Title: Whispers Before Dawn
Date Started: 2007-2008
Date Finished: September 26, 2008
Rating: T (Language, violence)
True Summary: Its 1 min and 5 seconds before dawn; death still comes when you least expect it. That doesn't mean it doesn't come when you do expect it, however. A certain blond missing-nin looks over his past, and learns a lesson that few learn before death. So he simply hopes that somehow, they'll understand what this little smile means.
It was quiet tonight.
A little too quiet though.
A blank grey-blue eye stared from behind the foliage, cloudy from pain. Hands, previously tightened and tense, were slowly loosening their grip. A limp tongue, one on both hands, lolled lifelessly.
No birds would chirp, no wind would pass through, and no leaf dared to touch the dying man's body. He would die alone, no mercy given. After all, why should they if it was obvious he would have done the same? He would, right?
…Maybe not; maybe he would've given some mercy. But even with this thought (not that they could think) nothing would dare go near him all the same. It just wasn't worth it. It never was.
So the poor man (barely a man, more a boy) was left lying down, his blonde hair splayed across the barren ground. His blonde hair lightly covered the scope on his left eye, and his other eye held a dull blue iris. His face was blank and nearly lifeless. Slowly dying, alone and just so slowly…he wondered absentmindedly why he couldn't have just gone out in a bang like he wished. Were his sins so great, that not even that simple wish could be fulfilled? Perhaps they were; he was no saint after all. Far too many had died by his hands- or rather his bombs- in his effort to reach his dream…
Ah, his dream. And what a dream it was. He had been so stupid to believe he would ever reach his dream.
"I'm going to be the greatest shinobi in the village! No! Better than that! I'm going to be the best in the whole gigantic world! That way Mom, you can get your wish too! If I'm the best shinobi in the whole world, then you can order the Tsuchikage to do anything! We can even bring Dad back!"
She smiled softly and encouraged me, "Keep practicing. If you keep trying, and never give up, one day you'll reach your dream."
He had grinned at her, and promised that he would never give up on his dream; he would do anything it took to become the best shinobi ever. Anything. Who would have thought that entailed breaking down and killing at least half of his fellow chuunin- the very people he had graduated with-, three jounin, and a number of the ANBU that had chased him. Not to mention the civilians; he massacred perhaps a quarter of the entire civilian population. And because of all that, his mother was executed right in front of his eyes. Well, eye to be exact. He only had one working eye then, and the memory of its cause wasn't very hard to call up.
"Stop him! Restrain him, kill him if necessary!" Everything was a blur around me, and I felt an insane urge to laugh at them. Screams deafened my hearing, smoke blinded my sight, and the odor of burnt flesh oppressed my sense of smell. But I still had my sense of touch; I could still feel and that was all I needed. I was addicted to the rush of adrenaline; the cries of the dying excited me and only enticed me to let loose more of my creations.
"Haha HA! ART is a BANG! Get that?! MY ART-" I was lost in the exhilaration, so lost. There was blood flying through the air and I easily stabbed down any shinobi too close. But I turned my back too quickly; I was too confident. "AGHH!" A kunoichi, despite having a kunai shoved in her stomach, threw a handful of kunai towards me as a last ditch effort. Instincts and lots of luck saved me chest, neck, and head wounds; unfortunately, it was not enough to save me from a blinded eye. I stumbled, momentarily ceasing my continuous bombing.
"Get him! He's weak!" Desperate shouts filled the air and several shinobi jumped forward. This was their chance. Still shocked from the pain, I barely dodged the shuriken, and only a lucky stumble saved me from a particularly nasty earth jutsu. But I couldn't just let them take me! I snarled, left hand protectively covering my left eye, while my right groped for a weapon. More panic surged through me when I realized I had no clay left. I was stuck. Adrenaline kept me up nonetheless, and I drew up all my energy to dodge their attacks. If I could just find an opening… Suddenly a kunai just appeared in front of my face with no warning. It wrapped around me and it was only when I felt a sudden tightening that I found myself immobile and tied up in a bunch of wires. A pull to my left was all it took for me to figure out what happened. If my left eye was blinded, then it stood to reason that my left side was left unprotected from projectiles.
