"Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
His vision is red.
It swirls like molten lava around his eyes, viscerally curling inside him until he squeezes them shut. A sharp, choking, somber sound is filling his ears, and he wishes he could lift his hands to block out the noise. It grows louder, bounding against his eardrums incessantly, until the small shred of consciousness remaining inside him acknowledges that the noise is coming from him.
The body lying next to him is still warm, steam rising from the ground. He feels it against his arm and his leg, along with the wet stickiness of blood pooling from it. Or perhaps that is his own too; at this point, he is not entirely sure if the body he was in was even his own.
The disparity of knowledge that is pressing against his skull hurts him. The savory satisfaction of his kill is not quelling his thoughts, is not bringing him peace. He is above it all, this he is sure of. His body, however, is a different story.
He hears a sound that is not akin to his own choking. It is gentler, softer, a vague scuffling of feet.
He opens his eyes and blinks away the blood from his vision. He sees violet and blue, and is confused. He blinks again.
The protector around her neck instantly causes him to stiffen. She is looking down at him warily, poised above him with fluidity and grace that is only seen in the truly skilled kunoichi. She glances back and says something in an authoritative tone, but just as quickly her eyes are focused back on his. There is so much in them that he has to fight back a derisive laugh—she is poised, but she is an open book. Had he been of better health, he would have used it against her and strike.
"It's okay," she says, and her voice is incredibly soft. Whether it was for his sake or it was naturally soft, he didn't know or care. "We're…we're going to take care of you."
Her expression drops to a frown when he peels his lips back and begins to laugh. It is harsh and sharp, gurgling with liquid and fatigue, but he laughs at her slowly. "You…" he croaks, and closes his eyes, "pawn."
If his words affect her, she does not let it show. She licks her lips and crouches beside him. "Time to go, Uchiha-san."
He feels a hand brush under his shoulder as she prepares to lift him. He winces away, cursing his current state of weakness. "Be still, please," she says quietly, and he starts thrashing more. It is ineffective as he cannot move very far or very much, but it is making her life difficult and that is a satisfaction in itself. If he is going to die, he will die fighting.
Quick as lightning, her hand moves in three successive spots, and suddenly he cannot move his arms. He scowls angrily.
"What have you done?" he hisses, though a lingering part of him has an idea.
She does not look at him as she adjusts her grip on him firmly, looping her arms around his shoulders. "I've made my life easier," she replies, giving him a wry smile. Suddenly he is being lifted in the air and draped over the girl's shoulder. The unexpected change in geography and orientation causes his eyes to roll, and he vomits down the girl's back.
She stops immediately and he is on the ground again. Through the bits and pieces of his vision he notices her jacket is now off, leaving her just in the mesh, and he cannot help but feel immensely satisfied at defiling her clothing and disrupting her. She is at his side the next time he blinks, her face swarming in red as his vision descends to crimson.
She reaches towards him and he hisses, "Don't touch me." Her hand pauses warily. He knew his voice was feeble, yet he was still able to put her on her guard.
"What will you do to me, Uchiha-san?" the girl asks softly.
He blinks, not understanding at first. Then like a switch a flood of white, burning rage fills him, until he clenches his bloodied hands into tight fists. But just as quickly it dissipates, and the disgusted curl of his lips twists to a slow, derisive smile. "Ah." The girl looks at him questioningly. "You think me incapable of harm…because I am like this."
She blinks a few times, then drops her hand with a soft sigh. After a long moment she says carefully, "Too much has happened to assume anything anymore. I am just fulfilling my duty."
Yes, your duty to Konoha, the words slither like poison in his veins, stiffening his muscles. "Fulfill it elsewhere. Leave, or I will kill you at my first chance."
She locks eyes with him. His vision is still blurred and crimson, distorting her image. He watches her lips move as she replies, "I will take my chances then, Uchiha-san."
And he is being lifted again, only not so quickly and not turning him over onto her shoulder. She is carrying him, and surges of hatred continue to pour into him. She is stripping him of his dignity knowingly, knowing who he is and his family name. She knows him, but he cannot quite place who she is yet. Her chakra signature is familiar, but it is too faint to recognize in his debilitated state.
