Chapter 34: Farewell

I began healing Itachi's eyes delicately, mindful of the danger presented by the Hashirama cells. Because the cells had been grown in the Gedo statue with White Zetsu material, they were effectively progenitor chakra molded into physical form. That alone was enough to complicate things, but there was another issue as well. It was common for transplants to contain host chakra for several days post-op, but Itachi's chakra never really faded from his eyes even after weeks of separation. His chakra mixed with mine and shored up the cells in a bizarre and fascinating blend of energy. I theorized that this was how the Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan was created. Of course, because I did not have a Mangekyo Sharingan of my own, his eyes could not complete the transformation. The clashing of Hashirama's chakra with mine and the Mangekyo Sharingan made for slow progress.

Still, after two weeks, I was almost ready to return Itachi's eyes. I was just completing the final touches of healing when I received a summons from Zetsu. He informed me that Pein was waiting for me and that I would be expected to return to my daily seal healings. So I went alone to the tower still blindfolded, able to tread the path with practiced familiarity.

"Pein-sama, Konan-sama," I greeted when I opened the door after a polite knock.

This was not a conversation I was particularly looking forward to having.

Konan's chakra flickered with what might have been surprise.

"What happened to your eyes?" she asked.

…Well, that wasn't the response I was expecting.

"Oh! Um, because of the Hashirama cells Onii-chan has them…" I said before my brain caught up with the question.


If Konan had to ask, that meant that she didn't know about the transplant. And if she didn't know about the transplant, she probably didn't know about Itachi's damaged eyesight. Of course she wouldn't. Obito and Itachi wouldn't want to advertise that particular piece of information.

I cursed my thoughtlessness.

"Itachi took your eyes because of that?" Nagato asked, his tone hard. His chakra stirred in obvious anger.

"H-He's going to give them back soon, maybe tonight even, because, um…" I mumbled, desperation from my blunder creeping into my voice as my words tumbled out. How could I explain this? I needed to change the subject. "I-I can still perform the seal healing. I, um, I don't need my eyes for that."

Yes, good. Focus on the reason they brought me here.

Nagato's chakra crackled with agitation as he stood up. Had he seen through me? Was he angry that I'd hurt myself and, in doing so, abandoned all of my other duties? What had happened to everyone who needed my daily seal healings? Was Nagato still holding up?

Nagato reached up a hand and placed it on my head.

"I'm sorry that I pushed you to this," he said.


At what point had he pushed me to do anything?

But I supposed that Nagato was the one who had requested that I move to the next stage of testing as soon as possible. Did he think my foolish recklessness was his fault?

I shook my head.

"I messed up," I said. "I'm so sorry."

Nagato let out a small sigh.

"I forgive you," he said. "Come. Breakfast is getting cold."

He took my hand and guided me back to the table where I found that my chair was still present despite my extended absence. Konan helped to fill my plate. I only picked at my food, gamely trying for a reasonable portion. But since I no longer needed to eat, soon enough I pushed my plate aside…

…Only for Nagato to push it back.

"Three more bites," he said, shamelessly throwing my own advice back at my face. "You need food to regain your strength."

"I'm okay, Pein-sama," I said.

And, yeah, so I was as white as a ghost and maybe I'd lost a bit of weight, but I wasn't sick.

"Eat anyway," said Nagato.

Well, there was no arguing with that tone of voice. I took three more bites.

"Perhaps it is time to move you into the tower," said Konan suddenly. "Some sunlight may help return a bit of color to your skin."

I winced.

"Well, this is a side-effect of the Hashirama cells, so probably not," I said, holding up my too-pale hand. "But it's not dangerous. In fact, now I'm in better health than ever."

The Hashirama cells guaranteed it.

"Still, once Itachi returns your eyes, I'm sure you'll be more comfortable up here," said Konan. "It's long past time that you had a room of your own."

"Konan," said Nagato gently.

"And perhaps we should go shopping together," Konan continued. "Your clothes are quite worn by now, and with Obon approaching it would be nice to have a new summer yukata."

