My cat, Tiburon, is currently zooming around the house like a madman and all you can hear are his fast footsteps and his claws as he slides around on the floors.
He's an idiot. I love him.
I don't know how long I sat in there, but eventually Kathryn's crying quieted down until the guest room was silent. I finished writing and while I was trying to massage feeling back into my hand, I heard voices in the guest room—deeper ones, so that told me Deidara and Sasori had gone in there to check on Kathryn. Good. She had been alone long enough.
A few moments later, there was a gentle knock on the bathroom door. "Alice?"
I sighed and closed my eyes. I closed my notebook and slid the pencil into the spiral spine. "You can come in, Itachi."
There was a moment of silence before there was a sharp metallic click signifying that Itachi was either picking the lock or breaking it, and then the door opened. Itachi stepped into the room and while his expression was carefully blank, there was deep concern and sadness in his eyes. I sighed at the sight of him acting like a kicked dog and I extended my hand towards him.
"C'mere," I said and some of the tension bled out of him. "If you're going to leave me, I'm getting in some hugs and kisses before you go."
He walked over to me and took my hand in his. He sat down beside me, still holding my hand, and then pulled me close to his side. He wrapped his arms around me and leaned in to press his lips to my temple. "I'm so sorry."
"Don't be, Itachi." I turned to meet his eyes and lifted my hand to brush his hair out of his face. "It's not your fault. You have to go home, as much as I don't want you to. I wish I could keep you here. I'm sad. I'll be sad for a long time. But it's not like either of us has much of a choice."
He closed his eyes and tilted his head so his forehead rested against mine. "I love you."
"I love you too, Itachi."
"I don't want to go."
"I don't want you to go, either. At least, I don't want you to go without me."
"I wish I could take you with me."
I kissed his cheek. "I know. I do too."
"It was shocking to hear that we would be leaving so soon. I knew Pein-sama and the others were figuring out a way to take us home, but I did not know they were so close. I didn't know it would happen so soon." He stroked my cheek with his thumb. "I thought we had more time. I'm not ready."
"I'm not either," I admitted. "I don't think I ever will be, though. It probably would be harder. The more time we're together, the more I love you."
He sighed in response. "I hate this."
"Me too." A soft rap on the door drew our attention and I looked up to see Kisame poking his head into the bathroom. I smiled and reached for him. "Get in here and hug me, Kisame."
Kisame's smile was soft, but sad, and he walked into the room. He shut the door behind himself and then shuffled over to us. He sat down on my other side and wrapped his giant arms around me and Itachi, squeezing us both to his broad chest. He rested his cheek on the top of my head after pressing a kiss to my hair.
"I'm gonna miss you, Alice," Kisame said.
"I'm going to miss you too, Kisa," I replied. "I love you."
He ruffled my hair with his fingers. "I love you too. Promise me you'll take care of yourself when we leave tomorrow. Okay?"
I nodded and leaned into him, pulling Itachi along with me. "I will."
"Atta girl," Kisame said. He squeezed Itachi's shoulder. "I'll take care of this one for you."
"Please do," I replied, smiling when Itachi's eyes narrowed with irritation. "Itachi, take care of Kisame for me."
"Of course," Itachi said, and he sounded a little amused.
I took a deep breath. "Let me up. I need to lock the door."
Kisame frowned but let me out of his arms. Itachi took a second longer, but he let me stand up and walk over to the bathroom door to lock it. I returned to them and immediately they latched back onto me. I could feel their confusion but I didn't address it yet.
"Is there a way you two can make sure no one listens?" I asked. "There's a lot I have to tell you before you leave."
Kisame's eyes narrowed but he and Itachi exchanged a glance over my head before Itachi nodded. He patted himself down before pulling a piece of paper out of somewhere in his clothes. At my curious look, he shrugged and then pressed the paper to the wall behind us. A small burst of chakra and it activated.
"Where did you get that and what is that?" I asked.
"I made it. Any shinobi worth their kunai is capable of making privacy seals," Itachi said. "I had it in my clothing. All of us have taken to carrying around a few meager weapons and supplies on us just in case."
