BONUS Chapter 44- The Arrogant Dead
“Come on! Hurry up! We need to find Sensei now!” I shout to my comrades.
“Don’t be so confident Koi. We need to be careful on this mission. Besides…” Yuki looks around, “… the forest is creepy this time of day.”
“Don’t be such a weakling! Aren’t you supposed to be a ninja?!” I mumble the word ‘pathetic’ under my breathe hoping no one but me could hear.
“What?!” Kinmaru yells. “You’re too conceited, Koi!”
“Well Yuki’s comment was just stupid!”
“Hey!” We both stop, perched on a branch. “You can’t talk to her like that!”
“Fine! I wasn’t talking to her in the first place, moron!” I lunge at him and his back crashes into the ground, creating a crater. “Why do you always have to act so stupid?!” I scream as I catch a glimpse of Yuki huddled behind a tree calling for Ryuu-Sensei.
“Why do you always have to act like a jerk?!” He yells back and pins me down. “You’re always so cool but never calm or collected. You’re a jerk to everyone, even that Tsuki girl you’re always talking about! She, just like Yuki, don’t have anything against you! Yet you treat them as if that’s the case! What’s your deal? Why do you think that your something special when clearly you’re just like everyone else?!” He breathes heavily and keeps his stare on me. I bite my lip and then narrow my eyes.
“Get off me.” I push him and get up. I can still feel his gaze on me. I keep glaring back at him out of the corner of my eye.
I grit my teeth and am about to say something horrible when Ryuu-Sensei appears in the middle of us. Her bright, gold eyes stare into mine. “What did you do this time?” She asks me.
“Lousy comrade!” I point to Kinmaru.
“Arrogant teammate!” He points to me.
“All right, listen up now!” Ryuu closes her eyes and claps her hands. “We’re not even close to our destination and you’re already bickering like a bunch of immature children.” She says in her low, kind voice. “So what’s the problem? Why can’t you two ever get along?” She gives me a sad look and sighs while putting her hands on her hips. “Before we can move, talk to me. Come on, the Hokage will have my head if these thieves get away!” She seems calm, but stubborn as always. Unfortunately for her, we’re also persistent.
“It’s between us, not you Ryuu-Sensei.” I cross my arms and turn my head away. “Sorry, but it’s not your problem.”
She gets down close to my face and studies my expression. “Yes, but as your Sensei I’m responsible for you and your lives. So spill it Koi. Just for today be a little less stubborn and tell me.”
“W-what?! Just me?!”
“No. I’ll talk to Kinmaru afterwards, but you need to tell me so I can help you. Don’t you want to be happy with your team? Or do you just enjoy fighting and pissing your comrades off?” She smirks.
“That’s none of your business, now is it?”
“Like I said before, you’re my responsibility. I am your Sensei, Koi.”
“Y-yea.” Yuki begins. “Please just be our friend. We don’t want to fight.” She’s starting to get on my nerves. “Please, Koi. Before things get worse!” She has a gentle voice and timid tone. But that’s what I hate. Gentle people aren’t meant to be Shinobi. I want to yell, but I don’t feel like getting in trouble with Ryuu-Sensei anymore.
I sigh and get into a stance. “Come on, let’s just leave already.” Then I jump and wait on a branch with my back turned to everyone. “What are you waiting for?” I calmly speak. I keep my teeth gritted, but try not to make it obvious that I’m annoyed. No one moves. “Yuki!” I yell. “Kinmaru!” I look back at them. “Come on already!” They look at each other while Yuki folds her hand together and looks down with her lip trembling. They all nod and are soon at my level, just on different branches.
For some reason, I can’t keep my eyes off of Yuki. There’s something different about her. Seeing her like this reminds me of Kaya. She’s strong, but weak when people gang up against her. Tears fly with her, and I can almost see the braids flailing with the wind and the purple locks that seem to swim with her movements. I’ve admired Kaya as a strong individual… but also as a gifted being. She has a strong will and always makes friends. That’s something I have a hard time with. But seriously, who needs friends when you can have rivals? It’s much more fun to truly compete than have a “friendly” competition. I nod to myself. “Some people don’t know anything.”
“There they are.” Ryuu-Sensei whisper. “Stay quiet.”
