Those three words hit me to the core and made my heart stop for a second. It hurt especially, coming from Onii-san. I curled up into a ball and looked at Nii-san with one eye. His eyes were angry and scared at the same time. He was scared of me. “I’m sorry, Nii-san,” I said honestly. My heart was pounding so fast. I was so scared. Nii-san will hate me now. Just like everyone else. Nii-san can’t hate me. No. I… I didn’t… “I didn’t mean to—”
”What do you mean, you didn’t mean to?!” he boomed. “You killed two of your classmates, and you can’t even tell me why!” Nii-san broke his eye contact with me and looked out the window at the gathering mob of ninjas. “…what is wrong with you, Nano?”
My eyes watered when he said his nickname for me. He hadn’t called me ‘Nano’ since I was five or so. My name is Mochizuki Kano, and I will be nine years old in three weeks. My brother is Mochizuki Toshiaki, 19, and a very awesome ninja of Konohagakure.
Toshiaki looked out the window and turned to me. “The hokage is coming,” he warned. “You’d better get a story straight. I… I can’t help you anymore.”
Nii-san started to walk away. “No!” I cried out. “It wasn’t me, I swear!”
“Oh yeah?” Toshiaki turned around. “Then tell me why you were the one holding a kunai and splattered with blood.”
I shook my head. “You don’t understand… It was—” I froze, paralyzed.
“Don’t you dare say my name, brat…”
“Who?” Toshiaki asked, not planning to believe me anyway.
“It was…” My breaths came in shorter intervals as I tried to say his name. “I… ja… k—” My throat suddenly constricted and I couldn’t move or speak.
He appeared beside me. I still couldn’t move. My mouth was still half-open with my unfinished word. His golden cat-like eyes glared down at me sharply. “Kano-chan…” he breathed. I couldn’t even scrunch my nose. His breath smelled of rotten eggs, and his teeth were a nasty golden yellow. He was scary… but Nii-san couldn’t even see him.
The demon ran his long, sharp claw along my jaw. “Shall I kill your precious big brother? Or make you do it?”
“No!” I screamed in my mind. “Don’t touch him!”
“Of course,” Toshiaki said after I didn’t say anything. “You can’t come up with anything.” He turned away. “Goodbye, Kano.”
The demon laughed. “He’s leaving you alone now, Kano… You’re now all by yourself.” He released his hold on me, and I hugged my knees tighter.
I shook my head. Nii-san wouldn’t leave me. He’s lying. That monster is lying. “Leave me alone,” I whispered. “Just go away.”
There was a knock at the door, and I jumped, trembling. The fifth walked in and knelt down in front of me. I looked down at my feet, pressing back against the wall.
“Kano-kun,” she said touching my knee. I recoiled against her touch. Her assistant, Shizune-san was behind her, watching me with worried eyes.
“P—please don’t touch me,” I whispered.
“Are you okay?” Tsunade-sama asked.
I was ready to shake my head. If you tell them anything about me, Mochizuki Toshiaki dies, the demon warned in his smooth voice.
“I’m fine,” I whimpered. More convincingly… “I’m fine,” I repeated, slighter firmer this time.
“Kano-kun, do you realize what you did?” she asked.
I shrunk back at her stern tone, nodding. I didn’t mean to. I really didn’t mean to.
Tsunade-sama stood up. “Kano-kun, sit down on that chair,” she said, gesturing to Onii-san’s favorite blue chair.
Shakily, I did as she asked. I rocked my heels on the edge of the seat nervously. I wrung my toes and hands as the hokage sat down across from me.
“Put your feet on the ground,” she ordered.
“S-s-s… sorry,” I whispered, setting my feet down.
She sighed. “Can you tell me what happened?” she asked.
I shook my head quickly, repeatedly. I don’t want to talk about it. I can feel my heart beating louder in my chest just from thinking of it.
“Why did you do it? Did someone tell you to?” she asked. Her eyes were narrowed accusingly.
I shook my head again, wanting to hug my legs. I hugged my arms instead so I wouldn’t get yelled at.
“Kano-kun, you can tell me the truth here… Did you do it?” she asked.
I swallowed a hard lump in my throat. Did I do it? I… I didn’t, but I have to protect brother. I shook my head. No, I didn’t do it. “Um… I mean…” I nodded. “I-i-it… it was… it was me…” I looked at the beige carpet under her chair, too scared to look her in the eye.
“Kano… Your brother has been sent on a mission that will take a lot of time to complete. He has just left.” Tsunade glanced toward the kitchen, where the back door was.
The demon snickered beside me, invisible to the others. I involuntarily shuddered. “That’s… No… Where did he go…?”
“He’s on a mission,” the hokage repeated.
“…now?” I squirmed in my seat.
“Yes, now,” She confirmed.
