IX


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Arc IX Chapter 17


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Tobi was pouting in his lone silent corner, staring at his only companion, a dull and grey wall. People had already left, but poor Tobi was still stuck in his corner, without permission to leave. His mistress was cruel. "Senpai~, senpai~, senpai~."

His mistress didn't dismiss him outright. Instead, senpai gifted him, a humble servant, a modicum of her precious attention.

Senpai was thinking, brooding, thinking, brooding, but first and foremost thinking while folding her hands with intellectual flair.

Her response was nonchalant at best, barely acknowledging his meagre existence. "Yes, Tobi, I am listening."

"Senpai~, can poor Tobi leave his corner. The corner is dark and cold. The walls don't want to talk with Tobi." Tobi gesticulated.

Asami took her time, deliberating. Her answer was positive. "Why not."

Tobi was overjoyed. He was finally welcomed back into the arms of society. "Thank you senpai~, Tobi is really really happy."

Asami mustered a smile, slightly amused by his comical behaviour. "I am glad. After all, I care about my stupid little Tobi."

Tobi heavily doubted so. Her continuous insult and mistreatment hurt him, but at least senpai cared about Tobi. Apparently. Supposedly. Theoretically. But she did to a certain degree, and that made Tobi happy.

"You know, Tobi, I was thinking about you. I was thinking about you for quite a while, to be exact."

"Really? What was senpai~ thinking about?" Tobi tilted his head. He felt appreciated. Senpai spent so much time on him.

"You are a curious case, Tobi, a veritable riddle. Your entire existence is a mystery to me, an enigma unsolved.

I was always wondering as how you, a ninja of such mediocre skill and ability, was able to enter Akatsuki, an organisation founded on strength since its inception.

A simpleton like you shouldn't be here, yet you are. And not only that, you even made it to my partner. How is that possible? I never could wrap my mind around it. "

Tobi didn't understand. "Senpai~, Tobi doesn't understand."

Asami grinned. How predictable he was, Tobi truly never changed. "Of course, you don't understand. You never do, do you, Tobi? Always naive. Always ignorant. Always my stupid little Tobi."

Her words stung Tobi. "Senpai~, what are you getting at?"

Asami beamed. Her hand gripped the hilt of her sword. "Tobi, what are you doing here? Why were you attending this meeting?"

"Obviously, Tobi wants to stay with senpai~! Spending time with senpai~ is precious!"

"How touching." Asami inspected her polished nails. Purple suited her well. "Tobi, unless I am mistaken, didn't you say Pain sent you?"

"Oh, yes, I forgot, Pain sent Tobi, Pain ordered Tobi to attend the meeting." Tobi scratched his head.

Asami narrowed her eyes. Tobi took her bait. "Fair enough, but that doesn't answer my question.

Tobi, I am still wondering, what are you doing here? Because I can't remember to have ever informed Pain, or you about today's meeting. In fact, I kept it secret.

So how did Pain know?"

"..." Tobi fell instantly very silent, realising the implications.

"Tobi, are you monitoring me?"

Caught red-handed, Tobi fidgeted with his fingers. "Ehm ..., ehm ..., ehm ..., well, technically speaking, Pain-sama didn't know because Tobi lied.

Tobi knew senpai wouldn't allow Tobi to accompany you, so Tobi lied.

Sowwy, senpai~, Tobi didn't mean to deceive you."

"So you are telling me Pain has no involvement whatsoever in this matter?"

Tobi nodded vigorously.

"So you decided to pester me on your own accord?"

Tobi nodded. "It was all Tobi's idea. Pain has nothing to do with it."

Asami beamed. "I understand."

Tobi sighed in relief. "Tobi is glad senpai~ understands ..."

Her sword struck. In the nick of time, Tobi evaded her strike.

Asami rammed her blade into the wall behind, nearly severing his head for good. Her sword came close, far too close for his liking.

Tobi stood like petrified.

Her blade grazed his wooden mask, cutting past his face. Flickering purple chakra ran along the shimmering edge, close to his vulnerable unprotected neck, sending a clear, unmistakable message.

Tobi stared into the purple abyss of her eyes, accentuated by her seductive ruby red lips.

Asami's tender hand glided across his orange mask ever so slowly as time stood still.

"My sweet little Tobi, you are far too young to play this kind of games with me. You are playing your role well. I must congratulate you for your convincing performance; but even the best slip up at times. Playing the fool doesn't work forever, Tobi. Let this serve as a little friendly reminder for you."

Tobi gulped.

Asami chuckled in amusement. "Be careful where you step, Tobi. The great game is treacherous. So many good men have lost their lives because of negligence, carelessness, or lack of adequate loyalty.

I don't think you are particularly keen on joining them soon. You are a smart Tobi, aren't you?"

Asami leaned closer, her whispering lips gracing his ears. "One day you must choose on which side you are standing. I recommend you to choose wisely, my sweet little Tobi. It's never too late to reconsider your allegiance. Because you are either with me, ... or against me. The latter rarely ends well."

Tobi stiffened, but her message was received, and Asami retracted her blade.


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Obito wandered along the empty corridors, gritting his teeth in annoyance. Things hadn't turned out neither as planned, nor as expected.

A familiar voice berated him from behind. His dripping taunting sarcasm was unmistakable."What an intriguing spectacle."

Obito knew the voice only too well. It was him. "Zetsu ..."

Zetsu appeared from the ground below. He had eavesdropped on their conservation, much to his dislike. "The all-mighty Madara, humbled by a mere girl."

"..." Obito clenched his fist.

"Not only did you get your cover blown, you also got yourself cornered. An impressive feat."

Obito bit his lips, hissing, "Watch your tongue, Zetsu, you are talking too much."

Black Zetsu couldn't care less about Obito's wounded self-esteem. As if he ever cared about the feelings of lowly humans. They were such feeble creatures.

"Nevertheless, a fascinating girl, isn't she?

The way she commands respect ... The way she wields authority ... The way she wields power ... " The girl had a nostalgic touch, from an era long past.


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