Second installment in Canon Patchworking with Uchiha Ren series
This chapter has been beta'd for you by hestia8693 and MoonRaven1412
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...yeah. So you know how fun is it to have your hard drive die on you, having to rush your thesis after said death eats all you had written so far, catch the plague AND THEN barely a month later get your ass kicked by a common cold because said plague did a number on your lungs?
Hi. *slides chapter forward*
"Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient."
― Steve Maraboli
Once Shisui calms down enough to talk, they talk for hours. He's not okay, that is clear to see, but he keeps drilling Ren about anything and everything. So she answers whatever questions she can. And even subdued, he's pretty energetic, reacting to everything of interest animatedly.
He learns that Ren adopted Sasuke, that Sasuke carted clan head responsibilities off to her, that she adopted Naruto and outed his parentage via utilizing the most basic deduction skills available through children. He pretty much gets the cliff notes of everything from Ren's awakening in the hospital after she was certain she was dead until their meeting now after she was certain that he was dead.
It's a rollercoaster, to be sure.
Shisui, for his part, also speaks. Mostly of his time in the falls. How the spiders found him, how he spent a good few months basically in a coma, sometimes coming in and out of consciousness, always blurred by the now-forever darkness. How he had freaked out when he realized that his eyes were gone, and then again when he realized that his caretakers were actual giant spiders. (Understandable, that freakout. Especially without sight. That meant he had to have discovered that by touch.) How those spiders had to pump him full of nature chakra to save his life and his spine in a way that would actually let him recover mobility below his neck.
Which in turn is what led to Ren sitting behind Shisui, staring wide-eyed at his now-bare back, a little fascinated and a little horrified, because now, after seeing the abominations at the edge of the realm, she knows that this could have gone so wrong. In a way, it very nearly has.
And by that she means an incomplete sage mode that, by necessity and its very nature, Shisui is now entirely unable to turn off. Because the mutations have progressed too far, and if he somehow managed to retract the mutations…
Ren winces, looking at the spine encased in chitin, in the telltale gloss of the skin on the entirety of Shisui's back that betrays the fact that it's no longer human skin, at its hardness and almost plasticky feel. At the way the flesh twisted to accomodate for the armor that kept his bones encased and whole and the delicate pathways of chakra and nerves underneath functioning.
"They found it broken in at least three places," Shisui explains. "They assumed it was worse, but with cracks like those, if they had done nothing, I'd just be a blinking vegetable. Well, 'broken' is a nice way of putting it, is what Inoue said."
"How did you even get those fractures?"
"Likely my fall into the Naka river. I went down back-first and it's pretty shallow in some places. Rocky, too," he says, patting his right shoulder blade for emphasis, and sure enough; what is a jagged, fully healed scar now must have once been a really gnarly wound. Too jagged for it to have been a weapon or animal, and just nasty enough for it to have been from a sharp rock. And with how weakened Shisui was from his preceding fight with Danzō, and having lost both eyes — one having been stolen and the other given to that man-baby, Itachi — it's no wonder that he had been too weak to cushion his fall in any way.
Hell, he had expected to die, hadn't he? He would have, if the stars hadn't literally aligned to spite that. And even then, the road to recovery would likely never end for him.
"I can see that," Ren says with a grimace. "So… you technically have Sage Mode, too."
Shisui waves his hand in a so-so gesture. "I can't control it for shit. All it does is keep my spine in working order and give me cravings for raw meat, really. And the sensing. It's been a blessing, with my eyes gone, and I can tell where all living things are, which is neat. I'm still working on the plants and rocks, though."
"That's why you're using the staff right now?" Ren asks.
"Yeah. It's easy to balance and feel around. And whack a bitch."
Ren snorts and eyes the staff. It looks like it's carved from wood, encased in spider silk and welded so that it forms a rudimentary but effective weapon. Smart, too, a blunt weapon like that can function as a means to sense the environment as well, and there's little chance to hurt oneself with it.
Shisui grins. "Wanna spar?"
"You know what? Sure. You were in ANBU, weren't you? Doubt lack of eyes is going to slow you much."
"I sure hope it doesn't! Haven't fought a human since I lost them, though, so it's gonna be interesting."
It doesn't, in fact, slow him down much at all. Ren learns that quickly after they reach the usual spot where she's been harassed by spiders for the last several days. Now they sit around and just watch, full of judgment, as Ren and Shisui circle each other, and then jump forward, no more invitation needed.
