Disclaimer: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Welcome to the Disclaimer, that's right, the Disclaimer! This American apple-pie-institution involving copy written material has been placed here to let you know that the characters named in this series (with the exception of Shinobu Ishimaru, and Kanae Ishimaru) do not belong to this story's author in any way, shape, or form. In fact, this disclaimer was inspired by the introduction from the CD "Ixnay on the Hombre" by The Offspring. So without further to do, and no other excuses to stall for time, please enjoy the story. I can't make this stuff up, people… wait… yes I can. I'm just too lazy to do it.

- Awake -

Chapter 5

"If I wanted to, I could kill the Hokage…" came the first spoken words from the tape on the handheld tape recorder. Before she continued, Tsunade pressed the stop button and stared at the recorder as if Shinobu, himself was inside the palm of her hand. His words struck her as unusual in multiple ways. The two most unusual being that Shinobu was remembered as a man who became a medical ninja because he abhorred killing on any side, and because of that, to hear him speak of assassinating their previous village's Hokage, was even more disturbing. Wondering what he could be thinking to motivate such a thought, Tsunade continued to listen to the recordings on the tape.

"… that's what a lot of ninja would say if they were to come up against us in a surprise attack; but with my jutsu, Konoha's ninja forces should be more than enough to defend him. cough, cough."

'So he wasn't planning on Sandaime's assassination… thank God… Wait… coughing?'

"I must apologize for my apparent sickness… It seems my health has taken a turn for the worst… cough, cough. Perhaps it's due to my lack of sleep lately. During the nights, the Sutaminagan often prevents me from sleeping, so I've decided to drop the habit of sleeping. A dangerous cough, excuse me… A dangerous path, indeed, but I'm sure my efforts will pay off. cough, cough, hack. Excuse me… I need some water."

'What's going on…? Shinobu was usually a vision of perfect health…' Most medical ninja are required to have better health than most ninja for medical purposes, but Shinobu was known to be pretty exceptional in the area of cleanliness. She continued playing.

"Damn it!" Shinobu's frustrated cursing was followed by a sound of things being thrown left in right. "Where's that bitch-of-a calendar…cough, cough! Ah, forget it… Today, I've felt a little sicklier, so I've decided to rest up and regain my strength. To prevent my ailments from spreading, I've decided to quarantine myself until I've recovered. I must admit I'm a little embarrassed to allow myself to get this ill. I'll make up for it later… On a lighter note, I was paid a surprise visit today cough. My younger sister, Kanae, stopped by outside. I would've invited her inside, but I didn't want her to get sick from any diseases I might have."

'Little Kanae…? B-but she's…'

"I've always wanted to discuss things with her for not having seen her for so long… To finally have done so, was like a huge burden being lifted off of me. We talked for hours on end, catching up on the latest things that happened to each other. I told her about what I was working on, and she merely smiled and told me to do my best. Kanae-chan… Funny… she looked exactly the way she did when she died 12 years ago… Yawn I'm gonna end it here for now. I'll report later."

"WHY THE FUCK CAN'T I GO TO SLEEP!?" His voice echoed for what seemed like forever, and then the next recording session started.

"Sorry about that earlier… just a little frustrated and tired, I guess… Anyway, I decided to work out a bit to attempt to boost my immune system… The results weren't too well. cough, cough" This was apparent because his voice seemed a bit weaker during this recording. "I tried some shuriken training to keep my aim and precision sharp, but I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if I wanted to. My taijutsu also seemed to suffer, do to me being sick… I can't throw a punch without me loosing balance, and any kick I try seems to always make me nauseas to the point where I'm about to vomit… My vision's also starting to get blurry… Why'd I decide to do this shit in the first place?"

Whatever was happening to him, it wasn't good. Shinobu was sick, and apparently in more ways than one. As Tsunade listened to his recordings, she noticed he was becoming physically sicker. Often he ended up coughing so much; he'd end the recording and try again later. Odder, still, besides him loosing a grip on his physical strength, he was also starting to loose his grip on reality. He was 'visited' by more people she was quite sure had died years ago, but even thought he sounded calm talking about their conversations, it didn't change his mood for the better. He cursed more than usual, his speech became more vulgar, he sometimes slurred his words, and he was becoming even more irritable. He often mentioned his frustration with his inability to sleep peacefully, or sleep at all for that matter. It brought tears to her eyes to know that the person she once knew as a symbol of perfect health was slipping away with each recording she heard. His humanity, his skills, his very self, all of it was being swept away… all for the sake of this one jutsu. 'What in the world have you created, Shinobu-chan…? Why won't you stop torturing yourself?' She assumed this endless cycle of self-mutilation would continue until she heard perhaps Shinobu's final recording on the other side of the tape.

"I'm not going to make it out of here alive…! Someone's out there! I just know it! That bastard's out to obtain my secrets! … He's out to get my eyes…! But he won't get them. Try as he might, I won't let him have what I've been working on up till now. He can be damned sure about that! What…? …You! I know why you're here! You want my power, don't you?"

'Who is he talking to!? I thought the room was sealed to prevent entrance due to him being sick?' Tsunade wondered. The investigation of the sight said that Shinobu died in a struggle, but there were no signs of forced entry. 'Perhaps…' As she wondered how the intruder got in, she continued listening.

You want the Sutaminagan for yourself! Is that it, fucker!? Well piss off! I'm not going to hand it over to some asshole like you!" the sound of a battle rang from the speakers of the tiny tape recorder. In between coughs and battle yells, Shinobu tried his best to deter his "attacker". Closing her eyes, Tsunade tried to visualize a life-or-death struggle between a desperate ninja, and a ninja on the verge of insanity. Her eyes flash open as she heard Shinobu scream a cry of pain, signifying that he'd lost. "Shinobu-chan…!"