With of few quick jutsus and a particularly painful bash on the head, I fell into unconsciousness.
It was a miracle that he had been able to find a lonely surgeon that had been able to attach that scope to his eye; even more a miracle that he wasn't caught up in the times and merely saw him as another poor shinobi that needed help.
As I tripped for perhaps the sixth time, I finally found myself bereft of energy; I couldn't get up again. I was already weakened from my time spent in the cells, and it was only the anger I felt, that burning anger, when I saw my mother get executed for my crazed deeds that got me out of the village. That anger had long since dissipated, and I was only left with my will. My will to stay alive, and accomplish that dream I promised to my mother. I wouldn't have been able to complete the last half, but at least I could try to fulfill the first; to become the strongest shinobi ever.
(It was that dream that made him detest Itachi so much. He knew that at the time, he wasn't stronger than everybody (he would be though eventually, he told himself), but the blatant way Itachi seemed to hold himself, how he so easily proved himself stronger… it aggravated him. It was like he was no challenge at all to Itachi; not even worth the effort. It was this reason he could never properly cooperate with Itachi for long periods of time.)
But even my will could burn out. So as I laid face down on the ground, I slowly gave into the cold. I slowly let myself drop into the dark blackness, because somehow, it just wasn't worth it anymore.
When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was the warmth of a bed. An actual bed. I had grown up in the dirtier parts of Iwagakure, to put it nicely, and my mother and I never had such luxuries.
At first, I was groggy and didn't realize the implications, but when I remembered the last few days, I panicked. I was sure that if anyone had been in the room they would've noticed my momentarily stiffening, but when no one called me out, I relaxed, if only a little. Memories flowed through my head, and after painstakingly listing the facts, I calmed myself. If hunter-nins had caught me, they'd sooner just kill me than bring me back, and even if I was brought back for some reason, it was unlikely I'd be given a bed. Not to mention, if my senses were correct, I probably wouldn't be wrapped in bandages.
I slowly tried to open my eyes, my pulse starting to race once more, when I realized that my left eye wasn't covered in bandages; it was covered with something heavier.
I immediately tensed. I didn't feel anyone come in; did that mean that this man had been here the entire time, or was I simply becoming rusty? Maybe I was turning deaf as well, I thought sarcastically.
"I thought it would be better if I'd let you sort some of your thoughts out before announcing my presence."
"…Where am I?" I was suspicious, but from what I could tell, the speaker was an old man; it wouldn't be too difficult to take him down barehanded even with only one eye. Speaking of which… "What's on my eye, un?!"
"Calm down. As to where you are, I'll explain that in due time.
"I found you lying in the mud next to where I usually gather herbs; I'm a healer, you see. When I found you, you were in a terrible condition; it looked like you were tortured." I barely suppressed a flinch, but I doubt he missed the tensing of my shoulders if he noticed my awakening earlier. Nonetheless, he didn't stop, "There were cuts lining your body, multiple stab wounds, broken bones, and extreme chakra exhaustion just to name a few. That's not to mention your eye wound-"
"Yeah! What's up with my eye anyway, un?!" I interrupted restlessly.
"If you don't interrupt me, you'll find out!" The elderly man snapped. "Anyway, your eye wound…by the time I found you, it had bled through the bandage and I could tell the wound was only a few days fresh; I'm surprised that you survived with such a poorly cared wound. By that time, I already knew you were a shinobi; I've treated many of your kind and I also recognized your headband. You're an Iwa shinobi."
Mentally, I was protesting fervently and practically throwing a fit at the misconception, but outwardly I didn't even tense that time. "Yes, un. Now will you tell me what the hell you did with my eye?!"
The man seemed to huff in irritation before he decided to just to cut to the chase, "There was no way to save your sight in that eye; it was badly stabbed and you're lucky to have an eye in that socket anyway. I assumed, as a ninja you'd want your sight back, and since you were unconscious and there wasn't enough time to wait for you to awaken, I went ahead with it."