Despite his lack of eyes, Shisui is mean with his staff. Ren, meanwhile, doesn't exactly have a weapon to counter the staff.
She is left blocking the overhead swing with wires, the thin material tightening annoyingly around her fingers. Shisui lets out a surprised 'ooh', only to lift the staff, flip it, and try to slam it into Ren's face the very next moment. She avoids it, slapping the staff to the side, and wastes no time getting into his personal space, engaging in a brief bout of taijutsu until Shisui gets his bearings back and pushes her away with the staff, a strike to the chest that almost knocks the air out.
"That thing is pretty useful for keeping people away," Ren muses, dancing away and considering if she should bust out kunai, or just jump straight to the naginata. The small weapon scrolls at her belt are almost itching, begging to be used.
"If it was so good at keeping people away how come you punched me in the face so easily?" he asks, and Ren shrugs in answer and laughs, not that he can see.
That's when Shisui starts twirling around in practiced katas, hitting her several times with the staff, and Ren stops considering and just unseals the naginata, using it to block another overhead swing that would have surely clipped her shoulder instead.
"Huh," Shisui says in surprise. "That's a polearm weapon, too."
"Yeah, but mine is sharp," Ren snaps with a grin that's probably slightly manic, and pushes forward, pleasantly surprised to find that in a contest of raw physical strength she's the one who wins. By a lot.
Shisui, despite Ren's initial worry, proves to be pretty good at avoiding the blade of the naginata. He probably hears it clearly, since even Ren can hear its whistle just fine, and Shisui proves that his other senses have, indeed, sharpened quite drastically in the absence of sight. She notes that he likely judges the distance she is from him by the sound of her breath, but when she holds it to fool him, he seems to switch his focus to the nearly-nonexistent sound of her footsteps.
In the end they both walk out of it with bruises but no cuts, because Ren tried and Shisui's skin was hardened by the nature chakra. All in all, it was quite rewarding. Shisui has a different fighting style to anyone she's encountered before; one adjusted to his lack of sight, focusing on hearing and chakra sensing, though he seems to be more used to fighting multiple enemies at once, rather than just one. And it's clear that his opponents of choice haven't been human-shaped.
Still, he had adapted quickly, and Ren found it quite impressive. She is the first human opponent he's fought since Danzō, and he had fared much better than she assumed he would.
Ergo, the nasty purple bruise blooming on her cheek where she'd failed to parry his staff. That thing has a rebound and is flexible enough that it doesn't break on impact.
"Sorry about that," Shisui says sheepishly, scratching the back of his neck, as he notices her poking gingerly at the bruise. "I was guesstimating at how tall you are."
"But did you mean to hit me in the face with that thing?"
"No, your neck."
"How is that better?!"
He laughs at that, and yelps when Ren leaps at him, sending them both tumbling to the ground. After a short struggle, Ren manages to get Shisui in a chokehold and give him a proper noogie. It feels oddly right, even though she'd officially met the man just this morning. But he's family — fairly close family, if her memory serves her right — and somewhere deep down that puts Ren oddly at ease. Not because she knows Shisui-the-character from an anime she watched once a long time ago, the plot of which she'd likely ruined so much it hardly matters anymore, but because this is Shisui-the-person, her cousin.
Her first cousin, she realizes, startled. That's her mother's nephew. How had she forgotten until now? She has a significantly closer kinship with Shisui than she has with Sasuke and Itachi, and right now, it's sending her into a bit of a spin.
"You good?" Shisui asks when she lets him go and sits down on the ground to make sense of that new sudden revelation.
"You were dead."
"Everyone thought you were dead," she corrects herself. "Even before-before Itachi. And then the massacre happened, and then it was just me and Sasuke and… I don't know. I guess I internalized that Sasuke was my only family left, and therefore my closest blood relative and — now I'm trying to deal with the fact that you're way more closely related to me than he is."
"Huh. Damn, you're right," he says, sounding a bit astonished himself, as he sits up and hums thoughtfully. "If we go by aunt Mikoto's line, then — damn, great-great-grandparents are your closest common ancestors, right?"
"Mhm. Madara's older sister—what was her name again?"
"She's your namesake, dumbass, why can you never remember!" Shisui laughs and Ren groans, throwing a handful of leaves at him.
