I have an important announcement to make.

I edited/revised this entire story, mostly to polish up the prose and flow. If some of you got notification emails the other day, this is why. Sorry about that - it's an FFN bug.

Had some other plans, but a friend convinced me to change my mind lol.

Enjoy the chapter!


"Hey, you're Jason, right?"

That was all the warning Yamori got before his vision suddenly went dark.

XxX

"I'LL KILL YOU! I'LL TEAR OFF ALL YOUR FINGERS AND SHOVE A CENTIPEDE IN YOUR BRAIN AND EAT YOUR ORGANS AND - "

Kakashi whistled cheerfully as he patiently waited for the S-rank ghoul to stop yelling threats. After kidnapping Yamori, also known as the 13th Ward's Jason, he had tied him up and brought him to an abandoned building. Yamori's muscles bulged as he attempted to extricate himself from the wires binding him.

" - AND AFTER THAT YOU'LL BEG FOR MERCY AND IT SHALL NOT COME - "

Kakashi sighed. This was getting old. Killing Intent exploded out from him, a terrifying bloodlust filling the air as Yamori felt the metaphysical presence of a sharp edge against his throat. He froze, his limbs locking up as his eyes widened.

"Better," Kakashi eye-smiled. "Now, can we please have a conversation like civilized people-?"

"NONONO!" Yamori began thrashing around wildly. Unlike before, his eyes weren't filled with rage but rather with sheer fear and terror. "NOT AGAIN ONE THOUSAND NOT AGAIN NOT AGAIN NINE-HUNDRED-NINETY-THREE NOT AGAIN!" The wires cut deep into his skin and would've undoubtedly snapped if it weren't for the earth jutsu Kakashi had used to reinforce them.

By this point, the average shinobi would've gotten angry at Yamori for being uncooperative. Most genin, chuunin, and even jounin would've simply attributed Yamori's fear to just him being a hypocritical coward who preyed only on the weak and left it at that.

However, the difference between the average jounin and Kakashi was astronomical. And so, Kakashi examined Yamori critically with narrowed eyes, dozens of theories being conjured, assessed, then dismissed in his mind. Yamori's reaction didn't fit the psychological profile Kakashi had built of him. What could've been the cause -

Oh.

Kakashi mentally ran a comparison between Yamori's reaction and the reaction of several Second War veterans he had met before.

Nearly a perfect match.

There was no doubt about it. Yamori had been tortured before. Not only that, but tortured badly enough to completely break him; to alter his psyche on the fundamental level. It explained his sadistic traits, as well as why he had reacted so adversely to Kakashi's killing intent - his compartmentalized psyche must've collapsed under the oppressive aura.

Oops.

Kakashi rubbed the back of his neck as he regarded Yamori, who was still spasming madly.

"Hey," he spoke in a soothing tone. "Hey, relax. It's alright. I won't hurt you."

As he spoke, he released waves of chakra at a specific frequency that would help calm a person down - essentially, the opposite of killing intent. However, it required an extremely high degree of chakra control, which was why it was rarely seen. Kakashi himself was a master at it because it had been a technique used for assassination by luring a target into a tranquil state.

Slowly, Yamori's breathing evened and he steadily calmed down before he returned to normal, albeit hunched over and trembling.

"It's okay," Kakashi repeated for what must've been the tenth time. "Don't worry. I won't harm you."

"What did you do to me?" Yamori demanded harshly, though he kept his gaze focused on the floor.

"Maa, just some killing intent," Kakashi answered. "I do apologize for that. At any rate," he continued, "who was the one that tortured you?"

Yamori tensed up. "Why do you want to know?"

"Humor me."

There was a moment of silence broken only by Yamori seemingly cracking his fingers subconsciously. Then, he spoke. "It was an investigator at Cochlea."

Kakashi recognized the name. It was the CCG's maximum-security ghoul prison.

"I see," Kakashi hummed. "How bad was it?"

Yamori scoffed. "How bad do you think?"

Kakashi inclined his head.

Ghouls could regenerate from the worst of injuries. There were things you could do to a ghoul that you couldn't do to a human - at least not without a highly capable medic nin on standby, which there rarely were.

Kakashi's eyes flickered as he gazed down at Yamori, refactoring his plans.

Yes, Yamori was a ghoul who enjoyed torturing and causing pain to others. Yes, he was a veritable monster. Yes, he was probably a ghoul who the CCG was legitimately justified to kill.

However...

If there was one thing Naruto had taught him, it was that everyone deserved a second chance. The opportunity to redeem themselves. After all, you never knew when they might surprise you.

"Maa," Kakashi began. "I have a deal for you."

"What," Yamori was uncharacteristically docile, though that was probably because his mind was still reeling from the breakdown.

"Renounce your ways," Kakashi said. "Stop torturing and murdering people. Get your food from the morgue or suicide victims or something. Ask Anteiku for help if necessary. Become a pacifist ghoul."

Yamori looked at Kakashi incredulously. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me."

When Yamori saw that Kakashi was dead serious, he began laughing, regaining some of his bravado. "Are you stupid? You're out of your mind."

"If I were you, I would take the deal," Kakashi advised.

Yamori's reply was to spit in his face.

A millimeter away from his mask, the spit halted in midair as Kakashi controlled it with his water manipulation.

For a moment, Kakashi was still. Yamori smirked up at him.

Then Kakashi blurred. Yamori choked as Kakashi grabbed him by the throat, released the jutsu on the wires, and slammed the ghoul against the nearby wall with enough force to crack the concrete.

"Here's the thing," Kakashi said lightly even as his fingers tightened around Yamori's throat. "I wish to bring peace to the ghoul-human conflict. In order to do that, I can't let ghouls like you ruin the whole thing. So either you accept my terms, or you die. It's as simple as that. Which will it be?"

