Teleportation – a high-level skill requiring lots of concentration and incredible speed. Though all spirit warriors have the ability to move faster than the human eye, warriors who can actually achieve teleportation are rare. The con? It takes up a lot of chakra and leaves them extremely fatigued.


Spells – another high-level skill that not all spirit warriors possess. Spells can range from the simple (e.g. Kakashi silencing Naruto) to the complex.


Spirit Barriers – All spirit warriors have the ability to do this. However, some warriors have the inherent ability to cast stronger barriers than others. It’s mostly due to how long they can sustain their concentration and harness their energy around the area of choice.  The larger barrier field that’s created, the more chakra/concentration is needed.


Cleaners – A special group of spirit warriors sent to locations where a battle has taken place. Their job is to restore any destruction created back to its original state without the knowledge of humans. Requirements? Excellent teleportation skills and extreme attention to detail.



02 - Crimson


He remembered the first time he felt the stinging, prickly sensation in his eye.


He remembered feeling as if his eyeballs were literally on fire - the overwhelming urge to sink his fingers into the sockets and yank them out - so strong it was all he could do to control himself. He was sure he had screamed in terror; forcing his older brother to dash into the bedroom just to see what was wrong.


“They burn, niisan,” he had sobbed and whined helplessly. “Make it stop. Please. They hurt so much!”


He vaguely remembered looking up and seeing the (albeit indistinct) look of fear and dismay on his brother’s features. He had masked it quickly with concern and gentle words of reassurance, while leading him to the bathroom to wash them with a warm wet cloth.


“It’s okay, Sasuke,” his brother had said later while cradled, like a babe, within his arms. “Don’t be afraid. It’s just…I didn’t think you’ll get it, and I was really hoping you wouldn’t -”


“Get what, niisan?” He was blindfolded with a soft black cloth, which Sasuke was glad for. The burning sensation was now numbed to a dull throbbing, and his head didn’t feel like it was about to split open either. Besides, being close to his brother like this always made him feel better no matter the circumstances.


“It’s called the sharingan,” came the quiet explanation. “Not all members of our clan can have it, but for those who do, it can be a blessing and a curse.”


“Why? What do you mean?”


“From now on, Sasuke…your world is going to look just a little bit different, but don’t worry. I’ll always be here with you. I’ll protect you for as long as I can, so don’t you worry about a thing.”


He didn’t understand what Itachi had meant at the time, but his first rude awakening to just how ‘different’ his world would become came in form of seeing the usual smiling, jovial postman hovering at their doorway with some weird purple formless creature dangling from the back of his neck. Terror had his scream locked tightly in his throat, though Itachi motioned for him to keep quiet and to look as normal as possible while he went to get the door.


For the naïve eight-year old, this was too much to deal with. He could only crouch against the sofa, watching as his brother smiled and talked to the older man as if absolutely nothing was wrong. What was even worse was seeing the squiggly purple thing slither toward his brother as if desperate to engulf him. He was sure there was a tongue there - a disgusting wet thing - just eager to touch the younger man.


Sasuke wanted to scream for Itachi to get away from it, but was stumped into astonished silence when his brother made a simple gesture – as if reaching for something behind the postman – only his fingertips seemed to shimmer with dull blue flames that scorched the formless mass into fluttering ashes. The shrill scream of pain it gave was so deafening, Sasuke had to cover his ears, and yet the postman acted as if everything was still normal. He simply told Itachi to have a nice day and whistled away with a skip in his step. Sasuke wasn’t sure of it, but he could have sworn that the postman was actually even more cheerful than usual.


“What did you do to him, niisan?” he asked in awe. “What was that thing? How come he couldn’t see it?”


Yōkai,” Itachi explained patiently. “All humans have them, and while for the most part, they are simply projections of our innermost thoughts and can remain latent and peaceful, some have such darkness and hatred within their hearts, their yōkai feed upon these feelings, get bigger and bigger eventually causing them to become malevolent and troublesome to others. It’s our job to take care of such evil yōkai, Sasuke.”


“Our job?”


“Yes. The Uchiha clan were amongst the first spirit warriors, and it’s a tradition we’ve been burdened with. I just wish you didn’t have to deal with it,” he added with a heavy sigh and a gentle pet of his brother’s head. “I wanted nothing more than for you to have a peaceful life.”


