Shut up," the clerk drawled. He turned to Ino and roughly grabbed her by the neck. She choked, clawing at his hand, but he just forced her to walk backwards until she was next to Naruto. He pushed her back, putting the gun between her eyes. Tears ran down her cheeks and she whimpered as he pulled her left arm up, chaining it to the wall, before he did the same to her right arm. She was stuck. He also reached into her pocket, taking out the protective seal that was resting inside and tearing it up.
"Your turn," he said coldly, turning to Sasuke. The Uchiha was trying to stand, but his hand kept slipping on a wet substance smeared over the wall. He didn't have to think very hard to guess what it was...the room was practically bathed in blood, old and new. The clerk walked up to him, snatching his elbow and yanking him up. He struggled, trying to get free, but that only earned him another violent hit across the face. He was pushed backwards, hitting the wall.
"Son of a—" his curse was cut off as the barrel of the gun was shoved into his mouth. He kept still, glaring hatefully at the old man as his arms were pulled up one by one and chained to the wall. The gun was kept in his mouth, clicking against his teeth and leaving a bitter taste on his tongue.
"As I said, it's unfortunate," the clerk said, stepping back once he was finished, also destroying Sasuke's seal. "But it needs to be fed, and it's my duty to catch its meals."
"What is 'it'?" Sasuke snarled, struggling against his restraints. They chafed against his skin, making him wince slightly. The clerk chuckled darkly, tapping the tip of the gun against Sasuke's nose.
"Something that's been in this house for ages...Something that hasn't eaten in quite a while."
There was a sudden creak, making Sasuke tense and the clerk whip around. Nothing had moved, but the air seemed to be highly charged.
"I better get out of here," the clerk muttered. He turned to the three teenagers chained to the wall, looking at them with a bitter smile on his face. "I am truly sorry. I didn't want it to be this way; you are all wonderful children, really. But I must fulfil my duty."
"You're going to die," Sasuke spat, glaring at him. "You're going to die, and when you do, I hope to God you become a ghost...because then I will hunt your spirit down, and torture you in the afterlife before I destroy you in the most painful way possible and send the remaining pieces to hell!"
The clerk stared at him as he ranted, his face carefully blank. But his eyes showed something akin to fear and sadness. Eventually, he just turned away, walking out the room and slamming the door shut, bathing them in darkness.
"Naruto!" Sasuke immediately turned to the blond, fighting against his restraints as much as he could. He managed to curve his body outwards, touching at Naruto's ankle with his feet. "Naruto, are you hurt? Did that bastard hurt you?"
Naruto shook his head, shivering from cold and fear. He coughed again, spitting up more blood before turning his head to where Sasuke's voice was coming from. His eyes had become accustomed to the dark, so he could faintly see Sasuke's outline and make out some features.
"N-No...I," he winced as his throat hurt with every word, "I didn't...even know...he was...behind it."
"He didn't take you here?" Ino asked, her voice shaky.
"No...I just woke up...I think that...dark shadow...took me," Naruto stopped, drawing in a ragged breath. His throat was on fire!
"Naruto, what's wrong? Why can't you talk?"
"What?!" Sasuke jerked violently, wishing more than anything he could just see Naruto, and hold him. He didn't know what was coming for them, but it was quite clear that they had been chained up and left as a meal for whatever was lurking in this hotel. From his knowledge, Maigos didn't eat humans...
"Inside...something cut...inside my throat," Naruto explained roughly. He closed his eyes, a few more tears leaking out. He was immensely happy that Sasuke was here, and Ino too. But any happiness at seeing them was snuffed out as he realized that now they were in the same boat as him. They were trapped, waiting to be eaten by that disgusting shadow monster from before.
"Dammit," Sasuke cursed, looking around in the darkness. He paused, an idea coming to him. "...Okay, I'm going to use my eyes to see if I can learn anything useful," he muttered.
Naruto jerked up, turning his head towards Sasuke in horror. "No! No, d-don't!"
He was certain that if Sasuke used his Sharingan, he would see visions of what had happened in this room in the past...Naruto didn't even want to think about the horrors that went on here, and if Sasuke was subjected to them...
"Naruto, I may be able to see something that could save us!" Sasuke cut him off. He faced outward, closing his eyes. "I'm doing it."
"Teme!" Naruto began, panic in his tone.
Sasuke opened his eyes, the Sharingan glowing slightly in the dark room and spinning wildly before the three commas expanded.
A blood chilling scream was cutting through the air, and Sasuke cringed as if he'd been physically hit. All around him, the room was shaking, flickering and crackling like a badly damaged video tape. It wasn't clearing up, and he wondered if this was because of how thick the dark spiritual energy was in the room. The screaming continued, softening before becoming loud. He twisted around, trying to see something amidst the grey, white and black blurs.
His eyes bulged when he saw the wall that they were chained too. A young girl, the one who Naruto had chased into the forest, was hanging by her arms. She was screaming wildly, tears pouring from her eyes. The reason was identified as the pure black, clawed hand that was slowly but surely tearing her ankle off, jerking it back and forth to break the bone. Blood was spattering on the floor and the wall before finally her ankle was snapped off entirely.
