Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment – Beetle Chronicles
Chapter 3: A Tale of Seven-Tails Pt.3
Author’s Note: Shibuki is around Fuu’s age (give or take a year), rather than whatever Canon would be, on account of being an AU… and the fact that I refuse to believe he was 20 in Part I, the village leader, and that much of a pansy.
Fuu: Age 12
The forest seemed to go still as the curtain of droplets fell from the grey heavens above. It was raining as the green-haired Jinchuuriki of Waterfall stood before her opponent, with her legs spaced from one another and tensed in a manner that would allow her to move to left or right. As time had passed the looming horrors of puberty had begun to make themselves known, and her hair had grown a bit longer in tandem with her body having grown in height.
Standing opposite of her was the current bane of her existence to date, Suika. Suien had ordered him to assist in her training as he had business to take care of. He stood there in the rain with his posture relaxed, arms at his side as the streamlets of water flowed down his body, seeping from the high-collar of his blue-and-orange jacket and snaking down his black shirt and bare arms.
Fuu hated the man. Without a doubt she did. If Suien’s training was rough, his was simply abusive in nature with how he constantly struck her hard enough to leave bruises that were sore and tender for a good and long time after he was done.
And the asshole did it without ever losing that bored look on his face. She wasn’t even sure he was human with how he could carry out some of the executions he did in the Worm Pit while looking like that. Or worse, when he made Fuu do it.
Since that first time she was forced to put down the child for the village’s sake, she had been instructed to do it more and more to her dismay. Men and women, old and young, no one brought there was spared. They made her handle every third one brought in while Suien and Suika took the other two.
Her gaze briefly faltered as she wiped the water from her eyes. She was starting to regret not keeping her bandana to cover her eyes so the rain didn’t get into it. Perhaps it was because she was entering the age of teenage rebellion, but she normally left it behind while out in the forest unless she had to wear it. After everything she had to do for the village, how she lost her innocence that day when she killed the son of the traitorous merchant, she couldn’t stand it unless she had to.
Suien seemed to understand that. He always gave her a cookie afterwards and let her go get some rest, although she never could because she would hear the screaming of the dying, begging her not to kill them in some manner or other. He only told her that she needed to wear it during an active conflict, such as fighting off more Grass shinobi. He even let her take some of their things too as spoils for doing a good job, saying it would be their little secret.
So far she had gotten some make up a kunoichi had brought for some reason that didn’t matter once her bugs got to her, some extra rations for when she felt a little hungrier than normal since she was a growing girl, some technique scrolls, and some excess supplies that came in handy for training. But her favorite was an orange book that held her interest. Fuu briefly entertained the idea of being in love like the people in those books were before they got…intimate.
Then the idea died as the silence of the forest, besides the pattering of the life-nourishing rainfall hitting the thirsty fauna, was broken by the arrival of bees and wasps that had heeded her call. They formed a swarm as Fuu ordered them to surround him and attack, sending her intentions through the chakra they were empowered by. She didn’t hold back, giving them the order to kill when it came to him.
The apathetic look on his face didn’t change at all as he made the hand signs for what Fuu recognized as the Grand Fireball technique. He was a fire-user in contrast to Suien, who mostly used water techniques. Fuu’s skills were geared towards water, along with the sole lightning technique she had learned from a scroll she took off one of the Grass shinobi. Even then she botched every few times.
It honestly rankled her that her bugs were such a bad match-up against her mentors. While Suien could use water to crush them, he not only burned them but, even when she could take authority over his spiders, he could make a giant flaming spider to kill them before trapping her in their silk webbing. It was like the village chose them specifically to counter her… of course they did, what was she thinking otherwise?
He soon breathed out the chakra molded into heat and flames as a constant stream of burning fire, rather than the namesake, just like she figured he would. The technique was good enough as long as he kept the flow of chakra fluid and constant. He spun as around with it to set the spiraling horde aflame while she used the opportunity to run to a near tree and jump above him while he was focused on them and blinded by his own technique to what was coming.
Just like all the other elements, there were two types of ways chakra manipulated water. The first was that it bled outwards, soaking every bit that it could find and then bending it to the user’s will. While less intensive than converting and creating chakra into the element, it was reliant on the amount of moisture in the surroundings to make up for the lack of necessary elemental nature.