But that was wishful thinking on their part, and goodness knew just how hard it was for Sasuke to adjust to seeing most humans walking around with extra ‘baggage’ (so to speak) around them. Eventually, he got used to it and between his older brother and the appearance of that strange scarred man called Hatake Kakashi, Sasuke managed to survive without being attacked by any malevolent spirits. They did their best to protect him, and he hated to admit that he had gotten lax with his vigilance regarding the dark spirits. He chose to live as normal a life as possible, and in time, he developed a way of looking at others without actually having to ‘look’ directly at them. It made having to deal with the spiritual beings a little more tolerable.


Sadly, many in his school considered him aloof, cold or distant because of it. He had listened and watched countless girls cry over how he tended to look ‘right through’ them, and how he just never really cared. Couldn’t he show some kind of emotion at least and feel sorry for their lovesick plight? He wondered what would happen if he actually blurted the truth to them? That for all their prettiness and popularity in school, these girls (and some guys) had the ugliest yōkai just begging to be unleashed. It really wasn’t worth the hassle. So rather than get involved in extracurricular activities or becoming attached to anyone, he kept to himself; his goal to simply get through high school, find a good university, and if he was lucky, get a job that could take him out of the country.


Pity that dream was about to go down faster than a burning plane, for those damned malevolent yōkai were now deliberately seeking him out and becoming more aggressive.


It was on the morning of his sixteenth birthday, when he felt the change. Knowing this had absolutely nothing to do with a late surge of puberty, it all began with the now familiar feverish sensation in his eyes and then the tingling sensation in his hands…fingers…no…actually the tingling seemed to flow right from his eyes, down his arms to concentrate on his fingers that now twitched restlessly.


The choking, stifling smell of smoke had him sniffing the air and coughing wretchedly in his restless sleep. He finally forced his aching eyes open, only to cry out in horror as he realized that his blanket and sheets were smoldering with tiny blue flames that seemed to crackle with a surge of electricity. Panic filling him, he jumped out of bed and rolled the bedding into a ball before stomping on it to get the flames out.


“What the…how…?” he panted in disbelief, while hoping he hadn’t just experienced a power surge with any of the electrical sockets in the room.


Adrenaline still surging through him, heart racing at a mile-a-minute, tongue dry yet senses as alert as ever, he was just about to begin inspecting the apartment when he felt the hairs at the back of his neck prickle with awareness. It would take him another second to realize he was no longer alone. He stiffened and held his breath; lithe body wired taut while willing the dull pounding in his head to stop so he could concentrate. He knew it couldn’t be Kakashi paying him a late night visit, so what the hell was that grating noi -


“FUCK!” he yelled as this ‘thing’ – shapeless, pitch black, and with a stench of mold and decay, burst through his front door and right for him.  


Not thinking, he fell flat on his stomach and rolled away just as it made a curve in the air and dove for him again. The unearthly sounds of greed emanating from it, forced Sasuke to slap his hands over his ears. He scooted backwards on his buttocks, struggling to get away from the malevolent spirit.


Kakashi?! His mind screamed. Where are you Kakashi? I thought you had put up a barrier! So where the fuck are you when I need you the most?!


Fevered thoughts aside, his back slammed hard against the computer desk nearly sending everything on it crashing upon him. He was just in time to roll aside, but only to howl out in pain as the scissors, which had fallen to the floor, buried itself into his upper thigh. The pain was excruciating but pale in comparison to the shriek of delight (?) the creature gave at the pungent smell of blood to fill the air.


It swerved and sped toward the boy again, and Sasuke barely managed to slide flat onto his back, choking as the creature nearly overwhelmed him with its putrid stench of Death. He shuddered as his mind was immediately filled with darkness and pain; the kind that spoke of the countless terrors this creature had inflicted on so many others in the past. He felt suffocated and shuddered with revulsion as he felt the cold gel-like tentacles of the creature run up his thighs and lap at the crimson wound hungrily.


“Argh! Get away from me!” came the scream laced with both anger and terror. “Get the fuck away from me! You son-of-a-bitch!”


