The night was cold and dry, the sky clear and the winds gone. He walked through the deserts of the Sand, slowly approaching the village. He wasn't a threat, wasn't an anything really, just a traveler. That's all anybody needed to know. He was tall and slender, dressed in a loose black cloak. His hood was pulled up, a mask covering his mouth. He wasn't trying to hide anything either. He approached the gates at the cleft between cliffs, a guard stopping him.
"Traveler. Where do you hail from?"
Deep sapphire eyes blinked at him.
"No where anymore, my home village was destroyed before I had a chance to return to it."
The guard looked suspicious, curious, and empathetic all at once.
"What business do you have here? And what is your name?"
He blinked again, two long red bangs hanging down on either side of his nose.
"Acore. I am merely traveling. I began in Iwa, and I'm making my way to Yama."
The guard crossed his arms, not quite believing him.
"Quite a ways to travel, you've been in the desert for quite some time haven't you?"
"Quite. So I am rather eager to sleep at an inn. Any suggestions for which one to stay at?"
The guard sighed softly.
"Well, I would suggest The Oasis Inn. Quiet little place. Here let me show you where it's at."
The guard waved to another guard standing close by. Acore nodded. He knew the guard was suspicious of him, but this was the easiest way to earn trust and gain entrance.
The two entered the city, making their way through the sleepy streets. The inn came into view, a lovely 3 story building. Acore watched as the guard entered, holding the door open for him. A girl sat at the bar, reading a book intently and eating a cracker. She had a long black braid, messy black bangs and donned a vertically striped dress that cutoff at her thighs. She looked up as they entered, setting her book down.
"Oh, well hello. Welcome, please come in."
She smiled sweetly as she stood up. The guard closed the door behind Acore.
"Hiya Misa, this traveler here was looking for a place to sleep, thought I'd bring him on over."
Acore stared at the girl, sapphire eyes blinking as her emerald gaze met his. She smiled brightly, waving her hand.
"Oh you didn't have to do that. I'll show him around. Are you hungry? I'd be happy to make you some dinner."
Acore nodded, thanking her before looking at the guard and thanking him as well. He knew the guard thought it was an elaborate ruse, trapping him to actually stay at an inn. The joke was on him because he actually did want to stay at an inn. Acore might seem a shady character, but he didn't care what others thought about him. The guard left, Acore sitting down at a table.
"Here you are hun. So you would like to rent a room?"
She asked, smiling as she served him a plate of dumplings. He nodded, reaching into his hood and removing his mask, while keeping his hood up.
"Yes, for three nights please. That was rather fast service, you like to cook?"
Acore asked as he ate a dumpling, looking up to her. She nodded, smiling brightly.
"Oh yes, I always have. Three nights then? Need time to rest and restock before resuming your travels eh?"
Acore nodded again, motioning for her to sit.
"Such a wonderful cook, please, join me."
She blushed softly before sitting across from him and eating a dumpling from the large platter. She glanced up to him, admiring his dark eyes. Two blood red bangs brushed his upper lip, the rest of his black bangs streaking messily down his face. As he reached for another dumpling, she noticed he had a black band tattooed around each of his wrists. She looked up to his eyes again, seeing he had a band around his neck as well.
"I don't mean to pry, but do your tattoos hold a meaning?"
She asked before eating another dumpling. He looked down at his wrist, holding it up to look over it.
"Part of a technique I use. One passed down in my family. Not a jutsu, more of a kekkei genkai of sorts."
He paused, setting his wrist back down before grabbing one last dumpling and standing up.
"Thank you very much Misa. How much do I owe you for the room and dinner?"
She smiled at him tenderly.
"Oh right. It'll be 40 total. What's your name?"
He said before nodding politely, reaching into his cloak and placing the money on the table. With that he turned, heading up the staircase. Misa watched quietly, looking down to the money once he left. She sighed tiredly, cleaning up the table. As she left the kitchen she looked at the clock. Eleven thirty. She yawned sleepily, about to go to her room when she heard a thump from upstairs.
'What in the world? Sounds like something fell over.'
