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
Cold rain poured from the darkened cerulean skies, as if the heavens had ordered this particular course of nature to wash away the dirt from Karakura Town: the dirt of pollution, the dirt of sin, the dirt of rot. Ayumi was confused as to why she could feel the cold of the rain even while she was a ghost. Even the drops splattered from her soul link, the chain that hanged from her chest.
Two months. It had taken her two months to finally realize she was not part of this world, segregated from human contact, from the warmth of her family, from the acknowledgement of her existence. She thought there was life after death, some sort of "Heaven" she was supposed to go but there was only limbo.
A gurgling growl startled her from her dazed stupor. She recognized that growl, the sound of hunger, the warning for those who lingered in the human world. It was the sound that alerted the denizens of limbo to run and hide. To run, and run until the sound of the growl became faint.
Ayumi was disappointed in this limbo. She was dead but she could still feel her lungs burning for oxygen, the thump of her heart beating so loud as if it was going to break through her chest any moment, her rasping breath becoming a burden on her throat. But all of that pain meant that the more she felt it, the less growling she would have to hear.
It meant she could live for another day.
"Ayumi-chan... I ha-ve fo-und yo-u..."
She felt a slithering tongue on the nape of her neck, raising the ends of her hair and feeling the all too familiar chill run down her spine. She felt her insides harden at the mere feeling of the disgusting saliva running down her back.
Ayumi's mind became blank for a moment. How had the creature found her? She had run as far as she could until she couldn't hear the growl anymore but the creature was right behind her, his presence made forth without a sound.
"Hoo Hoo hoo!" The creature giggled, a warped feminine voice grating Ayumi's ears. "Ah, I can smell it, Ayumi. I can smell the fear pumping from your heart. It's making your goose bumping blood smell soooo thick and in turn, your aura all the more... delectable."
What was the creature saying? How was she able to tell all these things just by looking?
"I knew letting you live in fear for a little while was a much better idea. My hollow comrades thought it was stupid but you see... all Hollows have different tastes."
"T-Tastes?" Ayumi stammered.
"Yes my dear," The Hollow said, caressing Ayumi's cheek with one of her tentacles, "Hollows must eat souls to survive and grow stronger. I am certainly no exception, however depending on how I manage my meals; I can become stronger two-folds by eating a soul full of terror. That is my little secret I keep from the other Hollows."
Ayumi's body was so rigid, she found herself unable to move a single inch. So the only reason she was able to remain alive for all this time was because this monster, this Hollow decided to do so? All so she could be ripe with fear for the moment of the feast?
Suddenly, the rain became much clearer and louder to Ayumi. She couldn't hear what the hollow was saying. She was going to die… again. This time, it wouldn't be as painful as when she was in that hospital bed, fighting the cancer that had been eating her alive. It wouldn't be as reassuring as when her older sister and her mother were both there by her bedside.
Instead, it would be lonely. No one was there to tell her she would go to a better place, where she wouldn't have to suffer anymore, where she wouldn't need to worry about seeing her family again because they would meet again someday.
It was only for a brief instant but she could've sworn that amidst the sound of the rain, she heard the wind, as if someone had blown short breath in her ear.
Ayumi, who had her eyes closed after realizing she would face imminent death, opened her eyes. The color of the rain had changed to red. She had never seen red rain before. Nor she remembered seeing a tall standing figure separating her from her devourer.
"Are you hurt?" the figure said.
Ayumi blinked. Was the person speaking to her? No, it was impossible. Ayumi spent a month with no human contact, no one even glancing at her.
Yet here he was, the corner of his left scarlet eye staring directly at her.
"Are you hurt?" he asked again, coating his grave voice with a sense of urgency.
"N-No." Ayumi finally responded. Her tension had loosened somewhat. The rain had reverted to it transparent color and just like before, it was washing the dirt away: the dirt of fear, the dirt of hopelessness and the dirt of red that was flowing through the manhole. It never occurred to Ayumi that these creatures, these "Hollows" could bleed like humans do. The blade that the young man was holding, dripping with the viscous lifeline, proved it all too well.