He could feel it then. That strange surge that had begun from his eyes and raced down to his fingers. He couldn’t tell you just what the hell it meant or why the air around him suddenly began to crackle with an electrical energy akin to sparks you see when something is being electrocuted (or dare he say lightning). His initial (though weakening) thought was that Kakashi had finally arrived to help him (for he had seen Kakashi do the weird lightning thing once before), so how then was he to explain the sudden roar of fury that seemed ripped right from his throat just as his hands lifted to press against the black mass? He ‘let go’ of the surge of energy that almost made him pass out, watching in disbelief as the creature shrieked in absolute agony, writhed and contorted itself into a mish-mash of screaming faces and skulls, before bursting apart and splattering itself all over the walls of his apartment.


Something roundish, black and shiny promptly fell to the floor, but Sasuke was too busy trying to catch his breath, and could only give the black object a cursory glance before promptly passing out in exhaustion.


When he awakened, it was to find himself on his bed again.


For a long minute, he stared blankly at the ceiling, the low hum of the computer and cooling system his only companion.




He turned his head to survey the apartment, and wasn’t surprised to see that it looked absolutely impeccable…as it had always been. His front door looked intact. There were no black splatters on the wall. There was definitely no weird black shiny object on the floor. None of his furniture looked out of place, and looking at his blanket and bed sheets, not a sign that he had burnt a single thing.


(it was all a dream then…)


“Ha…haha…hahahahah!” He threw an arm over his eyes and laughed hysterically for a few minutes; telling himself that he was both relieved and happy that all that happened last night had really been nothing more than a nightmare. He hadn’t really imagined some black thing bursting through his front door, trying to eat him, had he? What foolishness. Besides, he was probably running late for school and had to get ready for the day. Finally calming down to hiccuped giggles, he wiped the tears from his eyes and flung back the blanket to swing his legs off the bed. However, the sudden flash of white hot pain to lace up his leg sent him toppling to the floor in a heap.




He blinked stupidly at the wad of bandages wrapped around his upper thigh, and because he had strained it with his actions, a small red dot was beginning to blossom against the gauze.


“Im…impossible,” he whispered as the first pangs of terror began to claw at his insides. “It’s…it’s impossible. It was a dream. It had to be a dream.”


But it wasn’t. And he knew it wasn’t for that day alone, he had encounters with two more dangerous yōkai in broad daylight! He couldn’t begin to imagine what people must have thought seeing the weird kid running away from his own shadow, but there was no way in hell he could risk showing off his new found power surge thingy from his fingers to destroy the yōkai.


He took to trying to draw the spirits away from crowded places, and had dared to use his powers on them. Unfortunately, he nearly started a forest fire when the tricky spirit darted into a tree in an effort to escape. It didn’t help that this time; his eyes were responsible for the accident and not his ‘lightning’ skill. It wasn’t as if he had done it on purpose. He had just been staring hard at the spirit, trying to remain as still as possible so it wouldn’t notice his presence, when black (!) flames had erupted upon the creature. Needless to say, Sasuke’s eyes had also taken some damage because they actually bled when he tried to wipe away what he assumed was mere stinging tears from the effort.


By the end of the week, he was at his wits end. The fear of going blind terrified him so much; he dared not stare at anything harder than a minute. Studying became a lesson in tolerance for the words seemed to jump off the page, and he could not concentrate for more than several minutes at a time. He had barely seen Kakashi, and no one had bothered explaining just what the hell was going on. It wasn’t as if he could talk to anyone else about the strange things happening to him, and if he was a recluse in school before, he became even more so with the sudden influx of yōkai wanting a piece of him. He worried that he’d eventually have to stop attending for fear some of these spirits began attacking his classmates just to spite him.


He took to sleeping with Itachi’s beloved katana (a weapon his brother had used efficiently during his days as a spirit warrior) at night, realizing that he could easily channel his ‘lightning’ into the weapon, which was much more effective when swinging (and missing) at these flying spirits. But despite the added protection, sleep was nearly impossible. Every creak and groan had his lashes flying open, and as a result, bags of fatigue were beginning to take root around his abused and sore eyes. He was miserable and wished to all heaven that Kakashi would return from wherever the fuck he went to let him know just what was happening to him.


(I really wish you were here, niisan. I’ve never felt more alone in my life)


It didn’t help that this evening, during cram school lessons, a half-formed yōkai on another student’s neck had tried to lurch for him in the middle of a test. He couldn’t very well bring out the small dagger he kept in his bag for such occasions, and he definitely did not want to stare down the creature lest he end up sending the classmate in flames (though the guy pissed him off anyway). How he wished he had learned how to create barriers. He had always half-listened to Itachi and Kakashi talk about it; of how they said putting up barriers could keep yōkai away. It wasn’t as if either man had wanted to teach him anything like that in the first place, so he hadn’t bothered pestering them for lessons. And now…


Now this.


