Chapter 30: Demon and Samurai
Shocked, Aiyana stood there until she realized that he wasn't talking to her. She followed his eyes to Adrik who had a deep frown on his face. Jin knew him but Adrik didn't know Jin. How? How was it her senpai knew this horrible man?
"Jin-senpai?" Aiyana asked uncertainly.
Jin didn't look at her. He continued to glare threateningly at Adrik. His voice was cold and sharp as icicles when he spoke. "Leave."
"Who are you?" Adrik asked.
Jin took a step forward to bring himself closer. "Perhaps you aren't understanding me. Leave!"
"And why should I listen to a boy like you?" the bastard taunted.
"Because," Jin snarled, "this is my store and I am not letting a murderous, abusive bastard like you any closer."
Adrik laughed again. "And just how do you know me?"
Aiyana glanced between Jin and Adrik. Yes, how did her senpai know him? For just a moment, Jin's eyes flickered to her before focusing on his object of hatred. Itachi's face didn't show any interest, but she saw it in his eyes. He was just as curious as her.
Jin hesitated only a moment before saying a name softly, "Kaiya."
Aiyana felt her heart still. She hadn't spoken her mother's name since her death. She had hardly heard it at all in five years. There was the rare occasion when Haka would mutter about something her mother would or wouldn't do. It was few and far between and never caused her to lose her breath the way it did now. Her senpai knew her mother.
"Kaiya," Adrik repeated coldly. "I can tell just from your look, you loved her." And then he was grinning. "You were that samurai she had met."
Her senpai had loved her mother!
Jin pressed his lips together. "Get off of my doorstep!"
"Tzusaki-san, leave," Itachi suddenly ordered, cutting off whatever Adrik was about to say. "It is no longer necessary for you to accompany us."
To her surprise, Adrik didn't even argue. He laughed and nodded. "Very well, Uchiha-san. I have work to do anyways."
Jin remained tense until both Adrik and Tobi disappeared into the maze of Amegakure's streets. When they were no longer visible, his entire body relaxed and he let out a deep breath. His brown eyes scanned an extremely shocked Aiyana before giving her a lazy grin.
"So Ai-chan, what brings you to my doorstep tied to a Uchiha?" When she still only gapped at him in surprise, he turned his head to scan Itachi. "I suppose you're the older Uchiha. What's your name again? Itachi, am I right?"
"You are," Itachi confirmed.
"Well come on inside. I don't need more bugs in here than there already is."
Itachi stepped inside and tugged gently on the rope so Aiyana stumbled in after him. Jin gently closed the door behind them. Once it shut, Itachi untied the rope around his wrist and let it drop by Aiyana. She was still so clearly in a state of shock that he wasn't quite sure of what to say to her. Obviously finding out that this man was in love with her mother was something her mind couldn't quite wrap itself around.
Jin looked around questioningly before looking at Aiyana. "Where's your pup?"
Aiyana's face paled considerably. "Gone," she whispered.
"Shit," Jin muttered.
Sighing, he grabbed a hold of her shoulders, steering her through a hallway and to the right. Itachi followed. He walked into a drab, dirty, and claustrophobic kitchen. Aiyana had been placed at on a stool at the kitchen counter with a surprisingly clean glass of water placed in front of her. Jin leaned on the other side and watched Itachi enter and stand at the end of the counter, far enough away so nothing touched him.
"Akatsuki found her, huh?" Jin asked.
"Shame. I had hoped that I had a while still."
"You knew Akatsuki wanted me?" Aiyana asked softly.
"Yes," Jin admitted reluctantly.
"Then why didn't you tell me!" she snapped angrily.
"Would you have believe me, Ai-chan? They've always been too busy chasing around bijuus to become an imminent threat to you. I thought it would have been better to wait until they became threat so you didn't live in fear that someone wanted to capture you. And honestly, I don't understand why they have such a sudden interest in you."
Again, Aiyana paled. "I-I stole from them."
"You stole from them?" Jin repeated.
"And what have I told you about the dangers of spontaneously stealing?"
Aiyana chewed on her lip. Itachi remembered her first day at the Akatsuki base when she had taken him to steal Tobi's book. Spontaneous stealing was dangerous and bound to get the thief in trouble. She obviously hadn't realized how prophetic her words were.
