It rattled against the cage. I looked at the raven haired boy, laying on the cold concrete ground of the dirty alleyway and smiled to myself. He was positively scared out of his wits. Was it the blood? I only knew that it wanted a piece of him now. The beast growled and grumbled at the sight of the hunted shivering. It was such a nice feeling: fear.
"H…How…How do you know my name!?" The boy's whine made me smile deep inside. This fear, this wonderful feeling, was something I never managed to get from him millennia ago. Yet now here I was, scaring the wits out of Sasuke. The damn prideful Uchiha was finally nothing more than a filthy maggot at my feet, holding barely back his desire to cry for pity and mercy. Isn't it right Sasuke? You want me to spare you don't you? Why don't you beg me to!?
"I know a lot of things, Sasuke-kun." I smile sweetly, but he moves back. Is my smile that gentle that you have to recoil, Sasuke? You should call me Dobe, Teme. Maybe you should just so that I can finally put you in your place.
"Where's Sakura!?" He exclaims. Oh, did you get your courage back, Sasuke? Why are you putting your hand in your jacket? A knife? It's nothing but a simple butterfly knife, Sasuke-kun: you can't harm me with that. I'm not even going to feel it, but if it makes you more at ease then please, use it!
"Sakura-chan you say? I don't know!" I reply, cheesy smile on my face as my arms move behind my head. My right leg moves forwards and backwards on the concrete, this is just so nostalgic. You just need to cross your arms, Sasuke. Stand with your back alongside the alleyway's wall and look at me with a gruff stare. Come on Sasuke, it's not that difficult. I've had millennia of time to rehearse our meeting once more. You just need to do the same.
Wait, maybe you want a river and an actual red bridge? I don't know if New York has one, but if you really insist…I shake my head out of the gutter, as I realize he's looking at me with disbelief.
"You were there last night with that Giovanni! Now she's gone, doesn't answer her phone and isn't even at work! You fucker better tell me where the hell you brought her!" It rattles. Me, a fucker? Are you insulting me, Sasuke? Is this a challenge for supremacy, duck-butt, butt-hair, emo-prick, Uke boy, sasu-gay? Are you challenging me, me!? I'm the upper dog, the alpha wolf like Kiba loved to say. I'm better than you and you must bow to me or die. Do you get it? Do you understand me now?
My hands are already circling his neck and constricting him, by the time I gain my senses back. It is a cunny son of a bitch. It took the moment and acted. I reel him in, but the damage is done already. Sasuke's knife is sticking from my sides, having pierced my beautiful shirt and jacket. Yet guess what: I'm not bleeding. Dead men don't bleed after all. This isn't a chidori to the chest. This isn't a kunai. This isn't even an explosive tag. It's a frigging knife.
A knife made of metal, designed to kill men and women and animals and living beings. I am nothing of the sort. I am something else, something higher…and you must learn, Sasuke-kun, not to make me angry.
My muscles move before I give them the order, and his back hits the wall of the alleyway with enough strength to make me hear his chest pressure his lungs, the air wheezing out is such a wonderful tune! It brings delight to my chest. No. Not to my chest, to its chest. It is happy, it purrs and wants more: I don't.
My hands let him go, and I look at him with disdain as I remove the knife.
"Tut-Tut Sasuke-kun, I'm going to go and save Sakura-chan. You know, that's what friends and teammates do! But no, you have to go and play the sour puss." I shake my head. Why does he never understand? "So you coming with me or not?"
I move again and this time, I hear him ranting for air. Maybe I might have struck him a bit too hard. His neck is probably going to bruise eventually. Maybe one of his ribs is cracked? Maybe. I can hope on it, and hope is such a fickle thing that it isn't even funny how it doesn't work when you need it to work. I keep my leisured pace alongside the sidewalk, looking at the windows of the nearby shops. I can see Sasuke behind me: he follows me warily a few steps back. Is he limping?
I didn't break his legs. I just pushed him around a bit. Stop looking at me like you're scared of me, Sasuke. I'm not a scary person. I'm the Dobe, you know? The one you think is worthless…but I'm not. Now you follow me meekly, when once you ran away because I was too powerful for you. I was a threat to your supremacy, wasn't I? Now I'm stronger than you. I've always been…you were just blinded by your arrogance to see it, to see me, to see what I really was, what I could have become. Why Sasuke? Why couldn't you trust me?