Just when he thought he could come back home to some kind of peace and quiet, he had to deal with this stranger in his bed. A stranger, who could very well be a shape shifting yōkai, peacefully snoozing away on his nice, comfy, cozy bed!


Who the fuck did it think it was?


He had to give the yōkai balls at least, Sasuke had thought as he reached into his closet to pull out the katana he hid there. He didn’t think he’d need to charge it up, since the creature was still fast asleep, but with his patience and tolerance for all yōkai at its breaking point, he contemplated using the black flames on him even if it meant having to bleed a little more tonight.


(something isn’t right though)


For starters if this yōkai was actually a shape shifter, then he was a damn fine one (not excluding the physical appearance). He looked way too human and slept like one too. The blanket was tangled around askew legs clad in a pair of black pants with a sock-clad foot stuck out from one end. A black turtleneck top covered what appeared to be a well-toned torso and a chest that rose and fell steadily with every breath (and light snore). The face was the most fascinating. Those scars; those had to be the signs of a yōkai (and a powerful one at that)…


(seen him before)


…those scars looked like whiskers; deeply etched into his lightly tanned skin.


(I’ve seen this face before…)


His lips were parted, a light sheen of drool escaping a corner of a generous mouth that could probably break into a wide grin when the mood was right. And his blond (so damn bright despite the gloom in the room) shoulder-length hair covered half of his face and threatened to enter said mouth.


(I’ve seen this face…)


He blinked hard as a sudden, sharp and vivid memory from his childhood nearly had him sucking in a harsh breath.


(there was a fire…screams…me? Screaming? Niisan looking panicked…couldn’t reach me…called out for help…then he…this man…at the time…)


Sasuke blinked hard and stared.


(It…it can’t be the same guy…he hasn’t aged a bit since then if it’s really him…)


His troubled thoughts were disrupted when the stranger moaned in his sleep and was about to turn. Sasuke tightened his grip around the hilt of the katana and positioned it in readiness to strike. It would have been easy to go for the chest, but who knew what kind of yōkai this was? Best to strike the brain first and see if that had any effect before doing anything else.


He definitely wasn’t ready for the languid lifting of those lashes to reveal bleary azure eyes, which immediately sent a weird and not unpleasant liquid heat into the pit of his stomach. Sadly, the moment was short-lived when those eyes quickly hardened with irritation and in a move so fast – barely giving Sasuke any time to think or react - the yōkai was sitting up with the sword now buried within his chest.


(He…he can’t be!)


“You wouldn’t mind yanking this thing out, would you?” the shape shifter grated through lips that trembled slightly. A thick trickle of blood was beginning to trail down his chin. “I think you and I need to have a little chat.”


(he’s bleeding…he’s…why? Isn’t he supposed to explode like the others? Why is he still alive?)


“What are you?” he finally asked when he could find his voice again, and was damn surprised he still sounded annoyed.


The blond yōkai grinned, revealing blood-stained teeth before wrapping his hands around the blade of the sword to begin pulling out slowly. If he felt any pain from the no doubt deep cuts he was inflicting on his palms, the yōkai gave no indication of it.


“You ask a lot of questions, don’t you?” he rasped and pulled out a little more. Sasuke was sure he was still holding on with all his strength and yet this yōkai was acting as if it was nothing more than a toothpick to remove from a flesh wound. “Not exactly the happy reunion I was looking for considering I saved your ass back then.”


Sasuke saw it again; that nagging vivid memory he was refusing to accept. How old was he then? Five? Six? How was it possible then that…?


“There,” the yōkai grunted as the sword was completely pulled out, leaving a spreading dark stain on the front of his shirt. He held a hand to the wound and winced. “Damn…where’s Sakura when you need her? Don’t know how fast I can get this one healed on my own.”


Sasuke – mind whirling and unable to comprehend just what was going on – pointed the sword at the blond again. However, he was exhausted. His knees were already beginning to tremble, but he’d be damned if he was going to let this yōkai have its way.


“What are you and why are you here?” he asked again.