"W-wait, wait, wait, un! Went ahead with what?!" I was alarmed; he sounded serious.
He didn't bother to even reprimand me anymore and just continued. "I was hoping to try it out at any rate…I fixed something similar to a scope or a camera to what's left of your eye and your optical nerves."
I was stunned. This man…I didn't know what to think; too much was happening at once with my missing-nin status, the death of my only relative, torture, and now some bastard experimented with my eye and possibly gave me back the eyesight I lost merely some few days ago!? I didn't know if I was supposed to grateful or furious.
My emotions must have shown on my face because then he spoke, "From what I could tell afterwards, the surgery was a success, but we won't know for sure until you try it out. It should in theory work like a normal eye, but there are a few gimmicks I added in. I can tell you more about those later. For now, I suggest you wait another day before taking off the bandage I put on top of your eyes; you can use this time to sort out your thoughts as well. I'll bring up some food for you afterwards."
I heard the creaking of a chair and a door open until a pause, "I never introduced myself did I? My name's Kojiru."
He had stayed at Kojiru's home for only about a week; just long enough to test out and get used to his scope. Fortunately, it was a success, and his wounds had healed enough for him to at least get out of The Land of Earth. A week was already pushing it anyhow; he was surprised he hadn't been apprehended by the ANBU yet.
When he left the small house, he had gone quietly. Just because he murdered his way out of Iwagakure, didn't mean he was already a psychopath that enjoyed killing everyone he saw. And Kojiru had taken care of him too. He figured leaving before the ANBU caught up was a good enough 'thanks'.
After that, he had traveled through the lands as discreetly as he could. Despite previously only being about a B-class chuunin, after his stunt in Iwagakure he was listed in the bingo book as an A-class missing-nin("What!? Only A-class? How could I not be S-class?!"). Luckily, he had just recently been listed onto the bingo book; there were still quite a few villages he could go through without having to massacre everyone. He just had to hide away his hitai-ate(newly scratched!) and he was fine.
In fact, it was in one of those villages that he got his first mission, one full of destruction.
"So all I need to do is destroy that tower, un? This will be a piece of cake!"
"Don't get cocky, boy. I'm paying you good money for this, and there are guards everywhere."
I rolled my eyes -eye- and snorted. "As long as the tower is destroyed, the mission is completed, un? It doesn't matter how it's destroyed?"
"Whatever works for you, as long as by the end of this week, that tower is gone." The shadowy man said, his eyes looking down on me doubtfully. "Are you sure you're an A-class nukenin? You look more like some kid transvestite to me."
"Hey! I'm not a kid! And transvestites have nothing to do with skill!"
My client raised an eyebrow. "Does that mean that you are a transvestite?"
"W-wh-what?! No! And stop talking about transvestites! They have nothing to do with this conversation!" I huffed. "And I am A-class, un! Actually, I'm probably S-class!" I proclaimed indignantly. "That tower is definitely going to be gone before the end of today!"
The man snorted, "Today? Don't waste my time, kid. Just go and do your job."
I glowered at him, and promptly jumped up onto the roof and out of the alley. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, I muttered angrily, "Stupid old blind coot…kid!? I'm fourteen damn it…show him…un!"
As I crossed the civilian village, I narrowed my eyes at the high tower in the center of the village. It wasn't particularly huge, but apparently it and the people inside of it were threatening my client's company. I didn't really care; it just gave me the money I needed and the excuse to blow something up. Not that I needed an excuse.
I stopped on a rooftop, a good ways away from the tower. After making sure no one in particular was looking up, I stuck my hand into my pouch and started making my creation. Within seconds, I was up in the air; high enough so that anyone who saw just believed it to be a passing bird. I was going to blow the damn tower down today no matter what.
