A/N: It's been a while since I've updated this story, which is sort of sad in general considering its only ten chapters long. I had motivation for it for a while, then I lost it again. I can say this is my last chapter I'll be updating for a while. This story is probably going to go back on a mini hiatus until I get inspiration for it again.

I also have revised this story and fixed a lot of typos and tense errors I had in past chapters.

Please enjoy!



By: Revamp

Equation #4: Hardships


I unwedge my sword and bent down to lock eyes with the small girl. She is staring up at me with uncertainty in them. My large hand wraps around her tiny limb, engulfing it as I squeeze her pale flesh. Her tiny form is lifted from the ground a she is brought to my height. She looks caught off guard for a moment before she relaxes in my grasp.

"Now, tell me one thing about you, Nana. Maybe I can finally be able to clear my head of some of the mystery behind this little cretin," I sit her back on the ground, where she looks more stable with her feet against something solid. I think I startled her by snatching her up like that.

Nana looks visibly sad. She plays with her hands a little, and her gaze hits the ground. The girl and I share a moment of silence before she finally speaks up. "I have lost. I stayed down for ten seconds," her head comes back up with a smile on her face, "I am impressed that you fight so well. Compared to those other ninja, you really are a step above the rest."

"You don't know the half of it," I really don't think she does. I haven't told her anything about myself, because I don't really owe her shit. However, I feel like she's going to learn a few things if she keeps hanging around me. These kind of things come to people eventually. How she'll handle the information will be up to her.

"Tell me, Mr. Yodomari, are you a special kind of ninja? You seem to imply you are," she puts a finger to her lips in thought. I have to wonder if she's still fucking with me.

My eyes narrow as I stare her down for a few moments, before I decide to twist the situation into my favor. "I'm not the one who owes you the truth," no way in hell that I'm going to even entertain that question. She'll find out on her own.

"I guess I'll have to find out in time," she looks a little disappointed that I won't willingly divulge the information.


"Tell me what I desire to know," I didn't go through all of this for nothing. She lost, so she needs to give it up. I want to know her secrets.

"I did say that I would tell you one thing about myself," she puts her hands behind her back and rocks on her feet.

I swear to god she's just putting it off to irritate me. Tell me already!

"Out with it," I'm growing impatient.

"I was raised by a ninja who was a slave trader," she begins her story. "He abducted a lot of children, more girls than boys, really. Sometimes he does the same thing that he did to me, he would kill their parents and take them away. He has many people who work for him but usually he does the abductions. That's why I abandoned my last name. I don't think my parents would want that kind of thing for their daughter. I have disgraced them. I also ran away from the slave traders. They wanted to sell me to a man who owns a harem of girls, but I didn't want to go with them, so I killed them and hid them under the snow. The ground here is hard to dig, especially with your fingers. You see, Mr. Yodomari, you aren't the only one running from someone. I am, too. I have to get away from them and if it means that I have to be another person's slave, then I'll do that."

That was heavy. I don't think I expected her to tell me something quite so in depth. Regardless, I feel I can relate to her in a way. We are both more similar than I had initially thought and now more than ever, our meeting makes sense. Hell, a lot of this makes sense. She's doing what she needs to do in order to survive, something I have been doing for years.

"And, what were you going to do to the person you decided to be a slave for?" If she's killing people who are her masters, I want to know damned well what her plans are for me. I don't expect her to tell me, but I'm going to prod at her for an answer.

"They would eventually know what I wanted from them," she answers very vaguely, which pisses me off even more.

"What the hell does that mean?" I decide to be forward and ask her about it directly. 'Is she implying that she was going to use me and kill me? It appears that she's more deadly than I first thought.' If that's the case, then I am going to do far more than keep an eye on this little brat. Like hell I'm going to let some little neophyte kill me off. If I have to cut her head off, I will.

"You shouldn't look at me like that, silly Mr. Yodomari. You aren't like the others," she assures me, but I'm not sure I'm buying it. "You got me clothes, shoes, and you treat me kindly. You gave me something I never had before and that is my freedom."

I ease up a little at her words. They seem genuine, especially that last sentence. She speaks it with such a soft tone, and I can't help but to feel she's not lying to me. Maybe I'm overestimating this girl. That may be the case. Come on Yodomari, don't be such a paranoid piece of garbage.

"Are you saying that you were always a slave, even with your family?" I am a little curious at that specific part of her words.