"Konan," Nagato repeated, more forcefully this time.

Something silent passed between them that I couldn't see behind my blindfold, but I was more distracted by my own thoughts anyway.

Obon was approaching?

How long had I been in the Kamui dimension? If Obon was almost here, then the three year timeframe Itachi had initially given Sasuke was running out. My plan had always been to wait until Sasuke defeated Orochimaru, then use the Hiraishin to jump to his side, explain everything, and finally return to Itachi. Once Sasuke knew the truth, the three of us would be able to fight Obito together and return to Konoha.

Well, maybe.

That last part was a little fuzzy, and possibly hopelessly naive, but we'd figure something out. We'd be together again, after all. Of course, Itachi would be upset at me for acting on my own and ruining his planned death, but he'd just have to live with that since I wasn't going to let him die. But if the deadline was almost here and Sasuke hadn't left Hidden Sound…did that mean that something went wrong? But if it had, Itachi wouldn't be hanging around Ame. He'd be out there rescuing Sasuke, right?


Sasuke was fine. I just needed to be patient a little while longer.

"It's okay, Konan-sama," I said quietly. "I don't need anything."

There was a beat of silence.

"Is there no part of you that wishes to fight back?" Konan asked, sounding tired. "Don't you want to go home? Are you truly still resigned to your fate?"

She'd asked me that before, up in the mountains in Snow Country. So they really had been training me all this time in the hope that I would rebel against my own death. But I couldn't. It wasn't time for my escape. Not yet. I needed them to give up on me. At least until I received word about Sasuke.

"Onii-chan promised to return my body to Konoha," I said. "I'm going to be with my clan again. I…" I trailed off before taking a deep breath and giving Nagato and Konan my best smile. "I am going home, back to where I belong. So please don't worry about me."

Lies were easiest when they skated on the edge of truth.

There was a long silence. I wanted to undo my blindfold so that I could see their expressions, but after telling them that Itachi had my eyes, I couldn't risk them seeing that I had his. So I simply waited, trying to project as much Positive Intent as I could until Konan spoke again.

"You once told me that it was not a betrayal of your pain and your loss to look back and remember a time when you were happy," she said. "But the same is true for accepting your loss and moving on."

My smile fell.

As if it was that easy.

As if I could.

"...I'm sorry," I said, not quite sure what I was apologizing for.

"It's alright," said Nagato, once again pushing my plate in front of me. "...Three more bites…."

"Come sit by me, and I will brush your hair," said Itachi when I returned for lunch. I'd spent most of the morning at the hospital catching up on patients that required surgery. More than a few had been alarmed by my blindfold, but I'd done my best to reassure them.

Konan had invited me to eat with her and Nagato, but I told her that I hoped Itachi would return my eyes today, so she let me go. I just needed a bit of uninterrupted time to finish the healing process, and I'd be ready to perform the transplant. Hopefully that would mollify them a bit.

"Um, alright," I said, taking a seat beside him.

Carefully, I removed the origami angel hairclip and the blindfold. I blinked rapidly, squinting. The lamps in our shared room weren't particularly bright, but even dim light was too much for eyes that had only seen darkness for the last two weeks. After a few moments, my vision cleared, becoming almost too sharp, too real. Was this an effect of the Mangekyo Sharingan?

Itachi took a brush and began slowly running it through my hair.

"There is something I need to ask you," he said. "What would you do if Sasuke chose to turn against Konoha?"

That…was a good question actually, though not the one I'd been expecting.

Years ago, I'd hoped to avoid Sasuke's defection all together, but obviously that hadn't worked out. And once I reunited with Sasuke, I would tell him the truth about the massacre. It would be far too dangerous for Sasuke to return if he knew nothing about Danzo.

"I would try to stop him," I said. "I'm sure you will too."

Itachi was silent for a long minute as he delicately untangled a knot.

"I will not always be there to guide him," he said at length. "There may come a time when you are the only thing standing between him and the village."

