A slight continuation of 'Harbour for Eternity' but with Kakashi and the ANBU instead.
I don't own Naruto or Persona 3. I do, however own most of the randomly mentioned ANBU that I made up on a whim. Crane may look familiar to Fate/Stay Night fans. X3
To walk with Death is to walk alone.
Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai was a group of highly skilled ninja, wholly devoted to their Hokage. In the department's early stages, It was an assassination squad that did all the Village's dirty work and technically did not exist. Then the Sandaime expanded it into the Hokage's guards. They began to collect tracking specialists and spies for their squads, diversifying the teams into unstoppable and flexible squads. Their ranks swelled greatly over time to host an average of three hundred of them, all skilled in different fields.
It did not matter if they had a kekkai genkai or not. In fact, some of their best assassins were civilian born, with small or average chakra reserves. The death rate was quite high due to the nature of their dangerous missions but If the ANBU lived for the first four years, they were practically guaranteed to become a seasoned and nigh-unkillable ANBU.
They were fierce and strong to outsiders. No job was too hard for the elite of the elite. Genins dreamed of getting into ANBU, they were the best. Anonymous shadows that protected Konoha with their lives. Most jounins, however, knew better.
What most people didn't know, was that ANBU consisted of broken and shattered jounin and above rank ninja. The ANBU commander was nearly always of Kage level. From suicidal Hunter-nin to mildly psychotic T&I specialists. Several shinobi who were geniuses or Clan heirs with their fair share of tragedy and no ability to understand normal people, also joined their ranks. In ANBU there was no need of such things. In fact the geniuses felt more at home among the ranks of the socially dysfunctional. Nearly all of the ANBU had mental issues in one way or another. After the first four years, the wet-behind-the-ears newbies developed quirks and odd habits to stay sane with all the killing they were required to do in their jobs.
Despite most of the senior ANBU's suicidal natures, they were too devoted to let themselves die with a mission unfinished that might threaten the Village. They were blood drenched beings. The tracker and guard squads were the sanest from the lot, with the least blood on their hands. It was debatable whether the Assassins or the T&I department were more insane but after the addition of Anko to their ranks, It was widely accepted that the T&I won that one. Then Anko went and became a part-time assassin, and the bet was thrown aside entirely.
Before the Yondaime, the ANBU headquarters was quiet as the grave. The operatives moved silently like ghosts in the halls, sometimes dripping blood after them. It was normal for some of the assassins to return in post mission haze. Due to violent reactions of the assassins that had gone on solo missions, they had to use an entirely different entrance into the ANBU building. A teammate or higher ranked Shinobi (or at least, a faster shinobi) was required to wait for the assassin, to snap the ninja out of the dangerous mindset. After several close calls, all ANBU were required to return to the Headquarters after missions to prevent injury to others in battle haze. The experienced ANBU were more than qualified to deal with the dangers. Higher ranked assassins were just avoided when they returned, blood drenched. Their advanced form of autopilot registered fellow ANBU masks, so no matter how dazed they were, they wouldn't attack any on sight. In fact, their missions sometimes got so awful that Commander Wolf would let them give their report on full auto pilot before snapping them out of the haze so that they wouldn't have to relive the experience.
Then the Yondaime happened. With his last student in the ANBU, the cheerful man payed explicit attention to the shattered killers. Within two months of his appointment, the ANBU halls were filled with chatter and friendly explosions. Those ANBU who had lost everything and lived in the headquarters, learned to relax. They learnt how to prank, and set traps for amusement and skill building. This was mainly spurred on by the Yondaime's wife, Kushina, who derived great amusement by pranking council members and her own husband. That simple action cut down mental breakdowns and depression by 75% among the new and old members.