"Tch… God… damn it! I'm not handing it over to you… no matter what, you bastard…!"

Without knowing why, Tsunade's mouth opened, and she began to call out towards Shinobu's voice, as if her own voice would change what was unfolding on the tape recorder. "Get out of there, Shinobu-chan… Just run away…!"

"Thanks to this wound… I'm not gonna make it out of here… but you're not leaving with my secrets…! No way in hell I'd allow that! But just so you know… the main driving force behind this jutsu is its user's eyes… and if I gouge mine out, then you're hopes of learning what I learned… will be smashed to pieces…!"

"Stop it, Shinobu! That's not going to help you!"

"I don't care what happens to me now…! But my efforts will go on!"


"Hng… Nnnngghh. AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGHH! GUAAAAAAAUGH! AAAAAAAHHHH FUCK! gasp… gasp… gasp… Now… for the other eye….! UGAHHHHHHHHHHH! AUUUUUUUUUUUUHGH! GOD… DAMN IT! …. There! Now you see!?... You're efforts… will die along with me…! Now leave!" A thump sound can be heard over the speaker after the event. It could be approximated that Shinobu is slumped against the wall. He still had some life in him, even after gouging out his own eyes, and thought it pained her to do so. Tsunade listened to Shinobu's final words. Someone had to…

"Th-this is… Shinobu Ish…Ishimaru… gasp… gasp Medical Ninja - Jounin Class… After much deliberation… I've decided… to end my creation… and analysis… of this jutsu… I… I hereby submit this report… to anyone…. Anyone…. Who…." The tape ends there. But Tsunade's tears had merely just started to flow. She couldn't believe what happened to such a gentle person as Shinobu. She felt cursed, sometimes… It seems that anyone she grew attached to in the past, they ended up dieing a death they did not deserve. That is… until she recently became Hokage… It seemed that only then, she was able to escape the cycle of death that involved those close to her… But it seems even Death is inescapable. It was a lesson she learned too soon. Suddenly, hearing footsteps from outside her door, she wiped away at her tears and tried to make herself more presentable.

"Good morning, Hokage-sama!" It was Kotetsu and Izumo. They were reporting in for their guard duty, as always. "Are you alright, Hokage-sama? Your eyes are red…"

"Oh, that!? I was just up all night looking through this report on Ishimaru-san. By the way, I want you two to bring two medical ninja, and a monitoring device in here a.s.a.p. Understood?

"Yes, ma'am!" The two ninja disappeared. Tsunade stood up and stretched a bit. 'Wait, good morning? Had I really been awake that long?' Now that she mentioned it, Tsunade hadn't had a chance to put the batteries back into the clock mounted on her wall. Gazing at it, she noticed it was still the same time as it was when she removed its batteries. Looking outside the window, she noticed that the sun was just rising over the village. She'd been up all night reading the reports, and listening to Shinobu's voice. Well, this case was almost to a close. And with it, hopefully, her memory of Shinobu would be settled. Within 30 minutes, two medical ninja with a monitoring device showed up at Tsunade's office. Within moments, the equipment was set up and hooked up to Tsunade.

"Alright, tell me what my chakra level is right now…" The medical ninja closest to the machine took a look at its readings and reported back to her.

"Your body has about 80 of its chakra left, ma'am."

"Alright now, listen up. I'm going to perform a new jutsu in just a moment. I want both of you to monitor two things. One of you will notice any physical changes on my body, and the other will keep an eye on my vitals on the monitoring equipment. Is that clear?"

"Yes, ma'am!" And so, they began their experiment. It turns out that Shinobu's calculations were off on this particular jutsu. According to the medical ninjas' analysis on Tsunade's vitals and physical appearance, this jutsu is actually not a ninjutsu, but a genjutsu that made its caster believe that they had more stamina than they actually believed. Their vitals remained the same, but their body was 'tricked' into thinking otherwise. In fact, the only thing that changed was that its user's pupils became extremely dilated. Unhooking the equipment and dispelling the effects of the jutsu, Tsunade stood up and exclaimed, "As the current Hokage of this village, I hereby deem the 'Sutaminagan' unsafe by ninja in the field, and it is forever marked as a forbidden jutsu. Those caught attempting to use this jutsu will be punished to the full extent of the law... Hey! Are either of you getting any of this down!?" She checked if either of the two medical ninja was jotting down her declarations. They weren't her secretaries, but she had the ability to crush boulders with her pinky, so they did the 'right thing' and did as they were told.

"I will not allow ruin to fall onto anyone who is under my watch…! That's my ninja way." Tsunade looked towards the window, coming to terms with the case, and her feelings of watching over any and all that were in her care. She will forever protect them, as long as her body willed it so. But for now, it was time for a little R&R. "Now if you'll excuse me… the sake bar calls!" and with that, she was out the door with a smile to face the village, the world, and perhaps herself. With sake in hand, she will protect everyone close to her, and will keep to memory those who were dear to her, as well.

-Awake: End-

A/N: OWARI (the end)! I must apologize for not submitting this sooner. I had some trouble finding a way to continue after the ending statement from the previous chapter, and it ended up like this (Also, the site wouldn't let me for some odd reason... o.o). For those of you who don't get it, Shinobu killed himself, as his jutsu was both his creation, and his undoing. Isn't it wonderful when a creation comes back to claim its master? Well, this concludes this fanfic. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and if you did/didn't, send me a review or two.