"Nii-chan is stronger than me," I said. He always had been. "But I will do whatever I can to stop him. If he attacks the village, he will spend the rest of his life being hunted down. I don't want that for him."

Life as a missing ninja was hard. There was a reason the Akatsuki stayed together despite their differences, and it wasn't entirely because of Pein.

Itachi swept the brush through my hair several more times.

"What if the only way to stop him was for you to kill him?" Itachi asked.

"No matter what happens, he's still my Nii-chan," I said. "I would find a way to bring him home. I won't kill him. Not ever."

I couldn't.

Itachi set down the brush and gathered my hair, clipping it into place with Konan's paper angel.

"I know," he said, brushing his fingertips over my faded blue ribbon. "When will you be ready to return my eyes?"

"Whenever you are," I said. "I finished the last of the healing while we were talking."

"Then let us begin now."

The transplant was completed without issue, and within moments, Itachi was blinking at me with his own eyes once more. I too was once again in possession of my own eyes, a fact that was oddly reassuring. It wasn't that Itachi's eyes were uncomfortable, but I was still glad that mine were back where they belonged.

However, a tight knot of foreign chakra remained.

"Onii-chan, what did you do to my eyes?" I asked. Of course it wouldn't be something bad, but it was still somewhat alarming that he hadn't seen fit to mention it to me first.

"I've given you a portion of my power," he said. "It may serve you when you need it most."

Right. Itachi could implant things like Ameterasu into people's eyes with a simple forehead poke, so of course having access to my eyes for weeks would make things easier.

"I don't want to hurt anyone," I said.

"You won't," he assured me.

I bit my lip.

Itachi's abilities were almost exclusively offensive. I mentally prodded at the chakra. There was something strange about it. It contained Itachi's chakra, but there was also another chakra signature nestled in there too. It was familiar in a distant sort of way, a half-remembered someone from long ago. I tried to recall when I'd felt it before.

It felt like…messy black hair, a playful grin, a teasing voice.

And I knew.

My heart ached. I touched my right eyelid, feeling the power that lay hidden there, power that had once been entrusted to Itachi and now to me.


I strummed the final notes on my shamisen as I completed my evening ritual. In the final moments before I closed the seal, I sent out one last wave of Positive Intent, my goodnight to the people of Ame.

"Tomorrow we will resume your training," said Nagato. Like I'd hoped, he'd seemed relieved to see my eyes once more. "You will need time to become accustomed to your new body."

"Yes, Pein-sama," I said dutifully.

I'd spent most of the afternoon practicing kata, but nothing quite compared to actual training. I also wanted to test out my new chakra capacity and stamina. Not to mention the possibility of learning Wood Release. It was a combination of water and earth, two elemental transformations that I'd never even tried to harness. I wasn't sure when Itachi was intending to leave again, but I was hoping to do a bit of genjutsu training with him. He would obviously have copied some water techniques from Kisame. And I was sure he'd have a few earth techniques to show me too. Nagato might know some as well. I wanted to get as much training in as possible.

Surely I'd hear something about Sasuke's situation soon…

I frowned.

"Is something wrong?" Nagato asked.

"Ah, no!" I said, shaking my head. Although…it might not hurt to ask. "Actually, I was wondering if–"

Nagato's chakra suddenly sharpened, and he turned abruptly to face the opening in the wall.

"What's wrong, Pein?" Konan asked.

"Someone has disturbed my rain's fall," he said. "And judging from their chakra, it's someone dangerous."

The Deva path emerged from the balcony.

"I'm going to stop the rain, Konan," said Nagato. "Use your jutsu to find the intruder."

"Leave it to me," she said.

"Get ready," said Pein, forming the seals. He stood in the rain and raised his hands, withdrawing his immense chakra from the clouds. Within moments, the pitter-patter of raindrops had ceased. "Go, Konan."

"Right," she said, dissolving into paper and dispersing into the air as thousands of origami butterflies.

The Deva path retreated to the back room only to be replaced by the Animal Path a few moments later. Meanwhile, Nagato remained seated at the table with a distant expression. Then his frown deepened.

