Transcending Bonds

Summary: What does Sasuke see beyond his blade? That is the question he struggles to answer as he slowly remembers his forgotten past. When the question does really matter and he realizes the answer, to whom will he point his blade to: his new bonds or his old ones? Originally written by Imperialpatty

Author's Note: Over the course of the last year, I've been going through struggles that have tested not only my sanity but my ability to keep moving forward as a writer and as a human being. I will not go into detail regarding the events that transpired during my many struggles. I will, however, shed light on why this story and my other stories have not received the attention that you all longed for. I have been in a great debate with my innermost thoughts over whether or not I should continue to write anything at all. I felt that my abilities as a writer fell short and as such, I should pursue a path which provided more opportunities to me as a man. I made that choice and realize how depressed I had become as a result.

I had institutionalized myself and surrounded myself with barriers and evils which corrupted and broke down my spirit of creativity and independence. The chapter, The Demon King's Deception: Final Cut, showed a scene in which Sasuke's inner spirit was slowly being eroded into black, becoming a dark abyss which would swallow him whole. This was a representation of the battle I had been fighting for over the course of many years and have finally won.

Realizing what I have learned to be truth and self-evident, I have cut off that which has been slowly killing my spirit and myself as a man, breaking my shackles and freeing myself from the institution that would see me become a salary slave and now pursue a life that I have always wanted and will have.

As you can all see, I have deleted all but the first chapter of Transcending Bonds. The reasons pertaining this is that I have edited and rewritten this story, but not to the point where it is foreign to my readers who have loyally and patiently been waiting for my return. I mean to begin this story anew, as I have begun anew, and give you all a remastered version of my depiction of Transcending Bonds. This is my Final Cut, and it all starts here.

Thank you for waiting.


Cold oppressive rain poured from the dark cerulean skies, over Karakura Town, as if the heavens had decided to wash away the filth from the landscape- the filth of pollution, the filth of sin, the filth of rot.

Ayumi was confused. She wondered how she could feel the rain despite being a ghost. She could feel the cold droplets of rain rinse over her skin, her hair and clothes as she stood in an alley behind her house. Even the chain that hung broke from her chest was pelted by the unforgiving monsoon. It had rained like this before, she remembered, on the day she had died.

Two months. It had taken her two months to finally realize that she no longer walked among the living. She was segregated from human contact, isolated from the warmth of her family, and the acknowledgment of her existence so cruelly taken away from her. She had believed in a life after death, that there was something beyond this state of limbo she had found herself placed in, some kind of heaven she was suppose to be pass on to...

But with each day that passed, her belief had slowly shattered like glass breaking upon falling to the hard ground that was called earth.

Was there even a heaven to begin with? Or... was this her own personal Hell? Was this her punishment for the sins she had unknowingly committed? Was her existence something to be mourned for, to pity and then eventually being forgotten? Was she to be ignored, walking the realm of the living and suffering in painful despair for the rest of eternity? If that was the case, then what was the point of existing in the first place?

A gurgling gorwl startled her from her train of despairing thoughts. Ayumi recognized that growl, that dreadful sound of hunger. It was her only warning she had to go run and hide. To run, and run and run even more until the growls of hunger from her otherworldly pursuer became faint or outright disappeared.

And ran she did.

Ayumi was dead. She knew this, and yet she could still feel her lungs burning for oxygen, the thumping of her heartbeat was so loud she thought that it would burst from her chest. One thing she was absolutely disappointed to know was that even in limbo she was still limited by her constitution, which had been frail and weak since she was a small child. But she knew that the harder the thumping got, the faster she got and the more distance she created between herself and her pursuer.

It meant that she could continue existing...

But why? A voice in the back of her mind asked her. Why bother? What's the point if there is no one who will acknowledge you? You'll just be alone.

She at lat stopped running when she reached the river bank, struggling to catch her breath. She could no longer hear the gurgling growls that had chased her from her family's home and she allowed herself a moment of respite. "Did I... lose him?" She wanted to believe she had.

"Ayumi-chan..." And once again, dread seized her heart. "I've found you."

Her eyes opened widely. How could it have found her so quickly? She had ran as fast as she could til the growling had stopped! No you didn't, the voice in her head said again. You didn't run your fastest. You can't. You know what you want, deep down.

