Iryo-nin Kasa (医療忍傘)
Chapter One Hundred and Two: Trust and Resolve
"Tell me, what is it that constantly draws bijus, jinchurikis and chunin exams to you?" sighed Shikaku in exasperation behind a sake cup.
"It's not like I go out of my way to look for them." I muttered irritably.
"Even with your faulty memory, you somehow managed to outdo your younger self in not only facing another jinchuriki during the skirmish in Kiri, but befriending two other during this chunin exam," murmured Shikaku."I'd say luck, but with your track record, this is bordering on a curse."
"Trust me, if I can control this, I'd totally turn and walk the other direction." I huffed and snatched the sake bottle from the table.
"No," said Kakashi, plucking the bottle from my hand before it touched my lips.
"Seriously? After the day I had, you deny me a god damn drink?" I scowled. "I'm of age!"
"I've seen you drunk before and if you went home with even a hint of alcohol, I'll have three parents trying to castrate me," retorted Kakashi.
"Castration?" I grinned with interest. "What's the story behind that one?"
"You drank Gai under the table during your moment of grief and got your stomach pumped for alcohol poisoning," answered the silver-haired jounin bluntly.
"…Put that way, not very interesting." I huffed and grabbed the cup of tea instead and sipped it.
"In light of… what happened during the preliminaries," muttered Shikaku. "We managed to talk down any anger that arose from your interruption. The finals will go as scheduled in a month's time."
"Then why am I here?" I asked, lowering my cup and glancing up at his half-lidded eyes.
"I know it's probably too much to ask, but is it possible for you to not rouse up any more inter-village incidences until the threat of invasion is over?" asked Shikaku.
"Says the person without the ridiculous reputation and countless death threats on their head." I grumbled. "I didn't even kill anyone this time and I'm still in trouble."
"You were seen in the arms of Kumo's jinchuriki," sighed Shikaku.
"What? Now people think I have a thing for big burly men now?" I scrunched up my face. "Thanks."
"Your indiscretions with Itachi the last few months have created uncertainty and rumors about your loyalty," noted Shikaku.
"And here I thought I was immune from all the bullshit I pulled." I sighed and lowered my cup to the table.
"You have Itachi to thank for that, he's been spreading his Root operatives thin to keep trouble from finding you… not that it kept you from finding it," continued Shikaku.
"Ah, that explains the drugging." I muttered.
"You're immune so long as you're not involved in anything that could harm the village," warned Shikaku. "Even Itachi has his limits, kage candidate or not."
"You could have told Kakashi passed on whatever message you had," I frowned. "Why go through the trouble of seeing me in person if it's simply to give me a warning? You've never bothered before, what changed?"
"Kasa—" started Kakashi, but Shikaku raised a hand to stop him.
"Contrary to what some may think, words can be far more dangerous than any weapon or jutsu," stated the Nara as he lowered his hand. "They've rallied men, incited wars and revolutions alike."
"And because I'm an oracle, the danger of my words are even more so." I muttered.
"I understand you're still coping with your memory loss, but you must remember every action you take will have consequences," cautioned Shikaku.
"…I'm not even sure if any of this is really my choice anymore." I muttered in response.
"What do you mean?" frowned Shikaku.
"If this is about your continue denial about being Kasa—" cut in Kakashi immediately, almost as if he was afraid.
"I am Kasa." I interrupted him with certainty.
"Oh?" noted Shikaku with interest. "What brought upon this sudden certainty?"
"The same reason that caused it I supposed." I muttered with a frown.
"What reason?" asked Kakashi.
"It took some time for me to notice something strange since the memory surges were random and rather far apart from one another." My brows furrowed in thought. "It probably didn't help that I had to deal with the whole Crimson Terror bit, but no point in crying over spilt milk I guess."
"And? What did you find?" asked Shikaku.
"With how close and intimate these memories were it was easy to believe they were mine…" I placed a hand against my head. "Except they're not."