Sasuke spun away, unable to watch it only to yell out when he was faced with another scene, this time of a boy staring blankly as his intestines were pulled out of his stomach, feeding into a black mouth.
Sick to his stomach, he spun around again, wanting to get out of here. Every time he turned, he was faced with another vision, each time with children of various ages getting eaten by the same black, shadow monster. Their screams and cries were deafening and overwhelming, mixing together and blending into a choir of terror. Sasuke's heart was pounding, his skin pasty white and his head spinning as he witnessed all these horrors take place in a blurry, static rush. He gripped his head, spinning away again only to freeze when he saw Naruto chained to the wall, his head down as the shadow loomed over him.
"NO!" he yelled, watching in horror as the shadow ran its clawed hand over Naruto's face, smearing black blood and energy all over him before trailing its claw down his neck. He tried to run forwards, only to gasp when he felt something wrap around his arms and legs, stopping him. A glance down showed tendrils of the black energy coiling around his limbs, holding him in place. He looked up in panic and let out a scream when he saw the claw sink into Naruto's mouth, the blond thrashing violently to try and get it out while screaming.
Before Sasuke could do more than answer the scream, the vision vanished, replaced with darkness. He stared ahead, wondering if the vision had ended and he was back in the real world.
But then, right before him, a disfigured, mangled face came shooting from the blackness, coming straight for him.
The back of his head hit the wall, his arms twisting as he jerked against the hold, crying out.
"Sasuke!" Ino and Naruto were both calling his name, and he tried his best to breathe. His chest was heaving as he gasped, moans escaping him as he fought his way out of the vision.
"Shit," he spat, blinking rapidly as his head spun. "Fuck..."
"Sasuke! Are you okay?" Naruto said, his voice gravelly. He spat out more blood after he spoke, but pushed aside the pain to focus on Sasuke.
Sasuke closed his mouth, swallowing back the bile as memories of the children's deaths replayed in his mind. He took several deep breaths, trying to calm down.
"...Yeah...I'm okay," he sighed eventually, his head throbbing as the remnants of the visions began to fade. "...That was a bad idea," he mumbled.
"Teme," Naruto huffed, letting his head hang down. "I told you..."
"Guys," Ino said, catching their attention. "Listen, I think..." she grunted slightly, the soft clank of metal hitting tile making the boys perk up. "I think I can get out of these chains," she continued, twisting her slender wrists. She could feel her hands slowly slipping, getting scratched but gradually making progress. "When I do, I'll unchain you guys and we can get out of here!"
"Ino, if you manage that, than you are officially awesome," Sasuke said, smirking slightly as he caught his breath. Naruto nodded in agreement and Ino gave a weak smile before focusing on her chains, twisting back and forth and trying to get free.
"I hope the others are okay," she muttered. "If what the old man said is true, they're getting attacked by the poltergeists by now."
Shikamaru dived, knocking Sakura out of the way as a heavy piece of equipment came flying from across the room. She screeched as they hit the floor, the object smashing through the window.
"Shikamaru!" Chouji yelled, trying to run to his friend. His attempt was foiled when the carpet under his foot was ripped aside; tripping him and making him fall flat on his face. He grunted, rolling over and gasping when he saw a painting falling towards him.
Tenten jumped, kicking out and managing to knock the object off course so that it hit a chair instead. Panting, she turned and helped the large boy to his feet. Chouji gave her a nod of thanks before they both rushed over to Shikamaru and Sakura, pulling them up.
"Dammit! Of all the times to get attacked!" Shikamaru growled, watching as a chair scattered across the room only to get kicked back by Tobi, who seemed to be awfully calm despite the many flying objects around them.
"All the screens have gone blank," Sakura said, flinching when something shattered against the wall a few feet away. "We have no way to tell if the others are okay!"
"Kakashi and Yahiko-senpai will be perfectly fine," Tobi said pleasantly, spinning around and round-house kicking an oncoming ornament. It flew back, falling out the already shattered window. "So will Deidara-senpai and Sasori no Danna! Kiba-kun and Hinata-chan are outside, so they're probably safe, and Neji-kun and Lee-kun know enough to keep themselves out of trouble," he continued, turning and giving them a hidden smile. "For now, we'll just deal with this one ourselves!"
"But none of us knows how to!" Tenten protested, and yelped when someone pulled her shoulder back and stopped her from getting her cheek stabbed by a rogue pen. She looked over her shoulder, nodding her thanks to Shino as he let go.
"How rude!" Tobi huffed, crossing his arms. "What do you think I am; some two-bit carnival act? I'm a bloody Uchiha, and I can totally deal with a single polterge-EEEEEEEIIIIIISST!" he ended up screaming the rest of his sentence as he was yanked into the air, swinging violently before slamming into the roof. "OWIE!"
Shikamaru gaped as Tobi was literally thrown across the room. "Shit!"
Before the mask-wearing man could hit the floor, several thin, glowing strings shot out towards him, catching him and holding him still. Tobi tilted his head to the side, waving jovially.
"Thanks Sasori no Danna!" he cheered.
"Hn," Sasori grunted, lowering his hand and, in turn, lowering Tobi too. He stepped further into the room, Deidara coming in behind him. A screen was whipped off the table, zooming towards the shorter man, but Sasori only flung out his hand, sending energy strings out and catching it before it could get within five feet of him. He flung it out the window, looking at Deidara.