I brushed my hair from my face to reveal my scope. In those few weeks I had this scope, while seeing and trying to find out everything it could do, I learned how to style my hair in such a way that it was difficult to catch a good glimpse of my scope. Unfortunately, that along with my natural litheness gave me a few gender difficulties. But this wasn't the time to be pondering about other people's idiocy.
I inconspicuously circled the tower until I found a good angle to set my art so that the most damage would afflict the tower. I grinned; something was about to go boom. I carefully guided my bird to the spot I had chosen, and with a show of acrobatics, pushed off and flew backwards.
"Katsu!" I yelled, that same mad grin I wore during my destruction of Iwagakure on my face.
Suddenly, my bird exploded, and with it, the tower. Shrapnel went flying and smoke filled the air. I reveled in the screams and shouts, and just barely remembered to watch my landing. As I stumbled, I smirked, just thinking about how my client was feeling now. Maybe he'd be willing to add a little extra?
He would've smirked at that memory, but he didn't even have the strength for that anymore. He wondered, just how long would his misery be prolonged? How much longer until he could finally die? Even if he could continue living, he didn't think he would. He knew Akatsuki was falling…he had known ever since the first loss. Sasori. He sobered a little.
It would seem a little odd, how out of the entire Akatsuki, the one he had been closest too was the one he had always argued and disagreed with. Even the first day they met, all they had done was fought (but he totally started it!)
While outwardly, I merely looked stubborn and annoyed, inwardly I felt ashamed. I had been tricked from the beginning of the fight with Itachi. By a genjutsu! I was silently seething.
"Welcome to Akatsuki."
I narrowed my eyes slightly, and gazed upon the shadowy visage in front of me. After my humiliating loss, I was lead to a dark chamber; apparently the temporary meeting room. My fists tightened at the harsh realization that I was now a part of an organization for a belief I didn't even follow. And I had to work with a partner! I had thought that my days of forced teamwork were over after my alienation from Iwagakure.
"Are you the leader of this organization, un?!" I asked roughly, the sting of the other members' earlier comments still bothering me. Losing to some cocky bastard was infuriating, but having all three of them insult his art…
I stiffened slightly as an oppressing killing intent washed over me. "You will know me as Leader-sama." I nodded rigidly, my eyes glancing over the other colorful apparitions. "Your partner will be Sasori. You two will go on missions together and he will show you your room. Direct any questions you have to him." Short, sweet, and to the point.
I turned my head slightly, wondering which one was Sasori. I sure hoped he was one of the solid ones. Then again, those three obviously didn't have any appreciation for my art. Decisions, decisions…
Almost immediately, it seemed like we were dismissed and the strange apparitions disappeared. I supposed that was one thing I'd have to ask this Sasori guy.
"Brat. Over here." I looked over indignantly at being called a brat, and saw the strangely hunch back guy walking- sliding- towards me. Immediately, I connected the dots, and let me say, I did not like the implications.
"You're my partner, un?!" I screeched indignantly.
"Shut up, brat. It's not like I wanted some blond transvestite as my partner either."
"Gah! Why does everyone call me a transvestite?!"
"Because you are one."
"That was a rhetorical question, you blind, crippled, can't-see-awesome-art-when-it's-kicking-you-in-the -ass hunchback!"
At that comment, Sasori stopped, and slowly turned around. "What did you say about art, brat?"
Still angry and oblivious, I answered, "I said you couldn't see true art even when it kicked your stupid hunchbacked ass, un!"
"Art? What art? All you had were those useless clay explosions." Sasori almost seemed to sneer at me as I bristled.
"Then you are blind! That moment when they set off…that was true art! Fleetingly beautiful and then wilting away!" My hand started to sneak towards my clay bag as I prepared to give him a live example up close. No one called my art useless.
That was of course, before something silvery and sharp shot towards my hand. My eye widened imperceptibly, but before I could move away, it was pointed at my neck. 'It' being a silver, bony, and incredibly sharp tail. A tail that also seemed to be coated in something purple-y. "Idiot. Did you forget you used up all your clay during your trial?" I gritted my teeth. "Even if you didn't, there is no way such an immature and sightless brat could defeat me." It wasn't stated boastingly, but rather, like a fact. "Explosions? As art? That has to be the most ridiculous thing I've heard in my life. True art and true beauty is eternal. My art is everlasting and will never decay. That is true art."