“Tsk.” I hate waiting.
“Look… it’s just until we see more illegal movement.” Kinmaru points out.
“What a pain.” I receive a glare from him. “Did I say that out loud?” I glare back at him and we’re suddenly forced into a staring contest. Until Ryuu-Sensei bashes our heads together! We fall straight down onto the edge of the forest and stay there groaning in pain. “What the hell was that for?!”
Yuki and Sensei jump down and run into the battle, yelling behind her. “You ‘children’ weren’t paying attention! You let your guard down allowing the enemy to get farther ahead! That will lead to your own death in the future!” I stare at them blankly. I know she’s right.
“Come one Koi!” Kinmaru yells. “Hurry!”
I nod. “Right.” We follow behind and end up just a few feet away.
“Now that you two are here I want you to jump ahead at the next forest. They aren’t Shinobi, but can certainly hide like Anbu’s. So stay alert! And don’t you two fight or even dare to notice each other! Got it?!” We nod and begin running faster. “This is life or death Koi and Kinmaru! Don’t make me feel shame!”
I grit my teeth along with Kinmaru. I’m determined not to fail… Ryuu-Sensei… I’ll come back. I promise.
Following those cowards halfway through the forest, we jump and then abruptly stop. Kinmaru refuses to make eye contact with me as if what Ryuu-Sensei said should be taken seriously. But if that’s what he wants, then so be it! We wait for them to pass us from below, and they soon do just that. I jump down and crash onto one of them, quickly slicing his throat. Kinmaru goes for the others, and I stand in a stance. I’m ready for those cowards now. No need to sneak around, they already know I’m here.
I keep waiting, watching, listening but so far nothing has even threatened me. I don’t even feel any presence. Did I mess up? What about Kinmaru? He expects me to watch his back. Yuki and Ryuu-Sensei should be close by now. I’m going to go on ahead. “I wouldn’t want that idiot to get himself killed!” I grin, realizing my next move. “This’ll be easy-”
A slight breeze catches my attention, but the blood has already begun to trickle down my chin. “Sorry Kid, but I have my own life to worry about.” A light voice protests. I just stand there, not being able to move. It seems like slow motion when the blade recoils through my flesh as my assassinator pulls the katana back out. A slight poke on the back and I’m falling.
Eyes wide open and scared I shake. “How did this happen?!” I gasp for air. “I won’t be taken down this easily! You’ll see… Kinmaru…” I push myself up and stare at the ground. Shaking but making progress I push myself up into a sitting position. One minute passes and I realize that I need to get going. It takes more effort and mental balance, but I’m on my feet now.
The tress sway against my eyes balance. “Stop… moving!” I demand.
“Don’t be so rude!”
“Oh shut up trees! You don’t… you don’t know a single damn… thing!”
I cough and see sparkling crimson flying out of my mouth onto the bark of a random tree. “I see… and who’s the one spilling blood?”
I glare up at the tree. “You don’t know… anything.” I repeat.
“Ignorant child! You’re just angry because I-”
“Wait… trees… can’t talk. Can they?” The nagging stops and I, for once, am glad that I’m alone.
Bodies lie in my path. All of their throats are slit. It’s a technique that Ryuu-Sensei taught us. I’d notice the perfect, smooth cut anywhere. It’s just like Kinmaru to be Mr. Perfect in every frickin’ thing he does! “Damn this wound.” I grip my blood stained shirt over my stomach and trudge along. “Where is he? Kinmaru?!” My voice is just above a whisper. “Medical ninjas. Never there when you need them!” I’m starting to wonder why Kinmaru ever wished to be one.
Then I think of something. “Why am I alone?” No sounds, no sights, no smells… nothing. Something’s not right here. “How did I not notice this before?!” I yell.
A shrill sound emerges from behind me, and in an attempt to dodge the attack… I end up falling flat on my face. After I groan in piercing pain I raise my kunai above me and just catch the enemy’s own kunai. “Ryuu-Sensei was right.” I think and smile weakly. “They aren’t Shinobi. They’re just criminals who can hide like the cowards they are!”