I squinted at him and then looked at Kisame.
Kisame shrugged. "We're ninja."
I rolled my eyes. "Whatever. That'll keep someone from listening in?"
"Short of a Hyūga looking through the walls and reading your lips, yes."
"What about Zetsu?"
"It will even keep Zetsu out," Itachi replied, though his confusion doubled.
I sighed. "Okay. Good. Listen closely because I'm only going to say this once. I'm not taking any questions until the end. Don't interrupt me. This is very important."
Kisame and Itachi frowned but leaned in closer and then I began to talk.
There was no way in hell I was letting them go back to their world without knowing everything that I could tell them. I wasn't going to leave them to Obito and Zetsu's whims.
When I was done, Kisame and Itachi were both staring at me with wide eyes. Then they looked at each other and Kisame spoke first.
"What the fuck do we do?"
"I…I don't know," Itachi admitted. "To think Zetsu…"
"And Obito," Kisame whispered. "Fuck."
I squeezed Kisame's forearm and Itachi's hand. "Don't do anything or tell anyone until you two are certain you can survive whatever it is you plan to do. Whether that's leaving the organization or confronting someone—that's up to you. Just please don't do anything stupid or rash. Be cautious. Zetsu is in this for the long game. He's been planning it since Ashura and Indra. He does not care about either of you and he can and will kill you himself or manipulate someone else to do it for him. Obito is still under his thumb and he won't hesitate to keep the plan going. Feign ignorance. Pretend everything is okay and that you don't know more than you're supposed to. Protect yourselves and each other."
Kisame sighed and leaned down to bump his forehead against the top of my head. "Thank you for telling us this, Alice."
"This information is invaluable," Itachi agreed and he kissed my cheek. "Thank you."
"You two staying safe and alive—and the others, if possible—is the only thing I want. That's all I ask. If you can do that, then I'll be just fine."
"We'll do our best," Kisame assured me.
"Good," I said. "I will take your questions now."
We spent the night in my bathroom talking. I answered all of Kisame and Itachi's questions until they ran out of them. When we moved onto safer topics, Itachi removed the privacy seal and set it on fire with a small burst of chakra. They watched me take the pages out of my notebook and fold them up as we talked and the night was full of hugs and kisses and proclamations of love and assurances that we would all be okay.
We would be okay, but it would be hard. I loved Kisame and Itachi more than words could say, and it was clear they cared a great deal for me, too. This was going to be so difficult for all of us.
At some point, I got a text from Louis and Brett saying that they weren't coming home, but I didn't feel the need to respond. I didn't really care why or what they might have been doing. I was honestly sort of glad they were gone so I wouldn't have to deal with them while saying goodbye to the Akatsuki.
Eventually, we heard movement in the condo and decided it was time to get up. I wanted to say goodbye to the others and I was sure there were some preparations to make before they could leave. I couldn't monopolize them during their final hours with me, though I really wanted to.
We walked down to the kitchen together and the table was already surrounded by Pein, Konan, Hidan, Kakuzu, Tobi, and Sasori. Zetsu wasn't in the kitchen, but a glance out the window showed that he was doing something in the back yard. I stepped away from Itachi and Kisame, heading for Tobi who was humming as he filled a cup with water.
"Tobi," I said so I didn't startle him.
He turned to look at me and the usual goofiness to his mannerisms were significantly dulled this morning. He set his cup aside and greeted me warmly. "Alice-chan! Good morning!"
"Morning." I stepped in to hug him tightly. "I'm gonna miss you, Tobi."
"Tobi is going to miss Alice-chan, too," Told replied, ruffling my hair and squeezing me just as tightly as I was hugging him. He twitched a little when I slid my hand into his pocket, leaving some folded papers within, but didn't call me out on it. "You are a good friend, Alice-chan."
"You are too, Tobi," I said, pulling away from him. "Take care of yourself, okay? Don't let Deidara push you around so much and don't let anyone hurt you. Yeah?"
He gave me a stiff, comical salute. "Yes ma'am!"
