I wrote this back in July, a special request by Scarlett71177 for her birthday. My first ever crossover fic.
Many thanks to Vnfan for the support and beta. All recognizable Twilight characters are the property of Stephenie Meyer; all Naruto characters, locations, and concepts are the property of Masashi Kishimoto. No copyright infringement is intended.
He had traveled far into the forest in pursuit of the strongest blood. Although that one buck had caught his eye and he'd been determined to add its strength to his own, the cost had been more than he expected. When he had brought it down, and was sinking his razor teeth into its neck to end its life, only then had he sensed the deer's intelligence…a noble purpose as guardian of these woods and its people. He had felt a flash of guilt and tried to check himself, to let the beast go, but it was too late. His thirst had been too great.
Sated but feeling he now owed this land a debt of respect, Edward walked along slowly, keeping to the shadows out of habit. He was dressed as inconspicuously as possible, in a tan-colored shirt and pants, sandals, and sedge hat. Bella had laughed, saying he looked like a cross between a rice farmer and Luke Skywalker, but blending in was important. From his studies Edward knew that rural Japan was steeped in supernatural mysteries – of ghosts and animal spirits and ninja dropping silently from the trees – but he had to believe that any farmer or villager he might encounter in this outland had never seen a vampire in the flesh, so to speak. Caution was always advised.
It was still very early in the morning. The sun was just coming up and it was so beautiful and quiet. The uniquely shaped clouds drifting in a perfect blue sky, the tall deciduous trees that were just beginning to turn from green to orange-red. And Bella was missing it. She hadn't been thirsty, and had chosen instead to stay behind in their room at the inn to write to Renesmee and Jacob. It was her only option to stay connected; there was no such thing as cell phone service in this remote part of the country.
As he walked, the trail Edward had been following merged with another, and then another, until the widening path emptied out onto a dirt road. Up ahead, looming in the distance, was a cliff into which a series of faces had been carved – rather like Mount Rushmore, except this facade included the image of a woman. More immediately, however, were walls connected by a huge green gate. The gate was open, with a hiragana symbol painted on each door in bold red. Together the symbols read as retreat, referring no doubt to the village within.
Edward was intrigued. This place had not been labeled on any map he had scanned, nor had it been mentioned by their innkeeper. He had indeed gone far into the forest. So far, in fact, that it seemed he was in another world entirely.
As he approached the gate, one of the posted guards called out to him.
"What is your business here?"
In flawless Japanese, Edward replied, "I am a traveler, just passing through."
"Step closer, please," said the guard.
Edward obliged and stood calmly as they looked him over. The symbol etched into the bands they wore on their foreheads was unfamiliar to him, but by their dress and demeanor the men were obviously military. Their thoughts were orderly and disciplined too, both noticing the color of his eyes at almost exactly the same moment. The term bloodline limit surged into each man's mind, although Edward did not understand what it meant.
"What clan are you from?" The second guard squinted to get a sharper look.
"I have no clan," said Edward.
The man stared at him. "Your eyes."
"The result of a special diet," Edward said silkily, his persuasive tone quickly melting all suspicion from their thoughts.
"Welcome to Konohagakure," said the first guard. "It's early so much of the village is still asleep. But if you're looking for breakfast there are probably a few stalls open."
Edward pretended to listen carefully as the guard gave him directions to the shops and food stalls, then thanked the men and bowed before he moved on. He had no goal or agenda; he merely wanted to explore this village that was so well hidden and policed, and to discover what made it a retreat.
It took longer to walk the village than Edward had expected. Once inside the gate he had started with the left side, keeping the fortress-like wall within view as he'd paced out the perimeter. Family homes accounted for most of the buildings on the outer edge, with municipal buildings, mercantile shops, and food stalls concentrated in the center.
The structures were typically several stories high and built almost entirely of wood, painted white and set off with brightly painted roof tiles. It was a charming place, and what was more, it had a peace about it that Edward could read…as clearly as if he were reading the collected thoughts of its inhabitants. But there was still more.
It was a retreat, yes, but not an Eden. The peaceful thoughts were interlaced with longing and regret. This sanctuary had come from great sacrifice, and Edward saw the painful proof for himself a while later when he wandered into a vast cemetery. It was well-kept with flowers at nearly every marker, the rows upon rows laid out with admirable precision. After a quick calculation, Edward estimated they numbered in the thousands.
And a man was there, quite some distance away, leaning against a dark stone monument and reading a book. Or was he? His mind was far more disciplined – prepared – than those of the gate guards, but despite the considerable control he exerted over his thoughts, Edward could still sense information that surprised him greatly.
He knew I was approaching long before he could see me…long before I saw him. More importantly, even before I could smell his blood. And he knows I am not alive...
Edward was impressed.