"Pein-sama?" I asked. "Is something wrong?"

"No," he said, still distant and distracted. "Our intruder is someone I once knew. How nostalgic."

Someone he…

My eyes widened.

Jiraiya. It had to be.

And this was his fight with Pein, the one where he'd be killed.

I had to…

I had to…what?

My mind raced as I looked at Nagato. He was right there, perfectly distracted. I could disrupt his chakra enough to sever his connection with the Pein bodies…for about three seconds before he pushed me away and reestablished the connection. That wasn't long enough.

I could fight him.

Nagato would obviously have to prioritize protecting his real body over dealing with Jiraiya, but I didn't think I could bring myself to effectively stab Nagato in the back. Not after everything he'd done for me. And I would have to kill him if I wanted Jiraiya to have any chance of escape.


If I could touch Jiraiya for even a moment, I could Hiraishin him back to the safety of Konoha. Nagato would be furious at the betrayal, but it was almost time for me to leave anyway.

This was my chance. If Sasuke was still in Hidden Sound, then I'd just have to help him escape.

A loud series of explosions echoed through Ame. I turned in time to see billowing clouds of debris from a nearby building. Pein's chakra burned like an inferno within, and I could almost make out Jiraiya's much smaller chakra as well. I hadn't realized they were so close.

I had to get away from Nagato. I could easily jump to one of the Hiraishin seals I'd planted on the paths of Pein, but if I didn't time it properly, I wouldn't be close enough to Jiraiya to save him, and that assumed that Jiraiya was willing to let me touch him in the first place. Depending on what he knew about my time here, he might even consider me an enemy.

"May I head down to the hospital?" I asked. "If the fight keeps going like this, people will be hurt, and I want to be there to help."

Nagato glanced at me before waving me away.

"Very well," he said, probably more to get rid of me than out of any real concern for hypothetical injured bystanders. "Do not leave the base."

I nodded, slinging my shamisen across my back and hurrying out of the room before he could think better of it. I focused on the chakra signatures I could feel. There were now three Paths of Pein fighting Jiraiya while Konan hung back at a safe distance. They were close, only a few blocks away, right at the edge of a vast lake.

By the time I reached the hospital, all six Paths of Pein were moving.

I strained my senses. Jiraiya's chakra was erratic with agony. Had he been injured?

Time was running out. If I was going to do something, it had to be now. But even as I prepared to make the leap, Jiraiya and one of the Paths of Pein vanished. My whole body stilled. Was it…was it over? Had I missed my chance? Was Jiraiya really…?

Without thinking, I sprinted out the door and down the street. I was moving with chakra-enhanced speed to the place where I'd last felt Jiraiya's chakra. To the place where I still felt five of the six Paths of Pein.

I had to know.

I came to a skidding halt on a ledge overlooking the shattered remnants of a battlefield. The five remaining Paths of Pein were spread out, obviously searching.

"What are you doing here?" the Deva path asked. "I told you to remain in the base."

"I had to…" I said, frantically sweeping the area for any sign of Jiraiya. But he wasn't here. Had he escaped?

"Return immediately," said the Deva path.


Jiraiya's chakra appeared beneath the water. Pein didn't seem to notice, at least not until Jiraiya popped up. Then all of them were moving. Four above, one below.

I had no time to think, no time to consider. My Sharingan activated, and I Hiraishined in front of the Deva path using one of the marks I'd placed on his arm. There were five metal spikes, each aimed at a vital point. I only had a moment to react. How could I manage to deflect them all? My eyes widened, trying to see.

To see.

There was a flash of red and my eyes burned, just like they did back in the Land of Waves when I gained my second tomoe. And suddenly it was as if Pein was moving in slow motion. Not only that, but the rods were…in two places at once? No, no that wasn't it at all. I could see where the rods were, and I could see where they were going to be, like peeking a moment into the future.

I could see it.

I could see it all!

Everything I needed to save him.