He was so excited when Kushina got pregnant. After the ANBU got over their fear of accidentally hurting Kushina or the baby, they got pretty enthused about it as well. The idea of a young innocent, their Yondaime's precious child!, boosted moral rather impressively. Fatalities dropped by quite a large amount, though brutality went up. They fought like mother bears to defend and protect the village that the child would grow up in. Even though the baby wasn't born yet, Minato took great amusement in watching them fuss, in their socially dysfunctional ANBU way, over Kushina. There were joking bets about how he would turn out. Would he/she like ramen, like Kushina? Would he/she be good at Fuinjutsu like his/her father? Would he/she have red or blond hair? Would he/she inherit his/her father's easy, light-filled smile? Would he/she inherit his/her mother's love of pranks? The list went on and on.
Then the baby was born.
And then Kushina and the Yondaime died.
The Kyubi had decimated the ANBU's numbers harshly, reducing them to seventy of their best. They also lost their Commander, Wolf, and most of their high ranking assassination shinobi. Their skill set was not made to defend or dish out powerful attacks and they couldn't stand up to Kyubi's devastating power. It was a double blow to lose the two Kage ranked Shinobi within hours of each other. There were only five left of their assassination department, including Kakashi and the long distance archer assassin, Crane.
Wolf, a former Solo Captain assassin, was well respected and well loved among the ANBU. With unruly, long silvery hair with a faint tint of blue (He was the third ANBU to have that unusual pale hair colour, but Crane's was only white and Kakashi's was silver) that poked out from behind a fearsome Wolf mask, he had looked quite young to be the ANBU's head. Many people had payed for that underestimation. Over the standard ANBU gear, he had worn a distinctive dark midnight blue coat that was missing both sleeves so that his ANBU tattoo was visible. His sign of office, the Commander gauntlets were always on his forearms. His main talent lay in his sheer efficiency at his job. He was a wolf in all meanings of the word, silent, deadly and ferocious to protect his charges. The Fuinjutsu he used was highly specialized, and used to fashion barriers with minimal effort. He wasn't really any talented at sealing itself but that had never affected him. Wolf had been good friends with the Yondaime, everyone in ANBU knew it. When not combating the demons of paperwork, the two could be found training, joking or discussing Jutsu with the fervor of geniuses.
Wolf was the first to intercept the Demon Fox and the last to fall. All the warning Konoha had for the attack was Wolf's wild howl as the Nine tails was dropped straight onto the village by some mysterious means. ANBU all over the village heard the familiar, familiar howl and dropped everything to rush to grab weapons and armour. The last time they heard the Commander's howl was when they were at war. Regular shinobi rushed to receive orders from the Hokage but the ANBU ignored that logic and ran to assist Wolf.
The ANBU that witnessed the fight still speak of it in hushed awed voices.
There were flashes of blue and blazing white lightning as he struck with all his power, nearly stopping the maddened fox in its tracks. The Commander bought valuable time for the unprepared Konoha, taking on the Bijuu all on his lonesome in the first half-hour of the attack. His fall was marked by a huge explosion of chakra that called down an entire thunderstorm of thunder that blew a massive crater all around himself and the Nine tails.
The tracking department was in similar shape to the assassins but had fared better mainly due to the Aburame's bugs and the Inuzuka's massive battle hounds. The Genjutsu users who worked under that department were also rendered pretty much useless and had to rely on weaker skills. Thankfully, all the trackers were at least trained to use their primary element affiliation to fight and defend themselves in case of an ambush in their jobs.
The demolition team was the most intact due to their experience with surviving explosions and massive amounts of chakra. Everything from explosive notes to highly concussive blasts were their specialty. The plain insanity they could cause with just a single explosive note was just short of legendary. They had been the most useful in regard to damage against the Bijuu. They hadn't counted how many explosives they used but it was quite a hefty amount. Several were mildly poisoned with the Kyubi's foul chakra but would live. Burns were nothing new among that set of Shinobi.
The small Fuinjutsu sealing team only had one remaining member, the rest killed placing restraints on the beast. Thankfully, it was the Team Leader, Tiger, who lived. Next to The Yondaime, Jiraya and Wolf, Tiger was the fourth and last Fuinjutsu master that Konoha had. That was only if you didn't count Kakashi Hatake, the Fourth's own student. It was a highly difficult discipline that took years to master unless you were a prodigy like the Yondaime.