The second was that chakra itself was converted into water. This false element was much like the fire he used and why it didn’t kill him from the heat, a chakra construct made to simulate the real element and its real effects to an extent. The benefit of this meant that it could be used anywhere and molding the chakra or changing its properties was so much easier, but it was dependent on chakra reserves, costly, and if the chakra was stripped from it then every drop vanished.
Sensing chakra was something most shinobi couldn’t do either, unless it was in very high amounts and almost to the point where it was visible. And, while a normal Genin would need to declare the name of the technique to focus on crafting it, Fuu didn’t need to even whisper as her chakra clung to the moisture in the air and pulled it towards her outstretched hand. It coalesced and was made harder as it formed a blade, perfect for a stealth-kill.
With the Water Slicing Sword in hand, one of the first techniques she learned, Fuu descended upon the Jounin like a Grim Reaper as his flames died with the rest of her bugs. He looked up from either her shadow being cast or the break in the rain above him. But it was too late. The blade was swung with all the strength her lithe body could offer and drew an arch through the falling rain as it came around to cleave his head open….
It passed through. As though she was cutting down a ghost there wasn’t any noticeable resistance as the Jounin’s facsimile vanished. She landed into a botched roll and ended back up on her feet while trying to ignore the pain in her shoulder as she looked around for the bastard.
“Pathetic.” Suika’s voice came from behind her. She swung the blade around on reflex to meet the source. He grabbed her Water Slicing Sword with his right hand, the fingers closing in on the flat sides. He then lowered it, bringing his left fist around to her cheek and knocking her down to the soggy ground.
On her hands and knees as she tried to pick herself up, he set his foot on her back and pushed her down until she was laying in the wet grass and moist dirt from which earthworms writhed in nature’s shower. No matter what she tried to do, even as chakra gave her strength above a normal twelve year old, she couldn’t stand. All she could do was turn her head, glaring at him with spiteful green eyes.
“You rely too much on your insects,” Suika scolded in his usual apathetic manner. “Your hand-to-hand stunk until just then and your basics still need work if you fell for a Clone and Body Flicker combination. Perhaps you should spend your time doing that rather than reading that orange book….”
Her blush at that was furious and her rage at him was so thick it could be cut with the blade in her hand if she could get a decent angle to use it. Maybe she could get his foot that was on the ground? She contemplated it for a moment and her fingers tensed to move when the sound of clapping came from over the rain and signaled the end of the sparring.
Suien had returned. He was leaning against a tree so the leaves above shielded him from the rain. “That’s enough.”
“Is it done?” Suika asked, removing his foot from her back.
“The incursions have stopped for the moment,” he said. “But they’ll pick back up soon enough. Like I feared, they know the location of the Hero’s Water. That’s what these latest incursions have been about.”
Fuu stood up and rubbed the sore spot where Suika, the douche-bag that he was, had been grinding his foot into. “How do you know that?”
“Just as they have spies in our village we have a share in theirs.” He mused it over. “Well, some coerced civilians and a shinobi of the Leaf village in their ranks that passes along the information, but its close enough to the point. Most likely one of Shibuki’s father’s men told them during the last incident, where they drank the water in its hiding place and then left to fight. I was already on the front-lines, so I was unable to taste it.”
“In that case, shouldn’t we tell Shibuki and get him to move it?” Fuu asked.
Suien shook his head. “No. The Hero’s Water should be moved, but not with Shibuki knowing.”
Fuu looked at him skeptically. From her point of view, that was treason talk. Considering what she had been made to do in the Worm Pit for that sort of thing, she was starting to wonder if he had been replaced by someone in a Transformation.
Perhaps sensing this, he raised his hands in a placating gesture. “Hear me out. We’re the ones defending the village and risking our lives. When was the last time they sent us assistance before the threat was taken care of?”
She thought about it. The answer was maybe once, and that was simply because the enemy was reclusive. The number of times they had been at risk, and she nearly died, were far more than that. “Okay, but what’s the got to do with the Hero’s Water?”
“Who’s better qualified to look after it?” Suien said, gesturing to himself, Suika, and Fuu. “They don’t care about you, but they still throw you to the wolves and expect you to die for something you haven’t even seen. Once it’s taken by the spies, do you really think they’ll just call it a day and let you back into the village?”
A frown formed on her face at that. Shibuki would… would he let her back in? When was the last time he even visited her? Did he even care about her anymore?
“Let’s say I agree with you,” Fuu finally said, “what would I need to do?”