Idly, Kakashi wondered how Naruto would think of him if he saw him now. Probably shocked and more than a little unsettled. He had made sure to never show this side of him to his cute little students. The side of the most dangerous assassin to ever grace the ranks of ANBU.

The pragmatic, ruthless, deadly epitome of everything a shinobi should ever be.

"O-Okay! Alright!" Yamori gurgled out. "Fine! I-I agree! I'll do it!"

Kakashi released his hold on Yamori's throat, letting him collapse to the floor, clutching his throat. He retched, coughing heavily.

For a single moment, Kakashi had an indecipherable expression on his face as he regarded his hand. He looked almost... regretful. It disappeared as soon as it came, however, and his customary smile reappeared.

"I'm glad that you agree," Kakashi smiled. "Now then... Do you happen to know where Aogiri Tree is located?"

"What?"

"Where is Aogiri Tree located?" Kakashi repeated. That was the main reason he had hunted down Yamori - to acquire information on Aogiri Tree, the ghoul terrorist organization he worked with. "I need to pay them a visit."

Yamori glared at him. "I'll never tell you," he snarled.

Kakashi coughed. "Yeah, see, this is part of our deal, so..." he shrugged. "You might wanna cooperate."

"It's in the 11th Ward, on Yasakuba Street," Yamori immediately replied without any hesitation. "There's a park nearby - just take a left towards west, then a right, then two lefts. You should see a large abandoned building."

Kakashi blinked.

"Do you need me to point it out on a map? Because I can point it out on a map if you want."

Kakashi raised an eyebrow bemusedly. "No, that won't be necessary. Anyway, that's all I have to say."

With that, he turned around and began ambling away before pausing and calling back.

"Oh, and one more thing. If you renege on our deal..." Kakashi eye-smiled. "I'll kill you." And it was the matter-of-fact way he said it that sent chills down Yamori's spine.

"... noted."

Kakashi nodded, disappearing in a swirl of leaves. Yamori stayed there in silence for a moment.

"Wait, did he say peace?!"

XxX

Kakashi stared at the empty hideout.

"Oh. This is awkward."

Yamori hadn't been lying - the scent of ghouls was still fresh. They were probably only gone for a day at most. However, none of them were here.

Where could they have gone? Did they somehow find out that their hideout was compromised-?

Wait.

"Damn, I must be slipping," Kakashi muttered under his breath.

He knew from Yoshimura that his actions in the 20th Ward had attracted highly dangerous ghouls from all of the Wards. It only stood that Aogiri Tree would come and join the party as well.

"Well, you live and learn, I guess."

Though Kakashi did have to wonder - where were all the ghouls? There hadn't been any news reports of ghoul attacks in the past few days in the 20th Ward. If the 20th Ward was truly swarming with ghouls like Yoshimura had said, then why wasn't the 20th Ward a chaotic burning battlefield right now?

XxX

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Yoshimura carefully poured the hot water into the filter paper, ensuring that there was a uniform steady flow and circular pouring motion in order to maximize the flavor of the coffee beans.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

After the last drops of coffee trickled through the filter paper and into the pot below, Yoshimura set aside the metal pitcher. Taking out porcelain cups, he poured in the coffee, adding sugar and cream where necessary.

The aged manager turned around and smiled. "Thank you for waiting," he said as he set down the cups of coffee on the bar.

A dozen ghouls ranging from S to SSS rank collected their coffee, a few of them muttering 'thank you'.

As his gaze swept across the room, Yoshimura couldn't help but feel the slightest hints of worry creep up onto him. He didn't outwardly show it, of course, but it was still there. But who could blame him? It was as if there was a nuke in the room with him. A highly unstable, volatile nuke that was created by a drunk scientist high on crack and would go off if even a feather touched it.

A ghoul that Yoshimura was fairly certain was from the secret ghoul organization V stood against the wall. He had medium-length dark hair that was parted on the right, and Yoshimura was willing to bet that he was glaring at the Aogiri Tree members from underneath his mask.

Tatara, an SS-rank ghoul and known member of Aogiri Tree, sipped silently from his cup of coffee, glaring right back at the V member.

Noro, an SS-rank ghoul and another known member of Aogiri Tree, wasn't drinking his coffee, though he did appear to be inhaling the delicious scent.

Shuu Tsukiyama, an S-rank ghoul, also known as the Gourmet, reclined in his chair as he sipped from his cup of coffee, humming a classical tune under his breath. He had an amused smile on his face, as if he found something particularly funny.

Renji Yomo, Yoshimura's right hand man, stood behind Yoshimura and stared solemnly at everyone in the shop as if daring them to make trouble.

Enji Koma, an SS-rank ghoul, also known as the Devil Ape, had a serious expression on his face, his normally joyful visage completely gone.

Kaya Irimi, an SS-rank ghoul, also known as the Black Dog, stood next to Koma, her entire body tense.

Ayato Kirishima, an SS-rank ghoul and Touka's younger brother, was scowling heavily at his sister.

The sister in question, Touka Kirishima, was glaring back at him, and appeared to be discreetly flipping him the bird whenever the other ghouls weren't looking. Yoshimura felt a brief sense of concern flash through him. Touka had just returned from walking Kaneki home, complaining all the way, when the rest of the ghouls had arrived. And after seeing just who had come... there was no way she would've agreed to leave.

Uta, an SS-rank ghoul and a member of the Clowns organization and Anteiku's go-to mask guy, was smiling lazily as he regarded the room.

A little girl with brown hair, also wearing a Clown mask, was swinging her legs - her feet didn't touch the ground from where she sat on the chair. Though she may have looked like a child, Yoshimura had no doubt that she was undoubtedly extremely powerful, as Clown members tended to be.

However, most of Yoshimura's attention was focused on the last member in the room. She was completely covered in bandages and wore a red hood, but Yoshimura would never forget her scent, her body language, her presence. His heart clenched painfully.