She looked around before going over to her room, shutting the door and locking it. Misa looked around for a few moments, going over and closing her blinds. Once she was sure she had privacy she went over to her bed, getting on it. She crossed her legs, placing her hands in her lap. She closed one eye, and the one she left open turned to sand, trickling down her face.
Her eye disappeared, a small cloud of sand floating down to the crack under her door. The sand paused as she looked around the front room of the inn. None of the customers were out. She made her way to the stairs, the cloud cautiously floating upwards. No one was in the hall. Dim lights came from under two doors. Three rooms had been rented. She knew the young couple was in room 3. It was dark. The cloud floated over, slipping quietly through the keyhole. The couple lay in bed asleep, the room was undisturbed. She slipped back out, going over to room 5. The older man sat in a chair, reading a book. Nothing seemed out of place. She slipped out to the hall once more, going to room 7. The cloud quietly slipped through the keyhole, and spread out flat and invisible on the other side of the door. Acore sat in the middle of the floor, a bloody symbol painted on the ground. The tabled had been moved over, along with the two chairs. It would seem one had fallen over in the process but had since been picked back up. She looked back over to him. He remained cloaked, quietly sitting in the middle of the symbol.
'Ugh, messy messy. He'd better be able to clean that up. What is he doing?'
She thought to herself as she watched him carefully and quietly. His back was turned to her, but he sat still, his legs crossed and his hands on his knees. He reached back, startling her with the movement slightly as he pulled a kunai from his belt. He muttered something too quiet for her to make out, before suddenly driving the kunai into the palm of his hand. She gasped aloud as he did and he stopped, turning his head towards the direction of the door. She stared wide eyed.
'He, there's no way he heard that, I'm all the way downstairs!'
He turned back to his hand, taking the kunai out and laying it down. He stood, wiping the wet blood up with a series of paper towels until the mess was cleaned. He went over to the table, digging around in his knapsack before taking out bandages and cleaning his hand up. He turned to the door suddenly, and she shrieked from surprise as he grasped the doorknob, narrowly missing her sand spread on the door. He stopped again, listening.
'He can hear me!!'
"Misa? Are you okay?"
He called out. Misa barely heard him call from across the inn and up the stairs.
'How on earth can he hear me when I can barely hear him shout?!'
He pulled the door the rest of the way open, leaving the room. Misa looked to her bedroom door, wondering what she would say. She panicked suddenly.
'How am I supposed to explain having one eye?!?!'
The cloud of sand leapt from the door and across the room, flying out of the window. Misa leapt from her bed, going over and pushing the curtains on her window back before lifting up the blinds. Acore knocked on her door suddenly, scaring her half to death.
The cloud zipped around the building as she looked back to the door. Acore tired to open it, the handle jiggling. She looked back to the window just as the cloud zoomed in, socking her right in the face as her eye rejoined her body and the force sent her flying. She hit the door with an enormous thud. Acore jumped, grabbing the door and forcing it open.
He asked, ready for a fight. He looked around, not seeing Misa anywhere.
"Oh god....never again..."
Acore looked down, Misa laying in a ball in the floor as she held a hand over one eye. He quirked a brow, leaning down and helping her to stand. She groaned slightly, taking her hand away and blinking awkwardly before blinking in unison again.
Misa looked up at him, smiling nervously.
"Oh, it was just so stupid. See, I was getting ready to take a shower, and a fly came in the window. It surprised me when I saw it, and then I lost sight of it and it landed on me and scared me half to death. When you came down it had just flown right in front of me, and well, I just hit myself in the face..."
Acore blinked at her. He knew every word was a lie because he heard her go in her room and then sit on her bed. He had heard no fly. He smirked, shaking his head.
"Well, if you're alright then,"
"Oh yeah. No I'm fine really. Go on back to whatever it was you were doing..."
She looked down at his hand. Acore watched her, wondering why she didn't question the bloody bandaging. He nodded once, leaving and closing the door. Misa sighed tiredly, flopping onto her bed face first.
