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Zero - The Haunting Quality of Memories.

“Ninpou - Choujuu Giga.” The words fell from Sai’s lips as a mumble – void of inflection, as if it had been said as an after-thought.

A flick of his wrist and a black-and-white lion composed of elegant swirls and artistic curves leapt from the scroll. The missing nin’s eyes widened as he rounded the corner, running from the three ANBU that were closing in on him, only to be presented with the monstrosity Sai had summoned forth with ink and paper.

Sometimes Sai tested the limits to his ability. He once drew a boy, similar to his late ‘brother.’ When the figure rose from the thin material, stepping into reality, Sai was disappointed. The boy assumed a fighting stance and awaited orders. All he could create were tools.

A shrill scratching sound echoed through the otherwise silent night when the missing nin attempted to skid to a halt, sandals grinding pebbles and bits of street debris into the ground. There wasn’t enough room and he’d been running too fast. The fugitive fell onto his back, a few feet away from Sai’s creation. In an instant, the figure was on him. Shortly after, the criminal was effectively silenced.

Sai once painted a picture that with only one color – a dull, lifeless gray. As he did every time he created art that wasn’t to be used as a jutsu, he let his hand wander, his minute whims guiding the brush across the pure, white canvas. He looked at the finished product, at the varying swirls of grey paint forming no real figure, but existing there nonetheless, and felt oddly comfortable. It seemed oddly appropriate for him.

Moments later, the three ANBU agents came running silently into the street. Smile plastered to his pale features, Sai stepped over the fallen ninja’s corpse to meet them.

Anytime Sai’s brother had gotten in trouble for one thing or another, he saw him offer up a smile. He came to realize that the expression made all situations easy to get out of. When his older brother died in that small, cold hospital room, Sai stretched a taut smile across his lips. Because he didn’t know what other expression to put on.

“Objective complete.” The leader of the four-man cell spoke through a white kitsune mask. Behind him, the other two ANBU agents bagged up the body of the missing nin, preparing to take it back to Konoha. “Return to the village.”

Nodding, Sai returned the scroll in his hand to his back pack and slipped his brush and ink cartage into the pouch on his waist. Behind him, the lion disappeared in a flurry of black ink and smoke – a dispelled jutsu.

He thought to himself that his jutsus are an extension of himself in more ways than simple weapons. They personify him. A life form created purely for the means of fighting, of accomplishing a task, and after that, their use being over, they disappear.

Sai sometimes wondered when he too would disappear.

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August 2007
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