“Stop waving that damn thing in my face,” came the annoyed reply. Those blue eyes pinned him with an expression that should have chastised him, but in his current state of mind, Sasuke was less than worried about being chewed out by some stranger.


“You’re a yōkai,” he stated flatly. “I’ve had enough of you bastards. Why don’t you all just leave me the hell alone?!”


He allowed the surge of electricity to race through his arm and into the sword, as well as forcing his eyes to concentrate on the figure before him. He knew he was expending too much energy, but he didn’t care. If he could get rid of this guy, maybe that would be a sign to the other yōkai to keep their distance.


He prepared to swing, and gasped as the blond seemed to disappear right before his eyes.


(what the…?)




The wall was like a sledgehammer when he found himself flung against it with such force, it knocked the wind out of his sails. He crumbled to the floor and tried to catch his breath, every bone in his body seeming to cry out in pain. The sword had slipped from his hands, and in his desperation to grab it, he watched in dismay as the yōkai kicked it aside and reached down to wrap strong fingers around his neck.


(oh God…I’m going to die…fuck!)


The yōkai was on his haunches, the fingers adding more pressure to prevent him from crying out. Sasuke tried to clasp his wrist to ease the death grip, but it felt like he was holding onto a piece of steel. His eyes shimmered and his vision wavered, and yet he gritted his teeth; refusing to give in to this asshole who actually seemed to be looking at him with some kind of pity.


“Tears of blood, eh?” the yōkai murmured as he reached out to trace the crimson fluid trickling down Sasuke’s cheek. “They really weren’t kidding when they said your powers were going out of control. Guess we should take care of that one first, huh?”


“What are you doing?” Sasuke would have liked to shriek out in terror as he watched the blond’s fingertips begin to flicker with those familiar pale flames his older brother used to have. Unfortunately, all he could do was gasp weakly as he felt a warmth…soothing almost…sensation upon his forehead. The flames were cool to the touch, the fingers attached to them even better.


/Just hang on to me, kid. I’m going to get you out of here, okay?!/


(strong arms holding him…protecting him…)


He couldn’t understand what this creature was doing to him, but the effect was immediate and absolutely wonderful. The burning sensation, he was now almost used to, was slowly ebbing away. That warmth – which brought a (normal) tear to his eye – appeared to course through his weary body in gentle waves. The tension and fight within him was easing away, causing his clenched hands to fall limply to the floor in resignation. He barely felt the yōkai releasing the pressure around his neck as heavy-lidded lashes finally fluttered to a close.


(…it really is you, isn’t it?)


And though he would have liked to ask the yōkai if his mind wasn’t simply playing tricks on him, he was too spent to conjure up the words to do so. However, the last thing he’d remember was being cradled against that strong warm body, and the puzzling faint shriek of some woman saying –




“What the hell did you do to him, Naruto?!”


“Aww come on! Give me a fucking break. I’m the one losing buckets of blood here. The bastard stabbed me!”


“And so you threw him against the wall?!”


“I can see his imprint there,” Sai observed as he took in the mini-chaos in the room, especially the bed which was now drenched with Naruto’s blood.


“Where the fuck did you guys go anyway?!” came the accusatory cry as Sakura fell to her knees to pull Sasuke’s comatose body to her. “I woke up and this kid had his sword pointed at me and you guys were nowhere in sight!”


“We went to get something to eat. We invited you, but you said you were too tired and we should get you something,” Sai explained. He was beginning to change the sheets, for he really was one of those people who didn’t like messy things. He’d also have to scrub the floor. The blood stains were unsightly. “You’re still dripping, Naruto. Can’t you heal yourself as normal?”


Naruto grunted and peeled off the turtleneck to see the damage. He grimaced at the ugly gash and tried to flex his muscles, but no dice. He was really hurting this time. Good thing the cuts on his hands weren’t so bad. Those were healing just fine.


“A little help, Sakura?” he whined when he noticed the girl still attending to Sasuke. “I didn’t do anything to him. I just controlled the Amaterasu surge. He was ready to send me  up in flames if I didn’t stop him.”


“Poor guy hasn’t had much sleep,” Sakura mused. She was checking for broken bones and doing her best to heal them as quickly as possible; her palms outstretched over the problem areas to release a comforting greenish glow. Naruto really didn’t know his strength, did he? The kid had three broken ribs already. She lifted her gaze to glare at him. “You really did a number on him besides your act of mercy, and stop poking at the wound. I’ll get to you when I’m through with him.”