For a moment I was surprised. Did that mean Sasori was an artist too? "Your art, un? What kind of art?" My previous annoyance was replaced with curiosity. I supposed that if my partner was artist (however terrible he may be) it might be bearable.
The mechanic tail retracted and he started to speak as he continued sliding towards where I assumed our rooms were. While I couldn't exactly see his face (a face only a mother could love), his voice gave the feeling of a raised eyebrow. "I suppose we haven't been properly introduced. Akasuna no Sasori. I create human puppets. Puppets that will last all eternity and never die. The only true art is art that lasts forever. Explosions…tch!"
I twitched. Struggling to contain my very violent urge to strangle him, poisoned tail still in mind, I grounded out, "So you think puppets are better than explosion?! The true beauty is in the fleetingness, un. If it lasts forever, appreciation of it eventually dulls! I'll respect you as a fellow artist, but I have to say puppets are definitely not true art, Sasori…danna."
His lips twitched in memory of that first meeting. It had gone on to become one of their largest arguments in history, but it was also when a sort of bond came into being between them. He wouldn't go so far as to call it friendship (the very thought made him want to hurl), but a certain trust was created and they became a good team. He honestly did respect him as an artist. He would never agree with his views (hell, he died! How's that for eternity?!), but he would admit that Sasori's skills exceeded his own at the time.
He was shocked when he heard his defeat. After all, he knew all about Sasori and his 'immortality'. To hear he was defeated…
Nonetheless, he moved on. However, considering he would be dead in a moment, he wondered if he would see Sasori again. If they did, it would be in hell. Heaven was no place for assassins. But if he did see him again…
Before he could follow that train of thought, the blonde was interrupted with a weak cough. It took him a while to realize he was the one coughing blood. It took him even longer to realize his eyes were closed. It didn't take him as long to figure out what that meant though.
"Tobi…" I was furious. And I was sure Tobi could tell too.
"Ahh! Deidara-sempai! Why is Deidara-sempai angry at Tobi?! Tobi is a good boy and is doing nothing bad!" Tobi ran around in circles, screaming his head off. Of course, the fact that I was chasing and throwing exploding clay at him meant nothing. "Ahhhh!"
"Itai! I-" BOOM! "…tai…" Tobi was twisted in rather painful looking position and swirlies spun in his eyes. "…Deeeiiiiidaraaaa-semmmmpai…"
I snorted before glaring at Tobi. "If you weren't such an idiot, this wouldn't have happened, un. Or if you were just someone else's partner; that'd be even better."
Somehow, Tobi seemed to instantly get better and he was all happy cheery again. "Oh, but Deidara-sempai! Then you'd be all aloooonnnnne! Don't worry Deidara-sempai! Tobi is a good boy and will keep you company forever!" His arm suddenly twisted in between mine and before I knew it he was dragging me around while skipping in a circle.
Eyebrows twitching, I fixed the darkest glare I had on him. Mouth snarling, eyes narrowed, killing intent flowing.
"Agh!" It was a lost cause; no matter what I did, Tobi wouldn't back off. Of course, that didn't mean I had to. Still, I retreated into sulking. "If you keep acting like this, un, not only are you going to die, you're gonna drag me with you too," I muttered. Surprisingly, Tobi paused at that. He seemed deep in thought, and after a second, I hesitantly scooted away from him. When he didn't say anything, I became a little worried. "…Hey? Tobi? You…okay?"
His face turned towards me, still deep in thought. "…Deidara-sempai…we really are going to die one day, huh?"
I instantly scowled and replied, "Obviously! Everyone dies sometime, you idiot!"
He pouted and complained, "That wasn't what I meant Sempai! I meant…" Tobi struggled for the right word.
