Setting: Basement tunnels
Time: Night 007, a little bit after midnight?
Summary: Mio and Zetsu bump into Kaoru, and all is not right with the world.
Warnings: Vicious paranoia and maiming?
Something was wrong.
Something was wrong. The thought pierced the mental fog of confusion and exhaustion that enshrouded him, sliced into his brain like a red-hot needle that burned more fiercely the harder it twisted; the hairs on the back of his neck prickled. Zetsu bared his teeth in the darkness, cursing himself for not knowing earlier, (stupid, stupid, you shouldn't let down your guard, never let down your guard, who the hell do you think is going to protect you when you screw up? If you don't know what's going on around you you'll be dead, and anything could happen down here.....) stilling his breathing as much as possible, and forcing himself to move as silently as he could, hand on the wall for balance. He listened.
The world around him seemed to shrink to nothing. The construction noises constantly ringing in his ears grew intolerably loud, all but ripping his skull apart at the seams until he wanted to help it along, just to let the noise out so it wouldn't keep distracting him, so it wouldn't obfuscate the layers of sound beneath it. He could hear his own breathing, faintly, feel the beat of his heart; good. He wasn't dead. He could hear his own footsteps, lighter than the other set that followed him, the other breathing. It was soft, quiet, feminine--he recognized it. He knew. After all these months, it seemed only prudent that he had memorized the sound of Mio breathing.
That meant..... "Itsuki's gone." Zetsu's eyes narrowed, observation quiet and tense. How could he have missed that? This was ridiculous! Where had he gone? How? Why? What was going on? Was something wrong? Had he been hurt? Where was he? Had he left of his own accord, or had some silent, unnoticed menace lured or taken him away by force? The phantasms? He couldn't smell any blood.... Just some strange, new smell that seemed vaguely familiar, too-too close, and--
Zetsu bumped into something solid and warm, about person-height, and immediately recoiled with a wary growl.