Naruto grumbled and sat on the floor, though wincing at the wetness of his pants as well. The blood had seeped all the way through and it really felt gross to be wearing this.


“He owes me one,” he decided as he rose to his feet again and headed toward Sasuke’s closet. “It should fit me.”


“Great. Now you’re stealing the kid’s clothes?” Sakura muttered in disbelief. “Surely you can hang on for a few minutes, and I’ll take us back to SWAT and  you can get a new set of clothes.”


“Tsunade-sama keeps deducting pay whenever I go back there while on duty,” Naruto grumbled. He spied a large gray hoodie sweatshirt that wasn’t going to be too tight on him. “If we go back, I’m looking at a twenty percent deduction from my next paycheck. The stingy old hag.”


“Speaking of which,” Sai said as he straightened out the bed sheet and stood back to eye his handiwork. “Sakura and I were discussing accommodations, and we decided that it would be best if we rented a small apartment close by.”


“All three of us?” Naruto asked as he padded into the bathroom and reached for the towel to wet it in the sink. He winced as each twist and turn of his body seemed to make the wound even worse, but as he began to wipe away the bloodstains, he could already feel the first stirrings of his natural ability to heal. It literally felt like the muscles, nerves, veins and arteries were all weaving themselves back together again; hard to explain if asked to do so, but that was the sensation all the same. He rinsed his mouth and wiped it…before stealing a peek into Sasuke’s bathroom cabinet to see what kind of prissy hygiene products he used.

There was the usual boring assortment of hair products, where the kid seemed to have an affinity for citrus. Shower gels, soaps, combs, brushes (how he could get those spiky tresses brushed in place was a miracle), some extra strength generic painkillers, two bottles of eye drops, first aid kit, razors...


“Huh. Razors and aftershave already?”


He snickered at the sight of the adult toiletries, wondering if – at that age – he had begun shaving. But then again, that was way back in the early 1800s, and they didn’t exactly have the same convenient amenities available today. Shaving usually involved a really sharp dagger and a prayer not to nick yourself to death.


“…double the rent,” someone was saying to jar him back to the present. “Are you listening to me, Naruto?”


“Yes, yes,” he replied and peeled out of his soaked pants and underwear. Not that he was averse to going commando, as he reached for Sasuke’s jeans to hop into (a little tight around the hips, but otherwise okay), but not with Sakura around. If he ended up getting a boner when she attended to him -


“So what do you think?” she asked when he walked back into the room while shrugging the sweatshirt over his head.


“What do I think about what?”


Sakura groaned. Sai was laying Sasuke on his bed and tucking him in. The damned sword sat in the corner; Naruto’s blood still a crimson stain upon its steely blade.


“We found an apartment a block away from here. It would seem odd if one girl and two men were renting the place, so you and Sai can live together, and I’ll take another place two blocks down. That way we don’t have to pay double the rent.”


“We’re going to have to capture a lot of yōkai to get the cash,” Naruto muttered as he sat on the lone chair in the room and lifted the shirt so Sakura could do her thing. At the sensation of her warm breath against his skin and the tingling flutter of talented fingers upon his wound, he bit his lower lip and struggled to think of the worst things possible.


“Any appraisers around here instead of having to go to SWAT?” he asked shakily.


Sai nodded and pulled out a notepad from his back pocket. “Two of them. We’ve got Chiyo-baasama…”


“Damn, she’s still alive?” Naruto muttered and winced as Sakura jabbed his side.


“She’s highly respected,” the girl replied defensively. “And she helped me a lot during my years of training.”


“And there’s…” Sai cleared his throat and appeared to be blushing. “Terumī Mei.”


Naruto smirked and then stopped when he felt the homicidal vibes coming from Sakura.


“Ah…she’s all right. No big deal,” he said flippantly. Though both men exchanged knowing looks for Mei was considered one of the hottest spirit warriors out there. She didn’t help much with some of the revealing outfits she chose to wear especially during meetings at SWAT. However, that was one of the things many (men) loved about her. She just didn’t give a fuck what others thought. She was damn strong and beautiful, and wasn’t ashamed to let everyone – who cared to listen – know about it.


Naruto secretly hoped he’d capture as many yōkai as possible just to see her again.