"Because she did fuck all in the founding era!" she complains. "But then again, not many women fought back then, did they. Anyway! I'm pretty sure I'm more closely related to him through a more obscure family line because Jashin know we're inbred as fuck at this point, but that's the most prominient one, isn't it?"
"Yeah. I'm also related to the two of them through uncle Fugaku," Shisui nods. "We're second cousins, there, I think."
"Purity of blood huh," Ren sighs. "I mean—I guess they do have a point. The Sharingan is kinda broken as an ability if you manage to get it to work properly. Doesn't really excuse the inbreeding, though. Little wonder half the clan went senile."
Shisui laughs at that a little, and punches her shoulder. She throws some more leaves at him.
"Speaking of!" she says suddenly, startling herself more than Shisui. "I know you're currently without one, but can you train me on my Sharingan? Because all I got is Kakashi, and Kakashi is…"
"Eh, I don't know. Kakashi should be a good teacher for it."
"For the basics, yes. Not the Mangekyō."
"Wait, you have—"
"Well, apparently getting stabbed through the chest by your cousin is traumatic enough to do the trick?"
"Shit, Ren, I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I'm alive and I got freaky eyes. You only learned about it now, but I've had over four years to get used to the post-massacre world. Time helps."
"Mmm… I still feel like crying whenever I think about it. Fuck, what was he thinking," Shisui snarls, and slams his fist on a nearby log for emphasis. The wood splinters and crumbles under the force of it. He takes a few deep breaths. "Alright. Okay. I'll-it will probably take some creative maneuvering since, well, I can't see shit, but I think I should be able to train you up on your Mangekyō."
"Mhm, I appreciate it. Hey, you know what?"
"When you get your eyes back, how about we swap?"
"Eyes. For the Eternal Mangekyō. We're the next best thing after siblings, so the risk of the tissue getting rejected should be pretty low, no?"
"Uh… Isn't getting the Eternal Mangekyō supposed to be, you know… dramatic as all hell? Paid for with blood and anguish?"
Ren snorts at that. "Look," she says, quite mirthfully, "just because our ancestors wouldn't have known common sense if it beat them over the head with a folding chair doesn't mean we have to be the same."
"Huh," Shisui says eloquently. "You know what, you do have a point. But—what about Sasuke then?"
"What about him?"
"He might get the Mangekyō eventually, right?"
"Then I'll help him rip out Itachi's eyes," Ren says, as if it's an obvious solution. "I mean. They're brothers from the same set of parents, they could only be more closely related if they were twins. I'm just his cousin however-many-times-removed through the convoluted mess that's the clan's family tree."
"Oh. You need help ripping Itachi's eyes out?"
Ren grins, a tad bloodthirsty, gleeful at the irony of Itachi's best friend now happily offering to maul him. "Oh, do I ever. Let's get you safely out of Jōren first; I have people hopefully dealing with Danzō while I'm here, so we might be able to get to it as soon as I'm done here."
"Oh, that would be nice, yeah. Might be problematic because of how attuned I've gotten to the chakra here, though…"
"At this point you could probably summon him," Elder Kana says from behind Ren, who yelps, startled, at the giant spider suddenly looming over her. Shisui also flinches, engrossed in the conversation enough to miss the spider's approach.
"Warn a person, goddamnit! Especially if you're hiding your chakra signature!"
"If I feel like it, maybe," Elder Kana says haughtily.
"What do you want?"
"To check up on you, I suppose. I have no idea how interacting with Shisui will affect you, given his incomplete sage mode."
"Hey!" Shisui calls indignantly. "Tell me if I'm a hazard beforehand next time!"
"If I knew, I would. I didn't, so I came to check."
"Well gee, thanks for the vote of confidence."
"I feel fine," Ren interjects.
Elder Kana looks between the two of them, at the way Shisui scoots closer and grabs Ren's sleeve. The spider sighs, long-sufferingly. "Very well, but I expect you to do some chakra exercises later. You're better at this than we accounted for, so we might progress to siphoning nature chakra soon."
Ren claps her hands, excited.
"Just don't get too hasty with it. You've seen the consequences. Your cousin is very lucky to adapt to it as well as he has."
"I can't use it for shit, though!"
"But you're alive and you're sane, and that's more than most can say," Elder Kana says, and retreats between the trees.
"Well, that was ominous," Ren says, and huffs, getting back to her feet and hauling Shisui up with her. "Let's go to the waterfalls. We're both Uchiha so there will probably be fire."
Shisui grins. "There's always fire where we are."