"Haka made me do it!" she blurted out. It wasn't necessarily true, but, hey, whatever kept her out of trouble with Jin.
Jin raised an eyebrow and chuckled. "Haka? She should know better."
"It was important to her." She fidgeted and glanced down at her hands. Her eyes flickered to Itachi who seemed mildly surprised. She wasn't sure if it was because she was obviously being chastised for her stupidity or the news that Haka was the reason she stole the scroll. Either way, she shouldn't care much.
Her senpai sighed. "I suppose I should have at least warned Haka about Akatsuki. It was my mistake. Go take a shower, Ai-chan. I probably have some explaining to do when you get back."
Aiyana nodded and hopped off the stool. She paused by Itachi, eyes ablaze. "Don't hurt him," she threatened before dashing up around the corner up a hidden stairwell. Not moments afterwards, there was a shower running above them.
An awkward silence fell between Jin and Itachi. Jin tapped his fingers along his countertop and sighed remorsefully. "And somehow I end up with an Uchiha in my kitchen. Would you like something to drink Uchiha-san?"
Itachi tightened his lips and then nodded.
"You have a choice between beer and water." Jin smiled.
"Water," Itachi muttered.
Jin nodded and pulled out a cup and filled it with water from the tap. He passed it over to the Uchiha and grinned at him. "May I ask how Ai-chan lost Mingan?"
"I killed him," Itachi stated. He peered down into the glass where dust particles floated languidly on top. The cup looked like it hadn't been used or washed in days. Jin's face was unreadable and he felt compelled to add, "As was ordered of me."
"Ah," Jin exclaimed, "just like your clan?"
Itachi stiffened and brought his eyes back up to the older man. "What did you say?"
"Did you really think the elders in Konoha were the only ones to know of the Uchiha's planned coup d'état? They hid it well, but people have eyes and ears everywhere. Of course, there isn't much one can do with such information, so don't try to murder me like your eyes say you will. Besides, Aiyana would hate you even more if you harmed me." Jin continued to grin at him as if he was delighted by the frustration he was causing. "And has Aiyana figured it out yet? She's smart, you know."
Itachi squeezed the class in his hands. "She has suspicions and you are to tell her nothing." He loosened his grip and brought his red eyes up to meet Jin's playful brown eyes. The playfulness died immediately when he saw what Itachi intended to do. Immediately he dropped his eyes to the counter and frowned. "I should kill you."
"To keep your secret? I'm not the only thief who knows. As I've said, there's not much one can do with that kind of information. Blackmailing Konoha myself isn't an option because who would believe a mediocre shop owner from Amegakure? I could give the information to another country but I have no intentions of starting a war." Jin dared to bring his eyes up again and smiled. Itachi's eyes still burned red. "And you don't want Aiyana to hate you."
"What Shijo-san feels for me is no concern of mine," Itachi fumed. "How did you come about this information?"
"My career is information, Uchiha-san," Jin answered pleasurably, "And at that time, information is what your clan wanted. I was contracted to steal information from several files from ANBU on your clan for them."
Itachi was filled with surprise but managed to keep it from his face. The man in front of him was good enough to break into ANBU headquarters? No files had ever been stolen when he had worked on the Uchiha case, but it did not mean that they weren't copied. The shower above them turned off.
Jin tapped his fingers, catching Itachi's attention again. His light brown eyes held a tone of seriousness to them. He leaned in closer than Itachi would have liked and his voice dropped to something barely above a whisper. "I know you are not what you make yourself to be Uchiha-san and I do not trust you completely, but try to keep Ai-chan alive." He smiled at the young man. "For both of us."
Moments later Aiyana came back down the stairs. She seemed relieved to Itachi when she walked back into the kitchen and saw her senpai humming behind the counter. As she walked by he caught a whiff of the floral smelling products she had used. Her new clothes weren't covered in dirt and blood. Her eyes flickered momentarily to Itachi and she seemed almost self-conscious in her new clean state. Then her usually haughtiness returned to her.
"You should take a shower, Uchiha-san, considering how horrible you smell." She grinned at him. Itachi didn't move a muscle and her grin faded. "Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere."