I strain. So badly do I want to give up, but I wasn’t born to just die. I yell and push my kunai up, up, up! “Go die, you bastard!” I scream. My breathe is slow and interrupted with coughs… filled with spattering blood. I seem to choke on air as it struggles to enter my wavering lungs. I immediately hold myself and jump up with all the strength that I can gather. On my feet I land on a shaky, leafless branch. “Ugh… that hurts so badly!” I whisper to myself. I fall to my knees several times while still trying to regain my posture.
Time passes quickly as my unlucky search for my comrades’ nerves my spirit. My vision blurs, but I keep going while recognizing colors to avoid and go towards. I stop once I just see a mixture of one color. I gasp and fall to my knees. I grip my side and roll over onto my back. The branch sways and the wind wipes over my face and hair. The sun seems to get brighter as if giving me one last wave of its goodbye call. “Bring them… my comrades… to me…” I cringe but feel less pain than before. “Please…” The wind continues to ruffle my black curls while my green eyes slowly lose their light. I hold my pale hands above my head and see them shaking. “Am I… afraid?” I bring them closer to my face. “For the… first… time?” The idea doesn’t strike me as pathetic, instead I see this as an opportunity to learn what Yuki feels. I remember seeing her hiding, her lip trembled, as she brought her hands close to her chin. Whenever Yuki’s around me, she seems to hide or stay away. She must really be terrified of me. That or she just hates me…
I think about these things and suddenly lose my grip and all balance. Never to be restored, for I tumble off my supportive branch and fall. The sensation makes me want to fly, but even though it’s temporary I love the feel of it all. My lips form into a smile. Something I’ve seen Kaya and Aiko do often. “I wish her luck in this crappy Shinobi world we call home.” I breathe out a small sigh. “Stupid world, you’re so cruel to the young.” I remember my Dad saying that when my little sister was killed off by a “simple” fever. I despised everyone after that.
“Can you hear me? No Koi!” I open my eyes after I hear a very small voice calling to me. Unclear, I just hear my name.
“Blurry figure… why are you here?” A pink marking can be seen. “Yuki…” She usually has her clan’s symbol connecting around her face. A red and orange swirl is on her forehead while a line travels down the bridge of her nose and then down the sides of her cheeks… representing a wandering fire. I can see clearly in a few minutes after I close my eyes again. She always carries herbs with her for Kinmaru. He forgets them anyway. Doing this she knows how to use them, and my eyesight is soon revived. She smiles brightly and tears splatter my face.
“You’re awake!” She grabs my hand. “You’re alive!” If I had the strength I’d pull my hand away. She continues to hold my hand up to her cheek, crying. It feels… weird, but at the same time…kind of nice. Someone was crying. Crying over me. And that someone was Yuki.
“Why in the hell is she holding my hand?” I think as her tears slide down my arm. She shakes her head and keeps her eyes tightly shut. I hear her cry out suddenly a few times.
“Kinmaru!” She begs. “Kinmaru, please!” My eyes widen when I see her own eyes. In an instant my world changes for the worse once again. She lets go of my hand and falls forward, right beside me. She gasps for air and grits her teeth. “Kinmaru… save…” She mouths the last word and struggles in the pain she’s in.
“This is too easy.” A muffled voice from above me says. I glance upwards and can see the enemy aiming their weapon down on Yuki… I’m probably next. In my fear I search for my kunai and my fingers brush over it. One second later, he’s dead.
“T-thank… you…” She grits her teeth and more tears flow, “…Koi.”
“I… I didn’t do it... for you.” I glare at her for a split second. “I don’t despise her, I just don’t approve of her. I believe the feeling is mutual.”
“I don’t believe… that.” A quiet smile escapes her lips, and I smirk.
“Believe… whatever you want.” She frowns, but stares at me straight. She slightly nods and looks to her left. I follow her gaze and catch a sound.
I think back at what has happened, and bite my lip when I hear about Ryuu-Sensei. His breathe is uneven, and I can tell he’s almost out of chakra. “… but don’t you worry guys.” He assures. “I’ll fix you all up before anyone knows we left!” He reaches for Yuki, and puts a hand on her forehead. “Fever and paralyzing poison.” He nods and grabs some herbs that Yuki lent him. I close my eyes and sigh. “Come on, come on!” He pats my cheek. “Stay with us.”