“If you two horny bastards are done,” Sakura growled and rose to her feet with a pat of Naruto’s toned torso (which she hated to admit was damn impressive considering he hadn’t been on duty in over a  year). The wound was almost healed as in the gash no longer prominent. All that was left was a tiny scar that would probably disappear by tomorrow night if Naruto knew his body well enough. It really was amazing when one thought about it. He had been in so many battles (including deaths) and yet his body hardly had a scratch to show for it.


“I’m hungry. Where’s the food you got?” Naruto interrupted with a yawn.


“In the kitchen,” Sai replied. “You might have to warm it up again-”


But Naruto was already making a beeline for his late dinner while Sakura sat back and fidgeted with the remote control to find something to watch. The least they could do was be here when Sasuke awakened. The poor guy must be filled with a million and one questions, and she was going to be his guide especially with these two boneheads she had for company.





Something smelled good.


Sweet. Flowery…like sakura petals on a spring day.


He sniffed the air in appreciation and tried to draw closer to the scent. There was a healing warmth emanating from this thing or person or whatever, and as he moaned and lifted his lashes slowly, Sasuke found himself staring at the most stunning pair of green eyes he had ever seen.




“Hello,” came the cheerful greeting accompanied by a smile that made his heart flutter with a funny (almost fuzzy) sensation. “You’re finally awake, huh?”


“Urgh…” He blushed at how thick and groggy (and stupid) he sounded and tried to sit up. He wasn’t quite sure of his surroundings, but one glance at the familiar photograph on his wall, reminded him of exactly where he was.


(wait a minute…the yōkai!)


He sat upright and pulled back, eyes narrowing as he watched the girl for a moment. Had he left the door open? Who was she? She didn’t look like anyone from his school, because he was sure any girl with hair as pink as hers would be noticeable in a second. Secondly, just what the hell happened after his unsuccessful fight with that damned –


“Fuck!” came the cry that had him looking past the pink-haired beauty and into his living room proper. There were two other people in there watching his television (where apparently some game show was taking place). The dark-haired one, he did not recognize, and the other…



He stiffened and searched frantically for his katana, nearly forgetting about the girl before him as every fiber of his being begged for him to eliminate the blond yōkai before he could do any more damage. It wouldn’t hit him until he was half-way across the bedroom that the trio were now looking at him with varying degrees of amusement (Sai and Sakura) or exasperation (Naruto).


“We’re sorry for taking over your home like this,” the girl was saying with a smile. “But we felt it best to introduce ourselves to you … especially this one.”


She reached out to drag Naruto by the scruff of the sweatshirt to pull him closer to Sasuke.


“Argh! What the hell, Sakura?” Naruto grumbled and glared up at them, while Sasuke had a moment to take in the fact that this bastard was actually wearing his clothes! He was damn sure that sweatshirt was his favorite stay-at-home outfit. And those jeans…


(too tight)


…he couldn’t look away fast enough from what was too damn obvious.


“My name is Haruno Sakura,” the girl was saying; oblivious to Sasuke’s discomfort. “His name is Uzumaki Naruto, and the other one in there…”


Sai waved gently.


“…his name is simply Sai. We’ve been sent to protect you basically taking over Kakashi’s role.”


Sasuke remained silent, even though he felt everything was slowly beginning to click into place. He took a step back; gaze still trained on the three of them.


“I apologize for whatever he did to you earlier,” Sakura added quickly perhaps aware the boy was still not trusting of them. “But he’s going to be your main mentor, and he will try to teach you how to harness your new powers.” Her features became pensive. “You must have been having a hard time of it, haven’t you? And we apologize for coming to you so late, but you don’t have to worry. From now on, we three are by your side and we’ll take care of you.” She nodded firmly and eyed her companions. “Right, guys?”


Various mumbles that sounded like ‘yeah’ and ‘whatever’ came from the duo, and Sakura’s eyebrow twitched in irritation. She laughed it off (though with a thrown glare at the two) before beaming at Sasuke again.


“I’m sure you have a lot of questions to ask, so…”


Her words trailed off as she looked at him hopefully. Sasuke gritted his teeth and took another step back, not sure why he was silently freaking out at the idea of these three being his new bodyguards so to speak. Especially the one he had stabbed earlier. The one who was apparently not a yōkai after all, but a spirit warrior. Like Kakashi. Like Itachi.


Uzumaki Naruto.