Eto Yoshimura, his own daughter, an SSS-rank half-ghoul, and the true One-Eyed Owl.

Needless to say, there was enough tension in this room that Yoshimura wouldn't be surprised if the air itself snapped under the strain.

"Yamori is missing," Eto said at last, breaking the silence, and Yoshimura couldn't completely suppress his sudden intake of breath at hearing her talk.

"Tch," Ayato said annoyedly. "He's probably torturing someone right now and lost track of time."

"How unprofessional," Uta murmured.

Before any of the Aogiri Tree members could retort, Touka spoke. "Torturing?" she said disdainfully. "You've certainly made some interesting new friends, little brother."

Ayato tensed up imperceptibly as the Aogiri Tree members turned to her.

"You're Ayato's sister?" Eto asked in delight. "He's never mentioned you before."

"For a good reason," Ayato cut in. "She's far too weak and pathetic. Gods, this is humiliating."

"Excuse me-?!"

"Touka," Yoshimura said, his tone soft yet with a hint of steel. Touka reluctantly backed down. "Thank you. I'm sure we can get through this meeting without any bloodshed. I would be rather..." his eyes opened slightly to reveal red-and-black kakugans, "displeased if Anteiku were to be damaged in any way."

The other ghouls tensed up minutely as they were reminded that despite his harmless appearance, this was the One-Eyed Owl. There was an unspoken rule in the ghoul community: whatever you do, don't fuck with Anteiku in the 20th Ward because the Owl will fuck you right back so hard, you will walk into hell with a limp.

(A pity that Kakashi didn't seem to get the memo.)

Of course, the true One-Eyed Owl wasn't fazed in the slightest; if anything, she seemed to be positively amused.

"Now then..." Yoshimura began. "I presume you're all here for Kakashi?" There were several nods around the room. "Of course you are. Well, I'm afraid that I have no idea where he is."

"He hasn't tried to contact you at all?" Uta asked.

Touka snorted. "Oh, he has," she muttered. "Trust me, he has."

"I have no way of contacting him, however," Yoshimura interjected. "He comes and goes as he pleases."

Eto hummed. "I see, I see." She then looked at the other ghouls in the room. "Well, since we're all here anyway... What do you all want with Kakashi?" she asked innocently.

"To shake his hand for the chaos he's caused," the little girl with brown hair in the Clown mask chirped.

"To eliminate him," the V member said.

Eto laughed lightly. "Ah, yes. He's upsetting the balance rather nicely, isn't he?"

The V member practically radiated saltiness.

Indeed, the reality of the world was that the CCG was actually run by an elite family of ghouls known as the Washuu clan who worked together with the secret ghoul organization V in order to preserve the status quo and keep humanity and ghouls mortal enemies. It was a corrupt system of the highest degree designed to keep the Washuu clan in power.

The purpose of the One-Eyed King and Aogiri Tree was to break free of the metaphorical bird cage, lead a revolution against the Washuu clan, and bring peace to the human-ghoul conflict, uniting the two species.

And... well, in the past few days Kakashi didn't just disrupt the status quo - he threatened to obliterate it altogether. Naturally, V and the Washuu clan weren't too happy about this.

"After I finish with him," the V member said tightly, "I'll kill you, Aogiri Tree."

"You can try," Eto's voice was tinged with amusement before turning to Tsukiyama. "So, what does the Gourmet want with Kakashi? Not to eat him, I hope?"

Tsukiyama chuckled. "I'm not suicidal enough to try. However..." he leaned forward excitedly. "You all noticed how his headband is covering only one eye, correct? Perhaps he's a half-ghoul, which would explain why he's so strong." He unconsciously licked his lips. "And if he is... I wouldn't mind begging him for a few drops of his blood."

"Half-ghoul..." Yoshimura muttered. "That's a coincidence. Kakashi mentioned that just a week ago, he had been a human."

The V member and Eto both grew unnaturally still.

"What?" Eto asked, genuine confusion entering her voice.

"A human? Are you sure?" the V member asked.

"I didn't sense that he was lying," Yoshimura said. "And... well, in light of recent information" - Kaneki - "I'm rather inclined to believe him."

The V member whirled to Eto. "What have you scum done now?" he spat.

"It wasn't us," Eto replied, though she sounded slightly hesitant. "I think."

"You think?!"

"Look, the thing about working with ethically compromised doctors is that you can't be entirely sure if they're lying to you or not."

"Ethically compromised - fucking Kanou," the V member growled, slamming his fist against the wall.

"Hey," Yoshimura said dangerously as every Anteiku member narrowed their eyes, bloodlust filling the room. "Not the wall. We just got it painted."

"... sorry."

"At any rate," Eto shook her head before turning to Uta. "Why are you here? You almost never venture out of the 4th Ward."

"To find out what's under his mask."

There was a moment of silence.

"Hey, it's professional curiosity," Uta shrugged. "Besides, can you really deny that you're not at least a little curious about what he's hiding?"

There were suddenly contemplative expressions all around.

"Now that you mention it..." Ayato muttered.

Their musings were interrupted when the door slammed open and Yamori Oomori, an S-class ghoul, stumbled in.

"You're late," Ayato snarled.

Yamori ignored him. "I'm here to hand in my resignation," he said to the Aogiri Tree executives.

Eto blinked. "You're what?"

"Kakashi just dropped by."

Instantly, every ghoul was alert.

"You have my condolences," Touka said, looking genuinely sympathetic.

"What did he say?" Eto demanded.

"He convinced me to become a pacifist," Yamori replied, looking utterly serious.

"He what?!" Ayato asked incredulously. "You?! How the flippity floppity fuck did he convince you to become a pacifist?!"

Yamori paused. "He was very... persuasive."

"What?!" Ayato looked as if his entire worldview had just shattered.

"Hey, can I join Anteiku?" Yamori asked Yoshimura.

"What?!"

Touka couldn't help it. She laughed.