When Itachi still didn't move, Jin jumped in clearly wanting some private time with his student. "Don't worry, Uchiha-san. I won't abandon my shop and she won't abandon me. And you do smell horrible."
With a curt nod, Itachi turned and headed towards the stairs.
"Shower is second door to the right!" Jin shouted after him. He turned to Aiyana and smiled. "He's certainly a talkative man."
Aiyana perked up a brow. "If that's what you think." A momentary silence fell between them and very carefully Aiyana said, "Jin…I want to know."
Jin sighed and turned around. "I know. Ai, did Haka ever say anything about me?"
Aiyana frowned and thought back to her first meeting with Jin. A grimy, back alley in Amegakure so many years ago and she had curled herself into a ball desperate to be invisible. He came right up and flashed her a gorgeous, solemn smile. He told her how he had seen her before selling stolen goods. Before when she was trying to keep her mother alive. Then he offered her his hand and told her that he could make her so much better at it.
"Only one thing," Aiyana muttered. "That day we met and you offered me your hand, she said I could trust you."
Jin nodded and turned back to her. Taking in a deep breath, he started his story.
"I grew up in the Land of Iron, grown and bred as a samurai. I wasn't very good at it. Being a samurai requires honesty, strength, loyalty, teamwork, and on and on and on. The life never gave me much pleasure and I'd often got in trouble with my captains for being lazy and incompetent despite my skill with a blade. So when I was eighteen, I defected and became a rogue.
"I fled south to the ninja lands and started my life as a thief. It was a few months later that another aging thief found me and decided to train me and give me his name. It was then that I found myself in a community of thieves. Everyone was your friend and your enemy at certain times. If captured, you were helped. If imposing on another's mark, you were captured. You had to know how to play game. And I learned quickly.
B"ut I got arrogant. I realized that I had made a mistake on a theft and instead of pulling out like I should have, I decided to push through. It fell apart and I was injured and forced to flee. So I ran and ran until I found a run-down, unoccupied shack. Except it wasn't unoccupied. There was a woman with the most beautiful and alarming gold eyes I had ever seen and in her arms was a child. She was terrified of me, at least, until I fainted."
Aiyana smiled even though she felt some kind of hope in her deflate. Somewhere she hoped that her true father had been Jin, especially since he knew her mother. But if she had already been born by the time they first met, there was no way her hopes could be true. Jin continued.
"Kaiya wasn't much of a healer. The only thing she could do was clean the wounds, wrap them, and hope they healed. She was always wary of me and extremely protective of you. I could tell that someone had hurt her before. But she was beautiful and so soft hearted. I healed more quickly than I cared to and insisted that I stay a few weeks in order to repay her. She tried to deny me but I was persistent and often found myself sleeping outside. I would do shopping and other odd jobs for her while she cared for you. It wasn't long before the nearby village became suspicious of me and associated me with the demon woman.
"A few weeks after that, I left but promised to return. And I did. Every few weeks I would come back to Kaiya and help her with mundane tasks. Eventually she became to open up to me and one day, she told me everything."
Aiyana felt herself stiffen. The heaviness that everything held felt like a warning. She glanced away from Jin to see Itachi standing at the bottom of the stairs. His face was solemn and bordered by his long straight black hair that she noticed wasn't held back and was wet. He held her gaze for a moment and then gave a gentle nod. Encouragement. He was encouraging her.
With a shaky breath, she looked back at Jin, "what did she tell you?"
Okay so about Jin. He was a character that I wasn't planning on introducing until the sequel but since I'm not entirely sure there will be a sequel I decided to bring him in now. He's obviously more of a father figure than Adrik ever was and is Aiyana's mentor.
Now about Jin's claim on knowing Itachi's history. I'll admit it's a bit of a stretch but at times of war (or almost war) it would have made sense for the clan to employ someone not directly associated with them (in case that person was caught) or their enemy to steal and gather information. Jin would have been extremely skilled as a thief at that time. The time of the Uchiha massacre was just before Aiyana's mother passed away so in the years before that Jin was used as an informant for the Uchiha clan. He actually has a few documents in the shop he owns that he had stolen from Konoha and the Uchiha themselves.
Anyways I just wanted to give more background on Aiyana's mother. In the next chapter there will be more background on Adrik's relationship with her mother.