I used my shamisen to push aside the Deva path's rod and slipped beneath the others. I didn't even feel them as they pierced my body, but I was able to use the extra fraction of a moment to shift enough that none of the remaining four hit any of Jiraiya's vital organs when they passed through me and continued into him.

I screamed as Pein used the rods to disrupt my chakra. I might not have felt the rods initially, but I could certainly feel them now. Pein cut his chakra, allowing me to numb the agony once more. I placed one hand on Jiraiya's back and poured healing chakra into him. I couldn't send him away in this condition. He'd die in moments. I had to stabilize him first.

"P-Pein-sama, please stop," I gasped, choking on my own blood. One of his rods had pierced my lung. "Th-this is Jiraiya-sama, your sensei. You-you don't…want to kill him."

I looked up at Pein to see his eyes narrowed.

"I hold no more love for my former sensei," he said, cold and unfeeling. "This is the judgment of God."

He raised the rod in his hand to strike. I was pinned down and couldn't move to stop him. I needed more time.

"Jiraiya-sama looked after you!" I cried. "He protected you. He trained you. He cared about you! If anyone will listen to your ideals, it's him! You want to bring peace to this world, right? There won't be any peace if you kill everyone. Please, Pein-sama. Please stop!"

I staunched the bleeding and isolated the puncture wounds with a bandage-like layer of chakra. Just a little bit more.

"Whatever bond we shared is now gone," said Pein. "He is a mere mortal, a child, standing in the way of God. Anyone who stands in my way will meet the full force of my wrath."

Pein angled the rod so that it would strike Jiraiya's neck without piercing me. Pinned down, I couldn't move to protect him.

We were out of time.

As Pein thrust the spike downward, I Hiraishined Jiraiya back to Konoha's hospital. The spike embedded harmlessly in the stone beside my face as I slumped down, still pinned by the rods.

"I'm sorry, Pein-sama," I choked again even as I cycled healing chakra to mend the worst of my injuries. I needed to heal before I hiraishined to Sasuke. I could only imagine what he would think if he saw me like this. "No one should have to kill their sensei."

"Do you even realize what you have done?" he asked. Pein's normally stoic face was a cloud of anger.

"Pein…" said Konan.

That was enough for Pein to look up. I tracked his gaze to the nearby dock. Itachi and Kisame stood watching us. Even from this distance, I could see Itachi's Sharingan burn.

Oh, this was bad. This was really, really bad.

"I'm sorry, Pein-sama," I repeated, loud enough for Itachi to hear. It would help if he understood the situation. "I'm sorry I betrayed you and helped Jiraiya-sama escape. Please forgive me."

As if forgiveness was even a possibility. To a ninja, betraying your leader was treason. In most hidden villages it came with an instant order of execution. There were no trials or appeals here, just the cold retribution of those in power.

Four of the Peins reached down and pulled the metal rods from my body. I let out a gasp of agony.

"Heal yourself," he said. I was already doing so, knitting together the puncture wounds and draining the blood from my lungs. Just a few more moments, and I would be ready…

Itachi and Kisame used Body Flicker to appear on the water beside the stone.

"Leader-sama," said Itachi, his voice utterly empty. "Allow me to administer the punishment for this transgression."

"What exactly did you have in mind?" Pein asked. "Betrayal is not tolerated within this organization."

Itachi looked down at me as I finished healing my wounds. He nodded to Kisame, who hefted Samehada and placed it on my back, instantly absorbing all of my chakra and thwarting any chance of escape.

"The time has come to fulfill my ambitions," he said as he turned back to Pein. "If you wish it, I will make her suffer before the end."


If it was time, did that mean that Sasuke had killed Orochimaru? And Itachi hadn't told me? No, of course he hadn't. When had Itachi ever told me anything if there was a chance that it would put me in danger? He must have realized my plans, and so he'd kept me in the dark until it was too late.

I tried to move, to escape from Samehada's gnawing hunger, but Kisame dug the living blade into my back, pinning me down and crushing the breath from my lungs.

"That will not be necessary," said Pein before turning back to me. "Kiyo-chan, now that Itachi has come to take your life and the lives of your precious brother and friend, do you finally feel hatred for me?"