I smiled and met his eye through the eyehole of the mask before I turned away from him. I could feel him watching me as I walked over to the table. I sat down beside Hidan and he immediately curled his arm over my shoulders, dragging me closer and ruffling my hair. I leaned into him, feeling the lump in my throat grow.
I was going to miss him.
"Where are Kathryn and Deidara?" Kisame asked.
"Still in the room," Sasori replied. "She's having a hard time."
"I can imagine," Itachi said softly, eyes flicking to me.
"Surprised you three came out so soon," Kakuzu admitted and he looked at me.
I shrugged. "Pretty sure Kathryn cried herself to sleep. I didn't sleep. We stayed up talking."
"About what?" Hidan asked.
"Kinky sex, Hidan," I said dryly and then grunted when he jabbed me lightly in the side. "Just talking. Avoiding the elephant in the room and all that." My gaze flicked towards the door when I heard a familiar floorboard creak. "Here they come."
We all looked to the entrance as Kathryn entered first looking like she just came back from the grave. Deidara looked crushed as she dragged him into the room by the hand. He looked like he hadn't slept, either, but his eyes weren't puffy from crying like Kathryn's were.
Kathryn looked at me and scowled. "How do you not look like shit right now?"
"Wait until they actually leave," I replied and then looked at Pein. "So, when are you leaving?"
"Soon. Shortly after Zetsu is finished," Pein replied.
I sighed and then turned to fully face Hidan despite both of us sitting down. I hugged the shit out of him. He grinned and hugged me back, though the expression didn't really reach his eyes. He eventually got sick of the awkward embrace and stood, lifting me with him, and hugged me properly. I buried my face into his shoulder, fingers fisting in the back of his shirt.
"I'll miss you, bitch," Hidan said. "Spread the word of Jashin-sama for me, will you?"
I laughed once and squeezed him tighter. "Of course, Hidan. I'm going to miss you too. Love you, asshole. Don't do stupid shit."
"Speak for your fucking self," he snapped, but tightened his grip. He released me a moment later and messed up my hair. "Take care of the skinny bitch."
"I will," I assured him and then I went over to Kakuzu. He stood as I reached him, and to my surprise, he allowed me to hug him and even returned the embrace. "I'll miss you, Kakuzu."
"Me too, kid," he said, smoothing down my hair. "Don't get yourself killed."
I scoffed. "I should be saying that to you, old man."
He bopped me on the top of the head in reprimand, though it didn't hurt at all. "Watch it."
I snickered and pulled away. "Love you, Kakuzu. Stay safe, okay?"
He nodded. "Thank you."
I was stopped from hugging anyone else when Zetsu phased through the wall. He looked over the occupants of the kitchen before looking at Pein. "We're done."
"Good," Pein said. "Thank you, Zetsu." He looked over his subordinates. "Let's go."
I followed the others outside to the backyard to where there was a bunch of symbols and shit all over the grass. Zetsu must have been working on this for a while because it was elaborate as fuck. Still, I glared at the seal and seriously contemplated going over to it and messing it up. This was where they would leave me and I hated it.
I grabbed Zetsu when he emerged from the house and I hugged him. "Bye, Zetsu. I'll miss you."
I would, since as a character he was fine, but I also really wanted him to burn in hell.
Had to keep up appearances, though.
"See you, kid," Zetsu replied. "We'll miss you, too."
I patted his arm and then walked over to Deidara as Kathryn broke away from him to go and say goodbye to Hidan. Deidara grunted when I yanked him into a back-breaking hug and he was quick to return it, squeezing me even tighter and grinning when I wheezed.
"I love you, Dei," I told him. "I'm going to miss you."
Deidara rested his forehead on my shoulder since he was shorter than me. "I love you too." He looked at me as we pulled away from each other. "Take care of Kathryn for me. I couldn't live with myself if anything happened to her because of me. And you take care, too, yeah."
"I promise," I said with a smile and I ruffled his hair. He scowled and then mused mine in revenge. I laughed and shoved him away before moving on to my next victim.