It was oddly satisfying, seeing somebody else get mindfucked by Kakashi.

XxX

It was time to finally end Kakashi.

This was the biggest operation in CCG history. They had practically unlimited budget, access to every weapons prototype out there - even several that weren't supposed to exist - and more importantly, they had Kishou Arima, the CCG's Reaper.

"Are you all ready?" Shinohara spoke into his earpiece.

A chorus of affirmatives came through.

"Good. Let's do this."

Shinohara dialed a number into his phone, calling Kakashi. The day before, they had given Kakashi a specially-issued cell phone to use. They tracked him down to a luxury hotel, and analysts were currently monitoring his status.

The CCG didn't miss how Kakashi was so supremely confident, he had kept his phone on his person where they could freely track him. The message sent was clear. It doesn't matter if you know where I am, because you can't even touch me.

Kakashi picked up after the third ring. "Hello?"

"Good morning," Shinohara greeted. "Could you please come down to the center? We need to have a meeting."

"Sure. I'll be there in a minute." There was the sound of a click, indicating that Kakashi had hung up.

Shinohara blinked as he turned to look at the nearest analyst.

"He's still at the hotel twenty miles away, sir," the analyst reported. "I don't know how he's supposed to get here in that time - "

"HOLY SHIT, ARE YOU SEEING THIS?!" Another analyst suddenly screamed. "PLEASE TELL ME OUR TECH IS JUST GLITCHING."

"What do you mean-?" The first analyst's eyes widened. "JESUS CHRIST, IS HE TELEPORTING ACROSS TOWN?! WHAT THE FUCK?!"

"He can teleport?!" Amon echoed incredulously.

The second analyst typed rapidly on his keyboard. "Wait, no. He's not teleporting - rather, he's moving at extremely high bursts of speed that only looks like he's teleporting."

"Oh thank the gods," the first analyst breathed a sigh of relief.

"He's about to arrive," the second analyst said. "Eta is ten seconds. Prepare yourselves."

The Investigators nodded.

Roughly ten seconds later... Kakashi was nowhere to be seen.

"Uhh... are you sure your calculations were correct?" Amon asked.

The analyst frowned heavily as he typed on his keyboard. "Kakashi was right there, about fifty meters away, when he suddenly... turned back around?"

Shinohara's eyes widened. "Is he running away?" he asked urgently.

"It appears so - wait, never mind, he just turned around again and..." the analyst trailed off. "Okay, now he's going in a completely different direction... What is he doing?"

"Perhaps he's trying to lose a tail?" Akira suggested. "Last night, he gave some indication that he had some black ops training."

"Perhaps," the analyst typed some more. "However, his movement patterns are so strange. There's just something about them..."

"So what do we do now?" Suzuya asked.

"We wait."

"Alright, have a nice day - "

Shinohara sighed and grabbed Suzuya by the back of his shirt collar from where he was trying to discreetly run away. "You're staying. An Investigator needs to be patient."

"But it's so boring," Suzuya whined. "Is he here yet?"

"No."

"Is he here yet?"

"No."

"Is he here yet?"

"Suzuya, please."

"We'll just have to wait patiently until he arrives," Mado said, an eager look on his face as he stared at the doors. "It shouldn't be more than a few minutes."

XxX

"I'm going to kill him," Amon growled. "I'm going to kill that bastard."

"That's the plan, yes," Shinohara said amiably, though even he had lost most of his good cheer.

"Three hours! He's late by three hours! He said that he would be here in a minute, but it's already been one hundred and eighty!"

Suzuya was currently passed out on the floor, taking this time to have a nice nap.

"Where is he right now?" Mado asked the analyst, irritation clearly written on his face.

"He's still moving around the city, sir," the analyst replied. "And he has been for the past three hours. He's only stopped a few times, and only in alleyways and such. But something is off here... His movement patterns aren't natural. It's almost as if..."

His eyes widened. "Wait, wait, wait, there's no way - "

The second analyst looked over and frowned. "What's the matter?"

The first analyst's fingers blurred as he inputted several commands into the program before his jaw dropped in sheer disbelief. "Holy hell," he said, almost admiringly. "That beautiful son of a bitch..."

"What is it?" Amon demanded.

The analyst inputted another command and the image of a map appeared on the large overhead television above.

"So here I was, staring at Kakashi moving around for the past few hours, right? And his movement patterns kept on bothering me - they were too unnatural. And so I had the idea to overlay his movements on a map and..." The analyst pressed a key. "This is what I got."

Red lines appeared on the map above, indicating Kakashi's path.

Absolute silence.

"I can't help but feel impressed," Shinohara muttered. "Annoyed out of my mind, but impressed."

Amon let out an incoherent scream of pure rage.

On the map above, the red lines clearly formed the message:

Black cats are terrifying ;-;

"He's coming back," the second analyst suddenly said. "In a straight line, ignoring all the skyscrapers in his way, might I add."

The Investigators all tensed up, Shinohara rousing Suzuya awake.

Finally, finally, Kakashi appeared in a swirl of leaves. "Yo," he greeted brightly. "Sorry I'm late. A black cat crossed my path so I had to take the long way around - "

"You," Amon snarled in fury.

"Me," Kakashi agreed with an eye-smile. He caught sight of the television overhead still displaying the map with the overlays. "Oh hey, you even got my message." He shivered. "Black cats... they're pure evil, pure evil I say. I don't know why you're focusing on ghouls when those little demons still exist."

Shinohara took a deep calming breath as Mado had to physically hold Amon back. "Now that you're finally here," he said with a warm yet strained smile, "The conference room is on the twentieth floor. Shall we go?" Kakashi nodded.

The Investigators turned around to walk to the elevators. Kakashi hung back for a second, narrowing his eyes slightly before shrugging and following.

They led him to an elevator - which Kakashi refused to enter, instead opting to take the stairs - and they ascended to the second-to-top floor of the building.