I swallowed again nervously. “So… what will happen to me…?”
Tsunade stood up. “The families of those you have killed are demanding this to be considered an act of treason because it was during school hours at the academy. I turned down their request, but you are going to be questioned by Morino Ibiki-san.”
I fidgeted with my hands. “…when?”
She stood up, expecting me to follow. “Now.”
I stared timidly at the ninja’s scarred face. This is… the demon sounded scared. That’s a good thing, I told myself. It’s his turn to be scared. The thought kind of that reassured me. I was in a room in the intel building. There were other ninjas here too.
“Mochizuki Kano-kun, right?” the scarred man asked. When I nodded, he replied, “I am Morino Ibiki.”
I nodded slowly. I could feel the demon’s unease somewhere within me. Get out of here, Kano. I shook my head. “No,” I whispered under my breath.
Ibiki narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Is something the matter?”
I started to say yes, but my body froze. Stupid kid…
Suddenly, I started to lose the feeling of my body, and my mind drifted back. Oh no! Not again! The demon was taking over my body again, just like that day…
“Nothing’s wrong,” I found myself saying quietly. My chest hurt, and I felt like I was slipping away. My head felt like it was going to explode. My muscles felt cramped and tense. Stop, I pleaded the demon. I promise I won’t give anything away…
I could sense his amusement at this. You promise to be good?
Then get out of here. Now.
I stood up as he ordered and bowed down to Ibiki. “Sorry Ibiki-san, I must go now…”
Ibiki didn’t say anything until I got to the door, hurrying to get out. “Are you just going to run?”
I paused, waiting to hear what he’d say.
“Kano, I can help you. If you continue like this, you’ll end up killing your brother. I can bring your brother back.”
I stopped in my tracks. “What do you mean?”
Ibiki shrugged. “He has agreed to go on a kamikaze mission with the ANBU.”
My eyes widened. No way… To sacrifice himself?! “He would never agree to such a—!”
“It’s true,” the hokage said, coming in.
I turned around and looked at her. He’s lying, the demon insisted. My head was spinning. I didn’t know what to believe.
The demon gave me my answer. Go after him, he suggested. And stop him yourself. Do you think they’ll be able to stop your brother’s will?
I felt relieved. Someone was making the choice for me, the right choice. I moved past the hokage and tried to slip out the door, but she caught onto my shirt collar fast and yanked me back.
“Kano, sit down!!” she ordered impatiently. I froze, scared that I had made a mistake. What did I do? I swallowed and did as she ordered, sitting down on Ibiki’s chair.
My heart pounded as all the ninjas looked at me, inspecting me. I knew if they saw Jaki, it’d be the end of me. And maybe of them. He’d definitely kill me.
“Are you nervous, Kano-kun?” Ibiki asked nonchalantly. I nodded quickly. From his expressionless stare, I couldn’t figure out if he liked my answer or not.
Tsunade-sama, not knowing what to do, stepped back to where the other ninja were.
“Do you have a secret, Kano-kun?” Ibiki asked in the same, blank tone. I shook my head furiously. Again, he only stared. I started to get a feeling of dread, thinking that he knew my secret. He knew about the Jaki.
“No,” I croaked.
Shut up, kid. I said, get out of here!! Jaki seemed to be getting scared too.
Ibiki knelt down to my level and looked me in the eye. “Did you kill those children?”
I shook my head, then changed my mind and nodded. “Yes sir,” I answered hurriedly to cover it up. Oh no, I thought as he examined me, He sees right through me!
“Your teacher told me that you were always good in class,” Ibiki said. “Did you hate your classmates?”
Tears stung at my eyes. I’m scared, Nii-san… I thought to myself in desperation. “No…” I cried.
Ibiki looked me in the eye, suddenly intense. “It wasn’t you, was it?”
My heart thudded in my chest. I didn’t dare to answer. I was so scared. So scared. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t even move my lips if I wanted to. Say something, you idiot! Jaki screamed at me.
Ibiki didn’t give me a chance to answer before he spit out his next question. “Who was it?”
He knew! He knew! He knew everything! I couldn’t breathe even though I was trying so hard. Do something! Jaki cried out desperately.
Tsunade stepped forward. “He’s hyperventilating.”
Suddenly, I felt paralyzed and my body started to move on its own. Jaki… He swiped a kunai from Ibiki’s pouch, kicked Ibiki away with both of my feet and knocked Tsunade out of the way on the way out. He ran all the way to the edge of the back hills.
You idiot!! I told you to say something!! Jaki boomed angrily. Now they know everything!! I’m going to kill your brother when he gets back!
“No!” I cried desperately. “Please…! I’ll… I’ll listen to whatever to say! Please don’t kill Toshiaki!”
You promise? Jaki asked slowly.
“Yes! I promise!!”