“Talk to Shibuki,” Suien said. “Get him to tell you where the Hero’s Water is. Then leave the rest to us.”
Later that Night
A fly floated in the air above the secluded village almost lazily as it circled around in search for a place to land. A shinobi on guard swatted at it while it buzzed around him, keeping on-guard as silently as he could while the pest annoyed him relentlessly. He remained blissfully unaware as the Jinchuuriki of the Seven-Tailed Beetle slipped past him in the water below.
They had no reason to suspect she’d entered. She hadn’t set foot in the village for a long time. The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ was clearly at play, and she was willing to utilize it to its fullest effect.
Though it did rankle her how easy it was as she swam like a toad beneath the water’s surface with a re-breather in her mouth. Honestly, if she could sneak in this easily then they had gotten lax in their defenses like Suien said. On the other hand, maybe it was because she and the others had been doing such a good job of keeping them safe that they felt the extra work wasn’t worth the effort.
That made it worse that she was being treated like this—isolated from the village when she was the only thing keeping it safe. On her worse days, she honestly wondered why she didn’t let Grass burn this place to the ground. It was then she thought about Shibuki and what he’d meant to her when they were children, before she was taken from his side. Did he even remember her?
She noticed the guards posted around his home, perched on the rooftops above. They were alert, in contrast to the guy she distracted before. That could be a problem. Thankfully, there weren’t any real sensors in the village so her next plan went off without a hitch. Small beetles in the air above them carried small seal slips and she triggered them.
Inside the slips was a sleeping gas, thin enough not to be visible even as they noticed the scent in the air changed. It was a Grass blend, meant to paralyze and put to sleep at the same time. They had taken it from some corpses they looted. They were out cold before they knew it, remaining perched as though nothing was wrong.
Fuu emerged from the water and carefully used a technique to dry her clothes and skin without leaving a puddle behind. She then guided some of her larger insects inside of Shibuki’s home and used them to unlock his door from the inside, not wanting to trip the alarm seals on the window. She closed the door behind her gently and then took a minute to appreciate being in his home for the first time in years. Nothing much seemed to have changed….
She shook her head to avoid falling into the nostalgia trap and went up the wall next to his stairs, not wanting the creaking to give her away. She climbed up to Shibuki’s room and repeated the trick she did before to get his bedroom door open without making too much noise. She shut the door quietly and just stood there, watching him sleep.
Shibuki was sprawled across the surface of his bed, sheets wrinkled beneath him as he snored softly in a shirt and his boxers. The part of her that liked to reminiscence about the old days noticed he hadn’t changed at all in that aspect. Only back then he would have taken up less space and she’d be curled up next to him and fighting in her sleep to get more cover from beneath him. She missed those days a lot.
Her footfalls were soft as she approached his bed and ended up leaning over him while he slept, the light of the moon slipping in through the blinds patterned over them. Her eyes took notice of something she hadn’t in the distance. To her surprise, he had gotten… handsome, if she had to put it into words.
The part of her undergoing puberty brought thoughts of the orange book, leaving them flashing across her mind, and she inadvertently licked her lips. The moment the rational part of her mind kicked in at the realization of what she was doing her face turned red and flushed. She ended up letting an embarrassed noise slip out of her mouth.
Shibuki’s eyes snapped open with that sound. She placed a hand over his mouth before he could yell or anything, giving his eyes time to adjust to room and see her holding a finger to her mouth. His eyes darted around to see if anyone else was there before he nodded.
She lifted her hand from his mouth and sat down on his bed. “Been a while, hasn’t it Chibi-buki?”
Shibuki sat up. “How did you get in?”
“Your guards were asleep on the job,” she told him while kicking her feet back and forth lazily. “Snuck in that way. Really, you need better security if I can get in this easily.”
“I’ll talk to them in the morning.” He rubbed his eyes and then gave Fuu a once over, almost the same way she had done to him.
An impish smile came across her face and she leaned closer, giving him a better look. “See something you like?”
He blushed for a moment and shook his head. “No, it’s just… you’ve gotten bigger.”
“Well, of course I have. I’ve been fighting to keep the village safe all the time.” Her smile turned into a pout. “Speaking of which, you know about the spies?”
Shibuki nodded, and a bitter expression formed on his face as he crossed his legs. “I’ve read the reports from Suien. Hard to believe it sometimes with how peaceful things are inside the village.”