(and besides…I do remember who he is now…)


And it was damn embarrassing to think that he had acted that way to a man who had saved him once before.


Do I apologize or…no! Why should I? It’s his…their fault for barging into my apartment like this. And who gave him the right to take my things like he’s entitled to them?


“Eh? Why are you glaring at me?” Naruto asked with a raised brow. “I’m the one who should be pissed off when you tried to kill me. Damn. I knew I was going to hate this job.”


“Be nicer to him,” Sakura hissed. “He’s going to be your student, remember?”


“Like hell he is. Uchihas are all pain in the asses.”


Sasuke opened his mouth to bark out a retort, when his restless hand bumped against the desk behind him. It sent the mouse and pad skidding off the desk causing the once blank computer screen to come back life. It would have been fine if it was nothing more than a usual boring generic desktop background for their viewing pleasure. Unfortunately, Sasuke must have been playing one of his BL games for it was frozen on the incriminating screenshot of a very naked, flushed and semen-covered black-haired man lying beneath a smirking, victorious (also naked) blond who was seductively licking his cheek; erections in full glory, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. As if that wasn’t bad enough, beneath that were the damning words:


“…aah…ngh…don’t lick me like that…it’s dirty…”


You could have heard a pin drop in the pregnant silence that filled the room at that moment (save the random burst of laughter and cheers from the T.V. which seemed even more inappropriate for some reason). Sasuke felt the heat begin from the tip of his toes until he was sure he was so red-faced, he could die from extreme blood rush to the head. He spun around and switched off the screen with trembling fingers, squeezing his eyes shut while praying and hoping the spirit warriors would have the good sense to –


“See what I mean?” Naruto complained loudly. “This is supposed to be my student? Just kill me already.”


“I wish I could,” Sakura barked and promptly began lecturing him on the ways to act like a damn good sensei. Sai yawned and went back to watching the T.V. leaving Sasuke to finally crack an eye open in disbelief.


(they didn’t…laugh at me?)


He looked over his shoulder tentatively, and was met with a scene that could have been drawn right out of the pages of a manga; Sakura and Naruto arguing while Sai fell onto his stomach to continue watching the game show. They apparently just didn’t give a shit about his methods of pitiful, lewd entertainment.


He wasn’t sure if to burst out laughing or to thank them profusely for not making a big deal out of it, but all he could do was stare at them with his heart beating harder and faster than ever before.


These three weird characters were going to be his mentors from now on.


He was going to have to put up with them whether he liked it or not.


And as he let his gaze rest on the flustered blond now whining about Sakura-chan being a meanie, Sasuke felt it again; that weird tingling sensation in the pit of his stomach he could not explain. He flushed in embarrassment and turned away to pick up the mouse and notepad with his lower lip caught between his teeth and his cheeks still burning.


There was no doubt about it now. Things were definitely not going to be the same around here.





On the rooftop of the apartment building just opposite Sasuke’s, two stately figures in white robes watched the shenanigans taking place in solemn silence.


Two pairs of pale slate-tinted eyes studied the scene for a long moment until the smaller of the two asked in a voice barely audible against the gust of wind.


“It looks like they’ve arrived, Neji-niisan.”




“…what do we do now?”


His waist length black hair danced around him like a gossamer cloth as he spun on his heels to walk away. “We watch and wait. No one else is to claim him before us, Hinata-sama. Your father’s orders, remember?”


There was a barely noticeable nod accompanied by a low sound of suffering, which caused his lips to tighten. He stopped to stare pointedly at the lowered head. “Are you still having second thoughts? I know you never wanted to be involved with the spirit warriors, but you have to get used to the fact that it is your fate, Hinata-sama. You will have to use your powers eventually.”


She started as if goosed and looked up with tear-filled eyes. “Ye…yes…I understand.”


“Good.” He reached out for her with a small smile. “Let’s go. We have to report to your father soon. Ready?”


She allowed her smaller hand to be engulfed within his much stronger one, and with one last look over her shoulder at the boisterous people in that small apartment, she felt her heart stir with a longing no one in her prestigious family would ever understand.


Enjoy this peace while you can, Uchiha Sasuke, she thought as they became one with the night sky. For the bloodthirsty battles for your precious gifts are only just beginning.




Chapter 03

Naruto Home



























Web page layout designed and coded by {suser:ladyoz}