Slowly, she turned her head and body to the voice that had spoken so closely behind her and stared at a horrific skull-faced creature that hid in the darkness of the bridge. Its eyes were glowing a golden yellow, and as it stepped out of the darkness she could see tentacles as black as coal protruding from its back. Its skin was just as dark, its appearance hideous and grotesque, like a monster from a fairy-tale story her mother would tell her when she was lying at her bed in the hospital. Yet unlike the stories, there was no hero coming to save her.

She was utterly alone.

The skull-faced demon's tongue slithered out of its mouth, salivating in gluttonous hunger. "I can already taste it," the demon said in a warped feminine voice that grated Ayumi's ears, sending chills down her spine that her illness and the rain never could. "Your fear, your despair... such wonderful flavors! And your aura!" The demon giggled. "You are finally ripe for me to feast upon!"

Ayumi's mind could no longer process it all.

This was her Hell, just as living had been. There was no Heaven waiting for her, no more warmth from her older sister and mother to grant her comfort, no more affection from her father. She had been doomed to an existence without hope living and dead, to be denied the right to live. Now, just like the cancer that had eaten her alive, her soul would be devoured by this demon.

You want this, the voice said to her. Give in. Let it end. There's no reason for you to exist. All there is is more pain and lonliness. Let it end.

Ayumi felt her legs give in and she slumped to the wet ground beneath her. She felt her strength leave her, as if had in life. "Yes..." The skull-faced demon said in glee, ever slowly advancing upon her. "The despair! Your aura is so wonderfully potent with it! I knew letting you continue to exist this long was the right choice! Now after I'm done eating you, I shall grow twice as strong than if I had eaten you before."

She closed her eyes, tears mingling with the rain. She had been doomed from the start, she thought. Doomed to an existence filled with suffering while her family and friends would continue living, fulfilling their hopes and dreams. They would excel at life.

And she would be forgotten.

It wasn't fair! None of this was fair to her, but it didn't matter anymore. At least this way, eve nothing but food for this creature, her pain and suffering would finally end.

Let it end.

It was in that brief instant, when Ayumi opened her eyes once again, she saw a flash which she thought was lightning and watched the rain turn bloody red.

She had never seen red rain before.

Nor did she remember seeing a tall figure standing between her and her release from this hell.

It was followed by the howling of the skull-faced demon, and what she thought was red rain was actually blood that spurted out fom where its left arm had once been. It had never occurred to her that the creature with a skull mask and gaping hole in its chest could bleed as humans did, let alone feel pain. She wondered how its arm had been severed from its body, but found the answer in the stranger's right hand. It was a straight sword, Japanese in style, and it dripped with the blood of the demon that wanted to devour her. Not far off to the side she could see the demon's arm lying on the ground.

"Are you hurt?"

Ayumi blinked, looking up at the stranger in confusion. Had he just spoken to her? No... he couldn't have, but in her heart she felt herself grasping at hope. She was afraid to hope again; she had gone two months in limbo without any form of human contact or acknowledgement. No one had even glanced at her despite her screams and shouts and pleading. It was impossible!

Yet when he half-turned his head and stared directly at her from the corner of his scarlet eye, Ayumi knew the impossible had indeed happened.

"Are you hurt," the stranger asked her again, his dark voice laced with a sense of urgency.

Ayumi responded with the silent shake of her head. She did not trust her own voice to answer for her, nor could she as she felt a overbearing pressure exert over her. She found it hard to even speak. The man nodded and turned his head away, returning his focus to the creature.

"Damn you!" The demon screeched, its golden yellow eyes glaring at the new arrival with malicious rage. "You bastard Soul Reaper! How dare you take my from me!"

He did not speak. The stranger advanced on the demon, who began to back away from him with every step that he took . Suddenly, the scarlet-eyed stranger broke into a sprint, his sword raised.

"Die!" The demon shot its tentacles forth, their tips appearing as sharp as spears but the stranger continued unabated. Ayumi saw his blade flash again and more bloody rain came, the tentacles flying and falling to the ground, followed by the demon's howls of pain. The stranger came upon it then, and with another flash of his blade the howling was silenced and the demon fell.

Ayumi could do nothing but stare on in awe. The rain returned to its normal transparency, washing away the filth of the demon that remained on the blade of the young man that had slayed it. Her eyes fell on the demon's corpse; its skull mask was cut in clean halves by the stranger, and watched with interest as it disintegrated into black ashes along with its separated limbs. She couldn't help but wonder then, if this stranger hadn't come, if the demon hadn't pursued her... would she have suffered such a fate? Would she have withered away into nothingness?