Several other departments had crumpled entirely under the totally different fighting conditions. None of the hellish, all out war was anything like what they were used to. They simply were not meant for all out attacks of Bijuu proportion. Yet they still threw themselves at the beast with whatever skills were in their specialized arsenals to buy time for their beloved Hokage.
The seventy who remained, be they rookie or veteran, called themselves the original ANBU with pride. They were the ones who crowded around the young Inu and watched the Shinigami himself come for their leader. They saw Death, the god they walked with everyday. In the trying days that followed, no matter the grueling mission, The death rate amongst them became non existent due to sheer determination.
They swore to never forget what they saw, to never forget Minato or that 'Thanatos'. They became so determined to live that their numbers only decreased when a few were forced to retire due to injuries. For those that had nothing to return to, they became teachers of the new ANBU, remaining in the ANBU headquarters that was their home. The events of the Kyubi attack was written down in explicit detail, down to the description of both Shinigami that had appeared. They were determined not to forget. The original seventy were as close as that much people could be, they all carried an extra yellow brushstroke on their white masks to remind them of the Hokage they lost.
Young Inu, Kakashi Hatake, now one of the lost souls of the ANBU, lost himself in his missions. S rank after S rank was added to his already impressive record. He had long lost count of the number of missions he had been deployed on. Before two weeks had passed, he was ranked as a Captain of the admittedly small Assassination sect. It didn't really matter much to him. To be honest, he never really needed a team. Most of the assassins didn't, they were lone wolves, accustom to working alone. Crane especially, the other Captain of the assassins.
In ANBU, the rank of Captain didn't mean you ran a squad, though it often meant that. Especially in the assassins sector, it just meant you reached a rank above normal ANBU where you could lead a squad. The solo Captains were people to be feared. They simply neededno backup. They were able to adapt to anything thrown at them. Kakashi himself was registered as a top class tracker, hunter-nin and lightning element manipulator, with some medical skill thrown in courtesy of a long dead teammate(Rin). He was a full team by himself.
Crane was an expert at Kenjutsu (Use of a Sword) and chakra enhancement in addition to his long range bow. When combined together, his skills make him into a dangerous adversary that earned him the rank of Captain. He was also remarkably unknown, his entry in the Bingo book had practically no information aside from his mask and his S rank threat level.
All the new ANBU were awed by the older ones, seeking to be so strong as to earn the yellow mark their superiors carried. They never did gain them. The original ANBU wore their marks with pride and never passed their masks down like they did before. The new ANBU were taught less specialized then the old, to be able to fight wide scale with more diversity instead of just specific assassinations. They'd be able to take a wider range of missions but were not the high classed experts that the original ones were.
Tiger became the new Commander and was forced to retrain a whole new squad of Fuinjustsu users to his great displeasure.
As for Naruto, dear dear Naruto, he was never forgotten. The child of the ANBU, though he never knew it, was parent less and under a terrible curse. ANBU watched over him at all times, even as he grew up in an orphanage. Sandaime never told them to keep watch, they did that all on their own. This child was one of their own. Their Yondaime's Legacy. Their kunai were always poised, not that the Matron knew, to defend their charge should any harm befall him.
When he finally got kicked out, he was barely on the street for half an hour before Inu quietly snatched him up and took him to the Sandaime. When Naruto lived on his own, ANBU teams would frequently sweep by to clean and supply groceries when he could get none. Any hostile villager was dealt with in the way of the ANBU, silently and without fuss. They could do nothing for the boy's loneliness but tried. They looked after him. After one incident on his birthday, they made a habit of kidnapping him and hiding him in Headquarters for the day, to the young boy's glee.
He was all they thought he would be, looking like a mini-Yondaime, with Kushina's habits and their Hokage's easy light-filled smile. He gave them back some light in their darkened existences that were defined by shadows and blood. Just as his father did before.
Inu, or Kakashi Hatake as he was known to some, trudged down the hallway. His mind was blank, it had been for quite some time, it had only been two weeks since his sensei had sacrificed himself to save the village but he was still numb to it all.