"Pein, hold still and don't even think about running away," I ordered, striding over to him. "You lived in my house for a few months without paying rent so you're hugging me whether you like it or not."
Pein gave me a flat stare but remained where he was as I stomped over to him. "Alice, you could have just asked."
I shrugged. "Yelling at you is more fun."
He shrugged and nodded at me with an eye twitch. I did the same in response before I hugged him, smiling at our code. I slipped another small stack of tightly folded paper into his hand but hugged him tighter before he could do more than close his fingers around it. He took it in stride, returning the hug and patting my back gently.
"Bye Pein," I said after releasing him. "I'll miss you, my fearless leader."
"Goodbye, Alice. Thank you for taking care of us when we needed you." Pein told me. "I will miss you too. Your kindness will not be forgotten."
"It's been my pleasure," I replied. "Be safe and remember everything I told you, okay?"
He dipped his head. "Of course."
Konan came next. I walked over to her and she smiled when she saw me coming. She opened her arms and extended them towards me, looking elegant and angelic as always. She laughed softly when I hugged her and her grip on me was tight, especially when I lifted her up off of her feet a little. I set her back down after a second, but her grip remained firm and unyielding.
"Konan, I don't know how I could ever thank you for what you did for me," I said as I hugged her. "I'm gonna miss you like crazy. You're my favorite girl right alongside Kathryn."
She pulled back just enough to kiss my cheek. "I will miss you too, Alice. It was such a pleasure meeting you and Kathryn. What I did was payment to you for taking such good care of us so selflessly. Thank you. We likely wouldn't have made it without you. Your help, both in this world and what you've told us about our future, has been invaluable."
I let her go and met her eyes. "I loved every second of having you guys here. I wish you could stay longer. I hate the thought of you guys leaving, especially since it's so dangerous where you come from. But you're prepared. I've told you everything I can. If you're careful, you all should be fine. So please, for the love of god, be careful."
She smiled warmly. "We will. Thank you." She nudged me, eyes flicking beyond me briefly. "There's someone else you should say goodbye to, and Kathryn is almost here."
I scoffed and then turned. Sasori caught me when I crashed into him and he curled his arm around my waist when I hugged him tightly. He smirked and tilted his head to meet my eyes. "Hello, Alice."
"Hi, shitface," I replied and I rested my head on his shoulder, knocking my head against his. "I'm going to miss you, Sasori."
He made an agreeing sound. "The feeling is mutual."
"I won't have anyone intelligent to talk to after you leave," I hugged him tighter. "No more sarcasm battles."
"I'm going to miss those," he admitted. "It's going to be rather lonely without you there to bicker with me all the time." His other arm joined in on the embrace.
"Thank you, Sasori," I said, kissing him on the cheek. "I love you."
"Thank you, Alice." Sasori told me, returning my hug. "Take care of yourself and Kathryn."
Goddamn it, I was about to cry.
I took a moment to compose myself before pulling away. Sasori met my eyes and gave me a small smile before he pushed me lightly towards Itachi and Kisame. I turned to look at them and saw they were watching me so I pulled up a smile of my own.
"Kisame, get over here so I can hide you in my pants from Pein. They'll never find you," I ordered.
Kisame released a startled bark of laughter at that and walked over to me. He lifted me off the ground in a shark-hug (like a bear-hug, but better because Kisame was involved). I buried my face into the crook of his neck and held him back as tightly as I could.
"Kisame, you're my favorite person ever," I told him seriously. "I love you. I love you so much and I'm going to miss you every second of my life."
Kisame sighed quietly and his fingers curled into my shirt. "I love you too kid." He set me down and bent over to let me kiss his cheek. "You're my favorite, too." He kissed my forehead. "Go and say goodbye to Itachi. We're leaving soon."
Biting back the tears and urge to tell Kisame that I loved him again, I walked over to Itachi. Kathryn was crying on Sasori, but I could tell that when it came time for her to say goodbye to Deidara, she would be bawling. Sasori didn't seem at all bothered by a teenage girl sobbing into his clothing. He held her back just as tightly as she was clutching onto him. He rubbed his hand up and down her back gently, even stroking her hair to try and soothe her.