He urges his muscles to move and strike, to escape her grasp, but she has sealed his chakra points and rendered him useless. Darkness is consuming his vision but it cannot be over now, not until he has his last word. Her arms tighten around him as he futilely attempts to shrug out of her hold. He hears a frustrated sigh. "Sleep, Uchiha Sasuke. You can kill me later."
He stills at those words. The idea is appealing. He has no plans to go anywhere with her, but it was wasting his already depleted supply of energy trying to overpower the kunoichi. He could sleep; just a short while, but enough to restore him his power—enough to get rid of her and her companions. Short enough to recharge before they take him back to Konoha.
Yes, Sasuke thinks, as he finally allows bloodied eyes to drift close. Sleep now. Kill later.
"You're not even a medic."
"I know I am not, Kiba-kun, but we all have the basic abilities for survival. He needs this."
"What he needs is his ass hauled to a room with white walls. He got these injuries himself, let him suffer."
The words fade for a moment, his ears ringing. Sasuke keeps his breathing even and his muscles still, fighting the overwhelming urge to move and open his eyes. He is lying on hard ground, but his fingertips feel cloth. They must have laid him onto a sheet, though by the feel of it it was tattered and worn. His left side is warmer than his right, and beneath his eyelids he can see flickering orange light from a small fire. A few moments later when his ears readjust, he can hear the crackle and hiss of the flames.
Kiba. A familiar name, but a different voice. That was expected, considering how long it has been.
"…yet. We're bringing a survivor, not a corpse."
"I don't see any difference." There is a long pause, before the brash voice speaks again. "Tch. Whatever you wish, captain. He's your responsibility."
"You know that's not how it works."
"Perhaps," a third, deeper voice says, "we should be logical in this. Kiba has a point—we owe him nothing. Healing him now without restraints or passage into Konoha is dangerous. He threatened to kill you already."
"See?" Kiba says quickly. "Even Shino—"
"However," Shino continues, "what we have left is a matter of ethics. And a responsibility to Naruto. Both which remain unfulfilled if we assume the first plan."
Sasuke involuntarily flinches at the mention of that name, and chides himself. No one seems to notice, however, as their conversation continues.
"I don't understand why we're doing this," Kiba mutters under his breath. "This is someone who swore to destroy our village. Who spent years in hatred and in killing. And we're bringing him home?"
"Better us than another village," the soft-spoken girl says firmly. Her words must have had some impact, for the three nin do not talk after they are spoken. Silent agreement, or silent contempt. A combination of the two, most likely.
Sasuke decides to ignore them and assess himself to formulate a plan. He can hear now. His body hurts, but he can tell a good portion of him has already begun healing. His chakra levels are still low, but not in a life-threatening way any longer. He is naturally a fast healer, so his judgment of time gave him an estimated seven hours since he last lost consciousness. Seven hours pace with dead weight and—from the sounds of what he heard—three extremely tired Konoha nin, told him he was still quite a long way from Konoha.
Were his chakra reserves enough to overcome three tired but vitalized leaf nin?
Sasuke almost smiles.
He hears a scuffle of dirt and pebbles crunching, and he feels a presence sit beside him. "Only vital organs," the girl says quietly to herself as he feels two small hands press against his abdomen. "That is all I can give you."
Her compassion is sickening, but he does not dare move. Who was he to turn down a free supply of chakra?
Containing a victorious smile, Sasuke allows the warmth of her chakra to flood his system and waits.
He is made for chaos, Sasuke deduces, as he slides across what once was a fire pit and narrowly dodges a slew of shuriken.
The timing could not have been more perfect. Right as he was about to embark on breaking cover and fighting the Konoha squad, a massive group of rogue ninja decided to ambush them. Sasuke grins ferally as he sees the destruction forming around him.
A team of eight is attacking Kiba and Shino, and he sees five advancing dangerously on the girl. Now that his body is fractionally restored, he can see clearer now—her back is to him as she breaks into a familiar stance, her palm facing her assailants. She spins and long violet hair whirls around her like a violent whip, and two men are knocked instantly to the ground. Sasuke watches her appraisingly as her form never breaks, silent power emanating from the small body.
