Let him... say his good bye.


There is shame in the way he walks. His head is bowed down; his unnaturally pallid face entirely hidden by the long hood of his cloak. His scaly arms hang like dead limbs at his sides. Kabuto breathes very slowly as he drags his feet to walk, treading the stony path with much difficulty. Every second, his cloak- long drenched by the unending rain - gains weight and is proving to be too heavy for his malnourished form.

And the heartless wind, the heartless wind keeps on blowing -

He longs to rest. He longs to sleep, to be buried forever...

"So weak, Kabuto. When did you become so weak?"

Spoken by a voice in his head. Kabuto recognizes it easily and he smiles. It has been so long

"My l-lord..."

He stutters-

"...I've always been this weak." And the bitter smile deepens on his face.

Kabuto releases a heavy, shuddering breath as he clutches his chest. He could feel the weak beating of his heart beneath his grip. Everything he touches already feels weak and dead. And all he could smell is that familiar, comforting scent of decay. Of his own rotting flesh-

Dying. His whole body-

The mud suddenly molds under his feet and Kabuto falls into the ground.

The damp grass sticks to his face, mounds of dirt clinging into his silvery white hair. He closes his eyes and sighs, unable to quell the exhaustion anymore. The rain continues to fall and piles and piles of golden leaves begin to descend onto his form, but he barely feels it, as his body is once again wracked with violent coughs. His blood spreads all over the soft earth and mixes with the rain.

In a way, the dying medic finds this nostalgic- the scent of his own blood mixing with the rain while the dry dead leaves fall onto his form.

Unbidden, his mind drifts into a memory of long ago...

It was raining that day too.

Under a red moon and cloudless sky, he remembers a younger man standing before him, drenched in rain and blood, carrying another man in his arms.

"Heal him." The man commands, his voice as cold and hard as steel. Like it has always been. But it was the greying black eyes, Kabuto notices, and the scratched hitai-ite wrapped clumsily on a bloodied forehead that betray the other man entirely.

Kabuto knows immediately that this is no longer the man he used to know. He shakes his head. And for the first time in a very long time, he feels... a heaviness in his heart. 'Foolish, foolish boy.'

"...I do not heal the dead, Sasuke-kun."

"-!"

There is not a second of hesitation as he suddenly feels the burn in his skin as Sasuke has closed in and his black chakra dug into his throat- he couldn't breathe-

"I said, heal him." The man repeats, his tone much graver and lower.

Trying to struggle from the deathly hold, Kabuto's gaze lowers again to the man clutched tightly on the raven's chest, sees the familiar face-

-and for the briefest of second, the sneer on the medic's face falters.

"He's already dead." Kabuto forced his breath out. And without knowing why, he extended a quivering hand to the dead man's face. Placed his fingers on top of the paling tan skin and between strands of golden hair. "He's...

..dead." The medic repeats coldly.

One breath-

-that was all it took before the black chakra erupted from the raven's body and burned into the medic's scaly flesh-

Kabuto didn't even hear himself scream.

...

Golden eyes open in mild shock. He has not realized that he has fallen asleep. Pallid fingers tentatively touch a small area near the throat, feeling a sting from an old wound. It was a thin long scar ridged across the creases of the neck. Already darkened by time. A scar- that for eight long years- has refused to heal.

Eight years

Burying his palms into the dampened soil, the white-haired medic forces himself off the ground. His arms shake beneath him and knees refuse to lock as he struggles to stand. He fails and falls a second time. Kabuto curses and attempts to try again-

-when a lone dead leaf suddenly falls beside his feet.

Slashed cleanly in half. Kabuto stops... and stares hard at the fallen leaf. There's a sudden crackle in the wind, prickling his skin. His vision blurs for a moment when a sheet of blue suddenly cut the space ruthlessly before him. Heat spreads across his face and the medic steps back, automatically shielding his eyes with his arm.

"They found you." A voice taunts in his head. "They found you at last...

...Run."

There are several thuds around him and within a second, Kabuto finds himself surrounded. He grits his teeth. He has not even felt them approach. His summons' chakra tingle beneath his feet and he raises his fingers to his face. Gravely outnumbered, he braces himself.

He cannot die here. Not now. Not yet.

"Yakushi Kabuto."

The medic quickly strains an ear to the side, eyeing the man who has just called his name. He could see transparent white eyes staring back at him. Thin, protruding veins at the sides of a pale youthful face. 'Hyuuga.' Kabuto's eyes narrow. He looks around and sees many other familiar faces. The ones nearest to him are the Godaime's apprentice, Haruno Sakura and the famous copy-nin Hatake Kakashi. Shikamaru Nara and his team, the Yamanaka and the Akimichi are huddled in the far corner in his left.