Blood dripped from his drenched arm, courtesy of a Chidori to his latest assassination. These days, the floor of Headquarters was always stained with someone's blood. The mild insanity and energy that usually permeated the atmosphere was dulled to how it used to be, quiet and grieving. A small part of his brain whispered that he was most definitely in denial. There was a gnawing hole in his chest, why, why did he keep failing his precious people?
The part of him that was ANBU Inu realized with vague detachment that he was still in post mission haze. And where was his anchor before he took off a newbie's head by accident?
And his morbid brain supplied. dead, dead, dead and gone. Obito, Rin, Kushina-san, Minato-sensei...
To add to the grief, Wolf's body had been returned to Headquarters alongside the Hokage's own. Each ANBU body had to be carefully gathered up and accounted for. It was harsh and bloody work but no one complained as they gathered their friends from their places of demise. Each mask had been removed. There were cruel shocks to some, as they recognized friends and family.
Each name was solemnly added to the registry in the meeting/mission hall under their animal name. The masks were hung up on the wall, above the list of their previous users, where they would rest until they were called into service again. An ANBU's name was only added to the registry on the wall, under their mask when they were dead. At that point, It wouldn't matter if people knew their identities. It was the ANBU's way of honoring their dead comrades because they weren't supposed to exist. If you were in ANBU, you would never have a grave. All bodies had to be burnt. And so, two hundred and thirty of their comrades, students, family, lovers, teachers, teammates, brothers-in-arms went up in flames.
Despite regulations, they flat out refused to burn Wolf. After the rest of the ANBU had gone up in flames, they rested his blood spattered and scorched corpse on the dais in the hall, next to his best friend the Yondaime Hokage, Minato. They were two contrasts but all could remember how they used to chat and laugh together. Their blond Hokage had a bloody stain over his white coat, from where he was impaled from one of the Kyubi's claws and a faint smile that was an echo of his sunshine-bright grin.
And then Wolf's mask was removed and Kakashi shattered. It was like staring into a mirror. For an absurd minute, he thought it was his father. Then it crashed together. The dead Wolf had been Okami Hatake, Kakashi's distant uncle. His dead father's much younger brother. He wondered how he could have missed the signs. Of how his own white chakra would spark around the Commander. The extra care the man used to pay to him. How ironic that his mask had been his name, Okami, Wolf.
He had finer features than Sakumo and a slight blue tint to his silver hair, probably from their mother(Kakashi's grandmother). Sakumo had been a bit of a powerhouse, tall and broad shouldered. Okami was lean and slender speed, quite like Kakashi's own build. There were three deep claw scars across his cheek and a blossoming bruise across his temple. No one could miss the smirk their Commander had on his face, even in death. His gauntlets had taken severe damage under the Nine tail's claws and flames and were blackened and cracked. Various parts of him were blood soaked, lacerated wounds all over him.
Minato had a massive public funeral but was not buried like his two dead predecessors. He was burnt in the manner of the ANBU, as his body simply held too much dangerous information. Kushina was burnt afterwards in a quiet private ceremony that all the seventy ANBU attended. Okami's body was put in stasis and laid to rest in ANBU headquarters in a glass coffin. His snarling wolf mask, that had a unique blue mark, was put in his coffin with him, an unheard of ANBU practice. But most agreed that Okami's Wolf mask could not be passed down. There was too much history behind that particular mask. The fallen Wolf was entombed in the most secure location in the building with several of his personal possessions and was resolutely guarded by a yellow ANBU at all times.
It greatly upset Kakashi that he had lost the last bit of his family without knowing it and now was truly alone.
A rookie with a fresh, red marked Cat mask gave Kakashi an awed look as he passed. He ignored her, like he ignored everything else, lost in his hazed and grief twisted mind. The condition of his mind was not readily apparent by his appearance, he still walked with utter precision and silent deadliness. The picture of a perfect assassin. He had no idea how he had ended up as the top assassin in all of ANBU, and didn't really care.