“I… was just resting my eyes… moron.”
He cringes. “Don’t insult me when you look this pathetic. Besides, we failed this mission because we can’t work together.” My eyes get wide, and he notices. “This isn’t your fault, and I’m not trying to say that it is. But it’s everyone’s fault for not following Ryuu-Sensei’s wisdom. Ever since we joined up with her we’ve been nothing but a burden.” He grinds the herbs and then pours water onto them. “When you’re all better…” His eyes are drooping and Kinmaru’s chest moves heavily. He’s losing too much, “…we’ll make a vow to work together. Right?”
“Y-yes.” Yuki smiles and then looks at me, nodding. Kinmaru lifts her head up and gives her the medicine. She moves her arms and holds herself up just seconds afterwards. “I can move a little now.”
“Then come on.” He kneels over by me and starts to heal me. “Koi, we’ll all leave together once I get you and Yuki on your feet.” He’s shaking too much to hold his hands steady. I move my arm painfully up and grab his wrist.
“Stop… healing me.” He gasps. Before he asks, I decide to just give it to him straight. I do my best to keep my breathing steady. “I’m not going… to make it. You don’t have enough chakra left… to heal my wounds. And even if you did… you’d end up dying as well. You have just enough for Yuki to…” I cough violently and groan. Rolling over on my side I gasp for air. Blood is flooding my throat. “Heal Yuki, and leave.” My voice is scratchy and uneven now.
“W-what?!” He shouts. “No!”
“Yes.” I correct him.
“We can’t leave you like this!”
“Koi… no. Please…” Yuki weakly objects.
“Just shut up!” I stop to catch my breathe. “Both of you!” I turn my head away and spit out blood, then I turn back to them. Kinmaru tenses up and Yuki starts to cry again. “No… more tears. Leave. Now! Get the hell out… of here!” I can tell their about to protest when I speak up. “Respect my final wishes… and do what I tell you! It’s what… what Ryuu-Sensei would’ve done!”
When I look at them, Kinmaru is shakily healing Yuki who is now holding my bloody hand and desperately crying like her best friend had just died. Once she realizes Kinmaru’s healing her she turns around. “No… Kinmaru… stop it!” She yells and tries to push his trembling hands away. But he doesn’t stop and I nod at him. He nods back with a stern face and holds his emotions and tears in. Yuki just looks at me sadly. Her eyes widen and then fill with tears.
“Yuki cries too much.”
“Koi.” I blink and turn my head to her. I notice that she wants to say something important, but I’m slipping quickly. So I give her a small smile to remember me by. I hope it reassures her, I want to know what it is. Even though it’s not big and bright like Kaya’s I know that she’s just as surprised by it as I am. Her tear streams get thinner and she shares a smile of her own. “I just wanted you to know that…” She keeps on smiling and closes her eyes, “… you’ve always been special to me.” I blink in disbelief. But as my eyes finally focus on her smile I realize that she means it. And I gently squeeze her hand.
Kinmaru must’ve been listening, because his lip is starting to quiver. This is too emotional for that “pushover”. I laugh silently a little and then cringe. “Why is it that I don’t mean those words anymore?”
“No! Koi! Don’t move..!” I stop fidgeting and just continue to lay in the matted, jade grass. Kinmaru gets my attention and as I glance over I see him nod once, then twice, soon closing his eyes towards me before opening them again to look me in the eye. His tired, blue eyes stare into mine. I feel like he’s begging me to try, but that sort of begging can’t heal a wounded comrade.
I break the silence with a small sigh and command. “There… all done. Now go!”
“What..?!” Kinmaru grabs Yuki’s arm and pulls her away. “No! No! Koi! No please! Koi!” She screams as loud as she can. Her hand keeps slipping more and more from mine as she’s being dragged away. “Koi! KOI!” Her voice seems to echo in my ears.
“Don’t feel pity.” I scoff. “I’ll be sure to say ‘hey’ to Ryuu-Sensei and Ai for you two. You do remember Ai, don’t you? She had a fever… and then left my heart cold…” Short breathes, but I just don’t care anymore. I take in the last one and close my eyes. A smile spreads across my lips. “This is going to be so damn awesome…”