"The protective barrier over this room was taken down from the outside. Only a human could have done that," he muttered. Deidara nodded, a deep frown on his face.
"If what Kakuzu told us is true, then we know whose fault that is, un," he muttered, walking over to the archway and sliding a seal onto the wall. A pulse beat through the air, and they heard an inhuman scream before the writhing figure of the poltergeist materialised in the centre of the room.
"Holy hell," Chouji gasped.
Sasori stepped forward, about to take care of it, when he was interrupted.
"Oh oh! Me me! Let me do it, Danna!" Tobi said, jumping from one foot to the other and waving his hand excitedly like a child wanting to give the answer.
Sasori spared him an exasperated look before nodding and stepping back. Tobi clapped, hopping forwards and putting his hands into a strange sign. He began to chant, his voice light and cheerful even as he muttered words in a language that made no sense to the others. But whatever he was doing was working as the poltergeist writhed and screeched again, lighting up. Small fires erupted around it, forming a circle in the air. Tobi raised his hands, chanting louder before he spread his arms in a sweeping gesture. The flaming circle imploded, smothering the poltergeist. An echoing scream filled the room before it vanished in a short explosion of red and black smoke.
Tobi dusted his hands off and laughed triumphantly. "Hahaha! Take that!"
Sasori rolled his eyes before turning to the others. "Is everyone okay?"
There were nods, and he sighed in relief.
"Earlier, you said Kakuzu called in," Shikamaru said, stepping forward and frowning. "What news did he have? Why didn't he call Kakashi?"
"He tried, but it looks like Kakashi and Yahiko are occupied somewhere else. He didn't answer," Sasori drawled, turning to face the lazy genius. "As for news, Kakuzu managed to dig up some history on this house."
"Apparently, there was a crazy guy who lived here many years ago, un," Deidara began, moving to the other archway and setting up another seal for safety. "The guy was really into the occult and often scared the townspeople, using his knowledge of black magic to curse anyone who crossed him. Eventually, the townspeople attacked him, and they ended up killing him, but he had a son who they left alive. A few years later, the people who were responsible for the guy's death ended up disappearing. And then, a few years after that, people continued to disappear...children, mostly. This pattern was repeated in a cycle of about every ten years, un."
"And this year is the start of the next cycle," Sasori added in, crossing his arms.
"How does that explain who took down the seals?" Tenten asked.
"It is because the son of that man was responsible for the disappearances, yes?" Shino asked, stepping forward.
Deidara shrugged. "There was no confirmation, but it certainly seems like it. The guy turned into a recluse after the disappearances, but records show he had a son too, un."
"Did Kakuzu get a name?" Shikamaru asked, narrowing his eyes.
"Un. He also dug up some information on the family...and he found out something interesting. This place has been a hotel for the last hundred and ten years...but it was only bought by the current manager at the start of this year," Deidara explained, tilting his head to Sasori. The red head nodded, looking towards the archway.
"The original owner of the hotel stayed here," he murmured. "And they are most likely responsible for the haunting."
"You mean, the original owner is a ghost?" Sakura asked, not understanding. When Sasori shook his head, she frowned. "Then...I don't get it!"
"He means," Shikamaru said, closing his eyes and clenching his jaw as he fit all the pieces into place in his head. "He means that the son, of the son, of the psycho who started this whole mess, is still alive and in this hotel...and there is only one person here who could be that person."
"The old clerk," Shino said, nodding his head. "He's the grandson of the first owner of this house."
"Whatever's lurking in this hotel, poltergeists and Maigos aside, it's something that's been here for over a hundred years," Sasori said, looking upwards. "A monster that has a ten year feeding cycle is my best guess."
"F-feeding cycle..." Sakura gasped, her hands coming up to her mouth. "T-then...Naruto is—"
"He's still alive," Tobi said quickly, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Cycle-feeding monsters keep their prey alive for a long time, eating off of them slowly, bit by bit to make them last longer before hibernating again!"
If anything his words made Sakura feel worse. Her skin was pale and she began to shake. Deidara scowled, walking up and smacking Tobi upside the head.
Shaking his head at the whining man, Deidara placed his hands on Sakura's shoulders and guided her to a chair.
"He'll be fine, un! We'll find him, and kill this monster!" he said with certainty in his voice. Sakura swallowed, but nodded and tried to smile.
"For now we should find that damn clerk," Shikamaru said. He glanced around at the shattered screens, internally wincing at how much money it was going to take to replace it all. Kakuzu was going to have a hernia when he saw the bill. "If he's really the grandson then he knows what's in this house...he's probably the one who helps it get fed."
"Oh God," Sakura moaned, placing her hands over her face.
"Tobi, stay here with Sakura and Tenten. Shino, Chouji and Shikamaru, you go outside and get Hinata and Kiba. Deidara, set up some more seals and then go find Neji and Lee. I'm going to go help Kakashi and tell him the situation. If anyone sees the clerk, I don't care what you have to do, you grab him," Sasori ordered sternly.
"What about Sasuke and Ino?" Sakura asked, looking up. "They were on the top floor!"