"I was taken from them when I was a toddler," she clarifies. "The only thing I was ever told was that my father was a ninja and my mother was a nurse."

My skeptical expression hasn't left my face. She probably knows that I'm wearing one under this shroud of bandages, despite her being truthful to me. I really don't trust her at all with those obscure answers. Then again if she really wanted, she didn't have to tell me any of this since the original deal was to only tell one secret. She's given me more than that. However, I can't help but feel the way I do.

"What if I did want you as a slave?" It's time for me to throw a little hypothesis at her. "Let's just say that I wanted to do the same thing that man did. Then what?"

"I would let you lead me to him and I would probably have you kill him, then I would fight against you for my freedom. If you didn't give it to me, then I would kill you," she is honest and her words are frigid. At the mention of killing me, her features turn stone cold. I can tell that she's serious. It isnt what I was expecting at all. Maybe she's legit, maybe she's not. I'm still skeptical.

"Then why would you tell me your plans?" I'm still wondering about that.

"Because I don't think that's what you want to do," to her I don't seem like that kind of man. In all honesty, I'm not that kind of guy, but just because I decid to play nice with her doesn't mean I can't be. I am a little confused as to why she isn't wearier of me having the kind of life that she did. I'm not complaining, but it seems skeptical.

I pick up my sword and strap it to my back, buckling it down so that it doesn't fall off while I walk. My back is turned to her, and I glance over my shoulder. "You're not as dumb as you see, kid." I can give her that much.

"It's better to downplay things. That's what I have been taught since I was very little. Be obedient, and do as you're told. Don't let your mater know you're smart," the girl smiles mischievously. "They wouldn't see it coming that way."

What a crafty little brat. The girl definitely knows her shit, and she knows how to play the game. I knew I was right to judge the hell out of her. She's earning my judgment now.

"So, you're going to travel with me until you find this man?" I get the feeling that's where her goals lie.

"I want to kill him," her voice is cold before she smiles at me and looks like a happy, normal girl. "Will you help me kill him, Mr. Yodomari?"

"I have a goal of my own. If our paths happen to cross, then so be it. If not, then take care of the issue yourself. I saved your life. I didn't decide to take care of you," if she thinks that I owe her anything and that I'm going to just cater to her needs then she has another thing coming. I don't have time to babysit her, and she needs to be well aware of that.

"I understand," she nods in compliance and seems generally accepting of my harsh words, "that seems fair to me."

"We need to get a move on. Are you packed?" I make sure she's even got her shit together before I decide to head out.

"This is all I have," she gestures to what she's wearing and the few weapons that she has.

I tell her that we should go and with a happy nod we begin to head off. The sun is glaring in the sky, the bright rays hitting the snow and making it glitter. It appears dazzling against the daylight. A few birds chirp in the barren trees above. It's the only other sound I can hear besides the crunching of the snow beneath our feet as we walk. Everything is silent for a while as the girl looks around at her surroundings in wonder.

Now that I know what I do, I find it interesting that she can still hold such wonder in the world around her. I admit that her story made me think about her a little more. She and I have both had really hard lives and we both handle our circumstances in very different ways. In many ways, I wish I could still have that kind of innocence. It is something I feel was robbed from me.

"Mr. Yodomari…where are we going?" I hear her voice from slightly behind me.

"To find a man named Hibiki," I tell her matter of factly.

"Hibiki?" She questions me in an odd way. What was that tone to her voice?

"That's what I said," I clarify.

"What did Hibiki do to make you want to come after him like you are set out to do?" She seems curious as to what my goals are. I guess it won't be so bad to share with her those painful memories that I have.

Memories pound my head like a barrage of bullets, digging into me and activating painful memories of the past.

I was young at the time, and I wake up covered in blood. It's flakey and dry against my skin. I ask what happened and glance around at corpses laying everywhere. They are all covered in blood and lacerations, their sanguine fluids mixing with the freshly fallen snow. Contusions litter their bodies as panic runs through my heart.

I feel my blood running cold as I get up from my place and dart around to look for anyone I can find. No matter how hard I run or how far, I only run into more corpses. Their dead, milky eyes stare up at me and the whole area is silent.

Everyone is dead.

I don't know what's going on. Why is everyone dead? What happened? I don't understand.

Darting back quite a distance, the cold wind assaulting my teenaged body as I come across a pile of bodies with someone sitting atop of them.

He was a young man with fur around his neck and a black outfit with mesh under it. He had long, silver hair that draped to the ground and seems very beautiful. He has the face of a model and skin that almost matches the snow. The man is tall and ominous, yet has a sense of grace to him.