"Hey," Kakashi began conversationally as they climbed the staircase. "What do you think mermaids taste like?"

They all paused.

"What?" Amon asked, befuddled.

"That is to say, if mermaids hypothetically existed, do you think they would taste like fish or humans? Would their human half taste like humans and their fish half taste like fish, or perhaps it's a uniform distribution of fishy taste throughout their entire body?"

The Investigators stared at him.

Kakashi shrugged. "Food for thought."

The mythology of this world was rather weird, especially Greek mythology. If Kakashi ever met the Greek gods... he doubted it would end well.

"You need therapy," Akira said bluntly.

Kakashi chuckled. Therapy. What a hilarious joke, just like the freedom of speech or minimum age of military service.

Exiting the stairwell, Kakashi was met with a brightly lit hallway. There was a door at the end.

"Right this way," Shinohara gestured, leading them into the room.

As Kakashi crossed the threshold, he immediately noticed two things.

One, Shinohara's arm was straining as he held the door open.

Two, his instincts began blaring at him.

Kakashi didn't react, though his lips curled up slightly.

So they're making their move, huh?

Inside was an extremely spacious area. Kakashi noted the scuff marks on the floor as well as the dust patterns. They had moved everything inside the room out to clear out space.

The door shut behind him with a loud clunk. It locked automatically. Kakashi turned around to see the five Investigators sprinting away to take their positions. He didn't do anything, instead observing the other two people in the room.

In the middle of the room stood a man with white hair and glasses holding a black-and-golden briefcase in his left hand and a silver Quinque in his right hand. Kakashi recognized him on sight as Kishou Arima, widely regarded as the strongest Investigator of the CCG.

"So this is him?" A new voice called. A large, stocky man came into view. He had on a bluish-black armor that, oddly enough, smelled like a ghoul.

"Yes," Shinohara called back as he too equipped a similar armor in the corner of the room while Suzuya stood guard.

"He doesn't look like much," the man said, unimpressed.

And it was true. With his slight slouch, hands in pockets, baggy clothing, and unassuming body language, Kakashi seemed completely harmless. It had taken a long time to perfect this posture, but it was extremely effective.

"Don't him fool you, Iwa," Shinohara warned. "He's dangerous."

"Right, right."

Kakashi, for his part, simply turned to Akira. "Seriously?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

Akira shrugged. "I mean, you knew that we would betray you."

"Well, yeah, but I didn't expect you to betray me not even a whole 24 hours after our date," Kakashi placed a hand over his heart dramatically. "Didn't our connection mean anything to you?"

"Not at all."

Kakashi chuckled. "How cold. At any rate," he directed his attention to the two new individuals. "My name is Hatake Kakashi," he introduced.

"Iwao Kuroiwa," Iwao offered.

"Kishou Arima," Arima inclined his head in greeting.

"Wait," Amon interjected. "You knew that we would betray you?"

"Of course," Kakashi nodded. "I'm not stupid. I just didn't expect you to be so... impatient about it."

"In our defense, headquarters forced us to," Shinohara said apologetically. "Also, I do apologize for the deception."

"Nah, it's fine," Kakashi waved him off. "I don't take it personally."

"You seem rather blase," Mado grinned maniacally. "You do realize that you're about to die, right?"

Kakashi raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure about that?"

Mado chuckled. "It's seven against one. The walls and door have been reinforced with Quinque steel, the same material used to build Cochlea. Expensive as hell to do it on such short notice, but it's one of the perks of having a practically unlimited budget." He leered at Kakashi. "You're not getting away this time."

"An interesting hypothesis," Kakashi responded good-naturedly. "I'm looking forward to proving you wrong."

"Ah, ah, ah," Mado raised a finger. "Before you do that... tell me something. Do the words 'gaseous RC Suppressants' mean anything to you?"

There was a moment of silence.

"Oh," Kakashi breathed. "Oh I see." He eye-smiled, looking distinctly impressed. "Well played. Well played indeed."

Mado smiled, one eye bigger than the other, as a hissing noise filled the room - white Control RC gas was being pumped in through the vents. "Thank you. Now... prepare to die."

XxX

"I'm not the protagonist of a novel or anything...

I'm just a normal college student who likes to read...

But...

If I were to write a book with me as the main character...

It would be...

A tragedy - "

"Oh Jesus Christ," Touka interrupted with a groan. "Can you get any edgier? For fuck's sake, calm the hell down."

Kaneki flushed awkwardly. "S-sorry."

"I'm not being paid to listen to your soliloquy or whatever. I'm literally only here to shove food into your mouth before you go attack some innocent humans."

Kaneki's eyes widened. "Wait, wha-?!"

That was about as far as he got before Touka shoved something into his mouth.

"A ghoul's hunger is the worst hell on earth," Touka said as Kaneki struggled to pry her hand away. "If you refuse to eat, then you will hurt your friends. Is that what you want?"

Kaneki stopped struggling.

"Good," Touka removed her hand from his mouth. "Now eat."

As Kaneki made sounds of disgust, Touka regarded her now blood-and-spit covered hand.

"Fucking Kakashi," she muttered. "Whatever his plan is, it better be worth it."

"Where is Kakashi?" Kaneki asked, perking up.

Touka shrugged. "Knowing him? Probably causing chaos somewhere and generally ruining people's days."

XxX

"Wait!" Kakashi called out desperately as the Investigators rushed him.

They paused.

"Oh, did you have any last words?" Mado asked mockingly.

"No, nothing like that," Kakashi reached into his pouch and took out his book. "I was just left on a cliffhanger, you see," he explained. "Are they going to have the threesome, or is it going to end up in flames?" he giggled. "I can't wait to find out."

With that, he began to read once more.

Amon growled but before he could move, Shinohara and Iwao charged at Kakashi.

"We'll wear him down," Iwao barked. "The prototype Arata armor should allow us to match him."