The next morning came, and Acore came down the stairs. He planned on spending the day out, hoping to find a private sauna somewhere. Misa stood behind the bar, chatting with the old man from room 5. They caught each others gazes as he headed across the room, and he nodded once in greeting. Misa smiled meekly in return before he left. Acore stepped onto the sunny streets, making his way down to the market. A few stalls later he was considering a cold shower instead of a sauna visit. He picked up some of the basics he needed, a new canteen, more medical supplies, some food pills. Around lunch he was finally desperate for a shower, baking practically under his hooded black cloak. He headed back to the inn, reveling in the cool air as he stepped in. Misa sat at the bar, reading a book as he entered.
"Hot out isn't it?"
She smirked, reaching behind the counter and grabbing an icy bottle of water before tossing it to him. Acore nodded slightly as he chugged some of the crisp drink.
"I don't suppose there's a hot spring around here is there?"
Misa blinked at him.
"Yes actually, one that belongs to the inn in fact. Its out back, and private from the rest of the world. Originally it only had walls but when I added the other stories I added a roof over it so someone upstairs couldn't look down into it. Don't you want to wait until later when it cools down though?"
Acore shook his head, walking towards the back door.
"Not if I can get some peace and quiet."
Misa smiled, going over to the door with him and opening it up. A small spring came right up against the building, shade covering it. Small holes in the roof let the steam rise out and a little light in. It was only 20 feet long and not much wider, but it was a steamy yet shady relief. Acore smirked.
"An oasis at The Oasis Inn huh?"
Misa smiled and nodded.
"Yep. Let me go change into a bathing suit and I'll join you."
Acore glanced down at her as she walked away.
"Oh well, I actually don't have a bathing suit. Do you just have some towels?"
Misa stopped, turning around. She walked back out into the oasis, going over to the corner. Two small rooms were in each corner. One was labeled boys, one girls. She opened the door to the boys room. Acore walked over, stepping in. A small bench ran across the back, and cubby holes ran up the left wall. The top cubbies were stuffed with towels. Acore cooed in interest as Misa closed the door. She laughed at his sound, going over to the girls room. It didn't take long for Misa to strip down and put on a towel. She stepped out, getting it the steamy water and undoing her braid as she waited. A few minutes later Acore exited the changing room. He had a towel draped over his head, one tied around his waist. She noticed bands around his ankles as well. He stepped in, sitting down and sighing softly. Misa looked at his hand as he held the edge getting in. Surprise crossed her face. The back of his hand had only a tiny mark, barely open compared to the gaping hole he'd had just last night. She saw him looking at him from across the spring, and she smiled sweetly.
"I like your necklace. I hadn't noticed it before."
Acore looked down to his necklace, touching it softly. It was an equilateral circumscribed triangle. He smiled slightly, looking back up to her. Her wavy black hair reached out into the water.
"I keep it under my clothes. I like your hair down, it's so long."
"Thank you, so is yours."
She giggled softly. Acore smirked. His black hair reached the bottom of his ribcage, although not quite as long as hers. Braided it reached her butt, so it would be a bit longer unbraided. He scratched the top of his head through the towel, sighing softly and leaning back a bit more. Misa scoot over to him, sitting a few feet away. He stared at her.
"I, I wanted to ask what happened to your hand last night, but I thought it would be rude."
She fidgeted slightly, pulling her hair a little.
"I wanted to ask what really happened last night, but I didn't want to press you. After all it is your business, not mine."
Acore replied as he watched her. Misa looked away, humming softly.
He tilted his head to the side, looking at her.
"I wasn't trying to give you hint to shut up or anything, I was being quite literally honest."
He smiled sweetly, Misa looking back at him. She smiled softly in return.
"Well, I knew you hurt your hand on purpose, it surprised me and I wanted to know why..."
Acore leaned his head back, humming softly.
"It's part of my religion. I'm a Jashinist. I was raised in the religion for awhile when I was younger, and I stayed with it. I always will."
Misa blinked at him, looking down to his necklace.
"I've heard of your religion before, although I can't remember where."
Acore smirked, closing his eyes.
"There aren't many, if any, followers still around other than me. A long time ago some leaf ninja fought one. Must've been about, hmm, about 80 years or so ago. He was a member of the Akatsuki. Have you heard of them?"