"...I'll go get them after I speak to Kakashi," Sasori said. He looked around, waiting for complaints. When none came, he gave a curt nod and turned, rushing out of the room with the others on his heels.
They had to hurry.
Ino groaned as she pulled and tugged. Her arms were in an awkward position, so it was hard to tug properly, but she was definitely making progress.
"Just a bit...more," she wheezed. Sasuke was keeping his ears perked for any signs of something coming. Naruto was watching Ino carefully, his eyes occasionally sweeping over the room. His throat felt much better than before, and he guessed that the scratches had stopped bleeding at least a little since he didn't have to spit up blood nearly as often.
"Come on," Ino growled out, sweat dripping down her forehead. There was a clank before suddenly her hands slipped free, and she stumbled forwards. "I did it!"
"Yes!" Sasuke cheered, "Quick, unchain me!"
Ino rushed over, her fingers fiddling with the chains around his hands. Luckily they were a simple latch type chain, but it was impossible to unlatch it if you were the one inside it. She fumbled in the dark, but managed to get him free. The two of them hurried to let Naruto out too, with Ino working at his feet and Sasuke getting his hands free.
The moment the chains came off, Naruto fell. Sasuke only just managed to catch him, and he cradled him close, murmuring soothing words into his ear as he rocked him slightly.
"We need to get out of here quickly! Before the monster gets here—" Ino was cut off when the sound of something wet splashing onto the floor filled the room. The three of them froze, their heads turning to look towards the tub against the wall. Naruto started to tremble as something rose up from the depths of the inky liquid. Sasuke held him tighter, edging backwards.
"..Run...Run!" he said, tugging on Ino's shoulder. They turned, rushing for the door. Ino reached it first, since she wasn't supporting Naruto. Her hand shot out for the handle, but just before she could grab it, a dark shadow rose up from the floor. She screamed, jerking her hand back. The shadow moved, swooping forwards and lashing out. Three slashes appeared in Ino's shirt, across her chest. She yelped, stumbling back and managing to avoid getting cut properly.
Sasuke pulled both blonds back, trying to think of a way out. He didn't know of any chant or spell powerful enough for this thing, and he still didn't have enough control over his Sharingan to use it in battle.
Naruto was leaning against him, worn and exhausted from being held captive for so long. His legs trembled with the effort to stay standing, and he was staring at the creature fearfully. His hand was on his stomach, the seal burning on his skin. His eyes had changed, giving him a clear view of the room.
The creature before him was still like a shadow, but he could make out a head and two long, jagged arms. It seemed to have pointed ears, and a wide mouth filled with rows of cracked and razor sharp teeth were visible. It resembled a mutated man, right out of some horror film. Black spiritual energy was oozing off its skin, dripping to the floor like blood before sliding back towards its body and repeating the motion.
"What're we going to do?" Ino whimpered.
The shadow moved, vanishing in an instant.
"Where'd it go?!" Sasuke yelled, whipping his head from side to side. Ino did the same, little gasps of terror escaping her as she tried to find it. Naruto turned his head, looking towards the right. His eyes widened as he saw the monster lunging for them...for Sasuke.
Sasuke felt a hand push him forward, and he slipped on the floor. Someone was dragged down with him, and a shriek let him know it was Ino. They both landed on their stomachs, their faces smashing against the floor. Sasuke gagged when he tasted filth and blood in his mouth, and he spat out the moment he could. There was a cry behind him and he jerked up, turning around.
Naruto was in the air, being held up by a mass of black shadow and ooze that was slowly seeping over his body, swallowing him up once again. His hand reached out, his head turned towards them and even in the dark Sasuke could clearly see the terrified blue eyes looking at him, begging for him to help. His mouth was open, but he couldn't scream as the blackness around him seeped into his mouth.
"NO NARUTO!" Sasuke pushed himself up, crying out when he slipped and banged his chin on the ground. But he ignored it and pushed up again, leaping forwards and grabbing at Naruto's hand.
Ino screamed as she watched Naruto vanish into the midst of the shadow, and her scream was only outdone by Sasuke's voice.
The shadow turned to them, a mouth appearing amidst the blackness. It stretched into a wide, wicked grin. A demonic cackle filled the air as the shadow shifted and expanded. They caught glimpses of blond hair and tan skin before they vanished again, swallowed by darkness.
Sasuke let out a roar, lunging forwards. He didn't know what he was going to do, but he had to do something...
"Sasuke!" Ino shrieked, seeing the boy rush towards the creature before them. She hopelessly tried to grab him and stop him from what she was sure was a suicide mission. "Stop!"
A black, clawed fist shot out, slamming into his stomach and knocking him right off his feet. He coughed, winded, as he landed on his back, sliding along the floor until he was back by Ino. She pulled him up, about to say something when another fist reached out, grabbing her by the hair. She screeched and Sasuke quickly grabbed onto her legs, stopping her from being pulled backwards.
'Dammit! Dammit! Naruto!' he thought, struggling to stop Ino from getting eaten, but wanting to rush over and try to save Naruto again. There was no way the blond was dead...not after everything they'd gone through...
Light flooded the room, briefly rendering them both blind. Ino felt the grip on her hair vanish and she fell to the floor with a pained yip. Sasuke raised a hand, trying to see where the source of light had come from. His eyes widened when he saw that there was a flaming shape circling the monster. It thrashed and screamed, its head tilting back and its mouth opening wide. The flames wrapped around it, squeezing tightly as it fought back.