In a second, they reached Kakashi and began unleashing a flurry of attacks. The two Investigators were extremely well-coordinated, their teamwork flawless. Shinohara wielded a massive butcher cleaver and Iwao had a huge shield that could be used both offensively and defensively.

Kakashi's brows furrowed when he realized that Shinohara's speed seemed to have doubled from the last time they fought. The armor appeared to be organic; he quickly drew the conclusion that it was augmenting their speed and strength.

Well, whatever. Kakashi let out another giggle as he flipped a page, ducking underneath an axe swing while he did so.

Absently, he held out his other hand and plucked several knives out of the air without even looking, courtesy of Suzuya. He sent them right back, causing Suzuya to dive out of the way.

Perhaps he should've been more worried about the CRC gas if it weren't for one simple fact: he could filter the air with a clever application of wind chakra. Combined with his mask, which had actually been treated with several reagents that absorbed toxins, and he was confident that the gas wouldn't be able to affect him.

"How the hell did he do that?" he heard Akira whisper incredulously. "How did he catch those knives out of the air while fending off attacks and reading a book?!"

"Maa, what can I say?" Kakashi said as he performed several acrobatic maneuvers that really should not have been physically possible, according to the momentum conservation laws. "I ate all my vegetables as a kid."

"You're a ghoul!"

"I was a human first though."

At that, Arima's eyes flickered slightly.

Shinohara and Iwao jumped back, breathing heavily.

"Okay, what the fuck is that ghoul," Iwao said as he wiped some sweat off his brow.

"He's SSS-rank," Shinohara replied. "He's a different breed from most." He paused. "Iwa," he said quietly. "How far can we push these prototypes?"

"Do you have a plan?" Iwao asked.

Sweat beaded Shinohara's brow. "Yeah. Let's do it."

Iwao nodded determinedly. "I'm in."

They pressed a button on the back of their suits and their armor began glowing a vibrant, angry red, seemingly coming alive. Tendrils swirled around as a red haze was emitted from their forms - vapors of blood.

"Let's go."

They rushed Kakashi once more, and Kakashi glanced up from his book in surprise. Their speed had tripled - no, quadrupled from before.

As he began dodging and weaving around their attacks once more, this time actually having to put in a little effort, he realized something.

I'm... slowing down.

That was distinctly worrying.

Mado smirked. "Looks like the gas is finally taking effect. You're done, Kakashi."

The gas?

"My mask should've filtered out the air," Kakashi said confusedly, neglecting to mention his chakra. "How did you do it?"

Mado laughed. "This is a highly experimental form of CRC gas that can be absorbed through the skin."

Kakashi inwardly cursed himself. Damn it, did he really just make such a rookie mistake? It was embarrassing. Sure, the Investigators were weak, but he should've known better than to underestimate them. And now he was paying the price.

Or he would be paying the price if he wasn't a shinobi.

Kakashi disengaged, leaping backwards. Shinohara and Iwao tried to press the attack, but Shinohara suddenly coughed out blood. Red liquid began trickling out through the chinks in his armor as he collapsed to one knee.

"Shinohara!" Iwao cried in concern.

"It's eating me alive," Shinohara said through clenched teeth. Kakashi blinked at that. "I-It's fine. I can continue."

"That can't possibly be healthy for you," Kakashi remarked. "I would get that looked at if I were you."

"Ironic, coming from a ghoul," Akira muttered.

"This is the part where you surrender, by the way," Mado said with a mocking smile. "Maybe if we're feeling generous, we might spare your life."

"Hmm..." Kakashi tilted his head. "Remind me - what are the effects of CRC gas again? Slower regeneration, kagune impairment, vulnerability to common attacks, and overall just decreases a ghoul's speed and strength by affecting their RC cells?"

"Full marks," Mado's insane smile threatened to split his face apart. "You came well studied, Ka-ka-shi~"

"Of course I did." Any self-respecting high-tier S-rank shinobi would gather intelligence before walking into an obvious trap. Kakashi hummed thoughtfully. "However... while the CRC gas may have reduced my baseline stats, I'm afraid you forgot to take into account one simple thing."

He eye-smiled. "I don't need a ghoul's power to win."

And he blurred out of existence.

"Wha - " Shinohara didn't even have enough to finish his sentence before the world suddenly flipped upside down and he found himself on his back, pieces of the Arata armor lying scattered around him.

Next to him, Iwao also collided with the ground, his Arata armor cracking into pieces.

"Just a small tip - don't use that armor again," Kakashi advised, still reading his damned hentai. "It's never a good sign when your protection starts eating you alive."

"Get away from them!" Amon roared as he charged Kakashi, bringing his club down in a powerful strike. The ground cracked slightly as a cloud of dust went up.

"The bad thing about using such a large unwieldy weapon," Kakashi continued from behind Amon, whose eyes went wide, "is that it makes your movements extremely predictable."

Amon tried to whirl around but Kakashi elbowed him in the jaw, using his momentum to continue the spin and sweep Amon off his feet. Amon hit the ground with a grunt, his entire body stunned by the blow to the jaw.

Without even turning around, Kakashi tilted his head to dodge an attack. He turned around to see Suzuya wielding a Quinque that had four blackish-red tentacles sprouting from it like a spider lily.

"Do you like my new weapon?" Suzuya asked gleefully. "They made it from a ghoul from Cochlea just yesterday! Shachi, they called him."

Mado strode up also, unclicking his briefcase to reveal a grey Quinque that looked like it had paper sticking to it. Amon drew in a sharp breath. "Do you recognize this, Amon?"

"Donato Porpora's kagune," Amon breathed.

"Indeed," Mado grinned. "Suzuya... let's kill him!"

Suzuya laughed joyfully as he sprinted at Kakashi, tentacles lashing out ferociously. The kid was unbelievably agile and acrobatic, leaping and spinning around everywhere. Mado helped with his own attacks, grey tentacles striking at Kakashi's blind spots.