"They're not?" repeated Shikaku in alarm. "Explain."
"Simply put, these memories were of Kasa," I elaborated. "Every single one of them were like a spectator viewing in rather than experiencing it first-hand. It's also the reason why I had such a hard time accepting the fact that I am Kasa when all the memories seem to invoke a sense of jealousy and envy."
"The memories belong to someone else?" repeated Shikaku warily. "Whose?"
"I don't know." I muttered and ran a hand through my hair. "But whoever it is, had little fondness for Konoha. Can't say it's entirely to blame for my antagonism, but it certainly didn't help."
"I see, this may be a problem…" murmured Shikaku pensively.
"Yep, security risk and all." I chirped.
"You know, telling us that means we're obligated to detain you for being a risk, right?" sighed Shikaku. "How can you sound so cheerful about this?"
"It's either tell you the truth or put myself through another round of denying who I am." I shrugged. "Honestly, I'm kind of tired of pretending so… I'll leave the decision of what to do with me up to you guys."
"…You don't make this easy do you?" grumbled Shikaku in annoyance.
"Sorry." I chirped unapologetically.
"How troublesome," muttered Shikaku as he took another idle sip of his sake. "I'd like to give you the clear since you've been so honest. Unfortunately, unless we find out whose memories you have, we can't risk letting you run about as you are."
"Understandable." I nodded. "Would you like me to disarm myself before you have me taken into custody? Or would you prefer someone else to do a more thorough—"
"That's not necessary," interrupted Kakashi.
"Kakashi?" frowned Shikaku as he turned his attention to the younger man.
"She's not a threat, I know whose memories she has," noted Kakashi.
"You do?" I said in bafflement. "How could you possibly know—"
"Rayne," stated Kakashi firmly.
I paused, recognizing the name from a previous conversation with Itachi. He mentioned it was an alias Kasa went by in her tenure as the Crimson Terror, but from the sound of Kakashi, Rayne wasn't just a name. She seemed like… another person all together. Wait, didn't Itachi say something about…
"The second personality?" asked Shikaku with interest. "I was not aware she was still in existence after the incident with the Uchiha Massacre."
"After the massacre, she spent the last four years fixing the damage to Kasa's mind. From the looks of it, she used her own memories to supplement the missing pieces she couldn't recover," murmured Kakashi solemnly. "She ceased to exist shortly before Kasa woke up."
"And you're certain she's not a threat to Konoha?" asked Shikaku.
"Despite Rayne's temper and foul disposition, she never actively sought to do harm… if anything, her drive fell more in line to protect," said Kakashi. "Albeit, not in the most gentle manner."
"Hmm," frowned Shikaku in a low hum. "Vouching for her in this manner, you do know the risk you'll be placing yourself in, do you not Kakashi?"
"Detaining Kasa and putting her away won't benefit Konoha," reasoned Kakashi. "She's never been a danger to the village before and it's unlikely she'll become one now or in the future."
"Bold words," droned Shikaku as he finished the last of his sake. "Is that your resolve? To protect this girl at the risk of the village?"
"She is a part of this village," said Kakashi firmly.
"Hmph," a faint smile touched Shikaku's lips as he lowered his cup. "If only Minato could see you now. He would be so proud of the man you've become."
"What?" said Kakashi in surprise.
"Still not quite ready to replace me just yet," muttered Shikaku irritably as he snatched the bottle from Kakashi's hand and refilled his cup once more. "But you'll get there."
"Then…" frowned Kakashi.
"Just keep her out of trouble," sighed Shikaku.
"Seriously?" I blinked in surprise. "You're just going to let me off like—hey!"
"Shut up already, are you trying to get yourself locked up?" grunted Kakashi as he pressed my head down with a firm hand.
"It's not like it makes a difference whether I'm in or out of it anyway!" I retorted with a vain attempt to swat his hand away. "Quit it!"