In the back of his mind he registered yellow and he nodded dully in greeting to the yellow marked Coyote that passed with his huge brown coyote-like Ninken padding softly by his side. The ANBU nodded solemnly at the blood soaked Inu. The whole set of the original ANBU had been on eggshells around the Hokage's former student since his sensei died. They had all known when he joined the home of the broken ninjas that the boy had nothing left aside from his sensei. Now his sensei was gone, Tiger was trying to do anything and everything to keep Inu from shattering completely. No matter how the ANBU wanted to keep their youngest intact, they were dangerously low on operatives and had no choice but to deploy Hound continuously in back-to-back S rank missions.
Crane, a bronze skinned man with white hair, mainly dealt with all the responsibilities of their department, in between his own assignments. He hadn't seen the other three assassins, Mouse, Mantis or Snake, since the huge ANBU meeting after Minato's death where they all took the yellow mark. Mouse was one of the civilian-born shinobi who specialized in quiet assassination using minimal chakra and few senbon. He had only survived because he was defending the medics. Mantis was an Aburame whose insects could carry out efficient dispatches of targets. Snake was the infamous young apprentice of Orochimaru, Anko Mitsurashi, who specialized in poisons. That was all that remained of the once-mighty department.
In the ANBU, their masks were precious and held meaning. Some masks were passed down from teacher to student or in families. For example, the Inu/Hound mask had been passed from Sakumo's father to himself and then to his son, Kakashi. The Inuzuka often held Coyote, Lynx, Cougar and Bear. The Hyugas held Eagle, Falcon and Hawk. The Spider mask was always held by the head Spymaster. Wolf belonged to the highest ranked ANBU that was near or on Kage level and was often the Commander.
Kakashi continued to trudge down the once white halls. His mask was blood spattered but there was no mistaking the single yellow slash across the cheek of his Hound mask. Other than the blood, his ANBU uniform was untouched. A hand came to rest on his shoulder and the Hatake spun, kunai in hand, ready to gut whoever it was. The still coherent part of his brain registered, yellow and a familiar Tortoise mask. The larger shinobi blocked the blow easily, casually disarming the younger ANBU with ease. Inu stared blankly for a few seconds before the person registered in his mind. The dull haze cleared slightly from his eyes.
He could see relief in his older friend's posture as the hand on his shoulder tightened. Despite the lack of green jumpsuit and eye watering orange leg warmers, Kakashi could recognize Gai anywhere. There was a huge physical presence about the man that was hard to ignore. Out of his green monstrosity, it became aware of how big Gai was. He was all tall, broad shoulders and muscles whereas Kakashi was thin, wiry internal strength. It always surprised people when they saw the two contradictions together.
"I guess Tiger-sama sent you out to snap me out of it, huh?" Kakashi murmured wryly.
The large hand tightened more. "Are you injured?"
Inu shook his head firmly. Gai gave him an inscrutable look, letting his experienced gaze rake up and down his body. Finally he let out a sigh.
"Looks like you're not lying this time." The man muttered below his breath.
"Come," He said louder, nudging his Rival forward. "You have to give your report to Tiger-sama."
Urged along by his friend's gentle guidance, they continued along the corridor. The sound of murmuring voices registered in Inu's ears and he lifted his head out of pure habit to sniff the air, like a wolf scenting for danger. He could only smell the metallic and cloying smell of blood that was soaked into his skin and a touch of Gai's earthy warmth. With great trepidation, he stepped into the wide, whitewashed mission hall and the reason for the muttering became clear.
Leaning rather casually against the wall near the mission desks, was one familiar white clad man. He looked totally unconcerned to be amongst the assassins, arms crossed comfortably across his chest. A long yellow scarf that floated around him was pulled up to his chin. His features were refined and royal, with only single mole breaking the flawless expanse of pale skin. Dark blue, almost black, hair was slicked back out of his face. The fashion of his white coat was unfamiliar to the ninja but put them on edge all the same. The forbidding black wings from his first appearance were no where in sight. The only evidence that betrayed their existence were a handful of long, pitch black feathers resting on the floor before him. There was no tint to the feathers, no glint of blue or slight gray, they were solid black that seemed to absorb all colour around it.