“Yeah, because I’ve been trying my hardest to protect it,” Fuu said, bringing her hands to her bare arms between the arm warmers and her shoulders. “It’s been harder than you could imagine. The things I’ve seen, the things I’ve done, the pain I’ve gone through… because they want the Hero’s Water.”
He looked guilty at that. “Fuu, I swear if there was another way—”
“You don’t know what it’s like.” She grabbed his hand with her own and raised it to her chest, holding it tightly between her fingers. It felt surprisingly calloused, like he had been training with a sword. “Shibuki, when was the last time you’ve had to kill a man? Feeling the blood drip down from the kunai into your hands, and then watching as thousands of insects tear them apart in order to hide the bodies?”
“That’s the sort of things I’ve had to look at constantly,” she continued. To her surprise, her voice was growing hoarse as the truth mixed in. She lowered her hand to where her seal was. “I wasn’t even ten when I was expected to learn how to access the Seven-Tails’ chakra or risk being eaten by spiders, and then the killing and torturing before I had even turned eleven.”
“Fuu, I know it’s hard—”
“No, you don’t!” She didn’t mean to nearly yell at him, but it came out with the tears. “You turned me into a kunoichi, a killer… a weapon for the village… I tell myself every night that I cry myself to sleep that you would make it go away and tell me I’ve done enough, but the next day it starts again.”
She curled up and cried like she hadn’t done in over a year, not since the boy whose throat she slit for merely being related to a traitor. “I’m always fighting, and killing, and hurting others, all because of Tana and his bakery. Suien and Suika are relentless and tell me to follow orders, but how can I be so blindly loyal to a village that treats me like a walking plague?”
He said nothing, though he should. He was the village’s leader and those words were tantamount to treason. But he didn’t. Instead, he wrapped his arms around her in a hug.
“Please, Shibuki.” She begged him, nestling her face against his chest and holding him tight. “At least show me what I’m fighting for. Let me see with my own eyes what I’m killing others for left and right? Give me a reason to keep going!”
Shibuki let her go and stood up off the bed. He walked towards the wall, stopping and bringing a hand to his face in thought. She figured it was eating him up on the inside.
Fuu kept crying, not only out of the truth of her words, but hatred at herself for what she was doing. She knew how soft he was. She was playing on his feelings, manipulating him so that his guilt worsened. Even if it was true, she didn’t want to hurt him.
“…Okay, Fuu.” He opened his closet and pulled out some clothes to get dressed. “I’ll show you what you’re fighting for. We’ll need to do this quick, while those guards are asleep. No one else can know.”
“Thank you,” she said, wiping the tears away. Damn Suien and Suika for making her do this to him. “I… thank you, Shibuki. Thank you.”
Inside of the Tree
Fuu silently emerged up from the water and found herself in an underground pocket of air nestled beneath the roots of the great tree. She noticed air must’ve been coming in from above because the water hadn’t risen. Did that mean the tree was hollowed to some extent?
“Pwah!” Shibuki gasped as he emerged from the water next to her, shaking his hair. He nodded his head up and to the side. “There, climb up there. The roots will give way to the side.”
She climbed and pushed where he said to. The roots there were thinner, easier to brush aside and slip into. She made to climb further up them… and then thought twice about. Occasionally flirtatious due to puberty, with a fetish for a book she shouldn’t be reading, she might be. A flasher, she was not. She jumped back in the water.
“You first.” He looked confused. Apparently the same thoughts that passed in her mind weren’t even a factor in his. She chalked it up to the orange book she read and clarified. “I’m wearing a skirt, Shibuki.”
His eyes widened in understanding and he blushed again. “Right. I’ll go first.”
He climbed past her, not meeting her eyes, and pushed aside the bundle of supple roots that led further ahead. Fuu walked behind him, using her chakra to make the trip easier. They were near the top of the tree’s interior when they entered into what looked to be a natural chamber inside of it.
“We’re here,” Shibuki said, using the same technique to dry himself off that she did and then heading into the center, where there was a small shrine. And there, hanging beneath a small torii, was what she presumed to be the Hero’s Water.
The liquid was inside of a glass-like gourd bottle, nearly full and crystal-clear. Fuu found it difficult to believe such a thing could be the most valuable treasure in the village. In all honestly, she found it almost sad to think that this could be what Grass was willing to throw their men and women into the grinder for.