"Hmm… then maybe we should give you a reason to stay out," noted Shikaku.
"A reason?" I glanced to the man curiously as he reached into a nearby drawer and pulled out a small rectangular-shaped box.
"When you were younger, before you were even a shinobi, you came here once on your own searching for something," noted Shikaku. "Imagine my surprise when I realized what you were after was something you've seen only once before, but still somehow managed to pinpoint it was here in my home."
"Huh?" confusion clear on my face as I stared at the box in his hand.
"I told you to come back when you became a chunin, but it seemed like you've forgotten about it in the midst of your circumstances," murmured Shikaku. "It's unlikely you'll be able to reproduce it with your lack of seal-making capabilities, but with the invasion coming, it might be more beneficial to have you traversing through the village with ease to utilize your healing capabilities to its fullest."
"…Healing?" I gapped. "Am I hearing you correctly? You want to use the Crimson Terror, whose very reputation is to cause mass death… to be a healer?"
"We can't afford to have someone follow you during the course of the attack," reasoned Shikaku. "On an attack of this scale, having more of us survive the ordeal outweighs the slaughter capability of single person."
"The fact you trust me to do this is fine and all, but what makes you think I'll be able to do that with what's in the box?" I asked with a raised brow.
Without another word, Shikaku opened the box. My eyes widened at the sight of a familiar three-pronged kunai.
"I'm sure this answers your question," commented Shikaku as he set the box on the table between us.
"… I thought you didn't trust me, why would you give me this?" I asked cautiously.
"Have I ever said I didn't trust you?" countered Shikaku with a raised brow.
"Then what was the whole thing with Kakashi just now?" I waved vaguely at Kakashi's direction.
"Merely a test on his resolve and his trust in you," replied Shikaku nonchalantly. "If I truly saw you as a threat, you wouldn't be sitting here."
"That's…" I found myself temporarily at a loss for words before a wide grin tugged at my lips. "Probably the most badass thing I've heard anyone say to me."
"Kasa…" groaned Kakashi in exasperation as a light chuckle escaped Shikaku's lips.
"But, I do have my curiosities," continued the Nara. "I know your loyalty is not with Konoha. It's never been with Konoha even when you had your memories."
Surprise crossed my face at his declaration. There was no anger or accusation, merely a statement of fact.
"At the time you gave Minato as your answer," continued Shikaku. "You probably don't have the same attachment to him now with your memory loss, but I am curious where loyalty lies now."
"Truthfully?" I paused and pondered for a moment before thumbing backwards towards Kakashi. "Probably this guy."
"Your reason?" asked Shikaku.
"Pure bias!" I chirped brightly. "Compared to everyone else, he's the least annoying and… I think Rayne might have had a thing for him."
"What?" spluttered Kakashi in disbelief.
"Oh, before you freak out, Rayne's attraction to you is according to Itachi. I personally see you as an over protective mentor of sorts..." I paused briefly before another thought came to mind. "Or maybe even a father figure."
"…Fine," sighed Kakashi."But just do me a favor."
"What?" I asked.
"Don't ever call me daddy in front of your father," grounded the silver-haired man. "I know that thought cross your mind when you said father-figure."
"…Hehe, you caught me." I cackled before turning my attention back to Shikaku again. "Is that answer acceptable?"
"…I regret asking," drawled the man as he pushed the box forward for me to collect. "Just take the box and make yourself useful."
"Yes sir!" I chirped brightly as I plucked the kunai from the box. "I'm going to need to get a holster for…"
I paused as I felt the seal half-activate under my touch, revealing a multitude of locations that housed one of Minato's kunais. I could see why Shikaku wanted to use this as a means for me to get around to the different areas to treat the wounded during the invasion. I'm surprised no one bothered to remove all these kunais… but then again, aside from Minato, who else could even use…
Among the countless sceneries, one stood out with an anbu figure wearing a fox mask. Alarmed, I dropped the kunai and scrambled away from it.