One of the Newbies, Mongoose, started forward to demand answers as to what he was doing there. His Team Leader, Owl with a yellow mark, rested a hand on his shoulder and shook his head resolutely. The other originals eyed the Shinigami with respect and wariness. Despite the human facade they knew who the stranger was. They knew what he could do. The new ANBUs' confusion and indignation were quickly and efficiently stifled by their older and more knowledgeable counterparts. Behind the desks, where Tiger had been handing out assignments to a set of Hunter-nin, The broad shouldered man was staring at the godly intruder with his burning orange gaze. All motion in the bustling mission room had stuttered to a stop, all eyes on the death god that took their Hokage away personally.
Kakashi walked closer, ignoring the stillness, blood persistently dripping from his fingers. Gai walked a little behind him, ready to catch him if he stumbled or fell in his exhausted state. Even though, Kakashi usually kept his Sharingan open, he closed his eye tightly, unwilling to view the shadowed monstrosity that lurked behind the deceptively human god. The last time gave him enough nightmares for a lifetime.
At first he felt a flash of rage at the sight of the being but that quickly faded into apathy. He couldn't blame a god for doing his job after all. They were the same in that aspect. In his assassinations he was simply doing his job. Then the man(?)'s eyes snapped open, locking sight with the Hound. The silver haired boy nearly took a step backwards at the sight of the dual coloured inhuman ice blue.
"Ah, young Hound. I've been waiting for you."
This time Kakashi did take a step backwards. What did a death god want with him? He hadn't done anything that would merit such a visit from an otherworldly entity despite the numerous people he had sent to the Shinigami's realm himself. Maybe he got annoyed at all the souls he was sending? Back up of paper work? How did the Afterlife run anyway? The Hatake realized vaguely that he was having a minor, what civilians might call, 'freak out'. The god tilted his head and smile comfortingly. The bright smile was so human and looked so odd on his face, it caused the room's occupants to do a double take.
"I have a message from your sensei."
Kakashi was instantly alert for the first time in weeks. Several of the yellow marked ANBU sprang to attention. Minato-sensei sent a message? Several more red ANBU were irately elbowed into silence before thy could open their mouths.
"He says, ahem," The Shinigami smirked. "'Get up and live your life already! I'm doing fine, so stop moping!'"
There was utter silence in the room.
Then Tiger let out a bark of laughter and relaxed. "That sounds like him."
Kakashi couldn't help the snort that escaped his lips, even as his shoulders sagged in relief. "It does."
Thanatos nodded, pleased. "Good. Well, I suppose you will be seeing a lot of me around, your Yondaime. requested that I keep an eye on you. You may call me Ryoji or Thanatos."
Several unseen eyebrows rose amongst the scattered ANBU. At that point, even those manning the mission desks were listening in. There was an unspoken question of, Why would you even follow a mortal's wish?
The Shinigami shrugged casually. "Its not like I have anything better to do."
The entire room of ANBU face faulted. It seemed Thanatos was actually more idle immortal god and less dutiful soul courier.
And so, one Greek Death God took up partial residence in the ANBU mission room.
I somehow managed to form an entire society within the ANBU. huh.
I have no idea where this came from, but I was at home sick and really bored. *Shrug*
I have NO idea of where the idea for Wolf came from. I always thought of silver hair and Kakashi when I thought of the Wolf mask, but Kakashi is cannonly (I think) Hound. So I gave him a relative because who else would have the trademark Hatake hair! Who then died...wow, I'm mean to him.
I was gonna call him Kasaru but then I had a brilliant idea! I think I might add a small sequel of Kakashi rejoining ANBU after cannon (Aproximately twenty years from now) and taking up the post of Commander. Kasaru would be Okami's son who was raised in ANBU, by the ANBU. Then I realized Kasaru would be too old...