Maybe I was a hot head. Maybe I was worthless. Maybe I was nothing more than a nuisance in your eyes…but stop looking at me with downcast eyes! Does Sakura mean so much to you that you'd follow me unwillingly? Come on Sasuke…call me Dobe.
My body stops on its own. In front of me the metallic gate of the Giovanni's warehouse for the Import and Export of fish is wide open. They're expecting me, of course. Sasuke is nervous now. Maybe he's planning on sitting this one out. Scaredy-cat, you're not the Sasuke I know of, right?
"What are you scared of, scaredy-cat?" I mock him. It brings back memories, doesn't it? The snake slithering with its green scales, the tree tops basking in the warmth of the sunlight…the blood seeping down my battered body, the first show, the first proof…that I was stronger than you, Sasuke.
"Sakura's in there?" He asks, trying to regain his calm. It's too late for that Sasuke. I know you're scared. You're weak and I'm not… but worry not! I'll save Sakura-chan for you!
"Hn." Did my Uchiha grunt come out right, Sasuke? "Course not." I add. "I'd give it to the Giovanni to play fair, but I'm sure they don't have her here." I move, and the next moment we are met with the presence of five armed thugs, with trench-coats and katanas hanging loosely in their hands, the tip of their coats flapping because of the wind. This seems so much like one of those dirty cliché movies that it's not even funny. They don't have guns. They know that guns are worthless.
"Mister Naruto." The head of the fives speak, "In the name of the Don Gianfranco Giovanni I humbly welcome you to our meager establishment." He's the head of the small group, or so it seems.
"I don't cut the ass-licking," I reply growling, "You have something of mine, I want it." I could probably kill four and keep the fifth alive long enough to get the information out of them, but I know them well and if they think even an inch like Frankie, then it's not going to be easy at all.
"Miss Fields is currently held as a guest in some safe and secure place, Mister Naruto." The man replies. Damn, he even has a pair of sunglasses. How much more film can this become? All that is needed now is just a shoot-out, possibly with cops coming over with their sirens blazing. I just want Sakura. Give me Sakura and I might not kill you all. Wait a moment. Miss Fields? Fields? Is Sakura's surname Fields?
"I'll find her, you know." I reply. "If I have to destroy half a city block to find her, then I'll do it."
"Mister Naruto…you do not wish harm to befall Miss Fields, do you?" the threat hangs in the air for a second, before the air start to turn charring hot. Sasuke behind me starts to choke, gasping as he moves away to get air. The five in front of me aren't that lucky.
My hands are already in their clawed forms, as they move through the chest of the first man. I feel his heart stop beating in a second, and as my hand is removed, my fangs erupt and start to drink from the man's neck. I suck him dry: his blood feels so warm and good as it slides down my throat. It reaches the beast, and the beast yells in happiness and demands more…tonight, I'm willing to oblige it a bit more. The katanas move in the air and I feel like the day of years ago… when the samurais rounded up on me.
A menace to the order, they yelled. A problem to the system, something that wasn't meant to be. The hunters of old didn't know us. They didn't fear us. They didn't think we were big shots. They came in waves, they ordered our deaths. They thought they could control us. But I am not normal. I was never normal. Chakra? Who needs chakra when you have blood? The blood boils and disappears, the magic funnels and moves through my pores, and the strength of a thousand men is now mine.
My fist backhands one of the mortals, and he flies and flies backwards until with a sickening crunch he falls against a nearby building. This is not normal. This is not normality. The others are unfazed, and charge at me, thinking they can wound me. I indulge them. Their blades pierce my flesh, but no pain, none at all do I feel. I flex my muscles, and the blades crack and break. I laugh. I laugh at their face as my claws swipe one's head off neatly. They're pretty sharp aren't they? Blood is everywhere, splattered on the ground. The remaining retreat, or try to.
I'm not letting my toys leave. I'm not done. My laughter echoes in the night air, as I pierce the back of one of the two remaining, while the last one is held by the ankle. I pull with strength and fling him in the air like he's nothing more than a doll, and then I smash him on the ground. His head splatters like a melon, and yet I don't care.
This is what I can do. This is what I am. I am the beast of the night, Dracula was never this ferocious, but I am not a Vampire…I'm a Kindred. I'm a being of darkness and treachery. I'm an Antediluvian: my powers are second to none. I look at the one that is still alive barely. My hand did pierce his back, but it appears he can still rant and gasp for air.
"Where. Is. Sakura?" I ask with a little smile.