Ayumi's eyes observed as the Hollow's corpse disintegrated into black ash. If the young man wasn't there, would she have died in the same way, her "soul" self withering away into nothingness?
Ayumi studied the young man as he flicked the blood away from his blade by whipping it once and then sheathing it at the back of his waist. The white kimono covering his torso, the dark-purple baggy pants hoisted by a thick knot-like belt and just below knee-length black sandals reminded her of ancient samurai of the past. Only the small white and red fan at the back of his kimono seemed to give the entire garb a sense of identity.
The young man took a furtive glance to his right, as if he had sensed something. He then turned completely to Ayumi, as if he was giving her one final chance to remember his facial features: Dark unruly hair, black lacquer eyes and eyebrows that seemed as if they would never relax to give up a smile.
"Stay here. The angel of death is coming." he said. Ayumi turned her head to where he had been looking before but all she saw was the empty street drowning in the seemingly never-ending torrent. When she turned to face her saviour, he was gone. The overbearing presence had disappeared as if it had never existed in the first place. Ayumi felt the familiar strength returning to her legs and she stood up, expecting the angel of death as the stranger put it. He came, clad in black, running towards Ayumi's direction and finally coming to a puttering stop.
"Hey little lady, did you see who did in the Hollow?" he asked, scoping his surroundings. "This is so weird. My soul-phone picked up Hollow readings but it disappeared again! Damn!"
Ayumi wasn't quite sure as to what to make of the situation. She had expected a long, black-robed skeleton with an overwhelming scythe as the angel of death, not a bushy-haired, bushy-browed, katana-wielding man.
"The remains of spiritual pressure still linger here," The man said with a finger to his chin, "and that means our little vigilante Soul Reaper was here. Did you see where he went?"
Ayumi shook her head. The man sighed.
"Let me guess: He disappeared in a flash, huh? How am I supposed to report this guy if I can't even get a decent visual? Oh well, guess the least I can do is send you to Soul Society."
"Soul... Society?" Ayumi repeated.
"Heaven, darling, heaven. That's what you've been waiting for all this time, right? Come on, let go of those regrets and live where you really belong." The man said, extending a hand. Ayumi stopped hearing everything else after the word heaven.
"Mother, sister, you can live in peace now." She whispered, giving her hand to the funny looking angel of death.
As the light shone brightly around her, Ayumi thanked the samurai in her heart for changing the outcome of her fate and hoped one day, she would meet the man bearing the white and red fan on his back.
I told myself I'd never do this.
I literally told myself that I would never just grab someone else's work and post it on my profile, but I have. The reason why is simple: I couldn't wait anymore. Transcending Bonds, which was originally written by Imperialpatty, has been dead for little under three years now. I've waited for him to post a new one and I realized just how dumb I was for believing her would.
Think about it. There is a myriad of reasons why a person would leave Fanfiction behind, but the most prominent one is possibly the most common: we grow out of it. Fact is, our lives change over time and as such, so do we as people. We grow out of certain things which we love in order to focus on our lives and careers, on our friends, family, jobs. Fanfiction is nice, but it doesn't pay the bills, for rent, for food, and it doesn't continue friendships that go back since you were a four year old on the playground.
I can understand why and that is my reason why I have taken Transcending Bonds myself.
I don't believe I have the ability to actually continue what Imperialpatty started years ago, but I'm still going to try. I'm not going to change much of anything, and I'm going to leave the original author notes. But… I am going to make standard edits, such as grammar, vocab, spelling. That is it. Touching anything else would only dishonour the memory of the author who started this yet never finished this epic.
Please, if you feel like I shouldn't do this, feel free to tell me. Because frankly I believe there are hundreds, if not thousands, of authors much more qualified to write this than I, but I feel this needs to be continued.
So I'm going to try.
Send me the verdict.