"Die! Die! Die!" Suzuya yelled.

As Kakashi dodged another strike, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that... his brow furrowed. A clone formed from Mado's Quinque? What? The clone quickly joined the fight, attacking Kakashi alongside Suzuya with a speed far surpassing Mado's own.

Kakashi's lips quirked up underneath his mask -

His eyes widened as a tentacle struck his stomach. He coughed out blood, desperately trying to free himself before several more tentacles impaled him in more vital spots.

The onslaught stopped as Mado and Suzuya paused to take in the situation.

"Is it over?" Amon asked hesitantly.

Kakashi's body was unmoving, Mado and Suzuya's Quinques piercing his body in multiple areas. Blood trickled from his wounds. Mado and Suzuya had identical grins on their faces.

Then:

"Just kidding!"

Mado's eyes widened as Kakashi emerged out of nowhere from behind him and placed two fingers on his neck. Electricity arced from his fingers before Mado collapsed to the ground, paralyzed.

"Dad!" Akira cried.

"But how?!" Suzuya gasped, looking back at the impaled Kakashi on his Quinque who was... dripping mud?

"Mado isn't the only one who can use clones," Kakashi informed them merrily. "Two can play at that game."

Suzuya growled as he extracted the tentacles, the mud clone flopping to the floor, and charged at Kakashi once more.

"You're strong," Kakashi complimented as Suzuya hit the ground hard, his Quinque clattering to the ground beside him. "Give it a few years, and you'll undoubtedly be one of the strongest people around. But right now... You're too wild. Work on polishing and refining your techniques."

He turned to Akira, who narrowed her eyes and gripped her Quinque tightly. She made to rush forward but was stopped by Arima placing a hand on her shoulders.

"That's enough," Arima said calmly. "Stand down."

"But - "

"You're not going to be able to do anything anyway. Instead, please get your comrades to safety."

Akira gritted her teeth but complied, sprinting around Kakashi to get to her squadmates. Kakashi let her pass; he would've even offered to help if he hadn't known that it would probably be interpreted as an attack. He didn't want the Investigators to die in the crossfire.

Arima strode forward. "Is it arrogance?" he asked softly.

"Pardon?"

"Giving them tips and pieces of advice as you defeated them," Arima elaborated.

"Ah, that," Kakashi shook his head. "No, it was more of a force of habit. I'm a teacher, you see," he explained.

Arima nodded. "May I please ask another question?"

"Go right ahead," Kakashi inclined his head.

"It's not that the CRC gas didn't have any effect on you, but rather, you have another source of power. Am I correct?"

Kakashi eye-smiled. "Precisely."

His baseline stats had declined tremendously due to the CRC gas. Right now, he was just like a normal human - he had lost all his ghoul powers. For most ghouls, this would be a death sentence. But for Kakashi, who had chakra...

It wasn't even an inconvenience. All he had to do was increase the amount of chakra augmenting his body back to the normal amount he used when he was a human.

He had determined and assessed all of a ghoul's weaknesses after finding out that he had become a ghoul. CRC gas wasn't a big deal to him, which was why he had walked into this trap without any fear. Yes, it had been a surprise when it was absorbed through his skin, but it ultimately didn't matter at all.

After all, the difference between a normal jounin and Kakashi was that when a jounin made a rookie mistake, they died, whereas when Kakashi made a rookie mistake, it often wasn't significant - and even if it was, it would easily be mitigated by his contingencies within contingencies.

Of course, when Kakashi did fuck up, he fucked up big, but little mistakes like these rarely caused anything other than mild embarrassment.

"And what are you?" Arima continued.

Kakashi shrugged. "I already told you. I'm just a human who got turned into a ghoul because... reasons, I guess."

Arima regarded Kakashi impassively. A stillness hung in the air for a moment as they both sized each other up.

Then Arima disappeared in a burst of speed.

Kakashi was forced to leap back as Arima reappeared in front of him with a stream of sword strikes with his silver Quinque. As Kakashi tilted his head past a stab, his eyes widened as his instincts screamed at him. A moment later, yellow electricity arced outwards from the Quinque, striking Kakashi.

Arima immediately leaped back, not letting down his guard. A wise choice, because Kakashi burst into a cloud of smoke, revealing a charred and blackened log.

"Not bad," Kakashi stated as he materialized from the cloud of white smoke of the CRC gas. He snapped his book shut with an audible crack and placed it back into his pouch.

Arima's expression didn't change, though he tensed up slightly. He clicked his black-and-gold briefcase. Black organic matter spilled out, bubbling in the air for a moment before coalescing into a sharp screw. His silver Quinque also transformed to form a railgun-esque device which he pointed at Kakashi.

Kakashi instantly leaped back as a massive black tendril erupted from the ground. Lightning bolts shot out of the silver Quinque, and Kakashi's eyes widened when it curved to follow him. A homing attack.

He blurred around the room, more black tendrils exploding from the floor to pierce him and Arima firing even more lightning bolts from his Quinque. The building trembled and shook and the air became charged with electricity.

"Lesson Number Three. Ninjutsu."

A mud wall adorned with dogs rose from the ground and blocked the lightning bolts, though partially melting underneath the barrage. Simultaneously, the floor rippled outwards, causing Arima to temporarily stop his attacks in order to not lose his balance.

Arima tensed up as he flipped his black lance downwards, a shield blossoming outwards. A moment later, his instincts proved to be true as invisible blades of wind slammed against the shield, pushing him backward.

"Maa, you're actually pretty good," Kakashi eye-smiled. Then his hands blurred as he flipped through dozens of hand signs in a single second.

Arima was already moving even before Kakashi finished his last hand sign. Earthen spikes shot out of the ground in an imitation of Arima's prior attack as water shot out from the sprinklers above, shooting towards Arima with the speed and surface tension of a bullet. A miniature dragon of electricity sparked forward as Kakashi spat a fireball at Arima that seared the air, amplified by a subsequent wind technique.