I watched for a moment than gave an annoyed sigh, "We're both going to die one day, and no one lives forever. You saw the remains of Sasori yourself, and he thought he was immortal! I bet one day, some freakishly determined guy is going to even kill Hidan! Maybe it'll just be luck and bad timing, but we're the Akatsuki." A slice of bitterness slipped in at that word. "We have tons of people after our heads; so really, it's not that unlikely for one of us to just wind up dead. Shinobi were trained to kill, and although we're the best of best… Fate just seems to have a way of screwing us over. I mean, bright orange genin! Vivid pink medics! With the way it's going, I wouldn't be surprised if Itachi was killed by his duck-butt brother! And that's really saying something."
I sighed and turned away. Trying to recover my annoyed tone, I continued, "In any case, you should know that being a shinobi means being ready to die at any moment. It shouldn't be that shocking, un."
For a moment, Tobi looked at me, almost searchingly, and then that cheery tone came back. "Tobi knows that, Deidara-sempai! Tobi was just testing Sempai to see if he knew that because Tobi is a good boy! Deidara-sempai passes!"
I twitched and my fingers silently slipped into my pouch. "Well then don't mind me testing your reflexes, un; wouldn't want you to die unprepared, being a good boy and all," I replied sarcastically.
…He wished he could give a content smile. Honestly, his life wasn't so bad. Sure, he never expected to lose his eye, never wanted to become a missing-nin, and he never planned on joining the Akatsuki. But... in a twistingly strange way, it felt like it ended better than it ever could have if he stayed in Iwa. Whenever he tried to imagine himself still in Iwa with his mother, he felt a deep longing, but at the same time, an inherent wrongness about it. It just didn't belong. Maybe in some alternate universe, he would've never become a missing-nin. But in that same universe he would never really be the real Deidara. He would have the same name. But he would never be him.
...It seemed so cliché. He really did want to give a content smile, just so like, if anyone found him, they'd know he died peacefully. Because he did feel peaceful right? But… that wasn't really the reason why he wanted to give such a smile.
Why, why, why did he want to smile?
…Maybe so that if someone found him, the first thing they'd see wasn't a dead maniac bomber, but…just a boy that died? And then, maybe they too could realize that there is no right and wrong in thinking, no light and darkness in wars, and no good and evil in life. And hopefully they'll realize it before they die unlike him.
So maybe, the gods will just wait a little longer for him to gather the energy to smile. And maybe, that smile will actually change someone, and become the best thing he did in his entire life.
But he'll never know, because he died 5 seconds later. But that's alright too, because one minute earlier it was a quiet night and no birds would chirp, no wind would pass through, and no leaf dared to touch the dying man's body. His blond hair was splayed across the ground, lightly covering his scope on his left eye, while his other eye had held a dull blue iris. His face had been blank, and nearly lifeless.
And these 5 seconds later, it's still a quiet night. No birds chirp, no wind passes through, and no leaf dares to touch this dead man's body. His blonde hair is splayed across the ground, and it lightly covers his scope of his left eye. His other eye holds a dull blue iris. But this time, his face shows a deep smile, and seems quite peaceful.
"Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come."
And dawn has come.
That was such a pun if I ever saw one. And by the way, that quote is by Rabindranath Tagore. So don't like, sue me or anything…
(sigh…) I finally finished this…I admit, definitely not my best work, but I think the writing concept in general is good. It's just the ideas are bad…Like, before people flame me, I totally already understand that the way Deidara gets his scope is totally unbelievable. And seriously I know nothing about optical nerves and impossible health miracles. I wrote the first half like a year ago. And anyways, I was mostly writing for fun, so…(sigh…) in any case, it is kind of my fault cuz I was too lazy to change it…but please don't flame me about it. Do feel free to give constructive criticism still though, I definitely need it.
The ending stumped me forever; I still don't think I really did well enough on it… But overall, this was pretty fun writing. I think I overdid some parts, but this was my…big project of the year so to speak.
Please review and give me constructive criticism. I'm still in middle-school and my writing career is tiny. But ultimately, thank you for reading this. THANK YOU!