Yet, Shibuki held the bottle tenderly between his hands. Not a surprise. His father had died from drinking it the last time. How painful must it have been for him to look at it, knowing that while his father died because of it, he would likely need to use it as well should she fail in her duties?
“This is the Hero’s Water.” He handed it to her. “The liquid inside is produced by the tree every 100 years, or rather that’s how long it takes for enough to accumulate and fill a bottle. It increases one’s chakra output by ten-fold, in exchange for part of their life. It goes without saying that, for a skilled shinobi, so much chakra would allow them to deal with any threat.”
“But is it safe here?” she asked as she twisted it around in her hands. “Everyone knows how sacred this tree is, even if they don’t know it’s here in particular. What’s stopping the spies from finding it eventually? Wouldn’t it be better to move it?”
It was a valid question considering that her insects could have literally crawled through a number of nooks and openings that she noticed. No wonder they didn’t want her in the village—she would have likely have found the place by accident. For Shibuki’s part, he shook his head.
“I can’t let anyone move it, Fuu,” he said. “No one besides me is supposed to know where it is. The reason I’m showing you this is because you asked me to give you a reason for why you fight. I wanted you to see for yourself the three treasures of this village that Father told me was my duty as the leader to protect.”
Her ears perked up. “Three?”
“The first are the people,” he said, gesturing out of the hole towards the village underneath. Fuu personally begged to differ, but he seemed to think otherwise. He gestured to the bottle. “The second is the Hero’s Water, meant to protect the first treasure.”
That made sense, she supposed. “What’s the last?”
He pointed to her. “You, Fuu.”
A flash of surprise came over her face at the thought of being a treasure of the village. Then she recalled what lay inside of her. It wasn’t her, who was the treasure. It was the demon inside of her. Her heart dropped a little at that, knowing he saw her as an object because of what was inside of her.
“So, the Jinchuuriki is the third treasure,” she said, holding the bottle slightly tighter. Part of her wanted to break it, she would admit. It was like he was saying she was no better than it. “I shouldn’t have been surprised. There are only so many of us, aren’t there?”
“None of them could replace you, Fuu.” He took the water from her and set it back in place. “To be honest, the Hero’s Water is also used as a safety measure to suppress the Jinchuuriki should they go out of control. Because we theorize that the tailed-beast inside is able to learn from its hosts, you shouldn’t know at all where it is since it would be the first thing targeted.”
That… complicated things then. If that was true, then she just necessitated the Hero’s Water being moved one way or another. Maybe it would be best if she told Suien not to tell her wherever they were going to hide it. Still, a question came to mind.
“Why show it to me then?” she asked. “I mean, if you had told me back in your room, I would have understood. I… I’m a liability. Logically speaking.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” He took her hands into his gently, kindly. “It’s because I trust you, Fuu. More than anyone else in the world.”
She found herself stunned, heat spreading across her face. Was it puberty again? She shook it away and looked down to the ground. “Y-You do?”
He gently guided her chin up and looked her directly in the eyes, a warm smile on his face. “I’ve missed you, Fuu—seeing you, hearing your voice, holding your hand. You aren’t just any Jinchuuriki, but my best friend in the world. You’ve been there through the good time and the bad, even my father’s death. You haven’t lost control, and you’ve been fighting day and night to protect people who only see the demon and destruction caused in the past. How could I not trust you after all we’ve been through?”
He thought that highly of her, when the truth was so different. She fought not for the people who abandoned her, but because of the memories she had of him. Yet, he believed her to be so pure and noble that she was risking her life for those who shunned her. He thought she was that wonderful of a person with all his heart, enough that he’d….
“Fuu, what’s wrong?” he asked. “You’re crying again.”
“Huh?” She reached up and touched her cheek, only to feel the wet, hot tears on her fingertips. It took her only a moment to realize why.
He trusted her. He trusted her more than anyone else in the world, despite carrying the village’s demon. He was possibly dooming them if she lost control of it by showing her this, but he did it anyway—all so that she felt appreciated.
And she had manipulated him into doing so, betraying their friendship by taking advantage of their bonds. She used those feelings to get what she wanted. She was a horrible friend.
“I’m so sorry …” She trembled in place as the tears flowed even quicker. Her arms wrapped around his back and held him tight as a raw cry came out of her throat. “I’m sorry for not believing in you all this time!”
He let her cry on his shoulder without a word until she had no more tears to shed.
End Note: Yeah, sorry for the long delay… I have no excuse barring work is busying.