The CCG's Reaper showcased why he was considered the best. He dodged the earthen spikes and fireball with ease, used his black shield to block the water bullets before stabbing it into the floor to act as a lightning rod for the lightning dragon. A flawless counter.

"Lesson Number Two. Genjutsu."

Without missing a beat, Arima sliced himself on the arm, the pain allowing him to break free of the illusion. No hesitation whatsoever.

Kakashi chuckled. "How did you know?"

"I didn't," Arima replied. "Just a calculated gamble. It appears it worked, however. Do you truly believe in peace?" he suddenly asked, the question coming out from nowhere.

"Of course," Kakashi answered smoothly. "I wouldn't be going through all this trouble if I didn't. Lesson Number One. Taijutsu."

A kunai slipped into his hand as he jumped vertically upwards, twisting around so he landed feet-first on the ceiling and continued running.

Kakashi could've sworn he heard the sound of crying in the far distance with his enhanced hearing, as well as the cries of, "GRAVITY! WHY HAVE THEE FORSAKEN ME?!"

If Arima was shocked by him casually breaking yet another law of physics, he didn't show it. Kakashi engaged Arima in close-quarters combat, kunai against silver blade. They exchanged dozens of blows in a single second, Kakashi having to swap out his kunai several times as they broke underneath the superior weapon.

"So you're genuinely trying to unite humans and ghouls?" Arima spoke calmly, as if they were having a pleasant discussion over tea instead of an intense duel.

Kakashi nodded as he dropped from the ceiling, flipping in midair to push off Arima's sword swing with his palm before kicking outwards, his body parallel to the ground. Arima dodged it effortlessly. "Yup. See, the problem with you Investigators is that you refuse to believe that ghouls are people too, not just a disease that should be eradicated. You only see the world in black-and-white due to the indoctrination of the CCG."

Arima's eyes flickered, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by Kakashi.

"You understand it, don't you?" Kakashi said as he crouched down low to try to sweep Arima off his feet.

"More than you could possibly know," Arima answered cryptically as he jumped over Kakashi's sweep, slamming his blade down.

"Naturally, at the same time, I realize that ghouls also have to stop hunting humans," Kakashi continued. "I'm not going to pretend they didn't do anything wrong. The world we live in is a vicious cycle of hatred perpetuated by both sides. However..."

As he sidestepped past a stab, he smiled at Arima. "The day will come when ghouls and humans truly understand each other. I already have several plans in place."

Arima held Kakashi's gaze for a moment before he nodded. "I see," he murmured. "Yes... that would be nice."

"I'm glad you think so," Kakashi beamed before all traces of levity disappeared from his expression. "But before that can happen... You're strong, easily the strongest I've faced in this world so far. Looks like I'll have to get a little serious."

Then, he vanished in a blur of speed.

"Leaf Secret Technique! Ultimate Taijutsu! One Thousand Years of Death!"

Arima's instincts screamed at him but it was too late.

A deafening silence descended upon the battlefield.

Amon choked on his spit as Shinohara rubbed his face wearily with one hand while covering Suzuya's eyes with the other. Luckily, Mado was still unconscious.

"Shit," Iwao muttered under his breath. "I think the pain is starting to make me hallucinate. There's no way that just happened - "

"Did you just SEXUALLY ASSAULT ARIMA?!" Akira half-spluttered, half-shouted disbelievingly.

Arima turned his head back to level a deadpan stare at Kakashi, as if to say, seriously?

Kakashi returned his stare with a solemn, unyielding gaze, as if to say, seriously.

Arima nodded in understanding. Then, their silent conversation over, he was launched into the air with surprising force, slamming into the opposite wall with a loud crack. Fortunately, he was able to soften the collision by using his sword to absorb most of the impact.

He collapsed to the ground, his back against the wall and his sword on the ground next to him. Kakashi was already standing over him. Arima raised his hands in surrender, knowing when to concede defeat.

It was over.

XxX

"Yo yo yo," an analyst said disbelievingly. "Did - did Arima just lose?!"

"That's impossible," an agent breathed. "Right?"

"We're fucked, we are so utterly fucked," a researcher said, practically hyperventilating.

XxX

"Nice fight," Kakashi smiled.

"... Thank you," Arima murmured before his voice dropped to a low whisper so that neither the other Investigators or cameras would hear. Kakashi himself had to strain slightly to hear him. "Kakashi... if you're truly sincere about bringing peace to this world..." His eyes flashed. "Then seek out the Washuu clan."

Kakashi nodded, filing that name away. "Thanks for the advice." He turned around and began walking away. He stopped in front of the door and turned around. "Please inform your superiors that I will tolerate their betrayal just this once. Next time, however..."

"Understood," Shinohara said, bowing his head. "I-I apologize. We were under orders."

"I know. As I previously said, I don't take it personally," Kakashi said with a pleasant eye-smile. "I hope we can still be friends."

With that, he disappeared in another swirl of leaves.

Well, okay. He used a genjutsu to cover up how he had sunk into the ground to bypass the reinforced door. The leaves were just there for dramatic effect.

He made his way down to the first floor, hands in his pockets as he hummed a happy tune. He exited the stairwell to see a group of assembled agents, analysts, and researchers, their faces pale and terrified.

Kakashi gave them a cheerful wave before making his way out of the CCG Center.

Washuu clan... Hmm, isn't that the family that runs the CCG?

A smile slowly spread across Kakashi's face.

Interesting.

XxX

Despite the CCG's best efforts, it was quickly leaked that Kishou Arima, the CCG's Reaper, was soundly defeated by Kakashi.

Chaos ensued.


I've been waiting to write the Arima fight since a year ago when I first began the story. I hope you all liked it!

Thank you all for reading, and please review :)

euphoric