I grit my teeth, anger seething through my form as I clench my fists. I don't need any hints to know that he's the one who did this.

"Who the hell are you?" I shout to him in pure malice.

"My name is Hibiki. Welcome to hell," that voice never has left my mind. It's a young voice, full of arrogance and superiority. Those cold, blue eyes that looked down on me like a twisted king on a throne of flesh.

The man who made me who I am and the missing variable in this equation. Because of him, I am blamed for a catastrophe that I had no part in.

I want to take revenge on him.

"Mr. Yodomari, it's nearly noon and there has been no sight of any enemy ninja," Nana's observation breaks my thoughts and I turn to her.

"I'm not sure if that makes this day boring or peaceful," I think it's strange that we haven't, considering what happened the day before. Peace if an odd concept to me. It's unnerving, like I'm just waiting for something to happen even though I shouldn't be. I should enjoy it, but it's hard to do when you're used to killing people like I am. When you think anyone can be hiding behind the next bush, waiting to ambush you.

"Do you usually fight enemies every day?" Nana is onto my routine it seems.

"It's not just enemies, it's anyone in general," my situation isn't exactly exclusive to those who didn't like me. It's hard to explain. I don't expect someone like her to get it.

"Does everyone want to kill you? Are you a wanted man?" The girl is only consumed in more confusion at my words.

"Let's say I have a reputation," I want to leave it at that, but I have a feeling that she's not really going to do that.

"A reputation?"

Damn it. Stop asking me so many questions. It's always been an annoying habit of yours that I despised.

"I am called The Demon," I finally tell her and hope that she doesn't decide to prod any more.

"Why are you called that? I don't think you're demonic. I think you're really nice." I stop at those words. There she goes again; saying that sentimental shit that makes me think. Her saying shit like that is why I decided to take her with me. Even though we essentially don't know anything about each other, I feel like she can see through me like cellophane. I both hate it and find it endearing. There definitely isn't another Nana around.

In a way, I appreciate her for that.

"You'll find out," I decide to be cryptic on the issue. I don't think that she needs to really know about that issue right now.

"That seems fair. I'll just wait until the day that you tell me or that I find out," Nana is agreeable on that matter. I can't tell if her words are holding true, but I have no choice but to take her at her word for now.

Our conversation doesn't last too long before the both of us ended up at the base of a mountain. We both looked up to the large peak. It was the only thing that stood in our way, and an obstacle that we will have to cross in order to get into the next town. We stand there in silence, the only sound we can hear is the wind blowing between us and the ruffle of our clothes.

Some of the fresh, powder snow blew from above and showered us in a pristine dust before I glance over to her. She is still looking up at the mountain.

"In order to carry on and find Hibiki, we have to use this ledge as a pass," I warn her of what the journey is ahead.

"Are there no other ways? This way looks sort of dangerous," she takes a step back and she looks like she's questioning my decision. I think she's scared to travel down that path.

"As far as I know, this is the only pass," I pretty much tell her to suck it up. She needs to anyway. This girl can kill someone three times her age; I doubt she's just some coward.

"The snow has been melting and the ground might not be stable," Nana points out issues to me that are very plausible. There are areas where the snow turns into ice and it renders the path slippery at best. There are also no doubt areas where there is only ice to walk on with no stable ground below it, but that is just something we're going to have to brave.

I do not intend on turning back now.

"You're lighter than I am. If it gives way, then it will give way on me before it will on you," I try to assure her that nothing will happen to her.

"I guess we should go ahead and start going across," her little voice is shaky and uncertain for a moment before her face morphs into determination.

Mustering all of her courage, the girl steps foot into the snow and ice. She steps on the steep ledge and starts to go across. I give her a little space before I follow her. She looks ahead and never once down at the impending doom below. Thankfully, there wasn't much ice on this pass so slipping wasn't as much of a concern to me.

We managed to get to the half-way point, and I am feeling pretty confident about making it all the way across.

"So far so good. Have you hot any soft ground yet?" I ask out of concern for myself more than for her. I don't want to sink into that shit.

"No, it's been pretty solid so far," she assures me. Well, thank fuck for that.

"We only have a little way to go," I'm still pretty confident that we're going to make it across. I just want her to know that I feel that confidence so she doesn't freak out on me.

"I think we can make it," her voice is happy and I bet she's smiling but I can't really see her face well enough to make it out.