Searching for cracks in his mental defense, Edward discovered his name was Hatake Kakashi but not much else. The clean, efficient lines of his mind ran parallel to the sad musings of his heart, the two kept apart by sheer force of will. It was the same impression Edward had received from the entire village: serenity balanced by profound loss. How many of these grave markers were his family and friends?
Curious, Edward wanted to meet him. The man did not appear to move in the slightest upon his approach, and even when he stood before him there was no acknowledgement.
"Good morning," said Edward, holding his voice to a reverent hush in honor of the surroundings.
"Heyah," Kakashi drawled.
Edward detected a game of wits and was tempted to smile. Here was a vigilant, strong-minded man who knew he was in the presence of the undead, and yet he slouched against the memorial and answered casually as if he had no care in the world.
He presented quite the picture. A wild shock of white hair, a dark mask covering the lower half of his face, and fingerless black gloves with metal plates covering the backs. One eye never left his book while the other, marked with a long scar, remained closed. The sleeveless shirt he wore revealed the sort of lean muscle development that can only be acquired through a lifetime of regimented training, and there was a single tattoo on his left deltoid. Edward did not recognize this symbol either, but its placement and simplicity suggested an elite affiliation. It was unlikely this man was older than thirty.
"How did you know I was here…in your village?"
"How do you know that I knew?" Kakashi said, his tone indifferent.
Despite the lack of an outward reaction, Edward knew his command of Japanese had been unexpected. It was easy enough to explain; he'd chosen to pick it up back in the 1940s to facilitate his treatment of radiation victims after the second world war. But Edward doubted that information would be consistent with reality in this place.
Kakashi had yet to look away from his book, and Edward craned his neck to read the title on the cover.
"Make Out Violence, is it?" Although he couldn't see it, Edward knew that blood had instantly stained the man's cheeks beneath the mask. "Sounds like my honeymoon," he added wryly.
Kakashi made no answer and Edward knew why. His thoughts had momentarily lost their armor, first questioning Edward's youthful appearance and marriage, then reflecting on his own younger self. He was thinking of someone now…a girl from his past. His memories of her…even her name…were submerged in guilt, so deeply that Edward could not reach them. His feelings for this girl were strong and unchanged by time, but tied to this place. She was part of why he was here, keeping lonely watch over this cemetery.
Edward was filled with compassion. He had been lucky enough to experience the glory of love, but would never forget the pitiless agony when he thought himself separated from it forever. The man before him was far braver than he had been, willing to continue on without his love…without that which gave life its fullest meaning.
"Did she ever know how much you loved her?" Edward questioned him gently, compelled beyond propriety to demonstrate his sympathy.
"I don't feel like telling you that," said Kakashi.
"Fair enough," said Edward. "But know that I am truly sorry for your loss." He glanced around before adding, "For all your losses."
Kakashi finally closed his book, tucking it into a pouch slung toward the back of his hip before folding his arms and leaning back against the stone monument.
"Heyah," he drawled again, as if he was in need of a nap. "I imagine you have a lot of familiarity with death."
The words kyuketsuki neko, nukekubi, and jubokko were in his mind – all entities from Japanese folklore, all drank human blood.
His actions remained leisurely, almost lazy, and yet Edward instinctively interpreted the behavior as a deceptive strategy. Kakashi was biding his time. Studying the intruder. Assessing the threat. Preparing to strike if necessary.
Edward had nothing to fear, of course. No human could outrun him, overpower him, or outthink him. He was the ultimate killing machine. But he was beginning to understand how – among other humans, at least – Kakashi might very well be lethal, and Edward grew ever more curious how this man knew what he knew.
"Yes, I know death well. It is the ironic companion of all who are themselves immortal," Edward replied. Once again he received no reaction and it was maddening. "I must confess…I am surprised that you are not more…surprised by me. How is it that you seem to know what I am?"
It was at that moment Kakashi finally revealed his other eye – the one kept hidden behind that scarred lid. It was a deep red, not unlike those of vampires who drank human blood, and incorporated a strange black design. There was something unsettling about it. Something penetrating…primeval. It was as if the eye could see into Edward's soul – if he'd had one. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before, and what was more, he could no longer read Kakashi's mind.
"You have no physical chakra flow of your own, but I can see the channels that carried it before your death," said Kakashi easily. "There is a trace of physical energy – looks like an animal signature – but it's fading."
Edward was fascinated from both a medical and paranormal perspective. "That eye…what is it?"
"Mangekyo Sharingan," said Kakashi.
Edward struggled to translate the words in context. Color wheel copy eye? The concept was unknown to science.
"What else can it see?" Edward let the sedge hat slip from his head as if that would somehow make him easier to view.
"You still have great spiritual energy and it is light, not dark," Kakashi said.