"I…I…Don't…" Then he screams, as my fangs settle deep within his neck. He didn't know. That was a pity. I ate him nevertheless. The blood now fills my belly so much that it stops rattling. For now it is sated. It takes a moment and it growls again. I always forget…the moment the blood stops sliding down my throat it hungers again.
My cellphone rings once more. Damn you Frankie, stop calling me. I don't want to answer you: I don't want to tell you that I need your help because you won't give it to me.
"Naruto." The voice is Frankie alright. He takes a deep breath, before whispering, "New York needs to burn, so that the ground may grow fertile once more. If you destroy the Giovanni, the Falcone will move in and they are Anarchs. The prince will send the Invictus archons, but the Circle of the Cronus will try and claim the area of Central Park from the Oberlochs with the Prince busy elsewhere. If that happens, the Oberlochs will try and move against the Prince. They've been piling up forces to do that for years…New York is a gunpowder, has been for half a century, since you walked in…tensions are going to explode. So…Sakura's at her apartment, held there by my aunt. She's a kindred with Domination…and has probably blood tied everyone to her who lives there. Kill her."
I take a deep breath. I don't need to listen to him. He might be lying. He's always been a liar. It still hurts he had to rattle to the prince and then leave the city. Furthermore, I don't know who I have to kill. He's saying I have to kill her, but who? Sakura or his aunt? I understand his words don't come without weight. He's doing me a favor, but at the same time he's doing himself a favor. That's how it works. That's how it will always work.
I don't know what to do: I know that Sakura is so close and I can't let her go. He murmurs the address of the house, and then he closes the communication. I know where to go, but is it a trap? Is this the real path to save Sakura?
I'm afraid. What if Sakura never existed to begin with? I just saw her one night, maybe she's not real.
"What the fuck are you!?" The scream comes from behind me, and I turn. Oh right. Sasuke is there. He's looking at me with shock and fear…you're looking at me like you looked at Orochimaru, right? You fear me Sasuke…you do well in that: I have to be feared.
"A friend…" I reply quietly, moving closer. "One who knows where Sakura-chan is, Sasuke-kun…so follow me or leave. None of my business." I want you to follow me Sasuke. Why can't you see I'm your only way to Sakura? But if you want to leave her, then go. It's not like I'm going to keep you around. I made no promise to bring you back this time. Did I? No I didn't.
I start to walk again. I'll get there before the night is over. I have to. He follows. He's hesitant but he follows me. Maybe he's starting to think that the blades simply didn't hit me: I'm not bleeding, one should bleed after being hit by Katanas in the chest right? One should be dead after that.
"We could take my bike." He suggests and I stop. My eyes turn to him, and I look at him. For a real second, I look at him. He's wearing a leather jacket, a Metallica shirt, a pair of jeans. He's wearing snickers. His neck has started to turn a light purple from the bruises I inflicted on him. He's looking at me with fear, and I smile. He's becoming useful, finally.
There is a moment, in one's life, where the desire to snap comes to everyone. It's a thing that ties deep within one's own soul, since it's the same for humans and vampires and kindreds. Even the gods snap every now and then for some sort of reason. Think the fickleness of Aphrodite or of Zeus. They did overreact more times than not. Aphrodite was a Daeva after all, and Zeus was a frigging mage. How they convinced the populations to worship them as gods is something I didn't care to find out. I snapped too, a lot.
In Pompei, I destroyed a city and was forced to make a volcano erupt to cover my tracks. Killed a lot of people I shouldn't have, but at least I kept it low. This time, I wasn't on the verge of snapping. I looked at Sasuke and smiled.
"Let's move then." I had nearly tried to kill him before, I was still debating whether to kill him or not, and then…then now we're working together. This is the Teme alright: I can't hate him and I can't love him. I don't know where to place him.
Probably in the 'you piss me off' category.
His bike is old, cranky, second rate. Once I rode on a recently built Harley Davidson together with a pack of Brujah. I shoved half of them in the ground with a nice friendly kick to the head when they tried to steal my bike. It was still stolen the next day, but I did get it back in the end.
"Drive." I mutter: all that I need is to simply hold my legs to the sides of the bike. There's not even a real need for me to hold on to Sasuke: I'm strong enough. I think I'm going to need my hands too, if the alarms going off around us are of any indications.
One might think that Kindreds, for being long thinking manipulative persons, take a long time to respond to threats. One should do better by drinking bleach and antifreeze: Kindreds have something called contingencies thought through. I've been here for at least fifty years…the contingencies will be unleashed faster than a bullet can leave its gun.