"Kasa? What's wrong?" asked Kakashi as caught me from falling flat on my face.
"Naki! I saw Naki!" I shouted before remembering the first memory surge back in the hospital. "He could use seals. He's been using Minato's kunais to get around Konoha undetected!"
"What?" whispered Shikaku lowly, eyes wide and alarmed. "Does he know you've seen him?"
"I-I don't know. I dropped the kunai when I saw him, maybe not?" I gnawed at my lower lip.
"How many kunais are there?" demanded Shikaku. "We need to know where he's been going."
"There were so many." I ran a hand through my hair as I tried to recall what I saw. "The majority of them seemed like training grounds. There's one for the hospital, one for the stadium, the Hokage Monument, the Academy? And… I think I saw Kushina-san's apartment and… there was one on Kakashi too."
"Not good," muttered Shikaku. "Can you hear anything when you touched the seal?"
"No, no sounds," I shook my head. "Just a glimpse of what's around the kunai."
"Without touching the kunai again, do you think you can find all of the other kunais and remove them?" asked Kakashi.
"I don't think so, not with just the glimpse." I eyed the kunai warily.
"Even if we could remove it, we don't know if Naki could recreate Minato's seals either," muttered Shikaku.
"What then?" I asked. "We just leave the kunais where they are and let Naki come and go as he pleases?"
"We might have to," frowned Shikaku. "If he can recreate the seals, getting rid of these kunais will only limit your ability in getting around the village as we originally planned. If he can't then these kunais are good indication of where he would go if he were to flee during a fight."
"So… are we going to set up an ambush?" I asked.
"Yes and no," said Shikaku. "You won't be part of the planning."
"What? Why not?" I scowled.
"You're far more useful as a distraction," reasoned Shikaku. "We can't set up an ambush if he can see it coming."
"What do you expect me to do? Seduce him?" I spat sarcastically.
"I'll leave how to distract him to your discretion," drawled Shikaku."But something must be done about these kunais. Naki could potentially sneak enemies into the village for the invasion during the chunin exams."
"It's too dangerous," argued Kakashi. "What's to say Naki wouldn't outright kidnap her?"
"He had plenty of opportunities to take her in the past," noted Shikaku. "And from her most recent encounter, wouldn't you say he has a savior complex? He prefers people following him willingly."
"Even so…" grimaced Kakashi.
"I won't force her to do this, but ultimately, it's Kasa's choice whether she wants to or not," said Shikaku.
"…I get to choose?" I blinked in surprise.
"Your loyalty is not to Konoha, forcing you to act against your will for it, is counterintuitive," reasoned Shikaku.
"Ah, makes sense." I muttered before glancing to Kakashi. "You don't want me to do this."
"No," agreed Kakashi. "But knowing you, you'd do it just to spite me."
"Only out of love." I grinned in response to his flinch at the word love.
"…You did that on purpose," growled Kakashi.
"Not sure how I'm going to distract Naki, but I'll do my best." I chirped, blatantly ignoring the irritation I've caused Kakashi.
"Best of luck," said Shikaku.
"I wouldn't count too much on that," groused Kakashi. "Do us all a favor and don't get hurt."
"Hmm? Hurt? And here I expected a 'don't get killed' type of response." I joked.
"You're harder to kill than a cockroach," said Kakashi dryly.
"Totally feeling the love here." I scoffed as I crawled over to the kunai to pick it back up.
"Just be careful," surrendered Kakashi with a long exasperated sigh.
"No promises." I waved the kunai dismissively. Somehow, things seem to get more and more complicated.
Author's notes: Happy New Years! Not much to say except, I hate the cold, the hate the snow and I hate to shovel. Just a quick couple of notes, I aim to finish Kasa's story before it reaches its fifth anniversary and I have a couple of crossover ideas in the works on top of Blended Dreams. Aside from that, I hope everyone has a far more enjoyable start of the year and I'll see you in the next chapter.