She didn't dwell on such terrifying thoughts. Shaking her head clear of them, Ayumi returned her focus to the young man as he flicked the blood of the creature off his sword and returned it to its scabbard that he wore on the back of his waist, studying him. his apparel was unique and stood out in contrast to the everyday outfits of the living. He wore a grey high-collared shirt with a zipper that hid half his face from certain angles, dark baggy pants with a dark blue cloth worn around his lower body that reached to the back of his knees, with a think dark purple rope tied around the cloth like a belt that held it in place. On his feet were open-toed sandals that stretched from the ankle to beneath the shin where the pants were tucked in. Around his wrist were blue wrist warmers that matched with the cloth he wore around his waist, and despite his outfit's uniqueness, what stood out to Ayumi more than anything was the white and red fan emblazoned on the back of his shirt which gave him his sense of identity.

When he turned to her, Ayumi saw the his long dark unruly hair reached past his chin, with long bangs that roughly shadowed his scarlet eyes. It took but a second to realize how handsome he was, and another to know that his image was forever engraved in her memory.

The young man glanced furtively to the left beyond the Karasu River, as if he had sensed something. He then turned his gaze back to Ayumi, who froze upon looking in his eyes.

The scarlet was gone, replaced with two ebony pools as dark as the night.

"Wait here," he said to her. She knew it was to her. "The angel of death will be here soon."

Ayumi turned and looked out to the other side of the river bank where he had been looking before, yet all she saw was the grassy slope of the hillside and the headlights of a passing car on the road. "But I don't see..." When she turned back to face her savior, she blinked. He was gone, and the pressure that he has exerted had vanished with him like it was never there to begin with. She simply sat there, the rain pelting her as she waited in silence like she was told to, alone.

But not afraid.

A few moments later, just as the stranger had said, the angel of death had come. He was not at all as Ayumi had pictured for him to look like; instead of a black shroad and scythe in hand he wore black apparel similar to a samurai from the Edo period and wore a katanaat his hip. He came to a stop in front of her, scoping the area out. "This can't be right," he said. He slipped his hand into his sleeve and pulled out what looked like a pager. "Stupid piece of junk. It picked up Hollow readings here, but now its gone. Damn!" He looked down at her then, and Ayumi could feel his gaze. Hey there little lady, did you happen to see a Hollow around here? Y'know, an ugly looking soul with a skull mask?"

"A... Hollow?" Was that what the demon that had tried to eat her was called? Ayumi wasn't quite sure what to say. She was still in shock that someone she had been acknowledged my someone for the first time since she died.

"Yeah! Do you know what I'm talking about?"

Ayumi nodded. "He killed it."

The katana-wielding man blinked twice. "He? Who is he?"

"I-I don't know," Ayumi replied in a stammer, gathering her bearing. "The... Hollow was going to eat me, and then he came and killed it. He said you were coming and then he-"

"Suddenly vanished right?" The Angel of Death sighed in exasperation, as if he had heard her story before. He cupped his chin with his thumb and index finger. "Looks like my little rogue Soul Reaper beat me to the punch... again. Honestly, how am I suppose to report this guy when he mask his presence like he was from the Onmitsukido or something? My superiors won't like this at all." He shrugged and turned to Ayumi again. "Well, I suppose the least I can do for you is send you to Soul Society. Looks like you've had it rough out here, am I right?"

"Soul...Society?"

"Heaven, little lady," he said to her, drawing his sword. "I'm sending you to Heaven. That's what you've been waiting for all this time, right?"

Ayumi stopped breathing. Was this man lying to her? "Heaven... is real?"

"He looked puzzled by her question. "Of course it is real. Why wouldn't it be?"

She held back a sob. tears freely falling down her cheeks as the monsoon came to a drizzle, the darkened skies beginning to part. All this time, it was real. Heaven was real. All the despair and pain she had been anguishing in had left her as the sunlight broke through the clouds. Her suffering had come to an end.

"Mother, Father, onee-chan... I love you," she whispered. "I pray that I can see you again... in another life."

And Ayumi thanked the young man that had changed her fate. As the Angel of Death performed his ritual to send her, she made a wish in her heart, a silent prayer, that one day she would meet her scarlet-eyed savior again and give him her thanks for renewing her faith in hope once more.

(***)

Wolf's Honour