His eyes hunt for a scabbard with his sword, hoping the Konoha squad had been wise enough to bring it with them, as it was no longer strapped to his body. There is still too much darkness in his vision, his eyes healing achingly slow from his battle. A little shuffling and digging brings him to a sleeping bag, and concealed inside it with a minor genjutsu is his sword. He grabs it and immediately plunges it to the hilt into an assailant who was attempting to spring up behind him.
A strangled cry sounds from his left, and he sees one of the Konoha nin is down—the wild one, Kiba. The other, Shino, has run to his defense, and Sasuke sees his exit now as even he is knocked to the ground.
Sasuke briefly ponders why these rogues are mindlessly attacking. He notes that Kiba and Shino are as good as dead, from their decelerated heartbeats and lack of movement from their chest cavities. His eyes flicker to the girl again, who is now very much overpowered but still standing. From her side he can see a trail of blood dripping down to her chin from the corner of her mouth. He can almost make out her eyes, bright with defensive power.
Sasuke looks away and stumbles a little as the pain from his injuries flares up suddenly. His eyes lose focus momentarily and he shakes his head, willing it to go away. The ninja that he had thrust his sword into is still alive, knocked to the ground as he is, but Sasuke is distracted and does not notice this soon enough. He barely has time to register the sudden movement from behind when he hears a metallic sound slicing the air, hurdling to his head. The equilibrium in his ears is thrown off-balance, and he tilts his head too late to see the large kunai millimeters away from his eyes.
It rebounds as something else ricochets against it—a shuriken, hastily thrown towards the kunai, and both weapons are knocked down harmlessly by Sasuke's feet. Sasuke's eyes widen, and he looks where it came from.
The girl is facing him. Blood mars the pale face and small hands, but her eyes are clear and he understands now, who exactly she is. Her eyes are desperate, and he thinks he imagines it when he hears her cry, "Go!"
He sees her no more, as the rogue nin have finally knocked her down. The last thing he sees are opalescent eyes with raised veins surrounding them.
Sasuke turns to kill the fallen ninja who threw the kunai and grits his teeth as he turns to leave, but a damnable force is stopping his flight. His heart is racing and his hand curls tightly around the hilt of his sword. He hears laughter, and pained groans coming from the ground.
He breathes hard, a war waging in his mind. There is no time for sentiment. Leave now.
Sasuke takes a step to go and his feet brush against the fallen shuriken the girl had thrown to him. He gazes at it for a moment, then closes his eyes.
Growling loudly, Sasuke spins back around and takes out his sword. With a few select feigns and slices, three of the remaining rogue nin are dead. Sasuke grimaces as he shifts his weight from either foot, pain shooting up his body. He can tell a few wounds have been reopened already, and his head is pounding with prolonged agony. His vision is wavering, but he clenches his jaw hard and staggers to the fallen girl.
Sasuke bends down beside her and hastily grabs her around her shoulders. Her eyes flutter open faintly, and once again he is met with the familiar clear eyes.
Her voice is tired and shocked, and unable to continue. Sasuke gives her a long look before a faint smirk flits across his face. "Only I am allowed to kill you."
It is the sounds of wind and fire that awaken her.
Her eyes crack open slowly. She sees the roof of a cave, but feels a gust of air rush against her feet.
The sudden voice startles her, and she turns to the source. A pale figure is leaning against the cave wall, watching her impassively.
A smirk crosses Sasuke's lips. "Hyuuga Hinata. I remember you."
Hinata blinks quickly, noting the fire beside her and the cave opening in front. It is dark, and she can hear the wind roaring outside. She shifts to sit up, wincing as a thousand sparks of pain run through her body.
"Are they still alive?"
Sasuke raises an eyebrow at her abrupt question. He takes his time to answer, but finally replies, "I did not have time to check." Hinata's eyes narrow, and Sasuke tilts his head. "Or rather, I didn't care enough to."
"Why did you save me?"
"I did not save you," Sasuke hisses, his dark eyes turning to stone.
Hinata gives him a hard look and glances away. She does not have the strength to be angry when overwhelming despair is filling her heart.
The ambush had come out of nowhere, and Hinata knows that the brunt of the attack was her fault. Giving the unconscious Uchiha heir her chakra had drained her more than she accounted for, and she had been resting when they attacked. Because of her foolishness, two of her closest friends were still lying somewhere on the cusp of death. If they were lucky.