"Don't stop!" I yell at Sasuke, the sirens growing closer. He twists through the traffic like he was born in it. Cars honk at us, but we don't stop. The flaring of the police lights is met with the start of the gunshots. "Keep to the main streets!" I bark out loud as Sasuke attempts to get through an alley. In the dark, the predators lurk. In the dark, things can unfold faster. As long as we keep to the public, to the main street, sure, civilian might die…but the big guns can't be brought out.
I didn't think the Prince would stoop as low as to ignore the Masquerade for this one. I'm just rescuing one tiny woman from the grasp of a Mafia family. There's nothing behind this. Is control over me that important? Is it really necessary to send the sheriff, the executioner and the archons to settle me? I survived Danzo's ploys. I survived Akatsuki. I survived the Fifth shinobi war. I survived the hunts, the crusades, revolutions and wars. I'm just being selfish once: let me be selfish, please.
Let me cling to what remains of my selfishness. Give her to me and I'll leave. I'll take Sasuke too, because he's a bastard, but he's mine. I can't speak as Sasuke screams. The axe wielding sheriff swings his instrument of doom like he means it, and my only choice is grabbing Sasuke and jumping up, high in the sky.
He's still yelling when we land on a nearby roof. His screaming doesn't die for a while, as I run with him between my arms. I fought tooth and nail for you once, and in the end you chose to die after taking all that was precious to me away from me. I'm not letting you go Sasuke. You. Are. Mine.
When I land, when my feet finally touch the ground in front of a seemingly normal brick building I look at Sasuke.
"This is Sakura's house?" He nods numbly, probably still trying to catch his bearings at being hoisted and brought around half of New York at a speed he had never thought humanly possible before. I don't care much, except saving Sakura. Once, as a Shinobi, I was rash. I had the Kyuubi stuck in my gut that would heal me if I got too wounded. Once I was stupid. Then I became smarter, I started to plan and take my time into entering situations. Then I became strong. Once I was strong enough it didn't matter to me: I could pass through traps and enemies with ease…
So I walked in smashing the door.
It was a reinforced steel door, hidden behind a seemingly normal façade of being made of wood. Did I care? Not much, I admit. To my delight, the house wasn't empty. Another Kindred was looking at me with fright in her eyes. The desire to escape was all over her trembling body…yet there she stood. Had she thought about gluing herself to the ground to withstand me? Her eyes flickered in annoyance and my beast roared. Trying to catch me off-guard? Domination won't work.
It rattles. It thirsts. I comply. My fangs shine in the hallway as I near her. They deeply carve themselves in the woman's neck as I avidly drink her blood until nothing remains. The blood is a powerful toxin: her soul looks at me with expectant eyes and I stare at her with anger. You took my Sakura. I'm taking your chance at redemption. She screams. Her soul screams in a mute horror show as I devour her. You're mine now.
I need Sakura. Where is she? Tell me where she is! The soul flinches back in annoyance: I didn't save her, why should she comply?
Because I can harm her. Because I know her. Because I have known things since the beginning of time, since Cain chose me over someone else.
I was the thirteenth.
I am the call of Armageddon. Did she really think she could hide Sakura from me? Right now the shackles of blood that bind her servants are falling. I see a black blur pass by me: Sasuke, climbing the stairs quickly. I follow behind: for once I'll let the Teme speak. We work well together, isn't that right Uchiha? Why couldn't you see that millennia ago? Do you know how much would have changed?
Maybe I'd still be a vampire...but at least I wouldn't have had to see Konoha burn because of your last, stupid, attempt at war.
That's in the past Sasuke. Don't worry. I'm not going to make you do the same mistake again. Ever.
The door opens, and I look at another figure moving to embrace Sasuke. Sakura. There you are.
She's crying without control, sobbing on his shoulder. He's trying his best to comfort her, but I see his worry. He looks at me after a moment and I know why he's worried. What am I to them? A stranger that entered a bar one night, and the next sent them over a world of chaos and shock? The sirens are blaring through the night's silence and I know we can't stay.
"Sakura, we have to go." Sasuke mutters, grabbing her by the hand. It's then that she sees me and recoils, like I struck her. I haven't struck you Sakura. I never hit you, not even once.
"Why is he here!?" She basically screams in the night. "He was…He…"
"He says he's a friend Sakura." Sasuke replies, "And we have to leave. Believe me."