What a strange question to ask. What did it matter how I felt about him? I was powerless and he saw himself as a god. But still, after three years together, I owed him a response. Even if Obito and Itachi were the ultimate architects behind my time here, Pein and Konan were the ones who looked after me from day-to-day. They were the ones who had given me a hospital, who had trained me, who had helped me to grow in more ways than one. I owed them so much.

"I don't hate you," I murmured. "Thank you for looking after me for these last three years."

Ah, right. They were looking after me. Even now. I had to stop them, prevent them from following me.

I reached up to unclasp Konan's origami angel and laid it at Pein's feet. I was briefly devastated at the loss of my ribbon, but my vision was already swimming from lack of chakra, and I didn't have the coordination to untie it. Getting rid of the tracking device took priority.

"I guess this is goodbye for the last time," I whispered.

Pein was lost in darkness, but Naruto would help him find his way before the end.

Pein was silent for a long moment.

"I see," he said.

"Pein…" said Konan, and there was a strange crack in her voice, like she was wounded.

Had Jiraiya managed to hurt her? Maybe I could still heal her before I…

I tried to lift my head, but even that movement was too much.

"It is time for us to depart," said Itachi.

"…And what will you do if I refuse to let you take her?" Pein asked in a low not-quite threat.

I blinked, slow and weary. Why? Why would he want to keep me here? Even if he did feel some affection for me, I was nothing but a liability now. I'd betrayed him. If anything, he should want Itachi to kill me right here.

"She is necessary for the fulfillment of my ambition," said Itachi with bland detachment.

Pein's chakra swelled and Itachi's flared as he activated his Mangekyo Sharingan.

"Ehehe, now this looks like it could be interesting," said Kisame, bleeding off Killing Intent. Around us all, Konan's paper swirled. Oh no. If this turned into a fight, I didn't even have enough chakra to get out of the way. I tried again to move, but my fingers wouldn't even twitch. My vision had been reduced to a narrow tunnel.

"Yo!" interjected a familiar, bubbly voice that only served to make my heart stop. Tobi appeared beside Pein. "Oh, hey, what'cha all up to? Oooh, is that Kiyo-chan? What are you doing out of the tower? Wow, you look really beat-up, huh?"

There was the barest hint of mockery to his tone, almost imperceptible unless someone was listening for it. And there was something more. Something…angry.

"Tobi," said Pein. "This does not concern you."

I was pretty sure that it did.

"Eeek!" said Tobi, jumping back in apparent fright. "What a scary expression! Heyheyhey, you're not fighting are you?"

The warning was clear.

Pein and Konan could probably win against Itachi and Kisame. Maybe. But against Obito, Itachi, and Kisame they had few paths to victory. Fewer still with Ame to protect. If Pein chose to fight, he would lose. And for what? The life of someone who had just betrayed him?

"Very well," said Pein as the whole world slipped away. "Ensure that she does not suffer."

I closed my eyes as rain began to fall.

Compared to world peace, what was one life worth?


It was worth nothing.

And then I was gone.

AN: And so we've reached the end of the Akatsuki arc! The next chapter will be another Different Perspectives chapter so that we can catch up on what everyone else has been up to so far.

Also, I wanted to clarify a few things:

Will Kiyo grow up now that the Hashirama cells are keeping her healthy?

Yes. Soon...but she needs to resolve some internal struggles. It's coming, I promise.

Will Kiyo get the Rinnegan?

No. The Rinnegan is a combination of Ashura and Indra's chakra. Madara, an reincarnation of Indra, was able to awaken it after absorbing Hashirama's cells. The same is true for Sasuke. Kiyo only has Ashura's chakra, though, not Indra's, which isn't enough. For example Danzo and Obito both have Sharingans and implanted Hashirama cells, but neither was able to awaken the Rinnegan. Also, Madara was only able to do so at the very end of his life. The reason Sasuke awakened it early was because he received Six Paths chakra from Hagoromo. Hopefully that clarifies things.