Sasuke gaped, staring with wide eyes. A long arm thrashed out, just missing his face, only to be followed by a flame that did slide over his skin. He hissed at the burn, moving back hurriedly and dragging Ino with him. She was watching the spectacle in shock.
"W-What's happening?" she stammered, unable to comprehend what was going on. Was this good or bad?
Sasuke had a hand over the area of his face that had gotten burnt, but he kept his eyes on the monster as it was attacked by the flames.
"...Naruto is happening," he said softly. He didn't know if Ino heard him or not, but either way the girl seemed to be mesmerized.
There was another scream as the monster slammed against the wall, knocking over the shelf and sending the multiple bones scattering to the floor in small, flaming heaps. The walls were starting to burn as the black energy was set ablaze, and Sasuke stared as things started to become clearer and...cleaner.
'Are the flames...? They're cleansing it! The flames are cleansing all the energy!' he thought in shock. He hadn't expected that the Kyuubi would be able to do that. After all, how could a demon be able to cleanse evil?
'Unless...it's because of Naruto's will that it's cleansing it? Could he have that much influence?' he wondered, lifting a hand to shield his eyes when everything got even brighter. Suddenly a beam of light shot out right from the centre of the shadowy monster. Sasuke covered his eyes as more joined the first, until it looked like a miniature sun was being hidden by a black cage. Ino had covered her eyes too, but she could still see the brightness through her eyelids. She could also feel the warmth of the fires and the light, and it was something that washed over her skin like a warm blanket.
Sasuke strained himself to look, wanting to witness everything. The monster was screaming continuously, writhing violently before suddenly it snapped up straight. The most chilling, blood curdling scream filled the air, and Sasuke was certain that everyone in the hotel would have heard it. The scream continued on as the blackness surrounding the creature started to burst, like thick tar bubbles. But instead of splattering everywhere like they had before, the bubbles burst and trailing flames were what fell out, only to vanish again. More and more bubbles appeared until the entire shadow was nothing but a screaming, boiling, bubbling mass.
Sasuke knew what was coming, and he hunched over Ino to offer some protection as, with a final scream, the monster exploded. A wave of heat rushed over them, and Sasuke grunted as he felt his skin burn slightly and Ino curled up, feeling the same effects.
It soon passed, the heat fading away slightly and the light dimming down. Sasuke opened his eyes, looking up.
Naruto was lying on the floor, covered in dirt and grime and blood. However, his eyes were wide open and his chest was heaving, loud pants sounding in the air.
Sasuke stumbled upwards while Ino sat up, her eyes wide as she stared at the room. There were still small flames burning on the walls, ridding them of the black ooze that clung to the tile. The flames allowed a substantial amount of light, and she got to her knees, looking around. She could barely believe she was alive.
She turned, watching as Sasuke rushed over to his blond. He fell to his knees beside Naruto, grabbing his face and pulling him into a deep, rough kiss. Naruto's arms flailed a bit, but Sasuke didn't relent. He moved his lips over Naruto's in an almost angry fashion, his tongue dipping down and taking in everything it could from the other's mouth. When he finally pulled away with a gasp, panting and staring into Naruto's eyes, he grinned.
"I fucking love you, you moron!" he said, eyes shining with unshed tears of happiness.
Naruto looked up at him incredulously, still disoriented. "I love you too," he said before slowly looking around. "And...I don't really know what just happened, but...I take it that it was something good?" he asked.
Sasuke laughed as Ino came up beside them, crouching down.
"It was better than good, it was brilliant. You saved us, Dobe," he said, placing a hand on Naruto's stomach and smiling at him. Naruto blinked rapidly, looking at Sasuke and then at Ino who shrugged.
"I don't know what that was...but whatever you did, it seems to have destroyed that monster," she said, smiling at him. He blinked again, turning back to Sasuke.
"...Wait...I killed it?" he asked in shock. Sasuke nodded, leaning down and rubbing his nose against Naruto's in an Eskimo kiss. Ino giggled.
"Yeah Dobe...you killed it."
"...I'm awesome," Naruto breathed. Ino laughed loudly and Sasuke rolled his eyes before kissing Naruto again.
"Wait!" Naruto shoved him away, sitting upright. "The others! The old man! We have to warn them, and stop that guy!"
Sasuke's eyes widened, and Ino scrambled to her feet.
"Come on!" she urged. They boys climbed up hurriedly, Naruto tripping slightly. Sasuke held onto his arm, keeping him upright as they rushed to the door, yanking it open and hurrying down the steps.
Every hair on the back of Kakashi's neck stood up as he heard the most frightening, inhuman scream ever. He actually stopped in the middle of running, listening to it. Beside him, Sasori and Yahiko stopped too. They had only just finished off the poltergeist, and were now rushing to find Sasuke and Ino. Sasori had explained everything while they fought, and Kakashi was feeling slightly murderous.
'When I find that damn old bastard...' he thought darkly, looking around. 'What is that scream?'
"Something's happening on the top floor," Yahiko said, looking up at the ceiling. His normally bloodshot eyes had changed, rings appearing in the pupils and spreading outwards. "I can feel two very powerful energies clashing somewhere far above."