Suddenly she is pushing against the ground, struggling to her feet.
"What are you doing?"
"Looking for my comrades," she says quietly as she stumbles to the cave entrance. Hinata half expects him to protest or give a biting remark, but he remains silent. She glances briefly to see him with his eyes closed, arms folded across his stomach.
Hinata grits her teeth and presses her hand against the cold cave wall, walking slowly towards the opening of the cave. She flinches when a powerful gust of wind whips against her face, but looks determinedly ahead and continues.
She is walking in the middle of a storm, she knows this. Muttering under her breath, Hinata activates her bloodline limit and scans the surroundings to understand in which direction Sasuke had brought her from.
Immediately she cries out in pain and struggles to deactivate Byakugan. It is tormenting and excruciating, and in her panic she's having trouble returning her eyes to normal. It takes a few moments but finally she has deactivated it, hands pressing against her eyes tightly. The skin of her palms feels streaming moisture pouring down from her closed lids, her eyes burning.
Wiping her eyes furiously, Hinata blindly stumbles back to the lip of the cave and collapses inside, going near the fire. Blinking profusely, she breathes deeply to calm herself and allow her eyes to readjust. It is then that she finally sees the Uchiha glance at her with an odd expression then closes his eyes, and dread fills her.
"What did you do?" she whispers. He does not answer. "What did you do to me?"
He opens one eye and stares at her blankly. "I ensured my own protection."
"You—did you put a sealon me?" Hinata says incredulously. "You can't do that!"
"From the looks of it, I can."
She stares at Sasuke in horror, bringing her fingertips to the edges of her eyes where the veins would raise. She sends a small pulse of her chakra through them, and senses the rebound where her chakra streams are blocked. Her brows furrow as she thinks deeply, mapping out the chakra system of her eyes in her mind. The blockages are firm but set on a release, needing an unequivocal amount of chakra to break the seal—
"You seem shocked," Sasuke's voice interrupts her thoughts, and Hinata opens her eyes. He is not looking at her, his own eyes remaining firmly closed. Thick streams of blood are dried on his lower lashes and down his cheeks, like a morbid slew of tears. His clothes are worse for wear, and she knows that he is still healing from the beating he had received just before her and her team had found him. How he managed to carry her to safety in such a condition truly makes her realize who she is dealing with.
"I don't understand," Hinata manages to say. Her words cause Sasuke's eyes to crack open.
"Don't you? I suppose it is expected, from a Konoha kunoichi," his words are cold yet smooth, his voice rising no higher than a murmur, but they are enough to cause Hinata to frown.
"I…I helped you," Hinata says in disbelief, "and you—"
"Did you expect a reward?" Sasuke prompts her, looking at her fully and dispassionately. "Did you think that would bring me to your side, and willingly travel with you to your village?"
"I was fulfilling my mission," Hinata's voice is tight. "Your survival was necessary, if it was my last action to ensure. That is my way of the ninja."
He chuckles quietly at this. "More sentiment. Pathetic."
"Your seal will not hold forever," Hinata says with as much strength as she can muster. "I know how to break it, and then I will complete my mission."
"Your bluffs bore me," Sasuke closes his eyes again, leaning heavier against the wall as if preparing to sleep. "You and I both know those things won't happen."
Hinata bites her lip and stares outside of the cave into the darkness. She can hear the wind howling and the spray of violent rain pounding heavily against the ground. The longer she stares, the more she knows that she is trapped.
She doesn't need to look at Sasuke to know he is only pretending to sleep. To drop his guard while she was still conscious was foolishness, and for her to do the same is equally detrimental—something the Uchiha had already proved tonight.
She curls her legs up and wraps her arms around them, shifting to lean against the wall of the cave. The flames of the fire flicker gently as she stares into them, planning and waiting.
"Why didn't you let me die?" Hinata asks again, her voice soft. She doesn't expect a response, as it was spoken more to herself. Thus she is startled when Sasuke replies, "I told you. Only I am allowed to kill you."
Hope you enjoyed! This will be a relatively quick fic to finish.