"After this, we'll-" I don't get to finish my sentence as the rock gives way under my feet. I feel myself become breathless and weightless as I fall into the snow below. I can hear Nana yell Mr. Yodomari as a barrage of snow and rock begin to fall down the side of the mountain.

It's an avalanche.


Soon after my fall, the rest of the ledge gives way and I can hear Nana yelling as she falls shortly after me. We both go tumbling down the side of the mountain with a barrage of snow and rocks following us. I can do nothing as my body falls through the air. I can't even see her above me as the snow and rocks completely blind my vision.

Just then I feel the jar of my body. A sharp pain shoots through me before my vision blurs out.

I must have hit bottom.

Adding by zero creates zero results. Therefore it was effective to at least give some sort of effort.

I wake up a few moments later, buried in the cold ice. It takes me a while to come to my senses, but I'm alive. Slowly, I get up and my body feels as if it's made of concrete and it's taking all of my energy just to move it. Damn, that's cold and it's going to take all of my energy just to move my arm.

I find my sword that's buried a few feet away from me and pull it from the snow slowly. Looking around, I try to see if I can find that girl. Who the hell knows where she fell? I don't even know how long I've been out or if she's even still here. She's been subtracted from the equation, and I don't want that. I am not sure if I see us as reciprocals as our product wasn't entirely the same, but we were at best common factors.

Where is she? I know that she more than likely fell beside of me, but she can also be swept beneath the snow or knocked unconscious. I can only hope that isn't the case.

"Nana!" I call out her name at the top of my lungs and walk around, trying to find her.

I don't have to walk for long as she slowly rises from the snow in front of me. White powder poured from her body as she blinked a little and rubbed it off of her face. Pulling herself from the snow, she dusted herself off and shook. Snow and debris fell to the ground before she smiles at me.

"Mr. Yodomari, there you are."

"What the hell do you mean 'there you are?' I was the one looking for you." Why the hell was she like this? My eyes narrow at her and I let out an exasperated sigh. This brat is going to be the end of me, I swear.

"You were worried about me?" The happy tone in her curious voice only served to irritate me even more. It's almost like she was flattered.

It only makes me even more irritated with her bullshit.

"I don't have time for your sentiment," I swing my weapon over my shoulder and turn my back towards her.

"When you add both sides of the equation, then you get the answer," her words are cryptic, and I get the hint at what she might be implying. The stupid part of me thinks about the significance of her words.

"Not when a number in the equation is unknown," I give her my own cryptic response.

"Then we will have to use the order of operations to find the unknown," she's good at this game, and she's not letting up at it. Nana is far smarter than I give her credit for.

My eyes glance up the side of the mountain. Damn, we fell a long way down. Then they go to the darkening sky that's lit up in an array of yellows, purples and reds. The sun is setting and it will be dark soon. Fucking great. Just great. Now we're stuck down here until it gets light again. Even then we need to do something in order not to freeze our asses off tonight.

"What the hell do we do now? We don't be getting out of here by dark," it seems pretty fucking hopeless right now.

"It looks like we'll have to spend the night down here. This is bad. We don't have any firewood or anything to keep us warm," she looks sad at that fact, and to be honest so am I. This is going to really suck.

"We should try to find something or we'll freeze to death tonight," we don't have much time. I want to find something to try and keep us alive through the night before the sun goes down and we're both screwed.

"Let's split up and meet back here in an hour," Nana poses the idea and as much as I am against it, I know that the two of us would work better if we were separated than together. Maybe she can find something that I can't wherever she decides to look in all of this shit.

We manage to go our separate ways for about an hour or so. I have no idea what she's doing, but I manage to find a small amount of wood. It was mostly wet from the snow, but I think I can eventually get this shit to light. If not I'm going to hope that she's got something better. After searching the area for a while longer, it begins to get dark and I head back to the spot where the two of us agreed to split up.

When I return I see her there with a small amount of wood of her own. She is just standing there with the twilight basking her form and that ever-present smile on her face. I wonder how long she's been standing there and I find it odd that she seems to have been there for so long. Did she even look everywhere? Do I have to do everything myself?

I guess I should be glad that she did anything at this rate.

"I know that it's hardly enough but it might help us keep warm for a little bit," she says looking at the wood that both of us are holding. "It looks like we're going to have to take precautions in order to stay warm tonight."

I squint at her, "what are you getting at?"

I don't like the tone of her voice or even what she might be implying.