Misa nodded, playing with the water a little.
"My father used to tell me stories about what they did, what happened during the war. They sounded like terrible people, powerful though they may have been. I remember him telling me about the Jashinist. He was blown apart and buried alive."
Acore nodded, Misa looking at him.
"You, are you immortal? Like he was? Father told me the only reason he would have died in that hole was because he would have starved to death. Is that true?"
Misa asked, her voice escalating with excitement. Acore waved for her to calm down a little, smiling lightly.
"No....no I'm not immortal. Not really. No one is. So, you never really answered my question. What really happened last night? Your eye looks fine but, still."
Acore looked at her. Misa looked down to his hand.
"Well I could ask you the same thing, how did your hand heal so fast?"
Acore looked down to his palm. He looked back at Misa.
"It's fine really. I'm gonna go get some rest. The heat took a lot out of me."
He said, smiling politely before getting out. Misa looked up at him as he walked back to the changing room.
"Is it because I'm a stranger? Is that why you won't tell me anything?"
Misa asked as he opened the door to the changing room. He came out a few minutes later, fully dressed and hooded once more. He paused, looking down at her.
"Yes Misa. And being a stranger, I don't expect you to tell me anything either."
He turned to leave, Misa almost reaching out to grab him but stopping herself.
"What if I did? What if I told you about me? Would you tell me about you? Is that fair?"
Acore stopped at the door to the inn. He turned back, looking at her.
"I doubt the value of the information is the same to each other."
Misa froze, looking at him. Her stomach churned.
"You're black booked aren't you? That's why you have no headband, even though your a ninja! You're a missing nin!"
"No. I'm not. I have never been trained in the ways of any village as any kind of ninja. That does not mean my personal history is any less important to me, or any less private."
Misa got out, holding her towel closely. She walked up to him, reaching for his hood. Acore grabbed her wrist, stopping her. She pulled her arm away. Acore looked down to her.
"Thank you for letting me stay here. I will leave after I rest. At least then I can walk when it's cool."
Misa sat at the bar, a knapsack packed beside her. She flipped through a book quietly, bouncing her leg on her opposite knee. It was sunset, and the inn barely stirred. Acore came down the staicase, making his way to the door. He grabbed the knob, trying to open the door. It wouldn't budge.
"I'm either coming with you, or I'm turning you in to the guards."
Misa said coolly as she turned a page in her book. Acore turned around, looking at her.
"Absolutely not. You wouldn't be able to walk straight through the desert."
She scoffed, standing up and shoving her book into her bag.
"Oh like you can? When I was 15 I walked, injured, alone, and with no supplies, through the very same desert for two weeks. I can manage. Now either start being nice or get ready for prison food."
She said as she shut off the lights, opening the door and shoving him out before locking it behind them. Acore sighed agitatedly.
"Misa...we don't even know each other!"
"Better start talking then!"
She called as she started to leave. Acore growled lowly, following after her. They made their way out of the village, soon heading out into the open desert. They walked side by side silently for an hour or so. Misa stopped, Acore taking a few steps before turning to look at her. Yet, nothing was there. Misa had vanished into thin air.
The moonlit desert glowed a pale blue, Acore looking around for his vanished traveling, friend...
"Misa? Misaaaa? ACK!!"
The sand suddenly swallowed Acore up to his neck, the man struggling to get free. Suddenly in front of him the sand shifted and moved, clouds lifting and forming Misa, sitting on her knees in front of him. Acore blinked.
"Sunahito. That's my kekkai genkai. I actually watched you stab yourself, I separated my eye and spied on you when I heard something fall over. There, now, I'm not letting you out until you talk to me."
She said as she crossed her arms. Acore looked at her, blinking again before growling lowly.
"Why does it matter so much to you who I am or what I'm doing?!"
He barked. She smacked the top of his head, pouting at him.
"Don't yell at me!!"
Acore groaned, struggling again. Misa tightened the sand, making him wheeze slightly.
"Alright dammit!!! Let me go so we can keep walking and we'll talk!"
She pouted again, starting to tighten the sand once more when he shouted loudly.
"I'M 105 YEARS OLD!!"