I hugged Itachi as soon as I reached him. "Itachi, I love you. I'm going to miss you."
He grabbed my chin and brought my face to his so he could kiss me.
"I love you, Alice," he said. "More than anything." He kissed me again, deeper and with more feeling. It felt like a confession and a goodbye all in one and it tore my heart apart. I kissed him back, trying to convey just how much I loved him and how much I would miss him. How much I didn't want him to go.
Itachi pulled away, pressing our foreheads together. His voice was soft as he stared into my eyes, hands cupping my face. "I will never forget you, Alice."
"I love you," I whispered, finally losing the battle to contain my tears. "I'll love you forever."
I held his hand as he stepped away from me, until the distance broke us apart. I watched him walk away to join the other Akatsuki members in the seal. Pein began weaving hand-seals as soon as everyone was within the circle and I watched him form each one. The Akatsuki watched us back and Pein held my gaze as he formed the hand-signs.
Kathryn rushed to my side and I hugged her close, guiding her down to the ground as she sunk to her knees. She cried her eyes out and we both watched my cats vanish with a huge cloud of smoke. The seal on the grass was gone, and so were the Akatsuki.
We were alone.
They had taken half of us with them.
Last chapter is coming up. I'm almost fucking done. Thank god
It shouldn't have taken me almost five years. It should have been an easy fix/edit, but it did. Sorry about how long it took, but at least it's done now.
I have zero intentions of editing MiMtK or StK, so don't hold your breath on that one. That might change at some point, but probably not. They're 100 and 73 chapters versus 32 original CYK chapters. Can you imagine how long it would take me to rewrite those? Holy shit, no thank you.
Fun Fact: Did you guys know that Naruto is getting a Hollywood movie adaptation? It's going to be fucking terrible just like every other anime movie adaptations. I can't wait. Gonna laugh my ass off.
Answer: Um, my favorite anime/manga is Naruto or Bleach. Depends on my mood. Favorite cartoon is Avatar the Last Airbender. Favorite TV show is either Game of Thrones or Brooklyn 99, depending on my mood. Favorite movie... Probably Star Wars episodes IV, V, and VI, with particular emphasis on V and VI. I also really like the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter movies.
QotC: What's your favorite Naruto opening? What's your favorite ending? I'm sure I've asked this before, but idc.
ARC: Umm... Gonna recommend the new Dororo. It's a really interesting anime. The animation is awesome and the story is enthralling. The characters are great. I definitely think it deserves more love and attention because no one is talking about it and they should be.
Remember when I said in an earlier author's note that I wasn't/probably wasn't going to have Zetsu be his evil self? Well I fucking lied lol. Since Alice actually knows how the manga/anime ends, it just didn't make sense for Zetsu to still be someone she loved and trusted. Still doubt I'm gonna edit MiMtK, tho because fuck that lol.
Also, the last time I updated y'all on my personal life was a while ago. I have five dogs still and they are Bo, Daisy-Noodle, Roxy, Rogue, and Sophie. My dog Zelda died really suddenly and abruptly last year. It was actually really traumatic and I had nightmares about it for weeks. I still occasionally will have nightmares about it. But, my mom got Sophie shortly after Zelda passed on and she's cute but an absolute dumbass. My cat Tiburon (usually called Tibby) is an asshole, but adorable and super friendly. I have seriously never met a friendlier cat in my life. It's kind of obnoxious.
I'm still in college because I switched majors again lol, but my classes are all online. I'm a creative writing major so I have no job prospects, but at least I've got a fucking degree because those are about as useful as a wet paper-bag these days. My advice to all of you is to go to a trade school. Don't waste your money on a big university unless you're going to make a lot of money or unless it's something you really want. Just be prepared to sell your soul to pay for student loans. Going to college was the biggest and most expensive mistake I've ever made.
On a lighter note! My brother had a kid earlier this year. His name is Liam and he's really cute, which is saying something because I usually think babies just resembled really angry potatoes. Kathryn's kid is gonna be like four this year and he's a cutie.
Hope y'all are doing well.