"My father would love to talk to you." Edward smiled broadly at first but then it slowly disappeared. "So…although you know I can be an instrument of death to humans, you do not fear me." It was somewhere between a question and a statement.
Hands in his pockets, Kakashi leaned his head back against the stone and closed both his eyes. "A shinobi does not fear death."
With that eye closed Kakashi's thoughts become accessible once more and Edward nearly laughed. He considers himself superior to me in a straight fight. There's no way. He's no match for my speed or my strength. There was something about that much confidence that set Edward on edge.
"You believe you can beat me in hand-to-hand combat?" Edward allowed his smile to show.
Kakashi opened his normal eye. "Heyah."
"Then I propose a friendly contest, the loser being the first to give or fall," said Edward. "Of course, I will take care not to draw your blood – for obvious reasons."
Sighing audibly, Kakashi pushed off from the stone monument and reached into the same pouch in which he had placed his book, withdrawing two black daggers. He handed one to Edward, handle first.
"It won't be much of a contest if you don't," Kakashi said dryly.
Edward was astounded by the man's arrogance.
"All right," said Edward, removing his sedge hat and rolling up his sleeves before taking the offered weapon. He put his finger in the loop and spun the blade, the way Jasper had taught him with a revolver. "But I should warn you, I am quite skilled."
"I should warn you it won't matter." Kakashi's voice was as smooth as ice.
With that otherworldly eye upon him once more, Edward no longer had the benefit of reading Kakashi's mind. Nevertheless, he was ready and signaled for the fight to begin.
For the first few minutes it was mostly feints and lunges. Testing each other. And although Edward had been incrementally increasing his speed, Kakashi was countering without hesitation. It was amazing. Strike for strike, dodge for dodge. Edward tried moves he had seen in the scores of martial arts movies Emmett had made him watch, and the clinking sound of blade upon blade filled the cemetery.
Eventually, so did the sound of Kakashi's labored breathing. He was fast, yes, and very strong, but Edward had one key advantage: he would never feel fatigue. It was only a matter of time.
Kakashi stepped back for a moment to wipe his brow and adjust his mask, saying under his breath, "What a guy."
Edward smiled. "I told you, it's no use. You can't injure me, you can't outlast me. Even if you had the strength to take me apart, the longer you fight the weaker you become."
Those words seemed to relight the fuse and Kakashi charged once more, unleashing a furious series of attacks and counterattacks.
During the next rain of blows, the fine edge of the dagger Edward held glanced off the metal plate on Kakashi's right glove and sliced through the fabric. Only superhuman reflexes kept it from cutting into his flesh as well, and it was too close for comfort. Edward had no desire to actually cause harm, so he increased his own power, bearing down on his opponent in order to bring their little contest to a close.
Kakashi attempted to turn but was caught and slammed against the monument, Edward's arm around his neck in a chokehold.
"Forgive me, my friend, but you're nearly spent and I prefer a bloodless end," said Edward. "As I told you, it takes a power greater than earth-bound man to beat a vampire."
As if a rug had been pulled out from under him, Edward suddenly fell forward, himself smashed against the pillar of stone. A block of wood thumped to the ground at his feet. There was a fleeting sound behind him in the same instant, like the rush of a thousand chirping birds, and Edward could see a blue arc of light reflected in the polished surface of the memorial. The sharp point of a fiery-hot blade was poised at his neck, ready to separate his head from his body.
"How about lightning?" Kakashi drawled in his ear. "Give or fall?"
"GIVE! Give. I have a wife and daughter, and would very much like to see them again," Edward replied.
Although Kakashi released him and stepped back, he seemed to wait until he was certain Edward had truly given up before extinguishing the lightning and allowing his arm to return to normal. He then held out his hand and Edward accepted it without reservation.
"Not bad for a dead boy limited to taijutsu," Kakashi said, wiping his brow with the heel of his glove. He stepped to the foot of the memorial and sat down again, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. It was almost as if the contest had never happened.
The Sharingan shuttered, Edward knew the other man's thoughts once more. They were old memories again, this time of a boy. A dead boy with a missing eye…
They sat and talked a while longer, until there were no shadows at all and the sun was inescapable. Despite the sedge hat and long sleeves, Edward knew he was casting prisms in every direction. Bella was waiting and it was time to go, time to leave this village – this quiet retreat – in the past.
And so Edward left his new acquaintance just where he'd found him, alone with his discipline and the sad musings of heart. For his part, Edward was left with questions.
Which of them was truly dead – the one with a beating heart forever broken by lost love, or the one with a lifeless heart filled with love? Had it been terribly irresponsible to believe that Kakashi could not kill him? How will Aro react when he discovers what happened, and knows there is a place in the world where vampires do not reign supreme?
Yes, he had traveled far into the forest in pursuit of the strongest blood, and he couldn't wait to tell Jasper he had fought with a ninja.