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     The snake circled Kano, a dark shape coiled around him like a noose- although he was now in human form, not serpent, and he had the shape of his father. His father, who was probably long gone- which Kano knew, of course, he did, but-


But he couldn’t exactly give up on him- not now, not after everything he’d done. That’d mean everything had been in vain. 


That there had been a different, cleaner, path all this time.


One that wasn’t littered with bodies and deceit.


One that didn’t even come close to where he was now.


Kano had his back turned to Clearing Eyes, but he knew that he was smiling.


He always was.


“Do it,” the snake hissed, his grin audible. 


At Kano’s feet, Shintaro shuddered. His eyes were dazed when he forced himself to lift his head, to look up at him, almost pleadingly.


“…” was all he managed before his head fell back to the ground. There was blood pooling around him, and Kano hadn’t even pulled the trigger.


But he might as well have, he knew.


Shaking, he dropped the gun before he could think better of it. It clattered noisily to the ground and he kneeled, trying to find and cover Shintaro’s wound. But there were so many, scrawled across his body, branching out like some kind of bloodied tree. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he dimly wondered where the rest of the Mekakushi Dan were. Hoped that they were safe.


Shintaro stopped breathing.


Something stopped inside Kano as well, then started again, fading into a mantra of I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m-


“Huh,” he heard Clearing Eyes say behind him. He was close, and Kano could feel the darkness surrounding the man (creature) like a soiled halo; he could picture it seeping into his clothes, into his very being, and told himself that no, that wasn’t realistically possible. Darkness couldn’t bleed into someone.


But then he once more remembered Shintaro before him, frame huddled up and broken, and realized that it - his change - had already happened long ago.


Everything was his fault.


Breaths painful and awfully close to sobs, Kano pulled at Shintaro’s (stupid) red jersey until they were close together and almost hugging. But almost only. Because Kano didn’t deserve embraces.


He was a devil after all.


The snake circled them, until he was facing Kano and Shintaro was at his feet. He kicked at Shintaro’s limp body, lip curling in disdain. The blond flinched, gripping Shintaro’s frame (corpse) tighter.


“Oh?” grinned the snake, once more interested. His eyes flicked between the two of them. “This is new.”


In one fluid motion, he grabbed the gun off the floor and pointed it at Kano’s forehead. He froze, hands still gripping Shintaro’s jersey.


“See you later,” the snake smirked, then pulled the trigger.