"The Kyuubi," Kakashi mumbled under his breath. Sasori sent him a glance before starting to run again. The other two followed him hurriedly, turning around the corner and racing up the stairs. The scream died away, and Kakashi felt some like a pulse seem to echo through the house. He stumbled on the stairs, grabbing the railing and taking a deep breath.
"Kakashi! Are you alright?" Sasori asked, stopping on the top step and turning to him. His face was blank, but a shine of concern was in his eyes. Yahiko also stopped, placing a hand on Kakashi's shoulder.
"...Yeah, I'm fine," he said, feeling the sensation stop. He quickly shook his head, gathering himself before starting to run again. "Come on, we need to hurry!"
They sprinted down one hallway, passing room after room. Sasori turned the corner and his eyes widened when he saw Neji and Lee further down the hall, their hands up. They had their faces to the wall and the old clerk was behind them, a gun in his hand as he pointed it at them. Sasori heard the faint click of the hammer being pulled back, and he panicked.
Kakashi lunged forwards, running faster than he had before. His hair flew out of his eyes, the red Sharingan whirling as the sound of a gunshot echoed down the hall.
Neji heard the gunshot go off, and flinched. No pain assaulted him, and he gasped, turning his head. 'Not Lee—'
He stopped, seeing Lee turned to face him with a similar look of horror. When they both realized that neither one of them had been shot they turned to face the clerk. He was stumbling back, the hand holding the gun jerking as he fought to get rid of a thin string of spiritual energy attached to his wrist. The air between them and him was shimmering and circling, and Neji saw the tip of a bullet vanishing into the strange vortex in the middle. He turned his head, a relieved sigh falling from his lips as he saw Kakashi come to a stop, groaning and covering his left eye. Yahiko was supporting him while Sasori was tugging his arm back, trying to make the clerk drop the gun.
"Dammit!" the old man cursed, ripping his arm forward. Sasori grunted, tripping and falling forwards. He lost his concentration and the already thin string of energy vanished as he hit the ground.
"Sasori-san!" Lee called. He sensed movement to his right and turned, dodging backwards and avoiding the fist aimed for his face. Neji pulled him back, heading towards the others as the old clerk rounded on them, gun aimed at their heads.
"You and your meddling people!" the old man spat, looking crazed. He took a small step back, glaring at them. "This hotel, this house...it belongs to my family! MINE! The fool who owns it now is not worthy to have it! He doesn't realize the secrets this place holds...the horrors! I've had to work so hard to keep it from being discovered!"
"You...you've been protecting the monster?" Kakashi asked, glaring through his good eye at the old man. "You've known about it from the start?"
"Of course I have!" the clerk snarled, thrusting the gun at them angrily. "I grew up here! My father told me all about it...about my grandfather's pet! About the Shadow that he summoned with his magic!"
"You mean the monster he made a contract with?" Sasori said, climbing to his feet. "Your grandfather made a contract with a monster, and when he was killed, the contract moved to your father...and then it moved to you when he died."
The old clerk glared at them. "My father passed the secrets onto me. Our family has always had wealth, good fortune...all because of the strength of our pet. But, like anything in life, it's a give and take situation. We get good fortune...and It takes sacrifices."
"Sacrifices?" Neji repeated, his voice low. "...The children. All those Maigos are the children that you and your father had kidnapped and sacrificed to maintain your wealth?" he asked, disgust dripping in his voice.
"I did what I had to!" the clerk yelled, and a shot rang out. Neji yelped as Lee pushed him aside before being knocked backwards as the bullet hit his shoulder.
Lee gripped his shoulder, hissing softly but he looked up. "I'm fine. It only gazed me," he assured, putting pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding.
"You son of a bitch," Neji growled, about to lunge for the man. Kakashi reached out, grabbing his shoulder and stopping him. He stared at the old man intensely, taking in his face and the tremble to his hands.
"...You don't have to do this. We can help you," he said soothingly. The others glanced at him questioningly, and he waved their questions off with a small motion of his fingers. "We can undo the contract your grandfather made. You won't have to do unspeakable things for that monster anymore."
The old man stared at him, his face open. They could all see the pain and sadness in his eyes as the hand holding the gun trembled. Kakashi kept his gaze soft, his hands in clear view. The others stood back, waiting tensely for the next move.
"Let us help you," Kakashi urged gently.
A single tear ran down the old man's cheek, his lips trembling and pulling up as he remembered all he had done, all the children he had stolen from their families and beds and chained to the wall in the bloody room upstairs. He thought back to all the times he'd watched the police, called by the parents, fall under a trance and say that there was no way the children were still in the hotel. He remembered all the distraught mothers and fathers, walking away and leaving large parts of their hearts in his hotel as money continued to come in, fame continued to spread, and more children came to their deaths...
"...It's too late for that," he said, his voice trembling. "I've been doing this for so long...for the past eighty years, and I still have a long way to go. The monster keeps us alive longer than normal people," he stiffened his hand, staring at them with a resolute glint in his eye. "I can't be helped. And I can't let you and your friends leave."