I nod curtly, before whispering. "You two better hold on tight."
"Wha…" Sasuke doesn't get to finish the sentence. I'm on them, grabbing them and pulling them on my shoulders as I dash out of the second floor. I hear them scream again and I chuckle to myself. The window shatters upon my passage as I jump outside, sailing in the air. Am I hearing things right?
Is that the noise of a chopper coming at us?
The twirling noises of cingulate tanks reach my ears too, and I feel like those nights in the trenches, when the Panzers of the Nazi pushed through. The Prince's power comes from his connections. His power comes from the ability to call upon in defense of the domain any Kindred that lives within the domain itself.
Just like a Hokage can call any shinobi, so too can the Prince call any Kindred to assist…and some Kindreds have far more than enough power to call for help from very important places.
White phosphorous, once more popping down from the sky like it was mere fireworks going off. Fifty years of planning contingencies in one of the most controversial areas of North America. New York must burn, Frankie? I'm starting to think you can glimpse the future, and I don't like the thought at all. The explosions that reap through the area leave flames that can't be extinguished. The tank's shells pierce through the air with deafening roars sending splinters of concrete down when they hit nearby buildings.
The streets are evacuated, but it isn't over at all.
They're still there. They might not be as fast as me, but they can keep going for longer. The sun will eventually rise. I'm going to need a damn way out of here and fast. Sakura has started crying again, she's lumped over my shoulder like a bag, and she's crying. I should stop and comfort her, but I can't.
I don't know what to say, so I say nothing and I keep on running.
We leave behind New York, burning, and only when I finally stop do I realize just how far I've gone. New York is but a speck in the distance, and the beast…it rattles for blood.
I overused it: I know I should have held the chains of blood tightly around me. I might have even won a confrontation against that sort of army back there, but would it have been worth it? Sakura and Sasuke would have died.
I can't let them die.
Mine to protect, mine to keep safe, mine to nourish and talk to. Nobody else can have them. They're mine. Finally I can speak with Sakura. The Teme never was good at talking after all.
"I know you're shocked." I mutter, and the two look at me with dead eyes. They saw too many explosions to even think anything was normal, probably the only reason they haven't slumped over to sleep is because I'm here, and the adrenaline has yet to abate. "But there's a very good explanation for what's going on."
They don't reply. They just look at me, puzzled maybe, if the half-millimeter of twitching in Sakura's lip is of any indication.
"The reason is…I'm a Vampire."
The Masquerade is broken. No apocalypse comes, no looming horde of Sabbat cultists…no anarchs. After all I just said three words, four if we consider 'I' and 'Am' separate. That's the cue I suppose, because the next moment they both slump down on the ground, fainted from the exhaustion.
Good to know.
It is said that, when an Antediluvian wakes and walks, chaos and natural hazards sprout. The massive explosion of fire in New York will be considered, in the years to come, as yet another proof of this theory. Never mind it was done with white phosphorous, artillery shells, mercenary units, assault helicopter and Vampires.
Still, this didn't matter.
Naruto Uzumaki had his teammates back; stolen from a burning down New York, brought away from danger and into the safety of his arms.
It rattled against the cage known as Humanity, and as yet another bar of its prison disappeared, madness encroached once more on the mind of the Antediluvian known as the Rokudaime Hokage of old. As blood left its surrounding, the beast purred in happiness nevertheless. It was split, it was divided.
Blood was given and its powers would tie others to itself. One day, one day it would be free.
It cannot die what can forever lie, and with strange eons, even death may die.
The beast slept. For that night, it would sleep and leave the man to his fantasies. The blood and his emotions would do the rest. Its powers were what had brought forth Sasuke and Sakura, in the subconscious of the blond the two were what he needed to be happy…for the beast, it was what he needed to be destroyed and set her free.
Enslaved by blood, broken by the curse, they will follow him. It will rattle against the cage yet again, and will keep on doing so.
The Beast known as Hunger.
The Beast known as Thirst.
The Beast known as Hatred.
The Beast known as Humanity.
"Survival is all that we are. Survival is the height of Humanity. Anything else pales in comparison to it. Do you understand me, Sasuke, Sakura?"
"Good…let's go now...we have a ship to catch: We'll be going to meet an old friend of mine, in Genoa."
And with those words, the three were gone. Kindred never forget, after all.
This was an attempted one-shot that became a three-shot I suppose.
There is a sentence taken straight out of Lovecraft. That said, hope you enjoyed the short story.