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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Warnings: MAJOR manga spoilers: chapters 204-212, anime episodes 121-124. Violence, language.

Translation Note – Ikidomari: Dead End.

Disclaimer: Naruto and all affiliated characters are property of Masashi Kishimoto, Jump Comics, and all other affiliated companies. Characters used without permission, for no profit. Dialogue from this scene taken from Inane’s translation of the manga, chapter 212.


by Dread Pirate Rinja

Cold. He felt cold, and dirty, and wet. It didn’t help that his sensitive nostrils were filled with the scent of blood – his own mingled with the small pup’s. It didn’t help that the sharp stinging pain threatened to drag him under with every other step. It also didn’t help that he knew he was being followed.

In a word, this whole mission sucked.

He hadn’t told Naruto or Shikamaru about what he already knew… he could smell it strongly as they ran. Neji shed blood – a lot, if he wasn’t mistaken. Chouji hadn’t returned either. The worry twisted in his gut sharply when he’d picked up the scent and made the connection, but he wasn’t too surprised. They all knew the mission was going to be extremely dangerous. Shikamaru did mention that they’d be risking their lives to save Sasuke’s. But still… it didn’t mean that he enjoyed seeing casualties, especially among his friends. To tell the truth, deep down, he was terrified.

He pulled the unconscious pup in closer to his chest.

“Akamaru,” he whispered encouragingly, not really feeling it, “Hang in there. I—I promise, I’ll protect you.”

It hurt like hell. Kiba wasn’t even sure how he was functioning – the wound still sluggishly oozed thick crimson, though he’d received it hours ago. The trip down the river hadn’t helped stem its flow at all. He was sure he’d lost enough to be concerned; if the bleeding didn’t warn him, his wavering vision and lightheadedness were plenty enough.

At least Akamaru was still breathing. The pup hadn’t regained consciousness, which worried Kiba greatly, but at least he was alive. He’d gathered herbs earlier to try to start healing his injured companion, but he knew he had to hurry if he really wanted Akamaru to make it. He just wasn’t sure how quickly he could move as a throbbing pain clenched his gut at every step.

Who said suicide would be easy? He was never going to try that again, if he could avoid it. Damn, but it hurt. A small smile forced its way onto his pinched features when he remembered the shock his enemy felt from that simple action.

Ah, but it wasn’t so simple, was it?

If words could describe how he’d felt when he realized his body had been invaded, they would have been along the lines of ‘violated,’ but even that word insufficiently matched his feelings. Cold, stark terror had coursed through his veins as his arm pulled tightly against his own neck, the horned head grinning maliciously close to his face. Kiba knew he was dead in that small instant.

He’d had a choice to make at that moment – die by an Orochimaru-sealed freak’s hands, or die by his own and hopefully take the bastard down with him. He’d chosen the latter, and failed… but at least the intruder left, wounded even. Another wry smile surfaced – he’d drawn blood and escaped from a jounin-level enemy.

The small hint of self-satisfaction at the memory faded as white-hot pain stabbed his side, doubling him over. He dropped to the path on one knee, grunting, clutching his side with his free hand. It came away smeared with blood. Damn. Akamaru still showed no signs of awakening – not good. The fact was that he wasn’t so sure he would make it either, but he couldn’t let himself think that way now. Survival. Concentrate. What do you smell?

Familiar scents had been there for a while, though he wasn’t sure what to think of them. They were enemies once, weren’t they? Why were they here and why now? He hadn’t been up to facing them at the chuunin examination, and he was certain he wasn’t at the skill level to beat them now, if they’d improved at all since. Sure, there had been talks of peace since the scandal, but it didn’t help ease his mind.

Kiba couldn’t focus on them now – he had other more pressing issues to worry about. Like that bastard and his brother Orochimaru’d marked with his curse seal. They were still following him, and gaining. Damn, so his first trek in the water hadn’t lost them after all. Rising slowly, he began taking a new path back to the river, hoping to lose them this time, though he didn’t hold much hope.

The water stung his open wound as he reluctantly submerged, balancing Akamaru on top of his head and covering him with the meager leafy branch from before. The cover might not help much, but it made him feel less exposed. He couldn’t pick up scents in the water, so he could only hope that he was getting away. Ice from the water sank into his bones once again, stiffening them and making them ache. He couldn’t stay in for long without risk of more complications; he knew this much, even if he wasn’t a doctor.

Was he going to die?

He pulled himself from the river, collapsing briefly on the bank before forcing himself to move inland, into the forest. Not sure where he was going, but instinct told him this was the best path to safety.

And he still smelled them. What were they doing nearby, anyhow?

Damn, just what he needed. An unwanted confrontation with an enemy strong enough to take him down even at his best. He already had his hands full with the brother duo, even while wounded. His hopes for bringing Akamaru safely home fell, pulling him down. He collapsed against the base of a tree, unable to force himself to move. A cold numbness sank into his limbs, dulling the pain. If only he could just rest…

No. That was a coward’s way out. He would not die needlessly; Akamaru’s sacrifice would not be wasted. He had to get out of there, somehow.

Dammit, he already caught up. Dammit.

Moving – no good. An invisible hand gripped his side now. He’d lost too much blood, and his torn muscles were strained to the maximum. His body refused to move, and he could smell them coming closer. His pulse skyrocketed.

And suddenly, the scent faded. For a moment, he thought it was his fuzzy mind playing tricks on him. But no, the scent truly was gone! They’d gone the other way, and now he could make it.

Phew. “That was a close one—”


The voice made him jump, his heart nearly stopping. Head whipping to the side, there sat his current greatest fear, smiling smugly at him, and wearing… my jacket! Kiba’s eyes widened as he realized the mistake he’d made in leaving it behind.

“I see,” Sakon replied with a chuckle. “Seems like you wouldn’t notice a smell you’re always smelling.”

Kiba grunted. “You camouflaged your own scent with that, huh… Seems like you know the characteristics of smells. No wonder I couldn’t smell a thing.” He curled in closer around his wound against the tree, pressing into the trunk as Sakon raised the kunai. A grimace and he added quietly, “I can’t evade both of you at once… Dammit.” He smiled grimly, and then chuckled. So it ended here, eh? At least he’d made it this far.

“You can’t even holler out a loser’s last words? Huh!” Sakon’s voice increased in volume and pitch – now he was screaming, “Stop laughing because you’re about to die!

He couldn’t help it; he flinched and threw up a protective arm as the pale, black-spotted hand hurtled at him, gleaming kunai clutched in its grasp. He was a dead man. Dead end. For a moment, he briefly thought back to the stone near Konoha – the one with the names of the ninja killed in action.

Would his humble name grace its smooth surface? Who would remember him when he was gone? Would he be remembered as a brave ninja who sacrificed his all for a friend in need? Would he even be found like this, stranded in the forest with nobody to hear him breathe his last? Would he join Neji and Chouji in the afterlife? What would his sister think of him?

Would the name of Inuzuka Kiba be remembered?

I’m so sorry, Akamaru.

Kiba closed his eyes. A breath of wind, a shadow descended, and the kunai connected.


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