He flinches as a twig snaps behind him, followed by a reverberating savage growl. " Inuzuka," he mutters without needing to look. The growling continues and insects begin to gather all around him. Thousands upon thousands of them encircling his form, waiting.

Konoha's finest shinobi. All poised to attack.

They all have grown, Kabuto muses. Eight years have been long indeed.

"I am honoured." Kabuto taunts, eyes roaming around as he calculates everyone's distance from his position. "I wasn't expecting such a-"

He sees a shroud of white. Just that tiniest glimmer of white in his peripheral- before he feels his body flying sideways and is crashed brutally into a trunk. His own teeth sink into his tongue at the sudden force and he coughs up blood and spit at the man who now holds him in an iron grip.

"You..." the man starts as he inches closer to his face and blunt nails dig into the scar on his throat mercilessly. Kabuto gasps in pain. "How dare you..."

Eyes as red as blood. Almost ghoulish, almost dead. A cursed bloodline resting on such a perfect face. White, immaculate robes long drenched by the pouring rain now adorn a much taller and refined body. 'Uchiha.'

The snakes he summoned immediately slither back in his arms in retreat, cowering in fear.

"...H-Hokage-sama." He murmurs lowly, lips glistening in cold sweat and rain.

"... You defile his grave." The man in white finishes. Menace so clear in his voice and in his Sharingan eyes.

Kabuto swallows hard. He could feel his insides twisting and curling in his gut- as if fear itself is wrapping around his whole body.

He vaguely wonders if this is the day he will die.

"So, so weak... Kabuto."

Kabuto bows his head and breathes deeply.

"My lord. I've always been weak."

And despite his overwhelming fear, a smile so terribly inappropriate and empty, curves deeply on the medic's face. He may die here but he refuses to go down without a fight.

"I do not know what you're talking about, my dear Hokage-sama." He lies as he raises his hands to his chest. A familiar jutsu plays in the medic's hands and his body dissolves into a thousand snakes and disappears into the ground. There is a moment of silence then-

"Hokage-sam- Sasuke! Behind you!" A female shouts.

Too late, Kabuto thinks with a sneer as the earth grumbles loudly and two coffins emerge from behind their leader. Shocked, all the others immediately rush in.

'Once his teammates, now nothing but his pawns,' Kabuto thinks in amusement as he watches everyone scramble to get to their Hokage as fast as possible. But the Rokudaime himself does not move. Does not even blink at the reanimated Akatsuki cadavers rushing towards him.

The Uchiha's Mangekyou spins in his eyes and an enormous shroud of hazy purple envelops the tall raven. Before Kabuto could even blink, Susanno's gigantic hands have materialized and crushed the cadavers in one strong grip. Everything else in sight is annihilated by the roaring black flames.

As if nothing happened, the Uchiha tilts his head to the side and their eyes meet again. This time, Kabuto stills-

He could not move. Suddenly crippled by the weight of the man's gaze.

"Die"- The Uchiha all but whispers but Kabuto heard it so clearly.

And Susanno's fist lunges directly at him.

"K-Kuchiyose Edo Tensei." Kabuto gasps out.

Four more coffins emerge from the ground, shielding the medic. But Susanno proves to be unstoppable. It crushes the coffins even before they could fully open. The sound of dead bones crushing resound in the area. Kabuto's eyes widen at the massacre and he crawls back in fear.

One last time, he mutters as he summons one final coffin with trembling hands.

The earth grumbles and shifts. A final casket emerges from the ground.

"Now Hokage." Kabuto wheezes, blood dripping from his mouth. He knows that he won't last long. This is his final summon- his one last ounce of strength. "Won't you please accept... my final gift.?"

"..."

Everyone stops.

The coffin stabilizes itself on the ground and opens very slowly.

A hand-

-attached to a severely thin wrist, emerges slowly from the small opening of the wooden coffin. Tan fingers grip one corner of the hinged lid and slowly, very slowly, slide the door to one side, opening the casket.

Quite hesitantly - a foot steps out and lands quietly on the uneven and heavily soaked ground. Cold, the boy from the coffin muses. The earth feels too cold beneath his bare feet. And soft, his mind vaguely adds, as his ankles dig a little deeper into the mud and his toes curl upon the dirt.

He bows his head instinctively to attempt to find his balance; his eyes hidden beneath a mess of golden hair as he gapes thoughtfully at the dampened ground. He stumbles a bit and blinks slowly, failing to recognize the unfamiliar setting. "Where... am I?" he mouths, unable to voice it. His throat feels a little too sore. Clearly unused for quite a long time.

"Where-" and the boy finally lifts his head and eyes much bluer- much more achingly and heartlessly familiar- than the skies look around. "-am I?"

The boy's face reveals itself -and at that moment, the world stands still.

The rain stops. Even the wind-

-as pale streaks of sunlight begin to peek out from beneath the clouds and lay paths across the cracked tan skin.


(TBC)