Kakashi's shoulders hunched as he prepared to lunge. However, before he could, something caught his eye. He looked at it over the old man's shoulder and froze solid, eyes widening. Neji, Lee, Sasori and Yahiko did the same, all staring at the same spot.
The old man noticed their gazes had switched from him to a spot behind him. His eyes widened when he heard a soft, childish giggle. Slowly, fearfully, he turned his head.
A young girl was standing behind him, staring up at him with black blood running down her face and staining the front of her dress. Her ankle was broken and twisted, the bone cracked and jutting out. She tilted her head, her image flickering as she stared up at him with a blank face. He gasped, his hand shaking as he stepped away from her.
"No...You..." he stammered. There was another laugh, and he looked to the side in time to see a young boy emerge from the wall, crawling out of it as if it were a hole. He looked up, a wicked smile on his round face while empty eyes bled. Another child appeared beside him, her hair braided back and her arm torn off.
Kakashi urged the others to step back, watching in shock and horror as more and more Maigos and spirits appeared, surrounding the old man who was turning on the spot. He was making incoherent noises, looking back and forth between the children with wide, terrified eyes.
"No...Stay away! Stay away from me!" he yelled, shooting at the nearest ghost. The bullet slammed into the floor, going right through the girl's forehead. The clerk let out a moan of terror, the gun falling from his hands.
The children surged forwards suddenly, their hands grabbing onto him. He screamed, thrashing against them but they just kept coming, clawing at every inch of him they could find. Kakashi winced, watching as he was knocked down. He almost took a step forward, but a hand stopped him. He turned to see Yahiko holding him back, staring dispassionately at the clerk on the floor.
"He is beyond our help. This isn't a random ghost attack," he said softly. "...These children are getting their revenge in order to move on."
Kakashi swallowed, turning and watching as the old man was lifted up. He struggled screaming out and trying to fight them off but they wouldn't let go. Slowly, the children dragged and carried him towards the window.
The window slammed open, curtains flapping wildly in a breeze that no one else felt. The air was cold, their breaths coming out in small puffs before them. The soft, echoing shuffles of feet on the carpet and faint, childish giggles were filling the hallway.
The clerk screamed as he reached the window, his arms going out of it. He tried to reach back, trying to grab onto something, and for a moment he looked up and caught sight of three people coming down the hall.
"...Impossible," he breathed, his eyes wide as Naruto, Sasuke and Ino stopped a several feet away, watching with wide eyes.
Seconds later, he was screaming as the children shoved him out of the top floor window before vanishing in a burst of white smoke, and he fell to the hard, unforgiving ground below.
Kakashi's head turned as he heard the scream stop abruptly. A small bubble of regret dwelled in his chest, knowing that he hadn't been able to save a man who hadn't ever wanted to be in such a horrid position.
Kakashi looked up, gasping when he saw the three teenagers standing on the other side of the hall. He shook Yahiko's hand off and ran to them, pulling all three into a tight hug.
"Thank God you guys are safe!" he said, squeezing them. Ino laughed slightly, a few tears in her eyes as she hugged him back. Sasuke looked away awkwardly, and Naruto smiled weakly.
"Sorry for worrying you," he said and Kakashi laughed, leaning back and clapping a hand on the blond's shoulder.
"As long as you're all okay now, I can forgive you," he teased with a smile. Sasuke scoffed, but he was grinning and Naruto closed his eyes, leaning against the raven and sighing heavily.
"...Is it over now?" he asked softly, cracking his eyes open again and staring at the gathered group. Kakashi smiled while Sasuke kissed his forehead gently.
"Yeah. It's over now."
Everyone jumped when Kiba's loud shout sounded from out the window.
"OH GOD! DEAD GUY HERE! DEAD GUY! HELP! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS! HINATA, HOLD ME!"
"I'd better go stop him from having a heart attack," Neji muttered. Kakashi laughed, waving him away as he and Lee walked towards the stairs while Sasori leant out the window and told Kiba to shut up. Kakashi turned back to the three in front of him and smiled.
"Let's go home."
"Ah man," Kotonaha Luka sighed, playing with the brim of his police cap. He pulled it off, brushing some hair out of his eyes before facing the men in front of him. "This is going to be a little hard to clean up."
"Sorry for the trouble," Kakashi said sheepishly, turning and watching as the coroners wheeled the corpse of the old man to the truck. "What are you going to write on the report?"
Luka huffed. "I don't know. It's not exactly like I can state the cause of death as 'Defenestration via angry ghost kids', now can I?" he said, frowning.
"Ah, not all of them were ghosts. Some were Maigos, un," Deidara piped in. Luka sent him a look and the blond giggled before turning away with a mumbled apology.
"Anyway, I'll take care of it somehow, so don't worry," Luka said heavily. "For now, I suggest you get your team ready to leave before my boss decides that we could question you some more," he warned. Kakashi nodded gratefully and Luka tipped his hat to him before walking off to the other cops.
Kakashi watched him go before turning back to the hotel, looking up at it.
"So, case closed?"
He turned, looking at Itachi as the man walked up to him with Kisame behind him. The taller man had a bandage around his head and looked a little pale, but he was smiling and walking.
"Should you really be out of hospital so soon?" Kakashi asked sceptically, crossing his arms. Kisame smirked, waving his hand.