"In order to keep warm, we will have to conserve our body heat," she points a finger up happily; "we will have to huddle together."

Just what I thought she was implying.

I frown heavily under my wrappings, and even if she can't tell it, I am very displeased. "That's what I thought you meant."

I am not looking forward to this. Not only am I not the kind of guy who wants to cuddle with people, but I am not the kind of guy who wants to cuddle with little kids. This is going to be beyond awkward. I hate this and I don't want it.

"What's wrong with that? It's just to keep warm," she's so innocent about all of this shit. It's sickening that she doesn't see the issue here, and I damned sure don't want to explain it to her.

"Mostly because I'm stuck down here and I have to put up with this shit. The last thing I wanted was to be trapped down here with you like this," I would much rather drink acid than spend the night with a tiny amount of wood with the cold ass snow and a little kid clinging to me.

"I guess it is kind of frustrating, but we'll just have to make the best of it," Nana thinks I'm really going to do this.

The sad thing is, I don't have a choice if I want to live.

"Do we have any food left over?" I ask her. Hopefully she doesn't lose it on the way down.

Nana sticks her hand into a pouch that she had tied to herself and digs around in it. She manages to find a few pieces of bread and a large hunk of dried meat. She presents them to me with a smile on her face, proud of herself for finding it.

"I have a few things to eat. It will be enough to last me through the night," she's happy about that and so am I. It's all the food we have.

I dig around in my bag as well and I find a few pieces of bread, the same type of dried meat and some fruit. Together we should have enough to survive a couple of days, and I hope to whatever powers to be there are that we don't have to stay down here longer than a single night.

"This is good. Tomorrow, we'll climb out of here and go get more food. Well that is, if you are okay with that," Nana's survival instincts are kicking in. I don't know why she thinks I won't be fine with that.

"We'll have to make up for the last time," I comment and glance up at the sky. It's even darker now and the stars are beginning to twinkle and pop through the color of the skies. I tell her that we need to build our fire now. She nods happily and the two of us get to work.


We manage to get the fire blazing after a while of trying. We didn't think that we were going to get any heat at all from it, but shockingly it lit pretty well. We took that opportunity to cook our pieces of meat and cooked them a little over the open flames. The chill air bites at our backs as we make sandwiches and eat. I unravel a few of my bandages, still unwilling to show her my face as I eat.

Nana glances up at the sky, now pitch black with dazzling, cold stars that looked like diamonds suspended there for the world to see their brilliance. Her eyes are full of wonder, full of innocence.

"They sky is so pretty. You can see all of the stars," she says content with her situation.

"I'd enjoy it more if it wasn't so damned cold out here," I have to face the facts that this tiny ass fire isn't even enough to warm my pinky finger, much less anything else.

Wordlessly, she comes over and climbs on my lap. My heart jumps in my chest and my body freezes up as her little body settles down. The touch is slightly warmer than mine, and her wet clothes feel odd against my skin.

"What the hell are you doing?" I say in anger, but she's not buying that shit from me at all.

"I am sharing my body warmth. You said you were cold, didn't you?" She looks up at me with her big, expressive eyes.

"I hope you know I'm not doing this because I want to," I'm defeated on this issue. I just had to open my big mouth, didn't I?

"It's only one night. I don't think anything bad about it," Nana has no intentions in mind. It's still awkward as shit but I'm not going to press the issue any farther. She's just some dumb kid so I can't press this issue with her anyway. I'm just going to let things lay there.

"I suppose we should just get some sleep," I don't want to think about this any more than I have to anyway.

"Goodnight, Mr, Yodomari," she says sleepily against my chest.

I don't say anything in return, I just lay down on a patch of cold earth that I cleaned the snow from. I can feel the warmth growing between us as I pull her closer to me out of instinct. Like I said, I didn't want to freeze to death and even if it's strange, I need to be able to live to defeat that bastard.

This isn't the way I want to spend my night, but at the same time…there was no answer to this equation without both factors involved. This is the only plausible solution to the problem, and for now I guess I have to be satisfied with the results yielded, no matter how much this irritates me.

To Be Continued

A/N: It's been a while for sure, but I'm sad to say this story is going back on the back burner for a while. I do intend on finishing it as I finish everything I write but I have not got the inspiration to do so right now. I am sorry to all who are reading it. Chapters will come infrequently though. I post on my profile when I upload things and I'm trying to get back into my schedule. I'm more active on my Revamp account so updates come more on there.

Please review me and tell me what you think!