"No, but since when do I listen to doctors?"
"Tch, since when you do listen, period," Itachi scoffed. Kisame pouted and Kakashi chuckled as the three of them started to walk towards the hotel.
"So, Kakashi," Itachi began, stroking his chin as they stopped on the front porch. "I was chatting to Tobi earlier," he began and Kakashi tensed. Behind Itachi, Kisame made an 'oooh' face and sliced his hand over his neck, letting Kakashi know how busted he was.
"Yes. So," Itachi stared at him blankly, "Naruto got kidnapped by a human eating monster, and then my brother was held at gunpoint by a psychotic old man, and chained to the same wall Naruto was, waiting to be eaten by said monster, and through all this, you were elsewhere walking around with Yahiko...and let it all happen?"
Kakashi held his hands up, panic clear on his face. "N-Now 'Tachi, let's just take a moment to think rationally-OOF!" he doubled over as Itachi's fist sunk into his gut.
Kisame laughed, moving out the way while Itachi started to lecture the silver haired man and threaten valuable parts of his anatomy with sudden death. He almost got hit in the face when the door opened and Sasori came out with Tobi by his side, carrying several bags.
"Whoa, careful there!" Kisame said, using his hand to stop the door before it could hit him. Sasori blinked at him before grunting and carrying on.
"You should be in hospital."
"You should be nicer to the injured person."
"No thanks, I don't want Deidara to get pissed at me!" Kisame called after the shorter man, snickering when Sasori flipped him off over his shoulder. Tobi was skipping after him, jabbering on about something or another as they loaded the bags into the car.
Slowly, members of the crew started to file out of the hotel, carrying their bags and talking amongst themselves. Ino was describing the events that happened in the bloody room to Sakura, who was listening with a look of mixed awe and horror on her face. Shikamaru and Chouji were talking to Deidara about all the equipment they were going to have to buy and replace. Tenten was helping Lee pack his things since his arm was a little useless for the time being. Neji and Shino were talking to some of the cops, giving the same story the others had. Kiba and Hinata were sitting on the porch, hands linked and talking softly. Hinata said something that made Kiba grin and kiss her, in turn making her blush and smile. The sight reminded him of...
"Hey, where're Naruto and Sasuke anyway?" he asked, turning around and trying to spot them amidst the crowd gathered outside.
Kiba looked up, also trying to spot them.
"Sasuke-kun said something about Naruto needing to fulfil some promise he made? Something about letting Sasuke do something if he agreed to let Naruto join the team? They went back inside about twenty minutes ago," Sakura said, having overheard the question.
"What promise? Ugh, whatever there's no time for that now," Kiba said, standing up. "We're leaving in a few minutes. I'll go find them," he turned walking up the steps.
"I'll come with. I want to do a last sweep of the house," Yahiko said. Kiba spared him a look before rolling one shoulder.
The two of them walked through the empty halls of the hotel. Now that the poltergeist and the monster had been taken care of, and the clerk had died, the owner was going to change it from a hotel to a haunted attraction, using the story of the clerk's family as the main attraction. Kiba thought it was a little shallow, but there wasn't anything they could do about it. Their job was to clear the spirits out, not to preserve the family privacy or dignity.
"I think they're in the room they were assigned. I sense their energies there," Yahiko said, heading up the stairs. Kiba nodded, jogging up the stairs and speed walking down the hall. They could hear muffled voices coming from the room that Sasuke and Naruto had been assigned, and Kiba walked up to the door with Yahiko behind him.
"Yo! Sasuke, Naruto! Come on, we gotta go—" Kiba stopped dead as the door opened fully, revealing the room. All his eyes took in was the bed, the ruffled blankets and the two obviously naked people who were doing something very obviously private...and they hadn't noticed him.
"GYAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Kiba turned and ran for all he was worth, clawing at his face hard enough to leave angry red scratches. "I'M BLINDED! OH GOD, MY EEEEYYESSS!"
Yahiko gaped like a fish, stepping back as he stared into the room. He stared for a second more before he snapped into action, grabbing the handle and pulling the door shut, though not in time to stop himself from hearing—
"Oh God, Sasuke!"
He slammed the door and stepped back, pressing a hand over his eyes. Somewhere far away, in a small bedroom, his brother Nagato was hunching over and rubbing at his eyes, moaning about how what has been seen can never be unseen.
Yahiko shook his head, his face a little red. He looked up, staring at the door that separated him from the two active teenagers. He recalled what he'd seen just before he closed the door.
Sasuke had noticed him when he looked over his sweaty shoulder after Kiba's screaming. And Sasuke, the little shit, had only smirked at him cheekily before the door had closed, blocking the rest from view.
Yahiko sighed irritably, deciding that he would start with the upper levels. "Damn kids," he mumbled grouchily.
When it was eventually time to leave, and everyone was assembled-"I HATE YOU SASUKE! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!" "Hn, whatever Kiba. It's your fault anyway."- they got into their cars, driving passed the police cars, ambulances and reaching the dirt road, leaving the now clear, spirit-free mansion behind.
Because, naturally, I have to torture Kiba at some point by scarring him for life...poor baby. ;D
I hope you all enjoyed it! ^_^ Thank you for reading, and reviews would be very appreciated! Until next time~